by Jacob Broussard, Resident Artist and Gallery Coordinator at Basin Arts
I recently decided to participate in an experiment idea I’ve had for a long time – facilitate a summer teen course through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Continuing Education Program that focused on contemporary artists working across artistic mediums, all the while mixing it with pro practice tools for anyone interested in pursuing art later in life. I remember being very interested in taking art classes at a young age – my parents followed suit and placed me in summer camps for kids to get me busy rather than laying around the house. However, these camps always felt slapstick together; it was all basic assignments, no sense of criticality, no conception of real world skills. Frustrated, my parents approached the Continuing Ed. Department asking if I could take an adult drawing course. The school was hesitant about letting a 13-year-old into an adult basics class, but after some persuading, they allowed it. I can’t express how much of an impact that course had on me as a young child. For once, what I was making felt serious! And what I was pursuing was treated as a serious endeavor.
At 25, I decided to facilitate the Young Professional Artist’s Program during the Summer of 2017. Before we began the course, I told my 10 participants that this is not supposed to be like school, this is an experiment. We can carve out the curriculum in real time; I am just here to facilitate, they’re the ones making the decisions. Each class, we silence our phones, learn about a contemporary artist making compelling work, discuss what we like or dislike about the artist, about the work, and then go into making mode. The first day, we learned about the work of L.A. based artist, Mark Bradford, and his pulp paper paintings.
We then went into a lesson on how to make handmade paper. Each student was given various pulps to make their own image, all the while thinking of what we were doing as an active “painting” not just a piece of paper. Through collective efforts, all 10 artists made some amazing works, and in true Mark Bradford fashion, they recycled the entirety of the paper to create 40 sheets that feel more as one patchwork collaboration rather than separate parts. I was blow away by their eagerness and bravery, just by throwing themselves into the process of making. I think as a facilitator, I strive to bring that fearlessness into my own studio.
The final week of the course will culminate with an exhibition at Basin Arts of all the work we’ve made – however, the install of the exhibition is up to the 10 artists. There will be a day session of teaching the artists how to install their own work, tricks of the trade, how to light an exhibition, how to frame collages, curatorial decisions, what the name of the show will be; basically, the ball is entirely in their court! Once the work is hung, we’ll have a brief feedback session talking about the experience and the work in a critical and conducive manner. I will be there to assist with the fine details, but allowing teenagers to make decisions, or allowing them to change their minds about something is a testament that they have an opinion about something. And activating opinions and discussions leads to great decision making as artists.
The exhibition will be a pop-up break down event happening on Friday, June 30th from 1PM – 3PM at Basin Arts. Swing by to see some amazing art by some incredible young artists.