Is This Your Card?

“I think it would be harder for me because I don’t think of myself as creative. I think thinking through you is a lot easier.”

With the $100 I decided to task my roommates (four of the eight of them were up to the task) to make a project that they thought I would make. The occupants of Flanders House [known for drunken haircut nights and freshly baked bread] have known me for nearly a year as an art student and have been witness to my many artistic gestures and art-themed rants. They also looked at the work on my website as research.

I was interested to see my practice through the eyes of others and curious what they would come up with when given a commission. They work in and explore many fields including tech, environmental science, child development, gardening, baking, investing and much more.

Caryn Aasness: My first question, I just want to know, when was the last time before this that you made something that you would consider an art project?

Shannon Hunter: I made something two weeks ago, I went to Scrap (local creative reuse store that sells recycled materials and second hand art supplies) and I got this old plaque that used to have someone’s name on it, but unscrewed that. And the plaque was in the shape of Oregon. I also purchased some secondhand paints, and paintbrushes, and painted a scene of windmills to represent clean energy in Oregon, for the campaign that I work on. So that was the last thing I would call an art project because I did it for like a call to action on social media, but it was also just fun and involved painting, and creativity and thoughtfulness. And it had a purpose.

Steph: Art project is a weird word to use. I do consistently write haikus, but then once a month, I’ll watercolor and if the watercolor is good enough, it gets a haiku paired with it. I have a very large stack of haikus and watercolors that just continuously get added to, so it’s not a project?

Caryn: Let the record show that Steph’s voice went up a whole octave right there.

Steph: It is a consistent thing that I do, that is like an art outlet for me. But there’s no purpose or call to action, or any of the words Shannon just used.

Shannon: That’s okay! Can I ever see those?

Steph: No, no one gets to see those.

Adrian Pants Messado: I haven’t done anything recently, I think the last thing I did was a Bob Ross painting or the sound reactive drum thing that I told you about. It was a drum that I made for music festivals that had a wooden staff. But it had lights in the middle of it, they were sound reactive and formed an image when you got closer to the sound.

Caryn: Do you consider yourself a creative person or an artist or artistic?

Steph: No, none of the above at all in any sort of way?

Caryn: Are you being sarcastic? No.

Adrian: I do. But I am lazy and don’t do anything unless I have a really hard push to do it. So either when I’m drinking with people or doing it last minute for a festival.

Shannon: I would consider myself a creative person. But I’m not sure if I’m making that assessment based on my past or what I’m doing currently. Because I was super into creating songs and paintings and all sorts of creative energy things in high school.

Caryn: Tell me what you came up with for the project.

Notes from group brainstorm meeting, Steph, Luke et. all, 2021

Steph: So we’re going to make a deck of cards. Each of us is going to do a different suit. There are very few rules to that, as far as what kind of media we want to use. We’ll use a similar sized background for them all but other than that, like Shannon gets to do whatever she wants for hearts—obviously she’s doing hearts! The idea is that we’re going to create a set of cards. The reasoning behind this is we all had a couple of different things that we felt like were important as Caryn. Shannon’s thing was that it should be able to be made all secondhand or used. We wanted to be able to create it from what we have or what you can easily find from Scrap or Goodwill, those sorts of things.

Shannon: Because you frequent those spots.

Steph: You do. We wanted to do multimedia work because oftentimes your work is not just one thing, but I have seen a lot of variety in your work. And also oftentimes you want a social interactive aspect. I quoted one of your artist statements when we were talking about it. I really enjoy it. But it was, I don’t remember what the piece was called, but it was the hanging fabric one—oh, “To call it cute would be a misunderstanding,” yeah, something like that. Anyway, and in the artist statement, it was like, if you don’t want to take the time to understand this that’s fine. But you don’t get to walk away from this thinking you haven’t missed something. It feels like you have a lot of other things where you are wanting interaction in a way. So the idea of building something that then you could interact, play, use, with a group of people is the concept there. The actuality of being able to play with these cards is to be determined. Because we haven’t made them yet I don’t know how 3D any of them are going to be or if they’ll be shuffleable; we’re not really sure.

Shannon: Also, we do know that you collect cards and have been attempting to create a whole deck from found cards. And I thought that was super cool. And then we also saw a deck of cards being incorporated into some of your other pieces of artwork. So we thought that it was a good direction.

Steph: And in my personal experience with Caryn, cards have been important. Yeah, you just use them a lot, you have so many of them. Anyway, and then we want the cards to not be the same. They don’t have to be uniform, because the artwork that I’ve looked at, at least, is very abstract and very diverse and has just a lot of variety. 

