Yes you read it right, two continents. It was art (with help of technology of course) that built a colorful bridge across two cultures.
It was a unique experience facilitated by David Black at the Mystic Art Center, CT. Two Groups of Artist created Tunisian Style collaborative paintings. I initially stopped by to play the role of an observer, but when asked to join, I gladly jumped in with a brush and an open mind to explore, experiment and enjoy! While we painted we had the opportunity to stand back and observe two other groups energetically working on their canvases in Tunis through video conferencing and they could observe us.
The Tunisian collaborative painting was pioneered by Hechmi Ghachem in the late 1980's. Its a concept with 4 simple rules
- One person is given the honor to begin the painting.
- Anyone can paint anytime and anyone can erase anyone else's work
- Another member settles any disputes concerning the painting.
- One member of the group decides when the painting is finished.
It's best to have at least three artist working on the same canvas.. more is merrier (depending on the size of the canvas). Once begun no additional members can join the group and the group has to work together until its finished. Acrylics becomes the choice of medium because of its quick drying time.
Mr David Black was initiated to this process in one of his trips to Bouabana Art Space in Tunis. He experienced how art bridged all boundaries of culture and language as he and his collaborators worked on a single canvas to narrate one colorful story. He instantly knew that this was something he wanted to share with the world.
Mr Black asked me how did I feel, my answer was a single word "Liberated". I am used to having total creative control over my paintings, letting go of that control to work within a group was a challenge by itself. Though a little difficult at first I slipped into the role of a collaborator very soon.
In this post are pictures of the canvas that my group worked on in various stages. The one above being the completed image and the picture below is the completed image of the other group.
If you saw one of these paintings hanging in a wall, would you ever guess that multiple artists worked on it simultaneously?
Thats the MIRACLE, the harmony that we had achieved as a group.
What did I learn? I learnt to let go and be open to ideas. To see the big picture and readily accept my role as part of the big picture. And more importantly I learnt to make more daring choices and not be hesitant in erasing something I feel doesn't work.