Looking Back….

2011.

It was an interesting year.  It was definitely a year of transition for me, of growth and learning, and though the year is done, I am not (really).

Let’s recap (in no particular order):

1) The biggest one for me this year, GRADUATION.

Feeling like all my hard work over the last five years has paid off, and at that moment, I was exactly where I should have been.  This was the right choice for me, and I know/ knew that it would be a difficult path sometimes, but I love the adventure, and the personal rewards and the community is a treasure.

2) The GUSHUL RESIDENCY.

Amazing! The experience was amazing, my studio mate was incredible- fun, smart, motivated, caring, and adventurous, and I learned a lot! It was great to feel validated as an artist, and to get to spend a whole month concerned about nothing but having an adventure and making work was incredible, a luxury I hope to have again sometime.  Definitely an amazing first artist residency experience in on of my favourite parts of the world, and not too far away from home. Trap/Door Artist Run Centre.

3) SPARK (Fluid Festival)

Undersense. By Veronica Benz and Jennifer Akkermans. Photo by Ron Checora.

The two week intensive collaborative residency taught me to trust my own decisions and those of my partner.  It was definitely a unique experience, resulting in a very interesting show.  I learned a lot about my own creative process, as well as that of others, and by the end of it, felt like I had made twelve new friends!  (And all the Happy Birthday texts showing up in one particularly memorable audience interaction piece was very sweet!)

4) Making my film, MORPHOPODIA through EMMEDIA.

Humongous project. I learned to use what I had access to.  EMMEDIA was great with the technical stuff- teaching me how to use the equipment and software to edit, and allowing me the opportunity to make the film, but, in all honesty, there is so much more involved in taking on a project like this.  Planning, writing scripts, finding and coordinating actors, volunteers and helpers (all of which have their own busy schedules), finding someone with a vehicle to move large amounts of equipment around reliably (more than I’m used to carrying on the train, anyway), setting up sets and scenes, adjusting lighting, sound, acting, editing, etc.

5) Terrarrium / International Festival of Animated Objects

This exhibition, in Stride‘s +15, was an opportunity for me to explore how the Morphoids would interact with eachother over a period of time.  The show was up for two months, February and March, I believe, and because it was part of the IFAO, I adjusted the exhibit twice a week, creating a storyline, like a very slow stop-motion animation. The personalities of the Morphoids came out, and there was an accident, resulting in one of the Morphoids getting eaten. (It’s funny, this seems like much longer ago, probably because I’ve done a lot since then.)

6) ArtaWEARness

A lesson in time management, depending on other people, and building things for the body.  In particular, this shoulder piece.  It was so complicated to get to sit in the right place and stand up, but I count it as an engineering success. (Model: Sara Girletz.)

7) St[art] Residency/ Calgary Allied Arts Foundation.

This is the last thing I have participated in this year, and I actually still have the space until January the 8th.  I used the two month residency in art central to do some drawings, develop some ideas for the insides and organs of some of the Morphoids, and I built a set and animated a Morphoid hatching.  A great opportunity to do something I would not have the space to do properly at home. Calgary Allied Arts Foundation

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In terms of my practice, this year has been pretty amazing.  I made the transition from student to artist, showing work, looking for opportunities, and developing my practice.  I learned a lot, including learning to work with film and basic animation, modeling materials, constructing things from wood, etc, etc, etc.  There have of course been other cool things going on this year, but these are definitely the highlights.

I can only hope that next year yields as many opportunities!

Goodbye 2011!

(Hello 2012.)

 

Prairie Dance Circuit

Tonight I attended the Fluid Festival‘s Prairie Dance Circuit!  It was definitely an interesting show, much different than the events I am used to attending.  As a visual artist, most of my “culture” comes from attending art openings, museums and galleries, and, once in a while, the theatre.  I must admit that this was my first actual dance show, although I get the feeling that the genre might be more experimental than I thought. Or possibly this show is more experimental than the genre.

Or, maybe I just had an outdated idea of what dance is.  I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but the Prairie Dance Circuit wasn’t really it.  It wasn’t at all stuffy, or boring, or girls in tutus.  Actually, clothing was an interesting common thread running through the line-up: from the amazingly furry high heels of Robin Poitras’ soft foot, to the enigmatic hoodie of Nicole Mion’s dancer in Quiver, to Brian Webb’s onstage “wardrobe changes,” to Davida Monk’s Under Cover of Darkness, where the focus of the dance is the dancer’s relationship with her clothing.

My favorite, though, of the 5 performances, did not share this clothing thread as strongly.  Brent Lott’s The Occasion of Our Passing was an enchanting duet between a male and a female dancer.  The performance seemed to illustrate a perhaps unspoken dialog between two people as they grow older… through the excitements of love, life and growing up/ growing old, highlighting their independent struggles and epiphanies, and their changing relationship with one another.  There were some particularly impressive moments where the positions of the performers were dependent on each other, using the tension between them and even their limbs to support each other.

The show was really more diverse than I was expecting- an interesting cross between dance, music, theatre, and even art.  It was an unusual experience for me, and I’m glad I went, and will likely go to more dance events in the future.  (Actually, tomorrow, I will be going to see the Alberta Dance Showcase! Stay tuned!)

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This is a guest post I wrote for the Fluid Festival’s blog…. see it here!

The Spark Performances!

The Spark Performances were last night and the night before.  It was a really unusual, exciting show!  Our work went really well, according to the other performers and the people I talked to in the audience, because I didn’t actually see it!  Being back stage, ready for a bow, means that you’re standing still as still can be, behind a giant black curtain, waiting.

Anyway, these are just a couple of pictures from the dress rehearsal.  All photos in this post by Ron Checora.

