Encounters / Encuentros – Dignicraft | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

Encounters / Encuentros – Dignicraft | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the McColl Center
for Art + Innovation. They play host to a variety
of artists-in-residence and currently Dignicraft
is here, a collective of media producers and ceramic
artists whose common goal is to bring attention
to the Purepecha pottery tradition in Mexico. They’ve made a number of
documentary films, including “Brilliant Soil” in 2011,
which brought wider awareness to the Purepecha story
and Dignicraft’s work to educate native artisans
to rid their practices of toxic lead-based glazes. Dignicraft his
worked to demonstrate new, sustainable techniques
and establish healthier working conditions for the artisans. They’re here in
North Carolina, which has its own rich
tradition of ceramics, and have been conducting
workshops that bring together local artists and Purepecha
communities in this region. We’ll be talking with
collective members Omar Foglio, Jose Luis
Figueroa, and Paula Rodriguez. Their work is enormously
collaborative, between each other and the
artists and communities they bring together
through their work. So let’s go talk to them. Hello, my name is Omar. Paula. And Jose Luis. And we are Dignicraft. [SPEAKING SPANISH] [THEME MUSIC] OMAR FOGLIO: Well, the project
that we’ve been working here at the McColl Center
for Art and Innovation is called
“Encuentros/Encounters.” After having this
conversation that was recurrent with all
the families of artists that we’ve been collaborating
with where they would ask us, you know, where do my pieces go? Or they would tell
us, you don’t know how much I would love to travel
as far as to where my work. So building upon
that sentiment, we said, well, let’s create
a contemporary art project so we can build
the circumstances for at least the
artisans that are closest to us to actually travel. SARAH URIST GREEN: Here’s
how the project worked. Dignicraft is based
in Tijuana, Mexico. They spent a month visiting
artists in Michoacan, in particular the
Purepecha region, and bought pottery
directly from artisans. They shipped it all to Tijuana
where they cleaned and repacked it for importing into the US. Then they sent the
pottery to Charlotte and flew there themselves. They had done a lot of research
in advance and used Charlotte as a home base as they travelled
around the state connecting with Purepecha communities
in North Carolina, as well as other
artists, crafts people, and ceramicists in the area. Then they flew over
several artists from Michoacan to meet up
and collaborate with artists from North Carolina. For example, Dignicraft arranged
for ceramic artist Juan Rosas to meet up with North
Carolina-based artists Antoine Williams and Felicia
van Bork, who give him technical advice about
painting and print making. Together with Dignicraft,
Juan worked on a larger scale than he ever had
before, and they were able to make this
fantastic new mural punctuated by examples of
Juan’s ceramic work for the “Encounters” exhibition
at the McColl Center. A piece like this is like
you’re not getting an object, you’re getting a small
piece of the artisan who put all their energy into it. But it’s also like a summary
of their whole culture. But you need to
learn to kind of feel that and take that knowledge
and make it your own. Your art assignment is to
facilitate a collaboration. First you’re going to
think of two people that you already know who
have shared interests, but that do not know each other. Second, you’re going to
facilitate collaboration by introducing them either
physically, in person, or online, at a distance. And you’re going to suggest
that they do something together. And third, you’re
going to document that process and the result
of the collaboration. So, Sarah, on this journey
of “The Art Assignment,” you have taught me
that art is not just painting and sculpture,
and I totally get that. But I just want to confirm
that in this assignment we are being asked by artists
who didn’t make anything to, like, not make something? Well, they’re making something. They’re making an
experience, and they’re bringing people together. They’re bringing
them into encounter, and those people
might make something. And objects may be the
result of this assignment, but not necessarily. And I think it’s
time– we have had a few social practice-type
assignments– to think about the theory
behind social practice. No, no, no. I do not like art theory. I don’t like it. You’re going to say
words like “aesthetics.” I guarantee you you’re going
to say the word “aesthetics.” Well, social practice is
accessible, which is great, but there is academic
rigor behind it. And there are people who
have thought a lot about it, including Nicholas Bourriaud,
who wrote this book “Relational Aesthetics.” I knew it. SARAH URIST GREEN: He claims
that the spread of urbanization and increase in mobility
after World War II gave rise to this new kind
of art that is also urbanized whose central themes
are being together, the encounter between
viewer and painting, and the collective
elaboration of meaning. Rather than taking
inspiration from life, this art inserts
itself into life. Bourriaud explains
art can be a machine for provoking and managing
individual or collective encounters. We’ve talked before about
how art isn’t just stuff. It can be provocation or
encouragement for connection. The production of
gestures, he says, wins out over the production
of material things. Bourriaud quotes
theorist Felix Guattari. “The only acceptable end
purpose of human activities is the production
of a subjectivity that is forever self-enriching
its relationship with the world.” This is the goal of
Dignicraft’s activities. Through films, workshops,
residences, and exhibitions, they are crafting a
subjectivity for themselves and for their audiences
and collaborators that catalyzes exchange and
enrichment between people in vastly different
parts of the world. You have to be flexible
for the changes that can arise during the process. You might suggest, for example,
a topic for the collaboration or something that
they can do together, or you can do with
them together, but you have to be flexible that
also they will have an input. Otherwise, would be pointless. It would be more
like assigning tasks. It’s more like you
are inviting people to do something
together, and you don’t know what will be the outcome. So that’s the beauty of it. [SPEAKING SPANISH] [THEME MUSIC] [SPEAKING SPANISH] And we are Dignicraft. [SPEAKING SPANISH]

