If this summer's high heat has left you drained of inspiration, Elastic City's upcoming Fabstractions, an evening walk near and within Brooklyn's Prospect Park, may give you some helpful insights and techniques to unlock or restart your creative engine. It also promises to be a lot of fun.
Elastic City is now in its third season of presenting artist-conceived and artist-led walks and "ways" all over New York City, in Detroit and San Francisco, and in Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Paris, Reykjavik, and Sao Paulo. The organization describes its walks as "a narrative series of poetic moments" and its ways as "experiential workshops that explicitly engage participants in how to generate these moments" so they become part of your regular creative process. Walks and ways have been presented with such partners as Abrons Art Center, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Friends of the High Line, Museum of the City of New York, San Francisco Arts Commission, Staten Island Museum, and Le Petit Versailles.
Led by Todd Shalom, who teaches "The Walk as Poem" at Pratt Institute and is the founder and director of Elastic City, a nonprofit, Fabstractions is scheduled for the evenings of August 21, 23, and 28 at 8:30 p.m. (The first walk is sold out; check the current Calendar for available spaces in the other two.) Each Fabstractions walk, which will be conducted in English (Shalom can speak Spanish), can accommodate 10 participants—small enough to lend the experience a personal and intimate feeling and big enough to ensure a sufficient number for group exercises.
As explained on the organization's Website and in an e-mail exchange with Shalom, Fabstractions, like other walks and ways on the calendar, is participatory, intended to focus "less on providing factual information and more on heightening" awareness and use of our senses creatively in public spaces. Shalom, who often collaborates with performance artist and director Niegel Smith to stage interactive performances in public and private environments, told me he plans to use sound, movement, and experimental poetry techniques to create abstract responses to found imagery. Participants, he says, will craft solo, duet, and collective performances as the walk progresses. For example, he adds, group members will "make individual performances through the simple act of picking up and dropping dirt. We will also construct text-based poems using signage" in the park. Participants also will have an opportunity to be part of a dance "that glows" and a light-play involving reflections with cars in the area.
A fee of $20.00, which helps defray artist fees and operating costs (liability insurance, marketing, etc.), is charged to participate in Fabstractions. Gift certificates are available, and Elastic City also offers private walks or ways for corporate outings, birthday celebrations, student orientations, and the like.
To learn more about Elastic City's walks and ways, check the FAQs. Biographies for the artists who lead events, are here; in addition to poets, participating artists, who typically are commissioned to create walks, include urban designers, dancers, painters, architects, photographers, filmmakers, printers, and individuals working in sound art, theatre, and psychotherapy.
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