SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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24 DECEMBER 2018 SchoolArts L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G ARTIST Q&A SchoolArts: How does the work of the Sumi Ink Club relate to other contemporary artistic practices? What connections do you see to artists, groups, or movements of the past? Sarah Rara: CoBrA group and Scratch Orchestra are major touchstones for us as they each created decision-making models that allowed for differences within the group while maintaining a loose kind of unity. There's a playfulness and curiosity with the way CoBrA artists engages with materials and with the idea of collaboration, balancing individual and shared identities. Luke Fischbeck: Sumi Ink Club has always been, for me, a place to work through, digest, and respond to things I see. I find myself trying out different ways of drawing based on a wide range of visual memories including fine art, ornamen - tal patterns, graphic design, cartoons, graffiti, etc. There's n o need to sort things out beforehand, we can make sense of things by drawing them. I'm deeply inspired by work that's happening in the world of creative coding—where widespread communities come together to collaboratively build and maintain tools for experimental making and play - ing. I'm also so inspired by the work of many contemporary c horeographers and dance practitioners, and wishfully place Sumi Ink Club in this context (ink-based choreography?). SA: Can you describe your roles as moderators in fostering human activity and relationships around the creation of a group drawing? SR: Moderating a drawing session is not so different from moderating a conversation. As facilitator or organizer, I try to model and embody the ideal drawing partner: I engage with others in conversation; I keep moving around the draw - ing; I add to what others have drawn in a way that leaves s pace for others to add onto further. My primary strategy is to become deeply engaged with drawing and remain curi- ous and open to what others create. In many ways, the group d ynamic is self-organizing, so the moderator performs the role of collaborator rather than acting as a master or teacher. SA: What is the role of social media in promoting your work? How do you approach the digital world as artists? SR: Social media is extremely helpful in spreading word about the schedule and location of upcoming Sumi sessions. We tend to use the social media channels of the person or organization that is hosting the drawing to address that spe - cific community rather than our own channels, since Sumi I nk Club is not rooted in one place or one community. SA: How has working collaboratively inspired and challenged you as artists? SR: Something beautiful and surprising emerges from collaboration—a new intelligence, a new aesthetic, a new rhythm, a new sensibility—not a hybrid of styles but something complete and independent from any of the individual contributors. LF: A collaborative process can also help you to know your- self better: to understand the structures, materials, and s upport that you as an individual have learned to depend on or take for granted; the access that you might be afforded that others don't have; the habits you've grown accustomed to; or the things you've avoided because they don't seem accessible to you... Ideally the experience of collaborating can help focus and sharpen your rationale for making art— pushing you to take accountability to your collaborators for decisions you make, but also helping you to see the con - texts that gives your decisions lasting meaning. SA: What advice do you have for emerging artists? SR: Develop support networks within your peer group. Spend time with artists who genuinely inspire you. Design platforms to share the work of artists you respect and admire. When you're first getting started, strive to make work that satisfies you and your community first and the rest will follow. Read everything you can get your hands on. Maintain your curiosity. LF: Describe what you do simply and succinctly—good explanations connect us to one another. DISCUSSION Discuss how drawing in a group differs from drawing as a solitary effort. What benefits are gained from group draw- ing as occurs with the Sumi Ink Club project? Introduce s tudents to instruction-based art. Respond to instructions written by artists such as Allan Kaprow, Sol LeWitt, Yoko Ono, and Erwin Wurm. Compare results for the same set of instructions. Debate whether the "art" is in the artist's instructions or the piece or the performance that comes from following the instructions. STUDIO EXPLORATIONS • Pass out index cards and have students write up their own sets of ar t instructions. Exchange the cards and have stu- dents follow the instr uctions they were given. Compare results with the authors' original instructions. • Create a collaborative group drawing following the Sumi Ink Club rules. • Cut up the group drawing so that each contributor has a long-nar row strip that can be folded into an accordion- style book and embellished with colored pencils. • Photocopy, scan, or photograph details of the group draw- ing and use them to create collages, ar tist books, or zines that can be shared with the group and others. • Think up other creative uses for the group drawing (or portions of it). Written by Craig Roland, professor emeritus of art education at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and edited by Robb Sandagata. 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