06 August 2019

time becomes us, or, won't you be my neighbor?

Artist Michael Stevenson announced in April that he was planning a "collaborative, participatory, community art project" in Alfred called "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" The underlying plan is to link an artist (or artists) with a community member (or members), with each pairing to do something that reflected how Alfred mixes things up, and/or to encourage the mixing up of things in Alfred.

I wasn't able to go to the introductory "gathering of friends" but I indicated my interest. I was paired with a second-year MFA student -- Sam Horowitz. I didn't know him though I had helped him a time or two at the circulation/reference desk at the ceramics library. Our brains flow in complementary ways and we've been having a good time talking about similar interests and obsessions. We started with categories -- of people, of materials -- and moved on to classification and entropy. We didn't really talk much entropy but we did talk about non-classification. And how time relates to all of this.

The project is still forming. Sam's the artist, he gets to do most of the building now. The project will include a notebook for our thoughts and for viewers to add their thoughts. Now, of course, these thoughts are just swirling. Classification and the melding -- tangibly and metaphorically -- of people and materials comes in from all sides. At lunch, I was reading a book review of Supper Club by Lara Williams. The review starts with a description of the narrator's kimchi recipe and says that patience is the clue to successful kimchi. The reviewer goes on to say "People are like this: pickled things, slowly eating themselves." Not long before that, I was reading about Chasten Glezner's marriage proposal to Pete Buttigieg; Chasten said he knew Pete wasn't ready to make such a decision and he gave him "time" instead of a ring. The symbol of the gift of time was a watch. This story appears in Shortest Way Home by Pete Buttigieg.

Sam and I are thinking of Time Becomes Us as the name for the work but who knows where it will end up. Meanwhile, we're having a heck of a good time segueing from word to word, from thought to thought, from material to material. By the way, the projects will become an exhibition at the Cohen Gallery at Alfred University with an opening during the first week of classes (late August).