Community. Engagement. Advocacy. Humor.
This week I am teetering on a thin line between a new path of success or the brink of failure. EVERY DAY I vacillate between terrified panic and the steely focus of intense preparation. Let me explain . . . and perhaps you may gain some insights for your own path.
For the past four years I have been working on an installation art piece, Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin. It is a large sculpture (15 feet tall and 28 feet wide) commenting on the impact of standardized testing on our educational system. The issues include the decline of the arts and crafts in our schools due to increased pressures to measure academic performance. Ironically, the mission statement for every school and school district include creativity and problem solving, two skills that the arts can engage.
This artwork is a voice for the arts in education. However, as an art project, it also taught me a few lessons. Through much of the four years, I have been full of doubt. Would it turn out? Would it hang straight? Would the bars support the weight? Would my vision even be possible?
LESSON #1. Never give up on your idea.
Quite literally, after four years of effort, I had no idea if, or when, or where this work would ever be displayed. Yet the day before I finished the project, American Craft called about writing an articleabout this installation. All I can think of is the quote of Louis Pasteur, "Chance favors only the prepared mind."
LESSON #2. Document work in progress
with still photographs and/or video. I did both and occasionally posted them on my website, Facebook and here on Crafthaus. The sustained visibility from posting and writing about this work in progress was critical. The editor of American Craft, Julie K. Hanus, had been quietly following its progress when a theme in an upcoming issue reminded her of the work. Sometimes sitting at your desk doesn't feel as good as sitting at your bench, but it is an essential ingredient to sharing the ideas about your work with a larger audience.
In collaboration with a local school, I applied for a grant to create an "unproven event" idea, a Pencil Symposiumfor high school students to talk about the impact of standardized testing.
YES! I GOT THE GRANT from Applied Materials Foundation and the Arts Council of Silicon Valley to organize 25-30 high school students, 3 video cameras, two cameramen, one sound person, and a facilitator to make this happen on March 15. Big challenge. The editing and music are still to be arranged.
It could be a huge success or a flop, but someone believed in this idea with me. The curator of the the gallery and the Arts Council of Silicon Valley believed that the arts can and should have a voice in education.
Do you believe the arts have a valuable role in education of the 21st century?
LESSON #4. Think bigger.
Asking for help. Yes, I am reaching out into new territory and the social network of Crafthaus.I am starting a Kickstarter project to create a video.
Video is an effective way to communicate the ideas and issues raised by Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin. Pencils are ordinary tools to fill out standardized tests but, pencils are also used for sketching, thinking and problem solving. Pencils in this installation were sent from all over the world. The mundane woven into the extraordinary. People believed that their pencils could help build a symbol for sharing the larger issues of standardized testing and the role of art and craft in education to teach creativity and problem solving.
A professional quality video is expensive, at least $3,000 per minute.Video cameras, editing, custom music, purchase of archival footage, and interviews, . . . all cost money.
Do you believe that the arts can play a valuable role in education?
Can you help support this project on Kickstarter by sharing this message with all your friends? I created rewards from $10 to $575. for the voice of arts to reach out into the Internet. Here is the LINK to the Kickstarter project .
Share the goal.
Art and craft are political.
Become part of this advocacy for the arts.
The exhibition Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin is up for the first time and if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area you can visit the work. Please come to the reception on March 22. RSVP on my Facebook page or just arrive.
Public Reception: Thursday, March 22, 2012 6-8 p.m. Please come!
EXHIBITION DATES: March 5, 2012 through March 30, 2012
LOCATION: Anita Seipp Gallery
1310 Bryant Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Gallery Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Monday through Friday and by appointment