Bright green geometric shapes made out of plastic drinking straws juxtaposed against street medians. Groups of participants knitting in unison to create musical sounds. A live art installation consisting of an X-ray camper parked in a city lot.
These are just some of the sights that passers-by can expect to see on Magnolia Avenue between Anderson and Washington Streets from Thursday to Sunday.
The displays will be part of the Art in Odd Places festival, an artistic takeover in Downtown Orlando in which UCF art graduates will showcase their art through performing and visual exhibits.
Founder and director Ed Woodham is bringing the festival to Orlando for the first time after directing it in New York City for 10 years. The venue will be unexpected public spaces, and the purpose, said Woodham, is to reclaim the public space as a medium for communication.
“The public space is one of the only places we can all still gather, regardless of our socio-economic status, our race, our gender and our sexual persuasion,” he said.
The festival will showcase more than 50 artists of local, national and international recognition for four days of artistic takeover.
Woodham, along with some of the festival’s featured artists, said they are most looking forward to observing the public’s reaction to art outside the traditional space.
“A lot of people come to see the art because they know Art in Odd Places is happening, but the majority of people will happen upon the art, and I’m always interested to see the reaction,” Woodham said. “It’s different in every city, and I can’t predict what it will be like. That’s where the project is an ongoing experience about communication in the public space and how we communicate with each other beyond that.”
UCF graduates Ashley Inguanta and Tara Young both have backgrounds in writing and communication. Inguanta was recently voted Best Poet in Orlando, and Young graduated from UCF with two degrees, one in communications and another in journalism.
But instead of showcasing their writing, their art installation at this year’s Orlando festival will encourage participants to look within themselves through their own words.
“It’s really important for people to trust and to empower their own voice. By creating this safe place, Tara and I are opening up an area for people to sit for as long as they want, take a journal and write anything they want in it,” said Inguanta, a 2011 graduate. “I think that instead of displaying my own work, I am hoping to give other people a chance to sit and be for as long as they want, and whatever comes out comes out.”
Inguanta and Young’s installation will be set up beside The Gallery at Avalon Island, one of the festival’s headquarter locations.
The duo will be providing journals filled with heartfelt quotes and prompts for the interactive showcase.
“Some are sad, some are happy, because you never know what people need,” Young said. “A lot of the people coming are going to be, maybe, going through some things.
“Everyone has problems and not everyone has an outlet, and I think that writing is an amazing outlet, and if they want to talk, we also want to be there to help them and be very empathetic.”
Young said that the team has sent out personal invitations to the Zebra Coalition, a support organization for members of the LGBT community, and foster homes in an effort to engage all sorts of people, including adults and children in need.
Masami Koshikawa, another UCF graduate who earned her MFA degree in studio art in May, will be pulling from her multicultural roots to showcase an interactive performance featuring origami art and herself as a canvas.
“Downtown is a place of great social importance where people work, play and socialize. I feel it is an honor to bring art and performance to the people so that it may be seen and enjoy unexpectedly,” Koshikawa said. “I can only hope this interactive exhibition will set a tone that evokes child-like wonder from the audience and viewers.”
Koshikawa’s street performance, titled Meditating Woman Series: Self-portrait as Golden Butterfly Woman, will involve asking audience members to apply golden origami butterflies to her white costume, turning her into a living statue.
She will be incorporating many different elements of Eastern culture into her showcase, including geisha make-up and hand-folded origami shapes sent directly from Japan from her mother, she said.
While Koshikawa said she experimented with many non-traditional media, such as video and performance art, during her MFA experience at UCF, she said she is looking forward to showcase her art in this type of venue.
Daniela Marin is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future.