ENCOURAGING PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN ARTISTS AND THE PUBLIC
ART MAKES PLACE
A catalog of the project and exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee Copyright 2010, Nashville Cultural Arts Project (NCAP) NCAP, 1315 Adams Street, Nashville, TN 37208-1736 www.n-cap.org All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Exhibition Curator: AO Piston Designers: Linda Marks and Meghanne Thompson Photographers: Steve Green, Amanda Heinbockel, Rachel Bubis, Lauren Stinson, Ashley Zeiger, Ryan Hogan, AO Piston, Nancy Dwyer, Laura Hutson Editors: AO Piston, Laura Hutson, Rachel Bubis is organized by the Nashville Cultural Arts Project (NCAP) and has as its collaborative partners Metro Nashville Public Schools, Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Vanderbilt University. AMP funding and assistance comes from Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Vanderbilt University, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and Frist Center for the Visual Arts. ISBN: 978-0-557-33825-2 Lulu Publishing Company 3131 RDU Center Suite 210 Morrisville, NC 27560 United States
ART MAKES PLACE, or , started from a desire to complement public art in Nashville, increase cultural partnerships and aid arts education for young people. I am happy to say that, with considerable funding and in-kind contributions, the program accomplished its mission and I want to sincerely and gratefully thank those who significantly added to the project. First, I want to thank the AMP artists, not only for your creative and inspirational projects, but also for your ability to bring a diverse number of people together to find possibilities through art. Thank you to the AMP writers. You added a critical eye, thoughtful analysis and sincere appreciation for each project. I thank the interns for your hard work. I am inspired by your dedication to public art. We all thank the AMP funders for your assistance and financial support. Metro Nashville Arts Commissioners Cindy Stein, Laurie Eskind and Jane Alvis understood and supported the idea. MNAC Grants Manager Jonathan Saad provided support, feedback and assistance. Thanks also to MNAC Interim Director Sandra Duncan and Public Art Manager Teri M. Alea. Vanderbilt University provided a major source of funding and in-kind support for AMP. JoEl Logiudice, Director of the Office of Arts & Creative Engagement within the Office of the Dean of Students gave not only of her budget, but also of her considerable time and talent. She brainstormed the project, assisted with individual pieces, educated the community, found additional funders and gave wise and much needed adviceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all with grace and style. Dean Mark Bandas and Associate Dean Sandy Stahl, from the Office of the Dean of Students, served as strong proponents for the project and provided financial resources. Frank Wcislo, Dean of The Commons,
understood how the AMP project would specifically benefit freshman and provided money, space, staff, faculty and students from The Commons. We also thank Dean Colleen Conway-Welch and the Vanderbilt School of Nursing for their financial assistance. The Vanderbilt Legal Clinic and particularly Michael Bressman and students Brandii Rice and Andrew Lewis significantly helped the project. Thank you for your thoroughness and thoughtfulness. A hearty thanks to the talented graphic designer Linda Marks for so diligently working on both the brochure and catalog, for your creative input and unflagging energy. We thank Judson Newbern, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Facilities & Environment, who contributed thoughtful ideas and helped facilitate projects. While we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have space to include everyone, I also want to mention a few who gave a word of advice, a friendly acknowledgment, or lent a hand with AMP. Thanks Chalene Helmuth, Christina Bailey, Nancy Dwyer, Ann Marie Deer Owens, Dominique Herrington, Kate Carney, Ted Fischer, Steve Tepper, Elizabeth Lingo, John Lachs, David Wood, Lucius Outlaw, Connie Vinita Dowell, Celia Walker, Yvonne Boyer, David Carpenter, Sarah Childress, Mel Zeigler, Joseph Mella, Bob Barsky, Bonnie Arant Ertelt, Joan Brasher, Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Jay Clayton, Vesna Pavlovic, Michael Sims, Michael Bess, Jeffrey Schall, Nita Farahany, David Piston, and Drs. Jeffrey Bishop, Ellen Wright Clayton, John Greer and Howard Kirshner. The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation funded the catalog. We sincerely appreciate not only your financial assistance, but also the ease of your grant process! We sincerely thank our important collaborators. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts served as a major cultural partner. They provided space, marketing and
significant staff support for the AMP lecture series. Anne Henderson, the director of education, was of special help, as she lent guidance and understanding for such a large undertaking. The Metro Nashville Public Schools served as an important AMP partner. Carol Crittenden, Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for MNPS, helped by providing smart partnerships between AMP and MNPS visual arts teachers. Three unexpected affiliations formed during the year-long project. They were with the Oasis Center, Act Like a GRRRL and the Franklin Housing Authority. Thanks Daniel Furbish, Vali Forrestor, and Scott Young for inviting AMP to partner with the creative, energetic and thoughtful people in your programs. The Nashville Public Library provided not only space for the AMP exhibit, but also lent significant staff and programmatic support. I especially thank Elizabeth Coleman, Georgia Varble, Clint Tatum and Jack Merlin who offered not only a helping hand, but also pragmatic and creative ideas. Thanks to the NCAP Board of Directors and especially Anita Sheridan for her administrative guidance and enthusiasm. Finally, I thank my husband, family and friends for your love and encouragement. Sincerely, AO Piston
Table of Contents
Julia Bryan-Wilson, Civic Lessons: The Values of Public Art. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Let’s Re-Make, I will help . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Joe Nolan, On Purpose: Let’s Re-Make and the Not-So-Secret Diary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Michael Cooper, Nashville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Heather Bailey, Sustainable Murals: Blending Unsanctioned Public Art with Historic Places . . .
Lindsay Obermeyer, Gift of Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dorothy Joiner, Lindsay Obermeyer: The Gift of Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mike Calway-Fagen, Community Outpost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chen Tamir, Community Outpost and Other Works on the Vanguard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bonnie Fortune, Milemarkers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sarah Childress, Signifying Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adrienne Outlaw, The Enhancer Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Michael Sims, The Brain: Nature Looking at Itself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
AMP Exhibition at Nashville Public Library Art Gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Artist Biographies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Writer Biographies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Intern Biographies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
ART MAKES PLACE A year-long project of art for public spaces
Julia Bryan-Wilson Title to come with essay in Feb.
