Monday, April 22, 2013

Challenge Number 3: Face Your Fears

Sweet Challenge Swag - steal it today!
This week, we want you to go rogue. More specifically, we want you to go guerrilla -- and bring your art out of the studio or gallery, and into the public space. Does that sound terrifying to you? It did to me:

You may recall my mini-freakout last week. As part of raising awareness for Denim Day Tucson, I signed up to both do hair and paint jeans at this past Saturday's live art event. Unfortunately, right around 9:30am on the day of the event, I had another mini-freakout. Actually, it was more of a bona-fide freakout, because I had yet to paint the back of one of the pairs of jeans, I still hadn't come up with any sort of clever composition to resolve the back of the pair I had painted, I hadn't showered, gotten dressed, or packed up my supplies for the night, and I needed to get to work by 10am. Worst of all, I was beginning to doubt that I had what it took to do a "live painting event." Was it supposed to be performance art? Should I have choreographed this?? What if I didn't finish?? What if I suck???
Thankfully, the nature of making a commitment to something is that you generally still have to do it, even if on the inside all you want to do is run back under the covers and wait for all your apparently insurmountable problems to disappear. Since hiding under my comforter wasn't an option, I got ready, went to work, left early enough to pick up stuff from my house on the way to the event, and started banging out some awesome hairdos.
I figured maybe I'd have time to finish the back of the jeans later -- nope. I figured maybe I'd get to go buy the pallet that I had completely forgotten to grab from home at some point before I had to start painting at 9pm -- nope. But it all worked out. 

The amazing artist who was painting right before I was supposed to go on lent me her pallet for the rest of the night. The back of the jeans worked themselves out. The composition came together once I saw the jeans actually on the model. My models -- and all the models -- were AMAZING, and the other artists were so inspiring, and the crowd passing by on the street was overwhelmingly positive. You can see a whole album of pictures from the event - including pics of the jeans I was so freaked out about - here. I had a ridiculous amount of fun, and fell asleep that night wondering what it was I'd been so afraid of, anyway.

What I hadn't put together, the whole time I prepped for the event, was that I would be painting the jeans on the street, not inside a bar or gallery. I'd thought I would be in a protected, codified art space, where I would be being judged by my activist and artist peers. Instead, I was out in the open, completely exposed to John and Jane Q. Public's reaction to my art. It's a good thing I was too busy trying to figure out what I was doing with the jeans to realize this beforehand, because I would have gone straight to the highest threat color level imaginable. Thinking about it afterward, of course, it made total sense. Guerrilla art is the perfect medium for raising awareness about important issues, because it's unavoidable and inescapable. It's also incredibly high-pressure, because there's no pretending like something never happened, since it happens in a public space.

Which brings us back to this week's challenge. This week, we'll be giving you LOTS of examples of awesome guerrilla art -- but most importantly, we want you to make some of your own! Maybe try yarn bombing, or plant a sidewalk garden. Think of the awesome stuff accomplished by Improv Anywhere. Push the limits of public/private space. See if you can get in trouble (but not too much trouble!) and see if you can get people to step back for a moment and think.

For me, guerrilla art was exactly the experience I needed this weekend, because it forced me to actually finish a piece and not worry about how people would react to it -- they already were reacting to it, because it was in public. Scary as it was (and it was), I'm glad I did it -- and I'm going to be doing it again, soon.

Now it's your turn -- grab yourself a swag badge for this week's challenge, post it on your blog or Facebook, and get out there and create!

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