CEC ArtsLink, an international arts organization, is sending Public Art Curator, Kendal Henry and Artist, Luisa Caldwell to the City of Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Kendal and Luisa will conduct workshops and lectures with students and young artists at the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre and at local schools. These workshops and conversations will culminate into collaborative public art project(s) which will be unveiled on June 13, as part of the City Day celebrations. This Blog documents their journey.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

NATURE BOX pix & project summary



“Nature Box” is a collaborative temporary public sculpture installation made completely of reclaimed paper, cut and modeled, then wheat pasted onto the existing surface of a dilapidated old building. Inspired by the beauty of the garden in which this old building is situated, and the choice to use only reclaimed paper materials such as newspapers and magazines we began on a creative journey that started a bit rocky and disjointed and unsure. Through the process of collaboration and idea exchange we were able to develop a unified concept and the artwork resulted in a cohesive and successful work of art.

My own goal was to incorporate my approach to working in the realm of temporary public art- and that is to apply paper onto outdoor building structures. It was very important for me to come and demonstrate how something beautiful can be made out of pretty much valueless materials. I wanted to cover the building in a page from a newsprint flier of which Christina located hundreds of copies. This newsprint page was advertising wooden garden type structures built in the traditional Siberian domestic architectural style. By having many of these pages with pictures formatted in squares and rectangles, through repetition a pattern was established which looked a lot like brick work.

This notion provoked a very negative reaction and the word “paint” kept being introduced. I’m like “why paint?, you already know what paint can do”. Finally at a point during our first workshop discussions Andrew said, “They have come all this way to work with us, why don’t we trust them”. So it was decided, we would begin by covering the building in this paper. I promised if they hated it we could change it.

Did they hate it? Hardly. They loved it- we loved it. The pattern worked particularly well from a distance. The most vocal doubters were the ones most impressed with the transformation. Plus it is fun to do, to witness on the scale of architecture something change so drastically with such simple means. I asked if they were enjoying the process. I can’t remember who said it but someone responded, “it isn’t everyday we get to cover a building in paper.

People brought in sketches on how to continue from here. There were a lot of book references because the building was situated on the grounds of a teachers college; Alex wanted to do a more political statement by depicting factories. Eugene’s idea to use the windows and doors as portals to other realities was the most conceptually tight given the nature of the building, plus having designated “canvases” helped with the organization
of the overall composition and was site specific. It was difficult steering people away from new unrelated ideas and keeping us on track- but not impossible.

We basically established an idea of nature conquering and taking over. What began with the notion of pastoral landscapes placed into the window and door frame turned into an opportunity for each person to contribute collaged elements in his or her own style, enough so we could compose them together and motifs would be repeated through out what we do together. Dimitri, a professional artist working mostly commercially really wanted to do a tree and pushed for it unrelentlessly to the point we agreed that it did fit conceptually but he would have to confine it to and around the door area instead of right smack on the corner, as he would have liked. This decision also was based on the fact that it would be made of paper mache and would be more protected inside the deep recess of the door.

Elements were brought in of all sorts, including a pair of kissing flowers; being big, bright and colorful they matched well with my own super colorful flowers. Maria made lovely mandalas all in whites which lended a very nice tranquility here and there to a very lively composition. Alex really wanted a factory, okay we said as long as it can be depicted being taken over by nature- a great added message to our concept. Masha a young fine artist who paints as well as does experimental performance art with other artists rendered it to Alex’s specifications. Sasha wanted to incorporate a cat that he would make at home. “Make it work”, I said- and he did.
Dimitri went at his tree solo on site until we added leaves, which everyone cut and applied. But at one point, because he used the same paper that we covered the building with it was this strange morphing image, the tree and building being one and the same. I loved this image and felt it would have stood on its own as opposed to being painted realistically as the initial consensus was. To integrate the tree more fully into the rest of our piece, we decided on a transparent brown wash, which revealed the patterned newsprint underneath, with added paper leaves attached it became more generally accessible to a public not yet exposed to contemporary public art.

It was such an interesting process; we lived and acted out a creative thinking process- from a general notion to a successful and finished product.

On a personal level, the experience of working with these young, creative and intelligent Siberians was an opportunity of a lifetime. I am so impressed by their commitment and energy- I would have taken them all home with me. I hope to stay in contact with them (Facebook helps!) Because I want to see where their lives take them! There is so much potential!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sneak preview

I had to do some collaging at times on my own to
keep us up to speed. Note the box of Russian wheat paste.
It's not the first time I turn a hotel room into
a makeshift studio. Being an artist is so funny sometimes.
But see these Black-eyed Susans I like very much-
idea for another project, another wall, another place and time...

We Finished!

However- lesson number one: Always get a good establishing shot- which I forgot to do and will get this morning. Don't want to post without it. In the meanwhile enjoy more pics of some of the awesome people I worked with!


Sasha and his Cat

Alex wants to be a psychologist/therapist.
A relatively new profession here in Russia.

Masha & Christina. Masha is an artist-
note the funky beret.
Christina studies physics and
speaks English very well and is very
fun to have around.

The Art Squad- some of them. Most people were in the middle of exams
or have jobs and were not able to come every day. Most managed to come for a few
hours everyday because they were lovin' the experience so much. We had fun. But we also
produced a rather amazing public art work! Some talk about wanting to do future projects on
their own- having heard this I think "my job is done"! And we all made a lot of new friends!

Public Art?

Wrong! A rock concert promotion.
Alice Cooper & Scorpions are coming to Krasnoyarsk!

Gone Fishin!

Ivan and Nastia working on a school of pixelated fish in a pixelated river.

Feed Me!

Ivan working on one of his garbage men.

Childish Things

The benches became the canvas for poetry that reminds us that we are always children at heart...and a great way to meet guys too apparently.

Change is a Comin

All along the park, the trash cans and benches were being made over from and institutional green and yellow to violet and white. But this is just the beginning of the transformation.

At The Other End of the City...

Is the long park just outside the youth center. All the projects are inspired by childhood. Olia is working hard on her game which uses the paving patters like pixels- reminiscent of the earliest computer games . This is a game within a game with three levels of difficulty. It can be played on foot or while riding a bike.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We have blackened our windows and doors to push the idea of
an inner void, from which our plant life will burst forth.

Individual contributions are clear with the elements that
we are each making with old magazines, cutting and pasting,
making beautiful, weird and fantastical flowers!

Creativity is very messy!

Some lovely details made by Maria.

It really is messy at the end of the day, but proud of it.
Plus we are considerate of our surroundings and clean up well.

More elements. Some of our collage material was donated
from a nursery school. Note the egg shapes which
we will use as flowers.

Of our entire group Christina (KPYCTYHA) is famous
for having the most beautiful eyes in the land.

And Sasha is our very own Rapunzel

Our first elements go up.

Our first flower!

Eugene begins the layering.

Masha & Alex working together on the factory
image that is being overtaken by nature.

What is Dimitri doing?

...making an awesome high relief tree out of paper mache!

Still in progress, still plenty to do, it's not finished yet.
But we are satisfied so far. It's interesting working together
through a creative process like this. It's as though we have
become one big brain, and often arrive at the same conclusions