Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Art Day at Roslyn Retreat Center

On April 18 I attended a full day art retreat led by Bishop Goff at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond.  We met in the picnic pavilion pictured below - a great open space, perfect for a mild spring day.

Here's a view of the inside of our studio for the day.

Tables were set with all sorts of materials - scraps of wood and wooden objects...
...many different kinds of paper including different designs, textures and images...
...and a table full of recycled containers and other bits and pieces (imagine a huge junk drawer)...
there were also many kinds of glue, hand-held power tools, books for inspiration, wire, metal, paint, a rich selection of open-ended found materials. 
For the morning I enjoyed the invitation to walk around and find something that spoke to me and then just to play with putting materials together.  In the photo below the lower piece of wood was the first one I picked up.  I liked how it sort of suggested a screen and buttons but in a very low tech way.  I made the screen part into a colorful collage and added additional buttons and collage elements.  
The second round piece of wood was a sort of decorative plate.  Here I returned to a familiar theme and created a color wheel using buttons I brought along for the day. 
The introduction to the retreat included an invitation to bring an object to work with - something from an attic or basement or thrift store.  I brought along a wooden wine box, thinking it doubled as a nice carrying container for materials and might be fun to decorate.
For the afternoon, I worked with the box, adding decorations and a door to create an Art Box.  My neighborhood had two Little Free Libraries within walking distance and a nearby neighborhood plans to install additional sites.  I have been thinking for a while about something similar for an art exchange.  That was the inspiration for the Art Box.

I added one of the pieces I began in the morning to the side for decoration.  The door was the most difficult part.  My initial thought was to wait and make it at home but that felt a bit like procrastination.  Finding hinges seemed to be a good sign I could improvise something so I decided to challenge myself to fashion a door out of what was available.

The sheet of plastic had been rolling around the back of my car for about 6 months, the wood scraps were almost the right size and the metal rulers proved just stiff enough to offer horizontal support while light enough to not add bulk.  In the end it was a good exercise in sticking with a problem and working with what was available.
The inside of the box is still empty.  I plan to add the color wheel mounted in the back along with some small shelves and a note encouraging people to participate in an art exchange.   
It needs a bit of work to be ready for mounting and will live under the covered portico at St Aidan's for starters.  As I tell people about the idea, I get different questions - Does it have to be finished art? What about bags of supplies for kids to take home and make something?  What if someone takes everything?  How will you know who got what you put in?  How will people know they can participate?  
Clearly I have some details to think through but I look forward to trying it and will share some of the stories of what I learn in a future post. 

It was lovely to be in a space as a maker with other makers.  Our reflection at the end focused on the nurturing energy of sharing time, space and materials for this creative work.  I was honored to hear the stories others shared about their creations and to get to share my process as well.  

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