1000 Journals Project inspires creativity at the Skirball

A wooden sign made with scanned journal entries greets visitors as they walk into the exhibit. Photo credit: Jessica Estrada / staff reporter

“This is an experiment and you are a part of it.”

These were the words that designer Brian Singer used to launch the 1000 Journals Project, an ongoing collaborative art venture started 10 years ago. What started out as blank journals have traveled all over the world, providing a place for people to share their thoughts, feelings, artwork and musings.

The Skirball Cultural Center has an exhibit displaying 12 of the original journals launched by Singer, and visitors are encouraged to make their contributions to the journals.

“The spirit of the project is to reach into people’s creativity and connect to one another through the journals,” said Jason Porter, Skirball’s head of school programs and co-curator of the project.

The journals are unique and filled with creativity and stories of people all over the world, each sharing their thoughts and passing it along to a friend or a stranger. The goal of the project was to provide people a place to be creative while interacting with others around the world.

“We invite everyone to participate in the project in a way that is unique,” Porter said. “It’s not often that people go to museums and do creative work for themselves. Usually they’re admiring and appreciating, not participating.”

The exhibit inspires creativity with colorful images of journal entries on the walls, comfy sofas, stools, chairs, rugs, pillows and art supplies for visitors to create collages, paintings and art in the journals. The exhibition also has computers to view scanned pages of other journals.

“The message that the Skirball wants visitors to take away from the exhibit is that everyone, no matter how busy or how old, is a creative individual and has something to express to the world,” Porter said.

The Skirball, along with other museums, are launching more journals enabling more people to participate, according to Susan Boorujy, who works in the education department at the Skirball.

The Skirball contributed 100 journals to the second generation of the project called 1001 Journals, Porter said. After the exhibit, the journals will be sent out into the world for others to contribute.

The 1001 Journals is also more interactive by using the Internet to facilitate the project so more people can get involved. The website tracks the journals and also allows people to post scanned pages of their own journals and post comments.

The 1001 Journals project also hosts cover art by a handful of Los Angeles-based artists such as Sandy Rodriguez.

On Jan. 15 , Rodriguez had an art workshop at the exhibit where she shared her painting techniques.

Rodriguez said her workshop explained her creative process and taught different watercolor painting techniques such as wet on wet, watercolor wash, and resist and dropping in color.

The inspirations for the cover, which Rodriguez designed for the project, were the Los Angeles fire storms.

“I wanted a cover that would appeal to a great number of people,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez specializes in creating paintings of Los Angeles views, and she is not only an artist but an educator who teaches art workshops for nonprofit organizations and museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Getty Museum. Rodriguez also works with teachers and shows them how to introduce art into classrooms.

“I love doing collaborative work and large scale public art projects like this. It’s nice to be able to contribute and inspire people who I may not otherwise meet,” Rodriguez said.

Museum officials, such as Boorujy, consider this a community project and they encourage families to come in with their children and participate. There are journals especially for kids and the exhibit is kid-friendly so the whole family can participate.

“Journals are accessible and have a sort of familiarity and universality. It’s an open-ended project and everyone finds their own way to approach it,” Porter said.

A book and a documentary of the same name have also been made. The book features some of the best entries in the project. The documentary was made by Andrea Kreuzhage, and tells the story of those whose lives have been touched by the journals.

“The important thing is to keep creativity alive in our lives, and we hope people become inspired to start their own journals,” Porter said.