Although week two of our Community Studio program was altered due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts, we carried on despite these changes and held our second Drawing and Sculpture Studios in our newly renovated Barn Studio at the Empower Youth Ranch. Our Community Studios offer a dedicated time and place for creativity, inviting participants to broaden their definition of art and follow new pathways of thinking and making.


Community Studio: Drawing / Monday, July 24th


We began the morning of the 24th, by considering our roles as artists as akin to that of the “explorer.” We decided that for the day we would become explorers of the Empower Youth Ranch, using map-making as a way of better understanding our site.

We started off by writing about and discussing the following questions:

  1.     How can a map be a drawing?
  2.     Where does one find lines in a map?
  3.     What kinds of lines can we find on the ranch?
  4.     How does one make a map?

Then we looked at the following artists and discussed how their works engage with the idea and process of map-making: Nina KatchadourianBarrett LyonGrayson PerryRirkrit Tiravanija, and The Situationist International.

Following the lead of The Situationist International, we conducted our own dérive on the ranch.

The dérive is explained here:

One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.

Read more.

Upon the completion of our dérives, we returned to the Barn Studio where we made maps to represent our individual experiences and discussed our thoughts about them.

We have taken up the dérive as a regular practice towards understanding the ranch and how we each relate to it. One wall in the Barn Studio is now dedicated to the display of our dérive maps. Together the maps reflect a constellation of experiences on the ranch, revealing its complexity and vitality. Here is a portion of that wall as it looks currently:

Our second project during last week’s Community Studio: Drawing involved the deconstructing and re-imagining of ready-made maps. The artists were provided with an assortment of maps of varying scales, including maps of Bethel, Clermont County, the United States, and even the world. There were maps of roadways, rivers, soil and more. The artists selected the maps they wanted to use and then, inspired by Nina Katchadourian (above), proceeded to “re-map” them, deconstructing and re-assembling them into something new.

The finished works will be shown at an exhibition at the Empower Youth Ranch this fall. Stay tuned for details!


Community Studio: Sculpture / Wednesday, July 26th


We began the morning of the 26th by considering the value of “restriction” in creativity. We watched a clip from an interview with Jack White of the band The White Stripes, in which he discusses his ideas on the subject.

Then we announced the day’s project: in order to better understand the ranch we would make videos featuring only one “material” and one “action.” To brainstorm, we looked at a few artists.

We looked to Richard Serra as an example of how “action” plays a part in making sculpture. Each artist received a copy of Serra’s 1967-68 “Verb List”

Here is artist Emma in the Barn Studio with her copy:

After considering the “action” part of the project, we started thinking about the second element: the “raw material.”

We looked at photos of Robert Smithson‘s “Non-Sites” and thought about his material choices and what might define them as “raw.”

We also viewed a clip from the documentary, Rivers and Tides, about Andy Goldsworthy‘s work:


Then we got to work. We made lists of materials that we might find on the ranch that could be defended as “raw.” The list included but was not limited to: wood, metal, dirt, rocks, plants (leaves, branches, bark, etc.), water, ice, and paper.

The artists walked around the ranch to begin brainstorming and then returned to the Barn Studio to sketch out ideas in their journals. From this process, each artist decided their “actions” and their “materials,” as well as the site where the video of this performance would take place.

Finally it was time to take action! As a group we toured the sites around the ranch that each artist had chosen and witnessed their action+material performances. Each performance was documented with a flip camera.

Some of the works included:

rubber + to roll

sticks/grass + to weave/to drop

feathers/mud + to stick/to poke

wooden boards + to lean


The artists learned that restriction is a difficult concept to implement within the creative process but that it pays off big time.

We are currently editing these videos and plan to premiere them at an exhibition at the Empower Youth Ranch this fall. Stay tuned!


Posted by:SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing

SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing was a process of serial socially engaged research facilitated by artists Francesca Fiore and Hillary Wagner in collaboration with the rural community of Bethel in Appalachian Ohio. From 2017 to 2019 SOIL SERIES took many forms including conversations, public programs, projects, and collective imagining. A drawing in the most expansive sense, SOIL SERIES was an exercise in relational mark-making. By creating the conditions for new conversations and possibilities around artmaking, the public, and social imagination, SOIL SERIES proposed social drawing as the generative engine for community-initiated action.

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