The squeaky wheel speaketh...
I attended a panel last week at Lori Bookstein Fine Art, 'Making Ideas Work, How Big Art Projects Happen". I came with BIG expectations, especially since I thought the focus was on BIG ideas. But I was left with a better outcome instead- a healthy critique on what we (the art community, in particular) view as a big art project. Apparently big art projects are constructions. As in something you build. Physically. Be it a humongous cat in the Catskills, monumental plaster in Key West or an earth bag community center in Haiti- you've got to build big. Also, big art projects are executed by men. With the occasional girlfriend who is strangely absent from the panel discussion... but I digress.
As a conceptual artist I am critical of the panel the organizers brought together. I found that the works were so object based that the size of the idea didn't really matter, just as long as the end product was substantial. The fact that the artists featured were all men sent a disturbing message as well. Ultimately though, I fault myself for not speaking up in that moment- although I must admit it took a bit of time for me to realize what irked me about the discussion. In actuality big art projects are concepts that don't necessarily end up as physical constructions. In fact, a friend and colleague (Sara Hart) wants to provide free child care/ art instruction to a female headed household as an extension of her photography practice. Women as single parents spend up to 53% of their median income on child care in New York State. With that small piece of information Sara's idea sounds HUGE and it's still a construction, but of a different sort. She proposes to build communities, expand a family's cultural expression, while exploring the possibilities of her own experience.
So, next time, whenever we speak about big art projects, let's remember to include depth as well as height, and use emotion, discovery, and connectivity, as building materials too.