Thursday, April 30, 2009
With all that's on President Obama's plate (recession, wars, swine flu!), what if Obama added people like Philip Roth, W.S. Merwin, Yo-Yo Ma, or Barbara Kruger to his advisory team? Would these artists come up with a different approach to solving our country's problems? Would they provide unique insight? Sheryl Oring, an MFA student at UCSD and former journalist, thinks they just might and she's created an art project called Creative Fix to prove it. Oring plans to set up her video camera in select San Diego galleries and invite artists to come and share their ideas on how to solve some of our country's biggest challenges.
Creative Fix grew out of an earlier public art project called I Wish to Say, which itself had many incarnations, not the least of which had Oring gathering public opinion during the 2008 presidential election. For that phase of the project, she sat in public spaces with a manual typewriter and invited passersby to dictate postcards to the next president. Oring says of her transition to Creative Fix, "During I Wish to Say, a lot of people talked about change, but few solutions were offered...I wanted to get artists involved in solutions. In Europe, artists are taken seriously. Writers are looked to to answer questions of the day. I want to see that status for artists here." She cites Václav Havel as an exmple, the playwright who became president of Czechoslovakia.
Creative Fix took off on April 16th when Oring set up an interview station in the Marcuse Gallery on the campus of UCSD. She videotaped conversations with a range of artists - painters, musicians, architects, writers, students - asking them how they would fix the country. She edits these interviews into short videos and posts them on her YouTube channel. The first batch of solutions are a mix of the practical and the inspired. One artist wants to change the funding structure of public education. Another wants more music education in schools, while another offers a more...umm...spirited solution (see below).
I'm a big fan of the daily dancing ritual so maybe this isn't so crazy after all. And if it's too expensive for the stimulus package, maybe everyone could practice visualization exercises to summon imaginary disco balls when things get really stressful, you know, like in the war room at the Pentagon.
Oring is setting up her next interview session at Agitprop gallery in North Park on Saturday, May 2nd from 3 to 6 p.m. Agitprop is located at 2837 University Avenue. All artists and creative folks are welcome to come and participate in the project.
Here are some other highlights from the Marcuse Gallery session.