Julia Bryan-Wilson Civic Lessons: The Values of Public Art
wo women meander through a college campus wearing a knit garment that connects them via one long sleeve. Posters with an oblique message (“I will help”) are posted on a telephone pole outside a grocery store. Scientists, doctors, and students publicly debate the effects of smart drugs. These diverse examples — by Lindsay Obermeyer, the collaborative duo Let’s Re-Make, and Adrienne Outlaw, respectively — were commissioned as part of Nashville Cultural Art Project’s year-long series Art Makes Place. Art Makes Place brought together six different works that involved people throughout the city in somewhat unexpected places (on the street, in schools, on the internet, in a medical center, etc.) and culminated in an exhibition at the Nashville Public Library. Most were somewhat ephemeral gestures, fleeting interventions that may or may not have gone noticed or recognized as art — including a chalk mural by Michael Cooper that was washed away in the rain; digital screens by Bonnie Fortune that displayed stories of those living with aphasia, a language-impairment disorder; and installations of moveable, brightly colored stoops-on-wheels by Mike Calway-Fagen. What might the value be of this public art? For one thing, the term public art itself begs many questions, as it asks us to think through the defini3
tion of “public” — as well as the limits of what is considered “art.” Is it simply sculpture that is sited outside — in parks or courtyards — beyond the walls of the art institution or gallery? Or does the work need to engage in some substantive way with the communities it is placed amongst? And how can we account for the results of that engagement? Should we even attempt that kind of accounting? These questions go to the heart of recent debates about site-specificity and relational aesthetics as theorized by art historians and critics such as Miwon Kwon, Nicolas Bourriaud, Grant Kester, and Claire Bishop. Indeed, contesting the “efficacy” of communitybased art has inspired heated exchanges in the pages of Artforum. But such issues are also being debated, and no less ferociously, in municipal office buildings and on the floor of state legislatures. Guidelines are hashed out and public art is funded in accordance with regulations that specify certain salutary outcomes. Take, for instance, the following text from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission official Public Art Guidelines (which happens to be the organization that in-part funded Art Makes Place), “The purpose of the public art program is to strengthen the positive reputation of the community, enhance the civic environment, and enrich the lives of citizens and
visitors through the involvement of professional artists to integrate public artwork throughout Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County.” (I should note, however, that Art Makes Place was funded not as part of their Percent for Public Art Program but through a special Creation Grant). This ordinance, signed into law in 2000, dedicates one percent of bonded construction projects towards placing art in public. But this mandate is vague about how exactly one might assess and quantify how a city’s “positive reputation” might be “strengthened,” or how lives could be “enriched” by an art project. The measure of success for many governmental grant-giving organizations can appear relatively straightforward, gauged by attendance: tickets sold for a museum exhibit, concert halls filled, seats occupied at a film festival. This indicates that in the discourse around public arts management, a “successful outcome” is seen as more or less the same as “popularity” (some significant segment of the population must want and enjoy it) which ostensibly leaves little room for works like Obermeyer’s conjoined knitwear or the I will help posters, as they do not require a paid audience and may not have witnesses who are easily counted. And these regulations make it hard to imagine, if not utterly inconceivable, to pitch work that is intentionally obdurate,
annoying, difficult, ambivalent, irritating, polemical, or aggressive, as much of thought-provoking contemporary art can be. It is therefore all the more striking that these transitory works, which resist the precise calculation of numbers of people involved, were funded through the city of Nashville (along with co-sponsorships from Vanderbilt University and the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation). The grant form for the arts commission even has a space where the applicant must type in how many people will “benefit” from the proposed project. In this box Art Makes Place listed the rather grand and unlikely number of 100,000 — but who, really, is to say if in the end that goal was so off-base? There is simply no way to know — and more to the point: why must such statistics matter? Art need not be held to standards where attendance is everything. Part of what Art Makes Place aspired to was education, and as such held panel discussions and workshops about social issues that connected diverse audiences. Art Makes Place makes a substantial intervention into what has been called “the aesthetic of administration” as it finessed significant bureaucratic hoops to secure its funds and managed many logistical complications. Though this phrase was coined by 4
theorist Benjamin Buchloh in quite a different context, it signals that there is significant labor involved in putting together an ambitious artistic series (attaining non-profit status, grant-writing, collecting supplementary materials, forming partnerships, collating endless packets for juried panels) and that such labor deserves to be recognized. Community involvement is often a required component of such projects, even if that partnership takes the form of in-kind donations from local bakeries or hardware stores in exchange for publicity — this is not necessarily serious reciprocity, but more like advertising in a different guise. The work in Art Makes Place, by contrast, was developed in close dialogue with an impressive array of organizations; each project started as a series of lectures or workshops with students, including through the Nashville public school system, Oasis Center (an after-school program), Act Like a GRRRL and Vanderbilt University. In addition, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts hosted a talk for each project that was free and open to the public. Subject to scrutiny and held to standards of amorphous “accessibility” or “likeability,” art placed in public locations is often a lightning rod for controversy — Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, which was destroyed 5
in 1989 when it was removed from New York City’s Federal Plaza, is perhaps the most famous of many examples. Art that displays controversial subject matter, or, in the case of abstract work, is formally somewhat unfamiliar, are all reasons for communities to turn against works and deem them “mistakes.” At the same time, large outdoor sculptures can threaten to slide into obscurity as they become familiar, and sometimes overlooked, fixtures in the landscape. Countering this model was one of the intentions of Art Makes Place, as its emphasized performance-based work. If someone didn’t like a work, it was often gone in thirty minutes to reappear elsewhere. Given the arguments that often attend “percent for art” projects and other municipallyfunded works across the U.S., it is remarkable that the guerrilla gestures that comprised much of Art Makes Place were funded at all by the city (and without attracting controversy — though that is perhaps because it flew beneath the radar due to its temporary nature). Public art — whatever that is! — triggers multiple notions of value. First, like Alice Aycock’s Ghost Ballet for the Eastbank Machineworks (2007), the work can be literally valuable, as in costly or expensive, and inevitably, for some, it might seem overvalued. Publicly funded art also raises questions about
how artists are compensated and how their work and time is or is not considered worthy of remuneration. In addition, such projects key into social values — that amorphous, subjective set of cultural and personal beliefs about worth. What do we care about, collectively? What standards of judgment are promoted and upheld? Is artistic innovation important to a city? Does it make the city a more interesting place to live? What artists do is underappreciated. Most work to support their practice — they adjunct teach for very low wages and they scrounge together underpaid jobs. According to the recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts, Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008, many have been hard hit by the economic downturn, have experienced a sharp rise in unemployment, and are living below the poverty line. Artists are still driven to make art for all kinds of reasons, but what they do is not often recognized, especially when what they create is meant to subtly register — think of the unsigned I will help posters hanging outside the grocery or consider the 500 viewfinders about psychopharmacological drugs that Outlaw placed throughout the city. Facets of Art Makes Place were staged in every council district of Nashville, in locations as varied as Target, the YMCA, and the Nashville Zoo.
It is impossible to quantitatively assess the value of projects such as Art Makes Place, how many people the project “benefited,” or even what we might consider these benefits to be. The series might not have been seen by the mythic 100,000 people listed on the proposal, but it importantly brought artists into classes to prompt discussions amongst students about topics such as sustainability and activism; it staged creative acts and conversations in unlikely sites; it hosted a diverse series of public programs and projects. These outcomes are intangible and cannot be reduced to a box on a form — but they matter, too. Did the project help keep artists in Nashville by financially compensating their labor, thus helping maintain a core of thinkers and artistic workers who contribute to the city’s creative and intellectual life? Did strangers meet on one of Calway-Fagen’s stoops? How did Fortune’s interviews record valuable stories of those who live with aphasia? While the artists, the project, or even the city may never know the definitive answers to these questions, the imaginative possibilities of defining art’s value are endless.
Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Re-Make I will help
Let’s Re-Make I will help, 2008
Screen-printed posters, tape, pins, staples 8 ½” x 11” PROJECT DESCRIPTION The Let’s Re-Make collaborative of Brett Bloom and Bonnie Fortune hung hundreds of posters with detachable tabs that read “I will help” around Nashville and beyond. Let’s Re-Make began their project by meeting with freshmen at Vanderbilt University, men and women from the Campus for Human Development and students at the Oasis Center to discuss ideas of shelter. Oasis students created their own posters as a result of the meetings. Several posters made it beyond Nashville and were posted in cities from Memphis to California. community response “I came across one of the posters at Watkins. I thought it was brilliant! Art that might encourage people to be more helpful! By tearing off one of the tags, you are committed to helping … I tore off one of that tags and put it by my phone at my desk. I will help represents a positive attitude that opens up the possibility for great things to happen!” — Iwonka Waskowski “I really enjoyed when I got to listen to the artists talk.There is something about hearing from the artist that brings it all together. I think that those conversations [at the Frist Center] educated enough community members that we were able to go out and explain or at least chit-chat with others about what they were seeing around town: stoops, connected sweaters, I will help posters and brain viewfinders.” — Lisa Ann Bachman
PROJECT LOCATIONS Watkins College of Art and Design Bongo Java I Dream of Weenie La Crema Fidos Portland Brew Metro Center YMCA Vanderbilt University Downtown Nashville Hillsboro Village Campus for Human Development Kroger Oasis Center Five Points Neighborhood, East Nashville Frist Center for the Visual Arts Goodwill Salvation Army Metro Nashville Arts Commission Tennessee Arts Commission Various Metro Parks including Antioch, Bass, Bells Bend, Bicentennial, Buena Vista, Centennial, East, Hermitage, Madison, Monroe Street Playground, Parmer, Reservoir, Sevier, Edwin Warner, Willow Creek Various public locations in Memphis, TN, San Diego, CA, Champaign-Urbana,IL, St. Louis, MO, New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA
Joe Nolan On Purpose: Let’s Re-make and the Not-So-Secret Diary
t first glance, the work of the Let’s Re-Make collaborative of Bonnie Fortune and Brett Bloom resembles elaborate, diaristic recordkeeping: the documenting and cataloging of current interests, ideas and events, for perusal another day. However, even the most dedicated journal-keeper is hard-pressed to remember every detail faithfully. Despite written records, one tends to look over one’s shoulder with a rose-colored amnesia that finds the good-old-days curiously lacking in trials and troubles. These two artists turn this notion inside-out, collecting and combining today’s impressions and inspirations — not to engineer a flashback — but in expectation of a humble, humane tomorrow, growing from the promise of the present. This diary isn’t revisionary — it’s visionary.
that can help “remake” their world. Although they frequently work with subcultures that include the homeless, the poor, and students, the objects they produce together are focused broadly at mainstream society. During their Nashville residency, Let’s ReMake worked with homeless people and classrooms full of kids. What they made for public consumption — the I will help poster with its tear-off tabs — conveys a message for the public at large. In the transmission of that message, I will help transforms viewers from apathetic/impotent/overwhelmed to empowered/inspired/included. The actual alchemy takes place at the moment when a viewer reaches out for their tab; the small piece of paper resembles a Chinese cookie fortune, but one that foretells a self-fulfilling prophecy, not a fickle fate.
Fortune and Bloom’s I will help project is an essential statement of the artists’ primary intentions: communicative, curative involvement with other people at the point where conscious creativity meets social awareness. It is also an elemental object — a propaganda poster/for sale sign/call to action — that resonates with the immediacy of their message.
Although I will help is a simple object, its function and effect are both complex and paradoxical. It is a document of a past event that also acts as an energetic agent, affecting today with an eye toward tomorrow. Viewers may correctly regard it as a humorous, playful print as well as a poignant poetic statement that speaks to turbulent times.
The pair’s work engages communities by empowering individuals to choose positive, practical solutions 11
One idea that resonates at the heart of Let’s ReMake is “We seek a lower standard of living to gain a higher quality of life.” This idea resurfaces in many
of the pair’s projects/objects and it’s particularly present in What You Get is What You Give Away. For this project in Copenhagen, Denmark, the duo collected discarded cardboard from all over the city and transformed it into a handsome, modular bench that served the audience at a Fortune and Bloom gallery show. In this manner, What You Get transfigured waste/ignorance into utility/beauty/education/ community. In addition to making images and objects, Let’s ReMake actively organizes presentations and gatherings where they share ideas. Previous presentations like What We Know of Our Past — What We Demand of Our Future, a three-day Let’s Re-Make event in Chicago, offer a template for understanding how I will help was born out of the activities Fortune and Bloom lead during their AMP residency in Nashville. The title of the What We Know event immediately recalls the Black Panther Party Platform — “What We Want. What We Believe.” Fortune and Bloom’s connections to this antecedent reach past mainstream clichés about the 1960s radical group — violent/ corrupt/failed — to a deeper understanding of the Party’s success with community organizing, health care, and education. What We Know explored the meeting place of social activism and artistic expression, which Let’s Re-Make documented with a self-
published book and poster. Typical of Let’s Re-Make’s efforts to document interactions through image/object-making, I will help worked simultaneously as an empowering commitment to action and as a recognition of need. It also bears the hallmark of their previous projects, representing their oeuvre as a whole. I will help finds itself right at home in The Library of Radiant Optimism for Let’s Re-Make the World, the duo’s counter-culture library of books from the 60s and 70s that also includes Fortune and Bloom’s own publications. The Library serves as the Ursprache of the pair’s aesthetic language. All of its resources express a meeting of art, design, ecology and science in the context of social/community experiments. Perhaps the most striking outcome of the pair’s residency is that the diaristic nature of their overall work hasn’t restrained I will help, making it a memento mori to yesterday’s good intentions. At the AMP exhibit that documented this project at Nashville’s Downtown Public Library main art gallery, the object’s vitality continues to impact viewers, reasserting its invigorating capacity as a memento vivere: a call to life.
