Scott Stulen is the project director for mnartists.org, one of the programmers of the Walker Open Field Program, creators of Drawing Club and a visual artist. Here he gives us a sneak peek of something to look forward to at the AAM Annual Meeting in Minneapolis Saint Paul, April 29–May 2.
The creative process can be a private, solitary experience. Socializing within the art community can be an equally alienating activity, comprised of tedious networking at art openings and other awkward formal encounters. In response to these challenges, mnartists.org, a project of the Walker Art Center, developed Drawing Club. The intent of Drawing Club is to use the simple act of drawing as a connective social platform for sharing and collaboration. Each week throughout the past two summers Drawing Club invites artists and the public to gather under the trees of Walker Open Field. Picnic tables are converted into outdoor drawing stations, outfitted with a generous array of art supplies. Atop the head table lays a working pool of drawings from prior weeks alongside fresh sheets of paper. Each participant is invited to either start a new drawing or choose a piece in progress from the pool to alter, edit and amend. Subject matter and materials are open; the only rule is that every drawing must contain the contributions of at least two people before it can be declared complete. The finished works are collected, documented and uploaded to the Web. While many wonderful drawings are produced, the intent of Drawing Club is to create a comfortable space for artists and non-artists alike to socialize and connect. It is in many ways the backyard bbq or local pub of Open Field—a balanced mix of regulars and new faces making work and hanging out.
The Drawing Club program is overwhelmingly popular attracting local artists and museum patrons, families and tourists. The scalability, openness and simplicity of the program make it an ideal model for recurring platforms. For instance, on busy family day Saturdays, every table is activated with paper and pencils, while the activity can condense to one station on the occasional cold and windy Thursday evening. Another contributing factor to Drawing Club’s sustained success is its roots within the local artist community. The program originated from and is managed by mnartists.org, a division of the Walker that supports the local artist community. Drawing’s Club’s weekly hosts are mnartists.org staff, who themselves are practicing artists. These rooted connections provide validity and comfort for established artists, while the format and anonymity of the process allow for participants of all levels to lose their inhibitions and participate without fear of exposing any artistic shortcomings. In a very simple way Drawing Club embodies one of the core principles of Walker Open Field program by converging the institution, artists and the public at the same picnic table.
Drawing Club at AAM
Drawing Club is bringing social art making to the AAM Annual Meeting this spring. Join fellow conference attendees and Minnesota artists in creative collaboration as part of the MuseumExpo™. Socialize; sketch, converse, debate and most of all enjoy yourself. The Drawing Club Lounge will be a perfect site to spend a few minutes or perhaps a couple hours, meet up with colleagues or just pass time between sessions. Drawing Club facilitators and host artists will be on hand to interact with participants and lead discussions. We are also working on some surprises for this special edition of Drawing Club at AAM which we will announce closer to the event. Drawings will keep evolving during the conference so you can check back on how your contributions were integrated by other artists or view the completed drawings on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. No appointments, materials or talent is required to participate. Hope to see you across the drawing table in late April.