“I am convinced there is a link between corrugated board and creativity. Its very valuelessness liberates us. Boxes, tubes, sheets of corrugated board – everything that lives between the good stuff and garbage – becomes a perfect partner for play. Rescued from trash, it asks only, “What do you want me to be?” Corrugated board is the DNA of creativity. Boxes, glue, tape, knives and a group of willing people can create anything. And have a great time doing it.”
– James Grashow, Artist (Redding, CT), Sharon Arts 2006 Artist-in-residence and hopeful returning artist May 2012
Five years later, with the arts facing a shortfall in funding via the usual channels of private donations and arts council grants, the Sharon Arts Center has launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com, an online site that has drawn national funding for projects by individual artists as well as organizations.
Sharon Arts’ Kickstarter proposal, if fully funded at $10,000, will “Bring Jimmy Back” to participate in a collaborative “Garden of the Imagination” project and exhibition with area schools in 2012. As an organization with a 65-year commitment to arts in the region, Sharon Arts hopes this event will mark the continuation of an ambitious campaign to become a more accessible and valuable arts education resource for the entire southern New Hampshire community.
“This is a very unique opportunity to empower a community in a collective effort to bring a very accomplished master artist to collaborate with the youth of the region,” says new Sharon Arts Executive Director Keri Wiederspahn. “We sincerely hope the campaign will ignite and allow this experience to take place in the spring. The whole gallery will be taken over with a giant cardboard garden with larger than life flowers, bugs, and other inhabitants that will open up the creative process and the imagination.”
James Grashow’s work ranges in scale from large environmental installations through which a viewer can walk, to delicate houseplants, where a miniature world buds within a bouquet. A graduate of Pratt Institute, a Fulbright scholar, father and grandfather, James is convinced that, as he says, “magical art can be made from the most mundane of materials.” Grashow has recently shown work at MassMOCA, one of the nation’s preeminent contemporary art museums.
Constructing his pieces from cardboard, paper, and occasionally wood, Grashow says he is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the children of Peterborough (and beyond) to create a larger-than-life fantasy garden of the imagination, complete with corrugated plants, flowers and insects, real and mythical.
“We are confident that the impact of James Grashow and his infectious energy will be something these children will never forget as they continue to test, push and explore the boundaries of their creativity each year,” adds Wiederspahn. “We anticipate to have over 25 area schools with over 1200 students and nearly 40 teachers participating in various ways. Several events and workshops will lead up to an exhibition opening when the installation is complete, and during the 2012 Children and the Arts Festival.”
Plans for the festival include a total of approximately 100 students making a corrugated 3-D work with Grashow that will become part of an installation called “Garden of the Imagination.” Children from area elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as home-schoolers, will work with Grashow, who will be artist in residence at Sharon Arts during in the two weeks leading up to the opening reception.
In addition, Sharon Arts Center will host a workshop for area teachers whose students will be working with Grashow and making work inspired by his processes and materials. Grashow will also be available to meet families of the participants at the Sharon Arts Center Gallery, located at 30 Grove St. in Peterborough. While “Garden of the Imagination” will be open to the public, many of the pieces constructed will also parade through town as a part of an annual festival celebration.
Wiederspahn notes that after the official opening in late May, over 700 students from 12 area schools throughout the Monadnock region will be participating in interactive educational field trips to the “Garden of the Imagination” exhibition for tours and activities to “explore the magic of cardboard art and the limitless capacity of the imagination.”
To see and donate to the Sharon Arts Kickstarter campaign, go to our KICKSTARTER PROJECT PAGE (click here). For more information on how to donate, call (603) 924-7676.
(Jimmy Grashow photos attached courtesy of MassMoca)