Each afternoon during PAA’s Community Hip-Hop Camp at MOCA, PAA Artist Development Coach Ainsley Buckner and artist-educator Allison Bogard united to share and explore the featured exhibit with youth. A traveling retrospective that is presently split between MOCA and the Akron Art Museum, Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia highlights work from the founder of proto-punk band DEVO. Mothersbaugh, a northeastern Ohio native, aspired not only to be an artist, but to live a creative life. The exhibit takes viewers through his early sketchbooks, performance art, experimental sound pieces, video, visual art, and more. Similar to hip-hop artists, Mothersbaugh was and is heavily influenced by current events and the political climate in addition to pop culture. Ainsley and Allison worked with thes students to build connections between hip-hop and Mothersbaugh’s wildly varied artforms. Ainsley and Allison decided to work with printmaking and mixed media to explore these connections. After a group tour then self-guided gallery explorations, students participated in further dialogue with the teaching artists and eventually went to work. Allison demonstrated how to use collage on found postcards and connected that to sampling sounds and beats through hip-hop. Mothersbaugh creates a postcard each day, a practice he has created for himself. Some of his pieces were enlarged and exhibited in the show, signifying how scale impacts the art. Scale is also important in graffiti, thinking about the impact of a small drawing in a notebook versus a large piece on a wall or train car.
A second art project relied on colors and textures to enhance monoprints, which were hand printed onto sticker sheets. Sticker art has been popular with graffiti artists since someone realized that postal service labels are free, readily available, and easy to use. The campers utilized this surface, in addition to pre-cut sticker sheets, and applied their hand-cut stamps, a third art activity influenced by Mothersbaugh’s early work. He owned a rubber stamp and novelty store in Akron as a means of funding his artistic endeavors and was an early innovator in the street art movement, though he seems to have operated outside of any realm of definitive influence.
The campers naturally took to the printmaking process in the Rayburn Workroom and seemed very comfortable making choices about color and texture and employing design decisions that suited their individual creative vision. While the correlation to hip-hop culture was not entirely linear to all participants, the older students undoubtedly derived meaning from the hands-on activities, whereas some of the young kids simply liked the experience. Gallery dialogue about symbolism, the artist’s response to the 1970 National Guard shootings while he was a student at Kent Sate, and creative expression fueled the teens’ tangible outcomes. Unfortunately the youth participants were all too familiar with campus shootings but it provided a platform for conversation and contextualizing their current experiences alongside historical events. Mothersbaugh’s experiences offered concrete examples of how these struggles are incorporated into not only art, but also into hip-hop music and related disciplines.
To wrap up the second day of camp, Kennedy Blaq presented several campers with scholarship invitations for PAA’s annual RHAPSODY Hip-Hop Summer Arts Camp at PlayhouseSquare. This upcoming camp is an invite-only opportunity. Those campers who demonstrate exemplary vision, drive, motivation, and overall interest are most likely to be selected at each of PAA’s community camps. That’s not to say that there weren’t other excellent participants at the MOCA camp. On the contrary, this group was pleasant, easygoing, kind to one another, and quite creative. All eyes will be on the invitees at this year’s historic 15th annual RHAPSODY Hip-Hop Summer Art Camp, coming August 1-12 at the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare.