"Gift to Forever" @ the Walker Art Center

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A few months ago the Walker Art Center invited Solutions Twin Cities to guest curate a portion of their October Free First Saturday event. Called "Move Your World," the event focused on how children could actively shape the world around them. To aid in this effort, we brought in four local organizations (Land Stewardship Project, Alliance for Sustainability, Juxtaposition Arts and Background Stories) to give short Solutions style presentations geared towards this young audience.

Another portion of the event was an art making activity inspired by the day's theme. We brought in arts educators Judy Gallas (yes, Troy's mom) and Mary Legris to help kids understand their role in shaping the future through art. Usually, the Walker likes to facilitate art-making projects where kids can bring their creations home, but Judy and Mary worked with the Walker's Family Programs Manager Ashley Duffalo to create a project that was a little bit different. Called "Gift to Forever," the project asked children and their families to think about what kind of gift or contribution they could make to our future and represent that gift using homemade clay.

After visualizing their gift, participants placed it on a central table to aid in the creation of a "new world." What cannot be seen in this video - and what we never even anticipated - was the amount of thought and care individuals took in how and where they placed their gifts. For example, throughout the course of the day we noticed a lone bird-like gift become surrounded by a whole flock of similarly bird-like gifts, creating a small community within the larger landscape.

Nearly 500 people participated in the project - creating a wide range of thoughtful and inspired gifts. In fact, so many people participated in the project that the clay ran out before the day was up. Improvising on the fly, participants were asked to draw their gifts using colored chalk and paper (you'll see this addition late in the video). At the end of the day, we had the pleasure of viewing each individual gift before rolling them together to create one massive gift for the Gallas family compost pile so that the hundreds of "gifts to forever" would become a part of our world.

We would like to thank Judy, Mary, and Ashley for their help creating the event, and Karl Frankowski for taking a few thousand images and creating the time-lapse video you see above. Enjoy!