The second of Taliesin’s “Off 60” exhibitions, showcasing their work in Globe-Miami since the beginning of the year, opens Sunday, May 1st at 6 p.m. Globe Miami Times talked to Taliesin teaching fellows Cristina Murphy and Andrea Bertassi whose students’ work will be presented in the exhibit. They shared more about how the students gathered information, what will be on display in the exhibits, and the importance of community input.
GMT: Tell me about the work that students did that is reflected in the two “Off 60” exhibits.
C&A: The studio has been organized in three main sections: observing, understanding, and communicating. In general, being the very first studio of a four-year collaboration, we felt the responsibility of emphasizing the research part, which enables us to approach a comprehensive understanding of the territory, at different scales, and establish a solid ground for the next Taliesin projects. It is for this reason that we invested a lot of time in the ‘observing,’ in order to deepen our comprehension of the place. In practice, we achieved that by spending time in Globe-Miami, interacting with the communities, collecting information, analyzing data, reading the territory, representing the status quo and being critical about all we discovered. The act of representing in a drawing what one sees and experiences, aiming the camera at a view framing a specific subject requires time, selection and implies a critical mind which is at the core of any design move, and fundamental to the Taliesin education.
From an academic point of view, it was also important to define the appropriate framework for this project, which is rather unprecedented in its scope and ambitions as it overlaps a pure intellectual exercise with the real lives of a community […] This studio experimented on a few architectural projects that challenged and questioned how any intervention can impact its surroundings and its community at large. We selected to rethink the Miami Memorial Library (MML) as an institution and as a space for the people and this will be presented at the next exhibition.
GMT: How will the second exhibition at Bullion differ from what is on display at the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts (CVCA)?
C&A: The first exhibition in Globe was a snapshot of the ongoing work of observation, and partially tackling the communication part: in this project it is crucial to keep the conversation going with the local community. The second exhibition, opening Sunday, May 1, in Miami, is based on the material presented in March in Globe and offers conclusions to the research.
While the first exhibition focused on collecting data, the second proposes a critical reading and understanding of what was collected. The framework of the four-year studio is more defined and a road-map for possible areas of intervention will be disclosed. By introducing this intention to the community, we hope to collect additional input and feedback empowering the project’s ambition.
GMT: Can you tell me more about how these exhibits and the work reflected in them will fit into Taliesin’s larger plans in our area?
C&A: The exhibitions serve as a communication moment in which studio and community get together to discuss the status of the collaboration. Hopefully, we will collect lots of feedback on how we have been looking at the region and build on all input to structure the work for the next semesters.
GMT: Tell me about why you also provided an opportunity for input (ie: had sharpies available for folks to add to the exhibit) in the Off 60 show at the CVCA?
C&A: The communication, the third constituent part of this collaboration, is a fundamental part of the project, as the final outcome should be informed, if not led, by the people who live in the place and will benefit from it. The beauty of this whole project is that it generates itself on the go, spurring from the tight dialogue between young creative minds and the community with whom they work. Taliesin plays the mediator, the skillful machine that strives to listen, organize, guide and realize what the community is looking for.
GMT: For the Globe-Miami timeline in the CVCA show, for example, tell me about where you gathered the information from?
C&A: The students went through a number of sources: documents provided by the local authorities (Gila County), books (from the MML and CVCA), interviews with a number of knowledgeable locals. All this was recorded and re-organized to make it accessible and [enable it to] be used as a tool for the design. For the timeline diagram, for instance, the biggest challenge has been to select information that seemed relevant to assess where Miami and Globe stand today and within their greater historic path. At the end of the day, it is all a matter of perspectives: we noticed that some people look at the glorious past with nostalgia and perceive the current times as an unavoidable period of decay, while others care more about the opportunities which are at hand right now and are less sensitive to the history of the place. Both perspectives are, of course, valid and what is important (and what we believe it is Taliesin’s role to embrace), is to combine all these energies to shape a better future for all.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your work so far on either of the Off 60 exhibitions?
At Taliesin students and faculty are working hard to finalize and select the materials for the opening at the Bullion Plaza. We are thrilled about it and we hope to see lots of people there, to hear their stories, ambitions and comments about the work so far. We are also aiming at sharing with you a video which can facilitate the reading of the material we will be showing.
Autumn Giles is a freelance writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in Edible Baja Arizona, Modern Farmer, Punch, Serious Eats, and elsewhere. Her first book, Beyond Canning was published in February 2016.