Photography is what gives most of us a means of creative expression. But it’s not the only means out there, and a week spent exploring others can reinvigorate our photography…or take us somewhere else altogether.
Students spend a week working with other media, doing the kind of pure exploration that leads us into the creative experience. We begin by stepping outside the boundaries of photography (at least for the week) and make messy drawings, sounds, and installations. We get on our feet and explore kinetically, spending time with choreographer Alison Chase and artist Ahmed Faheem. We perform exercises from William Westney’s Un-master Class, Ann Bogart’s Viewpoints, Alan Arkin’s improvisation workshops, and Richard Lewis’s poetry classes for children.
The point of all this is to experience once again the kind of unanchored state that was so exciting when we were first touched by photography. Students take chances and expand our work in that state by exploring ideas in other media. We make a project that might begin in photography, then we take it as far as we can.
If you missed art school, or have been away from it too long, make this excursion into art and see what kind of excitement you can bring back. It’s a week to revive yourself, and to start something that goes on forever.
Notes for Exploring Art Workshop, at Maine Media, June 10-16, 2012:
We’ll start from the premise that you already have a LOT of capacities for doing, listening, observing—that you do not exercise consciously. If you thought about them you’d probably say you couldn’t do them (“I can’t sing, draw, write, etc.”) So we will find a simple way into these capacities and play with these things in a way that is designed to not let you think and not focus on how well you do them.
The idea is that if you immerse yourself into a range of different creative exercises and improvisations, with both commitment and a sense of abandon, you will find new approaches and new vocabulary, and through this process you broaden and extend your feeling/work/range in photography. You’ll find stories and experiences in your life/mind/heart and make outer expressions of them.
Whole class is designed to
a. explore possibilities via direct experience then,
b. make work based on this practice.
To do this we’ll use capacities that are already in place in you. There’s nothing to prepare, nothing to learn, nothing to fix.
The workshop will not be about doing “good work”, i.e., polished, showable results.
It will make the point that that what you know, your awarenesses and sensitivities and the work it gives rise to, do not necessarily depend on the work you have already done (or that someone else has done). Though we might use photography at some point, we’ll set it aside at the beginning, and thus dam our usual channels so that our creative streams can flow in new ways, and we can follow them and see where they lead. We can explore immediate presence and thoughtlessness and improvisation. The whole idea is to bring a kind of child-like spaciousness back into our minds, making them more spongelike and absorbent.
We’ll use words and ideas to loosen our constructs, but the real work will be accomplished by doing. A guiding statement will be poet Charles Wrights words; “I write to find out what I have to say.”
Above all, we will be working to develop awareness.
During the week we will work on some kind of over-arching project that we present to the class at the end. And the work will continue after the class ends, with a longer-term project that we will share with the group on Google +
Here are some of the exercises we’ll draw from:
1. Write a biography of a stranger we observe, or write the story behind one of Cindy Sherman’s film stills, then,
2. present part of the story or character as though we were that person.
3. Design a monument or create an installation, execute it.
4. Listen to sound, then make a sound piece or do some kind of sound improvisations (variant of 3, still working on this idea)
5. Make class collage in the outdoors or in, a la Andy Goldsworthy.
6. Improvisations and viewpoints acting exercises 4 days, including one with Alison Chase.
7. First two days do drawing with unconventional materials.