Join us on Facebook and YouTube on May 15, 16, and 17 at 7 pm MST for the Denver Art Museum’s first Untitled: Creative Fusions at Home! This is the online version of the Untitled: Creative Fusions event that happens quarterly at the museum. The online version, like the onsite version, is curated by local creatives and inspired by artwork at the museum.
For this event, Becky Wareing Steele and Libby Barbee are our two featured artists who collaborated with us and other local creatives to develop a three-episode online variety show full of fun and unexpected experiences.
The theme is Unearthing Place. Tune in to explore diverse narratives of the American West through shared experience and heritage inspired by the Natural Forces: Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington exhibition.
From musical performances to films to poetry, and from make-your-own-art adventures to Libby and Becky mashups-it's all accessible while you’re in your pjs.
Read our Q&A below to learn more about Becky and Libby:
What opportunity does bringing Untitled: Creative Fusions into people’s home offer?
Becky: I view this as an incredible opportunity to continue to connect with everyone and move forward with an event that was months in the making. It’s been truly inspiring to see how quickly people have adapted to this new and constantly changing landscape. Of course, I will miss the in-person interactions with people and the more hands-on activities, but I look forward to showcasing this incredible group of creatives we collaborated with on this event in a new format.
Libby: As a parent with two small children, I have found that over the last month, I have been able to participate in a lot more cultural programming than I normally can—simply because so many arts organizations are making events and content available online. As a family, we’ve done dance parties, tuned in to Motus Theater’s Stories of Resistance performance, checked out museum collections, and done yoga—all online! That is really exciting!
I think that we often overlook accessibility when it comes to planning programming, so I hope that this crazy situation will push all of us to think more broadly and creatively at how we engage people in the arts. In regards to our Untitled program, I feel like we are really fortunate that a lot of the content that Becky and I had curated for the evening translates well into online format. From musical performances to films to poetry, and from make-your-own-art adventures to Libby and Becky mashups- it's all accessible while you’re in your pjs. I hope you’ll join us!
How have you been able to stay creative, if at all, during this unprecedented time?
Becky: Honestly, it was a struggle for me at the start and still can be touch and go depending on the day. I’m in a transitional space with my art practice at the moment, moving supplies from my studio to my home to abide by stay-at-home orders. This has also pushed me into a new space where I’m experimenting with different mediums that are more accessible to me as I reintroduce my studio practice into my living space.
Libby: Wow. You know, this has been a really crazy time. I was in Oracle, Arizona at Biosphere 2 leading up to COVID craziness in early March for a creative climate leadership training. About 25 artists and arts administrators came together for a week to explore the role that arts and culture can play in shifting attitudes and behaviors in relationship to climate change. It was a really surreal experience shifting our discussions from hypothetical disaster conversations in the early part of the week to exploring responses to a very real and urgent crisis by the end of the week.
I came home and essentially haven’t left since. In the meantime, I have transitioned from my former position as regranting manager at RedLine Contemporary Art Center and started a new job with Colorado Creative Industries. The last month has been a flurry of activity, scrambling to get funding and resources available to support Colorado creatives who have been devastated by the closing of galleries and venues, and the cancellation of programming.
I haven’t had much time to make art in any real focused sense. However, I have spent a lot of time thinking about just how important art and culture are—both as a healing balm during times of pain and struggle, but also as a means for organizing people and helping to create alternative visions of what the world COULD look like. Sometimes, artists’ visions seem so far-fetched, but in the blink of an eye, the impossible can become imperative.
I don’t agree with a lot of Milton Friedman’s ideas, but as author Naomi Klein has pointed out, the following quote is really significant in the current moment: “Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.” I hope that artists will take on that charge and continue to create images and ideas of what COULD and SHOULD be so that those ideas can be “lying around” at the right moment.
As for me, I have been filling the little time that I have with recording sounds of everyday life—from my children laughing, to our bedtime stories, to the singing birds that flock to our birdfeeders. In a moment that seems so uncertain, I think that this attempt to record “what is” is my form of mourning what will no longer be. I hope that this little action will, in time, transition to something that is more celebratory and forward-looking.
...so much of our work deals with similar settings and ideas so [this Untitled] created this really wonderful opportunity to merge our artistic practices in a celebration of the western landscape in relation to the works of Homer and Remington.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience collaborating?
Becky: When I was first contacted about this event and told that I was partnered with Libby I was absolutely over the moon. Libby and I both attended CSU in the early 2000s and met in an art history class. She is an incredibly talented artist both visually and conceptually and so much of our work deals with similar settings and ideas so it created this really wonderful opportunity to merge our artistic practices in a celebration of the western landscape in relation to the works of Homer and Remington.
Libby: We go way back—which made this project very easy and natural. Our artwork and interests overlap in many ways around the themes of place and identity. I have always admired Becky’s work for its optimism and imagination. While I often come to my work from a lens of history and social critique, Becky’s artwork is often very much about visioning and storytelling. I think that we brought all of these elements into the curation of this event—both a historical lens on the idea of “frontier” and all of the multiple meanings that have attached themselves to the American west, as well as a celebration of this particular landscape and its people, and a lens to what the future might hold for such a unique place.