Julie Elman’s Fear Project.

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  Outsider Art Project // Fear Project – 

• Fear of being alone:
I can relate to the feeling of feeling alone with a crowd of others. On days when I don't think I am really making connections with those around me, I might as well be in a box, isolated, left with my own thoughts. I imagine this feels like being on the outside looking in, but in this visual, I turned it around so that this person is on the inside looking out. The key here is separation, a wall. Boxes tend to show up in my work as a common motif, so of course, the box over the person's head made its way into this piece. The images brings up feelings of being trapped, encased, apart. It could also signify how one's thoughts reverberates in one's own head, bouncing around the confines of the box. The writing I often use in the background of these pieces adds visual texture and a sort-of "mumbling." I know lots of people constantly have these running conversations going on in their heads, so I try to imagine what this particular person (in this case, Hannah) would be saying to herself. Doing this helps me connect with the fear, even if I don't necessarily feel it (or feel it as acutely) as the subject of the piece. The darkness above reminds me of dark clouds looming, following this person wherever she may be.

• Fear after the lights are out:
The image of sheep came to me instantly with this piece. If I had sheep standing on my head, well, that would indeed be a crushing weight. Counting sheep is a common "strategy" in helping oneself to fall asleep (so I've been told! Not sure how people really do this, though). So, sleep and sheep — they go together. Counting all the ways one failed during one's waking hours … That is what this person seems to be doing. "Shoulda, coulda, woulda" comes to mind. I used dark blue along the top of this piece, because it felt sort of storybook-like — threatening, but not overbearingly so. The words written in the background, again, are that running internal dialogue many of us have to cope with. The glitter along the top: I felt compelled to add that because it added a bit of fantasy and hope to this piece. Of course, the sheep stand in the way of truly getting a glimpse of this gold lining in the sky.

• Fear of speaking honestly:
There's definitely a wedge driven between this couple. I placed their faces on opposite ends of this piece. Musical notation is what ties them together. ("Faux harmony" planted that musical seed in my head.) The red background ties them together. But the quality of what's being said and heard is different for each person. Actually, I have no idea what the husband in this pieces is saying (I've never met him). I'd be curious to know what he thinks, or how he feels, about this piece. Does he feel the same way as his wife?

• Fear of losing one’s voice:
This person was preparing for surgery when I did this piece. He's a dynamic individual who relies on his voice to express himself — and so the possibility of losing it was devastating. I divided the piece up into two halves. The left side felt like what was known. Sunny. Good. And then the right side … darker and going into depths unchartered and unexpected. I used the word "passion" on the left side. The middle part, to me, represents a churning, a sense of chaos, a change. The word spitting out of this middle part: "silent," but the letters are mixed up. After I finished this piece, I stepped back and realized that the middle part looked like a fancy ribbon on a gift. Perhaps, in some way, this medical scare was a gift to Steve.

• Fear of being wrongfully imprisoned:
The subject of this piece was actually arrested (and wrongfully so. The charges were later dropped. It all boiled down to a First Amendment issue). I thought of figures in orange prison garb (that's what prisoners in town wear. I live in a small town, and sometimes I see prisoners being escorted from jail to the courthouse). The figures in this piece stand helpless. Again, the boxes encase their heads. The use of the black bars is obvious — cells, locked up, lack of control. To think that a certain percentage of people who are in prison are innocent is very, very scary to me (and others). This is one fear I don't like to dwell on very much. What kind of recourse do innocent people have when they're locked away.
Julie M. Elman is an associate professor in the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University in Athens, where she teaches courses in publication design. She has an MFA in photography from Ohio University and a BFA in commercial art from the University of Dayton (in Ohio). She worked within the newspaper industry for 15 years, as a designer, photojournalist and picture editor. She is co-author of The Newspaper Designer's Handbook, 7th edition, with Tim Harrower (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Elman designed the New York Times best-selling photography book The Rise of Barack Obama (Triumph Books, 2008) for Pete Souza, who is the chief White House photographer. She also designed the book Stories from the Anne Grimes Collection of American Folk Music (Ohio University Press, 2010). She has been working on the Fear Project since February 2012.



Friday Art Group: Foster.

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                                              Work by Pat.

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                                                        Noelle.

