Accidental Vestments

Oct 052005
Authors: Katie Kelley

There is nothing more natural in this world than the marriage of art with words to increase the splendor and elegance of the two sophisticated mediums. Yet the two are kept separate, studied in separate buildings and viewed in separate venues.

Fortunately, this lack of cohesion is no longer a reality as a group of artists from these mediums have united to create the Accidental Vestments, also known as the Collaborators.

While this sounds more like the name of the latest punk band to hit the scene, it is actually an elite artistic group derived out of one man's ideas of that around which politics, art and writing should really revolve.

It all began in fall 2004 with this man's manifesto and the need for a collision of artists and writers alike. Matthew Cooperman, assistant professor of creative writing and initiator of Accidental Vestments, is the man whose manifesto is changing the idea of art in Fort Collins.

The Accidental Vestments is a group of artists, which includes poets, printmakers, sculptors, painters and graphic designers, as well as many others.

The group gathers to collaborate with each other and gain perspective as well as insight from other writers and artists.

"It's a lot of conversation; it's a lot of sharing ideas and thinking about art," Cooperman said.

Cooperman has always been interested in collaboration and wrote his manifesto to act as an instigator for the group.

While the idea of collaboration is old among artists, it has been reinvented in a fresh forum to develop new and innovative views.

"I think people are a little nervous about the idea of collaboration, it requires them to give up a certain amount of control," Cooperman said.

One of the goals of the Accidental Vestments is to produce collaborative pieces of artwork for themselves and for members of the community.

Original members of the group consisted of Masters of Fine Art studio and Masters of Fine Arts creative writing graduate students. The two programs met after Cooperman presented his idea to the arts department.

From there, Marius Lehene, assistant professor of drawing, joined with Cooperman and the two introduced the idea to their students, giving birth to the Collaborators.

"My idea of working with writers is based on the fact that what we do in the studio practice, in one way or another, is framed by language," Lehene said. "Art wouldn't be art without our ability to talk about it. And when it comes to ideas and concepts, they're so linked with words and language that you cannot really separate things."

In its third semester of existence, the Collaborators are already conducting meetings in a random fashion, which coincides with their ideals and manifesto of an informal club.

Several artists opened the doors last week to their personal studios in the Visual Arts building and invited their peer collaborators inside.

In this rare moment, people were able to discuss, in-depth, the meanings, processes and methods of several Master of Fine Arts students.

One of the artists who participated in the studio tour was printmaker Tony Holmquist, Master of Fine Arts graduate student.

"Artists, philosophers, poets, musicians: these people should be coming together trying to find something that they're all interested in," Holmquist said.

Holmquist wasn't the only participant excited about the idea of collaboration.

Jon Hale, a Master of Fine Arts graduate student studying drawing, attended the studio tour to meet people and gain new perspective.

"It was very informative to 'go behind the scenes' and to see how different people go about making their art," Hale said. "It was kind of humbling in a way."

The future of the group is open to creative ideas and is available to students among a variety of majors who are interested in the idea of collaborating.

"This is open to anyone, it started out as an activity between art and creative writing but that was just because that was the immediate target audience that we could get to come to a meeting," Cooperman said. "In the spirit of anarchy, it is meant to be a non-hierarchical organization; anyone can propose anything."

With so many opportunities among the Accidental Vestments to stretch the creative palette of the brain, it's hard to imagine why someone would not want to participate in this vibrant and amazing group of students.

"I think the best part of the collaboration remains the quality of the discussion – the quality of the exchange itself," Lehene said.

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