Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Alive + Well = Collaboration


Bill Ross and Becky Iker:  Over the years Bill and Becky have created close to 50 paintings together.  Becky does the drawings and Bill does the painting.  Above:  one of their pieces...

Collaboration Is alive and well via V&V’s “Double Vision II” and Thunder-Sky Inc’s “2 + 2 = 5”

It is great to see Visionaries & Voices (V&V) continues to embrace and celebrate ‘collaboration” as a way to make art with their one night exhibit and fundraiser called “Double Vision II”. For me, making art is probably the only real form of magic that exists in the world. Artwork that emerges from collaboration can be more powerful than a solo project. In fact, collaborating can change your life.

I know this because in my early art school days, my painting instructor, Sue Johnson, randomly assigned me to collaborate with another art student. That student was Keith Banner. We became great friends and continued to collaborate from that point forward. In fact this May will mark our 21st year together as a couple.

So when it came to developing V&V back in 2002/2003, one of the cornerstones of the enterprise had to be, you guessed it, “COLLABORATION”. Bringing artists together with and without disabilities was a way to move things forward. Shows like “We Come in Peace” and “Same Difference” at Artworks and even “Pop Life” at the former UC Gallery on Sycamore were all vehicles showcasing the power of collaboration. Our training as artists and our jobs as social workers helped us to synthesize into “Culture workers”. Collaborating became a way to see results more quickly.

In those days and still now, collaborating can do a lot of “culture” work. When two artists come together to create regardless of backgrounds or history or issues, perceptions can change. The community can be made richer, more colorful, more, alive. Artists who may otherwise go unnoticed can be more quickly woven into the fabric of a larger conversation, a larger art world. Artists who may feel they are accomplished or established can be challenged or inspired in a new way. New techniques, imagery or ideas can develop, barriers can be eliminated.

What I have grown to appreciate over the years is that collaborating can be extremely difficult, but when it works it is great. A truly brand new piece can emerge that would not be possible without the other artist’s involvement… a new vision, experience or clarity can be derived. It can be exciting stuff. It can be more than the sum of its parts.

At our new gallery "Thunder-Sky Inc” we have not forgotten about the power and importance of collaboration. Stop by any Saturday and you may find a collaborative piece being made. In fact at the end of April running through mid June, Thunder-Sky Inc’s ninth exhibit will feature “2+2=5”. This show includes a number of collaborations, both new and old by such artists as Brian Joiner, DJ Maes, Donald Henry, and even Raymond Thunder-Sky himself. Artists who are no longer with us but are very much alive in the works they left behind or inspired.