Piggy-backing off the art supplies from EFAC’s Cabinet of Extinct Curiosities from Fall 2012 Playa del Fuego, Pigment of the Imagination debuted at Fall 2013 Playa del Fuego in the middle of a Nor’easter. Mud, mud, mud, and more mud, relentless wind, and non-stop rain could not keep the creative spirit from expressing itself!
I envisioned Pigment of the Imagination as a fully-stocked mobile paint studio for participants to explore their creative side and play with paint - any time, day or night. Over the course of the weekend, 216(!) 3x3 inch canvases were painted, left to “dry” in the rain, and were transformed by the weather in a true experiment in immediacy. Dozens of larger canvases were painted and shared. The community canvas was painted, washed clean in the rain, and painted again. Canvases were set in the grass for viewing and sharing: Make Art, Leave Art, Take Art. The entire community took the challenge!
“Wanna PLAY?” I spent most of Saturday at Pigment, interacting with participants. The studio had a handful of painters at all times. Three things surprised me: the incredible popularity of the studio, the number of folks who claimed not to have any creativity or talent who then produced lovely works of art, and the silence. Burns are not exactly quiet places, but at Pigment 5 or 6 people could be working on their mini-paintings and no one would speak for long stretches of time. Everyone was concentrating on their art. It was magical! I would greet people as they arrived and again and again I heard “I haven’t painted since elementary school” or “I don’t have any talent.” I would calmly hand them a mini-canvas, “See how cute and little it is? It’s a burner-bite-sized canvas. Here’s a paintbrush. Here’s some paint.” Then I would shut up and let them work through their insecurities and fears on their own. And by doing so, I was graced to see the muse strike again and again. And in the silence burners were transformed into artists.
On Sunday, Camp Rainbow Unicorn was under water and asked to use the studio to host their paint-a-unicorn-horn event, which was a great success! And so, the future of Pigment of the Imagination unfolded before me; it wasn’t just a place for participants to come and paint, but a true community art studio. At future burns, theme camps and participants will be able to schedule studio time and use the space and materials to host their own events, classes, or exhibits. I don’t see myself so much as an artist or an art teacher, as many at the burn insisted I am, but as a facilitator for creative expression. Pigment of the Imagination is a space reserved for creative expression, for the community to decide how to use.
Words, photographs, and installation by Diana-Smiles, 2013