Project meetings and other encounters

 It's a little over half a week since I came to OFAR.  I feel settled now, which is odd.  This first period of time seems to have been devoted mostly to meetings and readings, and less production, although I spent a good bit of Saturday and plan to spend today working on some pieces here and there.
Reminders of home and little joys
Reference photos
I got to meet with my contact at The Collins Center on Thursday.  The Collins Center is a sexual assault awareness, rape prevention, and child advocacy center here in Harrisonburg.  They do excellent work and have been truly open to working with me.  It helps that my contact is also an artist, and seems to get me a bit.  I went to the meeting planing to propose a three part project, and feeling very nervous that every part would be shut down, but instead, they were receptive and excited and it looks like we'll be moving forward with all aspects of the project, as long as participants in The Collins Center's work are willing to meet with me.

Essentially I'll be doing a survivor's stories project in conjunction with a public art piece which breaks down into three parts:
1. Workshop-On Thursday, June 19th from 5:30 to 9:00 I'll conduct a workshop with survivors.  I'll teach them the basics of block carving, using linoleum, and guide them through create mixed media mono prints regarding whatever aspects of their own experience they choose to focus on.  They'll get to keep their block, which they can use as much as they want in the future (a kind of memento or token for them, I hope) as well as the work they create.

2. Interviews-I'll be interviewing both survivors and advocates at the center about their lives and experiences and creating my own series of monoprints from the interviews, much in line with some of the past work I've done.  I plan on creating, to the best of my ability here, varied editions so that I can give prints to the participants, and to the Collins Center, and still have one for my portfolio as well.

3. Public Art-Since I've been working lately with translating date/statistics/demographic information into visual language (the piece I did at Chastain is an example of this), I plan on taking this idea into the public realm.  Harrisonburg has a downtown square with some lovely sidewalks and the Collins center is sending me reports from all of 2013, and the first quarter of 2014, so that I can create a similar installation to Chastain.  I'll use chalk so it will be a highly temporary piece.  The main thing left here is to confirm locations, building walls and sidewalk permissions.

Later on Thursday I met with the executive director of the Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peace building.  I found the center when I was snooping about the internet, trying to figure out which organizations and communities I wanted to meet and get to know better while in Harrisonburg.  I can honestly say, that even after reading their website, I couldn't quite get a handle on what the CJP's work actually was and when I met the ED my mind was blown.  They do pretty incredible work, and have been very open to me.  Friday morning I joined their coffee hour and met several of the summer session instructors and regular faculty, as well as a resident artist and a handful of students.  I hope to continue meeting them, and to firm some stronger relationships but even if I don't two professors were kind enough to invite me to some of their classes.  
EMU's really gorgeous campus

On Wednesday I will be going to "Peace by Design: Architecture and Design as a Peace building practice".  One of the instructors, Deanna Van Buren, is an architect and artist from California, and does really incredible work with prisons and incarcerated women.  She is seriously applying her skills to making some positive change to a piece of our society that truly needs it-encouraging architects of prisons to treat them as actual clients, to make visits, and basically to remember, as many are wont to forget, that prisoners are humans and deserve better than we often give them.  Also, she happened to know another artist I had recently connected with, Richard Kamler, and does work around prisons and prisoners.  She asked if I would briefly present my work to her class, so there is that as well, yikes!

On Friday I'll visit "Applied Playback Theatre for Conflict Transformation" which I'm super super excited to see.  I know only a little about this method, and I think it will be really interesting and important for me to see this, with the kind of work I am starting to do and have been doing.

Friday evening was Harrisonburg's Frist Fridays Art Walk.  It was nice, and really stunning to see how many of the stores and businesses, from churches to law firms to shops, participated and hosted their own shows.  The work was largely commercial, but it was sweet and there were so many people out.  I ended up heading home early, as I was on my own, but I had a handful of nice conversations and enjoyed it quite a bit.  I might end up meeting with one artist later, Jennifer Connerly, who seemed really kind and came right up to me to talk at her show.

Saturday was uneventful, I spent a lot of time reading, and working on some pieces and today will be much the same.
Evidence of my afternoon ritual:
reading, research, letter writing, and sun soaking

I've found, even with the free days, I spend the mornings working, the days reading and walking, and the evenings and nights working.
My studio spaces always look this way...
womp womp
All the best,

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