Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stress Ball/Art Unbound:Urbanature

I, Forrest Gard, would like to welcome you to Gard Studios. Since I am new to blogging and since this blog is new the first couple of posts might be a little lenghty or wordy. I guess my way of bringing this blog up to speed is to slightly overstate things early on.

Last Friday (February 3rd) was the opening to Art Unbound:Urbanature. This exhibition is a University-wide art show (LSU). It is locate at Foster Gallery and is currently open through February 17th. This exhibition was juried and partnered with LSU Press. For information on the jurors, the exhibition, and LSU Press - you can check out LSU Press's blog about the show by clicking here.

The piece that I have in the exhibition is titled "Stress Ball". This is an interactive installation which requires audience participation to complete the piece. Displayed in the gallery is a table with unfired porcelain (clay) balls/spheres. Also on the table there are colored pencils. On the wall directly behind the table are instructions. The audience participant is instructed to select a ball and write (or draw) something that is stressing them out. This can be small or big I gave a few examples- spilling coffee on your pants, failing a chemistry test, or perhaps a death in the family. Either way I wanted people to be honest and sincere with what they write. I have a problem of bottling things up and this is an excellent way to empty that bottle. The next step is to anonymously share what you wrote. This is easy I left my phone number and email address and the participant could use their phone to take a picture of the ball and send it to me. As the photos come to me I have been printing and adding them to the gallery wall. Some people opened up and shared more personal information than others. The last step was to "Think about what you wrote really hard and take a couple of deep breaths. Walk outside and throw the ball against the wall".

I was interviewed by a reported for The Daily Reveille (LSU newspaper). The article has excellent coverage on "Stress Ball" and should be looked at!
I must confess I was the first participant. Here is my ball (not anonymous).The balls were different sizes and some were textured while others were plain. My intention was the people could chose a ball that reflected their stress. Since I was stressed about making and installing my installation and there were lots of steps and stages to that I felt a need to use the textured ball.
Here are some examples of what people wrote.

This one is very powerful. It stood out over all the others not just because of what is written on the ball but because it was the only photo that was texted to me with a message. This person sent me a message that said "thanks I have not been able to say it out loud".

I am allowing people to anonymously share what they wrote but I was unaware that some participants would fully use this to their advantage. I think this person needed this piece and it needed them.Lets pray that this person finds their faith again.

I was very happy about the acceptance my piece received at the reception. I had around 75 balls and they were all gone at the end of the evening. Everyone I talked to had lots of positive feedback and opinions about this piece. I asked people to make small donations for the larger balls and at the end of the night I had $72.24 in donations to help cover material cost and some.

I hope you liked this post and "Stress Ball"! Think about this piece and think about what you would write if you were participating. You can always write it out on paper and set fire to it (safe and controlled of course) or just tear it up and toss it out. Let it out!


  1. I think that you are amazing Forrest!

  2. Amazing! wish I could have been there to smash one!

  3. Cool concept! talk about art therapy! :)

  4. Forrest this is great. I love the article that the LSU paper wrote. Keep up the creativity.