WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
Home · Articles · Arts & Culture · The Big Picture · New Media, New Materials: Highlights in Contemporary Art from the Fabric Workshop and Museum

New Media, New Materials: Highlights in Contemporary Art from the Fabric Workshop and Museum

By Laura James · May 2nd, 2007 · The Big Picture
0 Comments
     
Tags:
  Mandy Smith of The Collect poses with various
Mandy Smith

Mandy Smith of The Collect poses with various "junk" items.



Two recent exhibitions -- New Media, New Materials: Highlights in Contemporary Art from the Fabric Workshop and Museum at the Contemporary Arts Center and CYMK at Focus Gallery in Covington -- got me thinking about art and its materials.

The CAC show was special in that it invited well-established artists to step away from their main medium and to translate their vision onto some kind of textile. The Focus exhibition took an entirely different approach. Most of the artists included there are young Cincinnatians who, rather than working with expensive materials and framing techniques, opted to print, draw, sculpt and create with any and all possible materials, including the most humble I've ever seen -- manila envelopes.

This thinking led me to something that's happening in Cincinnati and nowhere else: THE COLLECT, an art project born out of curiosity, personal challenge and the desire to help out an inner-city child counseling center. In 2006, MANDY SMITH had the opportunity to get involved with brightening the halls of a dingy, disadvantaged building with art.

"I wanted it to acknowledge the brokenness we deal with in life but also to communicate some hope," Smith says. "I decided to create murals with pieces of junk I found on the streets of Cincinnati. So half of the art-making process was just walking and looking. I was surprised to find how much the simple act of picking up junk and looking at its color or shape helped me look for good in my own challenges.

Two recent exhibitions -- New Media, New Materials: Highlights in Contemporary Art from the Fabric Workshop and Museum at the Contemporary Arts Center and CYMK at Focus Gallery in Covington -- got me thinking about art and its materials.

The CAC show was special in that it invited well-established artists to step away from their main medium and to translate their vision onto some kind of textile. The Focus exhibition took an entirely different approach. Most of the artists included there are young Cincinnatians who, rather than working with expensive materials and framing techniques, opted to print, draw, sculpt and create with any and all possible materials, including the most humble I've ever seen -- manila envelopes.

This thinking led me to something that's happening in Cincinnati and nowhere else: THE COLLECT, an art project born out of curiosity, personal challenge and the desire to help out an inner-city child counseling center. In 2006, MANDY SMITH had the opportunity to get involved with brightening the halls of a dingy, disadvantaged building with art.

"I wanted it to acknowledge the brokenness we deal with in life but also to communicate some hope," Smith says. "I decided to create murals with pieces of junk I found on the streets of Cincinnati. So half of the art-making process was just walking and looking. ... I was surprised to find how much the simple act of picking up junk and looking at its color or shape helped me look for good in my own challenges. I guess there's something childlike and hopeful about seeing the color of a bottle cap or the shape of a piece of twisted wire instead of just seeing trash."

Smith recognized that the hope she felt in transforming litter into art -- something bothersome into something beautiful -- would be contagious. "Maybe it would bring people together," she remembers thinking. "Help us see that there's enough good in Cincinnati to overcome the challenges."

The challenges we face are hardly limited to the arts, though they don't exclude them either. Poverty, illness, racial strife, ugly politics -- Cincinnati faces these issues as much as, and sometimes more than, any other city. How we as a community choose to deal with them is the question that Smith puts forth with The Collect.

To Smith, art can bridge gaps -- economic, social, political.

Paying attention to one's surroundings and finding beauty in the most common throwaway objects: All of us can do that.

"The art is as much about people who may never see or know each other all taking part in something together as it is about the final product," she says. "At the art show in the fall, I hope to include a list of all the contributors, and as far as I'm concerned that list will be as much a part of the art as the pieces on auction."

After the collectors gather enough material, the "trash" will be handed off to Cincinnati artists for a major transformation.

"We're just in the process of putting out a call to artists," Smith says. "There will be about 15 artists involved in the final art show. I wanted to get the public involved (in the first step) because, as far as I'm concerned that citywide involvement in choosing tiny bits of junk is as much a part of the art as when the 'professionals' do their bit. I guess I see it as a kind of performance art on a citywide scale ... people who wouldn't consider themselves artists get to be a part of it."

As I think about Smith's idea and what she hopes to accomplish with it -- something as simple as a little community spirit -- I think about a sidewalk. People walking to and fro and not paying attention to the people they pass, the art they trip over, the sometimes breath-taking buildings that surround them.

Smith echoes this idea in her own statement.

"A few years ago on a road trip, (my husband and I) got stuck in traffic for miles," she says. "The crazy thing was, they had barrels up to keep the traffic in one lane and nothing was happening in the closed lane. As we edged ahead, my husband started weaving the car through the barrels, and after a few minutes all the cars behind began to join in, like a great long line of elephants. I never saw the faces of those in the cars behind us and never will, but we all had a moment of enjoying our common humanness or something. Maybe it's a bit ambitious, but I'd love The Collect to be something like that."

