The fixed notion of Community Art is elusive, and yet, community art has been around for centuries. Artists are intrinsically drawn to the world they live in, and for many that means not only viewing but participating in it. As I start my personal journey with Community Art, I intend to find out what exactly it means, how exactly it can be defined, so I can help spread this creative fervor and transform the general public into the creatively passionate.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Moving to

Recently I have completely revamped my artist website,  I've had this website for a couple years now, but I've never been able to edit it in the way I wanted.  In the past couple months I've been working on making myself more official as an artist.  I had to make a website on yola for an assignment for grad school, I created business cards, a facebook page, and I've been having more and more conversations with people about myself as an artist.  On my business cards I put my website, but when I handed them out I always added a disclaimer about the state that my website was in.

Now I no longer have to do that.  While my website is not a professionally done perfect piece of art, it conveys who I am and what I do much more clearly.  Now, I actually want to show people my website.  Because of this, I've decided to move over everything from this blog to the blog on and I will continue writing there.  If you like what I write, please come and have a look!  I always love conversations with new people about art, community art, and just about anything else.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Next Best Idea

It's taken me a while to figure out what kind of creative swing I'm on.  As a person interested in more things than my brain can handle, I've discovered that I go through creative swings.  For weeks at a time all I will be able to think about is painting.  In all my free time I'll race to my paints and spread my canvasses around the room while my guitar, books, and other art forms lay gathering dust.  Then my painting swing will taper off and suddenly I'll write three folk songs in a week and spend three more weeks playing them and writing more.

At the beginning of the year I was on a guitar swing and wrote what I considered some of my best songs yet (as usually happens whenever you write something new).  Then I fell into a bit of creative confusion. I was overloaded from life in general, which tends to stunt my creativity, but still needed to find my outlet.  Turns out that I needed to be reading, that for me imagining the worlds created from words on a page is as creative an activity as writing those worlds myself.  I'm still in the reading swing (plowing my way through the Harry Potter books yet again and bringing my boyfriend with me).  But a few weeks ago I could feel the next swing emerging: writing.

Here's my problem.  In the summer of 2010 I started what I, at that point, considered my best idea yet.  I developed the story, the characters, the arc for at least three books, and started writing.  Then came November and it was time once again for NaNoWriMo (if you don't know about that just wait until this November comes and it rules my life once again).  I wanted to write my next 50,000-word-in-a-month novel and I wanted it to be about the world I had just developed.  But I had noticed how much better my writing was when I wasn't writing for NaNoWriMo, so instead of carrying on my story I decided to develop one of the legends of my new world into its own story.

Well I did that and I have my next finished book (I'm sending it out to be read/revised at the moment if anyone's interested, just comment and/or email me).  But it took me much longer to accomplish than I thought.  In my new creative swing I turned back to the original story from the summer of 2010, started trying to write it, and found that I just couldn't get into it.  It was fun to re-read and think about, but the creative juices just weren't there.

So I've been stuck in a creative rut, not helped by the fact that my life has gotten just a bit crazier with the end of the semester and the end of my apartment's lease cycle (yay for three new roommates?)  It took me a while to realize that what my creativity was trying to tell me wasn't to continue my old story, but to start a new one, and that's exactly what I did.

Suddenly, my creativity is in full swing.  Theo Baez and her friends have been born, the first chapter has been written, the story arc has been discovered, and a new world has been created.  My paintings continue to gather dust along with my guitar, and my old story is retreating into the depths of my hard drive, but in the face of the return of my creativity, that's okay.  Soon my creativity will be swinging another way, but for now it's time to start my best idea yet.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Separation of Art and Science

While reading Out of Our Minds  by Ken Robinson, which I'm sure I will reference many more times, I was introduced to the history of the separation between art and science.  I had always wondered how we'd managed to get from the multi-talented interdisciplinary Greeks to the specialized modern world and here was at least part of an answer.

Apparently, It all started with Nicolaus Copernicus and heliocentrism, the idea that the earth moves around the sun.  Galileo Galilei is the name most people associate with heliocentrism, as he delved into it a generation later, but Copernicus began the idea.

With Galileo began the separation of Church and State, which until then might as well have been one being.  Suddenly, during the Renaissance and into the Enlightenment, everyone was asking new questions and a new paradigm was established.

During the Renaissance, art and science were still closely intertwined.  We still use the term Renaissance woman or man to describe someone who is well versed in many disciplines.  Just think of Leonardo Da Vinci, painter, inventor, and sculptor extraordinaire.

But in the Enlightenment, under the lead of those like Rene Descartes, the "I think therefore I am" guy, science became much more particular about who it would share its bed with.  Rationalism and Empiricism took over and suddenly the arts found themselves being shifted to the sidelines.

In reaction to this, the Romanticists burst onto the historic stage.  Musicians, poets, painters, and artists of all kinds sprang up to "[focus] on the quality of human experience and on the nature of existence" (Robinson, pg. 97).  Romantic music has always been my personal favorite; it was the first form of classical music that truly moved me and the era that I have always enjoyed playing the most.

