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Tony Becker Opening at Prairie

Tony Becker Opening at Prairie.

Friday February 11 2001, 6-9 pm

Book Release and Closing Reception Friday April 8, 6-9  

House opening at Prairie on February 11 is the end result of a long term community project conceivedby artist Tony Becker that combines the creative energies of children and adults from all walks of life.

Becker worked with students and members of 15 schools and community organizations to create small origami houses which were decorated or personalized in a variety of ways. A house is many things to many people. The dictionary states that it is "a building or place for human beings to live in". If we look closer at the root words that make up house, hus and keus, we see that a house is literally a "base that provides cover and a place to hide".  The definition is long, with many synonymous words that trigger a rich variety of associations; words like den and dwelling or contain and harbor. The word "family" helps us feel the gut impact of the word house, because it implies more than a structure that protects us from the elements, but also a place where people grow and are nurtured and plan for the future. Gaston Bachelard says a "house is a nest for dreaming, a shelter for imagining". This is key, because it places our concept of the word house into the sanctuary of the mind, where we can carry it wherever we go. 

"Where thou art, that is home." (Emily Dickinson). These and other thoughts were presented to all participants in this project just before they were asked to think about the word "house"; as a container for their own imaginations, and to create their own "dream shelters", using drawing, writing, collage or other media to transform their blank white pages into visual metaphors for these abstract ideas. Each of the nearly 500 participants who completed origami houses also produced a short piece of creative writing which explains the concept behind their visual work. These written comments reflect the widely divergent nature of the visual products. One writes, "A house is as simple as a rock, as delicate as a flower, as light as a feather, as round as a circle, as sharp as a knife". The creative work in the show represents work from a wide cross section of people representing all ages, economic backgrounds and abilities. Many of the participants have never before had a public forum for their creative expression, resulting in a body of work which is truly a representation of the life of our whole community. Becker will assemble all of these individual origami works and install them in groups suspended throughout the gallery space. Each group of suspended houses will be formed into a specific three dimensional shape by a variety of supporting armature. 

In addition to the gallery installation, thanks to the generous support from a Summerfair Aid to Individual Artist Grant, this project will be documented by a catalog which contains images of the top fifty houses as chosen by a panel of judges prior to the opening. This book will be released at a closing reception for this exhibit on April 8 from 6-9 pm.

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