Thursday evening Anna and I attended a talk given by Lynda Barry and Matt Groening, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Lynda and Matt, both comics artists with backgrounds in writing, met as students at Evergreen College in the 1970s and have carried on a friendship for over thirty years.
As Anna mentioned in her previous post, Arts Organizations, she and I met as Apprentice Artists with the ArtWorks Summer Program in Cincinnati. During the summer of 2005 we worked together on a mural project for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. (Miraculously Anna ended up at SAIC, sealing our fate as BFFs.) I spent six summers with ArtWorks, also participating in various projects during the school year. Along with Anna I was part of the first-ever Teen Advisory Board at the Cincinnati Art Museum. As a young artist, meeting a bunch of other art kids was an incredibly cool experience. Some of the people I met during my time at ArtWorks remain my closest friends. The concept of the Art Community became very important to me.
Surrounding myself with artist friends has surely influenced my work. My artist and writer friends are the first people I turn to when I need advice on something I’m working on. When I create something that I am proud of, they are the first people I want to show. Carrying on conversations about the arts is a natural part of my daily life because art is the common denominator among the creative-types I tend to associate with.
I have devoted a significant amount of my time as an art student to community building of sorts. I am the student leader of The Creative Writing Guild, (CWG), a student group with the mission to support, promote and involve writers at SAIC. My friend Caitlin Schriner and I founded the group during our sophomore year. Involvement has grown rapidly. Recently we released our fifth publication of student writing, Dialogue, and hosted a reading. Recently in discussing what I consider to be the importance of the CWG I stated is purpose as being “to establish imaginary coordinates in which to contain a network of people as an audience, to be audience to, to collaborate with and create dialogue with. One cannot be static.”
As of now, my greatest audience is found in my friends and the students and teachers who inhabit this community I am part of. My connections to these people are highly valuable and will continue to influence my work and introduce me to new directions. I hope that thirty years from now Anna and can sit on a stage and talk about our beginnings at ArtWorks, tell crazy stories at about our times at SAIC and though our work is very different, we both have an interest in narrative and the coincidence of growing up twenty-minutes away from each other.