“I Want to Teach the Whole World to Draw….moss.”
I Want to Teach the Whole World to Draw is a mobile drawing project created by artist, Marion Wilson, using a renovated RV (known as MLAB) as her drawing studio and botany lab starting at Art Basel, Miami 2016 and ending in Portland, Oregon. The Mobile Literacy Art Bus (MLAB) will be re-fashioned as a combined moss lab/drawing studio/looking station as it travels from site to site creating an artistic archive and knowledge bank of native moss. This project celebrates attentiveness to place, smallness, and indigenous ways knowing which Wilson believes is both ecological and spiritual; scientific and artistic.
The Stops and what they tell us:
MLAB/MossLab will follow an exquisite and diverse moss trail that Dr. Robin Kimmerer, expert bryologist, and professor at SUNY-ESF has helped to determine. As the local and native moss species are collected and archived Wilson and participants will use microscopes to draw in three scales; real size, dissection and cellular. At each stop Wilson will hold public drawing sessions that include an innovative art lesson. Drawings created and collected will then be sent to a 3-d printer to create a sculptural archive, which Wilson views as a contemporary technological version of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka glass models.
I Want to Teach the Whole World to Draw is founded on the belief and conviction that arts and arts education should be distributed equally and not allocated according to race and class as currently displayed in the American school system. MLAB will work in partnership with the National Headquarters of the I Have a Dream Foundation whose mission "Is for all children to have an opportunity to earn a college degree and fully capitalize on their talents, aspirations, and dreams of fulfilling careers and productive global citizenship.”
MLAB/MossLab functions as mobile signage that points directly to the discrepancy of access by traveling to the poorest districts along the route – all the way MLAB will provide a rich and interdisciplinary arts curriculum that links art and design to science and technology.
MLAB to Moss/Lab
In 2008, with a group of nine student collaborators from Syracuse University, Wilson purchased, re-designed and renovated a 1984 American Eagle RV. The RV interior was gutted and re-furbished with Stickley scrap wood, porcelain coated steel walls, and cushions that serve as dual purpose drawing boards. MLAB travelled locally in CNY for three years providing art and creative writing enrichment to 13 local schools; was curated as an Open Institute for participatory art at Stefan Stoyanov gallery in NYC; and was a collecting site for Mel Chin's Fundred Dollar Bill project.
Why Moss and Drawing?
The transformation of MLAB to a botany lab and drawing studio, specifically for the artistic study of bryophytes is significant environmentally, scientifically and metaphorically. Wilson links art, science and technology and uses science to talk about human activities. Mosses are the first form of plant life; they live in the boundary layer of the Earth and in microenvironments. As non-vascular plants they teach us about hydration, reproduction, photosynthesis. Equally important; moss is about looking. Wilson uses the study of moss to increase our ability to see. The study and observation of moss is the perfect compliment to observational drawing and to drawing exercises that Wilson has used in many public formats to increase individual and public perception. Studying moss is about paying attention to what is small, omnipresent and profoundly overlooked.
Drawing is a universal language. Drawing was the first language humans used to communicate and it is still used widely as a form of communication despite and within new technologies. Drawing is a language used across disciplines to understand form in space - including art and design, the sciences through classification, engineering, mathematics (longitude and latitude in the form of a line) and the humanities (timelines and poetry). Drawing increases our ability to see and enlarges our perceptions of the universe.
Creating the Archive:
In 2010 Wilson inherited the entire painting collection of art slides from Syracuse University’s slide library (approximately 10,000 slides). Since that time through painting and drawing she has been recycling the artifacts of the collection (glass, slide dividers, photographic images) with her own images of post-industrial landscapes and indigenous or endangered plants.
This project emphasizes a STE(A)M approach to learning - in that art operates at the intersection of science, technology and math and includes classification, divergent thinking skills, communicating ideas and problem solving – through drawing and sketching; model making, species collecting and identification.