Last night, I attended the Petcha Kucha Night volume 2. at the Fleming Museum here in Burlington. Petcha Kutcha is a world wide art slide phenomenon started by a design firm in Japan. Each presenter has 20 slides and 20 seconds for each slide, making each talk short, to the point and tolerable (if it's getting dull). The Petcha Kutcha format is great because it keeps things fresh and is a great spin on the traditional slide/artist lecture.
So what did I see last night? Well there were twelve presenters, some artists, some designers, some ad-men, some activists. It was an interesting bunch. I took some notes on each presenter and was fascinated that many people seemed to be saying the same thing over and over again despite the work or project being vastly different. The following are just some quotes I heard (some are taken out of context and are just representations of themes)
" my work is about subject matter vs. material"
"the work engages you and draws you in"
"the lens with which we artists view our world"
"construction is place making which gives content and longevity to the work"
"the power of a sense of place"
"exuberance in creativity gives meaning to a work"
"we are all interconnected"
"work is love made visible"
"what does it mean?"
"can we do better?"
Ok, so here are my thoughts. Twelve artists, designers, presenters from different backgrounds with different styles of work and different quality of work, some old, some new some who might not even see themselves as an artist, and yet they demonstrated to me that we are all working within rather consistent themes. I think that from this hour and a half mash up of ideas we can agree that work which has a sense of place, exhibits a sense of liveliness and some how connects us via space or place or experience gives meaning to art. Now, I am not saying this as a blanket statement for all art everywhere, I am talk specifically about Vermont art. For years I have been trying to define what Vermont artists are doing and what sets us apart from a "normal art world" and whoa, we are not a normal art world, but we are a very interesting art world; and I choose the word interesting because to use the word vibrant here would be misleading.
When I attended the Alyssa Dworsky artist talk at the BCA Center (previously known as the Firehouse Gallery) she said something that has really resonated with me. She said that as artists who choose to live and work in a place like Vermont, our art cannot help but respond to our environment in one way or another, whether directly or subliminally. This is true. Now, I may not be a Vermonter, but I have lived here for going on eight years. I have been active in the arts community since I moved from Houston/Chicago and my view and vision for this community has changed year after year. I can't speak for other artists, but I can for myself; this environment although deceptively comfortable and wholesome is also elementally challenging. Nine months of cold and wet and snow and darkness makes for the most amazing winter art residency. It is a time of hibernation, introspection, and percolation. Then spring and summer which bursts forth like a speeding train gaining momentum and whirling ever so slightly out of control with plans and events and shows, and festivals. It is an amazing dichotomy. It is a balancing act. It is a spectacle to behold.
"So what does this mean?"
Well, It means that there is something interesting happening here. We may be at the very beginning of this "big bang" but I feel like there are artists out and supporters out there who are starting to set things in motion. When I think back to some of the quotes I commented about from this last evening I think that there is a very fine thread that binds us;we work hard.... "work is love made visible"...and I believe it is starting to show.