Being an artist can mean a lot of solitary work. An opportunity to collaborate and create something out of your usual realm may be an adventure. Artists working on the “Seat Suite,” an ArtOrg project, had the chance to do just that.

The aim of the project was to create seating for the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival, an event held at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul. The seats made their public debut on Saturday and Sunday.

Judy Onofrio has been working with clay recently. While rewarding, it can be a labor-intensive process. She has also created large sculptures by pouring concrete. When ArtOrg’s Executive Director Dave Machacek asked her about working with lightweight, large-scale materials, she said yes with “a spirit of adventure.”

“It was fun to take off from what I was doing in the studio at the moment,” she said.

The project also goes along with others that ArtOrg has facilitated.

“ArtOrg likes to expend its energy and resources on basically the creative process,” said Machacek.

He said that often includes finding alternative materials that make the projects more affordable.

He has enjoyed seeing artists work together, too. For this project, Kari Alberg and Mary GrandPre created pieces, as well as Onofrio. The end results were varied. Some were black, some white, some reminiscent of flowers and others were smooth, organic shapes.

Onofrio created several large sculptures out of foam in “soft, sensual forms.” She said that as soon as she had the foam in front of her, she knew just what she wanted to do. After creating the shapes, each seat was coated with a rock-like surface.

She had fun working on the pieces and collaborating with ArtOrg and the other artists involved.

“I could have carved 50 of them,” she said, because it was such an enjoyable experience.

The adventure continued after the seats were set up at the Ordway. Machacek said that people didn’t just sit on these unique pieces. They interacted with them, stood on them or jumped from piece to piece.

He said that they brought 10 pieces total up to the Ordway on Friday and retrieved them on Sunday. They are scheduled to be used for next year’s festival, and Machacek said that other parties have shown interest in them as well. There are a few more pieces planned for completion that will also be included in future events.

Jacqueline A. Pavek covers arts and culture for the Northfield News. She can be reached at 507-645-1117. Follow her on Twitter @JackiePavek.

Jacqueline A. Pavek covers arts and culture for the Northfield News. She can be reached at 507-645-1117.

Follow her on Twitter @JackiePavek.

I work as a reporter for the Northfield News and Lonsdale Area News-Review.

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