September 22, 2019 | By Kyla Fields and Dylan Hart
Celebrating Creative Clay’s Creative
On view September 26, 6-8:45 pm
Opening celebration outside at 5:45
Museum of Fine Arts, St Pete
Creative Clay Artist Dalmary Rosa
In the end-of-school day bustle, students stick their heads out of the doorway waving their art pieces in the air, clamoring for their teacher Calan Ree. Her eyes stay locked with Marquise Russ’s as they both try to articulate what the last six months working together has meant to them.
The artists at Creative Clay Studio, students and teachers alike, are almost done with their day. But a few artists, including Calan and Marquise, are preparing for a multimedia art exhibition on September 26, as ArtLink returns for its biggest showcase yet – this time at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg.
Set pieces for Airlift
The one-night-only show kicks off on the steps of the Museum at 5:45 p.m. with Airlift, a 5-minute play by Sheila Cowley performed by Lisa Tricomi. [Disclaimer: Sheila Cowley is Managing Editor of the Arts Coast Journal.]
Creative Clay artists designed a colorful, inventive mobile set for Airlift and will perform with Tricomi and viola player A.J. Vaughan. The performance is directed by Jim Rayfield, choreographed by Paula Kramer and designed by Allen Loyd, who all worked directly with the member artists and incorporated the artists’ ideas into the show. The play will become a parade that leads people inside the Museum where works can be viewed until 8:45 p.m.
An apprenticeship program funded by the National Endowment of the Arts, ArtLink has paired working artists with students at Creative Clay for over two decades. The culmination of these six-month partnerships is this exhibit, in which 10 pairs showcase their collaborative work, along with original merchandise for sale and a visual journal representing the artistic process.
The professional artists will display a reflection piece. Marquise, a Creative Clay painter and ArtLink veteran, insisted that he make a reflection piece as well. We caught up with three of the collaborative pairs a week before the show to talk about what this experience means to them.
Calan Ree and Marquise Russ
Calan and Marquise, who’ve known each other for about eight years, felt the need to venture outside of their comfort zones for this year’s artistic apprenticeship exhibition. Already friends thanks to the teacher-student relationship at Creative Clay, they knew they needed to dig deep and experiment for their exhibit.
“He blows my mind all of the time,” Calan says. “I wanted to do my best, but I also didn’t want Marquise to be bored. What can we do that can be exciting? What are we both not comfortable with?”
They had to find what made them tick. They researched the history of totem poles, the nature of dreams, interpretations of dreams and the ideology of folklore for hours before starting to create their collecton, now titled Hero’s Journey, a play on Marquise’s passion for superheroes.
“My favorite part of the process was just spending time together in the studio and not knowing what we were going to end up with,” Calan says.
A Feel for the Art
Marissa Harris and Rissa Olson
When asked about her favorite part of the ArtLink process, member artist Marissa Harris answers without hesitation. “My main goal was to give texture to everything we did because my mother is blind. She can’t see my art,” she says.
“Marrisa works with a lot of acrylic paint and clay, while I work within the mixed media realm. Together we were able to create a diverse set of pieces,” Rissa Olson adds to Marissa’s sentiments. “We did a lot of work outside in Marissa’s backyard so that her mother was able to feel the process.”
This pair of artists-turned-friends got a later start than the others because Marissa’s first mentor broke her leg and couldn’t participate. Marissa and Rissa made up for lost time when they started collaborating in May. They began with ambitious ideas of mysticism, nature, other cultures –– and a lot of sketching.
“Rissa taught me how to work with the medium I already knew, but in a new way,” Marissa explains.
“Yeah, a little bit,” Rissa responds with a reaffirming nod. “And I mainly worked with Marissa’s drawings, adding the mixed media element to it.”
When asked what her favorite part of the process was, Rissa simply points to Marissa. Marissa points back and they both giggle.
Music That’s Inside
and Out There
Cory Broxton and Gordon Harlow
With a black Squier Stratocaster slung over his shoulder and a blue bandana tied around his forehead, Cory Broxton emerged from a flurry of noise, belting out a high note reminiscent of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson.
But he wasn’t just singing a rock song — he was giving everyone a glimpse into a new universe.
Cory worked with Gordon Harlow, an artist and musician, to write a 15-minute space rock opera titled The New Musik Revolution for the ArtLink show.
Before they begin, Gordon turns to Cory and asks if he has the lyric sheets. He taps his chest. “In here,” he says.
It’s a lot to remember by heart. In the “Rollin’ Masterpiece Galaxy,” which is home to the song’s characters, Cory is the “Prime Minister of Post Funk,” named Roclyan Aasim.
Cory met Gordon at Creative Clay’s Transition program. When he had an opportunity to join the ArtLink program, Cory was paired with Gordon even though Gordon didn’t know he had such an interest in music.
“He’s really informed about music,” Gordon says. He pointed to the rap song “My Name Is” by Eminem, which sampled a funk song titled “I Got The …” from 1975. “I was like, ‘Cory, how did you know that?’ So when he told me that, I knew we had to do something with music.”
Alongside the music, the performance is supplemented with elaborate costumes and colorful art panels that detail different scenes from the story. The panels feature the characters in a blue-and-purple-heavy psychedelic style, sketched by Cory and painted by Gordon. Additionally, the pair prepared a video to kick off the story before the performance.
“My favorite thing has been teaching him new things he might not have learned outside of this partnership,” Gordon says. “It’s been great to work with someone else who is really creative and has a different outlook on art. His vision is totally different than mine, but we find common ground.”
And common ground might just be what ArtLink is all about. That and discovering the many ways to bring artistic vision and collaboration to life.
Kyla Fields and Dylan Hart are senior Mass Communication
majors at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
New Musik Revolution 2020
Cory Broxton (aka Roclyan Aasim)
and Gordon Harlow (aka Harlow Barrett)
Cory and Gordon met in Creative Clay’s Transition Program where Gordon taught. It was evident that they shared a love for music when Cory began singing reimagined versions of Tenacious D, Led Zeppelin and other songs in class.
For their ArtLink project, they joined their musical, artistic and performance skills to form DEREGENARATION X and create New Musik Revolution 2020. It’s a story of brotherhood, fear and hope where they attempt to save the spirit of the Rollin’ Masterpiece Galaxy from evil. They worked to create lyrics, riffs and a storyboard that informed their larger mixed media pieces.
Cory (aka Roclyan Aasim) is a performer, artist, singer, dancer and the Godfather of Post-Funk Music. He is inspired by anime, cartoons and video games that find their way into his cosmic artwork and his real life. Music is the greatest influence in Cory’s life, namely funk, heavy isotope and katsurap. Cory’s motto is, “Rock wild and have fun!”
Gordon Harlow (aka Harlow Barrett) has performed at the Straz Center with Opera Tampa and Mad Theater, and played in bands in the Tampa Bay area. He’s is excited to bring Deregeneration X to life and showcase the team’s amazing space adventure.