By Michael Nunes
The Brown Bag Series on Friday, March 22 welcomed artist Caroline Woolard to give a special, multifaceted presentation on topics ranging from public art to different kinds of economies.
Woolard’s work has been displayed in numerous exhibits, including the gallery at University of Massachusetts Amherst as well as an upcoming display at The Queens Museum of Art next year.
As a graduate of Cooper Union, Woolard is known for her modifications to public space.
When in New York City, she engineered public seating around the city to give people a place to rest.
She is also known for her creation of a special backpack that, when used on a subway, could be attached to an overhang, creating a swing for the user.
Woolard’s inspiration for these pieces comes from “thinking of public spaces as something I could be responsible for,” she said.
She is also responsible for co-founding an alternative education program, known as Trade School. These schools are taught by students who teach their peers anything from making butter to beginning Spanish.
In exchange, these students have to agree to bring in any item that the class instructor tells them.
Since their 2009 start in New York, these schools have spread all over the world, from Rio to Singapore.
“A lot of the organizers of Trade School went to Cooper Union, which has no tuition so that changed our idea about education a lot,” Woolard said.
She is also known for helping to start Ourgoods.org, a website dedicated to helping creative individuals find supplies for their work, or even sell their pieces. However, these items are not given a monetary value.
Instead, Ourgoods.org runs on a barter system, where its plausible to exchange French lessons for a freshly bakes pie.
“Artists are in control of their labor in a way other workers aren’t,” Woolard said. “If they trade with other artists, they could desire that they want to value it based on how long it took to make, or how it hard it was or how much wisdom is embodied in their work. It becomes much more open ended and about reciprocity than about self-interest and accumulation.”
Woolard’s piece “Work Dress” is currently on display at the College as part of its Value Added exhibit. It will be viewable in the TCNJ Art Gallery until April 18.
“I am very interested, personally interested, in community based things and have been suffering from thinking of ideas on how to go about executing that idea, so it was refreshing to see something so successful,” said Bryan Borut, senior art education major.