Client: Lied Center of Kansas
Location: Lawrence, KS, United States
Completion date: 2020
Artwork budget: $35,000
Lied Center of Kansas (at Kansas University
Bloomerang Studios LLC
This is a story about practicing how to see ourselves differently, together.
It’s also a story that teaches kids how making art, like life itself, is a process in constant flux, constant change, always moving us towards discovery and growth. The outcome is determined by an exchange of energy between ourselves and others, of which we’re often unaware.
In celebration of their 25-year partnership, a performing arts center invited over 600 third and fourth graders and their art teachers to participate in an interactive art experience led by artist Carol Bradbury. The result—a visually stunning installation that transforms the lobby of the Lied Center of Kansas.
“What we’re going for,” said Bradbury, “is an explosion of color and energy that starts with the students and evolves into imagery that captures the imagination and mystery of the arts.”
This work is informed by concepts of entanglement and field theory, and uses play to reveal the effect that our interconnectedness and our individual actions have on the world. The kind of energy we choose to bring to the table matters.
Goal 1: Celebrate the 25 year partnership between the Lied (Performing Arts) Center of Kansas and Lawrence Public Schools using a collaborative, community-based art experience that engages and inspires elementary-aged students and gives them an opportunity to practice collaboration.
Goal 2: Energize the Lied Center lobby with color that activates the imagination and becomes a lasting symbol of the partnership between the two organizations.
Goal 3: The images have to work with the existing carpet.
Since the budget prohibited the artist from working directly with the students, she designed a workshop for the district's art school teachers to share her approach to collaborative art making. The teachers chose to work with 3rd and 4th graders across their district. They asked the artist to make a video to introduce the project. She called it, "The Energy of We and the Art of Happy," in which she challenged the student's assumptions of what art can be and do.
The teachers shared the video, then led their students thru a month of collaboration. Once the collaborative artworks were complete, the students chose their favorites to send to the artist.
Using the student marks as ‘prima materia,' the artist translated the collaborative artworks into four motifs, transforming the students’ collective energy into an explosion of color that redefines the Lied Center lobby and prepares guests for the magic of the performance to come.
The columns are now being used as backdrops for a variety of events and for selfies. One person commented, "As I was leaving the building I turned to look at one of the columns. I swear it felt like it was glowing from within." For artist Carol Bradbury, that remark captures the impenetrable mystery of art, when the work comes alive and finds its own voice. And the video she prepared for the students had a surprising second life...it inspired the artist's 87 year old mother to bring her own brand of color to a retirement community by starting a hug club, a dance club and resident-generated newsletter. Carol Bradbury's work is located at the intersection of the individual and collective voice, using color and engagement in a process that moves the work from chaos to discovery. She works with architects, developers and communities in a variety of mediums to create a unique sense of place, grounded in authenticity, and allow people to take ownership of their environments. Says the artist, "I harness the energy of who we are together and make visible reflections of our collective beauty and depth."