Once a year, Portland’s Art Museum is temporarily transformed, thanks to a collaboration between the museum and the Art & Social Practice course at Portland State University. Shine a Light becomes a stage for events take place all over the museum – special performances, installations, tours, workshops, and games.

The idea is to get visitors thinking about the way they interact with art. What’s important to point out here is that Art & Social Practice is focused on types of art which engage people in the creation process. So when they are invited to take over a museum for a day, the museum experience becomes re-focused on opening up the possibilities of what can happen in a museum, creating new ways for visitors to consume art and also actively being a part of creating art.

Each intervention provides a format for social exchange, with the orchestrators defining just how much authorship is shared with visitors. What you get are lots of formats for bringing people together – lovely, celebratory, strange, intimate, and inspired – visitors decide to do a little or a lot.

Shine a Light pushes hard against standard museum behaviour protocol. Visitors are typically invited to consume art, not engage to the extent of being co-authors as art happens. Its thrilling to extend that opportunity to the thousands of people walking through the door during these events.

What makes the whole experience feel truly communal is that photographic documentation is encouraged throughout.

This is pushed further by Molly Sherman’s project, The Visitors Exhibition Catalogue, which recruits museum goers to collectively produce the 2011 Shine A Light catalogue over the course of the evening.

Volunteer visitors were given assignments (and nifty reporters booklets!) to document specific events and installations with the responsibility of reporting back and handing in written, drawn or photographic representations. The final publication was produced on the spot in collaboration with the versatile Publication Studio.

So much activity and so much to mention…

Museum Cookbook
Hunting through the museum, pick up art-inspired recipes by popular Portland chefs. What a nice way to mix taste buds and other local talents into the consumption of art. Seen above: Braised Shortribs recipe, inspired by Charrette de Boeuf by Vincent Van Gogh and Apple Crumble Pie Holes recipe by Pie Spot. Organised by Lexa Walsh & Crystal Baxley with Jillian Punska.

Food cART
Taste a few of those recipes prepared by excellent food carts outside. Seen above: Plum, pear, fig and blue cheese fougasse by Tastebud, inspired by Childe Hassam’s Oregon Still Life and malt beer by Captured By Porches Brewing, inspired by Rick Bartow’s Ursa Major. Organised by Lexa Walsh & Crystal Baxley with Jillian Punska.

Museum Visitor
An empty platform with a special label lets guests pose next to Duane Hanson’s uncanny life-like sculpture, “The Dishwasher”. Organised by Molly Sherman.

Wish You Were Here
DIY souvenir – take a photo of yourself next to your favourite work of art in the museum and have it turned into a postcard on the spot. Organised by Crystal Baxley.

Art is Forever
Get a tattoo inspired by artwork in the Museum collection. Choose from a selection of prepared tattoo designs by local illustrators. Seen above: Tattoo design by Adam R. Garcia, inspired by Robert Colescott’s “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”, and design by Kate Bingaman-Burt, inspired by Kenny Scarf’s “TV Rama” (tattooed onto herself!). Tattooing sessions ran from 10am – midnight and were FREE! Not ready to commit? Temporary tattoos were also available… Organised by Jason Sturgill. Photo credits: Jason Sturgill & Kate Bingaman-Burt.

Art As Experience. Guaranteed.
This installation officially certifies visitor experience as works of art. An on-site notary performs the certification. It’s a nod to Art & Social Practice and also acknowledges that visitor interpretation contributes significantly to make up a complete art experience. Organised by Ariana Jacob.

Shine a Light took place on October 14, 2011 from 10am – midnight. The soundtrack? Portland Art Museum’s very own radio station, WPAM, accepting requests and dedications all day, for one day only.

Title photo credit: Oregonian

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