TRANSFORMer: Platform for Community Education, Activism and Fundraising | Collaboration with Andrea Bowers
Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, New York

This is the fourth iteration of TRANSFORMer, a collaborative, community-specific sculptural installation by artists Andrea Bowers and Olga Koumoundouros that raises awareness of local socio-political issues as it supports community and activist organizations around Saratoga Springs. Bowers and Koumoundouros construct the sculptural installation from salvaged furniture and everyday materials, and cover it with a skin of posters and educational information from the participating organizations. An integral component of the piece is an operational silk-screen station that produces posters and T-shirts. This participatory element of the piece calls attention to organizations and their needs through the active engagement of visitors and volunteers. Visitors also activate the piece by submitting donations in labeled boxes attached to the structure. At its core, the TRANSFORMerprovides a public service; disseminating information and fundraising for featured community groups and their causes. The piece is animated and completed through its relationship to the specific community and activist organizations that collaborate with the artists on the project. 

For the Tang, TRANSFORMer has adopted the slogan “Joy and Resolve,” which articulates the spirit of activism the artists hope to embody and engender through the installation. The TRANSFORMer installation includes a core sculptural element for display, donations, and silk screening, as well as additional tables, seating, shelves, lighting, and more. A series of events held in the gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition serves as an additional way to raise funds and awareness for the featured organizations.

TRANSFORMer was first installed as the Transformer Display for Community Fundraising in 2010 as part of the exhibition titled Love in a Cemetery organized by curator Robert Sain and artist Andrea Bowers at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. This show was structured around a series of questions on the relationship between “cultural institutions” and “community,” and it exhibited work of graduate students from the Public Practice Program at the Otis College of Art & Design. There the sculpture presented information and objects for fundraising for various Los Angeles organizations from “My Friends Place,” a shelter for homeless youth, to “Homies Unidos,” a gang violence prevention organization. The work has also been installed at the Outpost for Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2011, and most recently at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2011.