Sunday, August 7, 2011

Insight Statement



BlueSky Project is one of the most unique programs I have encountered both in terms of artistic opportunity and youth interaction. Initially, this program was an opportunity for me to return to my studio practice in earnest after spending many years as an educator, curator and arts administrator. What happened over the course of my eight weeks with BlueSky Project turned out to be so much more than I had expected.

The biggest challenge for me in terms of my project and the collaboration of my project was to not be a teacher, so I focused on really infusing my personality into our collaborative studio. This is an important part of my own practice but it also helped me to engage my youth participants in a way that I could not have done as a teacher. As an artist, I consider myself a storyteller so my personality is a big part of establishing the artistic attitude of my work. I like to work with intensity and to have fun, and I think our collaborative studio fulfilled both of these requirements. In the end, I realized that as I was trying to reconnect with my own creative expression, I was also connecting my kids to it as well. On an individual level, I love to challenge myself through my work, but in this situation, it was really fun to challenge the whole group. The final result was a group of works that were bigger and more ambitious than the way I typically work and, indeed, a group of works that I could not have created on my own.

The collaborative nature of this program has also taught me a lot about my own practice and the way in which I work. I feel as though I am able to stay connected to myself and to the world around me through my work. In this respect, it was difficult to open up my studio practice for others because there is “stuff” that happens in the studio that no one typically gets to be a part of or see. Having seven people staring back at you when some of that “stuff” happens took some getting used to but most of the time, those seven people were interested and supportive (and sometimes critical) of my ideas as they were developing. That vulnerability and that interaction also created an avenue for thoughts and ideas to flow and, as the project grew, I realized that I was connecting to the world around my through my youth participants and they were connecting to the world through me.

One of the other unexpected things that happened during my BlueSky Project residency was getting acquainted with the Dayton community. From the first time I visited in May, this place has felt familiar and I was a little surprised by the depth of this community’s openness and support. I made a lot of friends here and got to really enjoy the cultural climate of Dayton, so much so that I am intending to relocate here to continue my practice. As I have been immersed in my own artistic transition, I feel as though I’ve found the right place and the right community through which to continue my artistic work.

In the end, I am hoping that BlueSky Project will be a springboard for bigger and better things in my career. Regardless of what happens, this experience will always be a part of me and my artistic work. I don’t know that I’ll ever find another experience where I will be so fully supported in my studio practice by such a diverse group individuals. I think it’s only now hitting me­–after the program is finished–how much I was relying on my team and how important they were to me in completing this project. Sitting here writing this statement, I can feel how much I miss them already. I really hope that all of my kids have walked away with a little piece of me, as I know I am walking away with a little bit of each of them.






Saturday, August 6, 2011

Exhibition Documentation: Remember the Promises You Made in the Attic

Kaz McCue in Collaboration with Blue Sky Project 2011
Remember the Promises You Made in the Attic, 2011
Mixed Media Installation with Found Objects, Drawing, and Video
* Still images from video on right.


This installation was based of the historic 1913 Dayton flood and was inspired by research conducted through the Rivers Institute. The unusual image of the horse hanging from power lines caught the group’s attention early on in the project and served as an inspiration to ponder “what happens under the flood waters.” Looking up at the floating furniture, the viewer is challenged to imagine the scale of the flooding as an implied flood line is created overhead. 




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Exhibition Documentation: The River Claims Another Victim



Kaz McCue in Collaboration with BlueSky Project 2011
The River Claims Another Victim, 2011
Photographic Installation with Found Objects

This photographic installation was inspired by several ideas that were combined to tell this story. Based on a crime scene photograph of a famous mafia assassination, the group was inspired to consider the water as a physical phenomenon. Following this line of inquiry, they used bladders full of water to imagine what it would be like to be under the weight of water. The group spent several weeks shooting on location to create a suite of images the addresses the onerous relationship that humans have with water. The images are presented in parts boxes from NCR Corporation, equally ironic in that during the 1913 flood, NCR re-tooled their plant to make boats to help rescue survivors.















Exhibition Documentation: The River is Crying



Kaz McCue in Collaboration with BlueSky Project 2011
The River is Crying, 2011
Sound Installation with Found Objects and Live Sound


A beaten up old Texaco sign, pulled from a river levee, was the centerpiece of this sound installation. The sign is representative of several conceptual strands that center on pollution and the inclination to use our waterways as dumpsite. Here, the river is personified in the tears that fall and strike the sign in pronounced fashion before running down into the water underneath. In this work, the group was challenged to imagine what the rivers would say if they could talk.
 

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Exhibition Documentation: Feet Per Second



Kaz McCue in Collaboration with Sara Mitchel Sherman and BlueSky Project 2011
Feet Per Second, 2011
Digital Video 

video


This piece began with the practice of bucket brigade, an early (and still relevant) form of firefighting. This idea was enticing to the group because of its performative nature and because it centered on objects. It was natural to approach Sara’s group because of the work they were doing with movement but it was also exciting to push the idea past its initial parameters. The two groups worked together in traditional forms of bucket brigade but as the activity continued the collaboration started to look at the performance and the objects more creatively. Changing the vessels with which water was carried was one idea that sparked a lot of excitement and this helped to change the gesture of the performance. In the end, the performers passed glass pipettes (the vessels) with their feet, which created an unusual physical and visual gesture. This video is the result of the final collaboration, which was recorded as video.




Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reflection Statement for Exhibition




For me, BlueSky Project has been an opportunity to return to my studio practice in earnest. My residency here has been the high mark of a year-long transition and has allowed me to reconnect with my creative expression. Indeed, the collaborative nature of this program has also taught me a lot about my practice and the way in which I work.

After spending many years as an administrator and an educator, I realized that I had moved far away from the intensity of working out ideas and concepts through a regular creative practice. It is through this practice that I manage to stay connected with myself and also with the world around me. In my professional life, I was not healthy nor was I happy so last year, I decided to devote myself to just being an artist and I have re-immersed myself in the creativity which has come to mean so much in my life.

The simple idea of being able to work in my studio without competitive commitments has been unique and working in a collaboration with others has made for a rich and productive eight weeks. I will admit that it was difficult to open up my studio practice for others because there is “stuff” that happens in the studio that no one typically gets to be a part of or see. Having seven people staring back at you when some of that “stuff” happens took some getting used to but most of the time, those seven people were interested and supportive–and sometimes critical–of my ideas as they were developing. That vulnerability took some getting used to but also created an avenue for thoughts and ideas to flow. Most importantly, I really made an effort for this to not be a classroom situation and I allowed myself to “let my hair down” in as a way of keeping things fun and fresh and energized. I did a lot of things I never would have done as a teacher but felt that I stayed true to the manner in which I work and maintained the attitude of the work as well. We did a lot of work over the past two months but I think that my studio was as fun for my team as it was for me.

If I were to sum up my experience here at BlueSky Project, I would say that I learned a lot about my studio practice and the way I work. This was made possible having the microscope place squarely on me and what I was doing, while also seeing how my team reacted under different circumstances. We had good days and bad days and that was okay because it was all part of the process. But, coming out of this experience with a better sensitivity to how I work was unexpected. My student artist and my youth participants allowed me to look at my work through their eyes and that is a gift that will stay with me for a very long time. Thanks Moondrain Zombies…you guys were awesome. Now let’s dance!