NanC Meinhardt
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The Maze Project: a Master Class

With NanC Meinhardt
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The Maze Project is a Master Class designed for individuals who are already familiar with off-loom bead weaving techniques, and commit themselves to a year-long exploration of their own creative voices using beadwork as their medium for making art.

The people who are drawn to a master class experience usually fall into one of two categories. The first group comprises individuals who are almost bursting with creative ideas and looking for a setting in which to delve into the process of making art using beads. The second group are less sure of themselves and usually less compelled, but have developed a level of technical competence and are tired of making work using someone else’s patterns or design suggestions.

I had been working on a weekly basis with a group of talented women in the Chicago area over a period of several years. As a former psychotherapist, I have always been interested in how each individual makes sense of his or her own internal and external worlds, and in turn expresses that view artistically. I watched these women develop over time into fine artists with strong individual artistic voices. This kind of artistic growth happens over time with repeated experience in the dilemmas that face anyone who navigates their way through the creative process. I wanted to extend this artistic option to others outside of my home territory, and developed the Maze Project as a way to provide a similar experience anywhere.

Being a participant in the Maze Project is a commitment of time, intention, purpose, money, and energy. Each person commits to a year of time and pays for the year in advance. I travel to work with this group four times (about every three months) during the year. They meet on their own for a weekend each month between my sessions with them. Although I am not with the group for the monthly meetings, I still provide the structure for them. We close the year with a retreat and a gallery show of all the work produced by the Master Class during that year.

The Maze Project exhibits have been held in a variety of venues, including:

Absolutely Beads in Bellevue, Washington.
The Bead Museum in Glendale, Arizona.
The La Jolla Fiber Arts Gallery, La Jolla, CA.

The Portland Oregon Master Class held two exhibits:

“Beading Beyond Boundaries” at the Guardino Gallery in Portland.
“Bead Artistry: A continuing Evolution” at the Newport Visual Center’s Runyan Gallery.

Anchorage Alaska’s Maze Project exhibit was held at the International Contemporary Art Gallery in Anchorage, Alaska. The Northern California group exhibited at University of California in Berkeley. The Chicago Maze Project had their exhibit in the Gallery at McHenry Community College.

The most recent Master Class, The Vista Point Artists, a group from Southern California, held their exhibit at the Art Center of San Luis Obispo, CA, and the Museum for Contemporary Craft in Houston, TX.

The major assignment is for each person to design and create a piece or series of pieces that has internal significance to that individual. I assign other smaller pieces each time I meet with the group. All assignments are open-ended and conceptual in nature, giving an outer structure for the participant to express their artistic voice in an individual way. The purpose of the conceptual assignments is to encourage an internal perspective. For instance, each person knows what they think or feel about their beadwork while they are working on the piece, so I ask them to make a piece that expresses what their beadwork thinks, sees, or feels when the beadwork looks up at them. We focus on the psychological concerns that arise in making art as well as the group experience of making art together. The members get a lot of practice moving through the “maze” of the creative process together, to call upon when each person is on their own at home. They also keep a journal, providing a place to sort out artistic impasses and thereby creating a trail of their creative adventure.

The Maze Project is an ambitious concept and a challenge for all of us involved. We do share a year of creative life together, and it is an honor for me to facilitate and work with such dedicated artistic individuals. 


© 2008-2012 NanC Meinhardt Studio, LLC


NanC Meinhardt Studio, LLC

Highland Park, Illinois (north of Chicago)
Phone 847-433-1510
nancmeinhardt@me.com