In 2014 I received an Individual Artist Grant from Green County Council for the Arts for Art Agency. The idea was to use the alternate definition for the word ‘agency,’ where an action or intervention is created to produce a particular effect. I chose my own community of Chatham, NY, with the plan of using contemporary art as a vehicle for change. There were originally four projects proposed, each loosely taking place for a three month period over the course of the year.
Contemporary Art Reading and Discussion Group
Re-Thinking the Facade
The first project, The Contemporary Art Reading and Discussion Group started in February of 2014. The project loosely uses the reading group as a form to stimulate conversation, interaction, and understanding on the topic of contemporary art. It also creates a space where the seemingly lost art of getting out and going to a meeting (each held at my beloved Chatham Public Library,) is resuscitated and part of the fun. Our meetings continue today with a blog that includes links to various readings, video and more.
Next, Re-Thinking the Facade, a project that invited my community to consider all of the varieties of architecture that make up our small town (there was no zoning until the 1970’s,) as a metaphor for all our various personalities, living together mostly happily despite many differences. I received permission from a local bank housed in a building from the 1960’s (and a little out of character with the three-story brick buildings of Main Street,) to create a temporary installation on one of the exterior brick-facade walls during the summer of 2014. Small models of the wall were made available to the public to re-imagine the facade any way they wanted. These models were placed in store windows leading up to the wall piece being installed on the bank facade. Watch a brief “documentary” about the project here.
The final project launch in the fall of 2014 was the Audio Walking Tour of Chatham. This project encouraged local people to tell personal stories that took place at various landmarks and quintessential places of the Village of Chatham. One could walk along and listen to the stories, in the locations they occurred in a kind of atypical walking tour. A map was created and distributed but as fall turned to winter, getting people to wander around outside became increasingly unlikely. A version of the tour was installed in a local gallery during the winter of 2015. Then the project was re-presented during SummerFest 2015, installed inside an old 1960‘s era phone booth with an old dial phone as the audio player. All of the background accompaniment of each story also included music made by locals, expanding the participation. To listen click here.
Audio Walking Tour
Wait, didn’t I say four projects? Well, I simply ran out of time (and certainly money!) The final idea involved inviting artists from near and far to install their artworks in locals homes for an “open-studio-gone-local-and-intimate” kind of event. Stay tuned for this in the future!