by Margaret Parker
Dimensions: 24 ft. in diameter x 10 ft. tall
Media: wood, re-bar, woven Michigan t-shirts
For more information: 517-999-1056
Inspiration for C’ood: a democracy experiment
C’ood: a democracy experiment is an outdoor participatory project inspired by the process of searching for the common good. Because our population is so diverse, it doesn’t share a common background with a long history of what “culture” should be. This experiment tests whether art might help us see the beauty of our communal cultural identity based on working for the “common good”.
A circular tunnel structure is woven with cut up cotton T-shirts in a free form weaving method that both conceals like camouflage yet is porous. Viewers roam at will around the enclosed tunnel and go into the central opening. The T-shirts that make the weaving are collected from around Michigan, and texts from the shirts are written on the floor, telling many Michigan stories. By entering this unfamiliar space, looking and reading, navigating around other participants, viewers become part of the experiment in how to find “the common good”. This becomes a transformational space where people become engaged in our communal culture.
“The common good” is often an empty phrase, but this art work makes it a living experience. General participation is central to the meaning of the piece. Many people helped make this project because they wanted to see the idea of the “common good” become a reality. People donated more than 200 T-shirts from around Michigan, helped cut and weave the shirts, build the walk-through structure, record the texts from the shirts on the floor, donate needed funds, and install the finished piece. The piece was assembled in three and a half months.
This piece was made in a time of great economic stress and political division in our state. It drew people together through public participation in the arts. It demonstrates that no matter what we’re going through, the urge is still strong to work together for the good of all. There’s beauty here that anyone can see and enjoy. This piece is a peon to the people and the State of Michigan in concept, design and actualization.
Margaret Parker lives in Ann Arbor, MI, and shows her work nationally and internationally. Her work is in the collection of the United States Capitol, the State Department Art Bank, the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School, the Maine Maritime Academy, Chelsea Medical Center, and many private collections. Most recently it has been shown at New Century Artists Gallery, New York City, 2011; ArtPrize 2010, Grand Rapids, MI; the Beverly Art Center, Chicago, IL, 2010; American Jewish University, Los Angeles, CA, 2009; the “2008 Human Rights Exhibition”, at South Texas College, TX, which traveled to three sites in Mexico; the Dallas Women’s Museum, Dallas, TX; “Contemporary Women Artists Exhibition XIV”, St. Louis, MO; “Windsor Biennial”, Windsor, ON; “All Media Show”, Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, Detroit, MI. For a full resume, visit the website, www.margaretparkerstudio.com.