2014 GASP! [Green Art + Social Practice] Fair

The 2014 GASP [Green Art + Social Practice] Fair will take place from 2:00 to 6:00 PM Friday 25 April 2014 at Columbia College Chicago's Papermaker's Garden and Stage at 8th Ave & S. Wabash and the 1st floor southeast lobby of 1104 S. Wabash, just outside of the Glass Curtain Gallery.

Many thanks to everyone who applied. The call for submissions is now closed and the GASP Fair is pleased to announce the 2014 exhibitors:

OUTSIDE @ 8th & Wabash Papermaker's Garden (rain space is 916 S. Wabash, 2nd floor lobby)Jack Gruszczynski 2:00-3:00Jillian Bruschera 2:30-4:30
Dani Beutell 4:00-5:00
Megan Pitcher

INSIDE @ 1104 S. Wabash southeast lobby outside the Glass Curtain Gallery
Jesus Iniguez 2:30-3:30Levi Sherman 3:30-4:30
Leo Selvaggio

Elizabeth Moss and Jess Egan, jurors
Christopher Bednash, production assistant
Fereshteh Toosi, faculty organizer

Please check back soon for more information and RSVP at

View and download the web version of the poster here:
Sponsored by Columbia College Chicago’s Office of the Provost/Academic Affairs, Department of Science and Mathematics, Department of Art + Design, Office of the Dean-School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, First-Year Seminar Program, Department of Exhibition & Performance Spaces-RISK: Empathy, Art, and Social Practice, Papermaker’s Garden


GASP Fair: Request for Proposals

Columbia College undergraduate and graduate students are invited to submit proposals to exhibit projects exploring the intersection of science and the humanities for a pop-up art fair. 

The 2014 Green Art + Social Practice Fair will take place from 2:00 to 6:00 PM Friday 25 April 2014 at Columbia College Chicago's Papermaker's Garden and Stage at 8th Ave & S. Wabash and the 1st floor lobby of 1104 S. Wabash, just outside of the Glass Curtain Gallery.

The jury will award stipends of $75 to $150 for each student or collaborative group who is selected.

The fair will feature creative research on various topics including, but not limited to: genetics, sexuality, technology, sustainability, ecology, electronics, chemistry,  ethnobotany, biology, physics, acoustics, paleontology, evolution, neuroscience, nutrition, astronomy, medicine, and conservation sciences.

CLICK HERE for the application
NEW EXTENDED DEADLINE! Saturday April 5, 2014 at 11:59 PM


Social Artmaking at Columbia, Reflections from Chris

A couple of week ago, we had our weekend long class on Material Social Practices with Fereshteh Toosi, which was very much of an experiment in itself. 
The first evening, Fereshteh gave us a nice overview of social practice art practices, which are non-traditional art projects that involving community organizing, public art, temporary art interventions, more long-term creative placemaking, and more.  One of my favorite examples was the Soil Kitchen group which seeks to cultivate a better future, not only through installing raised beds, but working to build up soils, and identify ways to remediate contaminated urban lands. 

The subject of social art practices is a fascinating and constantly changing one, that could make for a great semester long history or theory graduate course.  One tricky aspect of the course was the short one weekend format, which doesn't quite match the long-term nature of many social arts projects.  Fereshteh did a lot to counter this by sending an in-depth questionnaire about the interests and backgrounds of the students, assigning readings for discussion, and creating this class blog developing the conversation over a period weeks. 
While I kind of thought our class would have more of an influence upon the future of the Papermaker's Garden, Columbia's plans for the space, which are already pretty well set.  It was cool to see that this student initiated garden has sparked real interest amongst the college administration, with major renovations coming this summer.  We did still brainstorm about other suggestions about this space will function when more garden beds and a performance space are added.

We were still eager to do what we could to "activate the space" in the course of the weekend.  Most of the rest of the weekend, our class discussed what changes we could make, given the time, materials, and skills available.  There really is no recipe for collaborative art making.

In any group, there tends to be people with strong ideas and others who can build a consensus between individuals with differing visions.  Our group had more consensus builders than folks with strong opinions about what to be done.  So it took awhile to pin down what we wanted to do as group. 

It did feel good to get out into the space and start working on our rock arranging and ribbon tying, with the properties of the place and the materials providing further direction on how to proceed.  The evolution of the placement of the rocks from radiating circles to undulating ridges to the using twine to have the stones begin to ascend the fence was an example of how the aesthetics developed over the course of working in the space. The way the ribbons (and their corresponding shadows) vibrate in the wind, creating an almost psychedelic visual effect also was a nice surprise.

