The Maze Project is a Master Class designed for
individuals who are already familiar with off-loom bead weaving
techniques, and commit themselves to a year-long exploration of their own
creative voices using beadwork as their medium for making art.
The people who are drawn to a master class
experience usually fall into one of two categories. The first group
comprises individuals who are almost bursting with creative ideas and
looking for a setting in which to delve into the process of making art
using beads. The second group are less sure of themselves and usually less
compelled, but have developed a level of technical competence and are
tired of making work using someone else’s patterns or design suggestions.
I had been working on a weekly basis with a
group of talented women in the Chicago area over a period of several
years. As a former psychotherapist, I have always been interested in how
each individual makes sense of his or her own internal and external
worlds, and in turn expresses that view artistically. I watched these
women develop over time into fine artists with strong individual artistic
voices. This kind of artistic growth happens over time with repeated
experience in the dilemmas that face anyone who navigates their way
through the creative process. I wanted to extend this artistic option to
others outside of my home territory, and developed the Maze Project as a
way to provide a similar experience anywhere.
Being a participant in the Maze Project is a
commitment of time, intention, purpose, money, and energy. Each person
commits to a year of time and pays for the year in advance. I travel to
work with this group four times (about every three months) during the
year. They meet on their own for a weekend each month between my sessions
with them. Although I am not with the group for the monthly meetings, I
still provide the structure for them. We close the year with a retreat and
a gallery show of all the work produced by the Master Class during that
The Maze Project exhibits have been held in a
variety of venues, including:
Absolutely Beads in Bellevue, Washington.
The Bead Museum in Glendale, Arizona.
The La Jolla Fiber Arts Gallery, La Jolla, CA.
The Portland Oregon Master Class held two
“Beading Beyond Boundaries” at the Guardino
Gallery in Portland.
“Bead Artistry: A continuing Evolution” at
the Newport Visual Center’s Runyan Gallery.
Anchorage Alaska’s Maze Project exhibit was
held at the International Contemporary Art Gallery in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Northern California group exhibited at University of California in
Berkeley. The Chicago Maze Project had their exhibit in the Gallery at
McHenry Community College.
The most recent Master Class, The Vista Point
Artists, a group from Southern California, held their exhibit at the Art
Center of San Luis Obispo, CA, and the Museum for Contemporary Craft in
The major assignment is for each person to
design and create a piece or series of pieces that has internal
significance to that individual. I assign other smaller pieces each time I
meet with the group. All assignments are open-ended and conceptual in
nature, giving an outer structure for the participant to express their
artistic voice in an individual way. The purpose of the conceptual
assignments is to encourage an internal perspective. For instance, each
person knows what they think or feel about their beadwork while they are
working on the piece, so I ask them to make a piece that expresses what
their beadwork thinks, sees, or feels when the beadwork looks up at them.
We focus on the psychological concerns that arise in making art as well as
the group experience of making art together. The members get a lot of
practice moving through the “maze” of the creative process together, to
call upon when each person is on their own at home. They also keep a
journal, providing a place to sort out artistic impasses and thereby
creating a trail of their creative adventure.
The Maze Project is an ambitious concept and a
challenge for all of us involved. We do share a year of creative life
together, and it is an honor for me to facilitate and work with such
dedicated artistic individuals.