Civic Studio invites its members to engage in a continuous, open dialogue about issues relating to the studio, the public, art and community. The Wealthy Studio in particular consisted of many discussions revolving around the ethics and censorship of a public domain such as the Viget. The level of involvement by the studio was often questioned in relationship to editing pages on the Viget. As a studio, we learned the proper etiquette for modifying pages that were inaccurate or incomplete and in need of some layout changes. A constant challenge, however, was deciding how much control one individual or group should have on censoring articles that they felt were inappropriate or offensive. At what point does something cross the line from truth to inappropriate commentary? If something is true, but unkind or offensive, should it be edited? These questions plagued the studio and despite many extensive discussions, no conclusive decision was made.
The members of Civic Studio range from art students to engineers. As a result discussions are often rich and engaging from a variety of viewpoints. To enhance these discussions the studio often invites guests from a variety of backgrounds to participate.
Joel Stillerman and Jenn Schaub joined us in studio to discuss the article Neo-Bohemia by Richard Lloyd. Joel is a professor from the Sociology department at GVSU and studies urban space, markets and Latin America. Jenn is from Avenue of the Arts and Dwelling Place and is a graduate of GVSU and a Rock Shop Civic Studio member. Guided by the reading, we discussed how visual practice fits into public life in terms of culture, economy, and community. The conversation ranged from the shifting meaning of the term bohemia to the affects of artists moving into a community and the gentrification of areas such as Wicker Park in Chicago.
Gustavo Rontandaro of the GVSU Community Research Institute also visited the studio to talk with us about the work of CRI and various community profiles that have been done in the Grand Rapids area and along Wealthy Street in particular. He showed us much of the data that had been collected for the area and the ways in which the community profile had changed over the years. We also discussed the implications of the data presented and how such research can be used by community organizations.
Trannie Carter, co-creator of the Viget, discussed issues related to the wiki and other internet communities. He also helped with our various technical problems and questions. He was especially helpful when transferring the multitude of images from the assessorís office.
Anna Campbell, an Art and Design professor at GVSU, also frequented the studio and participated in many readings, discussions and critiques. She brought a unique dynamic and insight to the discussions from her own studio work involving sculpture, video and installation.