The process of emergence necessary to realize creative potential is a messy one, full of ambiguity which pushes creators to confront their relationships with themselves and the world they are co-creating. Embracing this while diving deep into the values that drove their creative processes came into focus during the residency’s second week.
During the second open studio session, Allie kicked off the discussion with a reflection on her first week, which had been spent introducing the concepts of open ended play, play-based values and the Friday Play Date, rather than more logistical to-dos. Laying this foundation for the rest of her residency work was key to her process because, in her words, “we too often compromise on our values when push comes to shove.” She wanted to give the community the tools to challenge her if she ever made a decision that was out of line with her mission. In reflecting on her first play date, Allie also affirmed one of these core values: open-ended play. To value open ended play is to “value the process above all”: to embrace messiness, the transience of a project in progress, and even the confusion of not exactly knowing where you’re headed, trusting that it will be revealed in due time. Entes added on to the discussion by talking about his own journey to becoming an artist: growing up with a father who was a mathematics professor and “didn’t understand art at all” was difficult for him, but that nothing could have stopped him from becoming an artist.
In her events this week, Allie dived into the nuances of decentralized cooperatives. On Tuesday, she explored how play shapes our relationships with each other through a discussion in the Forefront Discord on gift economies, inspired by Simone Worër’s essay on the subject. In particular, she invited the community to explore designing a decentralized system that embeds the values present in play economies. Friday’s Play Date also used playing with the objects immediately in one’s vicinity to collectively explore the idea of a decentralized cooperative.
Entes explored the relationship between his community and his art, seeking to help the community understand what it means to paint on the street, and how the street is a vital complementary factor for his project. First, showed us a look into the community that shaped his art with a session titled “Portraying my People.” He showed us video of what his hometown in Peru looked like through his eyes, and how he drew inspiration from the people who inhabited it— in this event, a man with a striking hat was what sparked his creativity. From his studio, he then demonstrated how, from sketch to paint, he begins adding layers of details that capture the vibe of the person as he sees them, focused around this one interesting characteristic. During the event, he was also asked about a project which had moved him most, and his rely evoked his dedication to the community that his art is deeply inspired by: a commission to paint 13 floors of a government building in just six days. This theme also emerged again on Thursday, where in “A Day in Entes’ Life,'' he took the community with him to his work on an installation in a tunnel in the heart of Lima.
One of the most powerful lessons from this week was the importance of values and identity to the impact of creative work. When asked in the Open Studio whether politics influenced their work, Allie responded that her main political stance was contentment. She is content with her role as a teacher and the use of her free time to launch projects like Play Library— building an empire or growing capital is just not as inspiring. Entes affirmed that art is political because it affirms people’s ability to “touch the sky”— he wants to show his community that they can do what he does.
We can’t wait to see the creative work that develops from these values in the coming weeks, as creators begin to push their projects further.