Typing (ugh)… not writing…

I have neglected my blog for the last couple of months. It seems the project I have undertaken in September has taken precedence over most of my activities. It is an educational project for the Local art gallery’s educational arm, worked on with two teachers from our local school district and funded by two public bodies – the school District and the Art Gallery.

Initially we were to come up with a kit of lesson plans on Environmental Art – a topic of huge scope. In my usual capacity of “loose cannon”, I interpreted this topic as exploring Ephemeral Arts. My rationale for this was, “Does the world need to document and compile more examples of art in a museum, when art -making can be a largely personal, communal and ephemoral activity which can be passed on through common practice repeated over and over again, and allowed to be replaced and extended by future practices?”

So, I thought and thought – about works made only for a temporary purpose, of importance in the culture within which they were made and which gave expressive colour to to lives and belief systems. Enter the notion of Kolams as made in India’s Tamil Nadu, mandalas as made by Buddhist monks as a form of contemplative practice, and of Navajo sand-painting as ritual practice in one of North America’s larges indigenous tribes. Much research followed on the heels of this notion.

And, of course, there are contemporary practitioners of the ephemeral arts – Andy Goldsworthy, Rikrit Taravanija, Diana Lynn Thompson, Alan Sonfist and others who place process above product and life cycle above permanence. How to relate contemporary practice with historic practices? There is a relationship. As always no contemporary practice is without historical antecedents. How to relate the continuum?

Three of us sat down over wine and dinner and hashed out the congruities and continuities. It is good to have several good minds working together. One of us, a young High School art teacher worked out the mechanics of relating contemporary to historical practices. man, I envy her her energy, and her ability to directly narrow down relationships. Also her ability to negotiate the, to me, complexities of computer programs and mechanisms. I have been relegated to being typist, a task to which I am definitely not well suited, and to the work of coming up with lesson plans appropriate to grades K to 7.

So I have been typing up background information as well, collated from a variety of sources. Have also played with materials to see about their suitability to the various grade groups. Lots of typing; lots of frustration with my brand new Windows program. To take a break today, I ground up a bunch of rice in my Braun grinder and made a Kolam on the threshold to my studio.

This afternoon, two of us are to make a presentation of the kits we have prepared for K – 3, Gr. 4 -7, Gr. 8 – 12 – complete with visuals and CDRs and DVDs. I have sets of dominoes, side-walk chalks, rice flour and coloured sand packed with binders full of lesson plans and visuals. We also have beautiful reproductions of a Tibetan Thangka to share with the people coming to the unveiling meeting.

Mu forefingers have grown calluses from all the typing over the past two+ months. The bound documents need layout help – I am beyond incompetent at this. My two cohorts have heavy vocational committments. WE NEED HELP! Yes, we are going to beg for help.

Now mind – we are doing this as volunteers – and as such have racked up a respectable 30+ hours on this project – and that is a conservative estimate. But if all goes well, and we get the clerical help we so desperately need, we shalll have a really fine program to lend out to busy public school teachers.

Still typing, not writing, in suburbia….G

10 Responses to “Typing (ugh)… not writing…”

  1. christine Says:

    I like where your thoughts took you. For me, writing and “making” are activities that take me outside of myself for a time, and that’s why I engage in art, whether it’s reading, making a collage, going to a museum, or making a poem. A worthy endeavor, G.

    • suburbanlife Says:

      Thank you, Christine. I must say, in spite of the problems with computer program and other mechanical stuff like numbering pages, the whole process is highly satisfying at the end and what i have learned has enriched my life so much. G

  2. The Querulous Squirrel Says:

    This is an amazingly ambitious project, all the more so as a volunteer. I’m in awe of anyone who can create curricula across grade levels. It sounds both imaginative and concrete.

  3. James Steerforth Says:

    Good luck for your project and a Happy New Year!

  4. lookingforbeauty Says:

    It’s an ambitious and awesome project. Congratulations!
    How did the presentation go?

    • suburbanlife Says:

      Hi K! The presentation is not till the 21st of January.
      I finally did the last look see of the binders, and they are fine, everything correctly labelled and ready to go out. We totted up the hours we spent on this project and it is well over 300 hours. Whew! Sure am glad it is ready to roll and is finally over with. Thanks for your constant bucking me up whilst I was whining. G

  5. ybonesy Says:

    This is good context for your most recent post. I, too, admire the breadth and depth of this project. Wow, wow, wow! Did you ever find someone to help you with the layout of your documents? Hopefully so. I’m always aware of how much the person with the computer skills is valued in any project, even one that has seemingly nothing to do with computers. It’s become an almost basic skill in today’s world.

    I’m struck by the sum of the three minds working on this and how you all brought something to the table, so to speak, and made the project all that much better. Very whole. Congrats to all of you, and cheers to the teachers and kids who will benefit from your work.

  6. suburbanlife Says:

    ybonesy – at this late date we have not found anyone to format the kits. I know what you mean about having computer skills being a necessity these days. it is a basic skill that is invaluable.
    The three of us all like to work in this collaborative fashion. it is amazing how naturally and easily we sub-divided tasks, took them on and completed them on our own and them wove them together into a tight unit. It really was a lot like working with university mates back some forty years ago, on group projects – the same energy, enthusiasm for making something whole and useful happen existed. I do love working like this! G

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