SYMBOLS OF CHANGE;
A collaborative process where school children in Rankin Inlet are encouraged to ‘draw out’ their vision of what symbols can be used to illustrate change. these drawings were then brought into the studio and painted with hand made gauche with a mind to putting painted emphasis on only those details in the drawings that the children elaborated. these works were supplimented by a documentary film (with the questions and process guided by the kids participating) and exhibited in the local school, a small gallery near Stroud in the UK and at the University of Toronto.
WORKSHOP PROPOSAL FOR INTERESTED STUDENTS. Feb. 2009.
Background: I am an artist working in Toronto for a national charity called Evergreen, and have an exhibition organized in south-western England for mid-April of this year. I could easily sit down and paint a number of paintings on the subject which interests me, namely, the evolution of environmental/social change in Rankin Inlet. I thought it would be more interesting, and valuable, to host a series of workshops which teach through experiential education by engaging students in creating their own symbols of change. These symbols will then be drawn onto large paper, which I will then turn into a large series of paintings. The resulting work will travel with me to England where these symbols will exhibited. Half of the proceeds from the sale of this work, in England, will go to the school to buy art supplies, and this will be emphasized in the exhibition.
Workshop Content: speaking about symbols and their function in our everyday life, and allowing students time to brain-storm about the kinds of symbols they are surrounded by. This leads into the discussion of change, and writing out what kinds of change they are surrounded by. How do they think things have changed? Are changes good? Finally we begin the process of finding the symbol, the one most important detail, a detail which encapsulates all that is the story, the process of change. These is the symbols we find in groups of ten, and illustrate individually on paper and with materials that I provide. Guidance and some artistic guidelines will help to provoke creative work which will be effective, both in the sense of being a valuable learning experience through dialogue about change, but also will give some insight into the community and the lives of people who live here.
Overall Goals: I will leave Rankin Inlet, in two month’s time, with a body of work for this exhibition, as well as a short documentary film about the process. Through making this work as an artist-in-residence within the school, I will be able to provide means of creative expression for interested students which will then travel and give them a chance to have an international audience hear their unique voices. This project will both allow the students the chance to to tell their story to a large audience, and give the audience the opportunity to support the community whose work they are viewing, and contribute in a holistic way to the development of the arts in Rankin Inlet. This is the difference in intent between commercial and community art, and I strive to become a more successful community artist. Success in this sense is measured by the integration of the project within the community, and the mutual benefit found in the process.
Additional Ideas: There is a possibility, as an introduction to this workshop process to host a couple of events, short talks, film screenings, within the school. I could give a short talk on the nature of environmental change, and the usefulness of symbols to educate people about our environment. It would be valuable to also find a member of the community who could mirror this talk by speaking about the evolution of culture in Rankin Inlet. Finally, we could exhibit the work here for a short time, before it travelled to England in the end of March, giving the students who participated a chance to see how I have painted their drawings of change, while opening up the work to the public. This event could be a one night show sometime in mid-March, celebrating the achievement of the students.
Specifics: We would need thirty interested students (especially those interested specifically in the arts) to participate in two half day workshops in groups of ten. In four hours we would cover background, brainstorming, discussion of symbols and, for the last two hours, drawing our symbols of change. In between the groups would be assigned some light, creative, design based homework, before finishing in the second four hour session at a later date. Each student will have two large sheets of paper (approx. 20”-30”) provided by me on which to explore these symbols with pencil and charcoal. We will be using erasers extensively as a way of changing their symbols, and as a practical joke about making changes. These drawings will then be taken back to my studio and painted. There is an opportunity to facilitate up to three dedicated students to assist as apprentices in the project in helping with documentation, paintmaking (since they will be painted in home-made watercolor), and some of the painting process.