New Urban Arts held their first “Institute for Other Significant Pursuits” over three days in August 2010. This project gathered alumni artist mentors and staff to reflect on and explore their practices as artists and educators. As one of the facilitators and documenters of this project, I chose to collect all of the questions asked over the course of three days both from the spoken conversation and notes taken in the various notebooks.
I laid these questions out on cards and then shared them with a number of others to try to gain some perspective on what these artist educators were grappling with. Various people had various responses ranging from lists, affirmations, comics, and drawings. While very beautiful, they did not help me understand the logic and tension points for the group as a whole.
I am one of those “can't see the forest for the trees” types - in fact, I get so close to the trees, I usually can’t see the forest because I’m preoccupied with the bark of just one tree. This mapping is my attempt to honor the specificity of the individual questions from many different askers, while also trying to find relationships and structures which hold this asking together. I think the patterns which emerge emerge for a reason. Within any group of people at any particular time, I believe there is a certain culture and tensions which exists, and I believe the logic of these can be illuminated. This drawing is my effort towards illuminating an internal logic.
This piece finds inspiration in the work of Edward Tufte and Mark Lombardi and also from Ruth Behar and a handful of other anthropologists who value subjectivity and seek to hold onto scraps of language.