This dance theater meets immersive theater meets improvisation project has been grant funded and will tour New Orleans and Shreveport! Props to director Ann Glaviano for her grit in taking this project from work-in-progress to full production! My contributions will include improvsiational movement with the cast of dancers, as well as improvised drawing score using an overhead projector, and an improvised paper-folding and conversation score that engages audience members. Not to miss!
Rebecca Allen is a professional mover who spent 15 years dancing in Nashville with contemporary dance company New Dialect before moving back home to New Orleans. She's currently earning her MFA in the Tulane dance department; however, her clay practice earned her a simultaneous studio in the ceramics department for parallel movement and material research.
We met performing in an improvisation-based dance piece developed by Ann Glaviano last year and connected on an interest in the conversation between movement and material. Her remarkable presence, freedom and subtlety as an improvisor are also fascinating to watch.
Recently, we met for our second-ever jam of movement and materials in her clay studio. We set a timer and explored the space with our preferred tools, me more focused on mark-making while moving and Rebecca on sculptural/movement questions.
A dynamic evolved of her creating constraints for me as I tried to draw - taping me to the floor or wall, cutting planes across the space, tearing a surface I was drawing on. As a result, my lines were re-framed constantly as I created them. The game forced me to experiment with different distances from my substrate, different body positions and uses of grips and gravity, and even stirred some antagonistic play to inhibit Rebecca's movement in return.
It generated a variety of line and broke some habits that needed breaking. Until next jam.
My next project is involves a doodle made during a particularly brutal real estate development class and translating it into a large-scale wall installation. I think I like the idea of taking up space with art instead of unimaginitive concrete developments, and this piece is a beginning experiment in how to use a machine to be a little kinder to my body in the process of building an installation. My sweet pal Erin had to PT me out of some nasty back pain after the last one, so let's see if we can't whittle this process down to only the labor essential to the piece.
Update: Some experimental compositions with cuts
Find a less formal window into the daily life of creating this work in my Instagram feed: @cattnel.
Artists/makers playing with the objects from "Secret Beach" - the dance performance developed with Ann Glaviano of Known Mass dance company - to generate feedback for future objects. Topics of conversation included the use of found materials and objects, the range of treatment between the objects, feelings of play without direction, and the importance or lack thereof of the permanence of the objects.
Dancemaker Ann Glaviano (with whom I've collaborated in the past via her dancing for my work and me dancing in her Known Mass: St Maurice piece) agreed to develop a score called "Secret Beach" for the opening of my installation "A Tussle with the Genius Loci."
Hay's framework generates improvisational choreography based on what each dancer sees. In a state of constant motion (with prompts like "here and gone" and "I am not fixed"), dancers pass from frame to frame of visual information and respond to each with the physical vocabulary unique to each dancer's body and history. Glaviano responded to the work I'm developing and generated additional prompts for the dancers ("what if I create the space," etc.) including the exciting and vulnerable introduction of dancers' vocals.
The visual artwork the show interacts with was born out of a process of looking around at the water's edge and wondering if I really was home after moving back to Louisiana after 13 years away. I think in that process I discovered that "home" is not fixed, and that it requires me to look anew at every moment and redefine it. Collaborating with these dancers and Deborah's tools opens up the here and now in a vivid and specific way, and the opportunity to build this show with three women originally from Louisiana makes for a rich and informed "Tussle with the Genius Loci."
The first one to escape the sketchbook: In these experiments I'm allowing one mark to evolve across surfaces through repetition, then building layers based on that process. I think I'm interested in the confidence and relaxation yielding a specific type of mark personality.
John Barnes, Paige DeVries, Ariel Jackson, Jeremy Jones, Kristin Meyers, Catherine Nelson, Jessica Peterson + Sara White, Max Seckel
Interiors, Icons, Inheritance features the artwork of eight artists selected from Antenna’s 2017 Louisiana Open Call, each exploring their respective personal and collective histories. Rich with character and dense with detritus, these works depict the architecture, landscapes, people, and materials – the very stuff – of New Orleans. Sometimes somber, always eclectic; the tough, honest, and grainy visions of personhood and place featured in Interiors, Icons, Inheritance reveal a shared interest in the grit and physicality of living, working, and artmaking in the American South.
On view: Sept 9 – Oct 8, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday Sept 9, 6-10pm
Daily hours: Tuesday through Sunday 12-5
Experimenting with monotype and stop-motion logic, maybe moving to make a short animation from these, maybe using movement from footage of a dancer I filmed last year. (Made while listening to CS Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet)
Miro and I shared an interest in using analog projectors and painting/drawing/manipulating light, so we built an installation together at Courtyard Brewery to experiment.
A 16mm projector running direct animations (painted onto clear film) and an overhead projector covered in my handmade photo films, paper cuts,glitter glue and feathers and steel stencils were both aimed at a screen that hung from the ceiling. Pegboard installed on the back side split the projected light into dots of color that bathed the back wall. There was also a light table with overflow transparencies, plus glass drawings and paintings. The show ran through Mardi Gras and evolved as people played with the films. More photos on the way.
Installing "Illuminate" - an experimental projection project with painter Miro Hoffman. We will be lighting up at Courtyard Brewery (Magazine and Erato) nightly through Mardi Gras with regular changes to the projected compositions.
