January 14, 2010
I’m off on my 2010 travel adventure to Nepal and India. I’ll be traveling to Nepal to visit with the deaf and abused young adults in Bhairahawa that I worked with last year teaching them art and English. The organization I’m working with is the Esther Benjamins Trust (EBT) from the UK; wonderful group that has done terrific things in Nepal!
On February 9th I’m heading to India to participate in a two-month international Art Karavan. Approximately 150 artists from India and around the world will be traveling to eight towns in eight weeks creating site specific artwork, interacting with community members and doing good deeds. You can check out details of the Art Karavan at http://peripherals10.blog.com
Although the blog gives complete details, the Art Karavan will start in Calcutta, travel north to Kashmir and end in Delhi. I’m not really sure who will be participating but I suspect that a number of the artists that were in the Bodhgaya art event I participated in in 2008 will be there. I do know that my good friend and very talented Irish artist Anna McLeod, who I met at Global Arts Village in Delhi four years ago, is going to participate starting in early March. It should be an exciting and interesting event.
Knitscape Broadway was completed during a six-week period in the summer of 2009. Broadway School of Music was the sponsor of the project. Working with people in one of Cleveland’s poorest neighborhoods was one of the most uplifting experiences of the Knitscape projects.
I worked with senior citizens at the University Settlement Senior Center during the creation of the crocheted pieces and then installed the Knitscape with the help of some unexpected – and delightful! -- volunteers from the neighborhood.
While I stitched the pieces on the posts in front of the neighborhood park, I struck up a conversation with a lanky teenaged boy waiting at the bus stop. We chatted about his school and sports and my art project as I worked. We connected and soon he was by my side stitching cozies on posts.
Later, football practice began in the park and the area was filled with kids and their families. Charlana, a girl of about 10 years old, settled in next to me. She had me laughing and I had her stitching on cozies in no time. By sunset we were friends and I had been accepted into this community.
The Knitscape projects were conceived to create a community around an art project and to enliven daily life with unexpected art. I was unprepared, however, for the hundreds of connections that were formed while working in the neighborhoods of Cleveland. I have been honored to be the recipient of a continuous flow of kindness, curiosity, humor, appreciation and joy. Every day was filled with delightful interaction.
Of course, for me as the artist, the opportunity to expose people to art on their turf was wonderful. People that had never even heard of public art not only helped create it, but are now experiencing it, living in it.
In 2005 I crocheted a cozy on a tree in front of City Hall as part of a public art project for Heights Arts in Cleveland Heights, Ohio (USA). I covered the tree – a natural object representing masculinity and strength – with a cozy – a handmade covering representing femininity and comfort. The cozy simultaneously caresses and encases the tree fluctuating between a comforting blanket and a confining cover-up. But to many, it’s simply a delight of beauty, color and crochet.
"Tree Cozy” is one of the happiest projects I’ve ever done. It connected with people of every age, sex, ethnicity and economic level. The brightly colored crocheted cozy seemed to touch a place deep within that evoked memories of people, places and times when life was good and the future full of hope and promise.
When Peggy Spaeth asked me to be Heights Arts’ artist in residence this summer, times were tough and the future wasn’t looking so bright. But, we reasoned, what better time to invigorate a neighborhood with art. The purpose of these public art projects – known as Knitscapes – is:
After working on the Knitscape projects for six weeks, I can say with no reservations that we have met and far exceeded these goals. With the help of numerous volunteers, we have crocheted cozies for nearly 200 parking meters, 15 light poles, and 5 trees in Cleveland Heights and 44 trees in Larchmere. There is no doubt that we have energized these areas through art.
Of more importance to me, however, are the hundreds of connections I and my fellow volunteers have formed with the people in these neighborhoods while working in the parking lots and streets for six weeks. I have been honored to be the recipient of a continuous flow of kindness, curiosity, humor, appreciation and joy from strangers. Every day was a delight thanks to community interaction.