Michael Cooper Nashville
Michael Cooper Nashville, 2009 Sidewalk chalk 8’ x 12’
PROJECT DESCRIPTION Michael Cooper used sidewalk chalk to make a temporary, graffiti-inspired mural on the side of Rock City Machine Building in downtown Nashville. Students from Overton High School, Vanderbilt University, and others helped him make the mural. As part of the project, Cooper spoke about graffiti art and mural-making as a professional endeavor at Overton High School and at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
PROJECT LOCATIONs Rock City Machine Building, 3rd Avenue South, Downtown Nashville Overton High School
COMMUNITY RESPONSE “For every community, this should be the example of partnerships between community and schools.” — Carol Crittenden “Art Makes Place is a highly ambitious project. It’s literally been a full year of meetings, classes, lectures, creation of work and various public displays by a number of unique personalities and groups. Anyone who has been a part of a single, solo, gallery show can appreciate the huge amount of effort required for such an undertaking. Most importantly, it’s been engaging throughout. Every time I reconnected with the project I was reminded of the breadth of its questioning and its dynamism in response to the challenges this questioning uncovered.” — Joe Nolan
Heather Bailey Sustainable Murals: Blending Unsanctioned Public Art with Historic Places
n the morning of Saturday, February 7, 2009, muralist Michael Cooper and a team of volunteers created a graffiti-inspired temporary, chalk mural on the side of the Rock City Machine Company building, located at Third Avenue South in downtown Nashville. The mural was the culmination of several events that were part of an initiative to bring awareness to the power of public art. Cooper began brainstorming his piece by talking with students at Overton High School about graffiti and its potential to be a legal and income-producing endeavor for artists. He then invited those students to submit ideas for the mural he planned to create. Following that, he led a public forum at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in which he and a group of thirty people brainstormed together to develop a concept for the project. Inspired by the Overton student sketches, Cooper chose the work of Cody Attwood to serve as the framework for his mural. Designed to look like a Nashville postcard, Cooper prominently displayed the name of the city across the top of the mural and interjected a silhouette of the city skyline into the text from the bottom. Cooper and his team of volunteers then filled in that skyline with their own graffiti-inspired interpretation of Nashville, not as 17
a tourist attraction, but as a spontaneous gesture of personalizing the urban neighborhood. Rather than the very processed and bland look of a typical postcard designed for a tourist audience, the story that unfolded on this mural was both personal and fantastical. In keeping with the graffiti theme, one artist tagged on a drawn building, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Brad was here.â&#x20AC;? Tourist-focused products try to clean up the look of a place and hide the less savory or unplanned elements. This mural celebrated diversity, imagination, and even the type of graffiti that cities try to quickly cover up. Interestingly, the mural-making attracted a small gathering of tourists, who stayed to watch and take pictures of the entire process on that chilly, windy day. The contrast between the uniquely authentic mural versus the homogenized kitsch of the tourism aesthetic is made even more poignant by the fact that the Rock City Machine Company building is a historic building. While painting permanent murals on the sides of buildings is controversial within the historic preservation community, a temporary chalk mural invites creative interpretation of a space without permanently altering its historic fabric. Still, this particular area has undergone significant
reshaping throughout the years. The Third Avenue South area of downtown Nashville was once an African-American business and residential area. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps lists the site of the Rock City Machine building as a “negro tenement” in 1914. Urban renewal during the mid-twentieth century, however, demolished much evidence of this past by scattering the African-American populace through the incorporation of more touristoriented businesses, attractions, and parking lots. Today, within a few short blocks of the Rock City Machine Building are some of Nashville’s premier cultural institutions: the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Sommet Center. High-rise condominiums are changing the city skyline. Parking lots cover vast stretches of once residential neighborhoods. Amidst these shiny new venues, unsanctioned graffiti can be seen tucked away on older buildings along the city’s periphery. Cooper’s mural, while also throwing a nod to the tourist identity of downtown Nashville, incorporates the more free-flowing elements of a space that has local interaction. The chalk mural essentially reclaims an urban flavor that authenticates its changing neighborhood.
Lindsay Obermeyer Gift of Connectionâ&#x20AC;¨
Gift of Connection, 2009
Knit sweaters, hats, gloves, people Dimensions Variable PROJECT DESCRIPTION Lindsay Obermeyer’s Gift of Connection is a performance-based work in which participants literally connect with one another while wearing conjoined, hand-knit sweaters, hats, and mittens. As part of her project, Obermeyer also taught basic knitting skills to students working with the Oasis Center and Act Like a GRRRL (ALAG). The blog http://loops.typepad. com documents the overall creative process. COMMUNITY RESPONSE “… the knitting … jolted me out of my everyday complacency, made me look at my surroundings through a slightly different lens. In these pieces, the mix of the mundane and the unexpected created sparks of creativity … and for me this is the magical transubstantiation of art — of real art, authentic art, engaged art.” — Ted Fischer
PROJECT LOCATIONS Vanderbilt University Campus Nashville Public Library Frist Center for the Visual Arts Oasis Center Downtown Nashville Various Metro Parks including Bass, Sally Beaman, Bellevue, Bicentennial, Cane Ridge, Centennial, Commerce Center, Fannie Mae Dees, William Edmondson, Fort Negley, Green Hills, Joelton, McCabe, Providence, Riverfront, Shelby Bottoms, Two Rivers, Percy Warner and William Witfield.
“Wearing connected clothing literally brings you closer with someone, for you must move and act in synchronicity. What was surprising, however, was a strong sense of loss when your partner removed their half — leaving you with an empty bundle of cloth sagging from you, dragging you down.” — Rachel Bubis
Dorothy Joiner Lindsay Obermeyer: The Gift of Connection
hreads and knots, the basic elements of knitting, bear intriguing symbolism. In Greek mythology, Clotho, one of the three Fates, spins and knots the thread of human destiny. In the Far East, a heavenly being twists two red silk threads together when a couple marries, uniting into one the fates of bride and groom. In Southeast Asia, a single white thread links the wrists of a couple at their wedding, symbolizing their mutual destiny. And in Renaissance painting, cupids tie the knot of love between Aphrodite and Ares. Knot work, moreover, was a predilection of Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s knot work, in the words of Marcel Brion, “encapsulates a sort of symbolic shape of [his] . . . entire quest for [a] lost unity.” A contemporary avatar of this centuries-old tradition is Lindsay Obermeyer’s Gift of Connection, a wonderfully upbeat project involving knitted sweaters, caps, and mittens made to be worn not by one person but by two. These are designed, the artist says, to encourage people to visualize their emotional ties. Varied in color, decoration, and style, the garments are available to just about anybody who wants to experience dressing up with a friend or a friend-in-the-making. Two hats, for example, are joined by a single cord. A single sweater with a wide 23
back accommodates two. Two sweaters are connected by glow-in-the-dark hearts. Some are black and white. One cap is labeled You; its twin says Me. Others sport twisty cords. An extended braid links a pair of mittens, and on and on. The Gift of Connection grew out of the artist’s own experiences. A Greek Orthodox wedding almost two decades ago first sparked her imagination. A ribbon connected two wreaths: one worn on the bride’s head, the other by the groom. A few years later, Obermeyer drew on this remembered image of marital union for a very personal work: a sweater with 15-foot-long sleeves for her daughter. Adopted at age three from a Romanian family of twelve, the child was brought to America. When her adoptive mother died of cancer several years later, Obermeyer became her third mother. Understandably insecure, the child wanted to be near her new parent almost constantly. To assuage the child’s apprehensions, Obermeyer knitted a long-sleeved garment allowing her to “feel” her mother’s arms even though she was not physically present, the sweater serving as a tangible symbol of their emotional bond. This garment and others like it proved to be real showstoppers. On one occasion, a hard-boiled Chicago cop stopped rush hour traffic so that Obermeyer and
her daughter, dressed in a shared outfit, could cross Michigan Avenue. Cross they did, followed by wideeyed stares. Fascinated with the possibilities such garmentsfor-two offered, Obermeyer began to use them in performances, observing their rich potential for activating interpersonal relationships. Welcoming opportunities for connecting with others, wideranging participants joined in Obermeyer’s performances around Nashville, including such places as Vanderbilt University campus, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Nashville Public Library, and various public parks. The response was enthusiastic. Two workers in a fast-food restaurant connected by the braid between their matching caps manned registers side-by-side. Thanks to the extended arm of their light blue sweaters, two women sat yards apart yet connected, even though they were each absorbed by their computer screens. Facing each other, two undergraduates nodded their heads laughing, tossing up and down the band between their matching crimson caps. “And aren’t two minds better than one?” the artist queries. A class of performance students literally connected themselves to each other with sweaters, hats and mittens, which helped reinforce group unity. Two young women
united by both a bright turquoise band between their head pieces and by an extended red sweater sleeve cavorted happily across a park, thoroughly enjoying themselves as they delighted and surprised an unexpected audience. The artist has recorded images of these shared experiences, as well as laudatory comments of participants on her blog, http://giftofconnections.blogspot.com. Much has been written and said about contemporary America’s rootlessness, the results of too frequent moves, career pressures, shifting social classes, and the often emotional isolation of urban life, among other disruptive factors. Just as much is being said about the desire to reconnect – Facebook and Twitter, to mention only two Internet sources. However laudable as instruments in mediating relationships, these online networks obviously cannot replace the bonds forged by physical proximity. Within this 21st-century atmosphere of alienation juxtaposed with the curious pseudo-togetherness of web-based interaction, Obermeyers’s Gift of Connection is a particularly welcome instrument for fostering genuine kinship, up close and personal.
