Stu Susan chopstick wrapper 9 x 1 Rockland Maine 2 copyYou probably know that there are simple methods to create Exquisite Corpse writing and drawing pieces. Make your marks or write your words, fold the paper and pass it on. No one knows what’s gone before or what comes after. My husband Stuart Kestenbaum and I have been making both writing and drawing (plus combinations of the two) exquisite projects, together for many years (our relationship was built and continues to evolve around these principles), with our family and friends, and when we teach together. We did our first drawing on a napkin, waiting for lunch in a restaurant in Portland.

Here’s my simple practice: you need to be somewhere—home, work, outdoors, a restaurant or café, anywhere really. Then, of course you need a paper-ish item—a napkin (just love that absorbency), the paper-cover on chopsticks (bold challenge to have space restrictions), paper doilies (who doesn’t love lace)—you know, you get it. Then, it’s your pen or pencil. Last, and this is essential since it’s the human ingredient, you need a buddy or two or more who are “game.” There’s no limit to the number of people who can participate. I’ve done this with large groups up to seventy and believe me, with pre-planning, it works and makes strangers immediate best friends.

After the drawing or writing is done, comes the unfolding, which never fails to surprise. It provides just about everything: connection, cooperation, trust, surprise, joy, adventure, courage, and laughter.

About the video, Making Connections: it’s from the exhibit I curated and created in my barn gallery in Deer Isle Village in 2011, based on the concept of an Exquisite Corpse drawing. I invited sixty-five people to participate, giving each artist a piece of paper cut and prepared with small predetermined markings on the sides that would connect to the previous and following adjoining drawing in between theirs, each creating one of the horizontal sections and none of them knowing what comes before or after.

Drawings were done on the #2 train in NYC, at MoMA, on a hotel notepad in Brooklyn, in Los Alamos, Cork (Ireland), Adelaide (Australia), on a torn napkin in Rome, and on a chopstick wrapper in Rockland. Most were done by Susan Webster and Stu Kestenbaum, and some included their sons, Sam and Isaac.