Monday, September 6, 2010

Sloup #6: July 2010

Adrian Aquilino

Please describe the artistic project a Sloup Grant would help you accomplish

The St. Louis Artists’ Guild, in collaboration with ArtDimensions, the Indonesian Consulate General in Chicago and the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Washington, D.C. are organizing a study abroad program sending St. Louis artists and community activists to Indonesia for a two-week period. While in Indonesia, the artists will be immersing themselves in the country’s rich culture to create work inspired by Indonesian art and design, culminating in an art exhibition in one of Jakarta’s top galleries.

A group of artists planning on participating in the study abroad program are trying to raise money independently to finance the program’s artists’ journey. The fundraising committee would like to raise enough money to subsidize artists who would usually not be able to afford to travel abroad. Our goal is to have enough funds to pay for all the artists’ airfare, accommodations, local travel, and one meal a day. A Sloup grant alone would not cover all this, but every little bit helps!

If the Indonesian Study Abroad Program Fundraising Committee were to win a Sloup grant, all of the money would go towards funding the artists who would like to participate in the program in Indonesia.

What is important to you about receiving a Sloup Grant, instead of, say, winning the lottery or getting a NEA grant?

The Indonesia Study-Abroad Program is all about promoting St. Louis abroad and nurturing its artistic community. By sending local artists to Indonesia, we will be displaying the artistic richness and diversity of the St. Louis region to an international artist. Also, the participating artists will return home with knowledge of Indonesian art and culture to share with the community, enriching the local art scene.

Because the intent of the program is to help St. Louis and its artists, grassroots support from local artists and art supporters is deeply meaningful to us. Just having the opportunity to share the news about this new program is very exciting!

A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals:

I am one of the fundraiser coordinators for the Study Abroad Program. I began working for the St. Louis Artists’ Guild as a graphic design intern, and now I am a Junior Graphic Designer and Administrative Assistant at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild. My current goals are to help reinvigorate the St. Louis Artists’ Guild as a prominent arts organization and to continue its mission to support local artists.

A previous project of yours, and some ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal):

Last year, the St. Louis Artists’ Guild hosted an exhibition of Indonesian batiks, featuring the private batik collection of Dr. Ann Dunham (President Obama’s mother) and the batik collection of the First Lady of Indonesia. The exhibition was a big success, and we received many accolades for our efforts in bringing the exhibition to St. Louis. The most amazing part was that we had only a few months to organize the exhibit! However, since the batik exhibit was so last minute, we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked to advertise and promote the exhibit.

Who is your favorite (any kind of) artist this month?

All of the artists helping us raise funds for the Study Abroad Program!


Your name or the title of your organization:

Jordan Hicks (My project is a collaboration with photographers David Johnson and Brett Beckemeyer. It also includes photos by Lyndsey Scott and Michael Allen).

What you will do with your Sloup Grant:

This summer, I worked with two photographers to create a set of 19 postcards about St. Louis' urban landscape - specifically, how it is impacted by the city's precipitous 59% drop in population from 1950 – 2000. There are cards about the urban wilderness on the former Pruitt-Igoe Public Housing complex site; the reuse of materials from demolished buildings; abandoned schools; urban agriculture, and more. I selected 19 sites, the photographers shot at the sites, and I wrote text for the back of each card. We printed a small run of cards. Instead of selling the cards in shops, we gave a few sets to friends, and left a few sets out in public places, to be picked up, discussed, and shared. I left sets of cards at the arch grounds, the downtown public library, and City Garden. I have two sets of these cards at home, if you'd like to see them.

With the Sloup Grant, I would print more sets of these cards (and $10 could print about 1 and 1/4 sets at Kinko's, the least expensive option) and leave them, free for the taking, in more public places. I would like to leave them at markets, parks, and institutional buildings (places with a lot of foot traffic), but I am open to / looking for more suggestions. Also (though I would still need to coordinate with the photographers) I would like to add a few cards to the set – maybe one about squatting, one about urban wildlife, one about brownfield reclamation, and one about that old core of a building on the north side that fireman use for training.

A little about yourself and what led you to this project:

In the last couple of years, I've been reading a lot about urban planning and design issues. I became pretty interested in work being done in shrinking cities – cities that are losing population, and as a result have lots of leftover, abandoned building and landscapes. I noticed, around St. Louis, a lot of interesting and unique approaches to the problem, many of them in direct ideological conflict with one another. I felt like that was the real story about urban planning in St. Louis, and it is ultimately more pertinent and more interesting than the "urban development" issues that garner attention in the press – sports stadiums, downtown lofts, highway improvements, and new shopping districts. I wrestled with various ideas to address this, but ultimately decided on the postcards for their symbolic value (being postacrds and all) and their accessibility (Few people will pick up a two-page text article, found sitting on park bench. Many will pick up beautiful pictures by talented photographers).

A previous project of yours, and some ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal):

I feel like Open Lot has been successful in some ways: it has been a good studio environment for a number of artists, a good venue for visiting musicians, and a good gallery space. However, when we (Me, and my friends Aaron and Jonathan, who have since moved to Toronto and Nashville, respectively) founded the project, I think we intended to have more community involvement. We weren't really sure what that meant, but we discussed hosting free classes for kids, creating some kind of communal arts library, or maybe public service projects – something that extended beyond our own social group (you know, young, college educated people with an interest in the arts). We never really got around to that, and if I start another similar project elsewhere, I will want that to be part of it.

Your power animal and/or icon:

Komodo dragon, or maybe a Gila Monster. Some kind of big lizard. They're like contemporary dinosaurs.

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