Creating with a community is so important to me. It feels natural, second nature, obvious. Providing opportunities for people to collaborate, make marks and move as a single organism mirrors what life is like as community. Some flow together with ease, others chaotic and distruptors, some with hesitation and others entirely observational.
As the artist I find my role in a commuity setting is to present an opportunity and let the people take over it. There is no set outcomes, every space has its own voice, its own history, its on identity. I can take the same set of tools and resources to each space and new conversations, imagery and outcomes will be determined based on the people and place.
This year I was honoured to be asked to attend the Jacaranda Festival in Goombungee Queensland as the lead artist. The limitations were chalk, outdoor, drop in attendance and weather.
My whole body sang with the perfect ingredients for a project I had been working out mentally for many years now. BIRDS. I have always loved the tangibility of objects, they transform the marks and intention behind them. Moving from surface design or the need to 'draw' on a board or flat substrate incomparison to the idea of play and freedom with an object. Collectively we move into the idea of adornment, colour, line and fluid movements as we move away from the sometimes rigid and intimidating ideas surrounding 'drawing' and often coupled with representation.
Objects break down barriers and encourage more participation from community, and once initial marks are made people will flow through an entire space with more confidence to create across all surfaces.
The festival witnessed exactly those sentiments. People across ages and demographics came and participated. With many coming back to see the visual transformation of the space across the day and to add additional marks to their original. Playing a game of blind collaboration with a stranger. The conversations led in all directions. Asking about me as an artist, what that looks like for me as a person, a career, a passion, a form of expression. They asked about The Arts as a whole, the adjoinging gallery space and other ways the can connect with those spaces outside of a festival setting. They remarked on the joy moving through the space they felt and witnessed from others and how it is a different side of their community that they had not really stopped and taken the time to notice before.
The Arts has a way to visually and physically bring a sense of community together. A way to bring the feelings of an environment to the forefront where people can see the intangible thread that binds a community together in a phsical form.
Growing up in my own community it was those events that marked my memories. Each year we would have an all school musical performance where the whole town would get together and celebrate The Arts. It was one of my favourite memories of growing up. An evening where we would sit on picnic blankets watch, play and celebrate. It is those events that I feel obligated as an artist to provide for future generations of communities. Those memories that have sat with me my entire life, that have shaped me as a person and a sense of place.
Community art projects are not only essential but vital. And I am fortunate to be able to share those moments with others.