This month we are excited to feature our Board Chair, Christopher Platt! Get to know Christopher with his answers to our questions below.
1. What is your connection to the arts? Are you an artist yourself or do you have a particular interest in the arts?
Like many of us I grew up in a creative family, my mother is an artist who used her talents not just as a creative outlet but at times to supplement family income. From her I learned to appreciate the creative drive as well as the many, many hours of diligent planning and execution that goes into any work of art. In this sense respecting the act of creating is as important to me as the finished work. In my profession as a librarian, I have come to appreciate the many ways arts and literature intersect (opera, drama, handwritten manuscripts) and how they echo each other in the aspects of drive and creation–reading a terrific book I often find myself wondering what motivated the author to write it and what was the process they used. I continue to see this in my daily life, married to a potter with a kitchen full of handmade plates, bowls and mugs as well as a house full of art created by friends, family and neighbors from around the world. These aren’t just decorations, they’re individual slices of life that bring happy memories and comfort.
2. What is your favorite art medium and why is it your favorite?
It’s hard to pick a favorite. I love stained glass, especially in large scale windows that illuminate not just the work itself, but extend the work via the light that filters through it to color the entire room. If you have the privilege of standing in front of the East Window of York Minster in York, England - some of the oldest stained glass in the world - the sounds and smells and visuals you experience will be very different than when it was created 600 years ago, but the colored light hitting your eyes will be exactly the same as when it was first installed which to me is powerful and humbling. I’ll also give a shout out to paper collage which is to me like visual jazz–taking standard pre-existing works and cutting & reassembling them in a new riff to tell a different story.
3. If you could learn any arts medium, what would it be? Why?
Fine metal working. My husband is a potter who made most of our plates and bowls, it would be cool to make the forks, spoons and knives too. Also I lost my wedding ring years ago and it would be cool to design and make a new set ourselves.
4. What is your favorite part of your role as a MAC Board Member?
I thrive off of experiences in which I learn as much as I contribute so I genuinely enjoy working alongside my fellow MAC Board Members and the MAC staff because I always learn a new idea, approach or perspective on supporting the arts for all Mono County communities. Everyone on this Board understands that art isn’t just something you buy and put on a shelf, it’s a process that has demonstrated impacts on student achievement and social-emotional learning in young people, promotes mental wellness, fosters community, and brings unexpected delight. I also have to say I’ve enjoyed volunteering in the Gallery from time to time, helping new people become acquainted with the immense variety of local artists the Eastern Sierra has to offer.
5. Why do you think the arts are so important right now?
I’ll mention just two of many many reasons why art is so important right now. The first I’ve already alluded to. Libraries started creating makerspaces a number of years ago to help support the development of STEM skills - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math as industries demanded those skills in new workers. Some of this was to supplement what children were learning in schools and some of it was to help adults adopt new skills in a changing workforce. Very quickly we learned that Art was a missing key and STEM became STEAM. That process from inspiration to diligent design & trial & error to creation of the finished work, often in a teamwork environment, builds skills and critical thinking that people need to have today and can be applied across mediums. As I like to say, a student learning to code a series of steps and commands in a computer to create an animated video, can then come to a makerspace, pick up a pair of needles and yarn, and code a series of steps and commands to create an intricately designed scarf, it’s just in 3 dimensions and doesn’t need to be plugged in.
The second reason is that creating art can build community. If you come to one of MAC’s public workshops such as Art & Wine, Mosaics, or drop in Knitting, you don’t have to know or care about other attendees’ political views, religious upbringings, or how nice their car is. Instead you can bond over shared learning and appreciating new skills and finished works of art. How magical is that? We look forward to seeing many of you in our workshops and at the Gallery and welcome your support as we grow MAC to sustain these programs and more in years to come.