Atlanta Contemporary Art: Sheida Soleimani

Medium of Exchange by Sheida Soleimani is a small exhibit in the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Soleimani, the daughter of two Iranian political refugees, specializes in creating works of art that are social and political commentaries. In the case of this exhibit, she focuses on the greed of those involved in the petroleum industry (specifically the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). She mentions the disparity in living conditions between rich profiteers and the everyday citizens in the countries that are part of OPEC, saying that revenue from the oil industry is not used to help the citizens of that country. This exhibit is intended to bring to light the “corruption at the center of the petroleum industry” and encourage people to resist said corruption (Wall Text). It consists of a series of collages and one video created from pictures of political and economic leaders, news reports, and archives relating to the petroleum industry. The exhibit is laid out in an almost nonsensical pattern of free-standing and wall-hanging works. The collages are difficult for people to understand who do not know much about this issue. However, the video that accompanies the exhibit clears up much of this confusion. The exhibit would have benefited if the video was the first thing visitors saw when they entered the exhibit. However, the nature of the space meant that the only place the video could be was in the far right corner of the room. In this way, the exhibit needs some work to truly be effective.

Works Cited

Wall text, Medium of Exchange, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, Ga.

Post Presentation Final Individual Reflection

I have always thought of myself as a leader; whenever I work with a group, I am always the one to step up and take charge, as well as to find ways to work together the best. However, after reading the articles on leadership and collaboration that were given in class and seeing the different kinds of collaboration undertaken by artists, I realized that there were many different ways to approach leadership and collaboration, which all depended on the relationship of the group. Through the readings and examples given in class, I was able to start creating a better leadership style and, with my group, figure out the most efficient collaboration style for us to use while creating our public art piece Rooted.

Throughout the duration of the project, it seemed to me that my group moved from collaboration type to collaboration type until we found one where we could most efficiently and effectively get the project done. The whole group almost unconsciously did this. There was never one person who pushed a certain type of collaboration. My group finally settled on a collaboration type resembling the one that I saw modeled in the film on Womanhouse. The mix of divide and conquer along with several group meetings to make sure the whole group had an idea of the big picture worked well for us. In this way, what had initially started as an introduction to different types of art informed my group’s collaboration process.

Furthermore, the types of leadership that I observed when looking at different art pieces and the articles about the types of leadership also helped the whole group to combine their different leadership skills. The emphasis placed on leadership types also led me to reflect on the way that I had done leadership in the past, and determine the areas of leadership that I needed to work on. After reading the articles that we were given, I was able to adapt my own leadership personality to fit better with a large group. I no longer took full control of the project; in contrast, all members of my group got chances to lead, and we helped fill in holes in other’s plans. (For example, if one person forgot something then another member of the group would step in and assume control over that element of the project.) While there were still some voices that were louder than others, this reflection on leadership styles made it so our project was a collaboration.

The emphasis placed on how collaboration led to art was also very helpful for me because it showed me a more concrete example of how my group could go about creating Rooted. The pieces of public art that we looked at in class, such as the Vietnam Memorial and Free Nelson Mandela, also inspired my group’s piece to look the way it did.

This project was the first step in reinventing my own leadership style into something that can be better utilized in the future. In the past, my leadership style has been a little overbearing, but with this project I noticed that the sense of being overbearing lessened, without my impact as a leader lessening as well. Also, the different types of collaboration and leadership that we learned about will also help me work with other groups who have a different relationship than my group did. The ability to adapt to different groups will be very useful in the future.

In conclusion, the different types of collaboration and leadership that we talked about in class definitely were useful in helping me find a way to collaborate the most efficiently. Furthermore, the leadership styles that we learned about also helped me start to reform my leadership style into one that is just as effective but more adaptable to group work. The ways that the class approached collaboration and art directly informed the manner in which my group and I collaborated and created our art piece Rooted.

The Final Presentation

 

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

After two weeks of little to no work on our presentation, my group decided to meet up to review what we had done for our preliminary presentation, as well as the notes that had been sent out in regards to the presentation we had done in class. During our first meeting, Lea, Eleanor and I spent about an hour going through each of the notes that we were given by the class and the professors. We made some changes to the organization of our presentation, removed redundant information, and corrected some grammar mistakes. I also became the person in charge of presenting on the location of our art piece, which had previously been part of Eleanor’s slides but fit better with what I was presenting on. After that, we made a list of what needed to be worked on in the next meeting, and I texted the rest

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

of the group a summary of what we had talked about in our meeting.

After determining a time for our last group meeting, each of us did a final walk through of the slides to see if there was anything that we hadn’t caught. During the last meeting, Lea, Eleanor, and I went over all of the changes that we had made in the previous meeting, and then asked Katie and Jazmine if there were any edits that they wanted to make. We viewed the images that Eleanor had made of our art piece, and after one last run through of the slides, we practiced presenting our individual sections to each other, making sure that we made sense and that we could

hear each other. After one last run through of

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

the slides and the determination of the title of our art piece (Rooted), we went our separate ways until the final presentation.

