Image Left: Cease Wyss leads the MFAIA-WA through a walk through the forests of Fort Worden, as participants receive the teachings of northwest coast plants. Image Right: Patrisse Cullors leads participants through the ceremony of having each others’ backs in radical acts of remembrance. Photos: Goddard College
Ceremonial Activism with Cease Wyss and Patrisse Cullors
The March MFAIA residency in Port Townsend was a great success in renewing our commitment to skill-sharing and collective responsibility for hospitality. The residency theme was “ What is Enough and When Enough is Enough: Contemporary Activism, Well-Being and the Practice of Art.” Our partnership with Centrum allowed us to host Cease Wyss (Skwxw’u7mesh ethnobotanist, media artist, educator, and food security activist) and Patrisse Cullors (artist, organizer, freedom fighter and co-founder of Black Lives Matter) for five days of ceremonial activism and rituals of collective care. Cease opened the week with a Reciproci-tea Party, serving us tea as she individually looked in each person’s eyes with reciprocal gratitude, followed by a cedar wash for each participant. Patrisse held space for a ceremony of memory in which we each received thanks for remembering our ancestors, our beloveds. We welcomed local participants to join us in leaning towards joyous, radiant resistance.
MFAIA Launches Two New Concentrations
The MFAIA program will be launching two concentrations this year, an excellent way to celebrate our twentieth anniversary. The Performance Creation concentration was launched in Vermont in February, and the Indigenous and Decolonial Art concentration will enroll current Washington students in September.
Image Left: Performance puppets created by Susan Buroker for Little Fish, graduating student presentation, Goddard College VT campus, July 2016. Photo: Brenda Bowyer. Image Right: Antigone by Sophocles reset in Boston, following the Boston Marathon Bombing, Tiresias as a 5-headed, multilingual prophet, condemns Creon’s actions. Directed by alumna Catharine Slusar, Bryn Mawr College. Photo: Kate Raines
MFAIA VT is pleased to announce that 20 current students opted to enroll in the inaugural semester of the Performance Creation Concentration, significantly exceeding projections. Equally exciting is the range of interdisciplinary practices represented among this cohort, with theatre makers (including actors, directors, playwrights), as well as musicians and composers, vocal artists, choreographers and movers, and community-engaged facilitators and ‘difficultators’. MFAIA Faculty Advisors for the Performance Creation Concentration are Peter Hocking, Gale Jackson, Andrea Parkins, and Rachael Van Fossen.
This new Concentration within the MFAIA program came about thanks to input from several VT alumni who are performance creators, including theatre maker alumna Catharine Slusar (MFAIA-VT ’15). Catharine is an award-winning actor and director, and an Assistant Professor of Theater at Bryn Mawr College. Areas of research in multilingual performance, intergenerational Shakespeare, and “the embodied mind” through performance demonstrates the expansiveness of potential areas of inquiry within the Performance Creation Concentration.
Thanks to The Evergreen State College Longhouse Staff and Board for hosting MFAIA-WA Faculty and Alumni for a meeting before our S17 residency on March 16. We were warmly welcomed and well fed! Photo Goddard College
Indigenous and Decolonial Art
The Indigenous and Decolonial Art concentration co-authors, MFAIA Program Director JuPong Lin and MFAIA-WA Faculty Advisor Devora Neumark, developed the initiative through a year-long process of review and in consultation with students, faculty, and staff of Goddard College. The concentration is the first of its kind in the United States—an academic initiative, the mission of which is to bring together indigenous and non-indigenous artists seeking graduate arts education.
With this concentration, we aim to foster a learning environment in which indigenous students can create indigenous-centered learning experiences, while in dialogue with non-indigenous students who are supported to develop decolonial strategies.
Coinciding with the public launch of the concentration next March 2018, we will also convene a one-day event on Indigeneity and Decolonization to be hosted by our partner, The Evergreen State College (TESC) Longhouse Education and Cultural Center. The recent planning meeting on March 16 hosted by TESC Longhouse strengthened our relationships and gave shape to the integration of indigenous protocols and ceremony with dialogue circles intended to deepen and expand the conversation among the diversity of indigenous artists and with non-indigenous artists/allies.