I feel that we were able to go a long way toward activating the space in just a few hours of cooperative (and hard work).  I am glad that we have brought more interest in this space. I am still not convinced that limiting the color palette mainly to blue was the best choice.  I think that large community spaces, especially gardens, are more interesting with a more diverse array of colors and shapes than the more restrained use or color and cohesive placement forms that more the group seemed to favor.  Nevertheless, I am always inclined toward exuberant color and, within groups, it is not so much about the ideas of individuals as finding a path that everyone can support.

All in all, it was an interesting class.  I am very happy to have gotten to collaborate the fascinating group of artists involved.  I do believe we all came away with more thoughts (and questions) about social arts practice to take forward.

Material Social Practice Reflection Paper

Hello Everyone,

It was a pleasure to spend time with you all in the paper makers garden.
Here are some of my day to day thoughts on the Material Social Practice workshop.

Friday got me really excited about the project. We had read some readings related to public/community art and then we looked at examples of what other people have done in public spaces to show us what some possibilities were. I was inspired and ready to come back Saturday and get started.

It was time to start. Deciding what we were going to do was, in my opinoin the most difficult part of the whole workshop. We could do anything in the space, and it was now time to choose what we were going to do.

Fereshtah lead us through a series of questions to generate ideas for possible projects. This was good. It got ideas out on the table. After that, we looked at what we had and we tried, as a community, to figure out what would be the best course of action. This didn’t go as smoothly as I might have imagined. I think that was because we were trying to figure out how to make sure that we implemented elements of everyones ideas. We needed to just choose something and forget about the other ideas no matter how interesting they all might have been.

After five hours of discussing our possible project, we decided that we wanted to communicate that this space was used and usable. We were interested in simply activating the space to encourage the community to consider “unused” spaces as possible locations for creative expressions.  We also decided to work with materials that were already on site—like rocks and gravel—and materials that we already had—like ribbon, string, and zipties.  The materials we descided to work with was the gravel in the space, spray chalk, zip ties, and ribbon.  We decided to split up into two primary groups (rocks and ribbons) and for our last hour together on Saturday, we decided to go to the Papermaker’s Garden and just begin experimenting with the materials. It was good to finally get out to the space.  In retrospect I think we should have thought more about what the paper makers garden was (it’s more than an empty space) and that might have discouraged us from filling the space with the plastic ribbons.

I think as far as working to finish what we started is concerned Sunday went really well. We had a better idea where we were going with the piece and spent the remainder of the day finishing up our installation. People walking by frequently stopped to ask what we were doing.  Someone even took a picture for us from their highrise apartment to give us a bird’s eye view of what it looked like.  We as a team got together every once in awhile to touch base and decide, as a group, what needed to get done. By 4:00pm on Sunday, we finally finished. The act of collaboration was a rewarding experience for me, and I believe through this experience I learned a few new strategies for working on creative endeavors with larger groups. I think in the future it will be important for me and other similar groups to consider more thoroughly, the significance, history, proposed function of the space to inform what kind of work we make in the space.

Ribbons and Rocks

Within our initial classroom discussions, it became very clear that everyone wanted to walk away from the weekend having accomplished something tangible (I surely did!), while at the same time we each expressed wanting to do/make something more lasting. That said, my main frustrations from the weekend concern time management.  I think that a class like this would greatly benefit from a re-arrangement in scheduling.  Rather than meet for a Friday, Saturday, Sunday stretch, I feel we would have accomplished more had we met for a few consecutive Saturdays or Sundays.  Or even once a month for three months?  I think that by allowing for all of the information/questions and general brainstorming to soak in, we could return each weekend with clearer minds and goals.  This would in turn allow for a more cohesive game-plan.

The back-to-back brainstorming sessions got long, and I think we all got weary from sitting inside the classroom.  While the weather wasn't exactly our friend that weekend, I was really happy to be outdoors working in the space with everybody when it finally became time to migrate to the lot.  I loved arriving to the space and partaking in activities like walking around the space only looking up, or laying on the ground with eyes closed to concentrate on the sound elements.  At some point I decided that I wanted to be doing something with rocks, and stuck a few in the fence.  

