First Friday collaboration demonstrates how to build an ‘exquisite corpse’

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Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Instagram Live: Making an Exquisite Corpse with The Center for Creative Exploration

Friday, June 5, 6 pm at @pcad_ce


The inspiration for the Center for Creative Exploration’s First Friday collaboration this month came from a trio of unlikely and typically unrelated factors:

A pandemic-required order to stay home. Shiny grocery store delivery bags. And a social media account.

The three have combined to inspire a First Friday Instagram Live tutorial, where you can learn how to make your own curious collaborative creature, part of an art exercise called the exquisite corpse. Working together — virtually — will be Natalie Lascek, the CCE’s director; Debbie Serdy, artist and owner of the downtown shop My Aunt Debbie; and Nicole Duquette, PCA&D graduate and co-owner of curio. Gallery & Creative Supply.

Fierce mask repurposed from grocery delivery bags by Natalie Lascek.

Natalie Lascek, Director of the Center for Creative Exploration, peers out from the fierce mask she created from grocery delivery bags. The project inspired a collaborative “exquisite corpse” Instagram Live demo at 6 pm Friday, June 5, at @pcad_ce.


If you’re not familiar with the exquisite corpse exercise, you’re probably familiar with games that are similar. The technique was invented by Surrealist artists back in the early 1900s, says Lascek. “A collection of images (or words) is collectively assembled among the group of players. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.”

What results is an often fantastical creation in which all the individual parts combine to make something completely new.

The ideas for Friday’s project came from the idea Lascek had to keep herself occupied while listening to the audio of an online conference. Surrounded by art materials at home (“I am a former art teacher, so of course I keep things for their potential,” Lascek says), she figured the bags would make a great project to work on without taking her attention away from her conference. The first mask didn’t take long, so she made another … and then a third.

Fantastical creatures — heads by Natalie Lascek and torsos by Debbie Serdy — take over the window display of My Aunt Debbie in Lancaster city.

It’s amazing what some supplies and a little creativity can make. In Lascek’s hands, disposable bags became giant masks, all fangs and fierce eyebrows, long-lashed coffee-lid eyeballs and purple teeth.

They were, in short, too weird, silly, and amazing to sit on a shelf somewhere.

So Lascek wore them around her house. She displayed them in her windows to entertain passersby. And she posted a couple on her Instagram account. That’s when Serdy reached out and asked if she could use them in a window display at My Aunt Debbie. Her own art incorporates disparate materials, reimagining them for new functions, and she already had most of the materials (think plastic flowers, deconstructed toilet paper roll covers, and other pieces such as a multi-fabric top) on hand to build torsos for the display. “Debbie really saw the potential in the heads to add to a display that was already pretty amazing,” Lascek says.
And suddenly, there stood two-thirds of a three-dimensional exquisite corpse. Why not invite a third artist, and demonstrate how much fun it can be to combine the workings of three creative minds? So Duquette was recruited, and the idea of using First Friday to spread some fun was born.

The masks’ “first life” was as creative-prompt inspiration in the window of the home of Natalie Lascek, Director of the Center for Creative Exploration.

“I do primarily work 2D in my freelance and personal work,” Duquette says, “however, creating in 3D is part of my world when building still life setups for curio. Sketchbook Club as well as displays within the shop. I see both as installations that are experienced.”
For her part of Friday’s exquisite corpse, Duquette says, she’ll be “working with materials that are extremely familiar to me and others — paper and marker! The overall scale is much larger than my comfort zone but I am working in pieces that are smaller and will be collaged together.
“Using packing paper as my surface has been a great way to repurpose materials that have been saved from shipping boxes. I’m creating shapes with both marker and cut paper that I often gravitate towards when making in my sketchbook.”
“I’ve seen the robot bag heads created by Natalie and I am familiar with Debbie’s up-cycled textile clothing work, however I think this is a celebration of each individual coming together in their own approach,” Duquette says. “I have not been influenced by what they’ve made or what they will be making! I’m creating something that fits my style of creativity and own vision with the hopes that it will be a fun addition to the end piece.”
It’s collaborative art, created separately — a perfect project for a time when pandemic quarantine restrictions are still largely in place.
The Instagram live event is “definitely a product of our current circumstances, but also I would say that we are generally three creatives that feel really passionate about engaging others in finding joy in making art,” Lascek says. “I’m speaking for all three of us but I believe that even without bags and quarantines, we would do this.
“The artistic process (by its nature) asks you to be aware of opportunities, connections, and restrictions. We’re just doing what we instinctively do!