Last week I was going through my email inbox and opened up an email with the subject Interest in Collaboration. The email was from Daya Stanley, a college student for Colorado College whom is one of the Research and Programming Assistants for the CC Mobile Arts Program. She was reaching out to see if I would be interested in doing a commission painting on a ramp for their mobile art space. On Saturday, June 12th I live painted the ramp at the Hillside Hub Ground Breaking Ceremony.
Here are a few questions I asked Professor Naomi Woods to learn more about the CC Mobile Arts Program:
1. What inspired the CC Mobile Arts Truck to come about?
I received an NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) Distinguished Teaching Professorship (grant) for a three year cycle. My proposal had three central ideas, one of which was showcasing local art-activism. When it became clear that we would remain in strict social distancing status during the pandemic and that it would remain difficult for community members to come together in close spaces, I thought of a way to make gathering mobile, accessible, and able to bring disparate communities together.
2. How has the process been bringing the Mobile Arts Truck to life? I began sharing my idea with colleagues at Colorado College and community collaborators and each person shared enthusiasm and creative ideas for usage and what to include on the truck. My original dream was for moving dance and live concerts; others shared ideas about theater, interactive workshops, collaborative art-making, etc. It took many months to locate the right vehicle, identify an engineer and builder who could do the physical transformation, and apply for additional funding to hire a student team to work on the truck as well. With each event we identify more ways we can use it and more additions that will make it more accessible and versatile.
3. What will the Mobile Arts Truck do for the Colorado Springs community? The main objective is to showcase artists (visual, performing, culinary, fashion, etc) that are less known, to share stories through arts that are not as commonly told, and to support existing social justice work happening in the city. Mobile Arts is a way to bring a multitude of arts to small parks, school parking lots, neighborhoods that don’t usually see arts programming and, simultaneously, to bring the work of artists from their communities into the downtown scene.
4. Thus far, how has the experience been with the Mobile Arts Truck? Is it all what you imagined? It has been wonderful to see the impact that a little time with arts can make. From dance, to poetry, painting, clay, dj-ing, we continue to explore and dream into new ways for using the truck. What I underestimated was the amount of time that must go in to setting up and maintaining the truck; it doesn’t drive itself, clean itself, replenish or set itself up. That is a piece that needs bigger-picture thinking for a sustainable model. This is volunteer work for me and the grant to pay students will also run out. But, for now, getting to meet new local artists and deepen my relationships with folks who are doing incredible community work is very fulfilling and a unique opportunity. The programming and partnerships are ones that are meaningful to me and where I enjoying putting my energy.
5. Do you have any short and long term goals for the Mobile Arts Truck? Long term goals include establishing on-going partnerships with local organizations/artists. We want to schedule weekly/monthly events with some of our partners so that they we can offer dependable services. I hope very much to get more youth involved; younger artists who are just starting to share their work publicly. I also hope that folks will start to come out to our pop-up events even when they are in neighborhoods that they have not previously visited. In addition, we hope to expand to locations throughout the state of Colorado. A short term goal is to have a lively open mic event on July 3rd! This is the initiative of one of the student assistants and a great opportunity for local artists and performers to share their stuff!
Stay connected with the CC Mobile Arts Truck