The separation of science and art has persisted and deepened until today, when we take it for granted.  There are the artists and the scientists, the descendants of the Enlightened and the Romantics, and they rarely overlap.  As I read Ken Robinson's chapter on what he called the Academic Illusion, I scribbled "what about enlightened romantics?" in the margins.  When I started writing this post I realized that they have existed, the artist scientists, the Renaissance men and women, but they have become figures in history instead of contemporary role models.  In my work as a community artist, I hope to restore that bridge.

While I support the separation of Church and State, the separation of Art and Science is true blasphemy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Embracing Myself as an Art Blogger

I have a complicated relationship with the internet.  It started very young under the tutelage of my geek father who had me programming on MOO's and in Microworld, gave me an email and an instant messaging account, and tried to help me start my website all before I reached double digits.  I've also had various unsuccessful blogs but never found myself truly devoted to them.  Part of this is because when I think of blogs, I think of my father writing on his blog everyday and the geeky/political topics that I would then be forced to listen to over the dinner table.

And yet here I am, lying in bed on my one free day this week typing away on a blog that I have managed to write on at the very least once every two weeks (usually once a week) since January.  While this isn't the spurting amount of information that most blogs have, it's a level of consistency that I have never managed to maintain before and within my current life style, it's something I'm quite proud of.

So why is this blog actually alive?

The biggest part is that I'm writing about something that I'm passionate about.  Art, people, and the connection between them are three of the things that will make me drop everything.  Everyday I come in contact with at least one idea that I could write about because community art is the center of my life.  It's what I live and breath in my jobs, school, and relationships.

Another important part is that I decided that I'm writing this primarily as a documentation of my own thought.  While I love when people read my blog (the stat button that I check incessantly tells me if people actually do or not), I only take minor blows to my ego when I write something that doesn't get much attention.  That's because, much in the way that I journal everyday to build up a documentation of my life, I write in this blog to build a documentation of my growth as a community artist.

But now I want a little more.  I'm currently surrounded by the STUDIO of Possibilities, the creative center that I am building with Ulrich Inge and Sam Newland.   We've started trying to spread our idea by talking to people, by shamelessly marketing ourselves, and by making connections between our idea and what is already out there.  I think about how excited I get whenever someone reads my work and I realized that there are two things I need to do.

1.) Read other art blogs.  It's a karmic circle.  Read and comment to get new ideas, give ideas, and, show other people writing that someone does care.

2.) Make myself more of a presence on the internet through writing more often and just as consistently while commenting on other ideas to create connections.

To begin fulfilling my new goals I googled art blogs and stumbled across  Here's a whole list ready-made for me!  A whole group of people writing about art waiting for me to read them.  And who knows, maybe I'll be lucky enough to get on that list as well.  And then maybe I'll actually be able to say the word "blog" without cringing and lowering my voice.

Friday, May 4, 2012


For the past few hours I've been scrounging through my apartment, pulling my art from the walls, the dishwasher, the bookshelves, and anywhere else it has walked off too.  I've removed it from its natural habitat, placed it on an 18"x24" piece of drawing paper and photographed it.  After returning all the art pieces to their homes, I'm now settling in on my laptop to edit it all the pictures I took.
Straight from my kitchen shelves to the internet!

I'm doing this because for grad school this semester I have to create my artist's website and I've realized how little of my art I have quality pictures of.  I have plenty of snapshots of the studio, paintings in progress, ceramics before they were put through the kiln, etc., but by the time my art gets to the finished piece apparently I just let it move on.  The exception to this are the extensive pictures I took from my senior show in painting.  Because I took so many pictures of the gallery last March, making the painting section of my website was much easier.

But as I worked on my website I realized that I don't have enough creative output in any single art form to portray myself as a professional artist.  I have about ten paintings, twenty plates/bowls, three recorded songs, two books, and a quickly growing wealth of pictures of kids work.  Separately, this doesn't show the amount of time that I've spent developing myself.  However, all together it starts to form an image of a dedicated artist.

To this end, I photographed all the pieces I have left from my ceramics senior show (which are now sitting in my kitchen, thankfully they were all clean), pottery that I've painted at work over the past nine months, and the various stages of my knitted canvasses.  Adding this to the random images I had strewn throughout my over-full iphoto folder and now I have about seventy pictures to work with, instead of twenty.

I've also realized just how much I've made.  I thought when I moved to Boston my creative output had slowed down some, but now I've realized that while I don't have any new 8" oil paintings, I have generated quite a bit of everything else.  As I go back to work on my website, I can now fill in all the missing areas with concrete examples of my art, what people really what to see, instead of fluffy writing about what I like to do.

The lesson learned: document everything.  I've already made a point to do this, I have journals spilling out of the bookshelf, a 97% full hard-drive, and stacks of art everywhere, but I need to do it more and in a more organized manner.  As I plow along the path to creating my community art center (we now have an in-progress website! I've been focusing on documenting everything, because that's what shows your competence and gets people interested.  As of now, I'm starting to practice what I preach in my own work.  Get ready for a lot more of everything!

