World Cyanotype Day 2015
World cyanotype Day, September 19th, was a huge success. A Smith Gallery is decorated with prayer flags sent to us from around the country and the world. We created the world’s’ largest cyanotype in partnership with the generous and gifted photographers of shootapalooza. Now we are trying to figure out what to do with this twenty-seven hundred square foot blue monster. It was an amazing, emotional and humbling experience participating in all of World Cyanotype Day. Kevin wrote a little piece about the making of Big Blue. I think it captures the essence of what all of us that participated felt.
The father, grinning from ear to ear, wheeled his disabled, grown son out onto the burnt brown softball field for the third time. The mother appeared absolutely giddy, sweat dripping from the tip of her nose. It was about one-thirty in the afternoon this past Saturday here in Texas. Summer is still happy here in the South. Buzzards did their spiral thing overhead.
We rolled out the treated fabric, all twenty-seven hundred square feet of it, pulled off the protective black plastic sheeting, grabbed the edges of the greenish cotton fabric and nineteen howling men, women and children pulled like hell. It billowed out like one of those huge flags favored by marching bands. The assembled crowd of eager participants cheered and whistled. I hollered, “Get on it!” Grandmothers, Mothers, Fathers, teenagers and small children rushed to take their places on the baking, collective art project; sprawling helter-skelter from one end to the other — it looked like a massive accident of joy.
There were Little children with baby dolls and shovels. Women with parasols and hammers. A recently medicare qualified gallerista in galoshes, holding her father’s walking cane. The Mayor with an owl. A disembodied hand floating above a chair. Five high school volleyball players, hands linked, looking like vicarious skydivers. A small pair of crutches belonging to a retired polio patient, her first set as a child. A strapping young boy holding sunflowers. A man with a large plywood disk, looking like a dancing pumpkin head. A young man appearing to march and play his trombone, his wheelchair folded, trailing behind. His mother lying behind him. Her right arm stretched out toward him, appearing to either be letting him go or encouraging him on.
We had intended to execute a pre-planned design. However in the wonderful chaos and giddy mayhem of the moment the plan was abandoned. How foolish we were to think we could create something more interesting or profound than allowing the participants to express themselves freely, without our shallow desire to control the moment.
I will never forget the look of proud, wide-eyed anticipation in the eyes of the father of the wheelchair-bound young man as he placed the trombone on his son’s lap and wheeled him out of the shade into that bright, hot smiling moment.
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