Perhaps now more than ever we are in need of what the arts can offer. They revive our souls, enliven our senses, provide pause, and give voice to our fears and vulnerabilities. We are operating together in a world that's not just external, wrought with hardship and uncertainty, but also internal, subjective and impassioned. There’s no such thing as a lone struggle. The longing for mutuality is one of the compelling reasons to make and view art, write and read poetry. Whatever we deal with needs to be contained in some form. Gatherings is a container, a box, an instrument of keeping and holding space. It serves both as object and as larger metaphor where each participant’s encounter, whatever that experience may be, is as important as its physical materials. The “art” of the Gatherings is what we all bring to the box.
Gatherings is an art and poetry based project that experiments with a cycle of giving and receiving. The project began with 51 professional artists (making a total of 56 boxes), and 53 poets contributing original poems. Artists created their art on handcrafted wooden boxes. Poets have written original poetry for inclusion inside the boxes. The Gatherings boxes then began to travel as each artist chose a person to give the box to. Each recipient participated by adding something meaningful they chose to include inside the box: narrative writing, commentary, a poem, artwork, a meaningful object. That person then chose the next recipient, and so on in a sequence of giving and receiving.
EXPLORE THE BOXES:
To see thumbnails of each artist's box and check their availability select the menu item 56 Gatherings Boxes. Each photo is linked to a feature page with large images of each box, links to read the poet's writing, and list participants who've contributed. Feature pages can also be selected by the artist's last name on the drop-down menu Boxes by Name.
To see a complete listing of all the artists, poets, and participating contributors for each box select All Contributors
SALE OF THE GATHERINGS BOXES
The profits from sales of the Gatherings boxes have been be donated to the following arts organizations designated for relief funds for creatives:
$25,000 to Artist Trust
$25,000 to Idaho Commission on the Arts
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Gatherings arose from my desire for how best to use my skill set to contribute something valuable during the pandemic. This is a time of deep challenges for everyone. I wanted to do something to benefit creatives - artists writers, musicians and others - through relief funding sources, while also sustaining, consoling, and inspiring the public.
It occurred to me to undertake a project similar to The Patra Passage, which I did five years ago. That interactive project involved the making, sharing and re-gifting of 108 ceramic bowls and engaged over 500 participants from all over the world. Sales proceeds from that project were donated to Save the Children and non-profit arts organizations.
I envisioned Gatherings using an undirected giving-receiving structure, just like the Patra Passage, but using handcrafted boxes instead of bowls. Since my studio practice mostly involves painting, I wanted to invite artists to create something on the flat box lids. Gallery owners Patricia Rovzar and Gail Severn immediately expressed interest in supporting Gatherings and invited artists from their rosters and other professionals to create the artwork for the boxes. This idea rapidly expanded into a collaboration with Phyllis Cole Dai and Ruby Wilson who invited poets to contribute original poems to the boxes.
During the giving-receiving cycle, recipients of the boxes are invited to add their own contributions inside the boxes as well. Each artist’s box in the Gatherings project traveled through the varied lives of multiple recipients on its mystery tour. Each recipient offered their own contribution before passing the box to someone new. Each person, each gift, added to and amplified the Gatherings community of nearly 300 participating people.
What has been gathered? Forms of personal expression, yes, but also we ourselves. Even in this time of pandemic when many of us feel so isolated from each other, Gatherings reminds us we are a collective, gathered in our humanity, summoned by a call to mutuality in the different languages that we speak.
Lewis Hyde's The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World has been important in shaping both Patra Passage and Gatherings. He states that a gift increases in value after it has passed through someone in a circle of offerings. Such a gift lifts us out of ourselves and helps to generate compassionate communities.
The Gatherings is a mighty collaborative effort. I've been very moved by the gracious commitments of so many supporters of this project and grateful for all the ways people are involved. Thank you co-creators and supporters: artists, poets, participants, managers, gallery dealers, gallery staff, volunteers, collectors, arts organizations, and all the other kindhearted people who continue to keep the arts alive.
Project initiator, organizer, and full-time studio artist. She is represented by Gail Severn Gallery, Patricia Rovzar Gallery, Sue Greenwood Gallery and Argazzi Art. Her earlier experiment in Giving and Receiving is the Patra Passage. More about the artist on her websites:
Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby Wilson, managers of Gatherings poetry:
These two women have generously co-created, invited the poets, managed, and curated the work aspect of Gatherings and randomly paired each poet with an artist. I met Phyllis through her project A Year of Being Here, which offered daily mindfulness poetry. She and Ruby Wilson co-edited the award-winning Poetry of Presence. An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems (Grayson Books, 2017).
Gail Severn and Patricia Rovzar Galleries and their staffs:
I've had the privilege of knowing these two wonderful art dealers and their staffs for many years as they've represented my art. Both immediately agreed to support the project, then invited artists from their rosters to create art for the Gatherings boxes. Their galleries will host consecutive Gatherings exhibitions at the end of the circulation period during September. Gail and Patricia determined the not-for-profit arts organizations that will receive an equal part of our sales proceeds.
Patricia Rovzar Gallery Gatherings exhibition Sept. 1 - 14, 2020
1111 1st Avenue
Seattle WA 98101
Gail Severn Gallery Gatherings exhibition September 18 - Oct 4, 2020
400 First Avenue North
PO Box 1679
Ketchum ID 83340
These donors have generously purchased a Gatherings box in support of creatives in need of assistance through our donations to the Artist Trust and Idaho Commission on the Arts.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness!
Dale Bloomquist and Heidi Horwitz
Ron Hovdan and Robert DeChene
Bill and Kayce Hughlett
Darlene Markovich and Ron Haak
Joan McBride and Margaret Meister
Ester Saunoras and Dick Cogswell
Mary Jo Schrade
Catherine Eaton Skinner
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