About 601 Tully

Check out our new website! 601Tully.syr.edu

601 Tully is a center for engaged practice in Syracuse, NY developed by artist and professor Marion Wilson with a rotating collaborative team of 54 students and neighbors and Anda French of French 2Design. It's a site for meaningful exchange between artists, community members, and scholars in the co-production of culture.

601 Tully includes a contemporary art space, a public events space, a bookstore, a teaching garden, and Recess Cafe West.

In 2009, Wilson purchased the condemned two-story home and local drug hub, and throughout five semesters, Wilson's design/build class re-zoned, designed, renovated and now sustains the physical and programmatic aspects of 601 Tully. The collaborative team has consisted of artists, architects, environmentalists, Fowler High School students, Green Train Workforce, neighbors, and the occasional passerby.

601 Tully is made possible by the generous support of the Syracuse University School of Education, The Kauffman Foundation, The Near West Side Initiative, Imagining America, Home HeadQuarters Inc., Say Yes to Education, and National Grid.

Find us on Facebook!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Community of Being

I am participating in a collective artistic praxis that re-imagines community and public art through awareness, questioning, a redistribution of power, contact and connection, engagement, efficacy, action, and production. Community is a verb, not a noun associated with land ownership. A community of being, rather than a being of community, demands insight, engagement, commitment. It suggests life and longevity.

With members of 601 Tully, I am collaboratively engaging members of the neighborhood (Boys & Girls Club, Westside Residents Coalition, CafĂ© Kubal, among others) in 6-Word-Memoirs. Youth and adults are invited to create their own brief memoirs, drawing from their own experiences and paradigms. The inclusive practice, designed by Smith Magazine, suggests an accessible form that yields rich, varied, inexhaustible artistic response. The structure of six words (no more, no less) offers a manageable space for expression, but the content—the words, the punctuation—are the writer’s. Participants make the form their own. Ultimately, the distance between artist/curator and participant collapses: judgments about expertise, worth, and validity are mostly inapplicable. A reader may be as equally moved by the memoir of an artist as she is by the words of a seven-year-old. Of course, when the memoirs are engraved into the gallery floor at 601 Tully, all memoirs will appear anonymous.

I respect Miwon Kwon’s assertion that in a collective artistic praxis, “coherent representation of [group identity] is always out of grasp,” (154). In our specific writing initiative, we “emphasize the distinctness of individual identities… over the importance of a single collective image,” (119). We strive to resist against reduction, homogenization, or an artist’s vision of unity. We initiate our project through specific inquiry:

As artists, what interpretive and interventionary services can we offer to Syracuse and 601 Tully?

a. How do we “negotiate, coordinate, compromise, research, promote, organize, interview,” (51)?

b. How do we ensure “originality, authenticity, and singularity” (52). How do we make sure the work is about our community (as defined by us)? How do we make sure the city, the block, the location, does not become a commodity?

c. If the artist is reemerging as the progenitor of meaning, even in collaborations, how can we act as authors at 601 Tully?

While I appreciate that Kwon’s model of collective artistic praxis privileges elasticity and flexibility— that it rejects hierarchy and exclusion— I believe there is incredible power in self-naming. A community that is reluctant to identify itself is unfamiliar. It is difficult to interpret, difficult to support, difficult to advocate and assert politically. At 601 Tully, we are witnessing a great deal of interest, investment, participation and excitement from locals who know that we are the new 601 Tully.

I look forward to next semester, when, I’ll continue to create and participate in a community of being with “Writing in the Community,” a course taught by poet Michael Burkard.

1 comment:

  1. Yes but this "we" is a specific collective right (we strive to resist against reduction...)?

    I agree with your thoughts on the self-naming. Maybe Kwon was assuming an over-simplification of the term "identity" and that though a one or two word title can't be used to represent the collective, a many worded compound convoluted description can. And perhaps that is the strength of 601 Tully, that it can't be described or identified in a neat two word title, that it is many things to many people, its identity constantly being redefined by those who use it, share it, art it, author it, whatever it.