Students of the Corcoran College of Art + Design, in collaboration with photographer Taryn Simon participated in the show, Transparency in the Corcoran’s own Gallery 31 this past November. Working with the studio practice of Taryn Simon in mind, students worked collaboratively to create socially poignant, research based works of all media.
As a junior Fine Art major at the Corcoran, I participated in the show in a group of four artists. Collaborating on a single work of art was challenging to say the least, but adopting the studio practice of a photographer was even more so. The experience, however, was extremely educational. Using Taryn Simon as a mentor for the project gave us artistic direction and focus. We were given approximately seven weeks to complete the work, which gave us ample time to plan the idea and execute from start to finish in a very rigorous yet organic process. Approaching the project was intimidating due to the freedom we were given as well as the sheer quality of Taryn Simon’s work. Generating ideas in a group, given the openness of the parameters, was challenging but once we landed on a cohesive idea, the process became much easier.
Collaborating with Adriana Serrato, James Cole, and Eddie Poschmann, we created large scale wood block prints of the District, presented in four parts, representative of the four quadrants of the city. The work is centered upon the concept of gentrification in the District of Columbia as it pertains to issues of race, class, socioeconomic status, and other demographical issues through the use of woodcut as sculpture and a means for printmaking.
Working in this way required extensive research and planning, consistent with the adoption of Taryn Simon’s studio practice. Working on this project, or any way that requires one to work outside his comfort zone, was eye-opening. Not only did I get a chance to work with three very talented artists, but I was also able to generate new work that I would not have made had I not been involved. Being primarily a painter, I work on a very intuitive level; allowing myself to research topics that are important to me as well as make work that evokes social context and change has changed my studio practice in the long term.