Collabortory is creative platform in Memphis, Tennessee that offers an alternative method to publicly and privately funded Percent-for-Art programs in which the site, budget, and a preference of medium are predetermined prior to including artists in the commissioning process. Within this framework, artists are often seen as an “add on” rather then an integral component to the development and/or reanimation of our built environment.
Collabortory is inspired by collaborative practices that embrace diversity and the scientific method of exploring, observation, hypothesizing, and testing to define a new path for producing public art that is thoughtful, relevant, and impactful that not only propels a community forward but the field of public art. Collabortory utilizes Participatory Action Research to bring creative research to the forefront of the commissioning process to give artists a better insight to the needs and wants of a site, neighborhood and/or community prior to conceptualizing and proposing a piece of artwork.
Collabortory nomadically conducts extended periods of artist led paid collaborative creative research in Surveys of various neighborhoods, sites and/or topics.
Collabortory strives to;
Create a framework where artistic methodologies and practices are no longer marginalized in conversations of reanimating or defining the physical, social or cultural spaces of their cities
Build a network of civically-minded artists that capitalizes on diverse interests, insights, and working methodologies to obtain a diverse and detailed understanding of the sites and/or neighborhoods examined by a Collabortory: Survey
Create an environment where artists can collectively develop and share information during the research and development phase of developing public art projects
Open a door for other mediums, methods, and approaches to public art and social practices to be funded and shared with the Memphis community
Set an emphasis on fair wage compensation for artists during all phases of the commissioning process
Help create an artist community that is less competitive and collectively shares and celebrates the cultural developments of their city
Collabortory was founded in 2014 by artist and cultural producer Cat Peña in Memphis, TN. Since 2004, Peña has cultivated her interest and understanding of the multifaceted field of pubic art and social practices by assuming the role of public artist, fabricator, installer, project manager, educator, fundraiser, grant writer, community organizer, consultant, mentor, collaborator, and facilitator. It is from her work in the private, non-profit and public sectors that Peña recognized the need for public art programing that sets a higher value (both conceptually and financially) on the working methodologies of artists and create an opportunity to embrace and educate the general public on how art can foster, expand, and improve cultural exchanges that occur in our shared spaces.
— Survey 1: the EDGE District (2015-16)
In the first survey of Collabortory, eight local artists will conduct a yearlong, artist run, intensive investigation of the EDGE District, an often-overlooked quadrant between Midtown and Downtown Memphis Tennessee. This artist led, neighborhood supported artistic investigation will create thought provoking and site specific artwork that will add aesthetic vibrancy to the neighborhood and draw people to the area.
Funding for this project is generously supported by the Downtown Memphis Commission and part of their efforts to redevelop this neighborhood.
— Survey 2: the Boundaries of Normal (2016-17)
Survey 2 seeks to collaboratively research and investigate the historical, physical, physiological, and anthropological characteristics of the historical neighborhood of Normal Station in Memphis, TN. The culmination of this project will result in 4 temporary neighborhood interventions that will be exhibited this Spring of 2017 in the Art Museum of the University of Memphis.
— Survey 3: Our Common Home (2017)
Survey 3 will focus on exploring themes addressed in Pope Francis' recent encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care of Our Common Home and how they might be applied to issues of sustainability and communality on the campus of Christian Brothers University. Students will be emersed into Collabortory's process and assume the role of a researcher, collaborator, problem solver, and experimenter during the semester.