The Evolution of the Genius Fish

Guest Post by: Eleanor Justice

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What The Parliament is doing with the Pop-Up Gallery project is splendid! I’m tickled to be a part of it with my team's installation because creativity and collaboration are powerful forces for transformation and revitalization, and that’s right up my alley.

My original hope with this piece was to help transform a negative into a positive, to contribute to an environment that lifts people up. Like the quote by Desmond Tutu — “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good that overwhelm the world."

Whenever you pass a long-vacant retail space — especially in such a nifty town with tremendous potential — it’s a little depressing. Not just because of the implications it has about the economy, but also because of the wasted opportunity. The Pop-Up Gallery project addresses that directly by transforming those spaces into works of art.

My original installation design incorporated a substantial public collaboration element but things didn’t go exactly to plan. Before the holidays my team and I had planned to have "collaborative creation days” in January at Central Market, where people could come and create their own piece — a feather, a leaf or a scale — to be included in the final installation.

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We’d assemble those pieces in swooping curves that wrapped around the space, along with the a visual depiction of an Einstein quote I love that plants a seed in people’s minds about the importance of cognitive diversity. (We’ve all got our own way of doing things, and that’s good.)

Around New Years unexpected issues and other obstacles arose and had the side effect of obliterating the original/main public collaboration element of the project. But Team Awesome and I worked our butts off. After a whole lot of wiring and cutting and mache-ing and tulle-ing and glittering and tea, we succeeded in putting together a respectable interpretation of our original plan.

The night before installation my team and I arrived at the store-front to discover that the space was in the middle of being renovated! The building was being improved which is great, but in the meantime there was no light and there was drywall dust everywhere!

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After a minor freakout, some laughing and “emergency gelato" across the street at Esaan Thai, we came back in daylight with longer extension cords to reach the walls that still had power, and after a long day everything came together.

We even turned a problem into an asset when my friend Nixy had the genius idea to use a wet cloth to draw fish scales into the drywall dust, instead of spending ages on our knees in the cold trying to clean it off the dark wood.

I love things like that; when it’s possible to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. It’s one of my favorite kinds of genius!

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Interested in seeing Eleanor & Team Awesome's Pop-Up Gallery in person? Stop by 33 North Beaver Street in Downtown York to check it out!