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A Community/Performance based art project about race relations, the Underground Railroad, and a county named Will.

Hi. Thanks for taking the time to find out about my project. After almost two years of planning and research, I am so happy to finally be able to share the project with all of you! I have more information to share than I could possibly put in this space. Please visit the project web site for more detailed information: www.thesweepproject.com

The Sweep Project is a series of site-specific community/ performance artworks that highlight the history of the Underground Railroad in Will County, Illinois, and challenges people to consider both their relationship to that history and their role in building a more just and equitable society today. 

The heart of the project is the actual Sweeps; the connection to the places and the people of Will County. The main sweep follows a 28.5 mile route from downtown Joliet, Illinois to Crete, Illinois. 

Why Sweeping? Three main reasons: 1) Sweeping is a universally human activity, 2) Sweeping is a kind of cleaning ritual, and 3) Theirs is the tension of “Sweeping things under the rug,” which questions our response to this history today.

The sweeps will be documented through photography, cyanotype prints, and potentially a feature-length documentary. In the end there will be a body of work for a travelling exhibition and a catalog.

Artworks and Rewards:

E-publication Catalog: This catalog will contain image of artwork made, photographs of sweeps and information regarding the sites and their connection to the Underground Railroad. Plus personal insights and  observations. 

Personal Dedications: On the project web site there will be a page devoted to listing the names of friends and contributors at all levels (you can choose to remain anonymous). At the contributor level and above you can also choose to dedicate your donation in honor or memory of someone you care about. 

Cyanotype Prints: These prints are the artworks I am making to document the project.  More information about cyanotypes and the connection between cyanotypes and the Sweep Project can be found on this page at the project website.  There is a size print to fit almost any budget. Each print is a unique work of art. They are not digital, there are no copies. They are all handmade, signed, and  archival quality. The smaller sizes (5x7 inches and 8x10 inches) are designed to fit in standard photo frames. Larger prints will require professional framing. (I can do that for you for an additional cost). Print portfolios come in an archival quality folder with a short project description. All prints are shipped flat.   As the prints get bigger, they get more complicated technically and thus there are more "failures" as I try to get the right image. That's why there are only a limited numer of the larger sized works. Each of the prints features a known or suspected Underground Railroad "stop," as well as objects collected (swept) from the sites. You get to choose the site (or sites, if you are getting a portfolio) you wish to have featured on your print. There are currently three sites available, plus a map of Will County. More images and a short description of the sites are available on the project web page here. Sample images of Sweep Project cyanotypes are below:

5"x7" print. The Old Brick Tavern
5"x7" print. The Old Brick Tavern
10"x22"print. The Eagle Hotel
10"x22"print. The Eagle Hotel
8x10 inch print. Will County Map
8x10 inch print. Will County Map

The Budget

It always surprises me how much money it takes to make art.  It takes a small team of assistants to make this possible, plus a lot of reasonably expensive archival materials. Here's a breakdown of the budget:

Total budget $11,649
Total budget $11,649

As it stands, I have created a budget that does not include the cost involved with making a feature length documentary film. To fund that properly would almost certainly double the budget. The bottom line is this: the more money I can raise, the greater the impact the project can have. Remember, too, that there is no partial funding- the project has to make the budget to move forward. Thanks for considering contributing!

Other Ways to Get Involved

I hope you wil supporting the project financially, but the opportunities to participate don't stop there. Here's some other ways to get involved:

  • Join me for a Community Sweep! Bring a broom, or just walk (there are no special rules for what you should do on a Community Sweep). It a chance to honor the history of the Underground Railroad, listen to each other's stories, and build community. By contributing to the project, you will get email updates so you will know when and where the next Community Sweep is going to be. 
  • Share the project with friends on various social media: easy to do, free, and really helpful!
  • Invite me to speak to your group about the project! I'd love the opportunity to share the project with others in person, especially if it happens to be within driving distance of Will County, Illinois!

And, you guessed it, there are more details on the project website, plus a form to contact me: www.thesweepproject.com

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

I have been making art for a long time. I know how to push through challenges. At the same time I've never attempted a public performance work of this scale. It is a bit daunting, I'll admit. I believe in this project, and I am pretty tenacious. Here's a few of the biggest risks and challenges I see.
The biggest challenge of the Sweep project is the physical demands of all that sweeping. I have run a test sweep of 4 miles, and discovered how difficult it really is. I average 1 mile an hour. 4 hours is a long time to sweep continuously. A repetitive stress injury is a real possibility. I have planned a lot of time in between actual sweeps to allow my body to recover. I have also modified the broom I use to make it more comfortable and the right height to alleviate back pain from slouching.
Another difficult challenge is getting the word out, especially to people in Will County, Illinois. The more people I can involve who live in the county, the greater potential the project has to impact that community.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    1 backer

    FRIEND: Email updates and your name listed on the project web page,

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    CONTRIBUTOR: An E-publication catalog of the Sweep Project, which you can view on your favorite tablet or computer, and email project updates. Also, an opportunity for a personal dedication on the project web page. Every level above Contributor includes these three rewards. The catalog will be published in September the end of the project.

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    AFFILIATE: ok, this is the level where things start to get interesting. Along with email project updates, you get an original 5"x7" hand-made cyanotype of the project (features a known or suspected UGRR stop in Will county as well as objects collected from the site). You choose the location featured in the print. That's right, own an original artwork for $15! Plus the rewards listed at the CONTRIBUTOR level.

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    SUPPORTER: An original 8"x10" cyanotype of the project. You choose the location featured in the print. Plus the rewards listed at the CONTRIBUTOR level.

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    2 backers

    SUPPORTER PLUS: A portfolio of 4 original cyanotypes of the project. Each original print is 5x7 inches. Plus the rewards listed at the CONTRIBUTOR level.

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    SPONSOR: An original 10"x22" cyanotype of the project. You choose the location featured in the print.Plus the rewards listed at the CONTRIBUTOR level.

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    SPONSOR PLUS: A portfolio of 5 original cyanotypes of the project. Each original print is 8x10 inches. Your choice of locations featured in the prints. Plus the rewards listed at the CONTRIBUTOR level.

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    PATRON: A portfolio of 4 original cyanotypes of the project in a handmade archival portfolio. Your choice of locations featured in the prints. Portfolio includes four 11"x17" prints (this size exclusively available at this level) in a handsome and protective portfolio case. Also at this level you will be listed as a project patron at any future gallery exhibition of the project. Plus the rewards listed at the CONTRIBUTOR level.

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    BENEFACTOR: An original 12"x36" collage print of the project, framed in a handmade shadow box frame with all archival materials. The frame will be designed to hold specimen bottles containing articles collected from the sweeps. This is official gallery-level documentation artwork of the project, ready to hang, available at half-price for the duration of the fund-raising campaign! There will only be 10 available, choice of works is on a first-come/ first-serve basis. Also at this level you will be listed as a project benefactor at any future gallery exhibition of the project. Plus the rewards listed at the CONTRIBUTOR level.

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    BENEFACTOR PLUS: An extra large (22"x30" or bigger) cyanotype print made on location at one of the Underground Railroad Sites in Will County. Professionally framed and gallery ready using all archival materials. Prints this size are technically very challenging to make, especially on site. The resulting print will be more abstract than the others. The image will be based largely on shadows from the space (edges of buildings, trees...etc.) I made prints like these in my Texas Hill Country series. They are beautiful and mysterious. Also, you will be listed as a project benefactor at any future gallery exhibition of the project.Plus the rewards listed at the CONTRIBUTOR level.

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Funding period

- (20 days)