20 Neighborhoods at Center on Halsted

Veronica Stein tells us about the workshops at Center on Halsted

July 14

“Today we began our workshop with a group discussion exploring our individual perspectives on social constructs of “female”, “woman hood”, “feminist”, “gender” and “gender construction”.  I accompanied our discussion with a clip from , A Peculiar Kind  “a web series that candidly explores the lives and experiences of queer women of color with eye-opening and unscripted conversations.”  In this particular episode the participants explored their unique views on gender roles, masculinity, femininity, heteronormativity, and gender privilege: http://www.thepeculiarkind.com/episodes#/i/2
We then reviewed our “homework” assignment from last week; to write a journal entry on our unique “ways of seeing” on a found object. One participant confessed that in addition to being new to journaling, she had a difficult time finding what she considered to be interesting found material due to her limited physical mobility.  In contrast to her perspective, I found her journal work profound!  She had unknowingly created and “artist book”.   Although I stressed the dynamic nature her piece, she doubted the success of her work.  What I enjoyed most was that to read her “artist book” the viewer was required to unroll the pages (comprised of used brown paper bags, magazine advertisements, and newspaper articles) which were bound in a casing of bubble wrap.
I demonstrated with a few participants how to use a flat bed digital scanner to duplicate original photographs in the Center’s public computer lab.  One participant and found a 1968 LIFE magazine in pristine condition.  Inside was were images and an article about Mitt Romney’s fathers political campaign which we scanned!  With excitement she explained (and I agreed)  this would be a great way of incorporating history and current events into her work.
On the first day of our workshop I guided each participant to bring some sort of vessel to “contain” their sculpture.  I observed that the majority of participants brought in a standard box as the foundation for their works.  As a teaching artist I encourage us to “think outside the box” therefore I set one guideline: no boxes may be used as the foundation for our sculptures.
We again reviewed the containers of Betye Sarr uses to “house” her assemblages to include banjos, birdcages, small tin ships, geographical globes and table tops.  Through reflection participants discovered alternative vessels that may “contain” our assemblages to include vintage cooking pots, wicker baskets and styrofoam packing materials.  I enjoy observing these artists take risks throughout their creation process.  We will spend the next two weeks assembling, assembling, assembling!”

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