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                                                      Heather.

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                                                Bicci and Tiarna.

Outsider Art.

 

ALL ART CHALLENGES OUR PERCEPTIONS. Outsider art challenges its audience more than most.   Outsider art confronts in unusual ways because it forces us to examine the extremities of human existence.   In this respect, the outsider artist and his or her audience share a precarious relationship because the outsider artist’s creations often exceed the boundaries set by mainstream society. Yet, such encounters, which are both subjective and transcendental, can often be illuminating because they provide a process for conveying one person’s meaning and culture in order to widen the general perspective. This in turn raises social awareness on matters of artistic ambiguity and taste and it allows us to tap into the hidden outsider that resides deeply buried in all of us.

The knowledge of Outsider Art in Australia is very limited compared to other countries and there are questions as to whether the description outsider is even appropriate for what is more or less a branch of visionary art.  In addition, the term outsider is frequently marked as discriminatory and exclusive as many outsiders are becoming commercially savvy and selling their work in mainstream galleries, which in turn alters their status to that of ínsiders.

The changes in outsider art appreciation do not apply to outsider architecture and buildings.  Large outsider structures generally stand alone on land owned by the artist or a representative and this makes support from established galleries difficult. In addition to the prohibitions on size and structure there are a myriad of legal complexities in acquiring outsider installations from privately owned lands.  There are other issues too, which can include the mental and physical status of the artist as well as third party representation or guardianship.  There is also the possibility of the artist’s isolation; many outsider artists find themselves having to cope with life’s difficulties without appropriate knowledge or services.  If these obstacles were not enough, outsider buildings are still seen by many as pseudo-art, or worse; a blot on the landscape giving rise to a hindrance in surrounding property values. Unfortunately, outsider art has a troubled history, it conflicts with the conservative temper and populations whose taste in art tends to be classical, romantic and based on accumulative material values.   Outsider art is ‘raw’, it is unabridged by conventions and portrays the inner abjection of the artist.    In effect, the outsider artist is making a profound statement about his or her place in the world as a non-conformist and as a consequence s/he is generally treated as an object of curiosity rather than someone with a different perspective on the life world.

In Australia, there are only a few major venues for collecting and exhibiting outsider art; these include the Cunningham Dax Collection at Melbourne University; a collection that gives impetus to mental health issues; the Arts Project Australia in Melbourne, Kickarts in Cairns, Queensland and the Self-Taught Outsider Art Research Collection at the University of Sydney. (Sydney University gives it focus to a broader interpretation of outsider art that includes anyone who is not artistically trained).  There is currently only one comprehensive Australian publication devoted to outsider art, which is titled Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives, by Colin Rhodes (2010), Dean of Sydney’s School of Art and Curator of Sydney University’s Outsider Art Museum.  It is published by Thames and Hudson and the contents are not exclusive to Australia’s artists; rather, it covers a broad spectrum of international outsider art and installations.

       There are a small number of private sheltered workshops as well as outsider art dealers, but they do not extend their support to the outsider builder because shifting such constructions would be a logistical nightmare; the design is so spontaneous and complex that without detailed blueprints any reconstruction resembling the original would be impossible.    Hitherto, the work of outsider artists is limited in its gallery exposure and the number of installations and only small manageable pieces are sought by specialist collectors.  What is the future then for outsider art?

Digital Camera                                                            Boinga Bob’s Temple of Boingaology.

Mindfulness and Art.

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing attention to the present moment in order to gather energy so one can look deeply into the nature of emotions and discover calm,  transformation, good health and well-being.   This is best achieved through the creation of the arts.  I am very proud to be able to present some of the work carried out by members of the Art for Health and Well-Being Group  at the Foster Manna Gum Community House, which serves the people of South Gippsland, in Australia’s  State of Victoria.

Beautiful flowers by grown and cared for by Jenny.

Jenny devotes much of her time to cultivating flowers that bring joy and happiness to people at the Community House as well as to residents at the hospital and aged care facilities. She has a beautiful garden, which she shares with her other passion, the wildlife.

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Jenny’s companions. Digital Camera 

Collage by Noelle.

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Colourwork by Pat.

Pat finds relaxation in colouring-in books which she plans to cut up and turn into collage.

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