“What’s Inside Your Head?” Collaboration with Philadelphia
Every year, graphic designer Ruud van Eijk spends his free time working on at least one art project of his own, a self-initiated project without any clients or deadlines. Every year it has to be a creative collaboration. Ruud: “This year I’ve chosen for a collab with a larger group. My neighbour, who works at Philadelphia, introduced me to this group of 19 children & adults with a mental disability. Within this special group, a lot of creative talent is blooming. I’ve come to see them as true artists and that’s why I also call them “artists”. For this project I thought it would be interesting to blend the unique styles of these artists into one work of art. By nature, this group is really pure and sincere, so collaborating with them was an amazing experience. It’s not an everyday collaboration and at first I didn’t quite know what the final result would be.
“To prevent my art project from starting too broadly, I first decided to define a theme. While walking my dog down the streets of Amsterdam, I decided to grab a coffee. There, I stumbled across the flyer of the Rijksstudio Award. Since my collaborative project had already been set in motion, I thought this would be a perfect fit. Connecting my collaborative project to an art piece from the Rijksmuseum, how interesting!” The result of this project has been inspired by the painting “Jakob’s dream” from the Rijksmuseum. “During a journey, Jakob falls asleep against a stone. He dreams about a staircase, reaching up high into the heavens, used by angels to ascend and descend.” “Dreams can be abstract or very clear,” says Ruud, “but dreams can also be described and visualised. This perspective matched perfectly with the collaborative project, and that’s what you will see in the final result. We connected the dreams, wishes & memories of the artists and the sleeping Jakob from the print.”
The group made a so-called triptych, a painting consisting of 3 separate panels of 1 meter wide and 1,5 meter high each. On the first (left) panel, the writings of the participating artists are shown. They all wrote down their dreams assisted by Ruud. The second and third panels were digitally assembled by Ruud. The second (middle) panel combines the painting of “Jakob’s dream” with the writings & drawings of the artists. The third (right) panel shows the visual translations of the artists mentioned on the first panel. All participating artists visualised their dreams. “We now live in a digital era, where we no longer see handwritings as often as we used to. Apart from the drawing skills of the collaborating artists, I was also very interested in their personal handwritings. A few of the artists couldn’t write, so instead they chose their favorite typeface so I could still include their texts on the print,” Ruud adds. “Every artist of this project has his or her own story and makes his or her own contribution.”
“My priority was to focus on a fun and inspiring time with the artists during the process, while still delivering a beautiful result. In my opinion, all the work of this group of artists should be taken very seriously. Participating in something as the Rijksstudio Award is a great way to help showcase them. Last November, ‘Het Parool’ (Amsterdam) wrote an article on our project. ‘Het Contact’ (Someren) also wrote an article. From december 2017 to february 2018, Museum Dolhuys (Haarlem) exhibited our triptych. In march 2018, the project will be exhibited at Theater de Omval in Diemen (Amsterdam). We were pleasantly surprised by the exposure we have enjoyed since it had added something invaluable to the overall experience of the participants: recognition. A great memory that ties in with the theme of this project.”