4. The Grail and the Cow

June 18, 2018

It boiled down to what would fit in the jar. We knew that we needed an object to pursue worthy of the hunt, and that if we stuck to our story of Clement Arbuthnot burying a mason jar filled with “treasure” we’d better make good on the promise. We also had no budget. And we’d said that whatever the object was it came from the 1700s.

For a few meetings we kicked around ideas about what we might “age” to work. Someone brought in a fantastic buckle that looked like it might work. It was too big for the mouth of the jar.

We brought in more jars, toyed with various ideas, and finally left for the weekend agreeing to ponder the possibilities. As I was packing up that Friday night I thought: we need something like the holy grail.

And then I remembered a gift given to me by a fabulous ceramics teacher from a lifetime ago. Tucked in a bookshelf in my office: a holy grail.

IMG_1524It was too big for the jar.

At the same time, one of my intrepid students was doing some legwork and asking our sculpture teacher for some ideas for objects that might work for a project she was working on. Without providing any real context (a big part of this scheme is keeping it as a surprise for staff and students alike), she was able to secure something fabulous: a cow puppet.

Our MacGuffin.

IMG_7448As many know, a MacGuffin is a plot device used to prompt characters into action. What the object itself is (the statue of a falcon, a childhood sled, old Luke) doesn’t really matter; the point is that our story gets going because of this catalyst for action.

How perfect then, this cow for our buried treasure, unexpected, quirky, “so very ACMA.”

…and created (in our reality) by and Arts & Communication student to boot. As this experience rolled on, we were finding the little synchronicities that collaborative artists sometimes enjoy. It was up to us to use them, and fashion something new.

Who would have put a cow in the jar? Why the cow? It’s up to our Treasure Group tell the story that ends there.

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