Collaborative public art making: The tapestry project
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The Tapestry Project is a 30-month effort to plan, fund, design, construct, and exhibit a work of collaborative public art in Weatherford, Oklahoma, a small rural community in Western Oklahoma. Utilizing autoethnography and autobiography, I reexamine and reflect using the photos, video, and personal documentation journals, the challenges, successes, and the lessons learned in The Tapestry Project as well as the suitability of tapestry as a medium for communal public art efforts. The Tapestry Project resulted from the efforts of series of collaborative volunteer groups: initial large group that contributed to the inspiration for and design of the project; another large group that provided material, logistical, administrative, and emotional support for the project; a yet larger group that participated in the project as patrons and consumers of art; and a smaller group that committed to a 11-month studio schedule that resulted in the production of 7 foot x 14 foot work of public fiber art entitled Sun on Earth. Sun on Earth is a work that is of, by, and for the people of Weatherford, Oklahoma: a product of the collective vision and the collective labor of non-professional volunteers. Though my study is particular to Weatherford, Oklahoma, it posits guidance to arts administrators, artists, and community members undertaking collaborative community art projects. The Tapestry Project models how experience and strategies can raise interest in and awareness of public art.