Tonight in a Mississippi town of 17,500 people on the Gulf Coast, is the opening exhibition of a body of work developed collaboratively with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS) out of Biloxi, MS. It has been an evolving project that has developed across three separate trips to Moss Point. It's hard to say how excited I am for the project and how I wish I was there. I finished my part of the collaboration the day before I left for New York. I'm really excited for it as a start to things and incredibly enjoyed working collaboratively, primarily with Nadene Mairesse.
Nadene studied architecture at Auburn University, where I studied landscape architecture. It is a field I immensely enjoy, though I prefer to engage it through exploration and documentation. The dance of being not knowing how the piece will take shape, but together working with the questions at hand was a tremendous test of my sense of creative skills. When I visited previously, the old library that is the exhibition space had windows boarding it up, concrete barricades in front of the building, old files and ATVs inside. And those things have been there for a few years. The GCCDS has transformed the space (I'm still unsure of what it actually looks like) with new paint, hanging display panels, and temporary walls.
Jim Sipwicz at Shell Media did an outstanding job handling the prints, which also had many questions. We went made it smoothly the printing process over the past week despite being myself being sick, some unresolved questions, and the exhibition date only a week away.
What fascinates me about the project is our attempt to bring together a small town community through a broad understanding of what it means to make something. We're all very curious to see how the town will respond to it, as we set out to reach across several barriers. Nadene found quilters, taxidermists, doll makers - a wide and beautiful range of people with a creative practice. I found it a joy after having studied fine art at University of Texas for two and a half years to hear how humble and eloquent many of them spoke about making.
Tim DuBose draws on high quality wood left over from job sites with a wood burner, marking the wood through heat. It is a personal practice for himself and he tells the stories of his culture. He mentioned that the act of creation and production is a very important human act - and something embedded in the American ideal. But he mention that he feels contemporary America has shifted to consuming more than it produces. I was in awe at such a profound and apolitical, though politically relevant, statement.
And so with this tiny exhibition that we've worked hard on, we wish to celebrate the humble physical act of making. We've been working hard at getting the exhibit together, but the project is bound to evolve to reach a wider audience. Stay tuned.