Locked-In /// Yellow Springs Art Council / by Jen Bachelder


In the fall of 2014, I was honored with an invitation to participate in an artist lock-in. What's a lock-in? Well, at the Yellow Springs Arts Council, this is an annual event where three artists are locked in the council's gallery for 72 hours and tasked with creating a one-of-a-kind show.

The Rules


3 artists locked in the gallery for 3 days

3 large boxes of ‘stuff’ donated from the community to use in an art installation

3 artist tools (each artist may bring 3)

3 phone calls (1 phone-a-friend for each artist with an ask to bring something they need)

The challenge: Can three artists, who may or may not have ever met each other before, in three days, look through three boxes of random “stuff” that they have never seen before, come up with and agree on a plan together, and then create an art installation? We get to find out in November 2014.

There are so many elements of this call for submissions that called to me. A chance to collaborate with artists I've never met? Fabulous. Build and create on the spot? Wonderful. Limited tools and mediums? Even better.

What did I bring?

I spent a significant amount of time trying to decide what I was going to bring to the table. With the medium up in the air, I thought it best to focus on how I could best embrace the community's donations. How could I work with whatever was there? I might need tools to construct new things, and I might needs tools to destruct old things. Decisions Decisions.

At the end of the day, I realized that it would be easier to use unpredictable "tools" or my hands to destruct items. Here's what I brought to construct new things:

  1. Industrial Glue Gun
  2. Gallon of Glue
  3. Staple Gun

You know it's serious when you're joking about plumbing

(Food will be delivered to the artists and camping-style sleeping accommodations will be available at the gallery. Indoor plumbing included.)


There was only one other person allowed in the gallery full time while we were working: Travis Hawkes. His job was to document the entire experience, from the moment we walked into the gallery for interviews the day before locking the doors through the show at the end of the week.

On Sunday, November 9th, these three artists will meet each other for the first time and see the gallery but not what is in the boxes. We will go over rules. That evening they get pre- interviews with Travis, the videographer. The next morning they will be locked in the gallery. There will be Peek Holes in the papered-over windows during the lock in. Come peek in­ Monday – Wednesday.

Throwing a videographer in the mix was a brilliant move on the council's part. With such intense focus on the creation process, it was hard to remember to eat and rest, nevertheless take photos of what we were doing.

Travis did a wonderful job with photos, video (embedded), and a healthy write-up of each day.

Here we go

After talking with the others about their skill sets and what we wanted to do with the space, we decided to create a handful of unique environments, each with their own backdrop, habitats, and creatures. Until this point, my portfolio was 99% flat works. This single conversation made it very clear that I had 3 days to turn that restraint on its head.

I immediately began creatching (Yes, our gallery-style cabin fever allowed plenty of time for making up words. Creatching is the art of making creatures.).

Upper Left: This tiny teacup being was my first finished piece. I knew that if I gave in to the need for perfection, I'd spend 3 days planning what I was going to do and make nothing (One of my favorite professors in college used to joke that I had commitment issues -- but in my defense, oil painting in front of your peers is intimidating!). We'd only been working in the gallery for a few hours, but I wanted to make something and call it done. Commitment issues handled.

Upper Right: This golden porcupine, on the other hand, took a significant amount of time. I assembled, painted, glued, disassembled, painted, tied, and re-glued until he was the exact right mix of packrat and sloth growing algae.

Bottom Row: These village people were also a labor of love, taking the full afternoon and evening portion of the second day. Their little heads were actually curled slats that I cut of some old blinds. The metal rings and bottle caps were added to counter-act the top heavy spring arms.

The Permanent Collection

When the show was complete, YSAC placed a piece (the teacup being and scaffolding he's sitting on pictured above) that Ron and I collaborated on in the council's permanent collection. This is the only simultaneous occurrence of "Jennifer Bachelder" and "permanent collection" that you'll find, and I couldn't be more thankful.


Locked In, Dayton City Paper, Nov. 11, 2014: Here

Artists Under Lock and Key, Yellow Springs News, Nov. 13, 2014: Here



Title Photo: Wesley Caribe via Unsplash