The 2017 Art Challenge Box Project

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2017 Art Challenge Box Project

2017 Art Challenge Box Project

“As artists – as writers, or painters, or even musicians – we often have a tendency to work by ourselves and we become wrapped up in ourselves and our work and have little contact with other artists,” said Alison Masters.  “The Art Challenge Box Project was a way for artists to come together and have a shared experience.”

Working with Gary Deatherage, Masters conceived the Art Challenge Box Project as an artistic form of call and response.  Call and response is based on a musical form in which a melody is stated in a phrase and then is followed by a second phrase that completes the idea.  The first phrase is presented like a question that prompts the second phrase, or reply.  “Artists were given a wide range of stimuli in secret boxes, and then were given a month to create something for the show,” said Masters.  “We’ve brought together a wide range of artists and it will be fascinating to see what they come up with.”

In each of the 60 boxes there was a potato, a peppermint, a fortune cookie, a philosophical statement, a smell on a cotton ball, a DVD with different visuals and sounds, and eight random items of various size.  “I think there was something for everyone,” said Masters.  “I think every participant found something that sent them in some direction.”

Finding items from the Creston Museum and acknowledging Canada 150 and Full Plate, Masters and Deatherage hope that participants were able to push the limits of their own art, or try their hands at a medium they hadn’t worked in before.  “I hope there were unusual points of inspiration and beautiful disasters along the way, and that it inspired people to not only create but help others create,” said Masters.  “We also wanted to create relationships that weren’t there before.  A project like this tends to even the playing field.  Finding inspiration or direction from a box of random items can frustrate or intimidate seasoned artists, but newer artists may find an idea and run with it.  It’s so interesting to hear how the projects unfolded – the frustrations, the little victories.  The process is sometimes just as interesting as the final pieces.”

Having collaborated with Deatherage and Richard Reeves on her own projects, Masters understands the collaborative process and the ripple effect that comes from the smallest ideas.  “I was really moved when Richard animated my work and Gary put music to it.  We all had different ways of working, but all the elements fit together.  There was no battling of egos; we all pushed each other and ourselves in positive ways.  I hope this Box Project has the same effect.  I hope that artists are open to whatever happens, and that it becomes more than just a sum of its parts.  Something like this gives us permission to try different things.  They are no constraints.”

Masters believes a challenge like this also forces the audience to reexamine the definition of art.  “The show is going to be quirky and beautiful and I have no idea what it’s going to look like together until just before we open the doors,” said Masters.  “There will be visual art in all its many facets and performance art, which could include music, poetry and even interpretive dance.  Anybody can do anything.  It’s going to be mayhem, but it’ll have such amazing energy.”

This is the second time Masters and Deatherage have organized such an event.  “Last year, participants were given visual and audio stimuli and then went home to create, but this year we wanted to give artists something more concrete so each person chose a box at random and there was no way of knowing what was inside them,” said Masters.  “For some artists, just the act of un-boxing the items provided inspiration.”

Though Masters is unsure whether the artist call and response will happen for a third year, she does hope for a positive ripple effect from those that either took part or the public that come to view the pieces.  “I hope we see similar projects in the future,” said Masters.  “And I hope individuals – both artists and art lovers – are able to ride the waves of creativity that have come from this project.”

The Art Challenge Box Project show is open to the public by donation on Friday, March 3, at St. Stephens Presbyterian Church (306 Northwest Blvd) from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturday, March 4, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.  There is limited seating for the live performances on the evening of March 3 so those interested are encouraged to come early.