The Global Contemporary

Sumi Ink Club

The Sumi Ink Club is an international collaborative project started by L.A.-based artists Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck.  The project is based in the ancient practice of sumi ink drawing that was developed out of the meditative practices of Zen Buddhism in Japan, China, and Korea.  Originally an individual practice, the Sumi Ink Club adapts this drawing style to a group activity wherein participants are invited to form their own local ‘clubs’ and produce group drawings together.  The organizers set up some basic guidelines for club meetings: anyone can participate, everyone works on the same drawing with the same materials, anyone can add to anyone’s drawing, the group decides when the piece is complete, all completed drawings are open domain—meaning that no one maintains any ownership rights to the finished product and all drawings can be used by anyone else (e.g. book/album covers, murals, posters, etc.).  Sumi Ink Club maintains a website (see link below) where groups can upload and share their drawings, connect with groups working elsewhere, and get information about how to organize a group.  The artists encourage people to use the drawing clubs as an occasion for other kinds of community activities and purposes.  So, the art making event is not only an end unto itself, but serves as a means for communication and dialogue among community members. So, we could think of this project in terms of an ideascape in the sense that an artistic practice rooted in a particular cultural tradition is being appropriated to new ends in new locations; the individual act of drawing becomes a community project.  Drawings that share in similar techniques and materials result are re-purposed for a wide variety of uses that extend beyond the location in which they are produced.

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