Lydia Whiteford speaks with Sarah Tourjee about her upcoming course Collaborations.. The course will be collaboratively taught by Sarah and Ren Evans, and will feature guest artists from the Providence community. It all starts next Sunday, March 22.
L: In your opinion, what is the best thing about doing collaborations vs. individual work?
S: As humans, our individual perspective can only get us so far. Sometimes we have to let some air in. We do this through education, through reading (the news, poetry, cereal boxes, bar walls, science articles), through talking with others, through being alive and moving in the world. Our artwork is no different. Whether we know it or not, anything we create is a collaboration with a hundred experiences, conversations, memories that we have had. Nothing is made solely from ourselves. Once we realize this, we can collaborate with the world in more intentional ways. It’s exciting to work with another entity (be that an object, artwork, or person) that/who offers us something we could not create on our own. Our work becomes larger than it could have been, and we learn more from it.
L: Who would you recommend this class for?
S: I think anyone could take this class. You need only have an interest in art-making and be open to working with text. The more diversity of perspectives, the better. So please come!
L: What are some challenges of collaborating?
S: Collaborating requires a loosening of control. When you work with another artist, you trust that the thing you create will be different than what you can envision on your own, and you allow that to be OK. You do your part of it, and then trust the process. This is difficult, for sure, and also liberating. The work takes on its own life.
L: What is your favorite thing about teaching for Frequency?
The people, absolutely. I love working with this community. It continues to change and grow, and everyone is always so open and willing to try new things, and to support each other. We are lucky.
L: Have you two ever collaborated on something together?
S: This class has been a really fun collaboration. We have not collaborated formally (yet) on a creative project but Ren’s work has absolutely influenced my own, and the conversations we’ve had make their way into my projects. We’re in an eternal friendship/artist collaboration. I recommend them.
L: If you could have any talent besides writing, what would you want it to be?
S: I think I’d be a neuroscientist.
L: What is the best piece of advice you would give to budding writers?
S: Notice every weird and beautiful thing that happens. Make that noticing a part of your creative practice and soon you’ll find you’re writing no matter what you’re doing. And take this class! Seriously, we’re going to have so much fun. By the end, art might be an organ inside you.