When we think about art -- particularly visual art -- we often think of the singular artist's vision. Lately I've taken an interest in art groups and art collaborations as metaphor for community. In these days of apocalyptic thinking, learning to work together intuitively and cooperatively could be one of the most useful tools we have in dealing with and overturning the current economic crisis of the free market economy.
Painting has always been a solitary act for me. I prefer to do it alone because I find the company of others distracting, and to be honest, I feel self conscious. My friend Courtney Chappell is the opposite. She likes to have a lot of people around. She says it quiets the negative voices in her head, and stimulates her art making process.
Last Saturday on a whim Courtney came over and we set up our gear on my porch. I realized that this was the first time in years that I had painted with another person nearby. My friends and I often have art parties, but usually I occupy myself with something like embroidery or smoking.
Maybe the weight of painting has always felt too great for me to share with others, but the experience of painting with Courtney allowed me to take risks and approach the process in ways that I haven't in the past. I've decided that I want to bring more collaborations into my life, and not hide out so much with regards to painting. I'm beginning to think that art as a communal and collaborative experience just might be a wave we can ride joyfully into the future. Or at least I'm hoping it is.