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Interpreting “Graphite” through Performance

Our guest blogger today is Mr. Kinetik who writes about his performance during the opening of "Graphite."

The artwork in Graphite that really got me was Staumauer by Michaela Früwirth. The piece was seemingly larger than any other piece. I was immediately drawn to it because honestly, I did not understand why someone would create such a large and seemingly “blank” piece of art. As an educator, graphite is largely confined to pencils, number 2 pencils to be exact. These pencils, while they are instruments we use to write and express ourselves in other written formats, have come to symbolize testing to me; typically of the standardized variety. Usually, you have to have a number 2 pencil sharpened and ready for the completion of your standardized test. Technology has taken us into a digital era, however most tests are still conducted with the use of pencil and paper in some aspect. Seeing that large graphite filled piece of art in a room of many other artworks that rely on graphite made me think, “We are so wrong about how graphite can be used in schools.”

Michaela Fruwirth, "Staumauer," 2007. Courtesy the artist.

Michaela Fruwirth, “Staumauer,” 2007. Courtesy the artist.

The beauty of the expressive art in the Graphite exhibit took me to a place in my mind that I had never explored. The art made me think about what possibilities exist for us as we use graphite. Not just graphite, but other natural resources, as well. How should we use these resources? Should they embody misguided assessment or expressive art?

My performance was fueled by my trip to that new space in my own mind. It kind of turned into a rambling piece, but I just let it flow. Recently, I began personal study of the concept of “Flow” as outlined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I always want to give a performance that is authentic and representative of my true feelings and thoughts, which is realized by finding “Flow.” Learning to let performance flow is an ongoing pursuit, but it creates performances that resonate within me and hopefully within the audience.

I am deeply concerned about the direction of public education in our country. We, now more than ever, need to step back and ask ourselves, our neighbors, and our policy makers what education truly should be. It cannot be confined to assessment and rigid standards-based learning that is supported by profiteers and non-educators. Education must include room for exploration and creativity in the use of our resources. The Graphite exhibition and the piece Staumauer took me to a space I really needed to explore. I am confident that my experience and performance will continue to have an effect on what I believe can be done, which helps me focus my work in my circle of influence. Never before had I seen such artistic and impressive art revolving around a single element, but it is inspiring and makes me want to create more art of my own. It was such a wonderful blessing to be included in the opening festivities and I hope to be able to be included in many more.

Filed under: Contemporary, Public Programs

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