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“The Known Universe”

Northampton-based artist Samuel Rowlett and a dynamic crew of 15 local high school students collaborated on The Known Universe at “TEENSPACE” a project of Kidspace at MASS MoCA  in downtown North Adams as part of the annual DownStreet Art festival. Visit the space at 26 Holden Street to see the results.

Samuel Rowlet has written a guest blog for MASS MoCA, check out what he has been working on:

With sketchbooks filled after a month of meeting twice a week on the 3rd floor of MASS MoCA as part of my residency with the Teenspace crew, we finally saw the space for our installation this summer.  The site of the old Artery Lounge at 26 Holden Street was perfect!   With a patina of character and quirky architectural palimpsests it was just the raw space we needed to take the ethos of the sketchbook (the artist’s equivalent of a diary), blow it up large scale and make it environmental.  The process, based on my own studio practice of turning the unpolished immediacy of sketchbook drawings into wall drawings, certainly gave the project an uncertain future.  Especially having 16 sketchbooks to source from!  However, after seeing the sketches the Crew had made, I knew we had the makings of something great.

Perhaps the most pleasing part of the project (in addition to the rocking installation: a mash-up of social commentary, angst, honesty and satire, that somehow reminds me of a Nirvana music video) has been the camaraderie and sense of collaboration that has developed within the group throughout the installation process.  As we helped draw each other’s drawings, we got to know one another, to rely on one another, riffing off each other’s ideas, and (quite literally) drawing connections between our sketchbook worlds.  I had charged them with the task of mapping their own universes, however it has become less about individual paradigms and more about stewardship of the work as a whole and the conversation they have put into motion through the process of working together.  Which, primarily, is what I hope for them will be the real take-away from this experience.  One that they can repeat in the future in whatever their chosen field may be:  a sense of creative collaboration.  “The Known Universe” expands…

Posted June 30, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Kidspace, North Adams, Work-in-progress
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