This is me and Veronica at our final dress rehearsal!

And a larger view of the space…

And, of course, congrats to all the other artists in the show!

Spark Rehearsal #….?

This image is totally unrelated. Except maybe to depict our path to this point. Abstractly.

 

So Veronica and I have been working hard on this collaboration thing, and it’s going well.  It’s a little intense, though- For example, I have no idea how many rehearsals we’ve had already!  And the show is coming up quickly…. our Tech rehearsal is tomorrow!

The project is going well, though.  We both feel good about things.  I don’t want to give away too much information, because I want you to come to the show! You know.  We did comment, however, that though the piece is definitely a collaboration, it is a dance, and I think I actually like that.  It’s interesting to see how something I made can take on a life of it’s own, and become sort of an inanimate partner with Veronica. It’s not a dancer and a prop, but seems to be a fully integrated, cohesive duet between the two.

Anyway, tomorrow we have our last “production-time” rehearsal, and in the evening, our tech time.  Monday is dress rehearsal day, and Tuesday and Wednesday are show days!  I’m pretty excited to see this thing with all the lights and a real audience (which hopefully includes YOU)!

And just so you know, unless we’ve already made plans (you know who you are), I’m doing absolutely nothing all day Thursday.  I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had a day to do whatever I wanted.  (Well, and Wednesday is my birthday, but I’m pretending it’s Thursday, and that’s my gift to myself: to do whatever I damn well want.)

Spark Rehearsal #1.

Today was rehearsal #1 for the Spark Performance, coming up in less than 2 weeks.  I am working with Veronica Benz, a Calgarian dancer, and so far, I think we’re both pretty pleased where things are going.  I don’t want to say too much here, as things can change very quickly, but things are going well.  We have generally decided on the structure of our performance, what we want to include, and have talked about music, and even costume!  I feel like things are going well, and I definitely know what I need to do before our next meeting on Monday.

Our rehearsal space for the day was the Seafood Market Studios.  I didn’t realize how large that space is, because I had never been there before.  It has individual studio spaces, as well as a kitchen/ hangout space, and a humungous empty space, which functioned really well as our rehearsal space.  Really, we only used, say, a quarter of the space that was available to us.  and it was really quiet, but that might have been the time we were there- Saturday morning of a long weekend.

Veronica seemed to enjoy the “things” I had made to play with today.  I brought in a few soft scultpture shapes that I had made last night, including a thing with three loops, a log thing that curls, and a sort of sleeve with a stiff part in the end of it.  (If that sounds cryptic, maybe it was intended to, as, again, I don’t want to give away too much in case we end up totally scrapping it.  The “creative process” is sometimes a lot less pretty than people think.  I make a lot of ugly and awkward things on the way to the good stuff.  Props made of recycled old bedsheets, for example.  Lol.)  Veronica tried an incredible amount of different kinds movements and experiments, most of which would never have occurred to me.

I’m learning that there are some definite similarities between her art form and mine, and some distinct differences.  For example, we both seem to be able to mine the most potential out of things by physically playing with them.  For me, it’s the challenge of building something and spacial relationships in terms of that, and for her, there seems to be much more of  focus on how things function in a larger space and in relation to her/us. And a sketchbook/ notebook is a must.  Even if you can’t actually read it later.

The vocabulary is definitely different.  The way the same words are used is different.  I find myself asking what things mean, and explaining things I had assumed she would understand.  I’m definitely learning a lot.

Anyway, things look promising, and we both feel good about it. I think our curators made a good match, at least in our case. We know what we think we need to do next. (And I suppose that’s all we can ask for at this point.) Stay tuned!

Coming Up: Fluid Festival!

I am one of the visual artists in the Spark Program, performing as part of the Fluid Festival, happening here in Calgary on the 18th and 19th at the Big Secret Theatre.  See the Fluid Festival website for tickets and more information!

Tuesday night was our official kick-off!  We toured the space, learned a bit about what our limitations and expectations are, and met with all the wonderful people who will help us on our way (such as tech, lighting, and our self-proclaimed festival ‘go-to girl.’  Our courageous curators (!) have matched us up in teams of two- one visual artist and one dancer/movement artist.  I’m paired with the lovely Veronica Benz, who seems as jazzed about the match as I am.  We have two weeks to come up with something, and so… we’ll see what happens!

(And here’s a blog post about last year’s show.)

Spark Meet-n-Greet!

I went to the Spark Meet and Greet the other night, at the one of the curators, Kris‘s house.  We had a little potluck, and did a few different exercises, including reading something we had brought for a few minutes.  It was interesting to see what people had brought, and I wonder if/how it will influence my opinion of them.  I knew quite a few of the other “visual arts” participants from other instances and opportunities in my professional life, but there were a few that I didn’t know, including a couple of guys who had just graduated from U of C.  I don’t know many of the dancers.  I think they said there are 12 of us in total, which will be paired up into teams.

This project sounds like it is going to be a really interesting sort of collaboration.  I hope that I take full advantage of the opportunity, and use it to both grow and push my boundaries, and produce something I am proud of.  The opportunity could open up new possibilities for me, in terms of new ideas and ways of working, and meeting new people to potentially collaborate with again, down the line.  I am curious to see what comes out of this and where it could possibly lead.

Spark!

I’ve been accepted to participate in the Fluid Festival this year, as one of the Spark artists.  This segment of the festival pairs up a visual artist with a dancer or performer, and the two working collaboratively for a couple of weeks, culminating in some type of performance.

I have no idea who I will be working with yet…. we are still hammering out the details.  To see what the project is all about, visit Springboard Performance, particularly this blog post about last year’s show.