It was a blazing hot Thursday afternoon walking into the Art and Design Building at George Mason University to meet Don Russell. After getting all the equipment and lighting set up we begin. Don was very welcoming and enthusiastic about the interview process, ready to dive deep into the things he is doing at Mason. Unlike the other artist interviews being done, Don is not a painter or a photographer per say. Though he does dabble (his major in undergrad was photography), he found his calling early by wanting to focus on the business side of art. He wants to help artists to get their work out into the world and give them guidance about how to do so. By helping artists, Don thrives on his own creativity and passions.
The interview took place at the Provisions Library that Don runs. The Provisions library has been at Mason for five years, but the program itself started in Washington, D.C. 17 years ago by Don himself. The library is small, but so much knowledge comes out of it, that it is hard not to be interested walking into it. The first thing one sees is the meridian wall that was created by Don. It is a basic wall. Grey in color, the fonts are all written in white chalk. Students in the classroom next door were truly the only noise one could hear because of its connection to the Provisions lab.
“The idea is to bridge art and social change, so it has a very strong mission.”
Don was invited to bring his Provisions Library to GMU in order to get students to focus on more than just creating art, but to create art with meaning.
Don focuses a lot on the meridians because those are all topics that he is very passionate about. For example, some of the meridians are: criminology, animal rights, space, women rights, etc. He has interests in so much that he is able to reach an enormous amount of people with his projects. He is always looking for artists that are producing art that have meaning behind it.
“I encourage artists to get involved in all those areas, they are ripe for a new type of role for artists.” By focusing on topics and using art, Don discussed how it is a better way to spread awareness and knowledge rather than telling people they are flat out wrong.
Don then goes into talking about his dream project, which would be to open a museum at George Mason that focuses on a special social change that is expressed through art. By the look in his eye one can tell just how passionate and knowledgeable he is about his work and what he desires to do. Don encourages not only art students but non art students to come by Provisions because the knowledge one can find there is not just for the artist. Don is knowledgable about all the subjects he is interested in and is very helpful. With the passionate look one can see in his eyes, there is no stopping him from what he wants to do, especially with his dreams at Mason.
Password for video: avt204
Sam Haas, Jessica Riddle and Andrew Riddle are all undergraduate students at GMU and were part of a Visual Thinking Class taught by Isabel Manalo. Their piece was chosen by their class to be published on this site.