Last Friday, my schools' art club paid visits to some of Baltimore's art galleries. I shared my experience at Maryland Art Place yesterday. Today, spotlight on School 33.
School 33 is a community art gallery which not only exhibits individual artists, but allows the community to become involved in the gallery as well. None of the students knew this going in, so imagine our surprise when we found out we got to contribute to the gallery.
The gallery, by local fiber artist Melissa Webb, was titled The Temporary Nature of Ideas.
"As a fiber artist, I love the process of making… of obsessively crafting an object, a costume, or an installation… then combining the fruits of these efforts to create entirely new realities through the use of performance and audience participation. I tend to construct detail-oriented, otherworldly scenarios that can be viewed and interacted with in a casual manner, and where the performers are encouraged to react and improvise.
The work becomes fully realized through this continuous interaction between the performer, the viewer, and the surrounding environment. I am interested in removing the separation between the viewer and the work of art, as well as between the audience member and the performer. I want to enable others to become directly involved with the work, and to give them a role in determining the ultimate outcome of each piece. This concept is evident in The Temporary Nature of Ideas, a series of large-scale, “living” installations that I began in 2009. Viewer / participants, using provided materials, are invited to delve into the process of making with me, and to be a part of the growth taking place over time within the space." -Melissa Webb
Walking into the gallery was initially overwhelming. There was so much to look at, so many contributions from the artist and from the public to take in and interpret. Without a chance to breathe, we were shuffled into an adjacent room, where buckets of cloth, yarn, and netting lined one wall, with hot glue guns on the other. The floor was strewn with pillows for us to sit on while we worked. We were supposed to make something, to use the cloth to express an instantaneous, fleeting idea.
Though it wasn't said, it felt like we'd been shown just a glimpse of the gallery to inform us what we were creating for, but then left to our own devices and our own ideas. It was slightly staggering and most of my art club companions were sharing looks of confusion; our college does not offer courses to deal with spontaneity. But at some point we all got swept up in creation. There were plenty of ideas, tenuous and incomplete, and by the end, all but the most uninspired of us had something to add to the gallery.
My little contribution (pictured left) got me into a discussion with the artist herself, about ideas that come out of nowhere and the bits and pieces of our lives and experiences that somehow coalesce into something coherent. By the way, Melissa is really nice. Just FYI.
I will refrain talking about my piece in this blog, but if anyone is really curious, leave a comment and I'll explain there.
As it was, this exhibit was unusual, unexpected, and totally worth the hot glue I spilled on my jeans. I'm a little sad that I won't get my little doll pictured here back, but there's a wonderful sense of satisfaction in contributing and knowing that others can see and enjoy your creations.
The Temporary Nature of Ideas closes this week, on the 30th. There's a free closing reception Friday October 29th, 6-9pm. But please check out upcoming exhibits. The gallery is free and open to all ages.
The exhibit gets an B+. It's a little cluttered and confusing, but getting to contribute adds a lot to the experience.
The gallery gets a B-. While the mission is fabulous and the galleries interesting, the building is tight. And whereas the Maryland Art Place is impossible to find because of the surround structures, School 33 is impossible to find because the last thing you'd identify the building as would be an art gallery.