Collaborative art so cool

By Julie Phillips

One hundred blank journals, each cover designed by a local artist, each journal numbered, catalogued, put out into the community. Welcome to the City of Calgary’s 100 Journals Project.

“We invite people to contribute their stories, their drawings, writing, poetry, whatever they want and then pass them on in this collaborate art form,” says City of Calgary community cultural development program specialist Jody Williams.

In January, Williams bought 100 journals and arranged to have each cover designed uniquely and individually by local artists and high school art school students. Now that the covers are completely and the journals are numbered and catalogued, Williams’ next step is to distribute the journals around Calgary.

“It is a collaborative, collective art project that is sort of owned by everybody and owned by nobody in particular,” she says. “We’re launching it, we’re putting it out there into the little community that is Calgary, but what we’re hoping is that really it takes on a life of its own.”

Williams found inspiration in the 1000 journals project, started by “Someguy” in San Francisco in 2000. Though hoping to stay true to the spirit of the project, she decided 100 journals was a more feasible goal.

“It’s about looking at the fact that, in Calgary, we have really culturally rich, diverse communities with lots of different people from different parts of the world, different age sectors, from different walks of life and we love the idea of hearing from all of those different voices and everyone contributing to this one collective piece together,” Williams says.

She hopes the journals stay in Calgary as the city aims to gather all 100 books by June 30, 2009 and celebrate by preparing an exhibition.

“There’s this formula of bringing an arts-based activity into a community, to address a topic or a concern or social issue,” Williams explains. “The outcome [is the] chance that [it] happens in that community, but the celebration is the culmination of the project.”

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