Glenn Alteen, grunt’s founder, curator and program director, has been awarded the Governor General’s Outstanding Contribution Award. (more…)
Deshik drew cause I asked him to.
Because I introduced him to some new materials.
He entertained my suggestions and churned out a few new drawings.
He ended up resorting back to his favorite….felt pens.
As he drew this very detailed Boa Constrictor.
Then the questions started rolling in.
Questions like, “Is the rattler hollow like a music rattler?”
Like, “What is the oldest animal alive?” & “What is the youngest?”
We did some research online.
He was fascinated with the still living, primitive fish the STURGEON.
It was only logical, to Deshik, that he BECOMES the STURGEON.
Read more here
It was all about the hammer.
First thing Henry grabbed when he entered the gallery.
But his mom brought in a folder of Henry’s drawings.
We spread them out on the floor and I marveled at his mark making.
Henry showed his embarrassment by grabbing the ones he thought I shouldn’t see.
The subject matter was that of any typical 12 year old……sci-fi, comic, warrior, fighting, robot beings.
But there was an intensity about the way he attacked the lines.
Also these were a few of many hundreds of drawings. Henry draws ALL THE TIME.
But only with pencil.
I pulled out some charcoal sticks and large paper.
Asked Henry if he would like to try drawing with these materials.
Curious as always he jumped at the chance.
I showed him how an eraser and brush….and even the hammer…. could also be used as drawing tools.
He chose to draw ETRIGAN. I don’t usually dig this boy stuff at all.
But watching this Demon (who actually does good deeds) come to life at the hands of Henry was like watching a live animation come to life.
Henry was ecstatic when I took the drawing and hung it on the wall.
Then some healthy destruction was needed.
He wandered the gallery with hammer in hand just wanting to rip it up.
I got a plywood sheet, a big piece of grey cardboard, and some sticks of chalk.
I love watching the process of experimenting with materials.
Is a magical, chaotic symphony.
In the end it was just about ways to dissect the chalky sticks.
I let him use scissors and a tool with a razor blade. He was so excited to use these ‘dangerous’ tools.
I let him continue using them as he listened to my safety and how-to-use-properly instructions very carefully.
Through the 2 hours Henry kept saying “quotes, quotes”
I kept asking him what he meant. Eventually he pointed to the ETRIGAN drawing and said “quotes quotes”.
We went online and sure enough there are a bunch of quotes as said by this demon creature.
“It is the Demon who dominates, now! It is the Demon who will deal with our ruthless enemies! Instead of fading into limbo, so an imposter can take my place — I now have another chance to fight for my existence!”
Read more here
Amelie continues on the wall work started on Day 1.
Back up on the tall ladder she works with tape and geometric shapes.
We add long dangley clumps of plasticy jewels.
I do…this was too high for her to reach.
She joyfully splatters paint all over the wall work, tentacles out the purple strands and adds finishing touches.
This is a beautifully delicate work that measures 22 feet high!
On Day 3 Amelie is stuck.
She just messes around with some material in the studio area.
She pours pools of black & red ink on paper.
We sit back and watch it mix and move itself across the surface.
Soon she feels lost. “I dont know what to do now?”
She seems uninspired or bored. We had talked about various options earlier.
I said, “I am not going to tell you what to do. It has to come from you. “
She fell silent and looked discouraged.
I said we can just sit here and if she is done with the project then we can just quit and the wall work is enough.
Before I could finish my sentence she said, “I want to paint one of those cubes. Can I paint all over it?”
This cube was a giant plinth.
Removing tape is oh so satisfying.
Read more here
Isabelle is the dedicated sculpture / assembler of the Grunt group.
She loves colour, shape, pattern and texture.
She has a hard time with figuring out what to do.
I asked her to choose a few items…spontaneously.
Then we hung out on the floor and simply played with the materials.
Eventually a tower rose out of the chaos.
This was a brave balancing act that Isabelle carefully pursued .
She never gave up or got frustrated.
This is an amazing 8 foot tower that when looked at in person is totally a psychedelic optical mind game.
Read more here
Deshik does not have any pets.
Yet all he talks about and draws are animals and birds.
I promised I would bring my dog (Negrita) to the gallery so Deshik could meet her.
