We've received more than a few strange looks and comments in response to hearing about our upcoming art sale fundraiser. When asked to participate, one of our instructors said, "Uhm, I'm not really into death." We understand. Exquisite Corpse is a weird name for a fundraiser. But we guarantee that you will never forget it. We also guarantee that you will never forget the art you will see at this sale, because these pieces, made especially for this event, can't be found anywhere else.
Exquisite Corpse is not about dead people. It's an artistic process that celebrates creative collaboration. Fueled by absinthe and the new vision of the French Surrealists, Exquisite Corpse was a popular parlor game in the early 1920s that brought friends together to create a single story, song, or drawing. In most forms of the game, only a portion of what one artist created could be seen by the others, resulting in strange, surprising, and even profound creations. We've taken this concept as the theme for our art sale because creative collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. We also wanted to see what amazing things our instructors could create when they worked together.
Late last year we shared our idea with photographer Sean Kernan, and in April he came to Rockport to lead a special invitational workshop for a group of eight artists representing a wide range of creative disciplines. Called Reviving the Exquisite Corpse, Sean's workshop quickly set about interrupting the artists' creative habits to provoke new ways of seeing and thinking. Artists paired up by pulling names out of a hat, and were instructed to work in areas outside of their normal artistic practice. "The art flowed from a sense of freedom to stretch into completely new forms," said painter Alan Crichton about his week of collaboration with photographer Jean Miele. "My connection with Jean was immediate and light, but we also talked deeply about family and friendship and trust, both in ourselves and in each other. It was a pretty extraordinary experience."
Ranging from handmade books nesting within a custom wooden case to poetry layered with still life compositions on gunpowder drawings, the work showcases an astonishing range of talents that these artists are able to draw from. Despite never having worked together before, each pair created work that surprised us in its depth. "I was a little concerned going in that we might make things that looked like something we brought home to our mothers from kindergarten," said Sean. "But each pair made work that is thought-provoking, beautifully crafted, and gallery-ready. It affirmed that art arises from thought and action, not just medium and skill.
While Sean's workshop was taking place, we also invited all of our instructors to make exquisite corpses on their own. 24 of them took us up on the challenge, pairing with each other or with their friends to make unique works of art for our event.
Watching the collaborations take shape, and now seeing the art come in
has been better than Christmas!
While several photographers collaborated on prints and diptychs, others crossed media boundaries, combining photography with painting, book arts, poetry, songwriting, and sculpture. Last week, Peter Ralston was seen waving his arms frantically outside his Rockport gallery. Painter EricHopkins had just dropped off their completed exquisite corpse, and Peter beamed like a new parent. "The best part of this project has been the challenge and the creative frisson of working with artists and friends who I respect and admire no end," said Peter. "The experience has been deeply gratifying and inspiring for all of us. I like to think the work mirrors exactly that."
In all, more than 25 original works of collaborative art will be available for purchase at Exquisite Corpse, held on June 24 in Rockport's Brewster Point Barn. We are honored to present the work of:
Sam Abell & Arthur Meyerson | John Paul Caponigro & Arduina Caponigro | Cig Harvey & David Graeme Baker | Peter Ralston & Eric Hopkins | Keith Carter & Cig Harvey | Brenton Hamilton & Shoshannah White | Jill Enfield & Connie Imboden | Eliot Dudik & Michael Draeger | Stella Johnson & Maria Michelogianni | Craig Stevens & Marcia Lippman | Jean Miele & Peter Ralston | Anneli Skaar & Abigail Stiers | Jay Gould & Kim DePaul | Jean Miele & Alan Crichton | Richard Remsen & Anastasia Weigle | Olaf Willoughby & Eileen Muldoon | Susan Bloom & Dr. Gretchen McKay | Michael Zide & Sally Taylor | Brendan Bullock & Colin Page | Kelsey Floyd & Andy Bloxham | Meg Weston & Ari Meil | Elizabeth & Howard Greenberg
In addition to these star-studded collaborations, two large-group exquisite corpse projects are still underway, and growing more fascinating by the day! Our Exquisite Corpse Book Project currently has more than 65 images, propagating the evolution of four separate visual chains lead by Sean Kernan,David Lyman, Elizabeth Opalenik and Joyce Tenneson. Like a visual game of telephone, the chains are growing one image at a time and are very different from each other. The book will be completed in time for the Exquisite Corpse event, and will also be for sale on our website and in our galleries.
Some of our film faculty and alumni have also been working on an Exquisite Corpse Film Project. Like the book, the film is being built one piece at a time, in a series of 15-second clips. So far, it is flying its surrealist flag high. As much as we would like to tell you what it's about...we can't. Because we haven't figured it out yet! The final film will be screened for the first time at the event, and we promise you it will be very entertaining!
Please plan to join us on June 24 to see all of this inspiring work for yourself! Tickets to the event are available for purchase on our website. VIP ticket holders will have access to the VIP Reception, featuring exclusive food and drink pairings, a preview of the art for sale, and an opportunity for early purchase of select pieces. We are deeply grateful to our friends at B&H for being the lead sponsor of Exquisite Corpse, and helping us continue to bring creative minds together. Please be sure to check out the growing list of friends who are helping to make this special event possible when you BUY YOUR TICKETS.