"tasks", and see what happens. To participate, you pull a task out of the task box, and replace it with a new one of your creation. Whatever task you pull, you must complete under your own interpretation. Tasks come in actions of creation, destruction, social interaction, slight humiliation and just about everything in between. Through the processes of play and creation, strangers became friends, art was created (and destroyed) and social and material boundaries were pushed to their limits.
Today, Task Parties are organized around the country for people of all ages and walks of life, and the education team at the Urban Arts Space decided to try our hand at TASKing.
A large part of working in gallery/museum education is the need for flexibility in our programming around the many other gallery departments and events happening in our shared space. For example, the space is currently in the middle of an install, meaning that the full open gallery space we originally anticipated using when we were planning our program months before was now filled with construction equipment, (very) loud noises, and many artists busy at work putting up their masterpieces. In addition to having less than half of the space anticipated, we were slapped by the ever-unpredictable Mother Nature who blessed us with an icy blizzard snowstorm, stopping many of the patrons that had RSVP'd from making the drive in.
So with less space and less participants, we had to make some modifications to the original plan. In just two hours we rewrote the lesson plan, all the tasks, and organized what little instruction space we had. To say we were nervous would be an understatement - actually I was pretty certain it was going to be a hot wild mess and that someone would leave in tears - but we braved the tasking storm that was about to come at us in the form of students ages 4-11 and their families.
To our surprise, and delight, it went very well. Like I often am at the end of instructing, I found myself amazed by the creative ability and critical thinking skills of my students. This time, I was just as impressed with the parents and guardians that stepped in to participate in their own tasks.
People created paper sculptures, made drawings from their wildest imaginations and modeled outfits and wigs they threw together on the spot. Kids transformed from students in to kings and queens and the adults stepped out of their roles as "mom and dad" and became robots, architects, time travelers and so much more. My co-teacher and I wore aluminum foil crowns, complete with the big, goofy smiles on our faces that came from all the inspiration happening around us.
I think this may only be the beginning of our TASKing careers at UAS, because if it went this well under the odd circumstances, I can only imagine the magic that would happen with a full crowd and full space.
To learn more about task parties and see images from around the world: