April 6, 2010 - Pulitzer Arts Foundation - Community Programming: Transformation
April 6, 2010

Community Programming: Transformation

Community Programming: Transformation

3716 Washington Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108


In conjunction with the exhibition, Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts announces the programming series, Transformation.

New York-based artist Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978) was deeply concerned with the abandonment of buildings and the fate of urban communities, both of which became a major focus in his work. Transformation connects Matta-Clark’s legacy of socially-engaged art to initiatives that are relevant to St. Louis. There are four components: a series of panel discussions, three artist-led projects, a web presence focusing on Your St. Louis, and a project inspired by Matta-Clark’s work, Garbage Wall (1970). The programming was conceived in collaboration with the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Further details on these activities can be found on the interactive website mattaclark.pulitzerarts.org/transformation.

The projects will culminate in the Transformation Project Walk on May 15, 2010 from 3pm – 7pm. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the Pulitzer first and pick up a map to explore the various project sites. A closing reception will be held at the Pulitzer from 5pm – 7pm.

The panel discussions feature salient themes in Matta-Clark’s work within the context of St. Louis. Ultimately, the panels address the question: “How do communities evolve and in what ways can the members of that community guide that process?” By bringing local and national experts together, the Pulitzer seeks to contribute to the thought process about community action within St. Louis. Panels take place January through April in the last week of each month at 7:30pm. Topics include The City as Studio; Redefining Neighborhoods; Art and Sustainability; and Food, Art, and Community. The panel series is sponsored by St. Louis Public Radio. Further details can be found online at.

Continuing Matta-Clark’s legacy of engaging local artists, the Pulitzer presents three projects, Urban Expression, Urban Evolution, and Urban Renewal, which offer new ways of appreciating Matta-Clark’s art through experience. Further details can be found online at.

Urban Expression is a shared initiative with Succeeding with Reading by ACCESS Academies and Boots Contemporary Art Space. The project involves Chicago-based artist and 2010 Whitney Biennial participant Theaster Gates, whose neighborhood-inspired work celebrates culture and promotes social inclusion. The project is focused in the Hyde Park neighborhood of St. Louis. In conjunction with Succeeding with Reading, photographer Stewart Halperin, poet Janie Ibur and artist Juan William Chávez (director of Boots Contemporary Art Space) will guide students from Holy Trinity Elementary School in explorations of their daily lives through photography, writing and drawing. These workshops are in preparation for the project with Theaster Gates, who will work with the students to activate empty spaces, organize a town hall meeting, and create works of art that will allow new conversations regarding the present and future of this historic St. Louis neighborhood. Through dialogue with Gates, Chávez (curator of the project), and Cujawa Architecture, students and residents of Hyde Park will also create a small “Master Plan” for their neighborhood. Gates will respond to their ideas and desires with a series of installations, entitled Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North. This exhibition will open during the Transformation Project Walk on May 15 and continue through June 5, in gallery space courtesy of Bruno David Gallery (across the street from the Pulitzer).

Urban Evolution is an after-school program with high school students interested in the arts. Lead by St. Louis-based artist Robert Longyear, the project primarily takes place in a building in the Grand Center district of St. Louis, serving as both studio and inspiration for the students’ work. They will learn about the evolution of the district, thereby deepening their understanding of place and how creativity can heal and inspire.

Urban Renewal involves clients from Employment Connection St. Louis, an association that assists adults with limited opportunities to self-sufficiency through employment. Under the guidance of local artist Jenny Murphy, the participants salvage bulk trash items and learn ways to transform them into treasure. These re-purposed items are returned to the community on a donation-basis to encourage interactions between potential consumers and the craftspeople behind the objects. The idea of not assigning prices to the objects introduces questions of how we value objects and how we demonstrate that value.

For the project Your St. Louis, the Pulitzer aims to present an interactive portrait of the city on the Transformation website, including neighborhood histories, video interviews with members of the community, a place for visitors to submit a Google-Map tour of their favorite route, and a Flickr group to share photographs. This webpage offers ways to learn about St. Louis’ past, listen to residents discuss the city’s present, and provide a forum to reflect on the hopes for the future. This can be found online at.

The Pulitzer is also collaborating with Construction Careers Center, Lawrence Group Architects and EarthWays Center to offer workshops inspired by Matta-Clark’s Garbage Wall. High school students studying both art and construction at the Construction Careers Center take on different roles (artist, community activist, environmental researcher, and architect) in order to design and build their own structures. This can be found online at.

In addition to events, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts is open and free to the public on Wednesdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit www.pulitzerarts.org or call 314-754-1850.

Press contact: Rachel Craft; rcraft@pulitzerarts.org 314.754.1861

Pulitzer Arts Foundation
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