Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Legacy Project: A Community Storytelling

Since 2006, Red Dress Productions has partnered with Bleecker Co-op and more than 300 co-op member contributors on the creation of three large-scale community-engaged public artworks. The most recent work, Dwelling, emerged from the Bleecker Co-op Memorial Project that celebrates and memorializes founding co-op manager and human rights activist Diane Frankling.

Dwelling represents an evolution of form into visual interdisciplinarity. Beyond the 2-dimensional mosaic mural that had been originally conceived, the 14’ x 4’ piece is an architectural mixed media work that includes wood construction; custom-colour fabricated glass, and clay fabricated tiles (using a cartoon and slab technique), paint, and mosaic.

Dwelling, detail.  2012. 
The artistic and community accomplishments of Bleecker Co-op members reflects a community of practice that has been cultivated over time. While Bleecker Co-op is attuned to “basic” needs (safe and affordable housing), it also recognizes that people need beauty and art; a sense of place and belonging that is about more than our dwellings.  We need bread and roses – equity and beauty; safe places to explore our (sometimes) dangerous realities; and opportunities to pursue our creative and aesthetic capacities.

Dwelling, detail.  2012. 

Dwelling, detail.  2012. 
Some important articulations and questions emerged during the conceptual development 
phase of the Bleecker Co-op Memorial Project:

How can we reflect our legacy of artistic and community collaboration beyond the Bleecker 
Street Co-operative neighbourhood?

What is the impact of community engaged artistic collaboration at Bleecker Co-op?

What does it mean to be reflected in the Bleecker Street Co-operative neighbourhood when the neighbourhood is rapidly changing?

Who do we create for (past, present, future)? Who do we remember? How do we want to be remembered?

Beyond materiality (the “product” that is made), what are ephemeral ripples of collaborative art? What does it mean to contribute (at the time of contribution), and what does it mean afterward?

Do we come to know ourselves and our communities differently through collaborative artistic practices, and if so, how?

What stories would we like to tell about artistic and community collaboration? Why does they matter?

How can we make room for more voices?

What are we cultivating beyond shared artistic experience?

The Legacy Project: A Community Storytelling is the creative exploration of these questions and articulations through a series of 12 art workshops, and oral history research (interviews) with 20 to 30 contributors. It’s our hope that this work will lead us to a vision (form and content)  for the production phase of The Legacy Project: A Community Storytelling.