XIII – Play on Worlds
Play on Worlds
I hesitate to name it. The kind of work that I do and the shape(s) it takes has never been one thing. It changes in material and form just as my perception of the world and place within it continues to swell and shift. I listen and think and make and do. I ask for vulnerability from collaborators and audiences alike. I use the body as both research and material. With the information gathered I work both independently and in partnerships creating immersive audio-visual installations as well as relational experiments. In the spirit of hospitality and reciprocity, the viewer is frequently envisioned as an active participant in conceptualizing (and in some cases manifesting) the meaning and material of the work. As a way of “making do with what we’ve got” I tend to use the most accessible materials, equipment, and spaces. I rely heavily on human behavior and identity to contextualize work in both conceptual and concrete ways, which means that most often I engage with intimate communities of friends, and family, as well as strangers. Regardless of the group involved or intended outcome of a particular work, I’m interested in spending time with the invisible matter that comes to life between people once a memory is culled or a new understanding is initiated. Bodies moving through space and time or positioned in subtly altered realities with every day objects allows for an investigation of being in and understanding the world that is entirely unique to the human experience. Pre-recorded audio is frequently utilized as a sort of internal monologue made external inviting audience members to become a part of an ongoing dialogue that began somewhere else who knows when. Whether working on a project independently or in some variety of collaboration, I am in constant conversation and interplay with other thinkers and tinkerers. Through this work I am seeking methods of engagement with the world that rely on kindness and thoughtfulness in the face of violence and greed, multiple understandings versus absolute truths. In practice I am/we are collectively considering what we think we know and envisioning/co-creating possibilities for meaningful existence in the future.
Sarah Hollows is an interdisciplinary and collaborative artist based in New Orleans. She explores identity, relationships and the human experience through the body, ordinary objects and everyday spaces, relational activities, photography, sound and sculpture.
Hollows was born in 1984 and raised in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. In 2011 she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN in Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity. After working as a community organizer and baker for several years, she decided to pursue a life of artistic practice and creative inquiry at the University of Maine in Orono. While there, she developed a practice in embodied research, performance, and relational activities. In 2015 she moved to New Orleans where she began exploring immersive installations in private spaces as well as ongoing socially engaged projects. Sarah is a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts degree in Intermedia from the University of Maine in August 2016.
(w) h o l e is an ongoing community engaged photo series being shot in various parts of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. This piece is about queer bodies as landscapes and containers, landscapes as bodies of cultural markers, and both as things we are continually navigating and have the capacity to (re)chart insofar as we can imagine their wilderness. In conversation, play and collaboration with each person I photograph, we are engaging with what is presupposed as natural and “unnatural” or inauthentic regarding identity and bodies, what makes a person whole, holes and hairs – where it grows and doesn’t, is trimmed and isn’t, what goes in and comes out of which holes, and how all of that is in constant dialogue with the topography, history and culture of place.
My intermedia practice has evolved over time. When I started the program in the fall of 2011, I was eager “to explore storytelling through multimedia to create meaningful experiences that both entertain and educate audiences.” This goal has remained pervasive throughout my years in the program, but has grown richer by exploring two additional components: community engagement and entrepreneurship.
I have always enjoyed involving the community in my work, particularly when my work can serve as a catalyst for forming connections among unrelated entities. You can see examples of these practice throughout my Intermedia MFA portfolio, but two projects stand out in particular. The first is my Community Connector mobile phone app, which connected a new media class project with a local mobile app development company, staff from the City of Bangor, and Bangor-area bus riders. The second was the community engagement initiative called “Spark Bangor,” which brought together a wide array of participants including community members, city officials, local businesses, community art walks, volunteers, city government committees, a UMaine Sociology intern, and others. Connecting and integrating my work into “real life” is important to me.
Entrepreneurship has played a big role in my practice too. As I have pursued my Intermedia MFA, I have also earned an Innovation Engineering Graduate Certificate at the University of Maine. Innovation Engineering classes taught me strategies for creating new ideas, communicating those ideas, and making the ideas real. The three pillars of this program—Create, Communicate, and Commercialize—have served me well as I’ve planned and pursued much of my MFA work.
Writing is my true passion. When I entered graduate school, I wanted to learn to learn how to write more creatively, and I have found many opportunities to do that. In my MFA program, I’ve had ample opportunities to take risks, make mistakes, get iterative loops of feedback, and emerge feeling very strong about my ability to craft meaningful essays. The evolution in my writing skills has given me the confidence to put my writing out into the world. Other components of the Intermedia program have taught me ways to make the writing richer, bigger, broader, and have more impact by complementing the writing itself (mere words) with other forms of art such as visual narratives, performance, objects, and community interaction.
I tell true stories. I get ideas from the world around me—real people, events, or conversations that I experience or observe—and weave them together with plot, dialog, setting, and personal insight. I write essays that make the audience feel emotion and create a personal connection to an event or character. Deep energy, startling perspectives, and revealing truths interest me; messy, authentic, raw living is where I think deep meaning and truth reside. These are the stories I like to tell.
In fifth grade, my teacher gave our class this assignment: write a story that begins with “As the intergalactic spaceship flew across the Milky Way, something went terribly wrong.” Decades later, I found the stories (which the teacher had typed and mimeographed in purple ink) in a box in my parent’s attic. As I flipped through the pages, I noticed that most entries were a paragraph or two. Mine was a full page, complete with description, dialog, and perfect punctuation. It was the beginning of my writing career.
Now, I consider myself an old soul who believes in intuition and self-trust. I have two teenage daughters and acknowledge that we all have a lot to learn from each other. I’m passionate about joyful living, entrepreneurship, and raising my daughters to be good people.
