Today I spoke for a senior citizen's group at Dunn's Chapel in West Columbia/Congaree, SC. I was suppose to talk about "Preserving Memories" because I did this seven or eight years ago for another church affiliated senior group. The presentation included basic information about shadow-boxing keepsakes, the use of acid-free mats in framing, and the properties of UV glass for photography. I made suggestions about digitally scanning old newspaper articles and talked about which glues were acceptable in scrap booking. How boring. I was dreading it.
I decided to change the program. There wasn't a contract; there wasn't a paycheck; and the entire allotted time was but forty-five minutes. I decided to be me: Susan Lenz, artist.
Part of the change came about because of a client that recently said, "Oh, I don't know anything about modern art, but I know what I like". This is such a stupid statement, especially since it probably isn't even true. Most people just don't possess the vocabulary to express what it is that they like and what it is that they don't like. If, in forty-five minutes, I could get just one person to see my work as both "beautiful" and "modern", I would have done something! If I could break down a single barrier, it would be worth it. This also gave me the opportunity to set up my Archeology Project on a nice, big round table and watch people look at the work!
Today is "Pearl Harbor Day" but the program was started with the pastor reading the passages from the Book of Luke regarding the nativity. So, I started with....."Here we are, two thousand years later...." In that sense, Pearl Harbor really wasn't very long ago and all these elderly people were quite MODERN themselves. I mentioned that most 20th century art for me was textbook learned. For them, they lived during the hey-day of Abstract Expressionism. Then, I told them that I was an embroiderer and gave a brief demonstration of heat-activated techniques. They were, by and large, interested, even excited. This led into the terms "mixed media" and "installation". I ended by inviting them to look at my altered books and my Archeology Project. It went well. It was great to see how all these little pieces would look when set up together.