A selection from the collection of found playing cards, Caryn Aasness, 2021

Shannon: And one thing that I noticed that you really enjoy are hands. So I’m really excited to incorporate hands on a couple of the cards. I also thought about dogs.

Steph: Obviously. Yeah, but also when we were talking about hands and dogs we decided we don’t want this to become something that’s a representation of Caryn necessarily, so that’s a hard line I’m trying to walk here.

Shannon: I saw a dog in one of their artworks. 

Steph: Have you seen the one where it says dogs are not for sale or something?

Shannon:  No. 

Steph: Oh my God, that’s a good one. It’s like all of these Craigslist ads of couches that are for sale. “Dogs for scale. Not for sale.” Where the dogs are just included in the photo. 

Shannon: See, I think we can include dogs.

Caryn: So how will the $100 come into it? 

Steph: So we each get $25.

Adrian: Yeah, but like, paper’s cheap. But we should get hard paper.

Steph: Yeah, so I already have what I would call hard paper. I will take it to work tomorrow and cut it out, that’s not a cost. I think we can divide it up into $25 each. If that means I want to keep it and buy myself coffee because I already have art supplies that’s fine. I think if you wanted to go to Scrap you could do that also.

Shannon: But we won’t buy glitter because that’s not environmentally friendly.

Adrian: What? They make environmentally friendly glitter, don’t they?

Shannon: No, I did a research report on it. No.

Caryn: You did a research report on sustainable glitter?

Shannon: It doesn’t exist yet!

Caryn: That’s amazing.

Steph: What if it is edible glitter?

Shannon: I mean, we could use mica or something like that. That gives a shimmer.

Steph: But that’s not glitter.

Adrian: Close enough.

Shannon: Okay, then. Yes, we can do that.

Steph: Okay. Mica it is.

Adrian: But what if I take the $25 and invest it into crypto…

[Collective groan]

Caryn: I also have materials that I can supply, if you know what you need. Do you think that the project would be different if I had approached you with a different budget or no budget?

Steph: No, no, but that’s personal. Because I will spend money on anything. So I think if I was like, But I need gold leaf, I would still buy gold leaf for a project that I was not compensated for. I don’t necessarily think I’ll actually buy anything though.

Caryn: If you were doing this project for yourself, how would it be different? If I wasn’t involved?

Steph: If we were to take this concept and do it for ourselves?

Caryn: Open ended question.

Steph: So Steph is creating 52 cards. I think I would stress about it a lot more. Or I think it would be harder for me because I don’t think of myself as creative. I think thinking through you is a lot easier. Looking at your work that you’ve done before. And like, getting ideas from you, that makes way more sense to me than trying to come up with something or feeling that  the onus is on me for the creativity.

Caryn: If this project were changed into a reality TV show, what would that look like?

Steph: Oh my god. You know that Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman craft show (Making It is a reality competition show where craftspeople are given challenges to make various crafts)? That. Yeah, where you are given a prompt, and then we all have different things we can choose from but we have to make our own thing. Yeah, that’s the best reality TV show. That’s what it would be. I’m pretty sure somebody wears overalls every single episode.

Shannon: I think it would be like the Great British Bake Off because we’re all like nice to each other.

Caryn: Do you have any questions for each other or for me?

Steph: How do you feel? 

Caryn: I’m excited. 

Steph: Okay. Have we ruined your life completely?

Caryn: No, not at all, it’s exciting! Who’s making the Jokers?

Steph: I think two of us can make Jokers if we wanted. And then two of us make an instruction card or something like that. Which I think could be really fun with very little context or expectation for that to make sense or be related to anything else.

Shannon: We’ll figure it out. Cool. Great. Thanks for doing this!

Caryn: Thank you!

Steph: If anybody wants $25 I have a $100 bill that I can cut into four!

Steph Luke (she/her) is a lady living in Portland, OR but doesn’t own a bike.

Shannon Hunter (she/her) is an environmentalist living in Portland, OR but isn’t vegan.

Adrian Pants Messado (he/they) is a human being living in Portland, OR but has never been rock climbing.

Caryn Aasness (they/them) is an art student living in Portland, OR but has never been to Powell’s.

*A fifth entity (they/them) was involved in the project but decided not to be interviewed, recorded or perceived

The Social Forms of Art (SoFA) Journal is a publication dedicated to supporting, documenting and contextualising social forms of art and its related fields and disciplines. Each issue of the Journal takes an eclectic look at the ways in which artists are engaging with communities, institutions and the public. The Journal supports and discusses projects that offer critique, commentary and context for a field that is active and expanding.

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