Identifier

etd-06092011-111457

Degree

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Art

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

CommuniPLAYtion: getting our hands dirty together is a weeklong installation of a collective ceramics studio implanted in Foster Gallery. It is a participatory and interactive exhibition that demonstrates how material play creates moments for personal reflection and contemplation, while also facilitating communication and social relations within a specific place. CommuniPLAYtion is an opportunity for an altruistic exchange among individuals in contrast to the monetary transactions that momentarily connect strangers. These engagements, similar to the “Do-It-Yourself Geopolitics” of other contemporary artists, empower individuals to develop modes of interaction that suit their interpersonal needs. The exhibition, communiPLAYtion enables the basic precursors that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests are necessary in order to achieve self-actualization. I orchestrate events to make participants feel safe and respected, in order to encourage a sense of connectedness or belonging. I utilize the research of psychologists and art therapists, especially Carl Roger’s nondirective approach to therapy, to create an inviting and comfortable environment where I can be myself and feel willing to open up to others. The gallery contains one ton of packaged, wet clay, which enables visitors to make any kind or size of sculpture they choose. Together, participants and I incorporate our work into a central part of the room where a temporary landscape of combined, unfired clay objects emerges. Over the course of the week a larger, collaborative sculpture emerges—a tangible record of the creative efforts of a shared group of participants. The sculpture records the marks of each person, alluding to the value of intangible emotions shared during conversation. Collaborators engage in the phenomenological experience of manipulating wet clay in a collective space with shared tools. As they work alongside one another an intimate dialogue unfolds naturally. The sensuous and malleable material enables and physically validates the emotional connectivity that happens on-site. The haptic experience of revealing vulnerability in public spaces and feeling the positive effects of collaboration engenders “felt knowledge” or self-trust. At the end of the week, the raw clay sculpture is broken down into chunks in order to be used for endless reiterations in other locations. Leaving the clay unfired draws attention to the value of the ephemeral, interpersonal exchange rather and imbues the clay with the agency of the collective experiences that continues to build with each event.

Date

2011

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Shaw, Andy

Included in

Fine Arts Commons

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