Then he spent a full hour examining Negritas fur, teeth, nose, inside of ears, etc.
Negrita is infinitely patient and gentle.
She is so mellow that she would often lay her head down amidst poking and prodding.
When this happened Deshik would ask “Is she dead now?”
Deshik started to get objects from the materials room and test them out on Negrita.
Basically this was the art process / project of the day.
I just let it unfold.
My favorite…..a bone balanced on dogs head.
Then he wanted to feed her.
I brought him half a carton of milk.
Deshik grabbed it and poured it directly on the gallery floor.
Fascinated, Deshik watched Negrita gently lap up the spilt milk.
He observed that as she licked away the white liquid “…….It makes a moving drawing!”
For the last hour Deshik gets to drawing directly on the wall.
The whole while he talks about Negrita and his observations.
Mostly he repeated that Negrita was “…..so unusual cause she’s got a mane like a lion and fluffer ears.”
It started with zip ties.
Henry silently created knotty concoctions on his hands.
I thought they were meant to be playful faux weapons.
But Henry had other plans.
He pointed to the painting he made the week before and the new cans of paint I scrounged up.
The plastic hand weapons were actually self made paint applicators.
Henry started adding to the painting he made last week…the one I thought was so beautifully complete.
For the next hour Henry re-imagined his entire painting.
Using mostly his DIY applicators and other strange objects to scrape and scour the paint.
Then he completed the work with a roller.
I was speechless at his frenetic painting style and the re-visioned work.
And then Henry started to talk to me for the first time.
He took my hand, turned around to the opposite wall and walked us over to Amelies wallwork.
“Thats good.” Henry said.
Following that sweet moment Henry bustled around the materials room with a hammer in hand.
He was visibly hyper.
He eventually grabbed some chalk and a piece of 2×4.
For the next 30 minutes he smashed away, watching how chalk dust rise and fall on the board.
I’ve got some healthy destructive art making plans for Henry next week!
Solange participated in the PLAY FALL REST DANCE project last summer at Open Space Gallery.
All the children during that residency were ‘able’.
She works swiftly, with confidence and great focus.
Working with her here magnified the stark differences between doing this project with ‘able’ children and ‘disabled’ children.
With the GRUNT group I do not notice the diagnosed disabilities of the participants.
But what is overwhelmingly noticeable are their insecurities and low confidence.
It is debilitating and the biggest challenge for them and me.
Not speaking a word, no eye contact, low inaudible talking, standing frozen in one spot, not trusting themselves to make a decision.
My message and instruction to this group of children is that there are no mistakes.
That there are no expectations to create masterpieces.
That randomness, chaos and freedom reign in this space.
Every time I work with them their voices are getting louder, smiles bigger, and they are better able to ask, with confidence, what they need assistance with.
Henry even talked to me in the last hour of our second time together.
See video of Solanges kinetic sculpture HERE
The big empty gallery space was disturbing for Deshik.
He said he liked the Vancouver Art Gallery better because it was filled with peoples’ art.
I explained he was to be the artist who filled the gallery.
“Can I fill it with birds?” he asked. We can try, I responded.
He felt most comfortable in the more busy and confined materials room.
With a long white piece of paper and a blue marker he asked me to name birds…any kind.
Deshik knows every kind of bird. He would draw them quickly with appropriate distinguishing features while citing facts about that specific bird.
After drawing Kiwis, Ospreys, Loons, and a random Chameleon he wanted to paint them directly on the wall.
This proved to be a difficult translation for him. He felt frustrated. So he attempted the familiar: ABC and 1234
Although, he distracted himself by asking me what a Phoenix was.
I said it was a a mythological bird.
He asked, “Then what is a fact?” I explained.
Then he said, “What is an opinion?” I explained.
Deshik concluded, ” Then it is just your opinion that a Phoenix is a myth. In my opinion it is a real bird.”
Deshik is 7 years old and diagnosed Autistic.
Play, Fall, Rest, Dance is an exhibition project by Valerie Salez. The artist works with children with disabilities to help them explore the creative process of installation making. The exhibition runs from June 3 to July 5, 2014. The public is welcome to visit grunt gallery to see the installations that will continuously change and evolve over the course of the project.
Read more here.