Monday, April 30, 2012

My Best Art Piece

As an artist who is also a young professional and a graduate student, I'm used to hearing both others and myself commiserate about trying to find the time and space to do art.  Eight foot tall oil paintings just aren't plausible in a small, rented apartment on the outskirts of Boston when you work two and a half jobs.  I realized this before going into my new life and started working on smaller pieces, but even so, my painting output has trickled down to a small and inconsistent flow.

And yet I don't feel any lack of creativity.  There are many reasons for this, but I struck on one in particular while I was writing in my nightly journal (which I will have to go back to after the completion of this blog post).  For the past couple years I've joked that I am my best art piece.  To the extent that if I got a tattoo, which is still in the list of possibilities, I would want it to be my artist signature so that I would have signed said best piece of art.  I always approached this half-jokingly and semi-seriously.  My current definition of art is "an object or idea to which a person devotes time, thought, and energy."  If this is true, than I am indeed an art piece, as are you.

As I was writing tonight, I realized that this metaphor can be applied in another way.  I've noticed that when I do a creative act, the whole picture often overwhelms me.  For example, if I try and draw a face and it looks like a deformed melon.  But when I try and draw the specific curves and lines, ignoring the fact that they will make a face when they come together, at first it looks disjointed and wrong.  If I push past that and continue to focus on the lines, then after x amount of time I have an art piece.

My life is like a drawing.  If I try and create the whole thing in one broad stroke, it takes on life's version of a deformed melon, ungainly, overwhelming, and downright discouraging.  However, if I separate out the elements, focusing on the way the blue dots meet the red squiggles throughout the piece, trying to highlight a path for eye movement, or bring balance to the overall composition, then I make progress.  It's then that I can do work intently, step back and marvel at my success, and then dive back in.

Of course, sometimes when I take a step back it looks just as bad as it did when I started.  This happens in my life too.  I spend all my time focusing on my folk songs only to realize that my technical skills as a classical pianist have all but disappeared.  But sometimes, when I spend all my time developing myself as an art teacher and start wondering if I've left behind my painter self, I step back and realize that because the teacher part of my "life art" is stronger, myself as a person overall is stronger.  What I've been focusing on contributes to the balance of the overall composition of my life.

With this reassuring thought in mind, I'll turn back to my journal and continue writing about the wonderful class I taught today on figure drawing while my paintings shiver in the corner, my guitars sigh in their cases, and my book continues to sleep on my desktop.  But soon it will be their turn, because to create a wonderful art piece you have to pay attention to every detail.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My First Studio

When I was in college and debating between being a psychology major and minor, one of the areas of study that interested me was the effect surroundings have on creativity, emotion, and learning. There are places that are inherently creative, ones where our minds can’t help but wander, and ones that immediately make us feel angry. As I began hypothesizing I thought about the different factors: visual make-up, personal connection, cultural symbolism.

While this still interests me greatly, when I decided to make psychology my minor and pick up two art forms as my double major, I chose to address this question in reality rather than within the settings of a psychological test. Although my quantifiable outcome may not be as persuasive, I believe that through studying places that bring specific emotions, particularly creativity, I will be able to recreate them in a directed setting.

Currently, I’m sitting in the studio where I took my first steps as a visual artist and created my first series of paintings. I can see the paint spots on the floor from my brush and the beads scattered around the studio from my drawing. As soon as I step inside the glass doors of what was for four years my creative center. my minds starts to whirl. I am here now not to create my own work, but to support my closest friend as she does hers, and yet my mind fills itself with possibilities.

Much of my inspiration for starting a community art center comes from this space. It is a giant room on the third floor of the art building with a high yellow ceiling and tall windows with swiveling planks of wood that serve as shades. Apparently, it used to be a gym.

There are no walls in this space except for the four that create its outer limits. Instead, stacked cubbies built together and placed on wheels create barriers less than half the height of the room which turn this wide open space into a maze of sorts. It was a maze that I memorized, down to every detail, during my time as a college student.

Because the space is open, noises drift uninterrupted throughout. Classes overlap, music blends together, the pounding of hammers and the harsh click of staple guns echo throughout. A constant flow of creativity twines itself through the false cubby-walls, the echo of years upon years of inspiration.

When I was creating my art in this room, discovering who I was and who I wanted to be, I could look up from my canvas to whoever else was in the room and ask their opinion or just how they were. We were a community, a support system, one that I know lives on without me in it. Of course there were aggravations and irritations, painter’s block and spilled paint, but in the end all of this gets absorbed into the greater creativity atmosphere.

This atmosphere is what I aim to capture, what I want to make available to those who didn’t or don’t have the money to find it in a college setting, who did have the money but wouldn’t spend it on art, who had it and had to leave it after four wondrous years, to everyone who cares to experience it. Sometimes all it takes to feel creative, to become an artist, is to be in the right place, encouraged by the right people. While the true artists are the ones who can capture this energy and hold it within themselves, in my art center I want to open up that possibility to everyone, if only for the one hour a week they can spare to come to my studio.