Thursday, January 7, 2010

Three Months To Go!

I am very excited to start the new semester.  Winter break was exactly what I needed and I was able to catch up on a lot of sleep!

 I can't believe we have essentially have 12 weeks left to finish our projects.  There are so many things I want to accomplish this semester, so I need to be realistic with my goals. 

There are so many ideas I have: 

I would like to create a small series of my own work, which reflects on this experience.  I would like to explore expressive typography and combine my words with the words of various homeless individuals.  I would like to use design- but I am really open to many mediums.  I am not sure if this will be displayed in the show, but I think it would be interesting if I spent a little time creating a reflective art piece.

My second idea is something I am excited about but will take great amount of work.  Throughout first semester and after all of my research and meeting various homeless individuals, I noticed how much people enjoy creating.  When I asked Jay to participate in my project, he was ecstatic.  He was extremely eager to see my completed work and is looking forward to the final project.  Other individuals in the tent community use art as an outlet.  Ted, for instance, creates woodcarvings to express himself.  Although none of the individuals have formally studied art, they find art a compelling outlet. Jay was not a photographer until I handed him a disposable camera a month ago.  I believe it would be interesting to conduct an exhibit with much of this work.  I could reach out various exhibits and galleries in Ann Arbor to showcase such work from homeless individuals.  Awareness is my ultimate goal, and this would be a unique way for people to see works from the homeless themselves.  I could be the designer of the show and showcase all of their work in an effective manner.  I could even show some of my pieces that reflect on the experience.

Another option for the Senior IP show is to create an installation.  I envision using a large tent to create an interesting space, which includes the voices of homeless individuals as well as imagery.  Or I could completely recreate someone's tent (Jay's for example).  I could get clothes, hygiene products, food, 10 blankets he uses every night, pillows, etc. to show that people really live in these tents.  

By the January 19 critique, I would love to complete all of Jay’s black and white series.  I have completed about 7 or 8 so far, and there are about 25 more left to put together/edit/enhance.  This is my ultimate goal because I would love to get feedback on which images are the most powerful.  I could ask for feedback on the best format for these images (book form, prints on the wall,  should I add sound to them, etc.).

Today I sent an e-mail out to Ted from the Tent Community, asking him if he would like to be interviewed and participate in a potential art show.  He is the one that creates the woodcarvings.  

Tomorrow I am meeting with a contact I received at SOS.  She has overcome homelessness and I hope will be a valuable resource.  I am going to ask her about her experience and ask her opinions on my ideas. 

I have also reached out to some individuals from the homeless shelter in New Jersey.  They are very willing to tell their story and I would like to schedule times on the phone to talk to them.  It was very difficult to find time during the short break; However, I am going home twice next month, so I could schedule time to meet with them at that time.  

Over the break, I came across interesting articles on my topic.  One in particular talks about how Prince William created awareness for a homeless organization by sleeping on the streets of London.  Of course this received great publicity for the organization, thus creating awareness for homelessness, as this article was in the NY Daily News.  

Photo of Prince William about to 
sleep on the cold London street.

More articles are being published about this topic everyday.  I am looking forward to creating an artistic approach to demonstrate the issue.  


  1. Meg,
    It sounds like you have a lot on your plate. My main concern for you at this point is narrowing down your mode for expression to be able to create a beatifully refined, compelling project in the end. When you talk about the possibility of a tent installation, would the tent be the entire art piece, or would you have the artwork you are collaborating on with Jay and your other work displayed inside a tent? Or possibly just creating a faux tent atmosphere? I like the implications of these ideas: tent is a sort of existing symbol of homelessness, while your goal is to give a face to this (inter)national problem. How might you fuse these visions?

    I am excited to see your progress, and am always impressed with your self-motivated outreach. Keep it up!!


  2. Hey Meg,

    The program I mentioned to you the other day is called Arduino. It is basically a mini computer that can sense a variety of inputs (e.g. temperature, motion, sound) and using a basic programs that to cause objects in the real world to react. I don't personally know anything about it yet, but Osman Khan is giving the grad students a few workshops on how to use it and you are welcome to come if it sounds like something you would like to learn.

    Below is all the info I've been given on it so far:
    Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. It's an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.

    Arduino can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. Arduino projects can be stand-alone, or they can be communicate with software running on your computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP.) The boards can be assembled by hand or purchased preassembled; the open-source IDE can be downloaded for free.

    The Arduino programming language is an implementation of Wiring, a similar physical computing platform, which is based on the Processing multimedia programming environment.

    For those interested in the Arduino workshop you can get a starter kit here:
    For the workshops you will need some wire cutters and hook up wire (black and red).

    Let me know if you're interested!