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July 5, 2010

Participatory Art Project goes to Calder Plaza, Grand Rapids

My walk through environment, C’ood: a democracy experiment, will be installed at Calder Plaza, Grand Rapids’ City Hall, this September. It will be right next to the sculpture by Alexander Calder that put Grand Rapids on the art map 41 years ago. Frederik Meijer Gardens curators selected work for this site. Chief Curator Joseph Becherer referred to my piece as “quite innovative and I know people will find it highly rewarding.”


For C’ood: a democracy experiment, T-shirts from Michigan are woven into a circular tunnel, 24′ in diameter, 10′ tall with a central opening 12′ across. Viewers can walk around inside the weaving or move into the open space in the center. Each of the outside entrances is woven with one color, then as the weaving arches over into the center the colors mix together into a multicolor tapestry. As viewers navigate the unfamiliar space, move among other viewers, and look for shirts from their town, they practice searching for the “common good”. They engage in a transformative space and participate in an experiment in democracy’s inner workings.


My interest in T-shirts starts with their individuality – they’re like our second skin, shaped like a human torso, and the messages printed on them make them personal. No matter how the shirt is transformed, the individual quality can still be felt. This makes for very interesting art material.


Participation

The project invites participation on many levels.

– Donate Michigan T-shirts – short sleeved shirts are needed, no collar or pocket, with “Michigan” or a city or town in Michigan written on the shirt (such as “Ann Arbor Brew Pub”). Shirts can be dropped off at Downtown Home & Garden, 210 S. Ashley, Ann Arbor, MI. Or mailed to me at that address.

– Volunteer – volunteers will be needed in every step of the project: recording the messages on the shirts, cutting them up for weaving, building the structure, weaving, installation team.

Email me to get on the Volunteer List.

– Walk Through InstallationViewers who go to ArtPrize can walk through C’ood: a democracy experiment to engage in what it looks like and feels like to search for the common good. For more information on ArtPrize: www.artprize. org.

Americans come from so many different cultures and backgrounds, we don’t have a unified historical legacy that says what “culture” is, as many other countries do. This lack of a common cultural identity is one of the reasons for the “culture wars”. But we do have the shared ideal of working for the common good. The experiment here is whether we can see the beauty of that, see the beauty of merging some of our individuality into a common benefit for all.


See more of my work at www.margaretparkers tudio.com.

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