We sit and rock and lounge on chairs. We recline and kneel and doze. Now, dozens of Columbia artists are taking chairs beyond the sedentary: They are using chairs for art.
Best of all, the chairs are cardboard.
In an unusual project designed to attract creative folks of all ages and types, the Columbia Art Center in east Columbia's Long Reach village has invited artists to decorate cardboard chairs any way they see fit.
The project is called "Reserved Seating," and more than 40 people -- collage artists, finger-painters, sculptors and crayon masters -- have signed up.
The artists say they are inspired by the functional cardboard, designed to support up to 250 pounds.
"The idea of something generally considered trash being used for art -- that tickles my fancy," said artist Ailine Feldman, of Harper's Choice village, who is developing designs for two chairs. "I am just now deciding what to do with my chairs."
The chairs come from a Canadian art supply company called Kiosk, and cost $40 each. They began arriving last week.
Many artists, including Feldman, have begun sketching and pondering and formulating ideas, but they don't intend to begin their actual work for months. The last date to order the chairs is Feb. 15, and finished products must be submitted by June 24.
All chairs will be displayed at the Columbia Art Center, and the most interesting pieces will be selected for a silent auction scheduled for next summer. Proceeds -- chairs are expected to fetch a minimum of $100 each -- will be split by the winning artists and the Center, said Becky Bafford, director.
Plans include elaborate three-dimensional sculptures created by professional artists and straightforward paintings by schoolchildren. At least one senior center will submit a group art project likely dominated by glued-on clip art and adornment such as glitter.
Some artists will disassemble the chairs and create sculptures that bear no resemblance to the original. Others will incorporate such textures as clay and fabric and metal.
Anything goes, Bafford said. The only rule is that everyone must begin with an identical chair.
"My goal right now is to keep my chair sit-able," said Kini Collins, a professional painter who lives in Owen Brown village and will collaborate with another artist on the chair project. "We are thinking of a sort of enviro-chair."
Collins and her partner, Dan Beisel, are planning a chair dominated by earth tones and partially covered by a shale casing. The focus of the chair will be a working fountain with running water. It will likely take 30 to 40 hours to complete, Collins said.
"It seems a bit impossible," she said. "I've never done a functional sculpture before. I hope it will work."
Regina Carson, who organizes activities for seniors at LifeSpring Assisted Living in Catonsville, knew immediately that her clients would love their chair, which arrived this weekend.
"What interested us was that some of our seniors have ailments that make it difficult for them to do the things they want to do," Carson said. "But this is something that everyone can contribute to in some way."
"Reserved Seating" was conceived after Bafford saw an advertisement for the chairs in a catalog.
"I am always looking for projects that can tie together Columbia's large art audience," said Bafford, a professional porcelain artist who will design at least one chair herself. "People of all ages and artistic levels are doing this."
Bafford's chair is likely to incorporate porcelain, steel grates and chicken wire, and she thinks it will take about 80 hours.
"The best thing is these chairs are surprisingly comfortable to sit in," she said, noting that some artists intend to make the chairs part of their home decor. "If you can trust that it's not going to give way."
Order forms are available at the Columbia Art Center, 6100 Forland Garth in Long Reach.
Pub Date: 10/29/96