The Bridge Builders Exhibit

The Bridge Builders Outreach generated many more ideas than could possibly be included in Community Bridge. At the encouragement of bridge muralist William M. Cochran, Shared Vision and The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center agreed to jointly sponsor The Bridge Builders Exhibit to weave all the wonderful responses into a single participatory artwork. That exhibit was on display at The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center from October 13 through November 26, 1995.

An Exhibit Reversed
This exhibit reversed the traditional nature of an art exhibition. In most exhibits, juried artists with training and experience present their ideas and works to an otherwise uninvolved audience. In the Bridge Bulders Exhibit, the audience itself is given voice.

Mirror for the Community
The Exhibit Team - artists Maria Barbosa, Andrea Burchette, Teke Hoffman and Karen Sullivan - sought to build an exhibit that would create an interactive environment. They wanted people to feel community as they walked through the show and to take with them the sense of a common bond when they left. The team goal was an active exhibition where people would recognize themselves and realize that participation in a community is - at the most basic level - essential. With the framework established, they looked to a group of active and energetic volunteers to construct The Bridge Builders Exhibit.

Begin the Journey
There was a planned direction and flow to this exhibition, steering visitors through three rooms. The first room, a hallway really, introduced "the question" and its many answers by creating an environment made entirely out of the thousands of ideas given by the community. The painted floor covering displayed brick sidewalks, grass, a global plaza and stepping stones which led through the hallway dotted with items like a curtained window, an apple pie and an old pump, as well as the original submission forms generated by the Outeach which lined the walls from one end of the space to the other.

Ann Zeleny and Dan Neuland designed this passage and Craig Weisbaum recorded oral stories to give the various ideas for objects that represent the spirit of community a voice.

Different Paths
The path continued into the next room where white fabric held by exposed cables created its own hallway. This "virtual community," featured nearly 250 slides (projected onto the fabric) of objects for community and some of the people who suggested them. Watching the show and enjoying the music that accompanied it were lifelike white plaster figures - a skateboarder, a teenager doing a cartwheel, and an older lady on a bench holding her purse.

This environment was designed by Ted Drab, Interior Design Professor at Hood College.

An Expression for Every Idea
Next, beyond a bridge, was a room of collaborative work. This tapestry of ideas took many forms. Building blocks, tables and a quilt - themselves objects that represent the spirit of community - were used as vehicles to display other ideas suggested by the Outreach.

Take a Moment
At they end of the journey, there was a space for reflection and response. This exhibit featured a diverse collection of artwork based on ideas drawn from the entire population. Taken together, they explore the common threads in our lives and help to add physical presence to the powerful connective forces that inspire the spirit of community. If you would like to answer the question What object represents the spirit of community to you? or respond to this project or this web site, use the hypertext in this sentence.


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