My “Artist As Activist” series of works has made me re-examine my art making and social engagement with several strata of society. My recent travels and experiences have formed a lot of what I consider to be of importance in my dialogue with the world around me.
I have focused on the people I encountered in my travels to Nigeria, Africa leading me to create the Rechargeable Solar Powered Bag project. These works involved several stages of research and developement. I had to consult several people, especially Bob from Windsor Powerhouse to help with the electrical engineering work. I had the bag for the project donated by Ten Thousand Villages Windsor (where I used to volunteer). I spoke with many friends, family and colleagues over several months, bouncing ideas off them to develop my ideas.
I stumbled on some of my most important research, found in Stuart Walker’s Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practicewhere I learned several of my guiding principles for design.
Inventiveness Of Necessity
Sustainability demands resourcefulness and restraint. New solutions have to be found which require less.
Improvisation And Spontaneity
The constraints of limited resources at the local level in terms of materials, processes and tools, combined with a realization that most contemporary products are actually a physical manifestation of unsustainable practices, can create a liberating environment in which to reconsider the nature of objects.
Integration Of Scales – Mass-Produced Plus Locally Made Parts
An important but little explored aspect of sustainable product design is a reassessment of our scales of production so that products can be made, repaired and reused within an industrial ecology of cyclic resource use at the local or regional level.
Elegance And Empathy Through Design
When developing products within the limitations imposed by locale, processes, techniques and human skills must be used imaginatively to convert often uninspiring or non-ideal materials into elegant forms that contribute in a positive way to our material culture.
Then I began to prepare for my gallery show at the Lebel Gallery at the University of Windsor. The exhibit was titled “Artist As Activist”. The show went well and allowed me to get local press and interviews. This then led me to have a feature in VIEW magazine University of Windsor’s Alumni magazine.
For the future…
I will now be beginning another chapter in my “Artist As Activist” projects. I will be working quite closely with several Migrant worker, Farmer’s Union and community groups to the migrant worker population in Leamington, Ontario. First I will be focusing on bike safety, where I will talk about the needs of workers with the workers themselves and the community groups, then apply aspects of LED technology to add light to their bikes or walks.
From this I will make a short documentary and hopefully have a few design projects come out of my time working with these groups.
Check out this site to find out more information on my upcoming projects.