Want to be a collector? Visit

  Mandy Smith of The Collect poses with various
Mandy Smith

Mandy Smith of The Collect poses with various "junk" items.



Two recent exhibitions -- New Media, New Materials: Highlights in Contemporary Art from the Fabric Workshop and Museum at the Contemporary Arts Center and CYMK at Focus Gallery in Covington -- got me thinking about art and its materials.

The CAC show was special in that it invited well-established artists to step away from their main medium and to translate their vision onto some kind of textile. The Focus exhibition took an entirely different approach. Most of the artists included there are young Cincinnatians who, rather than working with expensive materials and framing techniques, opted to print, draw, sculpt and create with any and all possible materials, including the most humble I've ever seen -- manila envelopes.

This thinking led me to something that's happening in Cincinnati and nowhere else: THE COLLECT, an art project born out of curiosity, personal challenge and the desire to help out an inner-city child counseling center. In 2006, MANDY SMITH had the opportunity to get involved with brightening the halls of a dingy, disadvantaged building with art.

"I wanted it to acknowledge the brokenness we deal with in life but also to communicate some hope," Smith says. "I decided to create murals with pieces of junk I found on the streets of Cincinnati. So half of the art-making process was just walking and looking. I was surprised to find how much the simple act of picking up junk and looking at its color or shape helped me look for good in my own challenges.

Two recent exhibitions -- New Media, New Materials: Highlights in Contemporary Art from the Fabric Workshop and Museum at the Contemporary Arts Center and CYMK at Focus Gallery in Covington -- got me thinking about art and its materials.

The CAC show was special in that it invited well-established artists to step away from their main medium and to translate their vision onto some kind of textile. The Focus exhibition took an entirely different approach. Most of the artists included there are young Cincinnatians who, rather than working with expensive materials and framing techniques, opted to print, draw, sculpt and create with any and all possible materials, including the most humble I've ever seen -- manila envelopes.

This thinking led me to something that's happening in Cincinnati and nowhere else: THE COLLECT, an art project born out of curiosity, personal challenge and the desire to help out an inner-city child counseling center. In 2006, MANDY SMITH had the opportunity to get involved with brightening the halls of a dingy, disadvantaged building with art.

"I wanted it to acknowledge the brokenness we deal with in life but also to communicate some hope," Smith says. "I decided to create murals with pieces of junk I found on the streets of Cincinnati. So half of the art-making process was just walking and looking. ... I was surprised to find how much the simple act of picking up junk and looking at its color or shape helped me look for good in my own challenges. I guess there's something childlike and hopeful about seeing the color of a bottle cap or the shape of a piece of twisted wire instead of just seeing trash."

Smith recognized that the hope she felt in transforming litter into art -- something bothersome into something beautiful -- would be contagious. "Maybe it would bring people together," she remembers thinking. "Help us see that there's enough good in Cincinnati to overcome the challenges."

The challenges we face are hardly limited to the arts, though they don't exclude them either. Poverty, illness, racial strife, ugly politics -- Cincinnati faces these issues as much as, and sometimes more than, any other city. How we as a community choose to deal with them is the question that Smith puts forth with The Collect.

To Smith, art can bridge gaps -- economic, social, political. Paying attention to one's surroundings and finding beauty in the most common throwaway objects: All of us can do that.

"The art is as much about people who may never see or know each other all taking part in something together as it is about the final product," she says. "At the art show in the fall, I hope to include a list of all the contributors, and as far as I'm concerned that list will be as much a part of the art as the pieces on auction."

After the collectors gather enough material, the "trash" will be handed off to Cincinnati artists for a major transformation.

"We're just in the process of putting out a call to artists," Smith says. "There will be about 15 artists involved in the final art show. I wanted to get the public involved (in the first step) because, as far as I'm concerned that citywide involvement in choosing tiny bits of junk is as much a part of the art as when the 'professionals' do their bit. I guess I see it as a kind of performance art on a citywide scale ... people who wouldn't consider themselves artists get to be a part of it."

As I think about Smith's idea and what she hopes to accomplish with it -- something as simple as a little community spirit -- I think about a sidewalk. People walking to and fro and not paying attention to the people they pass, the art they trip over, the sometimes breath-taking buildings that surround them.

Smith echoes this idea in her own statement.

"A few years ago on a road trip, (my husband and I) got stuck in traffic for miles," she says. "The crazy thing was, they had barrels up to keep the traffic in one lane and nothing was happening in the closed lane. As we edged ahead, my husband started weaving the car through the barrels, and after a few minutes all the cars behind began to join in, like a great long line of elephants. I never saw the faces of those in the cars behind us and never will, but we all had a moment of enjoying our common humanness or something. Maybe it's a bit ambitious, but I'd love The Collect to be something like that."

Want to be a collector? Visit www.thecollectcincinnati.com for more information.



CONTACT LAURA JAMES: ljames(at)citybeat.com
 
 
 
 

 

comments powered by Disqus
 
Close
Close
Close