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Better Together?: Considering Collaboration

by Emily Gage, Creative Workshop Urban Fellow Intern

Does art have to be made by a solitary painter? Or are we better together? These questions motivated the idea for a collaboration art show in the Creative Workshop, which strives to demonstrate that collaborating to create art can be a satisfying way of working, making great art, and forming deeper connections among people. The Better Together Collaboration Show is on view in the Burne Gallery, and the works within this show manifest the results of teamwork and creative thought between artists.

This show displays a variety of different techniques and collaborative combinations; the white walls are brought to life with bright colors, peaceful images, and creations that motivate more than one look. Parents collaborated with their children, the Creative Workshop’s art classes worked together, and students at a local school combined their imaginative ideas to form a shiny mobile.

Mother and family EditColleen Griffin-Underhill, intending to solitarily paint her own scene, instead created a collaborative piece with her young sons in their attic. Colleen was unable to resist her two-year-old’s requests to “pink” (paint) with her paintbrush. When his four-year-old brother saw the fun to be had, he also wanted to participate. Colleen used their brush strokes as a basis for her painting, which depicts a tranquil, natural landscape of calming sea greens and fluffy clouds.

It was not only young children who collaborated with their parents, however. Creative Workshop instructor Romy Hosford and her mother, Mary Ellen, produced a photographic piece, inspired by their respective responses to 24 different images. Although it depicts a book and a refrigerator of food, which are commonly perceived objects, they come together in such a way as to motivate a second gaze.

Friends Nancy Valle and Lisa Harris combined their respective mediums, clay and poetry, to form two works that complement each other. Nancy Valle created a clay tile that portrays elements within nature, while Lisa Harris wrote a poem about the frequent rain that fell last June. This collaboration adds variety to the show by presenting a work of poetry.

Clay pot EditCombinations also formed between entire classes. Two of Shelly Green Stoler’s adult pottery classes each created a ceramic piece. One of these is a pot of a natural brown matt glaze, a shade we are accustomed to seeing as an enclosure for potted plants. The simple color proves appropriate as this pot does indeed contain several plants thanks to Bonnie Miller, a participant in the collaboration and an avid gardener.”)

Thread EditAlso, students in Jeanne Lindsay’s advanced watercolor class made a vibrant painting of several spools of thread. One might believe it to be created by only one artist, but another look reveals divisions in the painting that show the marks of each individual painter and prove its collaborative nature.

Moreover, a class of young children from Cobblestone School contributed a mobile composed of shiny objects, motivated by the mobiles of Alexander Calder, an artist they studied in school and who is represented in the Memorial Art Gallery’s permanent collection. Each student brought to class a different shiny object, which were combined to form an abstract mobile.

We think the works on the walls of the Burne Gallery demonstrate the diversity of artwork possible when artists work together! The collaborative possibilities allowed artists of all ages and in all mediums to shine.

Don’t miss this display! We hope you’ll visit the Burne Gallery in the Creative Workshop to see beautiful artwork, and to read the delightful stories that inspired these pieces. We also hope you will be motivated to collaborate with others to create future works of art! And if you are one of the participants, we wonder: How do you collaborate? What have you learned from collaborating?

This show is on view through August 6: Monday through Friday 9 am-5 pm and until 9 pm on Thursdays.

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