Friday, August 27, 2010

about gatherings

Creative folk and worship places: in Pittsburgh you can't go a block without running into one or the other. But can it be, that never the twain shall meet? Of course not. And when they do, what form will the search for common ground take, between spiritual ritual and the ritual of art-making? Could an art project based on the cultural tradition of attending services remain non-religious in purpose, while providing arts exposure to Pittsburgh communities that normally do not have access? Raise hope for tolerance? This creative soul says yes.

Gatherings is a community-oriented socially-based art project—an assignment I have given myself. It goes like this: I will attend one or more different places of worship in Pittsburgh every week for a year (or however long it takes to reach my goal of 100), choosing temples, churches, synagogues and mosques in various neighborhoods. I have made a white dress. It hangs, waiting for September 5th. I will wear this dress to every worship place visit. In response to each visit (in my own studio between visits), I will add pieces of fabric and/or embroidery to the dress; with my accumulation of experiences, it will grow and change in appearance. I will create a page of drawings during each visit and document gatherings with photographs, off-site video and this blog. (Look here to find the location of my next visit.) At year's end, I will exhibit the work.

I wish to question whether the ritual of art-making and the spiritual ritual are not at odds, with hopes that this starting point will prove fertile ground to launch new opportunities for appreciation of, involvement in, and exposure to art. I also wish to raise an awareness of and hope for tolerance.

I am not a specifically religious person (I do not embrace a specific set of beliefs), but I am fascinated with:
The role that belief plays in society, the need it fulfills for those who partake.
The similarities in differently-labeled spiritual mythologies.
The conflict unfortunately perpetuated.
I am intrigued by people who don't need proof.
And I am interested in the role that these ideas play in art-making, the common questions that both pursue to answer: In what way do I see the world? How am I to live in it? Who am I within the larger scheme of things?