If a picture is worth a thousand words, there’s a whole lot of talking going on right now at the Eleventh Annual Poster Biennial of Mexico. “Disenyadores por la tierra,” (Designers for the Earth) is an exhibition of poster design down at the COP16 Climate Change Village exploring the theme of the relationship between man and his environment. Click through all of the pictures of these eye-opening posters and visit the site to download them for yourself.
This trailer restoration started out as a Zen affair. I had a strong sense of purpose. I was fulfilling my need to create something tangible, useful for someone else but myself. After studying acting for two years, and spending a whole lot of time thinking about myself (how to carry myself, how to market myself) I began to feel as though I was missing something truly vital.
The project wasn’t only about giving back. It was also about adding a dose of humanity to a learning process that can easily become contrived. So I was convinced that the Spartan was my key to success. Now a month and a half later, more often than not, I feel as though I might just be losing my mind.
There’s so much to keep track of that I’m making many lists. But I have too many lists to keep track of. There are too few hours in the day. I get out of class in the evenings and work on the trailer till late at night.
My mentor tells me I need a plan but it’s a whole lot easier to paint a chassis than to
make a plan- so most of the time I put it off. I’m not a planner, but I’ve been doing my best at it – even though I think I might actually have some allergic reaction to that activity. My plan, when I make one, goes like this: week 1: prep chassis for new floor, order plywood floor for next week’s installation etc.. I can think about the next 2 weeks or so, but I have a hard time getting my head around the big picture- it feels like a distraction. I know, that sounds absurd. It’s just that there’s so much going on and so many windows and screws and paints and materials to think about that I fear I’ll get lost in all the planning and never actually get any work done. So I start working… furiously. And then, of course, I end up hitting brick walls. I’ll start thinking about the configuration of the sub-floor but I get stuck because the gray water holding tanks have to be welded on to the chassis and installed before the floor can get laid over.
So I’m finally starting to warm up to the (basic!) notion that the more I know what the trailer will look like as a final project the less overwhelming it will all be.
I view this week as a test. Next Saturday, I will be towing the Spartan about 6 miles away to Newhall. Students in the Arts and Activism class at Calarts (who volunteered to be on the trailer committee) and I, will be giving a workshop to the kids and parents of Nomadlab. We are planning a series of games and exercises for them that will take place in and around the trailer, and center around the idea of “home”. I hope that the trailer will be an opportunity to talk about what home means for them and what their ideal home would look like.
I have 5 days to get a floor in!
This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.
On evenings and weekends, however, my mind is elsewhere– you’ll find me on the lower parking lot, renovating my 1951 Spartan trailer.
I’ve convinced the school to let me park the 36 foot monster on campus. This gives me easy access to the Institute’s scene-shop and mostly importantly, to the theater school’s technical designer, Michael Darling. My carpentry skills are basic, at best, and Michael’s mentoring has been absolutely essential to the project.
In exchange for letting me house the Trailer Trash Project on campus, I’ve offered to put the Spartan to good use. Once finished the trailer will be a home for my mother, a journalist and Katrina evacuee, but while it is being built I want it to serve as a work and performance space for the artist community at CalArts and beyond.
The notion of displacement is one that my mother and I are all too familiar with. As I began my studies in art school it became clear to me:
…all artists are, at one time or another, displaced. We’re perpetually confronted with the reality of having to leave home to pursue our craft. Art-making can often distance us from our families. And when we’re away, the feeling of longing inspires us to make more art.
Over the course of 7 or 8 months, the Spartan will take the form of a mobile performance space/ make-shift classroom/ screening room, used to explore how displacement and artistry go hand-in-hand.
Evelyn Serrano, a member of CalArt’s faculty in the Art School is onboard with this idea. Evelyn is an artist who means business. She’s a staunch supporter of education through the arts and teaches a class at Calarts, Arts and Activism, designed to
From the Nomad Lab web site: “The “NOMAD LAB is a program created to support the goals of the Valle del Oro Neighborhood Committee in partnership with the City of Santa Clarita Community Services Division, The Village Apartments and the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. As an initiative of the Valle del Oro Neighborhood Committee, NOMAD LAB is devoted to building a better neighborhood through programs and activities for youth and their families.”
help her students develop and pursue their own social agenda. One of her latest projects is Nomadlab in nearby Newhall, which offers free creative writing classes to young students in the Valle del Oro neighborhood, who are at risk of gang activity. She’s offered to make the Trailer Trash Project a key element of her Arts and Activism class this year. Her students and I will be devising ways to use the Spartan as a means to collaborate with Nomadlab. But ultimately, I want to leave it up to the kids of Nomadlab to come up with ways in which the trailer can best serve their cause.
Another source of inspiration for my project has been Side Streets, a community arts project co-founded by Cal Arts, alum, Karen Atkinson along with RIDS grad Joe Luttrell, two artists committed to the belief that the creative process belongs in the streets as well as in studios and galleries. More on Side Streets in future posts.
My mother, who has been researching and writing about the green revolution sees this trailer as an opportunity to display mobile, sustainable living. So we’re going eco!
This is a former FEMA trailer turned into a mobile disaster art studio by Paul Villinski. The trailer has solar panels and a wind turbine. We’ll use both on the Spartan, along with a composting toilet, and sustainable building materials. Credit: http://www.emergencyresponsestudio.org/
My Trailer Trash Project will be carried out in collaboration with The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, founded by CalArts alumni, Miranda Wright and Ian Garrett. The CSPA is a network providing artists and arts organizations with resources to help them adopt more sustainable practices in their work.
The Trailer Trash Project will be carried out using safe, clean and renewable materials as much as
feasibly possible. (See for instance, posts on “green” insulation materials.) Believe me this is no easy task. To give you an example, I was convinced bamboo flooring and cabinetry was the way to go. It’s super renewable (it only takes bamboo 3-5 years to reach maturity) but in recent years controversy has surfaced over the use of bamboo: it has to be flown over from China, lots of chemicals are used in the manufacturing process, deforestation and others.
Keeping up with this has been a little too much for me to handle right now– I’ve got my hands full as it is. So I’ve charged my mother with this task. This blog has lots of interesting info about sustainable materials, information that Michael and I use when deciding how to proceed. Perhaps it will be of interest to you as well.
The CSPA is helping Sam Breen with the Spartan Trailer Restoration Project by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.