ARTLESS is an interactive experience that reinvigorates the traditional gallery exhibition by inviting the public to actively take part in a creative community art project with local artists. WE ARE WICHITA spoke with Exhibition Coordinator, Josh Tripoli about the concept of ARTLESS, his involvement, and the public's participation.
When and how did the idea for ARTLESS first come to mind?
I would trace the origins of the idea to my time volunteering at the Oldtown Farmer's Market with Heidi Howard and the Deaf Kids' Art Network (DeafKAN). Our vision initially started as a means of expression for the hearing-impaired youth of Wichita. By providing a "Community Canvas" where any and everyone can contribute within (or without) a certain theme, there was freedom; infinite potential with an open hand, a place of joy, where fears disappear. We were engaging such a wide variety of people (even animals!) through this work I could immediately see the vast implications of expanding this idea to a larger scale, in a gallery setting, and with "heavy-hitting" local Artists directing their own works in their own style. The idea ballooned from there.
ARTLESS is of course a chance for the public to learn from artists, but as a participating artist yourself what did the public teach you in this process?
The public has taught me many things throughout this process. It has taught me patience, humility, and kindness; flexibility, compromise, and equanimity. It has given me the confidence and drive to share these experiences with others, to inspire through any means possible, to neutralize fear through positive reinforcement, and to be stupidly idealistic.
The mission of CityArts is to provide education, information and artistic opportunities to all members of the community. ARTLESS is a perfect example of that statement. How did CityArts assist you in making this project come to life?
CityArts is a godsend. On top of providing a wealth of community services every day, they have worked tirelessly to ensure that ARTLESS has had everything it needed to operate efficiently and sing sweetly. Whether it was material, technical, promotional, (or emotional) support, the staff at CityArts have always had an open hand and a smile. ARTLESS would not have been possible without their continued support and enthusiasm.
Organizing an event where the public participates can be a bit unpredictable. Were you surprised by any of the public participant's contributions to the pieces?
Unpredictability is the one sure thing in engaging the public and its potential is limitless and hilarious. In that sense it is entirely predictable. I'd say the biggest "surprise" moment came when a little girl, no older than four or five years old, came up to my station and began to confidently, indiscriminately paint all over a drawing of a Triceratops. There were audible gasps in the crowd behind us. Horror! We just kept smiling and painting...
Will there potentially be more ARTLESS events in the future?
From the beginning, ARTLESS has been envisioned as a recurring event and I've already heard rumblings of BIG THINGS in store for its future. Stay tuned!
CityArts is located at 334 N. Mead in Old Town Square. Final Friday's reception is free and will take place from 6pm-8pm. A representative from the Arts Council will give a talk at 7pm on Friday evening. ARTLESS will be on display through August 20th.