Mike Calway-Fagen Community Outpost
Community Outpost, 2009
Wood, wheels, people, steel, paint Installation Variable Five stoops – each stoop: 91” x 86” x 50” PROJECT DESCRIPTION Mike Calway-Fagen’s Community Outpost is a sculpture series made up of five movable stair stoops that encourage social interaction. Throughout the year, AMP volunteers wheeled stoops to a variety of public locations in Nashville. As part of his project, Calway-Fagen also spoke with students at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts about ways different cultures create community. COMMUNITY RESPONSE “I kept wondering, at the oddest times when I’d see them sitting there, stairway to nowhere...or to somewhere? And what was it about the particular moment that dictated one answer or the other?” — Frank Wcislo
PROJECT LOCATIONS Private residence in East Nashville Vanderbilt University Campus Open Lot artist collective Downtown Nashville Festival of Cultures Franklin Housing Development Fair Nashville Public Library Frist Center for the Visual Arts Neuhoff Development and Germantown West End Avenue Chestnut Square Wedgewood Houston Neighborhood Centennial Park
“When I came into contact with this piece, I instantly (and naturally) relaxed on the stoop. It really made me think.” — Jared Abelson “The stoop is a place for a first kiss, a heart-toheart, a smoke break. It is an architectural device designed to make people feel at home without even being in the house. MCF’s nomadic stoops add a new slant to the French notion l’esprit de l’escalier or “staircase wit.” Think of it, you were having a fun chat on the stoop until your neighborhood pals started teasing you. Instead of coming back at them with zingers, you just stood there, maybe you said something weak like “very funny guys.” Walking away, shoe-gazing, you think of all the perfect things you could have said.” — Veronica Kavass 28
Chen Tamir Community Outpost and Other Works on the Vanguard
rt as it functions today has evolved far beyond painting, sculpture, or even installation. It has become an arena of action in which experimentation on almost every level and in any subject is permissible. It is a place where we can test the limits of society, of ourselves, and of the systems we’ve created. Looking at the past century, developments in the arts have consistently catapulted the world into modernity, for better or worse. Think of the power of movies and television in setting trends or processing collective traumas (e.g. Apocalypse Now and the Vietnam War), music such as Rock n’ Roll in sexual liberation, literature, and, perhaps the most abstract of creative fields, the visual arts, where experimentation in, say painting or sculpture, foreshadowed post-modernism with movements such as Cubism, Modernism, and Dematerialism. The built-in pioneering nature of experimental artwork garners the name “vanguard” or “avant-garde,” literally “at the forefront.” The term is adapted from the language of military combat, which places its bravest at the front lines. Military structures have shaped our world in fundamental ways, from corporate and government systems as adaptations of army ranks and units to the course of technological innovations that are ultimately released to public markets. 29
In the last century the cultural sphere has equally evolved into an arena of innovation. Art and the international arms trade are the only two major unregulated fields in the world. Without a price index or rules of conduct, art today is broader than any other field of production. It’s elastic enough to encompass radical acts that fields such as activism, politics, or academia can’t comfortably include. Being shot in the arm (i.e. Chris Burden), tattooing poor people (i.e. Santiago Sierra), and getting people to move mountains (i.e. Francis Alÿs) are examples of art’s elasticity. Such potential for affecting change — outside of art, outside of closed systems — is what makes art so attractive today. These need not be grandiose projects; they can be small gestures, exercises in broadening horizons, exploring possible alternatives and creating space for social development. A wonderful example of how artists are breaking out of a discourse on formal aesthetics and using art as an arena for social exchange, where artists communicate to their audiences not via images but directly through experiences, is Mike Calway-Fagan’s Community Outpost. This is simply a series of portable stoops, stairways on wheels on which people are invited to sit and talk or think in silence. Brightly colored and complete with banisters, the five stoops
are an arresting sight when seen lined up to form geometric shapes, but often one or two are wheeled around by volunteers to public gatherings around town. Community Outpost has directly responded to the call of actively engaging the people of Nashville with each other and with the possibilities of art. Calway-Fagan could have named them anything — A Place for Social Interaction or Moveable SemiPrivate Spots Opened to the Public, etcetera — but he chose Community Outpost. Outpost is originally a military term; a position or unit of soldiers stationed at a distance from the main formation. It is also used to reference pioneers, or imperialists, who set up settlements on frontiers. It assumes a center, a base where community and conversation take place. What is the center from which Calway-Fagan’s outposts radiate? Where is the central hub in which community takes place? Of course, it happens wherever people interact, but Community Outpost is clearly inspired by the American stoop. Specifically an urban architectural entryway to buildings that allow for population density, front step stoops have evolved into semi-public spaces for their users to see, be seen, and interact. Taking them on the road expresses a desire to extend public space and bring the individual out to the world. The stoops are used
by people who just need a spot to sit and hang out in a culture littered with “no loitering” signs and severe trespassing laws, often combined with an acute lack of seating and public space. Calway-Fagan’s work falls in line with a vein of artmaking called “Social Practice.” Loosely congregated around social engagement and interpersonal experience as both medium and goal, it encompasses work by some of the most respected contemporary artists. Calway-Fagan is in a school with the likes of Liam Gillick, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Harold Fletcher, Superflex, and others who create atypical social situations by bringing people together and pushing the limits of culture. These artists are literally on the cultural vanguard, expanding inherited ideas of what’s socially acceptable or what constitutes the norm. In a world where the links between social trends, politics, and economy are enmeshed, cultural producers who question social values are fighting on the cultural battleground. Like soldiers, artists engaging directly with people require bravery as they have potential to be misunderstood, fail, or both. Works like Community Outpost generate creativity and meaning by exercising an enlightened society’s democratic structure. 30
Bonnie Fortune Milemarkers
Bonnie Fortune Milemarkers, 2009 Digital media installation
PROJECT DESCRIPTION Bonnie Fortune’s digital signage work Milemarkers documents stories of those living with aphasia, an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language. As part of Fortune’s commitment to social engagement, she led two intensive workshops about sustainability, in which Vanderbilt students worked with individuals at the Oasis Center to create recyclable art projects.
