Last Friday, Miami-based artist Agustina Woodgate spoke to DASH seniors as part of the internship day program. At its most basic, her presentation was a survey of her recent work, but on a larger scale Agustina spoke to the seniors about something fundamental– the importance of collaboration. To us students competing in the fast race to college admissions, art often seems like an individual plight for survival. We conceive, execute and present our work in a solitary manner, then ogle at the sketchbooks of others and wonder what mysteries led them to those forms. Ultimately, our work is critiqued individually, and its triumphs and shortcomings rest on the artist’s shoulder exclusively. That is the way of the DASH artist.
What Agustina reminded us, however, was of the way in which collaboration can sprout a life of its own. She talked about how once she conceives of an idea, she knows
that from that moment on other people and other circumstances will shape the work’s path to execution. One example was in her proposal to extend her hopscotch project in Miami Beach to cover the sidewalks on an entire neighborhood in Buenos Aires. To do this, she will enlist dozens of local schools whose students will paint a segment of the hopscotch onto the sidewalk and report back the last number completed. This, she says, gives the project an entirely new dimension by taking it out of her own realm and allowing other people to become part of this entity greater than themselves.
Perhaps the greatest message of Agustina’s is that by asking for help, the artist is not forfeiting any part of his or her work. On the contrary, branching out brings new viewpoints and ideas –like that of the fashion student who taught Agustina a new way to sew– which the artist would not otherwise have accessed. What does that mean for us students? It is true that our individual portfolios are still the norm for presenting our work, but maybe it is time to try something different. Maybe it is time to take advantage of enormous think tank of talent that surrounds us and make something together.