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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Art Talk: Artist and Community by Joe Nalven

Art Talk: Artist and Community - without the art critic - Part 1

Grant Kester, Chair of the Visual Arts Department at UCSD, and Francesca Polletta, Professor of Sociology at UCI, took the audience on a wild intellectual journey into participatory democracy and how this could apply to art making and its significance to communities. This was one of those Bronowski Art & Science Forums at the Neurosciences Institute that I would later muse, "Glad I was there."

Rather than recapitulate what Kester and Polletta said, I'd like to invite you to dive into the discussion that followed from Jim Bliesner's opening question - and into what Bliesner was thinking as he made the Kester-Polletta presentation real for the audience. This was a two-tiered thought-question: first, the starting point was about what participatory democracy looked like; and second, and more importantly, how this perspective would apply to art making in a community context rather than the artist-in-solitude context. The artist-in-solitude is often how we picture the artist at work; but it isn't always so.

JN: You were the first to ask a question. Seems to have gone to the heart of the conversation. How did you phrase it?

JB: My question was: Does collaboration enhance creativity or result in mediocrity?

JN: But why did you ask that question? What was your interest in the creativity/mediocrity spectrum with respect to working with others?

JB: The topic of the forum was collaboration from a political perspective and an artistic perspective. Both panelists suggested that collaboration is a good thing and gave examples. I have done collaborative work as an artist as well as a community organizer and know that with collaboration there is always, always the potential for enhanced creativity when it is done between people who are able to reduce their egos for the common discussion or the common goal. When artists and activists can get their egos out of the way and focus on solving a problem or designing a work of art they far exceed the capability of any one member of the group.

Continue to read the whole article at this link

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