Art on Purpose presents: “Everyone an Artist?”

Baltimore—Everyone an Artist?, a groundbreaking project exploring the relationship between art, creativity, and just being human, is an extraordinary partnership between Art on Purpose and faculty and students from a dozen Baltimore area colleges and universities.

Between February and May 2009, a total of nine Everyone an Artist? exhibitions will be held at nine different Baltimore area universities and colleges. The exhibitions will feature hundreds of works by college students from across the region presented alongside art by Denise Tassin, Art on Purpose’s Resident Artist for Everyone an Artist?.

“An inter-collegiate creative project of this scope is unprecedented here in Baltimore,” comments Art on Purpose Director and Everyone an Artist? curator Peter Bruun. “Our hope is not only to explore an interesting philosophical question about the nature of being an artist, but also to use the project as an opportunity to get college students from one campus to another—something everyone would like to see more of.”

Everyone an Artist? has been in planning for more than two years. “I have long wanted to do something that looks at the fundamental relationship between being an artist and a creative thinker,” says Peter Bruun. “When Denise said she wanted to do a project with us, that seemed exactly the right time to move ahead on the idea, and college communities seemed exactly the right group to engage.”

Denise Tassin, a Baltimore artist who has exhibited her work nationally, is well known in the Baltimore region, having exhibited at Evergreen Museum, Maryland Art Place, School 33 Art Center, University of Maryland College Park, and many other venues. She is the recipient, several times, of Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council, and her work is included in prominent collections, including The Baltimore Museum of Art.

An extraordinarily prolific artist, Tassin’s work is marked by its endless variety—sublime drawings, found objects, performances, complex installations, and open-ended collaborations are all part of her lexicon. With an eye for unexpected avenues of creativity, she makes art numerous ways, including collaborating with worms, drawing on candy wafers, and transforming a collection of peeled off masking tape labels from her grandmother’s home into a powerful homage of a life lived. Tassin has an unflagging commitment to serious play, completing such tasks as building an over-sized dollhouse covered with hundreds of paper dolls and entirely carpeting a bicycle while leaving it fully ride-able. Tassin—leaving nothing from life apart from her identity as an artist—becomes the perfect departing point to explore the relationship between our humanity and artistry, and her art the ideal foil for student creative works.

After multiple presentations, meetings, and conversations with educators and administrators from colleges and universities over the past two years, the contours of Everyone an Artist? began to take shape: more than fifty faculty members teaching everything from visual art to engineering to architectural design from twelve colleges and institutions introduced the project to their students, having the work they create (“drawing machines” capable of replicating predetermined marks, bundles of collections inspired by Tassin’s collecting tendencies, writing directly in response to Tassin’s art, and more) available for one of the nine exhibitions; a series of engagements with students throughout the fall at which hundreds of “Artist Trading Cards” were created to be traded during opening receptions for the nine exhibitions; a series of concerts attended by students from numerous colleges leading to “concert draw” art to be shown alongside related bodies of work by Tassin. From all this, nine distinct exhibitions are being curated by Peter Bruun, each with a specific organizing principle (i.e. “collections”, “multiples”, “collaboration”, “memories”, etc…), and each examining the questions: what does it mean to be an artist? What does it mean to be a human?

Opening receptions that include various artistic activities, performances of all kinds, and friendly competitions between college and university students vying to be “college culture vulture” winners will take place with each of the nine exhibitions.

The entire project will be launched immediately prior to the opening of the first Everyone an Artist? exhibitions on Friday, January 30, from 6:00 to 8:00pm, as Art on Purpose joins Maryland Institute College of Art’s instructor Pat Alexander and her Inter Arts students as they celebrate site-specific works at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall made by the students directly in response to their engagements with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The Inter Arts student exhibition is in a spirit entirely consistent with the open-ended approach to creativity marked by Everyone an Artist?, and thus serves as the ideal partnership for launching Everyone an Artist?.

The January 30 kick-off event, free and open to the public, will include opportunities for college students to learn about discount offers from Baltimore cultural institutions, and Art on Purpose will announce details on the “College Culture Vulture Competition”, including what prizes may be gained from participating. In-kind support for the kick-off event comes from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Collegetown Network, and Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

Everyone an Artist? is organized by Art on Purpose in partnership with Baltimore City Community College, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Community Colleges Baltimore County, Coppin State University, Goucher College, Johns Hopkins University, Loyola College, Maryland Institute College of Art, Morgan State University, Notre Dame/Loyola Library, Stevenson University, Towson State University, and University of Baltimore.

