Artist In Residence:
“Often, collaborations with children are dismissed as not being ‘professional’ or ‘real art’….I’m excited to be doing this work at Usdan—a camp known for putting the student at the center and fostering creativity on all levels—as a way to challenge these typical perspectives and push towards a collaborative and innovative contemporary art engagement.”
– Pedro Lasch
Internationally exhibited artist and Duke University professor Pedro Lasch began his ambitious three-year art residency with Usdan beginning in summer 2017; running through the 2019 season. His projects with Usdan included:
"DREAMING IN THE WOODS: ENDLESS DUETS" (2019)
Summer 2019 complemented the massive, total, and overwhelming process of the previous year, with a radically different notion of socially engaged art, one that was intentionally intimate and small in scale. Based on the invention of imaginary one-to-one collaborations in a series of special workshops, the "Endless Duets" was shared as simple statements and representations on the final day of the residency. These are also included in the series' final publication.
This summer, Pedro will work with students during the final week of July, concentrating on the generation of ideas for these artistic and social duets. Students will be asked to generate simple lines of text, diagrams, or drawings expressing the idea --or other basic forms-- to best represent their concepts. The goal of "Endless Duets" is for all to imagine unusual and challenging situations where something powerful or exciting is created in the space between two minds, beings, or things -- a growing compendium of conceptual artworks that exist between us all.
"DREAMING IN THE WOODS: THE BIG PLUNGE" (2018)
The collective experiments explored in Summer 2017 in all disciplines--including theater, music, dance, and the visual arts--came together in a wild, collective production of a one-day aesthetic experience called "The Big Plunge."
Presented during Usdan’s 50th Anniversary (2018), "The Big Plunge" was an immersive half-day experience in the amphitheater and across campus. Using the entire campus as an artistic medium and involving the majority of Usdan’s large and diverse community, it included dozens of collaborations, some of them initiated in the previous year. It presented artworks, actions, and performances produced by students throughout the entire campus –including the pool area where the Discovery program kids created a gigantic human whirlpool experience.
Summer 2017 presented exchanges across all ages and disciplines, using an original short story entitled
"Dreaming in the Woods" to prompt ideas and processes for the overall series that would come directly from the students and Usdan community at large.
The multimedia project, which also included inspirational paintings by Lasch, was shared pre-season with campers to kick off the collaboration. Those paintings were then exhibited in Usdan’s gallery during the season. And, that same summer, Pedro began working with students of all ages, interviewing and engaging them with prompts around dreams, creativity, and imagination -- all inspired by Usdan’s stunning 140-acre wooded campus.
PEDRO LASCH is a visual artist, Duke professor, and 16 Beaver organizer. He is also director of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) Social Practice Lab at Duke University. His online pedagogical artwork ART of the MOOC has had over 29,000 enrolled participants in 134 countries since it launched in 2015.