Real materials 34:
THE MAKE-A-FISH FOUNDATION
The Make A Fish Foundation, as they say on their website, "brings the experience and opportunity of creating art to people-- all people-- wherever people congregate: at music festivals, team building events, camps, hospitals, schools, art walks, and many other events. They even have surprise art gallery openings called "fish markets", naturally.
These...ummm... "fishmaker folk" feel that too many people say "I have no artistic talent" only because they have never, with artistic intent, picked up a paintbrush or pen. Along with instruction and guidance, The Make A Fish Foundation supplies the canvas, the paints, clays, dyes, fabrics, and many other mediums providing them with an opportunity to express themselves through creating art: an opportunity that they might never otherwise have. Make A Fish Foundation provides people with a fun place to create unique works of art-- art that becomes part of a cooperative whole-community project."
The Make-A-Fish Foundation is especially fond of-- you guessed it-- fish tessellations, especially one named "Tess" created by their founder, Ben Baity. (Yes, that's truly the name his mother gave him.) In the photos below you'll see many Tess outlines on canvases and blank Tess-shaped pendants. What you won't see is repetition, other than the outlines: each fish is eventually uniquely colored in by a guest artist, a member of the general public.
In the works are a public beautification project-- beautifying an ugly, graffitti-colored building on the edge of town by covering it with individually decorated fish-shape ceramic tiles that form a tessellation; several new fish tessellations; decorate-it-yourself fish candles; decorate-it-yourself fish tessellation papercraft art, and very possibly decorate-it-yourself fish tessellation glycerin soap bars.
Cluttering up this page are photos of the Make A Fish Foundation's station-- OK, "tent"-- at the Fire and Steel Festival of June 2014. Be sure to take a good look at the large fisth tessellation painting being made piece-by-piece by the public.
The Fire and Steel festival is an offshoot of the Burning Man festival. Generally, it's a celebration of "e pluribus unum"-- "out of many, one"-- in that it encourages participants to be creative and different, yet to join together in a community. So, for example, there's a discount if you come in any clothing that isn't your normal street clothes: the wilder, the better. Also, there are musicians in wildly exotic costumes and hugely differently decorated colorful instruments, all joining together to make a joyous music.
The "Make a Fish" foundation's part of Fire and Steel and Burning Man festivals is also a perfect example of that goal. Firstly, Make A Fish Foundation invites people to draw and paint their own fish, within an outline that tessellates with dozens of other fish outlines. The result is a large painting that celebrates, like a school of fish, both the unity and
individuality of all those creatively colored fish.
You may be wondering if these fish have anything to do with the christian and pre-christian "fish" symbol, sometimes called the "icthys". The answers are a firm "nope, no religious ties here" and "In pre-christian religions, that ain't a fish. It just looks fishy."
You may also notice a similarity in the name "Make a Fish Foundation" and the better-known "Make a Wish Foundation", which grants spectacular wishes-- such as trips to Disneyland-- to terminally ill children. That's intentional. As founder Ben Baity tells it, long ago he bought a hat with fish decorating the hatband. Friends, artsts and otherwise, approved. They showed their appreciation by giving him fish they'd made by hand. These were often spectacularly decorated handmade fish made from recycled soda bottles. At some point, Mr. Baity and his friends realized that they were on a path that had to be named "Make A Fish". Thus was the Foundation born, named, formed, and begun. Seems fishy to me.
That was over a decade ago. They've been schooling ever since. Read and see more about them at their website and on a Guest Artist page at Tessellations.org