15 thoughts on “Encounters / Encuentros – Dignicraft | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

  • January 22, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    The Art Assignment: also known as forcing me to have a social life.  Even with my social anxiety, I love all of this just the same. The ability to create even something as abstract as encouraging others to create is life.

  • January 23, 2015 at 12:09 am

    The first thought that popped into my head was "so we are setting people up on blind dates where they create art." Thinking about it more seriously, I like that it say collaboration and not a particular end goal. I like that the process can be the art instead of the result. Maybe they will collab and plant a garden, start a book club, or build a robot. 

  • January 23, 2015 at 12:31 am

    this is so sweet

  • January 23, 2015 at 12:32 am

    Hi everyone! I think it would be fun to do this will fellow online art assignmenters (do we have a name for ourselves yet? We should come up with a name for ourselves…) 

    What if anyone who wants to participate posts a link to somewhere online that people can view their art and maybe just a little bit about their art style/ what they like to draw or don't and then people in the comments can pick two people who they would like to see collaborate. We'd have to look to try and not post someone who has already been suggested in a collab so everyone can get a chance. And of coarse anyone could say no if asked to collab 

    For Example:
    Hi I'd like to collab with somone! My art tumblr is here http://zoosemiotics.tumblr.com/ and my work is generally nature/ animal or internet pop culture inspired. My mediums of choice are pixels or watercolors. I don't really draw people, and am not the best with landscapes.

    I'd like to see @Xenolilly  and @Chandler Mingo collaborate ! (to tag people type @ and their name) 

    Or maybe we could somehow set something similar up on tumblr? Maybe via a particular tag like #EncountersEncuentros  posting the same information as above. Then you could search the tag to find two people to ask to collaborate, and send them both messages asking if they's like to collab with the other person you have chosen and vice versa. Once someone has been linked with a collab partner they could delete their tumblr post until they finish the first collab.

    just throwing out ideas if anyone is up for it since some people want to participate but can't think of people to link up 

  • January 23, 2015 at 12:59 am

    speaking of subtitles: how can one help to translate the episodes (esp the ones that already have english captions) to their language? i'd love to do that

  • January 23, 2015 at 12:59 am

    This is one of my favorite art assignments so far! I'll try to actually complete the assignment this time

  • January 23, 2015 at 1:47 am

    Today in class we had to write a prompt titled "what is art?" and I was hugely inspired by the Art Assignment in my response. I actually wrote about how art is also an experience/creation of an experience because art is a form of emotional expression, and experiences involve emotions (well, normally). I also wrote about how collaborating with someone in art! Okay this is just crazy because I wrote about something related to this video without even watching yet today. Also I think its cool that the assignment is to create art without creating like, conventional art. Its kind of meta because you are creating art about creating art. 

  • January 23, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Sarah, rest of the crew, have you guts ever heard of the Buddy Project on Twitter? That's basically this entire assignment. And it's a great project in and of itself.

  • January 23, 2015 at 4:29 am

    MEXICO YES!!!!!!

  • January 23, 2015 at 5:53 am

    This channel is a subjectivity factory. Unfortunately it is inaccessible to those who aren't already part of the club because of unnecessary use of jargon.

  • January 23, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Yay for mexican artists! 😀 ! Sorry my patriotic is showing …

  • January 23, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Sarah, could you comment on the distinction between "artist" and "artisan"? Both you and Dignicraft here used "artisan" to refer to the native art creators in Mexico but "artist" to refer to what is going on in the United States. It seems to me that the art creators working in Mexican pottery are artists as well; is there any additional meaning to the word "artisan" that makes it more appropriate, or is that just an example of high art/traditional craft prejudice?

  • January 24, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    So nice to see something related to Mexico… great work I love the art assigment

  • January 25, 2015 at 1:14 am

    I like the animated graphics in this episode (and other AA episodes). Why don't you do an episode about this creative production work and how it is put together?

  • January 25, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    So I'm all up for being one of the two persons to do an assignment. If anyone needs a 2nd person for their assignment, leave me a message!


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