T minus three days until our second Maker Faire New York begins, taking place this weekend, September 17 and 18 at The New York Hall of Science in Queens. We continue with our interview series, giving you a chance to sit down and chat with some of the amazing makers who will be there. Today we speak with Patti Robinson of the Time Warp Souvenir project. Patti was at the 1964 Worlds Fair and has a wonderful collection of photos she snapped then. She’ll be at Maker Faire all weekend with her son, Robinson Deckert, photographing folks at the Faire, and making side-by-side mashups of images from 64 and 2011.
1. Tell us about your Time Warp Souvenir project. What inspired you to embark on it?
When I was at World Maker Faire 2010 childhood memories of the 64 Fair flashed in my brain throughout the weekend. In spite of the 40+ years in between, both events are strikingly similar and completely different at the same time — it’s that contradiction that inspires me.
2. Have you done similar projects in the past?
I took thousands of photos of street art and artists on the Lower East Side in the early 80s. My son photographed some of the same sites in 2008, including the Keith Haring mural on Bowery being repainted for what would have been Keith Haring’s 50th birthday. That project is very special to me.
3. How did you hear about Maker Faire and why did you decide to participate?
I’ve wanted to attend Maker Faire in California for years, so when it came to New York at Flushing Meadow I knew I had to be there. Creative people inspiring each other, it’s like church.
4. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started making things and who are your inspirations?
I made my first dress when I was 7 and it was totally ugly, but my mom let me wear it to school anyway. My middle school students inspired me this summer to sign up for fashion design at FIT, and I just started classes. Art school and lots of interesting projects in between. For some reason, it started with fashion, and fashion is having another moment for me now. I have no idea why — I’m just going with it.
5. What is the NEA’s Creative Center and what does it mean to be an artist in residence in health care?
The Creative Center is an organization that trains and places artists in residence in health care settings. (The training was sponsored by the NEA.) It’s about inspiring people to be creative and have fun in a situation where there’s often not a lot of freedom or fun. I feel that I’m more of a collaborator/instigator/comedian when I’m teaching.
6. What new idea has inspired you most recently?
Researching Creative Commons images of the 1964 World’s Fair has inspired me to contribute images to Creative Commons in Flickr. Sharing is good, and we need more of it.
7. What advice would you give to the young makers out there just getting started?
Try collaborating with a few different people. My favorite collaborators are my son and children [who I teach].
My son, Robinson Deckert, just graduated from NYU/Tish for photo. He’s my “Downtown” collaborator and we work together on lots of things. He did “Interactive Pixilation” at MF last year and I propped it for him. He’ll be photographing MF with me this weekend. We made a stop-motion sci-fi film using stuff from our basement, in our basement. You know it’s a great collaboration when you work together for like 1,000 hours in your basement on stop-motion and still get along afterward.
The children are my students/collaborators at camp who are in my recycled fashion design program. I want to adopt them but they already have parents.
8. What’s your motto? Favorite tool?
If I know how something is going to turn out, it’s not worth doing. I like giving secondhand things a new life.
9. What do you love most about NYC?
I’m a downtown person, but last week uptown gave me a reason to fall in love with NYC all over again: Bergdorf’s “Fashion’s Night Out” live windows featuring Lady Bunny, Lipsinka, Ronnie Spector (and more) were magic in the streets.
Thanks Patti! We can’t wait to see what the mashup images look like. For all the information you need to attend the Faire this weekend, look no further than the Maker Faire website.