The Collective as Author

Death of the Author >< Birth of the Collective

Blending my artist practice and my teacher practice has been particularly rewarding. I find a lot of riches through teaching the Guerrilla Art Collective (GAC) as an artist. I get to explore concepts and projects that allow me to work with a group of powerful and insightful young artists. Furthermore, we create work that engages our community as an active participant rather than passive viewer.

The GAC is very concerned with the empowered identity of youth as people of color. We want to address a “lack of voice” due to societal prejudices around gender, race, age, ability, sexuality, economics/class, location, etc.I’m fascinated with objects as they relate to stories of memory and experience. We are looking at how personal stories can empower people within a community. How can an archive of objects tell our stories, much like they do historically for past and present societies? How can these stories address issues of power and social justice in current times? How can these stories establish an empowered identity for the collective? We are looking at artists like Samantha Hill, Andres Hernandez, Amanda Williams, Michael Rakowitz, Zoe Leonard, Do Ho Suh, and Jose Resendiz as examples of artists who use research of images, data, objects, and spaces to explore stories of identity and power.

What are ways to tell our stories?

If the author is truly dead (see Barthes and Foucault) then what does it mean to tell a story? Who is the author? What agency does a collective voice give to the “reader”?  In expanded literature, works like Shelley Jackson’s The Patchwork Girl explores what it means to use appropriation as a process in such a way that the author can be many people, using many voices to tell a story. It also explores an alternative structure for a book, one that allows a 3D digital web (through hypertext) as an interface rather than sequential pages. The reader has agency to “perform” the reading in a way that makes them an integral part of the reading/discovery process.

Jose Resendiz’s work, The Harrison High School Walkouts: Revisiting the Past to Inform the Present is an inspiration for me to explore telling a story with an expanded form of analog narrative that is non-linear. It may be text or image based and uses a collective voice instead of the “genius” of a single author.



I’d like the GAC to create a book from a series of works using objects/spaces to tell our stories that will express a collective and empowered identity. We have these questions to start…

What does a “book” look like for a visual arts collective?

How can we break from the linear structure of a traditional book and explore both analog and digital creations to tell our stories?

How will these stories create a collective identity that can be understood and personally engaged by the reader?

Stay tuned to find out….

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