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Collaborative Art

~Artists Working Together~

Written by Mary Nelson Zadrozny
© 2010-15 Just Imagine Design & Publications
"There are no extra pieces in the universe.
Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill,
and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle."

Deepak Chopra

Being an artist can sometimes be an isolating experience. While most artists need the quiet atmosphere in order to create, as humans we often desire a sense of community too. Although there are many organizations like local art guilds or online groups that artists can join to fulfill some of the need, many artists working out of their homes or studios may not get a chance to actually work with others much.

The good news is that there are a number of opportunities for artists to be part of something larger. And what starts out as a small contribution, often not taking much effort or expense, can turn into artwork with a huge visual impact.

Holocaust Museum Butterfly Project 1

One of three butterflies I recently submitted to the Holocaust Museum Butterfly Project. Made of recycled clothing, commercial cotton fabrics, felt backing and embellished with beads, sequins and hemp twine. Measures 9 1/2" wide by 7 1/2" high.

Peace Block donated to Fabric of Peace. Made of recycled clothing, commercial cotton fabrics, and embellished with buttons. Features the quote: "Without inner peace, it is impossible to have world peace." by the Dalai Lama.

See the movie by John Thornton posted on YouTube 1/30/15 featuring The Fabric Of Peace Quilts (there are now 3 quilts).

Collaborative art can include a variety of processes such as:
1. Two artists working together as partners as part of a permanent, every day arrangement.

2. Small artist groups where a theme is chosen and work is created by the members specifically to be exhibited together. Example of this: Twelveby12, a group of 12 quilt artists.

3. Artists from around the world are encouraged to submit various contributions of artwork so it can be assembled and shown together. Some examples: The Fabric of Peace, The Holocaust Museum Butterfly Project, International Fiber Collaborative, and The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

4. Round Robins where work is passed from artist to artist to add their contribution. Read more about Round Robins.

Many of our quilt ancestors were part of collaborative projects as they worked on quilts in gatherings called "Quilt Bees." Also quilt guilds, schools and churches often work together to complete quilts to donate to those in need, to raise money for their organization, to honor or memorialize someone, as a learning experience or just to have fun. Whenever you participate in a group project, you realize that as part of a larger community, you can accomplish much more than you can alone.
fiber leaves
Although I didn't get a chance to participate in Jennifer Marsh's Gas Station project in 2008, I did submit 3 leaves for her second International Fiber Collaborative in 2009. I was amazed when I saw photos of the final installation of the Interdependence Tree Project at the Panoply Arts Festival in Huntsville, Alabama. Over 7,000 leaves from 23 countries and 39 states helped create this stunning tree. After the festival, the tree was dismantled and moved to it's permanent location at the Earlyworks Children's Museum in Huntsville, AL. See the International Fiber Collaborative website for photos of the tree, leaves, and installation process. Jennifer is working on her newest project, The Dream Rocket.
interdependence tree
I really enjoy the whole experience of these projects for several reasons:
1. The opportunity to be part of the bigger picture, something I could never have created on my own.
2. The ability to help raise awareness for important causes.
3. I pick projects that I can use supplies I already have and that are not too time consuming to complete.
4. I use the opportunity to play and try out new techniques, challenging myself to work in a different size or materials other than I typically work with. The small scale allows me more freedom that I don't seem to have in my regular work.
5. Deadlines are always good for me to make sure I finish what I start!
6. The chance to meet and talk with other artists, even if it isn't face to face.
Check out these websites for more information on collaborative art, past and ongoing projects:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/freshliving/2009/05/cool-collaborative-art-project-shared-journals.html Article about Shared Journals Project and Collaborative Art
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colab Colab: New York City Artist's Group Collaborative Projects
http://roundrobinbrooklyn.blogspot.com/ Round Robin Brooklyn; a group of 13 Brooklyn-based artists.
http://teams.lacoe.edu/documentation/classrooms/gayle/projects/projects.html Variety of Internet Collaborative Projects for students.
www.altered-book.com/round-robin.html Tips on Making an Altered Book through a Round Robin Exchange.
www.art-e-zine.co.uk/roro.html Round Robins Art Exchanges
www.artjunction.org/ Art Junction; A collaborative art space for teachers and students.
www.artellawordsandart.com/art-project-database.html The Art Project Database is a comprehensive listing of current swaps, trades, round-robins, and other collaborative art projects.
www.arthousecoop.com/projects/canvasproject The Canvas Project 3
www.arthousecoop.com/projects/sketchbookproject The Sketchbook Project
www.arthousecoop.com/projects Current Listing of Projects Open for Participation
www.cowparade.com/ Cow Parade
www.internationalfibercollaborative.com/ International Fiber Collaborative
www.justimaginedesigns.com/helpothersarticle.html Helping Others Article Listing over 160 organizations that can use donations of handmade items to offer comfort to others. Some of them are collaborative projects.
www.lookatbook.com/ Sketchbook sent between four artists; two in Brooklyn, two in Belfast.
www.millionmasterpiece.com/ Million Master Piece
www.sketchtravel.com/ Sketch Travel
www.thefabricofpeace.com/ The Fabric of Peace Project
www.timkellyartist.com/tk_puzzle.html Artist Tim Kelly's Puzzle Installation & Collaborative Project
www.varian.net/dreamview/dcollaborative/index.html Dreamview Collaborative Generations Project
http://www3.amherst.edu/~ccsp11/collaborative_art/student_projects/main.php The Practice of Collaborative Art

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