PROJECT LOCATIONS Frist Center for the Visual Arts Vanderbilt University Medical Center Oasis Center Nashville Public Library YouTube, for the link, see http://www.bonniefortune.info/milemarkers.html
COMMUNITY RESPONSE “I thought the project we did here at Oasis was great. My students got a lot out of it, especially in understanding what/who this project was benefiting. … my youth feel so empowered creating public art. I can see it in their faces!” — Daniel Furbish “I wanted to let you know that …. last week I … pop[ped] by the Nashville Public Library and … interacted with the exhibits. It was really powerful and I kept finding myself drawn in more and more. Thank you for letting me be a part of this process and for sharing this kind of work with the community.” — Heather Bailey
Sarah Childress Signifying Community
hat if you lost your ability to speak, read or write? What if you were suddenly unable to use words to communicate? What if you were still you, with all of your thoughts and emotions, but you could no longer comprehend the world around you in terms of nouns, verbs, and adjectives? Those struck with aphasia confront such loss, and they have to learn new ways of communicating and processing information in order to resist estrangement, both from themselves and their communities. Bonnie Fortune’s digital media project Milemarkers testifies to the perseverance of those who face this challenge and to the compassion of those who help them face it. Milemarkers consists of 26 digital images accompanied by animated text. The images are portraits of the Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Center’s (PBPRC) Aphasia Group members, their spouses, volunteers, and speech pathology students. Each photograph shows a person posing with an object that signifies some aspect of their recovery or care-giving experience. A man affectionately known as CR revels in remembering the difference between an apple and an orange. Jessie beams as he celebrates learning to drive again. Karen, a student worker, holds a colorful bouquet of a plastic comb, flower and brush, 35
all of which, to her, testify to the power of learning through listening. These people don’t look away. They directly face the camera and proudly display their milemarker as their story fades in and out, line by line. They wrote these stories themselves, as part of their recovery journey and the dynamism of the text juxtaposed with the stillness of the image emphasizes the importance of the words and makes us mindful of our reliance upon them. But words aren’t the only means of communication here. The milemarker and the direct gaze produce a face-toface encounter that reminds the viewer that these individuals have not lost their intelligence and that they are regaining a profound sense of self, which they delight in sharing. Fortune is interested in community-based projects, either works that highlight particular groups of people who are connected through their activities or experiences, or art that arises from collaborations with such communities. In Milemarkers, she strives to bring attention to the members of the Aphasia Group at PBPRC by combining her interest in collaborative artwork with her desire to explore how technology facilitates emotional responses. Fortune worked with Dominique Herrington, lead speech pathologist at PBPRC to deepen her understanding
of aphasia and the Center’s resources. Together they decided to integrate the art project into the Group’s rehabilitation and social activities. Perhaps a key indicator of the rehabilitative potential of such projects, Herrington plans to use Fortune’s milemarker concept in future therapy. Fortune considers herself part of the tradition of socially engaged, non-object based, conceptual art practice. She situates her work within a history that begins with the anti-commercial, do-it-yourself Fluxus movement of the 1950s, runs through Roland Barthes’s emphasis on artistic interpretations that value intertextuality over artist intention in “Death of the Author” (1967), and then culminates in the political and activist revisioning work of the 1960s and 1970s feminist art movement, which includes artists like Mary Kelly and Murial Lederman Ukeles, who address the situations and conditions of social relationships grounded in class and gender. Milemarkers similarly uses a one-on-one mode of engagement to share information about a community while helping vulnerable individuals help themselves. The influence of the Fluxus movement is apparent in the elegant simplicity of the concept. The project relays Barthes’s ideas by using words to tap into established cultural and social values. It
pays tribute to the feminist movement by empowering and giving voice to its subjects while reminding viewers of the fragility and strength of the individual and community. Milemarkers gives the Aphasia Group members an opportunity to re-position themselves as socially engaged and empowered. These are not disabled individuals but vibrant, active, intelligent people who want to – and can — communicate with others. They want to share their knowledge and their community and they have the chance to do so through this public work of art.
Adrienne Outlaw The Enhancer Project
The Enhancer Project, 2009 People, silkscreened metal, blog Installation dimensions: 4’ x 8’ x 4’ Each viewfinder: 7” x 7”
PROJECT DESCRIPTION Adrienne Outlaw’s The Enhancer Project is a multi-part artwork that addresses the ethics of pharmacological neuroenhancement. Through two public talks; a blog (http://theenhancerproject.tumblr.com); 500 publicly distributed, brainshaped viewfinders; and a hanging installation, Outlaw seeks to inform and engage participants about the issues surrounding smart drugs. She moderated two public panels with historians, bioethicists, journalists, scientists and doctors that included experts Michael Bess, Jeffrey Schall, Michael Sims, Nita Farahany and Drs. Jeffrey Bishop, John Greer and Howard Kirshner. She met with teenagers, college students, and professionals to discuss ideas behind the work. She distributed hundreds of viewfinders, most in Nashville and some as far as Bangkok. COMMUNITY RESPONSE “By bringing a series of intellectual conversations to the public … Outlaw has broken through the outdated model of art as something that exists outside of real life. Because she acted as though there were no division between art and intellect, she succeeded in creating an accessible, intelligent, public arena that was neither art nor science, but both.” — Laura Hutson “… the Frist talk on questions of identity [was] the most intriguing “sensory” effect of the series; and its timing with the Scientific American study points up [the] timeliness of the project. Great!” — Boyd Brown
PROJECT LOCATIONS Open Lot Artist Collective Neuhoff Development Nashville Public Library Frist Center for the Visual Arts Vanderbilt University St. Bartholomew’s Church Three Crow Bar Bookman Bookwoman bookstore Printer’s Alley, Downtown Nashville Provence Café Belmont University Fidos Target, Kroger, and Harris Teeter, various locations David Lipscomb University Hill Center Radnor Lake 12th South neighborhood Nashville Zoo Adventure Science Center Fort Negley Chestnut Square Metro Council Metro Nashville Arts Commission Tennessee Arts Commission Krannert Art Museum, Urbana, IL Various Metro Parks including Atla Lake Greenway, Bicentennial, Bordeaux, Centennial, Cecil Rhea, Crawford, Fred Douglas, Elizabeth, Elmington, Granbery, Harpeth Knoll, Richard Hartman, Hall of Fame, Joelton, Litton School Various public locations including Los Angeles, CA, Washington D.C., Berlin, Bangkok, New York, NY 40
