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.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Second Wind and a New Book

For the past month I've been in a whirlwind of everything happening very quickly interspersed with moments of absolute nothing. Neither of these states has encouraged my writing here, although I have scribbled in notebooks while familiarizing myself with the local bus and train system. But once I get home I want nothing more to sleep and on the days when I didn't leave then I just never got enough rolling.

But enough of that.

My brain has been roiling back and forth with thoughts of Community Art and art in general always on the crux of the wave. The first really momentous piece was when I was offered a job in the community art department of a local museum. This spurred me into a flurry of movement. I organized my life around my new job and my creative mind started clicking away as I considered all the new possibilities.

This new step prompted me to make up my mind about what to buy from New Village Press. Although because of a bit of confusion with the shipping the book took a month to get to me, I have started reading Museums and Civic Dialogue. So far I've almost completed the first segment on a exhibition put forward in 2002 by the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. The exhibition was called Gene(sis): Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics, and explored the implications of the then recent completion of a "rough draft" of the human genome.

Having little background in science, reading about this exhibition taught me just as much about the science of genomics as it did of the art that was used to contemplate the field. This is a perfect example of what the exhibition was trying to achieve: an inter-disciplinary approach to learning and understanding. By combining artists of all kinds with scientists, librarians, public speakers and more, the Henry reached a much wider community at a much deeper level.

As I read, I thought about how fundamental the inter-disciplinary approach to art is to Community Art. Because communities often aren't focused around art, a community artist has to enter into the community by understanding and working with whatever is fundamental. In this case, the general interest and concern about genomics in Seattle, a city with a large investment in biotechnology, was a perfect way to bring art to the rest of the community. It also gave the community a different and deeper way of thinking about genomics.

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