Blind Field Shuttle: City Shapes as a Language of Division

Carmen Papalia, Blind Field Shuttle, 2015, guided walking tours. Photo credit Mitchel Oliver.

Carmen Papalia, Blind Field Shuttle, 2015, guided walking tours. Photo credit Mitchel Oliver.

Part I: Papalia’s Blind Field Shuttle

“Language is like a road. It cannot be perceived all at once because it unfolds in time, whether heard or read.” —Rebecca Solnit

The art and business worlds alike are increasingly focused on works that are described as “collaborative.” The word evokes a sense of community, cooperation, strength in numbers, and togetherness. Indeed, the practice of working together in this way is perhaps key to the betterment of our world. What follows, however, is a counter-conversation; a reflection upon what happens when interaction and collaboration, the commonplace varieties that occur daily on the sidewalk and in the public sphere, are done passively and thus miss the mark of togetherness. This train of thought was initiated by an experience I had while working closely with artist Carmen Papalia, who conducted many guided walking tours as a part of a practice he calls Blind Field Shuttle, which he most recently enacted at Elsewhere Museum. The walk lead us through a variety of public spaces, an environment that allows for a fascinating conflation of both collaboration and isolation.

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Tri-Nation Collaboration or How I Spent my Bolivian Vacation

Mary Jo Karimnia on organizing her show at Blanco in La Paz, Bolivia

Luise and Lisa work on Biergarten, 2015, 5' x 7', mixed media, photo credit: Mary Jo Karimnia

Luise and Lisa work on Biergarten, 2015, 5′ x 7′, mixed media, photo credit: Mary Jo Karimnia

Luise, blonde head tilted to the left, and Lisa, brighter blonde head tilted to the right, each held an oil pastel and filled in the numbered sections of an image of a dress from their native country of Germany. They had been in Bolivia for about three weeks, having traveled there for a three-month student exchange and joined a community collaboration I initiated there.

In June 2015 I was invited to show my work at a contemporary art gallery in La Paz called Blanco run by artists Keiko Gonzalez, Erika Ewel and Roxana Hartmann. Blanco is a large space that is broken down into a main gallery with two-story walls and several smaller, connected spaces. I planned to take some work that would easily fit in a suitcase and produce more work there. I have observed a number of similarities between the Memphis and Bolivian art scenes and wanted to cultivate a relationship. Since I had a large space to fill, I thought I might try to initiate a collaborative group project to help meet this objective. I was able to take the same approach I use at my job at Crosstown Arts in Memphis, an art space that often involves community participation and collaborative interactions, to network and meet people in Bolivia. continue reading »

Mississippi Artist Provides Community Catharsis Ten Years After Katrina

The Journey Within, 2015, Diameter approximately 20', site-specific installation at Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS (tile, concrete, found/donated materials), photo by Evelina Burnett

The Journey Within, 2015, Diameter approximately 20′, site-specific installation at Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS (tile, concrete, found/donated materials), photo by Evelina Burnett

In anticipation of the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, environmental artist Elisa Marble da Silva replaced signs of the storm’s devastation with symbols of self-discovery.

The Gulfport, Mississippi artist used storm debris to transform the foundations of buildings destroyed by the 2005 hurricane into meditative pavement labyrinths. With the help of the local community, da Silva completed The Journey Within, the fifth labyrinth installed along the Mississippi gulf coast, at the historic Tullis-Toledano Manor at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi. Da Silva’s environmental installation was part of the museum’s Katrina +10 exhibition series. The past ten years has seen several artists appropriate the hurricane’s wreckage in an attempt to redefine the lasting scars of the violent tragedy. The most visible examples are Marlin Martin’s chainsaw sculptures carved from ancient oak trees whose root systems were destroyed by the storm surge. Martin’s sculptures dot the I-10 corridor from Biloxi to Bay St. Louis, offering all who pass by symbols of grace, hope, and perseverance. continue reading »

Interview: Sara Estes, Guest Editor, No.83 – Collaboration

Guest Editor Sara Estes; Photo credit: Lisa Dunn

Guest Editor Sara Estes (photo credit: Lisa Dunn)

Sara Estes is a writer and curator in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the guest editor of Number: Eighty Three. She is the lead visual arts writer for The Tennessean and contributes a weekly column over at BURNAWAY in Atlanta. She is involved with David Lusk Gallery and contemporary exhibition space Threesquared, both in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood of Nashville.

The first time I met Sara, we started talking about what it means to be a writer involved in the visual arts. She was enthusiastic about ways our short conversation might become a collaborative effort: a discussion about arts writing and it’s genres, and the creative act.

With Estes the guest editor of Number:83 – Collaboration, I had the chance to ask her a few questions about the collaborative process itself.

So, for the record, why did you choose the topic?

For me, collaboration is an absurdly interesting facet of society, and more specifically, the art world. We exist in a unique time where there is an ever-present notion of being a part of a vast, interconnected web. We are always connected; and we know it. So, how we choose to formalize those connections interests me a lot. continue reading »

Interview: Bill McKeown, Guest Editor, No.82 – Criticism & Aesthetics

Bill McKeown is currently associate professor of art history at the University of Memphis. He is the guest editor of Number:82, Criticism & Aesthetics. Bill received his PhD in the History and Criticism of Art from Florida State University, and his Master of Arts in Art History and Criticism from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His research interests have centered on nineteenth-century European art, with a particular focus on Victorian painting and the art writings of John Ruskin. I recently spoke with Bill over the phone.

So, Bill: I know you, and I think most people know you, as a historian of nineteenth-century art. I was curious how you found yourself as the editor of a contemporary art journal.

Actually, what happened was that Jennifer Sargent ran into my wife Kim at the Metal Museum, where she [Kim] works. It came up in their conversation that Number: Inc was looking for a guest-editor of their upcoming art criticism issue, and that’s how I got involved. Art criticism is actually not that far removed from my background, as there’s always been a big dose of art criticism going back to my days at Stony Brook, where it was the principal focus of their art history program. So whether it’s nineteenth- or twentieth- or twenty-first century art, art criticism has always formed a parallel field for my art historical research.

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