We are social animals after all. Working collaboratively with other artists or communities breaks the isolation of the studio and allows new ideas to ferment. The challenge is letting go of absolute control over ownership of ideas and what is created. The joy is seeing what grows out of the shared process. I've worked in a lot of different types of collaborations. Mostly in a pair with artist Michelle Wilson http://rocinantepress.blogspot.com/
Here's an image of "Infinite Thread", our most recent collaboration. This accordion-fold book was made of hand-pulled paper made from silk recycled from an installation of mine, screenprint, and letterpress. This was the most in-depth collaboration we've ever done. It combined materials from both of our studios, text that we wrote together, imagery that we painted and collaged together, and every step of the process was completed side-by-side. (It's in an edition of 14 if you'd like to purchase a copy!). In creating this book with Michelle, I got to learn more about papermaking, letterpress, and bookbinding. I also was able to share in a true dialogue, as we brainstormed, edited, critiqued, problem-solved, and created. Few collaborations are ever this egalitarian.
I'm currently in a collaboration organized by Little Berlin Gallery. They invited 80 artists to form 20 groups of 4 with the instructions to collaborate but spend no more than $50 as a group. It was an effort to discover new artistic friendships, new resources, and new ways of working. In a group of 4 one has even less control over the process and product than in a group of 2. Luckily my 3 partners were flexible, creative kindred spirits. After settling on the idea of maps, all 4 of us spent 2 weeks making daily maps, marking our paths, ideas, or experiences for each day. Our maps became a source for abstract imagery as we transferred them to mylar. We traded mylar maps and then constructed 3 dimensional forms. Mine came out spherical as you can see here. Yesterday we met once more to build a wooden armature which we encrusted with the mylar forms. It's unlike anything I ever would have made by myself, yet it came out of our collective ideas and processes. It is evidence of our effect on each other. I don't have a photo yet, but you can come this Friday, June 5th at 6 pm for the opening of "Offerings" at Little Berlin, on Montgomery near the Berks El Station.
So what sparked this post? Seeing a link to this collaboration which involved 7000 fiber "leaves" submitted by people from 23 countries and 39 states. Check out the International Fiber Collaborative website where you can also see images of artist Jennifer Marsh's previous collaboration as well. http://www.internationalfibercollaborative.com/index.html