Sunday, September 23, 2012

Community Building Awareness

The opening of the House Show at Urbanite@Case[werks] gallery was just this past Friday. I had proposed a community art piece in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). Basically I proposed that we all make some row houses, and that I would try my darnedest to get this piece of art to the policy-makers when all was said and done.

We used the same technique that I used for my collograph printmaking pieces and my series, 3 Tributaries, which was all about domestic violence and large statistics. This community art piece would be in much the same vein.

I had been told ahead of time that I would be in the gallery's actual closet (we needed to use glue and acrylic paints - not the norm for a really nice gallery, so I totally understood)...but I was worried going in. Not because I was put in a weird gallery space, but just that the space we'd be working in was recessed a bit, and I worried that it would be hard getting people into the storage room/closet while also enticing them to make something for me.

Well, I need not have worried! That storage closet was hoppin'! People were actually waiting in line to make the pieces! At about 7p I also had a friend stop by to help me, Denise Duarte, who is a very fine public artist hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada. Denise is currently in MICA's MFACA program in Baltimore and generously volunteered to help me and give me a break so that I could talk to people at the show.

I was able to make many people aware of the actual statistics of DV nationally...some patrons were literally dumbfounded. The piece started out blank, with just one statistic, and then as participants finished their row house, I painted the house (if they wanted) and placed it on a panel underneath the stat. for them. I was amazed and appreciative at some of the frank conversations I had with people about DV and about why I was doing this. The House Of Ruth Maryland generously provided me with some pamphlets and some small crisis situation cards which were taken by quite a few people, that I saw.

All of this was about awareness...and I also made the first row house myself, in honor of my mom. I painted it hot pink, especially for her. In a way, she's always leading the charge for me. Sometimes I wish this were not the case and that she was alive and that she and I could go to the mall and shop or something as equally banal...even just to talk to her. She'll never know what an impact she continues to make in my art and in all of the people who see and engage with it.

I also saw quite a bit of creativity in these houses...the adults were having a really great time designing their row houses and gluing the simplest of recycled materials. Bottom line is, grown-ups should really do themselves a favor and make more art. 

All in all, it was a successful event for me and for raising awareness of domestic violence in our communities. More photos below...

This row house above almost made my heart stop....he really ran with the concept and made it happen. By including the words, he furthered my own metaphor in the most interesting way. He created a new layer of meaning to the project that I had not considered.

And before I drop the 3 Tributaries series off for my upcoming solo show, I will be talking/guest artist-ing at Paula Phillip's Finding Baltimore, Foundations class at MICA. I think this participatory community art piece will serve to illustrate to them just how much one, solid idea has served me, even two years later. Gotta love my Baltimore and its iconic imagery.

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