Here’s the application. Expressions of interest to work with me, over the next few months and on, are welcome. Initially, I am seeking artists willing to visit my studio (Chicago, Humboldt Park) and narrate existing diagrams on camera. June/July/August will be when much of this happens.
Common Knowledge: Making Art
*Short Project Description: Talking with artists and musicians about their deep, but often unarticulated knowledge about their ways of working in the studio, on stage, and behind the scenes, I then create diagrams to present their stories back to them and to the world. Diagrams are an art form that does not show a simple truth, but need to be actively interpreted. To that end, I will host reading and recording sessions in my studio. Resulting videos will be freely distributed on platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo.
*Artist Statement: Cultural Management as an academic field includes advocacy for artists’ needs. As an artist who teaches Cultural Management, I want to share the empowering material I have the opportunity to work with through my artwork – diagrams. My diagrams reflect professional knowledges artists have about their practices in the studio, as networkers, on the job and as members of communities. As with many professions, these ways of knowing are often not explicit, but applied in action. In short, artists and administrators often know much more than they give themselves credit for. I want to both draw attention to that fact and showcase that knowledge. My early diagrams presented entire arts organizations, drawing out how staff, board members, audiences and broader communities interacted. One project, “Flexible Art Worlds”, maps out the many organizations and settings that the art world is comprised of, including the art market, municipal and federal support systems, foundations and non-profits, but also design and technology, urban development and creative industries in general. More recently I have focused on individual artists, drawing inspiration from studio critiques. Eliciting and listening to what the artists I am in dialogue with know, I then create diagrams that condense what I hear. Using these diagrams as memory aides, stories can be reanimated and even fleshed out. They become universal. While I hope my diagrams are visually engaging, it is most important that they are in fact being used.
The project I am proposing here is both about collecting more information and animating existing diagrams. To that end, I intend to host video sessions in my studio, inviting a broad cross section of artists to make new diagrams with me and/or use my diagrams as a starting point to tell stories about making art. The goal is to distribute those videos freely on public platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo.
*Artist History and Biography: Only many years after the fact did I realize that my early involvement in experimental music (culminating in the participation in a John Cage Musicircus as a teenager) shaped my approaches to art, focusing on experimental notation and dialogue.
Thus, my art and teaching practices are tightly intertwined. I sought a teaching position to be able to be in dialogue with others. I use my diagrammatic art to extend the dialogue outside of the institution. As a consultant, I have conducted community engagement projects throughout Chicago neighborhoods, discussed grant writing with artists, diagramming and sharing results. Since 2008, I have talked with artists about how they conduct their work. I developed the format first at a residency at the Banff Centre in Canada, when artist colleagues invited me into their studios, requesting I use diagramming techniques to help them better articulate their practices. I have also theorized this work, extensively presenting at conferences. When I recently spent a sabbatical in Vienna, I experimented with diagramming not only visual artists’ approaches to their work, but also talked with sound artists, composers, administrators and social scientists. With all, I explored ways to create feedback loops. I do think about diagrams as useful pictures. Musicians responded to their diagrams with compositions and performances, visual artists were able to articulate their stories more clearly than before and often used their diagrams to introduce themselves to new collaborators. My best exhibitions allowed me to be present with my diagrams, giving performance lectures and encouraging audiences to contribute. Those opportunities arose at the City’s Open Studio in 2004, the MCA in 2011 and at the Cultural Center in 2014. This ongoing dialogue cycle is what makes my projects rewarding. I was recently able to extensively renovate my studio. I now want to deploy it as a site of continued conversation, and disseminate results publicly.
*Short-Term Artistic Goals: What is most important in my current artistic development is to make my work transparent. With that comes the need to create elements that clearly communicate the value of my diagrams in use. For many years I have live-performed the diagrams, in the classroom and at exhibition venues. This is when the work is at its best. I have always resisted documentation of my lectures. What matters and should be disseminated is how the users and audiences are engaged, not what I do. The reason for that is that any recorded presentation by me would appear canonical, undercutting the freedom and playfulness a diagram can generate. I needed to conceptualize a way to present not my, but my audience’s activity. I create my content based on interaction. This content needs to be returned to those I created it with. By creating a situation that turns the camera on the users, asking them to perform the diagrams, I can achieve that goal. Having been able to create a studio that can host these situations, I now need to implement a structured program of studio sessions at which I perform ‘behind the scenes’ and then record interpretative responses. There is no right or wrong response. What matters is individual uptake and redeployment. By accumulating many responses to each diagram, I can emphasize the playfulness and openness that characterizes how I perceive the best use of a diagram. To that end I will need to employ skilled videographers and editors. I also intend to offer small stipends to all interpreters. While I initially want to create a YouTube channel to deploy the interpretations, I hope other formal venues will arise as this work evolves.