Monday, May 30, 2011

Trash Transformed Art!

My experience in the remote village of Natonin has me deeply inspired.. Their vibrant culture, the beauty of their environment, the trash problem in the community, and the amazing weaving of the women have sparked inspiration.

I have begun work with the local weavers to create an amazing series of trash canvases. Using the vibrant colours of the cleaned trash, combined with the traditional weaving, the local symbols, and my expertise laying out a fine-art painting, the co-creations will be dazzlingly beautiful.

The woven, pixelared effect of the wrappers, is so cool, so slick, so pop-art-colourful, so texture-rich, it almost doesn't matter what makes the picture! As Marshall McCluan says "The Medium is the Message". I am going in the direction of Québécois artists Yves Gaucher and Riopelle, to keep it ultra simple and let the colour combinations do the talking.

The weaving - photo by Muriel Bakker

Weaving is part of the culture, from loin cloths, blankets, abaca hats, to a new way of weaving trash wrappers.

The medium of these pieces will be transformed trash-- and all that this symbolizes. But even more so, the medium will be the process: a global collaboration that reinforces the precarious traditional values and environment of an indigenous community. In contrast to missionary or development work that brings something new, this process will be a way to reinforce that which is already there -- the weaving, the culture, the symbols, the nature.

I have budgeted out the preliminary village costs to create and ship the first canvases to a friend in Victoria B.C. Its about 1400$ to get the first ten paintings done. That's nothing of course-- that's the price for one small painting in a Canadian gallery! And that price revolutionizes a village! It includes not only paying the weavers, shipping, my expenses but also setting up the basic town recycling infrastructure, a town clean-up, training and recycling signs and directions. This infrastructure would then give the women a boost to make the hand bags, wallets, and other trash-woven goods they have already started making on an experimental scale. And then, if one or two additional paintings sell in Canada, that funds the next wave of creation and exhibition.

To start though, we'll take pledges from 10 people in the Victoria (and BC) area to get the first 10 paintings done. Price 140$ each!

One of the women weaving - photo by Muriel Bakker

Preliminary Painting sketch of woven green packaging with black symbols (size 30' x 20'): man: people / horn: unite / shield: protect / house: our home / flower: the environment / axe: work + persevere

In Natonin, environmental consciousness is precariously low. The folks don't realize the immense wealth of biodiversity, natural beauty, water, and their own indigenous culture they are surrounded by. The issue of throwing trash into the ditch is just the tip of the iceberg.

Art making, in particular mandala making, is all about raising consciousness. Personal and collective. This will be a bold experiment in both! The canvases that will result will an inspirational story of transforming problems into solutions.

Preliminary Painting sketch on my iPhone : woven green and red packaging with black symbols (size 30' x 20')

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