I have always enjoyed collaborative projects. Years ago, when I first met artist/performer/musician Michael Pestel and saw some of his work, I knew that we should collaborate, but was not entirely sure how. We share many of the same visually esthetic interests, but also a love for sound and movement. I had some complicated sculptural ideas, but none of them felt right. Through the process of drawing using movement as the basis, which I have been pursuing now for several years, I found myself wondering what the absolute most direct way would be to get to the liberating feeling of freely making marks, feeling the marks come through my body in a way that feels like dancing or singing. Working with Michael, I came up with a performance concept which involves responding directly to sound through drawing, and influencing a musician to make sound through the action of observing my act of drawing.
I tried out my concept in the form of a public workshop that happened in conjunction with an event held at Wesleyan University called “The Big Draw.” This now annual event involves an afternoon where several drawing activities are set up, and participants show up and go from workshop to workshop. In mine, called “movement and drawing,” I covered the wall and floor of the room with paper, invited student musicians, and handed large chunks of graphite to the participants. The resulting activity was fascinating to watch, and fun to participate in. I decided to develop the idea into a performance event where I would interact individually with different materials and different musicians, and see what type of drawings might come out of the process.
This performance event, called DUETS, will take place Sunday, May 19th 2013, at 64 Prout Hill Rd. in Middletown. The location is PHARM (Prout Hill Arts and Recreation Monastery) the fabulous and ever-evolving art space/converted chicken barn that Michael Pestel has been developing. A work in process, it is a wonderful space where many fascinating events have already taken place. Michael will be one of the musicians I will be interacting with. He will be playing various wind instruments while I create a 30 foot long drawing using paint brushes dipped in India ink on poles attached to both of my arms. In another drawing, my husband, jazz pianist Noah Baerman, will play prepared pianos while I draw using sharpies attached to all eight of my fingers. In yet another drawing, I will be responding to artist and musician Dave Kopperman on electric keyboards and guitar. At the end, audience members will be invited to create a movement based, music inspired drawing of their own.
Over time, it seems I go through cycles of being involved in the communal nature of live performance and retreating to the solitary privacy of my studio. When I work in a solitary way, I tend to miss the beauty of live performance, where the shared experience creates a special bond between the performers and the audience. I am very excited to see where this particular line of performance leads.