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participating artists in Gesture exhibit
different shapes and sizes
work the gesture
gesture the work
seven artists three days
and on the third day we cleared the space
we hung the work
we stood back and viewed the work
of seven artists
The form for an artist’s workshop came about after many conversations over a two year period primarily between Roger Chow and myself, deborah harris. The collage workshops had been an ongoing, open to the public, afternoon event for some years and had shown us some of what is possible working in a group together in the gallery space. We wanted to expand upon that idea including other mediums and artists who might welcome an experience outside of their own studios. Roger and I together invited five artists that we knew, to attend a marathon weekend of painting.
The first invitation attempted to make the participants aware of the mandate that I have held myself to as ‘artist in residence’. I wanted them to have a sense of what they were agreeing to before they signed on. And so I asked…
“Whatever goals and ambitions you have had as artists can you suspend those motivations, the expressions of opinions yours and others, in order to observe gesture, movement, colour, texture, form, as it appears? Can the work itself be a search, a journey into the unknown? Can you take your work seriously as opposed to taking yourself seriously?
We met, most of us for the first time Friday evening. The first meeting was used to familiarize ourselves with each other, the space and the materials provided and to choose and prepare our individual work spaces. In our first discussion we agreed upon ‘gesture’ as the theme for exploration.
Saturday morning we arrived with food and a favourite music disc to share. The environment quickly became a concentrated workspace where nothing else was asked for but complete engagement, a task we discovered to be exciting, challenging, exhausting and surprising. Participants left early or late depending on their own energy level. I agreed to stay til the last one finished.
Arriving Sunday was a very different experience coming into the space already full with an incredible outpouring of paintings from the previous day, it was hard to know where to begin. By mid-afternoon we declared ourselves finished, cleaned and cleared the space so we could stand back and look at what had been accomplished without the clutter of the process. In this first workshop there were sixty three paintings completed. The energy and attention manifest in the work was extraordinary. We collectively grouped the pieces not by artists but by the relationship between the pieces. In effect we created a new body of work from the individual fragments. When this was complete we set dates and designed an invitation for an exhibition and opening reception.