The next day things really got rolling. Folks with an interest in working with the ribbon went to town laying out their tape lines and the rock people began to sort, stack and chalk-spray small and larger rocks.  While Chris and Kathi worked on the inner rings, Heather and I worked in the outer realm, eventually winding our rock lines up into the fence.  As we wove the rocks up into the fugly chain-link fence, I kept thinking about how I really enjoy putting things in places they don't belong.   To be able to use an element natural to the space, I felt that this installation was in line with the values of the Papermaker's Garden; and I like the idea that the rocks are trying to escape over the fence.  Bigger and better things are moving in - the groundbreaking for this space is set for this summer.  That said, I was very okay with making "permanently temporary" installation work.  In addition, I loved looking up from what I was working on every few minutes and being able to see the space slowly come to life.  When we left on Sunday, I felt like we had accomplished a main goal we set out to fulfill: and that was to activate this space.  To get bodies inside the lot working on art.  Done and done!

Since the workshop I am thinking a lot about how those of us working at CBPA can utilize students' brainstormed ideas:  farmer's markets, apiaries, bird feeders, student programming, movie projection nights, live music, art installations, etc. I wonder what I can do to help bring these to life.  It's really important that we program some annual Columbia-wide events in the space, as well as find ways to incorporate the local public.  I've gotten a TON of positive feedback regarding our work, and I've definitely noticed while walking by that almost every pedestrian turns their gaze towards the space.  Go team!  


Permanently Temporary / Weekend in Reflection

The best way for me to begin this reflection is with the response I give to anyone who asks about how this class was. "Who Goes There?" was an experience of the difficulties that come with collaborations organized around non-specific, but very specific goals. This is a familiar place for me after my work with a print cooperative, and it is often a very frustrating place to be. It is an important experience to have though, because when trying to address--and even change things that often are really larger than us---one can get lost in idealism. Those ideals motivate us, but have to withstand the pummel of the bureaucracy that often stands in the way of them being accomplished. 

In our case, these occurred when we discovered how much had already been set in motion between our enrollment in the course, and the day we walked into class. I think it's important to address the "non-specific, but very specific goals" nature of the class. Obviously it reflects the conflict inherent in "permanently/temporary" but it reflects this "what we knew, what we discovered, and how we could work with it."
  • We knew we could activate the space by way of installation. But we didn't know how long, with what material, and in what ways we could do it without causing too much of a fuss with powers that be. 
  • We had great ideas for future use of the space (apiary, composting, workshops and classes, communal spaces within the space). But again, decisions had already been made on how to change the space, and how that activation would be done.
  • We wanted to actively engage with the space through installation, but our materials had in some ways been determined, but we didn't have to use them, but they were there. 

Although I grew weary of discussions along with the rest of the class, it was only because the class time began to feel much too small to really get at the issues you find outlined in our posts. I think there was the lingering push to actually activate the space over the weekend that resulted in the installation you see now. However, just as our discussions in the classroom remained unresolved and saturated with conflict, in some ways, that disparity extended into what was done with the space. 

I think what is actually great about the class is the situation it presented is a real situation. I don't think there is ever an ideal collaborative setting or an ideal problem to address. Even the timeline is never ideal. And all things considered, as a group we exhibited our passion for this sort of collaboration and addressed a common desire: to activate a space we felt was inactive and reach out to the surrounding community. But I do think that some more direction needs to be provided on such a tight timeline. 

E.g. Give everyone a clean slate from the get-go; no materials. You have a space. Activate it. Look at it's potential as it exists and bring that front and center. Address larger issues, but don't get hung-up on them, as they exist regardless of what you do now, so do something, now. 

Biggest concern moving forward:
  • How do we communicate to the student and surrounding community what is going on with the space, how is it changing, and...
  • How can they participate? 
  • How can the collective 'we' use the space? (Who do we talk to? Who is in charge? How do we get the code?)

 It's been a while since the end of the workshop yet every time I take the train to or from school I eagerly await the short moments of when I get to see the garden from up above. I think what I am left with most is that this space has the potential to create a place that can really lessen the insular sometimes disjointed setting of Columbia, while at the same time engage the general public that lives and moves around it everyday.

listing reflections fragments and thoughts

  • how to bring attention to a space by just being in it, no matter what the end result was the physical movement became the "art". 
  • what was left becomes the archive and documentation of the group process
  • biggest distraction was the temporariness of the space, we got stuck on what could or should happen, and lost focus on what was actually happening in the space
  • more focus on the space as it was I think would have helped bring forth a stronger aim or goal for what action or message we wanted to say
  • since the workshop ended I was interested in how long the installation would last. Before it was cleaned up the other day, I  liked how the ribbons were starting to decay and break form. To me they seemed to  mimic and mix into the lines of the rocks

lingering question
  • who has access to the garden,can it become open to more than just a few who know the code?
  • if students wish to use the space to create ongoing programs or events who is in control of what happens inside the garden?

lastly thanks to all who took pictures, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of what we did over the two days.