Cross Disciplinary Artists in Residence Mary Coss, Daemond Arrindell, Dani Tirrell, and Anastacia Renee Tolbert collaborate at Cornish Arts Incubator
The artists explore the idea that Joy is a form of Resistance through the Lens of Water
Free Performance: Sunday February 4, 6:00pm; Alhadeff Studio at Cornish Playhouse
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” – Rumi
#BlackJoy: the understanding that even finding a reason to smile is also a form of resistance in a system that was neverdesigned for us to thrive. – Kleaver Cruz When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness…all the good things. – Maya Angelou
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. – Isak Dinesen
In today’s divided society, where being a part of a marginalized group (people of color, female, LGBTQI, etc.) can put you at risk – be a danger to your mental health, your well being, even your life – happiness can be hard to come by, especially if one ascribes to the belief that it is only achieved through financial gain. We ascribe to the belief that joy is a state of mind: an intentional choice of empowerment, not in spite of our identities, but as a celebration of them. We see joy as a form of resistance and transformation, against what our capitalistic society has taught us. But how do we engage it? How do we reach this state of mind, intentionally? As artists we asked ourselves these questions and the conclusions that arose focused on digging into our intersectional identities. We plan to undertake a journey together to explore the critical, historical and personal metaphors inspired through the lens of water. We will experiment with how these ideas can be expressed within a permutation of written and performed poetry, dance, and visual art. Our intention is to explore water as a vehicle for joy and transformation. We share a common practice to pull back layers to explore the humanity and the conditions in which we live. We believe in transcending labels to search the underlying meaning and to interpret these ideas through a visceral expression that explores and examines transformation. Through open discussion we have found a working path together. This path allows inspiration not limited by one’s personal practice, but a collective practice that feeds upon ideas and imagery and manifests without boundaries of skill sets. While each of us is constantly growing and progressing within our respective art forms, we also have each amassed a vast knowledge base and level of expertise. The act of including each other in our creative processes encourages us to examine our methods and rationales and what makes them effective for us.
We are excited to learn how this collaboration can expand our individual practices, to see how discussion and different perspectives can impact and challenge the boundaries of our creative process. Evaluating your art through uninitiated eyes gives new points of view and fuels critical analysis to strengthen your own expression.
In October 2018 the Borealis Festival of Light will debut in Seattle. The featured event will be at the Museum of History and Industry on Lake Union for five nights, October 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. An international showcase of videomapping on the MOHAI facade will be curated by Maxin10sity of Budapest, Hungary. This event will be free to the public and open to all ages.You can see examples of the work of Maxin10sity here: https://www.maxin10sity.net/bolshoi
Borealis will bring together artists and the technological world to create this inaugural, annual event in Seattle. I am thrilled to be invited to curate the art installations for this event. In addition to the video mapping we will have a combination of artistic light features that will be identified on a map that will guide you through the festival, or you can choose to join one of our guided tours.
Borealis Outpost is a series of featured light installations created for the large plazas, parks, and water by local professional artists, in some instances partnering with creative technicians. There will also be an outpost at MadArt.
Borealis Aura is a group of artistic light installations that will be designed by local professional lighting designers.
Two passageways meandering between buildings in the neighborhood will host a string of light art. There will be an open call for art, sculpture, and interactive installations that use light as a media for these throughways.
Borealis Perimeter is a series of sites around the city with light and projection based installations that will open a few weeks prior to the festival. We are looking to these events to draw attention and build interest in the festival, to launch it. They include sites such as Fantagraphics in Georgetown and METHOD Gallery in Pioneer Square.
Inspired by the fact that the suffragettes communicated via chalking, I readily accepted an invitation to be part of the inaugural Pacific NW Chalk Fest. My idea to revisit Public Debt to the Suffragette was to bring attention to the current attack on voting rights. Across the country, politicians are engaged in voter suppression. They are creating obstacles to registration, limiting early voting and requiring strict voter ID, including requirements that weigh heavy on communities of color. Then as summer hit, the president pushed his mythical voter fraud claims to a new high by appointing the voting rights suppressor in chief Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to lead the voter fraud commission, Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
In late August, several women dressed in Victorian era white costumes joined me in Redmond at a new chalk festival organized by Terry Morgan of Modern Enterprises. We created a 16’ wide chalk drawing that included a flag with a cut out of the US filled with pictures to tell a history of voting rights. We drew images of historical voting rights advocates while talking with visitors about their roles in preserving the right to vote. Several young girls were shocked to hear that women weren’t able to vote before the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote in 1919. Young boys of color were also surprised to hear that they were kept from voting until 1975 when the Expansion of Voting Rights removed many limitations.
It is a long tough battle that is still being waged (or raged). I invited the League of Women Voters of Washington to join us and they set up a booth to register voters. They also ran a mock election for children to vote for president, Wonder Woman won. The Chalk Festival ran three days and broke all records of visiting public to Redmond Town Center.
