Ceramics grad student organizes Art Block April 5

The beginning of Greenroom
The beginning of Greenroom

Ceramics grad student organizes Art Block April 5

calendar icon28 Mar 2013    

Sam Berner
Sam Berner

Sam Berner, a third-year ceramics graduate student in the Department of Art and Art History, began his plans with a site-oriented sculptural space called “Greenroom.” The project has since grown exponentially to Art Block, a special First Friday art event that he calls “a giant interactive art event.”

Art Block will take place from 5-10 p.m. on Friday, April 5 at the Lux Center for the Arts at 48th and Baldwin in Lincoln. The free event, sponsored by First National Bank and organized by Berner, will feature Berner’s interactive installation, “Greenroom,” along with performance art, poetry readings, a puppet show, a yarn bombing and a coloring station for kids. Local food trucks will also sell food during the event.

“This is going to be one of my favorite things that I’ve ever been a part of,” Berner said. “It will be beneficial to everyone.”

He looks forward to a gathering of creative thinkers.

“I like surrounding myself with creative thinkers because they’re always thinking of something that you haven’t thought of,” Berner said. “That helps me grow as well. Creative thinkers are always busy, and they’re never satisfied. They want to do it better or find something new.”

But no art experience is required to participate in Art Block.

“I want people to just make stuff, whether or not they think it’s good. It doesn’t matter,” Berner said. “It’s about getting that shared experience and then discussing it. The discussion and the community and the appreciation of it is the beautiful part of art. Art can be beautiful, and it can be precious. But what’s really precious is the present and what we have with each other. That’s what I want people to get out of Art Block.”

Artistic Offerings
Diagram of the Art Block
Inside the Lux Center for the Arts, Berner has curated a coloring book.

“I’m going to blow up a few of the images, so I can put them up on the wall, and people can color on the wall as well,” he said.

Outside, will be Berner’s “Greenroom.” Created with support from a Hixson-Lied Endowment grant, the piece is 8’ x 8’ x 8’. Outside the structure will be 1,000 pounds of clay that people can either push onto the outside wall or use to create figurines. Inside the piece, is a 30’ x 5’ painting that also includes smaller magnetic paintings that people can move around.

“Initially, it’s sort of a seed piece. I wanted to spur community involvement,” Berner said. “It has done exactly what I wanted it to do because from this, we have exploded into Art Block.”

Another part of Art Block will be a 20’ x 20’ Tyvek mat, which people can paint. Berner also plans to have cardboard pieces available so people can make props and create their own improvisational works on the painted floor.

In addition, 8-10 performance stages will be created for puppet shows and musicians to perform.
Support from Friends

Carlos Guerrero, Director of Community Involvement at the Lux Center for the Arts said the event has two main goals.

“We want to put on an awesome event for the community, and we want to use it as a way to draw in more people to experience the Lux,” Guerrero said.

He said Berner’s passion is what drew them to the project.

“’Greenroom’ is where he started, but when we opened it up to a larger event, he was game,” Guerrero said. “I think it even fit his vision more. He has been on top of everything from the very beginning and has shown a high level of integrity and professionalism.”

Berner said a visiting artist to the Department of Art and Art History two years ago, Cliff Benjamin, the co-curator and co-owner of Western Project Art in Los Angeles, gave him some good advice that he has used in organizing Art Block.

“Cliff Benjamin told me, ‘Energy attracts energy,’” Berner said. “Stay energetic, and things will start working out, and that’s exactly what I do.”

Berner has enlisted about 35 undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Art and Art History to help with Art Block.

“This is their project as much as it is mine,” he said. “Art Block is for everyone, and that’s really my point.”

Power of Connections

Art Block fits in perfectly to First Friday, Berner said.

“All of these connections I’ve made have been because of that [art] community and going out to First Friday, which I consider a monthly holiday for the artists,” Berner said. “We get to go and see all of our friends and see what they’re putting up and really celebrate. And then the next day, we wake up and go back to work.”

He looks forward to seeing what people create during Art Block.

“I really like meeting people, and I love learning,” he said. “I learn best from interactions with other people, more than any other way, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. I’m excited to see other people working, so I’ll learn from people who don’t know how to work with these materials or have never worked with them. It really ends up benefiting me, because I’m able to grow from seeing all these other people work.”

Berner is eager to see Art Block come to life.

“That’s what Art Block is—a soupy, creative aura all in Art Block,” he said. “I can’t wait.”

Continuation of "Greenroom"

Sam Berner’s MFA Thesis Exhibition, titled “Your turn,” will be on display April 15-19 in the Eisentrager-Howard Gallery in Richards Hall. A closing reception will be held Friday, April 19 from 5-7 p.m. in the Gallery. “Greenroom” will be included in the exhibition (minus the clay outside the structure).

Photo of a large colorful piece of artwork
The beginning of Greenroom