Monday, March 10, 2014


My students at Howard Community College this semester were lucky enough to participate in The Empathy Project at MICA. As per the parameters, they each wrote 500 words about an experience with empathy and they also created new art from old art pieces and recyclables. They were to buy nothing new.

This was a very difficult, ephemeral concept for them to contemplate, especially within the first few challenges I gave them of the semester. I told them that they should concentrate on the materials they were using, and that the act of touching someone else's art with your hands was a form of knowing them, and could be considered a form of empathy, depending on how sensitively the art was utilized and 'handled'.

I was really pleased with the results, considering I personally tacked on a few more challenges for them within the project. I requested they work collaboratively, and create life-sized, in-the-round figurative sculptures. No small task. However, working together and speaking to one another while building was really the best thing for them. They were able to learn from each other, they were able to flex their thinking/problem-solving muscles.

We ran into a snow day, so a few sculptures are smaller than others...and the first 2 of these are from my Sculpture I students, Ingrid Nuttle and Charles Kendall, whom I had collaborate in a different way; they switched pieces at the end of their first day of working! I also required their participation in the exhibition at MICA.

Here are some of the students' pieces and a few long shots of the rest of the gallery. Please keep in mind that they had between three and seven hours to complete this work! I say "bravo" my 3D peeps!

The Empathy Project is created by Paul Rucker, Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Artist-in-Residence and Research Fellow in MICA's Center for Race and Culture, and curated by faculty member Marcus Civin of MICA's Curatorial Practice program. The project is supported by the Center for Race and Culture, M.F.A. in Curatorial Practice, M.F.A. in Community Arts, and the offices of Diversity, Graduate Studies and International Affairs.

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