This was an email sent to me from one of my professors at school, Dayton Castleman, with whom I have recently began attending church at Covenant Presbyterian in Bucktown with. The email was sent to myself, Abby, Emily, and nine other artists (visual, performing, literature) that Dayton knows (including Tomas Moreno, the artist I helped with his installation). This is a HUGE opportunity to get involved in Christian community, as well as get to know people from within the art world who are currently participating in things like installations and performances. It is entirely unbelievable to me that he believes in the three of us enough to extend an invitation.
- Interdisciplinary Artist’s Small Group
- Covenant Relational Arts Community InCUBATE Mash-Up Brainstorming Pot-Luck Thingy
- Artist’s Small Group
- 1. Fellowship and support through sharing, conversation and prayer
- 2. Sharing and critique of work and current projects
- 3. Dialogue regarding issues related to working in the art world
- 4. The possibilities of collaboration on projects
- As a way of creating a sense of familiarity and community each person would be given a nice solid chunk of time to share their work with the group over the beginning months. Something along the lines of 30 – 45 minutes to simply show or present whatever the artist desires as an artist’s “bio.” This process would be scheduled, and could extend over as long a period of time as needed. As newcomers participated, they too would be invited to present. I think that the Philadelphia group took almost a year to do this. It allows each person to give more than simply a cursory glimpse into their practice. We could do one of these per gathering. Musicians might present a few works, artists could show images of artwork or curatorial projects, writers might do a reading. We would work to facilitate this for a variety of different practices, and leave time for responses. Hopefully this would also be happening on an informal basis, but these more formal presentations can be illuminating, and allow for more depth.
- Each month we would have a time for sharing and prayer requests. Each of the spheres within which we operate comes with its share of joys and challenges. As we get to know and trust each other, we hope that a willingness to share, listen, and bear one another’s burdens through encouragement and prayer will grow. Ideally, if it grows, we could perhaps do “group plants” for subsets that desire to meet more regularly, or around a particular discipline.
- We would try to support each other through attending performances and openings. This already happens on an informal basis, but this is a way that announcements and news of these things could be expanded.
- We would distribute an occasional suggested reading that could be discussed in the group. As the group is established, a possibility would be reading and discussing a book as well.
- As appropriate opportunities arose, we could organize to work together on a project of some sort. We batted around the idea of collaborating on some sort of movement/dance/installation based project to accompany the Palm Sunday Messiaen performance. These kinds of things might happen both within the church and beyond it.
These are just a few suggestions, but maintaining an open and organic group would mean that other ideas for how we might organize the community would always be in play. Think of these as structures that can support spontaneity.
A key component to this is going to be allowing it to grow from the roots up. I’ve seen too many church arts groups that start with a cute name, a logo, a website, a facebook group, have a huge kick-off with much fanfare, and come to nothing. I sense that the small core group that is establishing is interested in building community, not some sexy, artsy church sub-culture. It’s important to start with that, and add these types of trappings if/as needed.