Michael Sims The Brain: Nature Looking at Itself
he installation of The Enhancer Project’s brain-shaped viewfinders hangs in the air like a cloud of thoughts—a reminder that the physical brain exudes immaterial concepts. The cluster brings to mind the cooperative Internet method called cloud computing, as well as cartoon thought balloons and the disembodied brains in old horror movies. Adrienne Outlaw is an artist, not a scientist. Even when addressing medical realities, she expresses herself in imagery that invites multiple interpretations. I keep thinking about a photo that was taken during one of the public forums that Outlaw hosted in Nashville on the ethics of taking so-called smart drugs to enhance mental performance. The auditorium crowd peers up at the stage through dozens of silvery brain-shaped viewfinders, like revelers hiding behind carnival masks. No, like moviegoers in the dawn of the 3-D era. No, like witnesses at the test explosions of the first atomic bombs. This variety of associations reminds us that the human brain can’t even drive from A to B without taking the scenic route; simultaneously grasping multiple images is one of our specialties. There is no evidence that muskrats and blue-footed boobies 41
require this talent. Zoologists insist that human beings don’t have a patent on homicidal rages or sex for pleasure, but we may have invented the layered thinking that we call the metaphor. When I look at this photo, I see myself. I don’t mean that I’m in the crowd, although I am. I mean that squinting at the world with one eye from a chosen point-of-view seems like the way my own brain works. Minutes after this shot was taken, four of us left our seats to participate in a panel discussion onstage. In my mental snapshot of this event, I am onstage watching myself in the audience. But isn’t that what the human brain, nature’s only self-conscious product, is always doing? For me, here’s the big question about smart drugs: If part of our brain’s uniqueness lies in its ability to move sideways, to imagine associations and connections, what may be the ultimate effect of drugs intended to hurry it forward along a particular path? We don’t know. The desire to influence our brain isn’t new; Shelley ate opium and Cary Grant dropped acid and many of us imbibe caffeine. But the ability to pharmaceutically “enhance” brain function is still so new that we simply do not understand its potential long-term repercussions. When musicians admit
that smart drugs help them focus but dull their sense of participation in their own performance, there is much to learn. In addition to the public panels, blog, and installation, Outlaw is distributing hundreds of metal brain-shaped viewfinders for passersby to discover— in alleys and gardens, even at the feet of Audrey Flack’s Recording Angel statue at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. These cartoon shapes, abstracted from the brain’s real world of fractaling neurological pathways and the electrochemical lightning that leaps between synapses, make this organ look cheerfully simple, like a valentine heart. Take a closer look. Read the barely visible words that cover the viewfinder. See your own hazy reflection in its surface. Narrow your field of vision by peering through the pill-shaped eye hole. The brain has become familiar only recently, but we’re used to seeing much of the body disneyfied. Our cavernous sinuses and mirrored lungs, the quaint asymmetry of stomach and intestine—all of these are unseen yet familiar. Daily the pharmaceutical industry lobs its arsenal at our every sniffle and belch, spending fortunes on animated fables to convince us that, without their capsuled support, we
would expire from pollen, indigestion, depression, or a leaky bladder. Now that the brain has joined its fellow organs as a product shill, dangerously simplified representations of its workings will proliferate. How apt that we hold The Enhancer by grasping the medulla—the seat, low on the brain stem, of breathing, blood pressure, circulation, and other basic autonomic systems that keep our animal body functioning. And the pill-shaped eyehole is located in the frontal lobe—the region of the brain, unique to mammals, that is the headquarters of those dopamine-sensitive neurons involved in attention span, long-term memory, strategizing, and the physical/ emotional rewards for such efforts. This lobe doesn’t mature until our mid-twenties, so it is associated with growing up and making important decisions. Such issues are among the quandaries, individual and collective, facing Homo sapiens, and therefore they are at the core of The Enhancer Project. Are we as individuals or as a species mature enough to casually tinker with the brain merely because we can?
ART MAKES PLACE October 17, 2009 – March 26, 2010 Nashville Public Library • Main Art Gallery Exhibition of projects and their documentation
COMMUNITY RESPONSE Gathered from exhibition book
“It really made me think.” — Anonymous “I love the whimsy and the very important messages the art portrayed.” — Marcia Williams “I will help.” — Rod Belin “I need and I will help. It’s so good to see the “first rate” shows here at the library. Keep it up!” — Lou Horner “I thought the stairs were the prettiest and the funniest. And the attached sweaters were the most interesting. Thanks.” — The Haynes Family “The art was a community enrichment project. It was very informative. I learned a lot about new projects [that] are out that are here to make a difference. Thanks! We need more people like us.” — Shellie “Silly. Not impressed at all considering resources asked of library.” — Anonymous “This was a great collection of materials. I can surely say I always enjoy these exhibitions.” — Cavtta Ratchel “Wonderful exhibition. Thank you to all who worked on this.” — Ruthie Cowan “This is going to be very wonderful living in Nashville.” — Dontay Lawrence “Very interesting, creative and thought provoking.” — Sherry Arnold “Beautiful exhibit. I can’t take my eyes off the floating colony of brains.” — Anonymous “Great to see art making an impact in Nashville.” — Robin Robinson “I find most of the “artwork” here nice. Then again, it might not hurt to place more art up for all to see. Oh, and making the gallery a little bit more known could help.” — John Kirby “I think there could be more information on the details of the art.” — Ramona Johnson “Yahoo!” — Carlton Boleyjack “Very Nice. I love it.” — Danielle Stevenson “Video documentation would have added to the performance pieces. Compelling subject matter. Nice way to find common ground between community and art.” — Anonymous 44
Artist biographies Let’s Re-Make comprised of Bonnie Fortune (b. 1978, Nashville, TN) and Brett Bloom (b. 1971, Valparaiso, IN) is short for The Library of Radiant Optimism for Let’s Re-Make the World. Their collaboration began with the discovery of their mutual appreciation for counter-cultural guidebooks from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Let’s Re-Make works on projects including ethical material use and re-use, inclusive social structures, and petroleum reduction.
Lindsay Obermeyer (b. 1966, St. Louis, MO) has made art for longer than she can remember. Her grandmothers encouraged this passion, providing endless bits of ribbon, yarn, and lace. At 17 she announced she would major in underwater basket-weaving, but later decided that mastering an eight-harness floor loom would be more challenging. Obermeyer has exhibited in galleries and museums around the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, Italy, Colombia, and Australia.
