New Web site seeks to inspire local artists and cure ‘creative block’

October 5, 2009
Red and Black

New Web site seeks to inspire local artists and cure ‘creative block’
By Matt Evans
link to original article

Under lamp light, a composer slumps over a piano, unable to hear the notes that would form her next concerto, her eyes staring at blank sheet music. Not far away, a director looks ant-like next to the mountain of wadded paper that surrounds a wastebasket, all corpses of sentences intended to script her next short film. Just around the corner, an artist splatters paint against the canvas she hopes will house her next masterpiece, but instead she sinks to her knees after her mind only draws blanks. The ebb and flow of artistic inspiration has left many artists frustrated during times of creative block, wondering why nothing in the world seems inspiring.

Rather than fall victim to such artistic block, three University graduate students have recently created an organization that brings local artists together in hopes of collaborative inspiration. The group’s Web site, Extraordinaryathens, officially launched on Sept. 15 after the administrators, Ji Eun Moon, Hunter Parker and Marie Porterfield, spent hours upon hours developing the site. The site functions in two ways: members of the Athens community first visit the site and upload a short profile of an Athens local that they find extraordinary; after an extraordinary person has been profiled, local artists can pick one of the stories and develop it into a piece of art, which is to be posted on the site after it is completed. Parker says that the main motive in creating the site was “to inspire people while making them proud to be from Athens.”

Thus far, the Web site has only hosted the stories and art of the administrators, but they hope to soon feature other local artist’s work.

“We don’t want the stories to just come from us,” Parker said. “We want them to come from people in Athens,” which has caused the group to explore the meaning of the word extraordinary. Both Moon and Parker are hesitant to specifically claim that certain types of people are extraordinary, but Parker did say that “the people we are looking for aren’t people who would seek out recognition, and they would never label themselves as extraordinary.”

Rather, the profiled person’s actions are supposed to be naturally extraordinary, resulting in an accurate portrayal of the Athens community. Parker hopes that the site will turn into “a scrapbook of Athens,” which captures the extraordinary aspects of the community. As one of the first artists contributing to the Extraordinary Athens Web site, Moon feels that her work has set an initial tone that is representative of her profiled person’s emotions. “I really try to compose other people’s pain or other emotions through my music as accurately as I can, because that is only fair to them if I am going to try and capture their character in my music.”

Currently, other social networking sites are extremely popular, yet Extraordinary Athens differs from these in that it targets a specific audience and aims to reconnect people on a very personal level, outside of cyberspace.

“I really want to provoke people to start noticing the beauty in the people and the stories around you, because I think we need more of that,” Parker said “We have all these great technologies, but they have made us less able to appreciate the people sitting next to us.”

As the internet continues to evolve, the complexity of people using the internet to connect with each other and collaborate on new types of projects does too. The beginning of Extraordinary Athens is a sign that people still want to collaborate and create art together. Parker said she’s constantly asked what’s the payoff, to which she replies “the payoff is that you’re contributing to something great, and something that could be really inspiring to massive amounts of people, which is enough for me, at least.”