Archive for May, 2011

Human Canvas

Posted in Writer's Blox with tags , , , , , , on May 18, 2011 by Dustin

Human Canvas In Action The idea behind the Human Canvas was to see where and what people would draw on me if given the opportunity to have free reign on a blank canvas coverall. I wanted to get a white coverall, hat, shoes, and gloves and provide fabric markers for anyone walking by at the Walking Gallery in Pomona. I could only find the coverall and hat since it seems unpopular to have white gloves when doing yard work and with the weather warming up the stores don’t have a ton of gloves available. The shoes would have been fun too but I couldn’t find my size in a white shoe.

Before the gallery opening I had discussed my idea with a few people and everyone thought the idea was fun. I had discussions about what people might draw and where. What was on everyone’s mind was the “where” and a lot of people talked about people drawing on my ass and my junk. I thought for sure the first person to draw a penis on me would be a girl and that wasn’t the case. Some skater kids drew two on my back while daring each other to do it. I was disappointed at the size though. If you have freedom to create and you choose a penis, make it big at least.

Gallery opening and I am walking down the street to meet up with everyone. I’m starting to get stares from people and my daughter is telling me Ilook like someone going to work on something. I tell her I am, my art piece.  No one in the gallery knows what I planned to do but we tell everyone when we walk up. Bob Hurton decides to draw on me first and creates a little robot on my left shoulder blade. After a few minutes we’re ready to move from our usual staging ground over to the first corner. We all walk single file and I start getting excited. I have no idea how this will go, if people will like it, if anyone will draw anything and what they might draw.Murdoc Robot

I didn’t care at all what anyone drew. Offensive, disgusting, cute, stupid, whatever you wanted you could draw it. I just wanted to see it happen and be a part of the process. I hadn’t come up with a name or a good barking phrase yet. I looked over to my daughter who was standing next to me and she said I was a Human Canvas. Perfect! “Human Canvas! Draw what you want where you want with any color you want!” I chanted. I got takers right away. A group of people stood and laughed as a young girl drew on my hat. I had no idea what they were drawing but they all laughed and discussed it as she drew. I thanked her and as she left I checked the hat. It was a website address. That’s weird I thought but ok, that’s what she felt she needed to put down on a blank canvas. Not my choice but that is the point of the whole piece, their choice.

The next guy was shocked that I was doing this but also intrigued. He said I needed a heart and drew one on my chest with motion lines to prove it was working. Someone shortly after broke the heart. The interaction had begun. The rest of the night was a blur of people and me barking out the phrase to get them to move in closer. I had families with little children stopping down and letting the little ones have some fun. I had people drawing on my back and giggling. One girl drew multiple pictures and I thought my arm might fall asleep while I held it out for her.Back of Suit

I was very surprised that the majority of people decided not to draw anything but instead sign their names or right phrases. I was like a park bench, or bathroom wall instead of a canvas for leaving a picture upon. What I would have drawn and where I would have drawn it never happened. The unique aspect of being the canvas without a say was exciting and curious. I never asked why someone chose to do what they did and I thanked everyone who participated. Without them I would not have a piece and would be standing with a handful of fabric markers and no art.

By the end of the night I noticed that no one had ventured past my crotch. Nothing below that area at all. Maybe because no one wanted to bend down that low and draw. I think maybe if the night lasted longer than one hour I may have had people venturing to where the open canvas space was and eventually it would be full, but no one chose that to start there. I didn’t get a penis in the crotch that I thought I would and the bet I had with my wife turned out in her favor when our fried drew on my crotch first. He drew a vagina. Someone else added green stink lines around it.

While examining the suit the next day I found that a lot of people drew hearts on me. Girls love to sign their names with hearts or draw little hearts and say things around them. I also found a lot of people signing me after their art or just signing it to mark that they were there and participated. My wife thinks it may have been because people don’t feel comfortable with their artistic ability, especially in public, and didn’t want to show off their lack of drawing skills. I think it was just plain vanity to show that they were there and notice me please for participating.

At the Walking Gallery you get a lot of people walking by looking away or looking down and trying to get past the group without interacting. The key for me is to grab those people with my words and pull them in to make them interact with us. It has been that way for almost all of my pieces at the gallery. I found with this one people stopped a lot more and interacted with me. You got a bunch of people walking by trying to get through the space without even looking over but when someone is yelling at them to get over here and draw on me, they couldn’t help but double take and come over.

Zoe drew this one  I’m glad that this piece was a success. It would have been sad to have people just walk on by and not take advantage of me with their artistic delights. I had faith in my fellow art walk attendees that they would come through and they did in droves. Bob says I should repeat this and I think I will but I am trying to come up some kind of twist to the whole thing. If you have any suggestions I am open for them. Thanks for reading, and for more pictures check out my facebook page.

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