Areas for Action
Jethro Gillespie, Art Educator, Maple Mountain High School; ART21 Educator — Spanish Fork, UT
Oliver Herring, Artist; ART21 Board of Trustees — New York, NY
Areas for Action was first performed by artist Oliver Herring in 2010 as a series of participatory performances, improvisatory sculptures and real-time collaborative artworks. In this experiment, Creative Chemistries attendees and students in Jethro Gillespie’s Maple Mountain High School Class restaged the performance, transforming themselves into temporary living sculptures. Using aluminum foil, tape and photographs, the group collaboratively experimented with what it means to be and make art.
“My experience facilitating an experiment with Oliver Herring was singular and meaningful. I was able to bring nine of my high school students with me to participate in a version of Oliver’s Areas for Action. We created living, temporary sculptures using people’s bodies as the basis for playful experimentation in two arenas.
In one arena we used aluminum foil to continuously add to participants’ bodies. In the other arena we used photo fragments of body parts and taped them onto each other. This went on for almost an hour, after which Oliver and I led a debriefing session with the participants in the room about the potential connections and applications that a process like this might have in a classroom.
During this dialogue, the room was primarily filled with educators and students, and personally, I found the discussion most engaging when my foil-encrusted students were the ones sharing their perspectives about how a classroom that encourages experimentation, play, and a focus on process allowed them to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility toward their own creativity and possibilities with their art projects.”
“One thing I loved about being a participant of the activity is that I could create whatever I wanted with only the limitations of the materials I was given. I was able to take one idea and continue to add or build upon it, until it spiraled into somebody else’s creation. By the end of our session we had all contributed a small part of our imagination to make something outrageously magnificent.”
— Kayla, Maple Mountain High School