Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Senior Art Mentor Reflections: Pete Hocking

From the October 2007:

So, I’m the guy with the beard. You know the one… I’ve been hanging out in the studio on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, drawing/painting at one of the rolling tables, having conversations, hanging out. You can ask me what I’m up to, but I won’t really have an answer for you. I’m just not sure what I’m up to. I’m trying to figure it out by doing it.

I have a long association with New Urban Arts, but until recently it was behind the scenes. As the first chair of the board of directors (back in the day), I was privileged to be part of the conversations that conceptualized the program and it was gratifying to help the program transition from an experiment on the 4th floor of the Grace Church Rectory to the rambunctious program it’s become. Being involved with organizational work has it’s own rewards, to be sure, but I have to admit that I’m having more fun working as a senior art mentor.

The senior art mentor program is new. Our goal is to support the art mentors in the same spirit that they support NUA’s program participants. Andrew and I are working closely with Sarah, Jesse and Tamara to try to figure out the best way for us to use our time. Like so many of NUA’s satisfying outcomes, we’ve approached the development of this new program as a process – and we’re confident that through the process of doing we’ll discover something new and vital.

I think about community a lot – especially about the way that we all want to feel connected to something. A lot of times I think that we think about community the same way that we think about shopping – that somehow community is out there and we can just get it. Yet, I’ve come to know that community isn’t something that’s consumed, it’s something that each of us makes. Starting at NUA this fall, I’m really aware that I’m entering a community that others have made and that, in some ways, I’m an outsider. Before I can feel a real part of NUA’s community, I need to do some work. I need to be present to those who are already part of the community, to those (like me) who’re trying to connect, and to the process of discovery. I also need to introduce myself.

So, I draw.

For me drawing is a way of being present to the community, to share a little of what I’m about (at least to share a bit of my process as an artist), and to be available for conversation. I wrote above that I don’t know what I’m doing with the drawings, but I do have a suspicion. I started with what I’m calling “mediated portraits” – that is portraits of people I’ve met via the Internet, but have no belief I’ll ever meet in person. Over the past few days, I’ve started some self-portraits that are also mediated – by time. In drawing myself as a high school student I’m trying to reconnect to my hopes, fears, and aspirations at that age. Both sets of drawings have something to do with the nature of relationships and presence – across distance and time. I think they might teach me something about presence in the moment.

Writing this, I’ve just completed my second week in the studio. It’s been great in so many ways. I’ve really enjoyed the conversations and the questions. I look forward to many more.

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