Over the past several years I’ve been volunteering as as Artist in Residence (AIR) with Veterans Rescue Mission, a mini house village dedicated to getting vets the services to which they are entitled. The site is dedicated to transitional living, with several full time stewards on the acre campus. It’s a fun project, no expectations, the participants drive the process. We had been working on murals, gardens, shade structures and exhibits prior to “COVID 19”.
Throughout the past year colleagues and I have struggled with the most effective ways to adapt our community art making practices amidst this pandemic. We have utilized new platforms, podcasts, Zoom, emails, calls and texts. For a few weeks it was safe to meet in person, that ended quickly and it was right back to Zoom. Recently our weekly sessions added artist presentations, time for journal reflection and a new mural class.
Our earth day session included time for house plants to socialize over Zoom.
We tried various collaborative drawing experiments.
Participants are doing individual projects in our houses and places of work. We are creating things and offering services vital to our community. The general unifying theme seems to revolve around this idea of adaptation- developing systems of support, for our hearts, bodies, minds and souls. There is a strong awareness of the impacts of climate change.
The change to on-line has been awkward for everyone. Community arts practice is often about spontaneity, new ideas emerge from discussions while working together, poetry being read, food served - that dynamic buzz of excitement.
As participants described their lives and needs we came up with the idea of art deliveries. The first round of Emergency Art-Aid kits was delivered with contributions of seeds, plant starters, art supplies and tools. We all depend on these systems, networks for production and distribution of goods and services. This idea of transit, of making, then moving objects from one place to another has revealed abundance. There are gardens, seeds, a thrift store, teachers, weavers, builders, neighbors and networks.
We have been asking some framing questions.
- How can we use Art-Aid kits to do things together?
- What do we need to realize our project goals?
- Personal goals?
- How do we raise each other up?
- How do we support one another authentically?
- How can we help each other on location specific projects like murals and mosaics?
Then more broadly:
- How can we intentionally use the arts to lift the creative energy of this place?
- How can we breath life into, to animate our community?
- How does intentional breathing increase circulation?
- Who are we serving?
In the weeks and months to come, we will find out. Slowly, as a community of makers and learners we are figuring this out together.
Workshops are every Wed. 4pm. To register, or if you have questions contact me through my website here: www.MichaelBSchwartz.com
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