Testing drawing a reel with a papercut mask
I went into the project with the idea that the monotype technique that helped me tell my story 6 years ago would still be where I found power. As I worked through ideas with that technique (and totally enjoyed it!) it became clear that to channel the same power of social observation and commentary, I would need to change my materials. Here's a link to the writeup about my time at the Women's Studio Workshop studios in Rosendale, NY.
This month I am one of 4 artists in residence at the Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY. They host residents, interns, classes and beautiful studios for paper-based arts and ceramics. I'll be working in their light-filled printmaking studio. This residency is an opportunity to unplug from daily responsibilities in order to dig into a project, and it will also give me access to a printing press for the first time since moving back to Louisiana.
In my time here, I'll be reconciling old and new work. In my oldest published portfolio, I created monotypes from scenes of Louisiana pageants (mardi gras, debutante balls, etc). In contrast, my newest portfolios contain colorful silkscreen books and abstract cyanotype images. My goal in my month at Women's Studio Workshop is to reconcile the concepts and techniques that created both.
The original work was motivated by a raw frustration and resistance, while the zines were created out of a sense of hope, curiosity and possibility. I'll be experimenting with combining color and black-and-white, political and joyful, tradition and evolution, 2-D print and 3-D shape. Wish me luck! I'll post updates weekly.
Also, I've been known to send drawings to people who write me letters:
Women’s Studio Workshop
P.O. Box 489
Rosendale, NY 12472
In its first 7 issues, Puncture has folded, flipped and cut its way to tiny, touchable interactive experiences. The series continues on fabric with issue #8, offering the chance to sew it, fold it or use it how you see fit. The experiment is in your hands now! Head to the zine store to pick up your very own.
Title from a journal entry by crew member George Wardwell on an expedition to the North Pole and back in 1908. (Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum)
It took many months longer than anticipated, but it was totally worth it for this paper, ink and storytelling experiment to come into being. Enjoy!
"mind like a paper trap (or) tell me a story from when you were 7"
Issue 7 of Puncture is the result of a collaboration with storyteller and puppeteer Milissa Orzolek.She has a fascination with memory. How does a memory work when you're telling it for the first time? For the 15th time? Does the story change? She likes to ask people questions that dig up "pristine" memories - those that haven't been retold yet.
To begin our collaboration, she asked me to tell her several stories, and the one we worked with was from when I was 7. My family relocated to southern France for a Rotary convention for several weeks.One day we toured the Fragonard perfume factory, and my sister and I were inspired to make some fragrance of our own. We plucked the petals from roses in our yard and put them into little jars with water, sealing them and leaving them for a week to soak up the rosy smell. When we returned to our bottles to check our work, we found that instead of perfume we had created a smelly collection of mold colonies.
The zine's shape was inspired by ViHart's Hexaflexagon YouTube video. The opening and revealing motion felt right for this collaboration about storytelling and memory.A conversation with Milissa:What's your favorite snowball flavor so far in life? (warmup question)M: too hard. how about spearmint is my favorite toothpaste flavor?What's the worst road to ride your bike down in New Orleans? (other warmup question)M: Galvez between Elysian Fields and FranklinCan you tell us a bit about your craft? What kind of creative work do you make?M: I'm a puppeteer, but I like to make lots of stuff, from screen prints to audio stories. I've been lucky in life to surround myself with incredibly talented friends who work with food, fabrics, electronics, wood, puppets, words, etc. They have been my school, my inspiration and my collaborators.
Do you collect any consistent type of inspiration when you're developing a show? If so, how do you collect it?M: That's a practice that I should start. But I do love listening to stories. Stories about life are always a source of inspiration.
I hear you love when people go on tangents...true?M: True. Tangents are the brain's spotlights. They lead you to places you didn't realize were important.
I also hear you really like Spongebob...also true?M: I'm not sure if I'd say I really like Spongebob Squarepants. I do absolutely love one episode that depicts Spongebob's brain has a giant office with file cabinets full of memories. Sometimes cartoons are genius. (Spongebob episode in question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRHL5drAkOE)
How did you and Cat get to know each other?M: We met while working on Wayne White's giant puppet parade in Shreveport, Louisiana last summer.
Did you have a structure for the collaboration or a seed idea?M: I wanted Cat to tell me a story. I guess, for me, everything really starts with a story. Even if it is only the story of how someone started using a certain material.
What do you think your creative processes have in common? What do you think differs?M: I think we're both open to seeing what happens. This is important because flexibility and openness to possibility is so important to collaborations. We both get excited about playing with new materials and processes. I think Cat has a lot of confidence in the skills she has and the methods she uses and it's great to see that confidence play out in her creative process. I'm still working on that.
Did the collaboration inspire anything new for you?M: Cat loves to play as part of the creative process and I want to incorporate that into my work!What's your favorite part about the zine?
This past May, in order to add more skills to my studio practice, I worked for Wolfbat Studios (artist Dennis McNett) and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council on a project in my hometown of Shreveport, LA. We built an interactive steamboat installation Wolfbat style. The paddlewheel even spun thanks to a ceiling fan motor (and Josh Porter at SRAC who makes everything work better). A few photos for ye: