I have experienced that the arts communities in any given town or small to mid-sized city can so easily be compartmentalized and isolated from each other with borders popping up between platforms and mediums. Several years back, I was pulled into a conversation with some folks around our community working to break through some of those barriers and by creating events and opportunities where the disperate arts communities canshare spaces and even venture to collaborate with each other on projects. There’s a freshness and a richness that I experience with the outcome of this type of collaboration. It’s the product of artists seeing into each other’s worlds and pulling, drawing, stretching the creativity of each other.
Some of the most fulfilling creative experiences I’ve ever had as a musician have been in collaboration with non-musical artists. I’ve had many opportunities in the past few years to write, perform, and record with dancers, poets, painters, and videographers. As a musician I’ve become stuck in certain patterns and rhythms of my creative process that can prove to be rutty and uninspiring at times. Almost 10 years ago I started collaborating with Fischer Dance in South Bend, IN. The process was much like learning to play with a new band member, but one that speaks a different language and has a largely different cultural background than me. It brought about questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’ regarding the basic processes that I’ve been so comfortable with. I learned to consider a new viewpoint and allowed those collaborators to speak into my process in ways that I would not and could not reach alone.
The benefits of this sort of collaboration are rich, not only in personal fulfillment and forward progression of each artist, but also in the social and cultural development of an area. The cross-pollination of enthusiasts from different areas of the art world help to strengthen and further the story of a town/city/region. I write this as an encouragement to artists to step out and initiate conversations about cross-platform collaboration. I write this as an encouragement to supporters of various arts scenes to support adjacent art forms and to specifically experience and support collaborative artists.
Concerts with live painters. Dance performances around light sculptures. Writers composing poems in reaction to photography. This isn’t your parents’ art scene.