Of course, for me as the artist, the projects also have conceptual underpinnings; it’s still about comfort vs. confinement. On Lee Road, while it’s still true that we’re confined by the societal rules and regulations of parking meters, at least in this community we’re making that constraint the most comfortable possible. On Larchmere, the trees are cozily confined in their colorful coverings. With Knitscapes in place, parking in Cleveland Heights, walking down Lee Road or Larchmere Blvd, or living and working in these communities will swing away from confinement and toward comfort… our comfort.
As one passerby told me, the energy has shifted in these neighborhoods. “Your projects have changed the entire energy in our neighborhoods; people are so much happier when they walk down our streets. Everyone is smiling.” People that had never even heard of public art not only helped create it but are now experiencing it, living in it.
Carol Hummel will participate in "Art Karavan International," a traveling art event in India. Between February 12 and April 12, 2010, artists from around the world will join Indian artists to travel to and create in eight Indian cities.
"I've worked on art projects in India in 2005 and 2006 and have been impressed by the creativity and artistic energy of the people," Carol says. "I'm really looking forward to an opportunity to create with the Indian people again. This opportunity is especially exciting because we'll be traveling through the country and interacting with people of all ages, sexes, and economic levels. I expect it to be a life-changing experience."
Detailed information about the event are available at http://peripheral.blog.com The cities that will host the Art Karavan are:
The process and aims of the event are described as follows on the blog:
OUR PLACE IS THE WORLD NOT JUST THE ART WORLD
With the above slogan, a group of Artists as Karavan-Artists and Non-Artists as their Artist colleagues will constitute the Art Karavan group starting from ShantiNiketan West Bengal on 12th of Feb. 2010 and culminating at Delhi on 12th of April 2010.
Art-Karavan-Artists will do what ideally fits into the activities of this art-camp-travel event. So, it is a PERFORMANCE ART based event.
Besides camping at different venues ART KARAVAN’s journey itself will become an integral part of entire celebration of this creative endeavour. The interaction with the locals and other floating visitors will only enrich the experience of the participants.
The proposed journey from station to station will be full of expressions, mainly songs and interactions with the locals. We imagine a decorated Indian Railway coach full of Art Karavan participants. A day’s Break Journey while travelling between two destinations can provide an additional opportunity to the Art Karavan troupe in a small town or city to perform with their displayable projections, masks, and other creative motifs in their hands alongwith musicals of different origins.
This Art, journeying a few thousands miles, will eventually reinvigorate hundreds of artists living in this Himalayan Belt of Northern India. A large audience, both rural and urban, we believe will appreciate the efforts of Karavan performers.
At the Camps ( in six states ) , the Art Karavan will be holding work-shops , and interactive programmes with the local artists, and possible artists from non-artists category. Art Karavan will engage themselves into those aesthetic endeavours which are in tune with the conceptual thought of ‘ peripherals’
For instance, Karavan Participants are likely to undertake the repairing/redesigning of some dilapidated wells, public toilets, women’s toilets ( which are non-existent in India ) and broken stair cases leading to rivulets. Planting of trees, and interactive discussion will be held on to improve living standards with some simpler approaches to life, which can be artistic at the same time.
The Karavan will be a drifting space where ideas can be tested/experimented and attitudes re-questioned, with an eclectic mix of works, yet each occupying its own self defining space.
This will be a truly Global meeting point, new ways of seeing, new meaning and ways of being will perhaps emerge and take us into a multi-perspective realm...The event will be a crucible for melting all the conventionally known way of doing art to produce what is unknown, beautiful and true to the needs of our times.
Bodhgaya, Bihar, here I come! I'm leaving Ohio Oct. 21st and heading off for another six months of exploration in India. After my 3-month long artist's residency in New Delhi last year and two months traveling with Irish fiber artist Vera Doherty, I'm sacrificing another bitter Ohio winter for the warmth of India's countryside, culture, and people. First stop is Bodhgaya where I'm participating in an international art project entitled Buddha Enlightened. Artists from around the world -- including two of the talented artists I met in India last year, Anna McLeod from Ireland and Peter Burke from Australia -- are coming together to create site specific work in the place where the Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi tree until he achieved enlightenment. Lets all stay in touch and share adventures! [img]Gitorni kids.jpg[/img]
© 2013 Carol Hummel