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Or, maybe I just had an outdated idea of what dance is.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!

A Peek into the Creative Process…/ Balance

I thought I’d post this…. a peek into my creative process.  This is a recent page in my sketchbook where I’m playing with some ideas to build some “didactic panels,” including using a couple of version of an electronic set up to create a informational recordings and some specimen display cases.  Maybe I can build a couple of these when things settle down a little for me.

Things have definitely been busy.  I just finished the EMMEDIA film project, Morphopodia, and *BOOM* I’m off on this Gushul Residency. Right after I get back from here, I’ll be participating in Spark, a collaborative performance, which will culminate in two performances in October, the 18th and 19th, which is my birthday.  One thing after another.  After Spark, I have a residency in the St[art] space in Art Central for November and December.  My original plan was to do some animation there, but that might change.  It’s even hard to predict now, when it’s only a month and a half away.  And I’m also working on stuff for the New Alberta Contemporaries Exhibition, happening in January.  And wanting to apply for grad school this year. And keeping up with the IMR blog, and this blog here, and keeping an eye on calls for submissions and what’s going on in Calgary, and other places.  Things are definitely busy… sometimes almost overwhelmingly busy.  And I’ve been lucky.  To be accepted to do all these things, and to be able to do them.  To have these opportunities and projects to persue.  It sure doesn’t get boring.

I think my challenge for the next year is to find a balance.  A balance of working, both my arts practice and a job.  A balance of activities, types of activities.  A balance between too much work time and too much leisure time.  I’ll figure it out.  Things at least seem less dire than I thought they would be after graduation….. I had only a brief encounter with my “summer problem,” and since then, have managed to keep a handle on it by being busy.  Now, I just need to find the balance that will work for me.

Scuttle, scuttle…. and the Providing Universe

This is one of the tiny animations I spent the day doing.  I don’t know what takes more time- animation or video work.  Notice that textile practices, while time consuming, are not included in this ‘contest’, because they, at least, usually produce a tangible result directly related to the amount of effort put in.  I feel like I can spend the day filming, or animating, and still end up with nothing, or at least nothing usable.

Anyway.

I spent the day taking care of a few things, and doing some photography and animation in Fish Creek Park!  I always feel a little self conscious out there with my camera, tripod, Morphoids, backpack full of tools (fishing line, scissors, giant bulldog clips, needles, and bug spray), and of course, wagon to haul everything in, and today was no different.  Although today WAS different.  A woman, out walking her dog, asked me what I was doing, so I explained.  “I’m actually making a short stop-motion animation…” and she looked confused, but I showed her some of the photos on my camera, and she understood, and we ended up having a little conversation about what I do, and the Morphoids, and I gave her a pamphlet. (This is why I carry them everywhere.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, a pamphlet is priceless, and it does the remembering for you!)  She seemed to enjoy it and was very pleasant to talk to.

It’s funny to me, because just the other day I was talking (complaining, is probably more accurate) about not having many chances to talk about my practice and what I do… and here, an opportunity walks right up and asks me about it!  The moral of the story: Ask and ye shall receive!  And that much stranger, because in the last couple of days, I’ve been reading Julia Cameron‘s Letters to a Young Artist, which I had bought a couple years ago, but never really read.

Page 63: “Once we begin looking for the universe to support our creative dreams, the universe is very inventive and even humorous in how it provides support.” And then she describes “needs” such as space, and increased visibility, and examples on how the universe provides- by “being asked to participate in an open mike event” or “getting asked to house-sit a loft.”  I verbalized wanting to talk more about my work, and along came the opportunity.  Not exactly what I was expecting, but…. fulfilling, all the same.  Funny how that works.

Limbo-land….

The last five years of my life....

 

So now that I have that shiny new BFA…. what’s next?  I mean, I’ve got a few shows and things lined up, but what am I really doing?  I’ve been working hard on my practice, but feel that right now, no one but me is really looking at it.  I suppose it is a little inevitable- that happy place full of community- classmates, teachers, and friends- seems a little far away now, and I’m feeling like I’m working in a vacuum.  My opportunities to bounce ideas off people are becoming fewer and farther between.  I mean, the boyfriend is great (supportive and everything he should be), but he doesn’t have the training to be of value to me to ask me the tough questions and help me push my work forward.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel like I’m in the ‘in-between place,’ the place I’m sure most graduates experience, but somehow seems worse for art students.  Most programs I would think train you for a specific type of job, a job in your field.  I am looking for a job, any job, to support me and my art ‘habit.’  Whether or not it’s in the arts.  And even when I get one, is that what I really want, a day job (that may be interesting and enjoyable if I am lucky enough) and to have the odd exhibition?  Is this what it’s really like ‘out there’, waiting for those few moments when people actually see your work, hoping to start a bit of dialog about it?  I’ve been excited about my practice and busy making work lately, with the film and the website, doing some photography, making skeletons and Morphoid noises, prepping for a certain show, etc, but I feel like I haven’t really talked to anyone about it, except in the two times I’ve met a few of the Fibre girls for coffee.  And even then, our practices are only a small part of the conversation.

I definitely miss the community, and seeing my best friends just about every day.  I’m desperately trying to ‘switch gears,’ and get to a place where I feel somewhat comfortable again, a place where I know what my goals are and how I will continue my practice and pay the rent.  I know that I will get there eventually,  but right now, I feel a little…. uprooted.

Time, I guess.

