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The Fall 2012 semester of Youth Insights Writers has been a very welcoming experience so far. The class emphasizes developing a connection between the visual arts and text. On some days we focus on the physical portion of the visual arts and create things, and on other days we emphasize building a connection between the artworks we have looked at or created and the written word.
Youth Insights Writers are working closely with the artist Cameron Crawford. He works in sculpture, text, and other media, and his sculpture making water storage revolution making water storage revolution (2012) was on view during the Whitney Biennial 2012. Crawford’s art has strong connections to words and text. For instance, he explained to us that when making one of his sculptures, Babies, Babies, No Babies (Armpit), (2010) he chose his materials because their names were interesting to him, not necessarily because they would be easy to use as sculptural materials. His list of materials for the piece appears like this: Southern long fir pine needles bound together with silver chain and mint floss of the following varieties: Satin, Ribbon, Glide, Extra Comfort Tape. Oil on canvas on hard wood. Wing nuts, nuts, bolts, rubber washers, pearls, mother of pearl, shell buttons, linen thread. He told us that when he was making this piece he was thinking about his brother and sister-in-law who had just welcomed a new baby, and that babies were on his family’s mind a lot then. He was also thinking about how difficult it might be for an artist to start a family.
During our first session, Cameron introduced a project based on this same idea of using materials based on their names without regard to whether or not they would be easy to use as art materials. We made a list of words we liked, and Cameron explained that in the coming weeks, we would collect materials that reflected those words and then create a sculpture using those materials.
Our group also conducted an informal sort-of questionnaire pertaining to his achievements, aspirations, and life experiences. Cameron offered advice on what it was like to be a professional artist for those of us who are considering that as a career. From my experiences in life, coming from a home and culture in which I hadn’t really been exposed to the realities of an artist’s life, this seemed as invaluable as anything could ever be. I learned through our discussion with Cameron that it is possible for my dreams and hopes of becoming an artist to come true.
By Kimani, Youth Insights Writer