Last summer, I volunteered for a neighborhood project called Plant Grow Share, which is how I ended up getting this grant. The organizer of that program asked me and another artist to do a project related to Plant Grow Share and other than that, left it really open to each of us to do what we wanted. We each decided to do our own thing based on what our creative interests were. With that freedom, I ran with my idea to teach free sun print cyanotype activities throughout the neighborhood!
My vision evolved and I landed on two different events: 1. Community Garden Day, an event already happening throughout Minneapolis. I envisioned folks coming to a community garden, walking around, chatting with each other and picking plants that they were drawn to that I would show them how to make sun prints with and that's exactly what happened!
I decided to team up with The Little Free Farmers Market crew, which is a component of Plant Grow Share, and set up my activity in one of the community gardens in South Minneapolis where they harvest organic produce to give away for free. We got rained out twice but the third time we pulled it off! It was overcast but we were still able to make beautiful sun prints. Everyone had a lot of fun and wanted to keep making more, a good sign I'd say.
2. Join up with the Central Area Neighborhood Association's Central Neighborhood Fair and lead another sun print activity in a park for any folks who wanted to learn. There were some hiccups (like no water source, yikes!), but we pulled it off and I got to connect with a lot of kids and adults while teaching them how to make sun prints in a city park in Minneapolis.
Leading these activities is about helping people make beautiful art with their hands but is also about:
-Encouraging and demonstrating the rewards of patience in a time when we all want immediate gratification.
-Empowering people to trust their visual and creative instincts, follow them and learn from them.
-Encouraging play and pushing through the desire for perfection. I see this mostly in adults because kids are more trusting of themselves and are willing to experiment and explore to see what they can create. I love nudging adults to do that more through art making because it feels so freeing and exciting when you experience it!
-Encouraging people to enjoy the process while also being focused on the outcome. Finding that balance is a beautiful way to continue to learn and grow.
-Teaching people to notice opacity, composition, chemical reactions which look like magic, contrast, using different materials to create meaning in a final print and how to explore all of those things to develop your own artistic style over time.
-Encouraging people to practice articulating what they like and don't like about the final prints as a way to develop a refined eye, understand and use artistic terms like "composition, opacity, depth, color, contract, etc" and to continue to grow and expand their creative identity, opinions and expression.
I hope to do many more classes and activities in the future like this!