Monday, May 30, 2011

Dwelling on Dwellings

Action-packed, mind-expanding, exhausting... that's what the weekend has been. It was Artposium time again!

I've gushed effusively about Colorado Art Ranch more than once on this blog, but if you've somehow missed my flag-waving I encourage you to check out their website and think hard about coming to their next event. (Yes, I realize not everyone lives in Colorado, but that's really no excuse.) This weekend's theme was "Dwellings: Habitat, Symbol, and Art," and featured speakers and workshops in fields from anthropology and architecture to photography and poetry. Check out this lineup:

Danny Wicke of The Rural Studio.
  • Architect Danny Wicke wowed us with the work of Rural Studio, which is designing artistic and environmentally responsible “shelters for the soul” for the impoverished residents of Hale County, Alabama. Check out his current project, “The $20,000 House.”
  • Christina Kreps, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Denver University, shared images and interpretations of the traditional architecture of Nias, Indonesia.
  • Leigh Davis, Brooklyn- and Washington DC-based artist, shared her photography that documents how people adapt generic living spaces, such as self storage units and YWCA rooms, in response to radically changing economic conditions. 
  • Craig Nielson, a Salida, Colorado designer and green builder, discussed the need for portable shelter for people displaced by war and natural disasters and demonstrated the ShelterCart, a low-cost solution for humanitarian relief.
  • BK Loren, an award-winning Colorado author, led two writing classes: “Dwelling in Words: Finding Your Place in Writing” and “Nomad's Land: The Internal Sense of Home.”
  • Sandra Dorr, a Grand Junction author of poetry, essays, and short stories, led the writing session “Ancestors, Visions & Dwellings.”
  • Dean Dablow, Professor Emeritus of Photography at Louisiana Tech University, directed two photography classes: “The Space Between Us”
And speaking of the space between, our local River City Nomads provided poetry readings between presentations. Who was that dashing musician accompanying them, I wonder?

The general consensus among those attendees who have somehow managed to communicate post-event is that our brains are fried in the best possible way. Yeah. I love these things.

Local poets make good: Craig Nielson, Barbara Ford, Peter Anderson,
Laurie James, Linda LaRocco. Musician David Tipton ain't bad, either.

Here's Craig again, demonstrating the ShelterCart. We know he's carrying a heavy
load because some one we know is riding in the back.
Hey! That's me!


  1. "ShelterCart, a low-cost solution for humanitarian relief"
    Since when did $5000 for a space for one/two sleepers become low cost? How can this be considered a dwelling?

    Sure, you might be able to haul a heavy load - from their video it looks like you have to be young, trim & white to do that.

    Rural Studio looks like another white folks solution to (black) impoverished residents.

    Where are the people these are supposed to be helping in the design and construction process?

  2. Anonymous, I'm sorry that you weren't at the Artposium to participate in the discussions that followed the presentations. Your questions and more were posed, and although I can't speak with any authority for either program or product, I can say that I learned the ShelterCart is a prototype, is acknowledged to be too expensive, and that the next steps for it include field testing.

    As for Rural Studio, I understood the point of the $20k house project to be developing home designs that could be offered by local contractors, built by local labor, sourced with local materials, meet the needs of local residents and be afforded by local residents.

    Perfect solutions to challenges here and around the world? No. But I find it entirely worth my time to meet people who are actively wrestling with the questions.


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