In October 2013, while working as an individual artist on a new project funded by the Houston Arts Alliance, I stumbled upon a MOOC offered by Stanford University’s NovoEd platform, Practice Based Research in the Arts. Because I needed a deadline to motivate me toward completing this contracted project (in addition to being an artist, I am also a high-school teacher, a job that can threaten even the strongest’s reserves), I signed up to participate in the MOOC. There was only one prerequisite for participation: “practitioners” (students/artists) had to bring a creative project to focus on for the duration of the 10-week course. I brought What’s on [My] Mind?
The breaking-up the “massive” student body into teams of six (MOOC is an unfortunate acronym for Massive Open Online Course) set this MOOC apart from the others I’d taken in the past — that, and the fact that the majority of students in the course were/are practicing artists. My good fortune of becoming a member of team Blueberry Blintz catapulted me into a collaborative working-process, which continues to this day. Even though the MOOC has officially ended, our team continues to collaborate, communicate and share our processes and projects on a regular basis. The synergy of our teamwork keeps revealing possibilities for performance that, had I continued working independently, I would have not seen: for example, the transmedia nature of What’s on [My] Mind?
My team members impress me deeply with their energy, their talents, and their commitment to contributing value to the world. Besides me, Blueberry Blintz includes
- Vanessa Blaylock, based in the Hague, the Netherlands
- Michael Masucci, based in Santa Monica, California
- Molly Ross, based in Key West, Florida
- Rebecca Longworth, based in San Francisco, California
- Katrina Schaag, based in Madison, Wisconsin
As our team leader, Vanessa Blaylock, a digital public artist and goddess of cybernetic grace, created a suite of websites — Practice Based.Re/ — to enable us to remain delightedly entangled with one another and to help us invite even more artists into our process and projects.