Thursday, 3 November 2011

Collaboration and Participation: A Personal Reflection

This school term, I've been involved, participated and collaborated with students from NUCA, as well as my brother Sean in my current practice. Its interesting to compare/contrast the varied collaborations in the presence of the other person(s) or lack there of. 
                                               Collaborative Artists, Marina Abramovic & Ulay, Relation in Time
Collaboration with Sean Gray
With my brother, the work was produced together and my photographic documentation is the very proof of our participative collaboration. Our work was interdependent in an exhibitory setting put separately were very juxtaposed in content. This separation drove me to consider how our work could be fused into one. Photography is a subjective, truthful medium that can be used collaboratively, especially by using the double exposure technique. This technique forces two photographs into one, a fusion of ideas and content. 
Collaboration with Lizi Williams
Working on story and structure with Lizi Williams is a contemplative and stress-free venture. She assigned me a task with little direction and no deadline, which provided me with complete artistic expression. However, she did influence my work, only by pointing out that we were from two different cultures and it would be interesting to see the differences in our story. I thought incorporating some element of my Caymanian culture into the story would juxtapose our stories even more, which may prove more challenging for each of us and provide both of us with a learning curve.
Making the two main characters coconuts helped me consider other future children's stories. However, I attempted a more dark comedic approach with "Getting Back Up the Coconut Tree", as I have never written anything of this nature before and wanted to challenge myself. Because of this challenge, although pleased with my work, I was unsure of what other readers might think of it and who the targeted audience would be. 
Collaboration with Freddy Diaz and Clarice Diaz
Working on Children's literature and artwork is a new venture for me but working with such a supporting team, Freddy Diaz and Clarice Diaz, that have provided much encouragement and guidance has strengthened my writing and artistic abilities. My illustration skills were lacking, I had been instructed in traditional fine art methods so "cartooning" or illustrating and digital colouring were brand new for me, this term. 

Righting Misconceptions Description (Re-Written)

Sean and Anne-Marie Gray's work are juxtaposed in content but are interdependent of one another in their production and deliverance. Sean's work took place in the presence of Anne-Marie and therefore was influenced by her presence. Additionally, his entire surroundings, his home in the Cayman Islands, were his influence. The vivid colours and whimsical stroke of his brush represent the illuminating serenity present at the islands core.
Anne-Marie's work was directly linked to Sean, in an attempt to pull off the shade of stereotype and prove how capable people with Down Syndrome are. By documenting her brother's process and using him as content in her work, she and her brother are made vulnerable, creating a closer relationship between artists, content and audience.
By creating a collaborative exhibition, where their work is displayed alongside one another, there is an exemplification on the need for equality for artists with learning disabilities. "Artists with learning disabilities, should be regarded as no more special nor less significant as artists because of their condition. They should be respected for their craft, as we would respect any artist." (A. Gray)

Mass Production of a Message

Questions for Reflection: 
Is it still Fine Art if its stamped on merchandise and put on sale? 
Is the message more important than the work?
The more audience the better?
Is the message altered in this manner?
Would it be received well?
Is it derogatory in this format?

Righting Misconceptions NUCA Student Gallery Exhibition

Misconceptions Photographic Pieces (March-June 2011)

Although, I am recently falling back into analogs and the concept of incorporating double exposure techniques, it interesting to note that these previous works loosely resemble double exposure. These were digitally made, however, and I feel the raw aesthetic of film will be an interesting medium to work with. 

Double Exposure Photography

Piotr Zgodzinski

Carol Lin

Antoine Rouleau

Art Therapy Connection in Contemporary Art

Expression, this very word synonymies' therapy. Disabled artists have used, whether knowingly or not, the practice of art therapy to create fine art and be involved in the contemporary art world. 
 Hannah Wilke approached different mediums in fine art and I found her most striking work to be her photography, specifically, her Intra Venus series that documented her battle with cancer. It was fearless of her to not only allow herself to be vulnerable but to tackle a disease that still can be a vulnerable subject. 

Hannah Wilke, part of Intra Venus series
Frida Kahlo used her physical pain and turmoil to create self-portraits that shed light on extremely intimate and personal moments in her life. 
Kahlo in her studio.

In both cases, these artists merged the practice of art with that of art therapy. Not only presenting issues but using their artwork as an outlet for their pain. 
This leads me to reflect on Sean's production of artwork. He may not be a trained artist and he may have DS but does his work have any less value because of these issues? Is it fair to say that someone's disability reduces the quality in their art? If so, it would seem fair to say that attributes of skin colour, religion, education and sex, affect the quality of our work too. And it does. Everything we are affects our work, this is what makes each piece and each artist special in their own right. Sean's work should be no more special or less significant than mine, nor any other artist and should have the equal right to exhibition. This concept of equality in art pushes my desire to exhibit both our collection of works. My documentation of him creating should further express this point. 

Society vs. Reality

There are several preconceptions about people with DS -- they're stupid, they all look alike, they all have the same personality, they're incapable and even that they're dangerous. In reality, the only difference is a chromosome!

People with all types of learning disabilities go through these same misconceptions from others and these ideas arise from ignorance and intolerance of differences in people. Although we belong to a modern, forward-thinking age, some of our behaviour and ideas are still reflected on a follow-faction society. 


Anne-Marie Gray, Awareness, 2011

Response to 'Shifting Perspectives' Ongoing Exhibition

Learning of the ongoing exhibition, Shifting Perspectives, has encouraged my confidence in my current practice. Knowledge of such a successful exhibition with the same ideas and concepts, proves this is an important message to distribute to as many audience members as possible. Researching through their global venues, its apparent they haven't always exhibited within a white cube space, helping their work to reach all sorts of personalities. 
Shifting Perspectives is more than an exhibition now, its become a movement in doing what their title explains, shifting the perspectives that people can have over those with DS. Some of the artists involved choose to use photography to explain certain facts about DS, such as Fiona Yarron-Field with her 'Safe Haven' portraits of pregnant woman, who know their babies will be born with DS and despite this knowledge, choose to give birth. People with DS are not just the content of the work, they are now the artists, with Rory Davies winning the My Perspectives competition and joining the Shifting Perspectives team in exhibition. 
DS is just one of countless learning disabilities and with pulling the shade off the mysteries and preconceptions of the condition, audiences can be exposed to understanding the condition a little more and slower to judging by social and cultural stereotypes. 
It's been said that, "You can't be a disabled artist. An artist either has the talent or doesn't. A disability doesn't give a person any more artistic ability than anyone else." Is this true? Artists with disabilities were denied access to art schools, academies, exhibitions and museums. Many doors were closed to those who used wheelchairs, who had visual or hearing disabilities. For artists with disabilities all over the country, an isolated room in their home or local hospital were the only venues for expression. Artists with learning disabilities, should be regarded as no more special nor less significant as artists because of their condition. They should be respected for their craft, as we would respect any artist.
Fiona Bailey, part of I don't care series

Righting Misconceptions Series Description

Anne-Marie Gray's current practice involves using her photo and video work to pull off the shade of stereotype and prove how capable people with Downs Syndrome are. By using her own brother as content in her work, she and her brother are made vulnerable to present this issue, creating a closer relationship between artist, content and audience. In addition, creating a collaborative exhibition, where her brother's art is displayed alongside hers, exemplifies the need for equality for artists with learning disabilities. "Artists with learning disabilities, should be regarded as no more special nor less significant as artists because of their condition. They should be respected for their craft, as we would respect any artist."