(T)issues & (In)tangibles
My foundation as an artist is built on the transparency and mutability of things written on the body
Through my work, I create a complex mosaic of body literacy that weaves mystery with insight. I have been inspired by many dance and movement traditions as well as an array of Somatic (mind-body) disciplines. To these practices, I add a rich background in human movement science and embodiment studies.
My movement creations are sourced from everyday experience and intuited from all my relationships. Such creations not only are the (t)issue of my own process and aesthetic, but also enable me to teach others to tap into a deeper source of embodied knowledge for growth and development. Texture is embedded in every helical twist of my DNA – the felt, palpable, tangible and intangible bodily expressions that emerge from movement exploration.
I am nested in the moment of movement impulse that rides the edge of the ordinary into the extra-ordinary. Art begins to take shape in that poised moment when the inner material body finds an expressive outlet. The ‘cloth,’ my body’s integument forms patterns that thread throughout the body and connect the whole. Movement readily locates the body (the corporis fabrica), whose language is deeply sensory.The transformation from primordial impression to articulate expression is not always seamless. I dance out answers, often without knowing the questions. The process is a dialectical tension — both anabolic and catabolic, between constancy and change, habit and novelty, doing and non-doing, trained and improvised movement. The product is a new form of transmission of embodied knowledge, a dance, which sometimes plays out as choreography, movement re-education and research, paper art work, or cell phone photography
Around 2014, I became obsessed with finding a somatic art form that did not come from any previous movement training. The spark came from reading the work of French phenomenologist Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995). In his book The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, Deleuze goes further in interpreting Leibniz’s writings on Baroque philosophy and aesthetics. He builds a model for contemporary science and aesthetics, interpreting the world as comprised of an infinite body of folds and surfaces expressed through space-time, a process of perpetual becoming. I found my springboard for improvisation from Deleuze’s description of physics in which he says (paraphrasing), the smallest unit of matter is not the point, but the fold.
Ah ha moment! Human Origami was born! I found myself starting to explore bodily folding across scale. In this process, exploration of macro- and micro-folding dynamics gave rise to topologies of becoming. Here I found fractal organization within my body, as well as insights into everyday pedestrian movement. I also began playing with paper and fabric, discovering patterns of body movement, of enfolding and unfolding in a living origami. I began to create a sensory-rich, immersive environment for movement exploration in which movers could explore iterative patterns of embodiment. The coupling of perception and action lies outside conventional boundaries of space-time in the non-linear, non-literal – a movement journey into memory, motif and meaning.
At the time (2014-15), I was a fellow at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. I found a unique opportunity to collaborate with multi-media artist (then faculty), Susan Sentler and her dance students. Here, we discovered not only ways that Human Origami could support skills of performance, but also enabled the entry into a liminal space of transformational consciousness. Attention and movement achieved a state of effortless transition and transmission within movement creation. Reflecting on these movement experiences enriches one’sconceptual knowledge of biology (protein folding and human development), biotensegrity (structural integrity), Somatics (sensory-privileged movement exploration) and embodied cognitive neuroscience (choreographic thinking).
I continue to offer local jams on Human Origami, collaborating in Durham, NC with Jude Casseday, soundscape artist, who brings improvised audio origami to our sessions.
My interest in photography grew with the advancement of smart phones. I became interested in the micro-matter of daily life – the small seams, cracks and crevices in both the natural and the material. Mud, bark, dew, trash, plastics…I bring these subjects to life with an iPhone.
I continue to seek ways of pairing these photos with movement and poetry. In 2017, I participated in Dance Latitudes, a community dance project produced by Broadreach dance (Philippa Donnellson, choreographer/director). The project Emily, was shown as an offering for Dublin Culture night – an annual event where all arts organizations – numbering nearly 1000! – open their doors to the public. This was an evening of dance, gesture and text on the poems of Emily Dickinson. The group performed four versions of Emily for Dublin Culture Night – a cultural event that happens every early fall across Ireland. Dublin itself featured over 600 events, testifying to the importance of culture in a small country of four million.
Dickinson’s passionate embrace of both life and death left the world with 1800 poems. As she reached middle age, she dressed only in white, a premonition perhaps of her early death at age 56. For the event, we too dressed in white and performed ten vignettes in a downtown Dublin loft studio, adorned with white walls and white gossamer curtains – a perfect casket for the poet, ‘resurrected’ from the grave.
I mused on the idea of dance as batter, as multiple fluid folds in my life’s mix – from time to time, a new swirl in my matter. I ‘channeled’ Emily for days and even weeks afterwards, her poems branded in my brain, while fragments and images of the performance danced about.
I found some stray packing paper and began to construct torsos. These I paired with photos I had taken of icy sidewalks. To this, I added one of Dickinson’s poems, After great pain, a formal feeling comes (372)
After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –
Last year, I read Richard Powers, The Overstory, a novel of note that speaks of a passionate relationship with trees. One morning in Ireland last year on a casual stroll, I came across a large stump of an old birch tree in the yard of a Dominican boys college. At first, I nearly passed by without a second glance at this tree, now decapitated and discarded. But when I really looked I could see an incredible patterning of lines, an exotic map of the history of the tree.
Please visit my gallery.