The Wearable Art Class exhibition debuted on June 24th to much fanfare, and was well attended by City Hall Senior Center members, fans and proponents of inter-generational art education, the Finns of New York, and the downtown Manhattan art community. The spread, complete with egg custard tarts, seaweed snacks, open face Finnish sandwiches (thanks, Nordic Breads!), fruit plate, and dried anchovies was not to be beat (and a very Chinese way of entertaining at an art opening, so I’m told). Also, what a joy it is to drink white wine with the over 70 set on a hot summer day - just so long as there’s a buddy system in place for when someone wants to go down a set of stairs.
Probably the best thing about the show was being with this group of nascent artists who were seeing their work on public display for the first time and realizing that they were so much like my younger artist friends and myself. Just as any artist would, they had some jitters before the opening. Kit told me, “We’re going to be like clowns,” (perhaps not a totally unreasonable fear when you’re showing photos of yourself in a magical rainbow colored cloak that attaches to your feather hat, but untrue nonetheless). Then, at the gallery, with a glow in her face, she said, “It’s not what I expected. We aren’t clowns!” I replied, “Yeah, not clowns. Classy!” And she said, “Not classy, just not clowns,” thus ending an exchange which pretty much sums up my internal dialog at every show I’ve done. They were good. They were mesmerized by the video of their performances. They spoke with poise about their work. Later, Marie stood on the steps of the gallery and declared that she was ready for more adventures. “I’m young in my heart!” she said, and extended her arms like she was going to embrace the world.
I met a woman, a milliner, at the opening who asked me a very good question. How do you view the people you’ve written about on your blog differently after this experience? This I’m still striving to answer, but I can say one thing now: I didn’t expect them to be so self aware. And in that self knowledge their fearlessness becomes even more amazing. I have unwittingly, though not surprisingly, progressed to a totally irony-free view of the people who I once revered and made fun of on this forum. It couldn’t have happened if we hadn’t found a common ground, a way to communicate through making art together, and for that I am grateful.
Expect to see our video works here in the future, as well as updates about new projects. The SPARC program has ended, but the Wearable Art crew rages on.
Photos by Wei Xiaoguang and Alison Kuo.