Elevator Pitch

shanty of misfit toys-lo3-1

Shanty of Misfit Toys, 2007 Photo by Will Pike


We are ever grateful for the support we receive from friends, fellow artists and everyone in between.  And we laugh (at ourselves) when those same people ask what we do exactly and is it even art.  We laugh because we’ve been stumbling through explaining our misfit brand of creative practice for years.  But since our projects require funding and our funding is locked up in grants we are yet to receive (fingers crossed everyone) we’ve worked hard to make clearer the murky terrain in which our collaborative operates.  We do this so grant panelists don’t get confused and tired when deciding whether or not we get to be called grantees.

First, a sort of definition by way of synonyms.  After much gnashing of teeth we are currently defining our work as socially engaged artistic practice.

Socially engaged artistic practice has many names and since we love lists, here goes: socially engaged art, community-based art, experimental communities, dialogic art, littoral art, participatory, interventionist, creative placemaking, research-based, collaborative art, or relational practice.

So, it’s a jumble.  But!  Here’s our mission and history that may clear a few things up.  And, of course, as always and forever, keep asking us questions about what the heck we do.  Because one day, when a philanthropist walks into an elevator that we also happen to be on, we might be able to pitch our next project to her before she reaches her floor.

Mission and History

We are Karen Kasel and Marlaine Cox and we work together as low tech/high joy collaborative, a two woman creative team with a passion for socially engaged artistic projects. We have been working together on a variety of projects for nearly a decade. Ranging from building and programming an art shanty on a frozen lake to baking pies in exchange for conversations, we’ve been combining our talents and ideas with joyful results. We intentionally alter, interact and connect with places and people, encouraging active participation within communities. We focus on simple interactions that usually revolve around ritualized domestic activities. Deliberately using humble, everyday materials we investigate the joy found in typically mundane tasks.

Creative processes and mediums include:  sewing, welding, drawing, construction, package design, screen printing, canning, planting, subversive gardening, book and map making, dioramas and baking.

Although some of the projects we collaborate on create beautiful works of art in their own right, the art we make is not necessarily one that creates a product. Rather, the art we create is in the engagement, ownership, experience, conversations and the social interactions that arise from working with a specific community on a unified task. Our art is in the opening up of the creative process to invite others to become co-owners of our projects.


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