Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Collaboration Rules!

For the last four years I've been involved in a collaborative art experience, for which our little creative coven has yet to title! *Ahem* Anyway, our nameless band of art chicks meets about every 6 weeks to eat, drink, make merriment, as well as view, discuss, critique the work we've been plugging away at in between our meetings.


In the beginning we planned to be "girl's night out" type of group, originally meeting to merely eat, drink and make merriment without the men folk. Our mission was to see one another regularly (we all met here doing the MFA shuffle) and not just our usual infrequent group get-togethers such as weddings, baby showers and gallery openings. We needed some serious chick-time, sans the testosterone-based lifeforms, so that we could continue to keep our connections to one another sound (at that point are collective friendship was 8 years strong). So, we met at artzoo's abode on a Thursday night in Pasadena (no small task for this Westsider to traverse across town at rush hour) to begin our fun-fest. Our evening concluded with me volunteering to host the next shindig for we all had a delightful time.

As time drew near to my stint as the hostess with the mostess, I began to think of ways to "enhance" our collective experience. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am a very content party girl most of the time, but this group o' chicks is comprised of serious mega-talent. I felt like we needed to get back to our roots and leave the mortgage rates/pregnancy updates/general life banter discussions at the fray and get down to making stuff again. Around this time I had also been reading this book, which became the basis for my evil plan: make art dolls in an exquisite corpse/round robin fashion with my creative chickadee posse. So, I sent out an email polling the group's interest in such an endeavor. I was met with responses from, "Heck yeah!" to, "No way do I have time to invest in such an activity." However, the yeahs outweighed the middle fingers so everyone was set to show up at my door with a dish to share and their "doll starter".

A gaggle of art chicks enjoying their liquid snacks in the sun.

"Hey Doll!" took us two years to complete and we exhibited the work in two gallery shows to rave reviews (see my sidebar under "Hey Doll!" to see the pieces). It was an awesome experience. So much so that we decided to keep going with our creative collaboration. However, a few of our peeps decided that this experience was too much work for them and they respectfully decided to take a pass on the next project. The exodus minimus made way for a few new faces as our collaborative team began Project Numero Dos: Games!

Making Games

A triple boarder!

Yes, we are attempting to make games. Board games, Carney games, games of memory, strategy, risk and games of prophecy. Thems just the tip of the old iceberg too! There are so many more game styles we are attempting to emulate. In addition, we had two rules we've tried to adhere to upon embarking on this journey: (i) everyone must work on every game and (ii) upon completion of the entire project, the game must be playable.

Um yeah, making games is hard!

Okay, I'm whining. Whatever.

Seriously though, had I known at the time of choosing such a project just how damn difficult this endeavor would be, I'd have pushed for a different concept. Trust me, this project is a tough-y. However, despite the degree of difficulty no one has thrown in the towel and split. In fact, two of our members travel from San Diego and one from San Francisco to participate in our meetings! How cool is that?

Anyway, almost two years into this project and we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Most of us have taken a crack at all but two or three of the games (There are 12 in total). One of our members has completed work on all of the games. Pretty soon we head into editorial mode in order to make sure that (i) the games are in fact playable and (ii) they are gallery ready.

The Vegetable Liberation Army has got game!

Learning Experience

I often ask myself what I am learning from one experience or another. When it comes to this collaborative fandango, that is now in its fourth year (unbelievable), there is much wisdom that I've gained!
  1. My artistic path has traditionally been one of a solitary nature. Working collaboratively has taught me that it is okay to relinquish creative control, expect the unexpected and that there is a supreme amount of energy generated by 24 hands, 12 hearts and 12 minds creating one work of art.

  2. My daughter has participated in both of these projects, working with us since the inception of our rag-tag band of makers. Working with her in this group is an experience I shall always cherish as I hope she will too when she is old enough to reflect on how special the it is/was.

  3. If a witch has a scooter, she probably doesn't need a broom (inside joke).

  4. I have learned that groups of people tend to fall into a natural rhythm when working together.

  5. I have learned that I can imbibe copious amounts of wine and still produce a relatively coherent critique of the work in front of me.

  6. Trunk size matters! When purchasing my new vehicle in December of last year I made sure the cargo space of my dream machine would accommodate the size of our projects.

  7. This experience has confirmed for me that I am blessed with a group of female friends who I consider to be nothing less than my sisters.

  8. I have learned that when contemplating a creative obstacle/conundrum, I almost always find a way to solve the puzzle.

  9. I already believed this, but this experience has transformed my belief into dogma: hot glue guns are the devil's spawn and must be destroyed!

  10. Six chicks in two hotel rooms for a game meeting/weekend in San Diego is definitely a good time!

A view from our hotel room in SD last weekend.

Like the title of this post states, collaboration rules!


Pink said...

To you point #3:

Why do witches ride broomsticks?

'Cause their vacuum cleaners don't work!

Ahem, anyway, after that lame joke I'd better tell you I loved the post...how fabulous to have such a great time with good friends working on things you love!

Batty said...

What a fabulous time! It's amazing how much we can learn about ourselves by working with others, but it has to be the right group of people. If the energy isn't right, everybody just keeps getting in each other's way.

Lyssa said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog! The collaboration projects sound really interesting. I've never worked with a group like that.

Micky said...

OMG! A vegie lib game? How awesome that would be.
As for me, I am a game loving girl. Any kind of game will do. It is very cool you are getting to make them!
Oh and about that Crochet Today issue? I found one!! YEAH!!!

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Wow-wow-wowwie-wow-wow. When my girlfriends and I get together, the most productive things we do is drink copious amounts of alky-hall and mock others.

You are *way* more evolved.

Shell said...

Viva La VLA!

Congrats Ladies, the stuff looks awesome.