Current MFAIA-VT student (enrolled in the Performance Creation concentration) Stefanie Batten Bland embarks on their newest interdisciplinary community-engaged creation, Bienvenue, which is a dance theatre performance that will examine the different definitions of a wall and the willingness to welcome and share space with others; in a time of prevailing frontier identity. Bienvenue unites University Settlement and La MaMa Experimental Theatre in an intergenerational inter-cultural conversation that chooses to see a wall as a community mural of expression, rather than a barrier of division and separation. As the streets and content of the Lower East Side, SoHo and East Village continue to gentrify, Company SBB will highlight these neighborhoods, which are rich in historical and present-tense identity. Runs from May 25-28, 2017 La MaMa Experimental Theatre, 66 East 4th Street, NY,10003.
Stefanie Batten Bland is the Artistic Director of Company SBB and the co-recipient of the 2016 Jerome Robbins Award (with Alex Timbers). Christopher Pennington, Executive Director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation described Stefanie Batten Bland’s work as, “vivid, subtly feral work that investigates humanity. Through movement, light, and sound, her creations explore our relationships to one another as people as well as our relationship with the world around us.”
Birds Published and Adara Meyers Interviewed
Current MFAIA-VT student Adara Meyers was interviewed about theatre and poetics for the fourth issue of spoKe, a Boston-based poetry annual. An excerpt from Meyers’ play, Birds, was also published. The issue launch was held on February 17th at Grolier Poetry Bookshop, in Cambridge, MA.
UnPresidented Photo Book
Current MFAIA-VT student Reuben Radding has two photographs from the 2016 inauguration week that will be included in the book UnPresidented: The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump and the People’s Response, due out in April 2017 on Cosmic Smudge Media.
The Free Black Women’s Library wins Brooklyn Arts Council Grant
Current MFAIA-VT student Olaronke Akinmowo has received a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council to make a short documentary about her social art project, The Free Black Women’s Library.
Karin Bolender and Emily Stone will lead participants into a collective experiment: together and in our own special ways, to explore and map traces of invisible lives through moving bodies (seen and unseen) and flowing muds, grasses, and rhizomes of a RAW pasture, each seeking what we need and desire by following a mysterious “treasure map” drawn by microscopic Bacillus, cultured on site from the tongue of Aliass, wise and lovely American Spotted Ass grand-dam of the RAW herd. Photo courtesy of the artists
Domestic/Wild and Rural Alchemy Workshop (RAW) Present: Welcome to the Secretome, a performative workshop in Philomath, Oregon (home of artist Karin Bolender’s Rural Alchemy Workshop)
In association with The Arts Center and Oregon State University’s Department of Microbiology’s exhibition MICROBIOMES: To See the Unseen, alumni Karin Bolender (MFAIA-VT ’07) and Emily Stone (MFAIA-WA ’08) will host a limited number of participants for this two-hour site-specific immersive experience exploring microbes and other unseen living ally entities, which sustain biomes of all types. Following introductory performances by Emily Stone and Karin Bolender, participants will be invited to take part in a collective experiment and Feast of the Muzzle Tongue, wherein everyone will “eat, drink, and make merry with various bacterial companions, making spaces for more inclusive multispecies stories with some of our newest, oldest friends”.
Saints of Failure, An Interdisciplinary Performance Work by Ryan Conarro
Alumnus Ryan Conarro (MFAIA-WA ‘15) will be the featured guest artist at the Claflin University Arts & Letters Annual Bash (funding by the National Endowment for the Arts) in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where he’ll present SAINTS OF FAILURE: his new performance work-in-progress. Conarro’s key collaborator for this project is alumna Risha Rox (MFAIA-WA ‘16) (makeup designer and coach). The piece uses storytelling, movement, projections from appropriated pages of an illuminated Christian Book of Hours, and costume-and-makeup transformations to reveal and interrogate the layers of identity, with a focus on the frictions inherent in experiences of growing up gay and Catholic. Other collaborators include David Liccardi (sound), Madelein Maby (voiceovers), and Brooke Salyer (stage manager). Initially, Saints of Failure was part of Ryan’s MFA-IA portfolio: Risha and he developed it further last fall in residency at the Gainesville Theatre Alliance Guest Artist Program in Gainesville, GA.
Kane Wright Duo Mini Tour
Alumnus Walter Wright (MFAIA-VT ’07) will be heading out on tour with Bonnie Kane from April 6 through April 14 (inclusive). Their tour will include stops in Turner’s Fall MA, New Paltz, NY, Penobscot ME, Ottawa ON as well as Montreal, Quebec City and Rimouski, QC. Click for Facebook Link here.
Bonnie Kane (flute, sax, electronics) is influenced by early exposure to Sun Ra, studies with Sonny Simmons, Paul McCandless, Glenn Moore, Ralph Towner (Oregon), and Jon Raskin (Rova Saxophone Quartet). Walter Wright (drums, electronics) is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes computer programming, electro-acoustic music and video performance. His focus is on “improvisation as a way of being present in the world.” Wright performs with several groups including Los Condenados, Egregoros, and ensemble inédit?!.
Nicole Oxendine | La Guarida at ARTOMATIC DC
Alumna Nicole Oxendine (MFAIA-WA ‘16) will be exhibiting at ARTOMATIC, 1800 South Bell Street, Crystal City, VA 22202, as part of a collaborative gallery/refuge/respite/hideaway/sacred space — La Guarida — with Marily Mojica & Osbel Susman-Peña.
Tony Torn performing in Latter Days by Ars Nova
Latter Days by Ben Buckley ran through March 11th at Ars Nova (in NYC). Directed by Jess Chayes, produced by Dutch Kills Theater, with Alley Scott as Artistic Director. Featuring Will Dagger and current MFAIA-VT student Tony Torn.
Goodbye Colorado! Hello Washington.
Alumni David Berggren (MFAIA-VT ’09) and Avelynn Mitra (MFAIA-VT ’07) relocated to Olympia, WA, where David plays guitar with the I Corps 56th Army Band at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Avelynn continues to raise their two boys, ages 2 and 4. Their third son, Tristan Rayner, remains in Colorado to finish his last year at the University of Northern Colorado, studying trumpet performance.
Old Friends, New Collaborations
Alumnus Eliot Gray Fisher (MFAIA-WA ’15) was excited earlier this year to have recent graduate Mike Jones (MFAIA-WA ’17) ask him to supervise music for the animated short that premiered at the recent commencement weekend in Port Townsend. Fisher continues to scheme other such collaborations with fellow Goddard alums, while also making new work with ARCOS, the multimedia performance group he co-directs. Recent ARCOS experiments (including Eventual Vestige and d33P) explore the process of capturing and broadcasting performance for our increasingly ubiquitous screens. This spring, ARCOS will present new short works at Austin Dance Festival and Houston’s CounterCurrent Festival, as well as in an exhibit of international net art and virtual reality pieces at Fusebox Festival. Fisher will serve as a guest teaching-artist at University of Texas at Austin for several weeks to advise undergraduates studying “Media Creation for Live Performance” as they prepare for a collaborative production with dance students.
Prehistoric Body Dance Performance
Recent graduate Ari Rudenko (MFAIA-WA ’17) performed a Prehistoric Body solo performance for the Seattle Butoh Festival at the Taoist Studies Institute in Seattle on April 2nd. This performance was at the conclusion of the three-day intensive workshop with Chilean Butoh company Ruta De La Memoria, in which Ari participated. It was free to the public.
Alumna Misha Penton (MFAIA-WA ’13) released Enchant(ed): A New Experimental Vocal Film, created on a Colorado back road in late January 2017. This work emerges from Misha Penton’s belief that “beauty is always subversive”.
The Nightmare Quilt (Revival)
The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture presents The Nightmare Quilt (Revival), 1988-2017 by past MFAIA faculty advisor Beverly Naidus, from February 20 to April 14, 2017 at Seattle Presents Gallery in the Seattle Municipal Tower.
In 1988, Naidus created a dual sided large-scale quilt of 54 panels from canvas scraps and twine. Originally displayed on a bed in a gallery, one side of the quilt depicted her fears for the future and concern for the present. When visitors lifted up sections of the quilt to see the other side, they discovered her dreams. Too unwieldy to move individually, visitors needed to ask for help to uncover the entire quilt of dreams, physically manifesting the artists’ intent to convey that we can’t achieve our collective dreams for the future unless we work together collaboratively. In the Seattle Presents Gallery, Naidus created 27 new panels of nightmares and dreams, updating the quilt to speak to our community’s current fears, hopes and dreams. She also enhanced the installation to create a stronger atmosphere for the quilt, adding in a mixed media wall of tattered clothing and textiles.
Rrose Sélavy — Multi-Media, Kinetic Installation
Rrose Sélavy’ is Marcel Duchamp’s female alter ego. A number of his artworks are signed with her name, and he also dressed as her for public events. The name is a pun for the French, “Eros c’est la vie.” (Eros is life). Alumnus David Sokal (MFAIA-WA ’14) installed his first multi-media, kinetic exhibition of Rrose Sélavy in January 2017, at Gallery 110 in Seattle, WA. This installation is an homage to Duchamp’s work, in particular his masterwork, Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even and consists of kinetic elements and larger than life backlit transparencies.
Writing for Profit: A Business Workshop for Authors
A hands-on workshop led by alumna and award-winning educator/author Pi Luna (MFAIA-WA ’12) discussing a comparison of self-publishing and traditional publishing from a business perspective, covering book production costs, pricing strategies, royalties, marketing, and taxes was held on Thursday, March 23, from 6:00-8:00PM at the Unitarian Universalist Church, Fellowship Room, 107 West Barcelona, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Budget Basics: Financial Capabilities Workshop
Another workshop facilitated by Pi Luna covered how to take control of your money, with a combination of math, art, discussion, and storytelling to bring finance to life. Items covered how to: Make a budget in Excel; Manage inconsistent income; Analyze spending; Work with credit cards; Create a long-term savings plan; Stick to your budget. It was held on March 14 at the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, 1644 St. Michael’s Dr., Santa Fe, NM 87505.
Constance Moore Delivers Commencement Address
The MFAIA-WA Class of S17 invited alumna Constance Moore (MFAIA-WA ’15) to deliver the commencement address at graduation. Here she talks about two birds, the ostrich and the vulture, for guidance in these complex times. Video: Goddard College
Decolonizing Nature: Resistance | Resilience | Revitalization
The Decolonizing Nature conference will be held at the University of New Mexico on April 19-22 and is free and open to the public. Two members of the MFAIA community will be included in the film screening on Tuesday, April 18. Return of the River co-produced and co-directed by John Gussman and alumna Jessica Plumb (MFAIA-WA ’10), tells the story of a remarkable campaign to set a river free, culminating in the largest dam removal in history…The community comes to a consensus, setting the Elwha River free and showing the way to more sustainable future. Amid grim environmental news, Return of the River is a film infused with hope.
MFAIA Program Director JuPong Lin will screen 1000 Gifts of Decolonial Love, an instructional video poem based on a performative poem that weaves together the story of hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan), endangered cranes, the instructions for folding paper cranes, reflections on cultural memory, and movements to protect Earth and all life endangered by the legacy of colonialism and climate injustice.
The colonization of nature under capitalism is rooted in an ethos that views human beings as separate to and above nature—Earthmasters for whom the Planet is an inexhaustible reservoir of natural resources to be exploited. With profit as the prime motive, the resources are denuded beyond sustainable limits for the disproportionate benefit of a wealthy few. Pollution and waste from this activity also is skewed in its impact, in this case to the substantial detriment of poor and marginalized people, indigenous communities, and biotic life. Capital’s colonization of nature has brought us to our current moment of grave ecological peril—climate change, Sixth Extinction, and other human-caused environmental crises that cumulatively and rapidly degrade Earth’s life-sustaining ecological fabric.
Decolonizing Nature has thus become an urgent priority if we are to progress toward a just and sustainable Earth for all living beings. How do we resist further ecological devastation? How do we achieve resilience in times of stress? How do we revitalize affected ecological habitats and communities? The University of New Mexico will host an interdisciplinary environmental justice public forum Decolonizing Nature: Resistance, Resilience, Revitalization, from April 19 through Earth Day, April 22, to address these and related issues.