Three women fresh out of college explore outsider art in a month-long journey across America, making art and working with communities along the way.
The main aim of our project is to research and investigate marginalized areas of American art. We hope to learn about the ways that practices such as outsider art and folk art have been commodified or categorized within the art institution. In order to do this, we will visit outsider art sites around the country, as well as select institutions that bring visiting artists to "outsider" places. The ultimate goal of our research is to share what we already know and what we learn on the journey, through the process of creating a body of work related to the experience. By creating specific art projects and opening an avenue for conversation with artists and the communities they live in, we want to gain a greater awareness about marginalized aspects of our country and better understand ourselves as young artists.
We propose an Outsider Art tour across the southwestern states of America, using our college degrees in the most efficient and influential manner possible. In an attempt to personify the American dream for ourselves, we will begin in New York and travel across the states, investigating how art labeled as “outsider” lives in and forms communities, and exploring ways that our own artistic pursuits can be relevant and alive in America. We planned our journey on the map around places like Paradise Gardens in Summerville, Georgia, Grotto of Redemption in West Bend, Iowa, and Salvation Mountain in Niland, California. Fully realizing the ambiguity of categories like “outsider,” we will attempt to learn about how people manage to create with little means, and answer questions like, how does art function outside of an urban or “art-world” context? How do arts organizations and groups function in removed places to make art a possibility for everyone? What does it mean for us to be tourists in our own country? Lastly, how much do we really know about being insiders or outsiders in America?
To help us answer these questions, our trip includes a second list of places to visit that could be thought of as the inverse of outsider art sites. These are organizations and other types of communities that function by bringing “insider” artists outside. Artist-in-residence programs as well as artists communities like Black Mountain College both imply a desire to leave the insular art world and the pressures of society. As Miwon Kwon points out in her essay "Notes on Site Specificity", the rise of site-specific work in the late 60s and early 70s brought about a new relationship of the artist to a specific place often previously unknown to the artist or the art world. In the last thirty years, newfound interest in folk art and the work of the institutionalized (Martín Ramírez) or the isolated (Henry Darger) has also contributed to the desire for artists to remove themselves from society, as well as the utopian impulse to form isolated arts communities.
Visiting this second set of places, including organizations like Hub-Bub in South Carolina and particular places like Marfa, Texas, will help us understand the impact that visiting artists have on non-urban communities. What does it mean for an "insider" artist to work in an outsider space? We hope to explore the implications of the various ways to be an artist in residence in a place that is not one's home.
To be known and to know are important goals of our trip, but only in the spirit of influence: to change and to be changed. We recognize the preciousness of our youth, and we would like to make the most of being rootless in the country of our roots.
THREE PARTS MAKE A WHOLE
Coming from three different regions of the United States, and each working within a different media, we have three distinct viewpoints to draw from. This variety of knowledge and breadth of field will allow us to garner support and interest from several different types of communities. Each of us will complete a personal project on the road: Alisa will form a compilation of field recordings, original music, and sound art inspired by and taken from the places we visit, Elena will run a portable silkscreening venture, and Elvia will complete and publish a book of drawings and writing about the trip. These activities will serve as records of the project and in turn will give it purpose and a life beyond a few short weeks. The objects made will also be the primary incentives for people to pledge monetary amounts to our project on Kickstarter. Lastly, a project website will document our movement and our progress, so that supporters can stay engaged and offer input along the way.
My artistic practice has continuously expanded in physical size over the last two years. I’ve become more and more invested in monumental work, and recently have become invested in long periods of time and large venues in which to complete site-specific installations. During a six-month residency in Sao Paulo, Brazil last year, I began doing performance pieces in which I destroyed the work during the show. Taking the show on the road will give me the opportunity to return to a human scale and a more portable practice—ultimately leading to a new mode of making work that it is transient and that has a relationship to the multiple along with an element of marketability. I have always worked in writing at the same time as I make visual work. I usually write artist statements for myself, even for work that never gets shown—the act of writing through the work is as important a part of the process as making sketches or diagrams. Only recently have I begun to take sketching and “journaling” seriously as valuable products in and of themselves and not as solely a means to an end. The book I will produce on our journey will be neither a literal record of the places we have been, nor will it be made as a way to “explain” the trip. I’m interested in a more Maira Kalman-esque approach to the daily account—a document that is interesting due to its personal nature, due to the idiosyncrasy of my hand and my specific, personal remarks. Several versions of the book will be available according to levels of contribution – a xeroxed copy will be available, and paperback and hardback copies published using Lulu.com will be offered for higher donors. elviapw.com
My aim in this project is to capture the lived realities of outsider environments and local establishments through sound. The final product of my investigations will be a CD that portrays the places we visited and the workshops we hosted. By using an Edirol field recorder more powerful than the human ear, specific environments at specific times will be rendered through audible material and then manipulated through my own artistic design to create an impression of the world once unknown to the listener. In addition to capturing the soundscapes of the places along our journey, I will also compose my own musical compositions that narrate my personal experiences and discoveries along this exploration.
Listening to the world around us allows a refined perspective of a reality normally subverted by our visual domination. When we listen deeply to the audible happenings around us, they intrigue and elevate our understanding of our surroundings, and when we ignore them, they have the potential to unconsciously disturb and aggravate. By recording the environments of specific locations and specific times, the impermanence of one moment becomes immortalized through the physical object of recorded material. From the religious fanaticism found many outsider environments to the independent establishments of galleries and art collectives, the bizarre and exquisite occurrences of our world will be available to individuals curious about the marginalized and ignored world that surrounds us.
Why do New Yorkers love New York, but loathe “I <3 New York” t-shirts? Why does the art market in Maine demand so many lighthouse paintings? Where are the true origins of "exotic imports"? Where does the ephemeral end? My project is an opportunity for me to start examining microeconomics and the art world. It will be pragmatically both a personal business venture, but also an ideological exploration of the connections between craft, personal integrity, reproduction, and distribution. Inspired by Drive By Press, two graduate students who run an elaborate print shop and gallery out of the back of their van as they tour America, I will run a smaller screen-printing operation inside our car. This venture is meant to be a small-scale mode of art making and business not dependent on a singular location. With its flexibility in terms of locational and materialistic necessities, the project will hopefully place some open air into a compacted art world. In addition, through the process of hosting workshops, my project will continue the tradition in printmaking of collaboration and peer-education. Apparel, prints on paper, and postcards will be the main products and documents from our trip as well as suggestions for imagery will be incorporated. elenamgilbert.com
We promise to get the most we possibly can out of our journey while using your money carefully and honestly. Your money will only go towards buying our food and gas. We plan to sleep on couches, floors, and in the tent we are bringing whenever possible. We promise to try our very best to positively impact the communities we come in contact with and to work hard to record everything that we learn.
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pledged of $2,000 goal
seconds to go
May 26, 2010 - Jul 8, 2010
Pledge $1 or more
Alisa will email you a track from her sound art CD!
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We will mail you a hand-drawn postcard from the trip!
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Alisa will send you a downloadable version of the complete CD from the trip!
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We will sing a song of your choice at a karaoke venue along the way, and mail you a DVD of the performance!
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Alisa will mail you her complete sound art CD with album artwork!
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You will receive an original silkscreened t-shirt made by Elena!
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You will receive a silkscreened shirt made by Elena and a homemade copy of Elvia’s book!
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You will receive a paperback edition of Elvia’s book and a Alisa's sound art CD!
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You will receive a paperback edition of Elvia's book, Alisa's sound art CD, and a silkscreened t-shirt made by Elena!
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You will receive a paperback edition of Elvia's book, Alisa's sound art CD, a silkscreened t-shirt made by Elena, and a karaoke song of your choice on DVD!
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You will receive a hardcover edition of Elvia's book, Alisa's sound art CD, a silkscreened t-shirt made by Elena, and a cyanotype poster made on the road!
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You receive personalized versions of everything (CD, framed silkscreened print, t-shirt, hardcover book), AND we will graffiti your name somewhere along the road!
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We will make it to your town (within continental United States) to meet you on the trip!