Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Nature of Language: A report back from Visiting Artists

The Nature of Language at CCA

 By Jeane Cohen

During our stay as visiting artists, my collaborator Carl Elsaesser and I ( Jeane Cohen) began a project that explores the union of 16 millimeter film and painting. Born out of our similar interests in concepts of narrative, and formal principals of beauty and light, this project brakes down the barriers of each medium in order to identify the isolated similarities between them. We conducted numerous creative exercises to educate each other about the others' medium. We then began an exploration of combining the two mediums. We painted on filmstrips, wove film into canvas that was used as the grounds for a painting, and filmed painted images. We made a breakthrough discovery of the possibilities of creative projection, using projected light as a kind of painting and formation of space. We played with imagery projected, as well as surfaces projected on, such as paintings, skin, and saguaro cactus.

During our stay we were in residence in Michael Schwartz studio at the Citizens Warehouse Artist Collective. Michael introduced us to many community members in the collective and in the greater Tucson community. Towards the end of our stay, we presenting a sample exploration of our work to the group. We stopped in to the Tucson Mural Arts Program  Mural Club and talked a little bit about our project, the nature of collaboration and our roots.

In thinking about next steps for this project, we hope to continue to be able to generate time and space for developing this collaboration. We would like to think about the products we generate as a body of work that is flexible, yet concise. We are excited to continue with the work where we left off, and to incorporate new ideas along the way.

I went on to do a small mural piece, The Nature of Language, at Central City Assembly (939 South 10th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701), where the staff were very supportive and encouraging of the project. Central City Assembly is a shelter, in addition to a place of worship, and they hold free meals three times a week. The flow of people past the mural during its construction generated conversation and engagements with the design and the mural production process. I completed the mural with much help from artist Alice Glasser, and a little help from my uncle, Ron Proctor. Michael Schwartz organized the project and materials to make it come to fruition. Jerry Peek came to the sight to document the mural making process and posted the photographs on his blog:

The mural image depicts a sleeping person, and is designed to fit in the context of the shelter and services Central City Assembly provides. I attribute the significance and meaning of the bubble both to a dream-like expression but also to the agency of speech and the significance of individual expression that is so frequently overlooked. It stands for a universal appreciation of listening to the language of others, regardless of a difference of life experiences. Lastly, the image is about the beauty of speech as well as its abstraction in visual form.

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