creative constraints

something that is an ongoing interest of study for me as an art educator is creative constraints.  where should i place the boundaries for the creative experience for my students? too little limits or direction seems to offer little for students to investigate or push against while a too heavy handed approach overrides a student’s own creative direction and overwrites it with the teacher’s.

phs_rees13-copya couple of years ago, a major artist, oliver herring, came to utah and worked with students from four different high schools, including my own.  herring worked with teachers and students in another participatory art event which herring calls, “areas for action”.  six high schools and two university art department students in utah county participated in these events including those from provo high, maple mountain, mountain view, american fork high, brigham young university and utah valley university.

areas for action embraces the artistic idea of “creative constraints” by having limits to push against to discover new expressions coupled with social engagement.  the space, time and materials may be limited but “…the possibilities are endless because…” the
imagination is limitless.”

in 2002 herring created the improvisatory art event task. it started with a small group of twenty five invitees and has evolved into an ongoing series of events, workshops and parties in which participants of all ages and demographics collectively dream up instructions and carry them out with the materials provided. the key ingredients are people, materials, space, fun and endless imagination.

phs_rees7-copythis event, task utah, was a great introduction to contemporary art and was unique because herring was actually present.  “task events are being held in so many places
i can’t be physically present any more”, said herring as h
e talk about his unusual appearance at this particular event. task breaks down preconceived notions about art, helps individuals interact and connect in unexpected ways and embraces the essence of an artistic creative act.

herring shared that …“for months ‘task team’, made up of teachers/educators, high school and college students, collected materials, did outreach, helped set up and later clean up the space. the entire experience was superlative, unforgettable, and has the potential to grow further.”

there were over 400 art enthusiasts who descended upon the town of mapleton to engage in a contemporary art event entitled, task. minutes before the doors opened, the crowd outside shouted the countdown from 60 to 0. the energy of the crowd was palpable as they entered the room with a task utah “tattoo”.

img_4658-copythe utah task team is currently working with oliver to look for ways to ride the wave of creative action that began with th
is task event.

oliver commented, “the whole thing was almost hippy – little cost, lots of sharing of responsibilities, plenty of ideas, and a generous dose of love. imagine, this took place in mapleton utah!”

visit: provo high school task event