Plenty of people look at the New Year as a time to refocus on creative pursuits -- finally write that novel, start painting courses, and generally reconnect with art.
The Rochester Art Center wants to help locals harness that energy, which may feel unfocused or blocked, to get going on their 2020 projects.
Interdisciplinary artist Alex Borgen, now back in Rochester after pursuing art and media at Columbia College Chicago, will lead a workshop Tuesday. The workshop, titled “What Stories Don’t You Tell,” aims to unblock sources of inspiration that participants aren’t already using.
Rochester Art Center Executive Director Brian Austin will be leaving the center at the end of the year, the art center announced.
“It is to understand the stories we might already tell, but to be able to process them differently, or understand them differently,” Borgen says. “... I am most hoping that participants will find some conceptual threads and deeper understandings into their own work. I also hope that participants might start making work on topics that they didn't know might be interesting until they took a deeper look.”
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We caught up with Borgen on the origin of the course and why you -- yes, you -- might want to give it a try.
This workshop is aimed at unlocking stories that participants can’t or don’t know how to tell. Have you struggled with that?
I struggle with the starting of a piece, and so while I tell lots of stories, I don't dig deeper into the why and how of the stories. This workshop was originally intended for me to be able to generate new work, make deeper connections, and stay conceptually interested in the process of making things. It was a way to harness my idiosyncratic thoughts into some sort of tangible web.
How will workshop participants use their bodies/surroundings in this workshop?
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I use a lot of mindfulness techniques to explore the senses and access creativity, and since I am interested in phenomenology, I am interested in participants doing "body scans" and understanding their physical and personal experiences and physical bodies in space. Depending on the crowd, some exercises might be done to get the blood flowing and shake things up. But I am very in tune with the vibe of the crowd and won’t make anyone do anything they don't feel up for.
How do you think physical experiences play into creativity?
I am a former competitive swimmer, and as such, the sensation of being underwater, the labor and discipline of workouts, mindfulness, and body awareness have always informed my work as an artist and have made me really keen on how experience shapes us. Since I am shifting gears with my career and taking pre-med classes and hope to go to Physician Assistant school in the next few years, most recently, I am looking at ways of understanding the same experiences through various interdisciplinary lenses --maybe at the same time. So, distilling topics/experiences through different lenses and points of view is interesting to me. Likewise, I could have a broad audience of humans who want to be creative, so I will definitely be informed by the moment, based on who shows up and the goals of the participants.
What do you hope participants get from the workshop?
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I hope that participants are open-minded and come excited to explore ideas. I hope that people walk away with a curiosity of an idea or a spark to start creating or push their work farther than they thought was possible.
Any advice for people hoping to revamp their creative works in the new year?
Just do it. People have a misconception of art that it is merely a "creative spark" that comes and goes like the wind, that creativity is a mood. But creativity can be harnessed, and it is a discipline. I think it's really important to do the work without analyzing it, then just keep doing it. At some point, it is really important to analyze it, however, and have honest discussions/conversations with trusted, critical viewers about the creative work in order to push it further. You have to get out of your comfort zone in order to grow.