Four blind mice and one guide. Photo: Kate Spacek
The first week of 2017 was orientation week for the American Arts Incubator program. I met the four other artists and soon associated their names with their respective exchange countries: Elaine Cheung (Russia), Michael Kuetemeyer (Cambodia), Nathan Ober (Colombia), and Balam Soto (Guatemala)
My exchange country will be Thailand, where I’ll be staying in the multilayered metropolis of Bangkok for 28 days in May/June.
Thailand sounds like an exciting place to visit, and of course it is. However, I’m approaching this not as a tourist, but rather as an arts ambassador. The issue that I’ll be addressing in my exchange is environmental health and specifically water pollution in the Chao Phraya River. This is especially relevant to Thailand, which has undergone rapid industrialization in the last couple decades with environmental regulations lagging behind.
In Bangkok, I will engage in a dialogue around community data-collection and mapping though DIY science with a focus on water pollution, resulting in data-visualization installations and sculptures.
My time will be split about 80/20 leading public workshops and creating my own artwork.
This ties into my current area of focus: creating physical data-visualizations, such as the sculptures of the water infrastructure of San Francisco. It also ties back to my longstanding history of working in art and education at institutions such as the Exploratorium.
I learned many things this week, including, but not limited to: better patience for long meetings, organizational models for workshop engagement, the Drupal blogging platform, art-budgeting in a foreign country, and organizational techniques.
But most of all, I learned that I have an amazing organization, ZERO1, that will be supporting my work there as well as a cohort of four other artists I can learn from. Trust.