This project is really two projects. The first project is a large scale gallery installation (over 720 square feet of art) of Christa’s art that we have been invited to install at Bluffton University’s Grace Albrecht gallery in late August. Christa is almost done with this work. This installation will include four musical compositions created to be part of the immersive experience.
The second project is an experimental event that will take place on the last day of the exhibition. On September 22nd we plan to give away the art from the show. Anyone who comes to the reception will be given the opportunity to take a piece with them (until all the art is gone). We have never done something like this at this scale, and we're excited about the challenge (and we're gathering a team to help us plan and execute it).
We need your help to finish this! We set our goal for this Kickstarter campaign at $1200. This will help us finish making the art, recording the music and installing the show in the gallery. Anything we receive up to the $1200 goal will be used for art materials (canvas, paint, paper, wood, etc), music recording/reproduction (studio time and making cds) and travel.
Anything we receive above and beyond the $1200 goal we will put towards the experimental event and giving art away. In other words, people who give will be partners with us in donating art and planning and executing this experiment/experience in the Bluffton gallery.
History of the project and why we’re doing it: Christa has always been impacted by immersive environments -- nature, installation art, and any environment that creates space for reflection, healing or transformation. Staring at the mountains -- or at a Keifer or Twombly painting -- can repair something inside. Take this passion for immersive environments and add a voracious appetite for new ideas and a love of large scale projects and you've got the basic ingredients of the why. Christa has been painting towards that vision for over a decade now, with increasing skill on incrementally larger canvasses.
When Bluffton University asked Christa to do a show in their Grace Albrecht gallery, it was a watershed of sorts. The largest piece Christa had produced to date ("Timepiece") was a 30 foot by 12 foot painting that she's only hung in pieces. A solo show in this gallery would allow her to go far beyond that, so, using Timepiece as a starting point, Christa began to imagine what she might transform the Grace Albrecht gallery into given the chance. She went to work, painting, folding, thinking, planning.
The theme of the show, You Have Not Seen emerged early on. This show is a sort of timelapse of the last three years of Christa’s life. The imagery and color are created as responses to places and moments. You often miss the bigger picture, the trajectory of change while you’re in the moment.
The idea for giving away the art came from several places:
The transient nature and relative value of possessions: In the last year we’ve been to several family members’ auctions and estate sales. It was surprising how many of the objects our relatives worked hard for (including what functioned as art to them) had very little value to the next generation. This got us thinking again about the relative value and longevity of the things we buy, crave. . . and create.
One reason we decided to give away the art at the end of the show is to acknowledge this reality -- that much of our work, our possessions and our creations are temporary. Chances are good our artwork or songs will not survive beyond a generation or possibly two. While this is sad, it is good to face reality, and it can also be a challenge to turn our sights from what is seen and temporary to what is unseen and eternal.
One way to do this is to work at moving away from thinking of art as something to accumulate for ourselves and think of it as something to bless others with (even if the gift is temporary and may or may not be valued, the results in the giver and receiver may be longer lasting).
Responding in Kind: In this body of work Christa is (among other things) responding to the beauty and power of landscape and nature. In the last three years we've experienced beauty in Tibet, China, California and the mountains of North Carolina. This beauty was a gift; we neither earned or paid for. To give away the art seems, in some ways, an appropriate response.
Who buys art... and who doesn't but might benefit from it given the chance. Some people buy art as an investment, others buy it to support friends or impress peers. We think art can add to a person's quality of life. As we've exhibited Christa's work over the years, we've met people who were impacted by the art but didn't purchase. Just because people don't think about or budget for original art does not mean they would not appreciate or benefit from it if they had access to it. So we want to lower the barrier of entry: anyone who is interested enough to find their way to the reception will be offered a piece of original art -- until the walls are bare.
The gap between the rich and the poor. The Reuel household is "art rich." Our living space is full of original art. Some people have none. Might there be value in narrowing the gap a bit?
Thanks so much for thinking about all this with us, and considering being part of it. It’s an exciting process doing the work and preparing for the event and we’re thankful for everyone who has given advice, encouragement, perspective and practical help.
Christa and Jonathan Reuel
Christa is the artist, idea architect and problem solver of the "You Have Not Seen" project. Jonathan is writing and recording music for the installation, talking to people about the vision and helping gather the crew needed to complete it.
Risks and challenges
By far the biggest challenge is the scale and scope of the project. We've never attempted something of this magnitude (although we've been working up to it). We estimate that this installation will be made up of more than 720 square feet of painting. Much of which is made up of small panels (we're not painting murals). This makes it possible to transport, but massively time consuming and complicated to assemble. We are dealing with this challenge by doing planning and research and putting in place a contingency plan (a simplified version of the show) in case Christa can't manage to complete the massive amount of work needed for the show in time. We estimate she's two thirds done with the painting and folding and she's been working on it off and on for three months.
This primary challenge leads to our secondary one: studio space. We're using most of our living space as a studio currently, but it's still not big enough. Not even close. We've been offered the use of a house in Ohio for the weeks leading up to the show. This house has much more room to work in, and the added bonus of only being a few hours from the university. There's also a recording studio nearby where Jonathan can record the music that will be part of the show.
Another challenge is transportation. We live about 500 miles from the site where we'll be installing this piece. Transporting the art will take work and time.
One of the biggest risks we are facing with this site-specific installation is how the painting will actually work in the University's gallery. We've done our homework and made detailed conceptual sketches -- but let's face it, at least half of the work has been done here at our place, 600 miles away from Bluffton, and no matter how well you plan there are always surprises when you work this way.
We've been conscious of this risk since the beginning and we've tried to plan well. We also hope to get into the gallery space early so that there is more time work work in the actual space.
Another risk is that the music concept won't work well, or that we'll run into problems in the studio. While Jonathan has recorded many albums of original material, he's never done something like this or worked with this particular producer. So there are risks there as well.
We're working at this by getting rough demo versions of the music recorded and testing them with different playback devices in a variety of rooms. We won't know for sure until we actually set up in the gallery space.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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