Thank you suffragettes Jamie Peterson, Maura Donegan, Teresa Getty, Lisa Myers Bulmash, Anna Macrae, Jane Speleers Herrera, and Alison Farmer for your dress and creative drawing skills. And thank you to Bridget Kruszka of the Washington League of Women Voters for organizing your contribution.
I create artwork in response to the social climate. In this version of Public Debt to the Suffragette we take to the streets with chalk. I engage a cohort of diverse women artists to promulgate the right to vote through drawing and social engagement at the Pacific NW Chalk Fest (concept drawing above).
With limited funds and technology, the suffragettes used chalk to write messages, slogans and to disseminate times and locations for meetings. Inspired by the Suffragettes practice of chalking, we chalk to draw attention to current day issues of voting rights. The suffragettes of 1917 are transported to 2017 to reaffirm this basic right, currently under scrutiny by the newly formed “Election Integrity” Commission. Clad in white Victorian dress, we will engage the public in conversation while we chalk a patriotic drawing that features key figures from voting rights history, such as Susan B. Anthony, John Lewis and Frederick Douglas. The images appear within a map of the United States, within the US flag. We will actively register people to vote while creating our painterly tribute.
My fantastic performing artistic partners: Alison Farmer, Anna Macrae, Esther Ervin, Jane Speelers Herrera, Lisa Myers Bulmash, Maura Donegan and Teresa Getty.
Join us at the Pacific NW Chalk Fest at Redmond Town Center August
Thank you Seattle Office of Arts & Culture! I’m thrilled to be on the new Public Art Roster. And not to forget ArtsWA. Looking forward to creating art with the state too. You can see some of my work at the Public Art Archives here
The vulnerability of our nation is woven into our emotional relationship with the flag.Through time the 2nd Amendment has been re-framed to fit individual arguments. Today’s legal interpretation is but ten years old. While it’s come to be understood in many circles to support individual gun ownership, this is a very recent interpretation. As time passes, context changes, as we do as a people. This is the full content of the 2nd amendment. History is story telling. The truth is illusive.
Disunion is about the state of the nation. We are a nation in disunion. While the flag is meant to represent unity, divisions have claimed it and shroud it in disparate meaning. This work literally presents the full text of the 2nd amendment, a short two sentences that has been reinterpreted through time to meet individual agendas. My intent here is to question our assumptions, to look at everything in context. The amendment, laid bare, is up for individual interpretation. Surrounded by barbed wire, the flag puts forward a question of boundaries, borders, self-defense, and entrapment. The split stars reflect our partitioned thinking as a nation.
Currently the NRA is winning the narrative battle over the 2nd Amendment. They have created a story-line that would have you thinking that the 2nd amendment means that every citizen has the right to own a gun. If you ask a historian to explain the amendment, you would find that this historically has not been the interpretation. In fact over time there have been several Supreme Court cases that have gone against provisions based on this ideology. Our current acceptance of this narrative is less than 10 years old, based on a 2008 Supreme Court case ruling, the District of Columbia vs Heller.
The amendment itself is similar to a living organism. It’s meaning morphs and adapts to meet the popular narrative and to match our personal values. In a split court, this 5-4 decision protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected to militia. One hundred years ago this would have been a stretch in thinking. What the framers were referring to is a right and responsibility to have guns to protect the community from other powers. The colonies rejected standing armies and held that instead, by holding citizens at the ready, they could come together to defend a society from outside forces, like Europeans. These weapons were muskets and could be reloaded to shoot three musket balls per minute. Today an assault weapon can be reloaded to shoot up to 150 shells per minute. Everything in context.
Woodie Guthrie wrote This Land Is Your Land in 1940 as a sarcastic response to the overplayed God Bless America by Irving Berlin. The original lyrics included two lost verses. The song was recorded and released in the early 50s, during the days of McCarthyism, and the lines were excluded, a decision made by others. In solidarity with women across the nation, this is my sarcastic response to these times, to claim our position of equality in this land. During this time of upheaval and division, Guthrie’s words remain timely for many reasons. This land is your land, this land is my land.
“There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me. The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’ But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing. This land was made for you and me.”
“One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple, by the relief office I saw my people. As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if God Blessed America for me.”
KISS FEAR is a multimedia exhibit with poetry, sculpture, video, and performance by poet Daemond Arrindell and artists Mary Coss and Holly Ballard Martz that presents touching, powerful and sometimes darkly humorous ruminations on America’s weapon of choice, guns. Supported in part by a grant from 4Culture.
Thank you Big Freak Media for writing an Artist Spotlight on Mary Coss and KISS FEAR You can read it here
In collaboration with SEEDarts, I have been contracted as Lead Artist to work on an art plan to integrate art into a community development in Tukwila, WA. I am excited to be working on a sculpture integrated into the downspout system at the Tukwila Village Community Center. The water feature incorporates proverbs about water, written in wax rope and cast in bronze to form the outer sleeve of the vessel. Inside is a watercarrier cast in resin and lit within. The work is currently at Two Ravens foundry for casting, to be installed in late August.