Everyone an Artist? is made possible by funding from lead sponsor Towson State University, and partnering sponsors Baltimore Collegetown Network, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland Institute College of Art, and University of Baltimore. Additional support provided by Community Colleges Baltimore County, Coppin State University, Loyola College, Notre Dame/Loyola Library, Stevenson University and in-kind support from First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and Shriver Hall Concert Series.

Art on Purpose, a community arts organization founded in 2005 and dedicated to using art to bring people together around issues and ideas, is able to offer programming serving diverse audiences thanks to support from the Maryland State Arts Council, and Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.

A full schedule of Everyone an Artist? exhibitions and events is attached, and more information may be found by visiting Art on Purpose’s website at www.artonpurpose.org.
Images are available upon request.

Schedule of Exhibitions & Events:

Gormley Gallery at College of Notre Dame of Maryland
The Art of Collecting – January 28 to March 6, 2009
How our accumulation of stuff takes on meaning and says things about who we are. Selections from artist Denise Tassin’s vast collections of objects and materials, and a variety of college student works including from Towson State University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Loyola College, and more. A reception will be held Thursday, February 5, 4:30-6:00pm.

Loyola/Notre Dame Library
I Remember Mama – February 1 to March 6, 2009
Art and objects tinged with nostalgia, harkening back to childhood memories we all can relate to. The exhibition features a selection of small sculptures by Denise Tassin, and Towson State University and Maryland Institute College of Art college student work about childhood experiences. A reception will be held Thursday, February 5, 4:30-6:00pm.

Stevenson University Art Gallery – They’re Playing My Tune
March 2 to April 4, 2009
Drawings and other constructions created directly from listening to music and other forms of performance by Denise Tassin and college students from across the Baltimore region. An opening reception will be held Thursday, March 5, 6:00-8:00pm.

Johns Hopkins University – We’re Not Alone
March 23 to April 12, 2009
Art that happens when individual creative efforts enlist natural forces as a component of making. The exhibition includes a series of “worm drawings” by Denise Tassin shown alongside abstract works by Towson University students, and drawings made by machines engineered by Johns Hopkins University students. A reception and demonstration of machine drawing will be held Thursday, March 26, 5:00-7:30pm.

Maryland Institute College of Art – An Everything Installation
March 28 to April 25, 2009
Artist Denise Tassin works with current students enrolled in the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Post-Baccalaureate program to create a “project room” where all is considered, and nothing rejected out of hand. An opening reception will be held Saturday, March 28, 3:00-6:00pm, and the installation will be open for the general public on two additional dates.

University of Maryland Baltimore County – Art from Art
March 30 to May 2, 2009
Artists inspired by one another, across disciplines and in surprising directions. An exhibition in the UMBC Student Center Gallery of a suite of ten prints by Denise Tassin shown alongside words by students enrolled in Johns Hopkins University’s Writing Seminar. A reception that includes a performance by the UMBC percussion Ensemble will be announced soon.

Coppin State University – More Than One
April 6 to May 2, 2009
How multiplicity builds rhythm, normalcy, and an awareness of infinite possibility. The exhibition includes works by Denise Tassin alongside projects by college students from Coppin State University, Towson University, Morgan State University, and other Baltimore region colleges and universities. The show will be divided between Coppin Gallery and the Percy Julian Lobby, and a reception including dance and music performances will be held Thursday, April 2, 6:00-9:00pm.

Community College Baltimore County – Catonsville – Sandbox
April 30 to May 7, 2009
Works made when individuals work side-by-side, back and forth, joined together in creative play and discovery. The exhibition includes a variety of collaborative projects of all sorts by artist Denise Tassin and college students from across the Baltimore region. A reception will be held Thursday, May 7, 6:00-8:00pm.

Towson University – Best Drawing
(Dates TBD)
Denise Tassin and students taking college-level drawing classes across Baltimore share what they consider to be their “best” drawings. The installation will be shown on the third floor of Towson University’s Center for the Arts. A reception date will be announced soon.

Denise Tassin
Happy Happy Land. 2008
4 x 4 x 2.5’
Mixed media