Visionary solutions can’t be forced. They just kind of… happen. That “Eureka!” response to an obstacle requires hours of thought about the potential solutions that have all been maddeningly mulled over time and time before.
Finns are exceptionally good at innovation. Romantic composer Jean Sibelius. Open-source software visionary Linus Torvalds. World-renowned information philosopher Pekka Himanen. Founders of the pioneer fashion company Marimekko Viljo and Armi Ratia. Women’s rights activist Minna Canth. Cell phone inventors Nokia. I think it’s the long winters — nothing really to do but sit around and think.
Developing a brand new solution requires spending hours and hours pondering all facets of the problem you are facing. In these days holed up and staring out at the snow, I am defining the questions that this project is seeking to answer. These questions are tossing about in my brain like stones tumbling against each other in a polisher:
What defines “visual art”?
How is visual art incorporated into daily life in this community?
How do artists view their role in their community?
How do community members view the artists?
How is the support system for the artists structured?
How do artists cultivate trust with the other members of their community?
How do artists cultivate trust with people from outside their community?
How to artists spark productive dialogue around social responsibility?
What elements of the social infrastructure are required for artists to incite change?
What solutions do the artists provide?
Is art really necessary to the resolution of the community’s dilemmas?
The snow and isolation in Hämeenkyrö force me to sit still and think them all over. And over. And over. The combination of time, quiet, a plentitude of creative minds, and sheer stubbornness will uncover the answers to these questions because artists do innovative things. Do you have more questions for me to throw into the polisher? Do you already have answers to these questions? Feel free to leave them as a comment or send me an email.
The Strata Project's global correspondent, Catherine J Howard, is spending 2013 on a voyage, known as the 13/13/13 Sketchbook Project, to 13 collectives of artists across the globe that use visual art to challenge and revitalize their communities. To relay what she learns about their techniques and culture, she will write a weekly guest column for The Strata Project's blog. She is also updating the 13/13/13 Sketchbook Project blog daily with interviews, photographs, and anecdotes and publishing her sketchbook from each location.
Ultimately, she will co-write a publication documenting the dialogues around the globe surrounding high quality contemporary art in rural communities in collaboration with The Strata Project. Catherine is an artist, teacher, and curator hailing from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina in the USA. She has previously written for the Clarion Content and nc artblog, in addition to her own blog documenting a life-altering trip to Cape Town, South Africa.