SchoolArts Magazine

SEP 2017

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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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 25 Variet Show–Influenced Collaborative Art I n a world where political and social differences might seem impossible to overcome, it's important to find ways to bring people together. Collaborative community art projects such as the work of Whoop Dee Doo might just be the ticket. Co-founders Jaimie Warren (b. 1980) and Matt Roche (b. 1978) collaborate with different communities to create live variety shows that showcase local creative tal - ent. Founded in 2006 in Kansas City, Missouri, Whoop Dee Doo's pop-up productions include local artists, community groups, and perhaps most importantly, children. They have staged productions across the US, as well as in Europe. Community Production Process Each production takes shape during week-long intensives and multiple meetings with youth and performance groups, often within communities that have minimal access to the arts. Characters and ideas form through improvisational activities, and additional artists from around the country travel to the temporary performance site to help build sets and create costumes. Local children are involved in all with the help of young people from the community. The productions that Whoop Dee Doo stages are influenced stylistically by the awkwardness of public access TV shows, and draw inspiration from a variety of TV shows from the 1970s and 1980s. One such example is Svengoolie, a hosted horror movie show. Warren and Roche make sure that the shows are totally inclusive of all groups in the community and break down the perceived barriers between art and everyday life. Like the Happen - ings and performance art of the 1960s, these stagings also blur the line between common perceptions of art and entertainment. And, like Oliver Herring's TASK parties, the results of Whoop Dee Doo's shows are often excitingly unexpected, and provide the chance for artistic collabora - tion between a variety of cultural and age groups. Collaborative Art History Strictly speaking, collaborative art has been around since the cave paintings and rock carvings of the Paleolithic (ca. 38,000–10,000 BCE) and Neolithic (ca. 9000–3000 BCE) periods. Gothic cathedrals and Southeast Asian temples—which often resemble giant sculptures—were also collaborations by various artists' groups. But, like the dozens of artist assistants who helped Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) produce his huge masterpiece paintings, such art is the result of the patron-artist tradition. The concept of community-based collaborative art is really a twentieth and twenty-first century phenomenon. In the US, the massive, federally funded mural projects of the WPA during the Great Depression (1929–1940) were the beginning of community-oriented art, although the murals were produced primarily by government- W H O O P D E E D O O T R AV E L I N G , A R T I S T- L E D P E R F O R M E R S L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G Top: Whoop Dee Doo co-founders Jaimie Warren (left) and Matt Roche (right) researched Portland, Maine, for several months in advance of the 2015 perfor- mance/installation Dirt Sta -cation at the SPACE Gallery. Photo by Michael Boles. Bottom: From the Make It! series artist residency on the High Line, New York, NY, 2016. Photo by Liz Ligon. funded unemployed artists. The first truly collaborative, community-oriented art projects were those of the Mural Movement that evolved across the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This movement was founded by groups of community activist artists whose goal was to add beauty to low-income neighborhoods. Community residents found pride not only in the finished murals, but also in actively participating in their creation.

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