It was fairly easy for everyone to fall back into their roles after returning from the brief break we had from our project. As usual, my leadership position fell around organization, but I felt like there was less pressure because we all knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It was easier for us to work equally as a group. Preparing for the final presentation was where we really felt that round table mentality that I talked about in my entry on the proposal paragraph. We were our most collaborative

at this stage.

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

In terms of my individual leadership process, I feel like this was the point where I was able to find the equilibrium that was needed between a member of the group and pushing the group as a leader. That is something that every good

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

leader should find within their group. This project and the discovery of that equilibrium in and of itself helped me develop my leadership skills and see what I need to work on in the future.

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

 

 

Preliminary Presentation

 

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Once we started working on our preliminary presentation, the group shifted from working over text to group meetings. While it took a while for us to find a good time to meet due to very different schedules, we finally settled on several times that worked for us. In our first meeting, we settled on the basic idea for our project: the statue garden, filled with terracotta statues of workers whose rights were being violated.

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

After hearing a little bit of information about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers from Katie and Eleanor’s initial idea about the harvester garden, those of us at the meeting (me, Katie and Eleanor) decided on where the statue garden would be (right in front of Evans), determined the materials that would be used to create the statues, elaborated on the form of our project, and talked a little bit about how we could best present our piece. During that meeting, I also created a PowerPoint that had all of the requirements for the presentation on them (such as the materials, a background on our issue and the iconography of the piece). After the meeting, I filled in some basic information on the PowerPoint to give everyone a sense of what we had talked about.

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

After that, I texted the rest of the group about a time we could finalize any more details about our preliminary presentation. After doing some work filling in information about our art piece, we met again the next Wednesday and delegated who was going to talk about what. After filling in Lea and Jazmine, who had not been there the previous meeting, we talked briefly about what still had to be accomplished. Following that meeting, I texted everyone a brief synopsis of the meeting (see pictures five and six) . That night, everyone got on the presentation and formatted and finalized their part of the presentation. The next day, we presented in class.

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

During this part of the project, my role as a leader revolved not just around organizing the finished product that was due the next Wednesday but also around making sure that everyone knew what was happening. This was not normally my role within the group, but I knew that it was necessary for everyone in the group to be on the same page. In terms of my individual leadership process, I was able to get more of a sense of how people in the group were reacting to the way that I was approaching my role within the group, so I was also able to alter my own leadership style to best fit in with the group. That made working as a group for our final presentation really easy.

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

 

Preliminary Bibliography

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

For our preliminary bibliography, I created a Google document, added four sources and sent it to the whole group. Almost everyone added one or two more sources, and then I formatted the entire bibliography and submitted it. We mostly focused on examples of workers’ rights violations around the world, wanting use a specific group to bring attention to a much larger problem. In the end, we chose to focus on the Coalition of Immokalee workers. We also found a couple examples of public art that was more focused towards what we were interested in. This was the stage when we knew that texting would not suffice when working on the project as a whole.

This was also the stage when I began to demonstrate more leadership. After the initial phase of getting to know each other, I felt like the group was much more comfortable with each other, so we could begin to develop roles that would suit our strengths and weaknesses. I know that organization is a strength of mine, so I took it upon myself to start organizing the finished products which needed to be turned in, such as the bibliography. This position  stayed consistent throughout the entirety of the project.

Proposal Paragraph

 

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

At first, my group had a hard time figuring out what we were going to do for the main topic of our project. When I texted the group to see what we were thinking about doing for our project and when we were going to write the proposal project, we were initially slow to start. Finally, after some clarification of the function of the proposal paragraph, we recalled the conversation that our entire group had the previous Thursday. We decided on our basic topic of worker’s rights, but had trouble deciding how to divide the work, as we only had to write one paragraph. I had already created a google document for the paragraph to be written on, so we simply used that document to write the basic rough draft of our proposal paragraph. After that, we each edited the paragraph before it was turned in.

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Because this was really the first time that we had collaborated as a group, no one really came forward as a definite leader. Throughout the whole duration of the project, no one really stood out as the main leader; rather, we all took up different leader-like roles as the need arose. Our group functioned more like a round-table discussion. Occasionally someone (usually me) would step in to make sure that we were all on topic and meeting deadlines. At the start, I knew that when I usually worked in groups I had a tendency to completely take over the project, but, going with the class, I wanted to make sure that this project was more of a collaboration. That was the reason that I, personally, did not immediately dive into the leader position in the group.

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Credit: “Group Chat” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

As the group became more comfortable with each other, we were able to define areas were some would lead and some would not. However, in the beginning we were all still get to know each other, so we started a little slowly as a group (as seen in our group texts, to the left, posted with permission from my group). I, personally, wanted to see where people’s strengths and weaknesses lay, and let the group form naturally. This is another reason that no instantaneous  leader was established. This is where I started in my individual leadership process.