Professor Leah Samuelson and St. Barnabas Episcopal Church
The Rich Hours of Camp F.A.B.
Every summer St. Barnabas hosts an arts week for neighborhood kids called Camp F.A.B. (Fine Arts & Bible). Like last year, Professor Leah Samuelson designed a portable panel mural campers could execute collaboratively. This July the 45 young painters brought to life five panels inspired by stories of things lost and found in the gospel of Luke and imaged after historic European classics. Four of the scenes are after the French fifteenth century Très Riches Heures and one panel is after a Botticelli’s Renaissance Annunciation. Participants utilized a two-layer technique in which a first coat of all black, white, and grays was applied to the entire image (called an underpainting, or grisaille) and a second coat of color was applied to taste.
Community art is made by community members for their own habitat. Camp F.A.B. painters noted the classic images were “too hard” to emulate, but their satisfaction with the finished work proved proportional to the challenge and gravity of their communal task.
Professor Leah Samuelson and Community Dot-Paintings in Philly and Rapid City
Going Dotty in Philly and Rapid City
Each June art students, musicians, dancers, educators, artists, and art therapists gather in Philadelphia for the one-week intensive BuildaBridge Institute- an arts intervention and relief training organization http://www.buildabridge.org/programs/institute-programs. The community painting component saw all types of artists endeavor to complete the project begun last year with the dot-painting method appropriated from the Western Desert of Australia. A tens-of thousands of year-old tradition, dot painting bears witness to identity through uniting past and present in song, painting, walking, and landforms. Traditionally dot painting was done in guarded secrecy. The method we appropriated was our attempted approximation of a path to unify our image spanning two years and twelve artists.
In Rapid City this August current Arena Theater students and alumni gathered for a time of intentional community and acting classes. The question of the week was how to be alone and how to be in community interchangeably. Until we live our days intentionally, choosing how to inhabit time and togetherness we won’t know of what beauty and creativity we are capable. The time set apart in the Black Hills afforded all of us the opportunity to address life’s creative problem solving questions through the languages of the performing and visual arts. The solo acting piece developed by each participant was mesmerizing, and the connections between our acting and visual arts choices blew us away. Intentionally seeing and listening to one another opened up authentic ways to serve one another, to bear witness to stories, wounds, and celebrations, and to meet the needs of daily life with willing sensitivity. When I study the art piece we made collaboratively I can still “see” each person who contributed. It is a gift and an encouragement that I hope will inspire new viewers of the piece to know and be known.