And I think I need to figure out exactly what it is that I want, now that I’ve achieved my BFA (my last big milestone).  I definitely want to go to grad school, but not because I don’t know what else to do.  In this next year or so, I’d really like to find something of my stride, to reaffirm that this is the right choice for me, and hopefully make it a little easier for me to adjust after a couple more years of school (because I’ve done it once already).

My challenge now is to find my new stride, and trust that it will all work out in the end (because it will).  I just hate limbo-land.

Nudibranchia/ A breakthrough

So this year, as in the last few months or so, I’ve felt like I was having a bit of an artistic crisis.  While I was enjoying my work, I didn’t really know what exactly I was trying to do, or why.  I was trying to make my work about a really heavy topic (genetic engineering and the meddling of man), but my work is more…. light and a little bit funny.  I was told my artist statement didn’t match my work, which, in hindsight, I agree with. 

So I felt a little lost.   I kept making work, and continued to play with work I had already made (in my Stride exhibition, as well as other places), and there was no slowing of the ideas there.  But how do I formulate it?  Talk about it?  What exactly was I trying to do?

I spent time with the Morphoids, studied them.  I photographed them in nature, in my house, had other people photograph them in their houses.  I was concerned about display (all on the floor?) and how to present my work to get what I wanted across.  Problem was, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted.

And then I started doing animation.  I did a really short stop-motion animation this semester, mostly because I felt like I had been talking about it for so long, I had to do it before I was finished ACAD.  Again, I wasn’t really sure exactly what the animation would be about. My narratives tend to be really subtle, because we relate to the Morphoids much differently than we relate to, say, other human beings, pets, or even puppets that are intended to resemble human beings.  So I approached the animation with an idea about trying to just observe what the Morphoid might possibly do if we weren’t there.  

While I feel the animation is successful, especially for a first animation, there are some major problems with it, mainly that I don’t really know how to use my mother’s camera.  I had to figure out how to address the problems without redoing the animation, as I didn’t have the time to do it. I had other work to do, and the animation was to try it before I graduated, because I’ve talked about wanting to do it for a year now. The biggest problems  were the jumpiness of the film, the background, and the coloring wasn’t quite right.  So, I decided to frame it like it was newfound old black and white footage of a creature we’ve never seen before.  I think it’s quite effective in this way, although I still want to redo the animation, or do a similar one a little differently.

The timing must have been right with doing this animation. It seems to have solved my context problem.  I needed to sort of explain what the “footage” was and where it came from, so I introduced it as “presented by the Institute of Morphoid Research,” not really thinking too hard about it.  So now I have a context to work in, and am working on developing the IMR and framing my practice by the parameters I am setting up for the IMR. (More on that later.)

A role model of mine, artist Suzen Green said, in one of her recent blog posts, “As a teacher, when I see students struggling with the conceptual side of their work I always tell them to ground themselves in process and the answer will come on its own terms. Making is its own form of meditation. … Answers will make themselves known when [you’re] ready to receive them.”  

Sometimes the answer to a problem you have comes out of something else all together.

Nudibranchia/ A breakthrough

So this year, as in the last few months or so, I’ve felt like I was having a bit of an artistic crisis.  While I was enjoying my work, I didn’t really know what exactly I was trying to do, or why.  I was trying to make my work about a really heavy topic (genetic engineering and the meddling of man), but my work is more…. light and a little bit funny.  I was told my artist statement didn’t match my work, which, in hindsight, I agree with. 

So I felt a little lost.   I kept making work, and continued to play with work I had already made (in my Stride exhibition, as well as other places), and there was no slowing of the ideas there.  But how do I formulate it?  Talk about it?  What exactly was I trying to do?

I spent time with the Morphoids, studied them.  I photographed them in nature, in my house, had other people photograph them in their houses.  I was concerned about display (all on the floor?) and how to present my work to get what I wanted across.  Problem was, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted.

And then I started doing animation.  I did a really short stop-motion animation this semester, mostly because I felt like I had been talking about it for so long, I had to do it before I was finished ACAD.  Again, I wasn’t really sure exactly what the animation would be about. My narratives tend to be really subtle, because we relate to the Morphoids much differently than we relate to, say, other human beings, pets, or even puppets that are intended to resemble human beings.  So I approached the animation with an idea about trying to just observe what the Morphoid might possibly do if we weren’t there.  

While I feel the animation is successful, especially for a first animation, there are some major problems with it, mainly that I don’t really know how to use my mother’s camera.  I had to figure out how to address the problems without redoing the animation, as I didn’t have the time to do it. I had other work to do, and the animation was to try it before I graduated, because I’ve talked about wanting to do it for a year now. The biggest problems  were the jumpiness of the film, the background, and the coloring wasn’t quite right.  So, I decided to frame it like it was newfound old black and white footage of a creature we’ve never seen before.  I think it’s quite effective in this way, although I still want to redo the animation, or do a similar one a little differently.

The timing must have been right with doing this animation. It seems to have solved my context problem.  I needed to sort of explain what the “footage” was and where it came from, so I introduced it as “presented by the Institute of Morphoid Research,” not really thinking too hard about it.  So now I have a context to work in, and am working on developing the IMR and framing my practice by the parameters I am setting up for the IMR. (More on that later.)

A role model of mine, artist Suzen Green said, in one of her recent blog posts, “As a teacher, when I see students struggling with the conceptual side of their work I always tell them to ground themselves in process and the answer will come on its own terms. Making is its own form of meditation. … Answers will make themselves known when [you’re] ready to receive them.”  

Sometimes the answer to a problem you have comes out of something else all together.