Anonymous Facilitator of "Forest" Talks Art Amateurs, Art Pros, and Art in Libraries

We were intrigued by "Forest" from the first Facebook'd glance. An art show in a library? And a folksy, anyone-can-do-it open-call for submission? Paired with a blog detailing fairly theoretical motivations behind the show? You've got our attention. But when our initial inquiries into the show turned up an anonymous collective of organizers, we were obsessed and had to find out more.


So, at the demand of these anonymous facilitators, we completed a tiring series of bizarre rituals in the woods, in exchange for information. 

Actually, we just sent email. And a "Forest" delegate got back to us with answers surrounding the event's anonymity, and why it asked hundreds of people to draw their own version of the same tree. 

Invitations for Forest hidden among postcards at a South Beach restaurant
Invitations for Forest hidden among postcards at a South Beach restaurant


In his ArtLurker write-up for the event, Thomas Hollingsworth asserts that "this show, although it touches upon authorship, is not about the notion that 'anyone can be an artist...'". It seems like with all of the anonymity involved with the show and the open nature of the invitation, that there would be an element of democratization involved. What is the exhibit's relationship to authorship?

We'd like to point out that our concerns are multifaceted.

While we were eager to explore the notion that the public consumes art typically through reproductions via the Internet and books and rarely from the original or real works via galleries and museums, there is definitely an element of democratizing art, if only from the fact that anyone willing to make a painting was invited to participate.

Often contemporary art is a conversation between artists, curators and critics exclusively, our interest is in opening up the dialogue for a public at large. This is our humble attempt at pointing out that typically art is made, shown, and sold as a commodity within a very small circle. 


Forest invites at the Everglades Visitor Center
Forest invites at the Everglades Visitor Center


Unfortunately, the process has led us (the facilitators) to verify all that we were afraid of. Artists seemed the most resistant to participate, concerned about their reputation, sales and energy invested in a "community" project, while "the audience" on the other hand was eager to take a chance at making a work of art and enter into the conversation. If they showed any concern, it was mainly to do with formal issues such as lack of knowledge about paints or materials or drawing and painting abilities. 

So it took a bit of energy on behalf of the facilitators but it was an incredibly rewarding experience to invite the public into the art making/art showing process.

Why a tree (and/or a forest?) as inspiration?

We were looking for an iconic image that would appeal to a child as well as adults. We were also playing around with language.We thought it was a great symbol relation, the individual tree/artist and a plural extension with the collective/forest.


"Forest" opens tomorrow and runs until September 7 at the Miami Beach Regional Library (227 22nd Street, Miami Beach). The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Visit mdpls.org.

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