CollabArt – a vision for an international collaborative artists’ network
To create meaningful, collaborative connections between artists around the world, in all media and walks of life, that will result in new opportunities, new works, friendships, and supportive circles of creativity.
I have always had an instinct toward collaboration with others, especially in the arts. Perhaps it was because of my early experiences in dance, or that I am a social person by nature, I don’t know exactly. Visual artists will relate to this and immediately perceive the problems. On the one hand, artists can be extroverted in their desire to exhibit their work and engage others in a dialogue about what they are doing and interested in. On the other hand, the creative process often requires that they are engage in solitary, introspective pursuits. Others can get in the way.
In some of my projects I collaborated with other artists such as in The LabourArt Project. In another project H3 Realty, Homeless Homes for the Homeless, I singly engaged the community at large to collaborate with me through an interactive installation.
Around 2005 I created a proposal for the Canada Council for the Arts to fund an artists’ collaborative project entitled 90 Days in the Badlands, that would take place in the UNESCO World Heritage site at Dinosaur Park, Alberta. The premise was straight forward: fund artists in any field or media to come to the park (essentially travel grants), where I would have a large VIP campground equipped with a fantastic camper van (borrowed or rented from my brother) that would be HQ for the project including wireless, digital equipment, art materials, food etc. The website would have a page for each artist to post daily what they had done, recorded, thought about, discussed etc. Artists would encounter other artists and maybe a collaborative connection would be made. The environment itself would provide inspiration so that even if a connection was not made, something was bound to happen for each artist. There would be no deadline or time limits placed on collaborative works. It could happen that summer, or 6 months later, maybe even longer. The website would provide a virtual exhibition space and when the timing was right, exhibitions and events would happen in the real world.
The Southern Alberta Art Gallery agreed in principle, based on the work coming out of the project, to host an exhibition. I would also pursue other opportunities. At no time would we ask for commercial sponsorship. The project would not be influenced or driven by commercial gain or need. Sadly, the proposal was supported and funding extended from the government of Alberta, but not the Council. In that particular cohort, barely a single project took place outside of large urban centres.
I have never given up on the idea of doing this project and it remains on my bucket list. However, now it includes not only Dinosaur, but all 17 World Heritage Sites in Canada, with 7 more on the proposed list. It will happen! I’m thinking of getting a Kickstarter fundraising campaign going for it.
Through the first Studio H Artist in Residency I am launching the CollabArt Network and we will see where it goes. Stay tuned and if you have any ideas or vision to add please do!!.