We began our second day by interacting with and learning from Takashi Horisaki's approach for looking, selecting, documenting, representing and story-telling as he made extraordinary the ordinary everyday urban spaces around us. 26 NWP teacher-leaders, museum educators and teacher-leaders convened to create the 3RDspace's 2nd day. Rather than provide us all a theoretical understanding for his rationale, then tie it to someone's pithy artistic provenance, and, then show us how "smart" he is...he thrust us all into using the tools and technologies he uses. YES, we began to paint colored latex onto a St. Louis building, layer after layer, in order to approximate what the artist did.
As the experience unfolded, we began to move through confusion, insecurity, discomfort, towards a very different place. Suddenly, each pairing of folks began to work together when needed, or, completely reliant on each other depending on their project.
Watch the video clips to see the process. Make sure to see the last video clip to hear the voices making sense of the larger day's experience.
Like many of us, I think today's experience needs more time to "marinate" in my mind -- but I did want to offer some quick reflections (especially since I'm responsible for sending us down this rabbit hole today and offering us this prototype of an experience with a community-based artist).
This first word that comes to my mind as I reflect on the day's experiences is ... DISEQUILIBRIUM. Yes, that word that we all run into in teacher ed courses and ed psych texts, but rarely experience in such a deep, raw way as we may have done today. And not only did we experience the dizzying discomfort of disequilibirium (that's a lot of d's, I realize), but we had a new language and new community with which to dissect the experience, share our personal elements of that experience, and take pieces of it away to build something new later down the road. As I mentioned on Monday, I think there is a certain amount of discomfort needed in order to drive the learning process forward in meaningful and transformative ways.
I was also thinking about FEAR. I once heard Nina Simon (Director of the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, and someone that Fred works with) say that if you want to know what it feels like for someone to walk into a museum for the first time (someone totally unaccustomed to museums), you should go somewhere unfamiliar to yourself for the first time -- for some of us that place might be a tattoo parlor, a super hip bar, a place of worship outside of our faith, or a boxing gym. How does that feel? Now go back to your museum, your classroom, or your learning space, and try to see it through that lens. Hold on to your pounding heart, and imagine the experience of visitors or students from their place of discomfort, struggle, tension, anxiety, etc. And I agree with Nina that it is almost impossible to do this with our imagination alone -- we truly have to experience the adrenaline rush and raw power of stress when we're faced with the unknown.
For me, today was as much about unlearning as it was about learning. And entirely about EXPLORE, EXPLORE, EXPLORE! Takashi, Cole, and Francesca told me that they have never experienced anything quite like this before, and they loved being brought into our 3rd Space. Thank you to everyone for sharing in this experience.
As a professional artist I wasn't sure this was going to be very meaningful to me, as professionally I work in isolation and very rarely in collaboration. But to my surprise and delight, community art has deeply meaningful value on many levels. I was able to establish connected relationships with myself as an individual, with other people as part of a common purpose, with the subject I was working with, and with the process of art itself. This was unexpected, and very fulfilling personally, and expanded my awareness of connection and the appreciation for what others do, from the organization and coordination of those who provided us with this project, to the unknown builders and planners who made the building and environment possible. I am driven now to practice this in my community at home, to give it a try, as Takhashi encouraged us to do.