Ribbons, balloons, little plastic figurines. An excited and very sweaty horde of people fiddling with duct tape in the shade. Despite appearances, this wasn’t your typical arts and crafts session. Color Coded, an Open Field activity planned and run by our beloved Art Lab coordinator, Ilene Krug Mojsilov, was the talk of the afternoon on the 11th of August, 2011.
What do people usually tell you when they try to get your creativity percolating? “There are no limits. Do whatever you want. Be free.” And there’s no question that throwing caution to the wind helps immensely, but Ilene knows that artistic innovation can bloom just as easily from working with a tight set of rules. Armed with thirteen boxes of knickknacks, she flouted the preferred route of high school art teachers everywhere and set down these conditions:
Make a piece using 8 to 10 objects. And most importantly…
Use only one color.
You’d think that oppressive heat coupled with an equally oppressive criteria would smother their enthusiasm, but everyone jumped in with aplomb. During each of my seven iced-tea breaks, I walked around and saw not only some lovely works of art, but also heaps of jubilant grinning. My curiosity compelled me to ask this motley crew of professional artists and little children about how they felt.
And here’s the scoop: even though people generally preferred working with many different colors, they loved the challenge of having to stick to one. One of our guests, Emma Rotilie, even lauded the benefits of trying artistic methods that you don’t like. At first it’s pure agony, but you can really discover abilities that have been lying latent all along. And who knows? You might even grow to like what you’re doing in the end. Just goes to show that working in monochrome doesn’t have to be cruel and unusual punishment.
As the resident watchdog (complete with shaggy hair and a love for red meat), I’ve got to tell you: not everyone followed the rules all the time. That’s okay though – after all, who can resist a bit of pink?