The key objective of the Global Art Lab program is to develop, encourage, and demonstrate innovative new ways of understanding complex social dynamics and addressing common social challenges through the arts. The program facilitates the exchange of innovative art practices between artists and arts organizations in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) and the U.S. and helps distribute this information to larger audiences through educational programs, public presentations, and an actively maintained website.

By creating new methods for addressing social concerns and building an international network of artists and arts organizations, Global Art Lab aims to expand contemporary art discourse to individuals who may have had no previous relationship to contemporary art. The program supports artists from Central Asia and the US in cultivating dialogue within and between their rich creative communities.

Funding for the Global Art Lab has been provided by the Christensen Foundation, the Kettering Family Foundation and the Trust for Mutual Understanding.


Let the Celebrations Begin!

A Bit About Some of the Projects

This is a spiritual piece which employes symbolism to tell the story. The piece is lit within and emits a soft glow when the sun goes down.
There's a saying, "you are what you eat" but this piece makes a statement about becoming overwhelmed and influenced by what you read.
Some of the pieces were site-specific and utilized some of the elements around the theatre as inspiration. It this sinking into the manhole or materializing out of it?
The youngest participant in any workshop that I have ever participated in created this sculpture using one of her favorite dolls as the model. She was also brave enough to be encased from head to toe in a tape cast. She's 10 years old.
This couple has a 4-month old newborn but they desperately wanted to participate in the workshop. Their sculptures showed two figures walking and peering through glass walls.

This mermaid sculpture fits well in the now defunct water fountain. She's petting a fish as a mist of blue "water" surrounds her.

This surreal sculpture shows a spider-like creature in the mist of draining the life force out of her human victim.

Zafar poses next to "Happy Death", one of the more controversial works in the group. The theatre's accountant along with a policeman or 2 felt that the work promoted suicide and therefore should be removed. This is an interesting argument which didn't seem to apply to the prostitute, drug addict, or gun-wielding child also part of the show. Happy Death was allowed to stay up UNTIL...A German tourist was having breakfast in the hotel a few yards from the artwork. The head (which is a ball) was obscured by the branches and she though the had witnessed an actual suicide and fainted. The piece was removed and relocated. 

I have never seen someone so dedicated in making his sculpture as realistic as possible. What you see here is a junkie. He's surrounded by the needles he used to inject his drug of choice into his veins. Upon closer inspection, you will see blood in the needles and on his shoes and on the ground around him. The artist pricked himself to add that detail. There was even talk of adding urine and/or feces to the site but he was talked out of it.

The light posts inspired these works which at first seems obvious in meaning but upon closer inspection is much deeper. Issues of light and dark, male and female, good and bad are present in this pair of sculptures.

The backdrop and the sex worker sculpture makes this artwork complete. One complements the other. Approached in the right direction, one would believe that this is actually a prostitute waiting for her next trick. Upon closer inspection, her face in covered with US dollars.

This is a great example of the ordinary becoming extraordinary. This simple sculptural idea got a lot of attention. First, a police officer tried to buy a cigarette from her, another told her that she couldn't sit there and had to move along. A third that she represented the ills of Uzbek society and had to be removed although less than 100 yards away the real version was selling her goods on the street.

This is the most ambitious of all the sculptures. The idea was conceived the first day of the workshop and took a small army to fabricate. This piece is also open to many different interpretation. Is that a cross or part of a fence? Is the figure melting into the ground or rising out of it?

The Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil: Artwork Site

The Ilkhom theatre was one of the first professional theatres not dependent on the state institution for cultural affairs in the history of the former USSR. The director, Mark Weil, who died tragically in 2007, and a group of Tashkent Theatre Institute graduates, founded it in 1976. From its beginning, the theatre was founded on a jazz structure where the director creates an ensemble consisting of participants who understand and listen to each other.

Today, only a few people can remember that everything began from a rather strange play from that time called Maskhoroboz-76 which was made in the tradition of street theatre. With that play, the founders of the Ilkhom went to Novgorod, Russia. It was the first trial of a new kind of professional actor working in the circumstances - the circumstances of immediate improvisation.

From the very beginning, the theatre was named ESTY, the Ilkhom (Experimental Studio of Theatrical Youth actors, artists, musicians, and theatricals). Such young playwrights as A. Vampilov, S. Zlotnikov, Sh. Bashbekov, Ch. Guseinov, and L. Razumovskaya debuted in the young "Ilkhom", and were later hailed as new-wave playwrights. Meeting with the playwrights of that generation has become one of the best ways of self-expression for the actors.

The years have passed. In 1985 arrived the time of independence and freedom. By that time the Ilkhom had become famous, as a real independent theatre which usually is ahead of its time. Te exhibition created by the young artists is in keeping with this tradition. All the artworks will be placed around the grounds of the theatre to be seen and scrutinized by the general public.


Making Sculpture...

Zafar began work on "Happy Death", using himself as the model...

Everyone was really getting into it!

OMG! The Shashlik WAS Sooo Good!

What looks like a feast fit for a king was just a sampling of the amazingly delicious food that Tashkent has to offer. Andrei, Manzura, Timur, Mark and I were treated to succulent pork, chicken and beef shashlik along with various salads and a side of gluttony.

Manzura the Brave!

Manzura's sculpture was selected to be the first that everyone would work on. That meant that she was to be the model. Manzura the brave had to were tight underwear-like clothing, be wrapped in cellophane, then pawed and groped by everyone as they attach thick pieces of tape all over her upper body and head all while she's posed in an awkward position. Although somewhat claustrophobic, it was lots of fun.