“Zuster Sweostor Systir”, a companion show to my project from this past spring and summer “Mater Matrix Mother and Medium” , opens on First Thursday, Feb. 4th 2010 at Ohge Ltd. Gallery, Seattle. The show features a film made in collaboration with Ian Lucero, created out of Zoe Scofield and Morgan Henderson’s performance from MMMM, performance artifacts, as well as photographs created in collaboration with Jennifer Zwick, performance photos by Juniper Shuey, as well as paper quilts and objects and photos created in collaboration with Paul Margolis that came out of my continued fascination with the fabricated woods we find around Seattle.
MMMM involved me in highly collaborative relationships with several artists, the Seattle public and, in a very real sense, a small patch of urban forest. This sister show, coming a year after I began roving about hidden patches of forest all over Seattle, is a way to share these collaborations, these fertile offshoots that continued to instigate new work for me long after the very public part of MMMM was completed.
During my six weeks of residency at Camp Long in Seattle, spending long hours crocheting a fabricated river into the trees, I spent a great deal of time in quiet, face pressed to bark, watching ants travel, ducks tend to ducklings and watching small changes take place every day in my pond. A giant Barred Owl watched me, and it all felt very viscerally wild. But in between the quiet was the blast of horns from ships, a low hum of cars on the interstate and the weekly visit of the grounds keep with a leaf blower. This forest, like most in Seattle — save for a few trees in Seward Park, has nothing to do with the deep mystery of the forest that was once here. It is fabricated, tended, groomed, minded, the old pond filled with a hose when it gets too low. An early photograph in the lodge shows the landscape barren, stripped of its organic past. Zoe Scofield, on an early site visit, astutely observed how like a stage set it all was, and we intended to draw that out. The theatricality of the park is like that of a 18th century folly, a ruin, at once referencing a romantic vision of nature as well as the human longing to experience something more sublime. I felt something of that sublime, following that great owl that watched me midday, I went off trail until I stood below it. And when its head glided around so that it could glare at me, warn me, I felt a jolt of instinct or electricity. In the fabricated, tiny forests we tend, there is still buried the pull the human animal has always felt, to go back. As the summer came to ending, and I cut down the river, folded it up, I came back to my site over and over again as the forest turned to fall. With my son, I sifted for skeletal leaves on my hands and knees, just as we had sifted through dead leaves at the bottom of the pond looking for salamander egg sacks, finding the perfect lacy forms like Scandinavian lace discarded after a flood. I wanted to sew the forest together into a blanket, organize it all, to prepare for the winter, the leaves the same color as my hair, everything going red to brown. We found nurse logs feeding Turkey Tail fungus like crocheted ruffles, and orange mushrooms under which we buried a mouse. On our hands and knees, it wasn’t urban recreation, but fairy tale. I collected my hair and Hazel’s hair, had it spun into yarn, and we each took on our roles in a landscape both out of our reach and right there with us, as organic as it is artificial.
A film still from the short film that Ian Lucero is working on based on the MMMM performance. I have seen about 3 minutes of a promo, and am so thrilled, and so truly truly grateful to have had the chance to work with such incredible artists, Ian, Morgan and Zoe (and Juniper Shuey and Paul Margolis). All so generous and humble and so full of vision….
The film will premier at Ohge Ltd. Gallery in Seattle in January 2010….stay tuned….
The 3 minute promo will be showing at Dalton Gallery at Agnes Scott College….I am here in Atlanta installing the river as part of “Still Water”….
This Saturday May 30th from 5-8pm at the Columbia City Gallery , I have work in a group show called “5280; Ten Artists Living Within a Mile of the Gallery”. I’ll be showing a little bit of inspiration for MMMM — another product of a collaboration with an incredible performer. Last summer and fall, I collaborated with the luminous performance artist, Haruko Nishimura.
Together we created a hybridized mythological creature, the Slug Princess — an arion slug goddess — with my work as the lumbering undulating skin and Haruko’s work with Butoh as the mercurial spirit of this creature of appetite. We then worked with filmmaker Ian Lucero to create a short film called “The Silvering Path”, shot at Smoke Farm in Arlington Washington.
It was an intensely inspiring experience for me, watching my work, shredded fibers and yarns crocheted and beaded, pulsing and lumbering through tall grasses, twisting around rocks, picking up dirt, moisture and life.
I believe the three of us together created something really beautiful and unsettling, and I wanted more. More collaboration, and more of seeing fiber breath to life, not just because it was wrapped around a body, but because it rubbed and caressed the natural environment. I knew I wanted to do work that didn’t just use the natural environment as a site for action, but would become entwined, enmeshed with all the processes, however minute, of the environment. I wanted to push my work with a performer further away from “costume” & literally interweave the body into the landscape using stones, trees and flowing water interacting with changing fabric. I wanted to explore using the environment as material not simply backdrop, to create an installation that is in & changed by the elements.
Then this SPU project came up, and of course those desires and ideas from the Silvering Path directly inspired what I am trying to accomplish now with MMMM and the interaction with the landscape at Camp Long. So, at the Columbia City Gallery I’ll be showing the slug wearable element as well as these giant magic crocheted cabbages from the film. It’s a group show celebrating 10 years of the Gallery, as well as celebrating this little hub of artists down here in the south end. More about “The Silvering Path”…
And the Gallery has also generously offered to host a crochet event on Thursday June 11 from 6-8 pm, so you can come crochet,see the show, catch dinner at Tutta Bella and head to a movie at Columbia Cinema. Columbia City has it all!! The Columbia City Gallery is at 4864 Rainier Ave S | Seattle WA 98118 | 206.760.9843
“5,280” runs from May 27 – July 5th, 2009