If all goes according to plan, New York-based nonprofit group Figment will host its first event in Dallas on Oct. 20 at Reverchon Park. Founded by marketing specialist David Koren, Figment is a participatory art festival centered on openness and inclusiveness.
Every artist involved will present an interactive showcase of some kind, and Dallasites of all ages are invited to participate. The kicker: It's entirely free.
“Art is definitely a business, and I’ve worked with galleries as an artist myself, and I respect that that is a lot of peoples’ sole source of income,” says Suza Kanon, producer for Figment Dallas. “However, to be able to, for one day out of the year, give it as a gift to the people around you, to the community, people who may feel intimidated by museums — it’s kind of a lot of the aspects you find when people talk about public art and the value of that in cities.”
The event had its first run in 2007 on New York City's Governors Island, and since, then Figment has thrown more than 60 events in 19 cities. Figment takes an egalitarian approach to art, offering artists of every skill level and medium a blank slate to create nearly anything they’d like, as long as it’s interactive.
"Figment gives [artists] the ability to take risks with the work that they create. ... You're not going to have a ceiling at the park. You have a lot more freedom." – Suza Kanon, Figment Dallas
“Figment gives them the ability to take risks with the work that they create that they may not always be able to do with their standard clientele or the standard gallery space,” Kanon says. “You’re not going to have a ceiling at the park. You have a lot more freedom.”
There are no vendors, sponsors or VIP areas at Figment. Their absence is intentional. It's meant to put the emphasis on the art itself, rather than its potential as a commodity.
Two fundraising events will cover the cost of putting on the Dallas Figment event in October. The first happens Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Deep Ellum Art Co. It will offer a sneak preview of the fall event.
Workshops, live painting, interactive sculpture, live music and more will be on hand at Spaceship*Rideshare, Kanon says. Figment will also host an art auction at WAAS Gallery at the end of March as part of the fundraising effort.
“There are three curators, each coming from a different focus, such as gallery/museum artists, burners and academic artists from schools around town,” Kanon says. “There are also six leads for different types of participatory art and workshops, so those artists have more support from us for their interactive project focus.”
A call for artist proposals is tentatively planned to go out sometime in February and will be open to anyone looking to join in on the fun. Kanon, a Dallas native, says she hopes to collaborate with local cultural and artistic organizations for the event, as previous Figment events have.
“It struck me really deeply, like probably on the first or second day, that this is was a real thing that we could do in Dallas,” Kanon says of her first experience at a Figment event. “Our city has strong enough local art and people that are committed to sharing this with their community and committed to the idea of art as this transformative thing.”
Figment benefit, Deep Ellum Art Co., 3200 Commerce St., 2 p.m. Saturday, $15 with costume, $20 without, dallas.figmentproject.org.