When I worked at the Boys and Girls Club in Gainesville, I organized a schedule that highlighted different skills. Generally, these themes focused on experiences within a classroom setting (i.e. reading, writing), but, as classrooms are social venues, they connected to interactive life skills as well. Wednesday was designated as "Collaboration Station" and I realize that I've been very much influenced by these lessons. Fiona Gardner and I are preparing a collaborative sculptural and (interactive) performance piece for CROWN HEIGHTS GOLD, an exhibition informed by the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Crown Heights riot, a tragic event that began on August 19, 1991. Throughout our conversations, and the through the advice/experience of other artistic collaborations, I think I've identified a few key elements that help move this process along.
- Brainstorm Freely (Avoid censoring the thoughts you've got in your head. Unexpressed ideas tend to take up brain space, thereby edging out the gems that could enhance the project.)
- Say "yes" as much as possible (Replace "No" with "Not exactly", "not yet", and "what about...?")
- Invest time (Collaborations are often a time-based puzzle and the solutions are only partially dependent upon the creativity of the individuals involved. Mostly, it just takes time for the ideas to marinate.)
- If you're stuck, revisit the earliest ideas (These ideas are unfettered by the expectations built up over planning conversations, while still benefiting from the 'marination affect'.)
- Respect your partner (Remember, no participant should feel greater ownership over the other. Work toward a solution that blends voices.)
- Regard disagreements as opportunities, not obstacles (It seems like every disagreement resolved is space to expand your own practice. Embrace this!)