06 Mar Summer at Woodstock – Art for Change
Woodstock alum Stefan Prakash Eicher ’90 – pictured above with Joshua John ’98 – is returning to the hillside to lead Summer at Woodstock’s Art for Change course. He tells us more about the course and what students should expect.
Why is your experience so relevant to this course?
After 13 years experience working with community health and development projects in Africa and India I started the New Delhi-based organization Art for Change Foundation in 2008 with a vision to see art explore questions of human dignity and shape society with beauty and truth. Besides running a not-for-profit art gallery for 4 years and taking art directly to marginalized persons through our ‘Made to Create’ program, in the last 10 years we have run 23 artist residencies for young professional artists exploring issues of human dignity and the potential art has to shape society. Five of these have been international and included artists from the US, UK, and Australia working alongside artists from India. The artist residencies we run are typically two-four weeks in length and bring together anywhere from five-20 young professional artists to engage with a particular topic or theme, and through a process of collective reflection and individual creativity make art in response to it. The results of each residency are typically shared with the public through a formal exhibition and other means e.g. a ‘walking gallery’ in the streets. We have taken artists into Asia’s largest Tuberculosis hospital to meet with patients and paint a human portrait of the disease, spent time with rag-picking families on one of Delhi’s Garbage Mountains to learn about human dignity and explore issues of marginalization, consumerism and urban growth, or simply taken the topic ‘Small’ to explore both literally and metaphorically and challenge viewers to think from a different perspective. You can see more about our work at www.artforchange.space and FB/artforchange. In tandem with my work with Art for Change Foundation I also pursue my own studio practice – www.stefaneicher.com.
Tell us more about your course
The course is designed to run as an actual artist residency. There are no desks, class periods, teachers or homework assignments. What a residency means is crazy all-day/late night painting sessions, asking big and small questions, intense creativity in a studio space shared with fellow artists who encourage and engage with your work, lots of discussions over cups of tea, and more—all working towards turning a set of ideas into a vibrant body of collective art to be exhibited on the final day.
The course starts with a one-two day orientation which includes an immersive engagement with the theme which serves as a common launchpad for participants to spend the rest of the two weeks working their ideas out through their art. Daily discussions during an afternoon ‘chai-time’ are an opportunity to regroup, riff on the theme, and generally share our learning. A team of three-four facilitators, all experienced artists, come alongside individuals to help them with their individual creative processes, while helping thread together the larger body of work. What’s really exciting is to have another Woodstock alum on this team, Joshua John, from the Class of 1998. Since graduating from Woodstock he has had over ten group shows, three solo exhibitions, and besides pursuing his own studio practice (when he’s not motorbiking in the mountains or leading his Delhi Bikers Breakfast Run) has been working with us at the Art For Change Foundation.
What is special about this course is that students will be working alongside young professional Indian artists who have been selected to participate in the course as if it were a regular professional residency. This means that students will be participating an actual competitive, professional artist residency, something that they would otherwise only experience after completing art school. The young professional Indian artists participating are typically either fresh out of their BFA or MFAs, or two-five years into their professional careers.
For those considering a career in art this means an invaluable window into the future, working alongside professional artists not too far from them age-wise, in a sense professional peers just on the other side of art school. For those not considering a career in art, you just may end up doing so— after this course!
What should participants expect?
Participants should expect: tons of time to make art, deep meaningful conversations, cross-cultural community leading to lasting friendships, insights into the local contexts and issues, a broadening of cultural understanding, sharing and learning from professional artists, and an immersive experience of the power of art to ask larger questions and shape society.
Why is Woodstock a great place to do this course?
Because of the Mountains! And because of Woodstock’s connections to the local community and culture. Although we are still finalizing the theme/topic/framework for the residency it will be connected to the idea of mountains. As soon as we have more clarity on this soon we will share the details.
What’s exciting about your course for students?
Students will experience a slice of life of the real world of professional art. Students will also experience the power and potential of art to affect change.
What will participants come away with at the end?
A realization that their creativity can make a difference in this world. The incredible experience of creating in community with a common purpose. An insight into the life of professional artists.
What would you say to prospective students?
If you love art and are considering a career as a professional artist, come experience it for two weeks. If you love art but are not considering a career, come and experience this course, you might just change your mind. If you love art and want to explore its significance in a world that is both beautiful and broken, join us!
Click here to find out all about Summer at Woodstock or register your interest using the form below.
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