2008 2007 2006 2006
Hello Liberty, The Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA Domestic Struggle, Art of This, Minneapolis, MN Autumn Exhibition, Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark The Radiantly Optimistic Poster Show, YNBK, Copenhagen, Denmark
2010 2008 2005 2002
Supermarket Art Fair, Stockholm, Sweden Lawn Nation, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, IL Red Thread, Art Museum of the University of Memphis, Memphis, TN Threads on the Edge, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Michael Cooper (1952, Memphis, TN), well into his second decade of painting large-scale murals is internationally known for his whimsical trompe l’oeil style. His first association with such work was in the first grade, when his drawings were incorporated into a still-existing wall mosaic. Cooper also teaches classes in the art and business of mural painting and gives seminars throughout the country. Commissions
2009 2008 2007 2002
Extreme Makeover, Clarksville, TN City Park, New Orleans, LA Flatrock Community, Nashville, TN YMCA, Lynchburg, TN 48
Artist biographies Mike Calway-Fagen (b. 1981, Gainesville, FL) enrolled in college after a two-year stint at professional bike racing. Upon graduation he moved to Nashville, started a gallery and began exhibiting nationally. He recently won the Tennessee Individual Artist Grant and completed a residency at Sculpture Space in New York. On full scholarship, CalwayFagan is a master’s in fine art candidate at the University of California San Diego. Exhibitions
2011, 2009 2006 2006
Calway-Fagen, Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA Before, We Were Desperados, Possible Projects, Brooklyn, NY Apocalypse Soon, QED, Los Angeles, CA CODEPENDENT, The Living Room, Miami, FL
Bonnie Fortune (b. 1978, Nashville, TN) , artist, writer, and educator makes project-based work that explores such issues as the environment, health, technology, and aging. She employs conversation and field recordings to create video documents, written texts, and multi-media installations. Michael Workman noted her as one of “Chicago’s Next Generation of Image Makers” for New City Paper. Fortune is a master of fine arts candidate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she has been awarded both a grant and a fellowship.
Adrienne Outlaw (b. 1970, Orlando, FL) grounds her interdisciplinary, socially engaged practice in a rigorous commitment to craft. Her often interactive work is informed by ethical issues that are developing with the rapid advancement of biotechnology. As part of her practice, Outlaw also writes, curates, lectures, and runs programs for artists. She is the recipient of several grants, awards, and fellowships. Her work is held in public collections such as the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria; the Tennessee State Museum, and the Nashville Public Library. Outlaw holds a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.L.A.S. from Vanderbilt University. Exhibitions
2010 2008 2007 2006
Artificial Selection, 516 ARTS, Albuquerque, NM (catalog) Digital Art L.A., Digital Art Expo International, L.A. Center for Digital Art, Los Angeles, CA Finding Lost Values, 5th Cheongju International Biennale, Cheongju City, Republic of Korea, (catalog) Seek Shelter, Art Museum of the University of Memphis, TN (catalog)
2010 2009 2007 2007
School of Art + Design MFA Exhibition, Krannnert Art Museum, Urbana, IL Heartland, Smart Museum, Chicago, IL PathoGeographies, or Other People’s Baggage, Gallery 400, Chicago, IL Adaptation, Peacock Gallery, Aberdeen, Scotland
Writer biographies Julia Bryan-Wilson is the Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the Ph.D. Program of Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests include contemporary art, feminist art and queer theory, craft history, performance, video art, artistic activism, and coalitional politics. In 1999 she co-edited the Visual AIDS catalog Bodies of Resistance with Barbara Hunt. In 2009 the University of California Press published her book Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from UC Berkley and a B.A. in English Literature from Swarthmore College. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, Frieze, ArtUS, Grey Room, The Journal of Modern Craft, October, Cabinet, and Oxford Art Journal. Joe Nolan is a poet, musician, and freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee. The author of the popular blog Insomnia, Nolan also regularly contributes to Nashville Public Radio, The Nashville Scene, number: an independent journal of the arts, and Disinformation World News podcast. Photo: Anthony Doling Heather Bailey is a Ph.D. candidate in the Public History Program at Middle Tennessee State University. She has authored articles for the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture and the Journal of American History. Additionally, Bailey has created exhibits for the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County. Sarah Childress is a lecturer in the Department of English and the faculty coordinator of film programs at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include avant-garde film, film theory &
criticism, and film history. Her work has appeared in number: an independent journal of the arts. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Vanderbilt University. Photo: David Raymond
Dorothy Joiner is the Lovick P. Corn Professor of Art History at LaGrange College. She has served as an educator, department chair, and director of international programs at the University of West Georgia. This frequent speaker and juror regularly contributes to Sculpture, Art Papers, Fiber Art, number: an independent journal of the arts, and Ceramics Monthly. Joiner holds a Ph.D. in both Art History and French from Emory University. Chen Tamir is an independent curator and arts writer based in New York, Toronto, and Tel-Aviv. She is also the Executive Director of Flux Factory in Queens, NY. She has curated exhibits in Canada and the USA and published in Flash Art, C Magazine, Ciel Variable, BlackFlash, and various monographs. Chen holds an M.A. in Curatorial Studies from Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies. Photo: Eve Daher Michael Sims is a nonfiction author, journalist, editor, and speaker interested in the interplay between nature and culture. He has written four nonfiction books and edited three literary anthologies for Penguin Classics. His essays, articles, reviews, and book excerpts have appeared in periodicals including Orion, American Archaeology, Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Australia’s Financial Review and England’s New Statesman. Photo: Dennis Wile 52
Intern biographies Lauren Stinson is an artist who worked on the AMP project for six months, helping take photographs, edit documents, and assist AMP artists. She holds a B.F.A. with an emphasis in fiber art from The Appalachian Center for Craft, part of Tennessee Tech University. A mother to one, she plans to start nursing school in the fall.
Ashley Zeiger, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, is in her third year at Vanderbilt majoring in Film Studies and American Studies. Her main interest lies in using film as a tool for community exchange. She was excited to participate in AMP to see how public art can create discussion and social change.
Ryan Hogan is an artist who creates non-representational forms through process-oriented investigations of materials. His art has a specimen-like quality, referencing organic matter in an undefined way. Hogan graduated from Freed-Hardeman University with honors in art and philosophy. He currently resides in Nashville, TN.
Laura Hutson moved to Nashville from Brooklyn in 2009. She is an arts writer and co-curator for Seed Space, an artist-run gallery in Nashville. She helps run the NCAP Insight! Outta Site! visiting artist program. Hutson holds a B.A. in Art and Anthropology from New York University.
Courtney Jean Marshall joined AMP during her freshman year at Vanderbilt. She helped with several projects, getting knee-deep in artwork and getting other freshmen, particularly those at Sutherland House where she was a resident, involved in the project.
Rachel Bubis moved to Nashville in 2009 after graduating from Rollins University with a B.A. in Art History. She is an arts writer and a co-curator for Seed Space in Nashville, TN. Her writing has appeared in number: an independent journal of the arts and The Examiner.
Amanda Heinbockel is a Studio Art and Chinese Language major at Vanderbilt University graduating in 2010. She grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, in a neighborhood of people dedicated to historic preservation. Heinbockel has passion for creating, be it making jewelry, art, or a good meal.
Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation