SHADOW BIRD AND FIDDLE
We have been able to freely collaborate on this short piece thanks to an Illuminate the Arts Grant received from the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and the Arts and Culture Task Force, and City Council.
EARTH ACTS (explored in residence at Grizzly Grizzly)
An exploratoin with the Philly-based musician Michael McMillan replicating geological processes through shadow and sounds created with objects from nature or their man-made trash-counterparts. In July, I invited Michael to collaborate on an open ended sharing of our music and shadows. As we discovered that we were both interested in teasing apart the foraged and the everyday items that surround us (plastic bags, cans, driftwood, scrap paper), we began to synthesize the sounds and imagery of our world. The time and space that I needed to work on this purely personal project are largely in thanks to Grizzly Grizzly 's 319 Artist Residency, and an Illuminate the Arts Grant received from the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and the Arts and Culture Task Force, and City Council.
TRAUMSEQUENZ / DREAM SEQUENCE (filmed in residence at Grizzly Grizzly)
A series of stills showing the shadow puppets and sets created for Dion Schumann's film True Nature's Child (post-production). It was so much fun to create the dream sequence for Dion's film through shadow puppetry. One of the main reasons for being a resident artist at Grizzly Grizzly was because it helped to set me up with enough space to learn about a double overhead-projector set up (the wonderful vintage kind), which takes plenty of space and neutral walls. The gallery space was perfect, and I wouldn't have been able to shoot this scene as efficiently without that opportunity. After Dion and I had confirmed the scene's storyboard, I set to making each puppet out of paper, wire, and real branches, and then trouble shooting them for composition and ease of puppeteering on the over-head projectors. The most challenging part was lyp-syncing the Crow puppet to its pre-recorded dialogue in German! Some of the puppets required duplicates with a different set of motions. Some required the two-projector set up to achieve effects like beginning lightning and water ripples. My biggest puppet was about an arm's length, and my smallest figure was only a fingernail wide. This project was my first plunge into combining live-performance shadow puppetry with montage.
THE CONDITIONS by Lucy M. May
In 2020 and 2021 I have had the distinct pleasure to be a (long distance) artist/scenographer for the Canadian dance artist Lucy M. May. At the beginning of year, Lucy reached out to me about contributing work to her project titled The Conditions which seeks an embodiment through movement, sound, and shadow of the way sensations gets translated into perception. I joined her Quebec-based team of collaborating artists remotely from Philadelphia in the Spring, sending sewn bodied silhouettes made out of black silk organza in the mail to be fluffed back out and explored in residence at Studio 303 in Montreal. Their forms were intended to shape-shift and take on familiar or strange associations depending on the other elements in the room. The research video and images below are a continuation of this work but in torn paper created while in residence at Grizzly Grizzly this July. I wanted to expand my sense of the body to the space that contains and impresses it through scale and gesture.
The pieces of construction paper here have been randomly torn, and randomly crumpled by the volume of my handful. But under a strong point-source light, they have the capacity to create positive and uncontainable volume in shadow. What is a small tear in the paper becomes a monstrous wing, a cliff, an arch in its shadow. I'm fascinated by this inversion, and in practice this technique feels a lot like spelunking with a blanket-fort sense of wonder. The technique of depicting a roving landscape with a point-source light is a faithful devise for many shadow puppeteers. I've often seen it used to depict moving through forests or cities. I was excited to be brought closer to this method of shadow narrative through the lens of The Conditions.
This project will be ongoing into 2022, and hopefully involving in-person collaboration onsite in Montreal. More documentation to follow.
An invitation to collaborate, a mini imagination-activity shared with all collaborating artists, and for anyone visiting this page. Music by Michael McMillan.
I first learned this exercise in the Advanced Shadow Theater course at the University of Connecticut with shadow puppeteer Annie Katsura Rollins.