Tribe House Blog
What is Art? and other clichés
Posted : February 17th, 2012 by Graham Ord
This month at our Kelowna Katalyst Artist Gathering Chad Pratch was sharing with us. Chad is a graduate of the University of British Columbia Okanagan and although schooled in what some might consider the traditional disciplines of art, he is a man who is clearly much more comfortable drawing way outside the lines of convention. Rather than being pegged as one type of artist he is exploring an amalgamation of many artistic mediums including performance, sculpture, written and spoken word, painting, and social comment. Over the past years few years he has created some pretty diverse pieces, some of which he shared with the group.
We have had some very inspiring people share at Katalyst but rarely have I been so challenged to think more deeply about what this thing called Art actually is. If you call sculpture art then Chad would fit into that category, if you consider walking around a university campus holding a blank placard protesting ‘nothing’ Art, then Chad fits that category too. Chad‘s work has taken him right out of the artist stereotype of the solitary, isolated loner, locked up in his or her studio looking out over the lake, to someone who is intrigued with how we can create art that involves and engages people not only in the enjoyment of the finished article, but also in the very creation of a piece. Social Art, you might say. One example he shared is his most recent project which is a commissioned piece by an anti-racism group. Chad’s approach to this is to gather related stories from the general public, write a play from what he gathers along with a series of story board depictions which relate the accounts. Once it’s all put together he will take it to a local mall and display a ‘live gallery’ with actors playing the parts of the stories in the pictures which will also be displayed. His approach to creating art is so unconventional that some might find themselves asking whether this is even art? Isn’t art an intentional, disciplined act? Surely a picture needs a frame, a book needs a cover, a play needs a stage? I guess Chad is challenging this idea and what is so inviting is that he is doing it in such a way that it evokes a conversation about all kinds of social taboos which lay outside of the art he is creating.
He was asked by one of his audience “Why would he live in a more conservative city like Kelowna?” His response “It is the perfect place for an artist like me to work!” As he shared with us I could see how his art is like a fly in the teeth of safe conventionality, and yeah! It does make sense for him to be here in Kelowna.
At one point during his presentation I found myself thinking of the White Album by the Beatles. It is arguably the most famous of the Beatles albums and yet if you were to listen to the songs “Blackbird” and “Revolution Number 9” it could be said that they don’t really fit in the same collection of work. Yet there they are and in a strange way they hang together. It’s like that with much of Chad’s work. He clearly is capable of some beautiful work that would be easily labelled as ‘conventional art.’ At the same time he has this zany boundless capacity to embrace the avant-garde or bizarre and create something that sometimes defies classification, and yet still makes a powerful statement as Art.
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