Working on projects with friends, or colleagues who become friends, has been on of the largest blessings in this life. Collaboration enables one to realize a vision larger than oneself, and every Whistlepig installation is a collaboration with the public, while the projects listed below do involve active engagement of the public, they were specifically conceived of and realized by multiple hearts and minds.
Communal Narratives: Axis Mundi is an project in development, and has been in development for two years. In November 2014 my collaborator, Katherine Rhodes Fields, will visit my studio to brainstorm on the final execution of the process. Most of the monsters have been distributed around the country. Their caretakers have obliged us with their thoughts about what makes a monster, hero, or god. Katherine is creating etchings in response to the text and 3D monsters. We'll let you know about new developments here at Whistlepig Studio.
Communal Narratives, Iteration #3 was realized February 17-18, 2012 at the West Acres Mall in Fargo, North Dakota in cooperation with the North Dakota State University Visual Art Department and their pilot program Engage-U.
Engage-U develops and produces Art Works with a social conscience. Together we engaged over 50,000 visitors at the mall this weekend with the Monster Chalk Boards and Story Writing Stations. Forty participants joined us to build their own monsters, infusing their creatures with history and purpose. Michael Strand, Seth Eberle, and Jonathan Carlson were integral in the execution of this massive effort.
We asked the community two questions:
1. What is a hero?
2. What is a monster?
The answers fell, for the most part, where you think they might. But we found when someone had a personal experience, the kind that creates an epiphany, the standard definitions of hero and monster take on new depth. To that end, the folks who joined in and built their own monster began to exhibit a sense of familiarity and ownership that allowed them to infuse the idea of "monster" with empathy and humor.
It was great to be reminded that familiarity breeds more than contempt. Apparently the other side of that coin is nuance, tolerance and acceptance.
Puppets & People: This & That Cabaret--One collaboration leads to other amazing opportunities and Seth Eberle from the aforementioned Engage-U team traveled the country after graduating from NDSU with a puppet theatre in a suitcase. Two performances were in Red Lodge, Montana. One was in our neighborhood backyard.
"The premise of the project was to perform a puppet show in a nontraditional setting, such as a back yard, living room, garage, etc. The first part of the show was a variety puppet show called the This and That Cabaret. Once the cabaret was over, the emcee of the production, Mr. E. will began to interact with the audience asking them to share stories of the greatest joys of their lives or the happiest moments that they have ever had. Participants may even share jokes if they would like. Once the US tour of the This and That Cabaret was completed, the greatest joys of those who participated were compiled into a Joy Book, which is similar to a joke book, but it shares joys as well as jokes!"
Within the Menagerie
"The creatures of the Menagerie will draw you in, alluring you to play. They'll 'ask' you to be active participants in their exhibitionism. Without your involvement, their narratives won’t be fully known. Even so, in the creatures’ ever shifting world their 'stories' will never be completely revealed or resolved. Within the Menagerie will distort the boundary between human and animal. Engage with the creatures acting as stand-ins for human subjects who can't or won't speak their own truths. The fantastical figures will conceal nothing.
The Menagerie makers, Undine Brod, Jill Foote-Hutton, Magda Gluszek, Roxanne Jackson, Lindsay Pichaske, and Kimberly Rumfelt, examine the potential of a visual collaborative conversation to reveal more than any singular voice."
Plated: An Evening of Edible Aesthetics--As the Curator of Exhibitions at Red Lodge Clay Center in collaboration with the Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council we celebrated the art of food with eight selected artists paired with eight local chefs to create an evening of wonderful edible aesthetics.
Cafe Regis-Martha Young
Bridge Creek-Jacob Scott
Montana Jack's-Chris Lockhart
Mas Tacos-Mike Muirhead
Piney Dell-Ben Busch
Das Kuchenhaus Bakery
Hope's Homemade-Hope Smith
The Pollard-Mel Davis
Carbon County Steakhouse-Eric Trager
Other collaborations: Monster Meditation Classes with Herbalist & Healer Sarah Bunting, The MJ Wood DO Good Residency at Red Lodge Clay Center. Chotsani Elaine Dean was our first resident in 2013. In 2014 we are pleased to host Jeni Hansen Gard. Finally, a curatorial collaboration with Kyle Houser. Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Red Lodge Clay Center hosted the group exhibition, "Tales from the Margin" in 2011-12.