• Jen


Updated: Mar 16, 2020

(Originally published 10/25/2018 on inkyspace)

I've been working on a project to "perform" at my friends' Micro Variety Show next week.

Let's be clear: I'm not a performer. I'm more like a goof with a high tolerance for embarrassment. I'm an educator who likes to make things fun.

So my "performance" will be more like launching my first slow connection, collaborative art project, Tiny Sketchbook Mini-Festo. More on that here.

As I've been working on how to describe the project, I've stumbled on an idea that I haven't seen before (or at least not in this way)... and I'm calling it Proxy Art.

I did a bit of research...

by that I mean I looked at more than just the first page of the google results when I searched "proxy art" and "art by proxy"

... and I didn't find much.

There was a 2012 exhibit at Periphery Space, a gallery in Wexford, Ireland: Art by ProxyA review of that exhibit on Enclave ReviewThere's a short excerpt about collecting art by proxy on SahapediaAnd an article about painting by proxy that opens up with a bit of a spat between Damien Hirst and David Hockney, which would just tickles my commercial art funny bone.

All of these (except the bit about collecting art) use the term "art by proxy" to indicate artworks that are dictated by artists to proxy workers (a'la painting factories, perhaps) in a separate location, or the use of one media in art to stand for an intangible process of art-making (specifically, the use of photography). Interesting stuff, but not quite what I was thinking.

My version of Proxy Art is this: if I make the deliberate actions and work to create the opportunity to encourage others to make art, are those action and that work art? As in my other art projects, I've planned out my process, created special elements, use my particular skills, crafted, drafted, and recreated... so I think so.

That process is what I'm calling Proxy Art. It's similar to what I found online in that I am, to a lesser degree than most, "directing" the creation of art. However, unlike the "art by proxy" examples above, I, as the creator of the project, lay no claim at all to the work produced by folks who participate. It's not my work that is the art, but it is my work that helps create the conditions to create.

In my version, Proxy Art is about community, encouragement, and participation; it's hardly about the final product at all, but rather centered on the relationships built through the process.

. . .

Modest Materials, 2017

The slideshow above are some images from a project I put together in 2017 for the arts organization I work for in my community.

The project was called Modest Materials; participants were asked to create small, original works of art on Post-It notes, and then stick those tiny artworks onto a 4' x 10' tag board until it was full. Participation in the project and the use of materials was all free, and I tried to really make the point that cool art can be made by anyone with even the most banal and modest materials.

They're not even real Post-Its, they're knock offs from Dollar Tree.

To prepare for the project, I drew a grid of 3"x 3" squares (the size of Post-Its) on the tag board. I also used sharpie to draw circles and wavy lines on some of the Post-Its, so that when any two of those were placed next to each other, the lines connected. The day of the event, I also put out tons of different art supplies like color pencils, markers, pastels, feathers, tissue paper, etc. which participants could select from. As they worked, they chose where to stick their Post-Its onto the board and sometimes they'd go back for more. The end result is a cool, eclectic hodgepodge of community art.

The Micro Variety Show, where I'll be introducing Tiny Sketchbook Mini-Festo, will be on May 30, 2018, 7:00 - 9:00 pm at Mt. Caz. If you're in Corvallis around that time, come check it out!