And I am still writing.
Using light, projection, prints, and story I engage with my environment and give form to my thoughts. Landscape and the environment are intertwined and are shaped by the visible and invisible imprint of technology. Our bodies are made up of cells moving through the world but the world also moves through us. I’m interested in how our environment changes us and what we can do to change our environment.
There are many ways to tell a story, each medium or form brings out unique characteristics. My exploration of book forms and by extension the many forms of reading: has expanded to incorporate how we also might read a landscape, or a body. Connecting with the landscapes and communities I’ve lived in has led me to further research environmental issues. This knowledge in turn has sparked socially engaged art. There are circles of influence simultaneously changing our environment: commerce, government, agribusiness, and the media. My explorations into these issues are woven into my work.
There are multiple threads that run through Tara’s work, notably a passion for books and the environment. Books can be conceptual, sculptural, educational, collaborative or individual efforts. William Shakespeare spoke of sermons being stones and books in running brooks. In the past an interest in the environment, and spoken word helped Tara find her own voice. She continues to use her art to tell stories, present ideas, and give others a voice. Projection, light, technology and the distortion of story through media and translation have influenced her recent work. Tara’s books are in collections at Harvard’s, Hayden Library, Bowdoin College, and private collections from Washington D.C. to Maine. She received both an ALC and an Eisenhower Grant for her book Connections and Reflections. She was commissioned to create sculptural installations for First Night Boston, Arts in the Parks, and Environmental arts in Massachusetts. Tara has been a contributor to WATD’s program Spoken Voices. She is the founder of Kamikaze Publishing. Tara has taught classes in book design at both Maine Media Workshops and at the University of Maine.
We live in a world of miracles and wonders that is constantly at risk of being overwhelmed by the negative. In such a world, the ultimate transgressive act is to spread joy, encourage playfulness and creative interactions. No matter what specific medium I happen to be working in, I try to create direct, playful engagements with the audience. When our minds are at play, we’re more likely to have a “Eureka!” moment that leads to the solution to real problems.
Matt LeClair is a man of few words. Actually, that’s a complete lie. Matt LeClair is a man of very many words, but is so polite he won’t interrupt if anyone else is speaking, and so he speaks in artist’s multiples that can be passed on like words or kept like a secret. His work explores the act of creating physical objects in an electronic world as he tries to create unique experiences that can only be had “in real life.”
Personal Belongings – In 2011 Matt donated 60% of his liver to save the life of a friend. The event proved too big to be contained within any one medium, and so Personal Belongings chronicles that period through mixed media, including written narrative, photos, medical reports.
Eat Poop You Cat – Eat Poop You Cat is a game wherein one person writes a quote on a piece of paper and passes it to the next person. They illustrate it, then fold the paper and pass it to the next person so that they can only see the illustration. That person writes what they think is being illustrated, folds it and passes it on. This is the boxed version of that game. It was an elegantly designed and screen-printed box that contained pencils and paper, things that most everyone has on hand anyway. It was beautiful and unnecessary, like so many things in our lives.
The Protos – Created in a laboratory to be perfect life forms, the Protos were discarded when they failed to live up to their creator’s expectations. Now these flawed creations of an incompetent creator wander the Earth, looking for love, acceptance, a safe place to call home… The Protos were small sculptures sold from a toy capsule vending machine. This was a counterpoint to the vast quantities of toys made as cheaply as possible by child labor to be sold to children in other countries.
Anti-Social Behavior Ordnance – A planned series of 100 items designed for assymetrical warfare, allowing one embedded combatant to damage a large social structure. It was based on the Chinese concept of Lingchi where death is caused by many slight damages. The damage caused by the ASBOs would erode confidence, increase paranoia, and waste time and resource. The series was never completed because, while it was started with parodic intent, it would actually be effective.
I make work in a variety of scales that spans both the conceptual and the functional – from installation art to small craft objects. I am interested in built environments, tools, queer feminism, and absurdity. I often work with collaboration and participation as a means of resistance and reprieve; looking to relationships and social spaces as source material, a means of analysis, and a survival strategy. In response to the conditions of capitalism – scarcity and fear – my making and art revolves around connecting with others, playing around, and getting by. This collaborative and participatory approach to making also includes mixing, ripping, inverting, and blaspheming materials, techniques, and practices. I look to traditional and new practices and their cultural relationships as material to re-appropriate and transform via experimentation.
Working from the perspective that there is no stable relationship between a work and its meaning, the audience completes my work by bringing their experiences and perspectives to any interpretation of meaning. Overall, I am interested in work that links ideas to materials, creates spaces in which I and others can be challenged, and is integrated with life and living. I want to explore, learn, and challenge myself and others. My art practice seeks to bridge my various interests and find new ways of understanding and relating to myself, others, and the world.
>Kris Mason is a collaborative and participatory artist and woodworker based in New Orleans. From sizeable to subtle, his projects range from making small functional objects to furniture, hidden social engagements, and large-scale installations in a variety of spaces. Working with craft, found objects, participation, text, and the body, Mason explores materiality, identity, relationships, time, and space.
Kris was born in Phoenix, Arizona on February 6, 1985. He came of age in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. In 2008, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota in English and Philosophy. In 2013 he earned a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning in Minneapolis, Minnesota, focusing on housing, community development, transit, and theories of space. After working in the field of urban planning for a couple of years, he decided to pursue art and making at the University of Maine in Orono. While there he began working with wood, relational aesthetics, and participatory collaboration. In 2015, he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana to continue to make work and start Port Street Woodworks, a design and build studio with a focus on wood and furniture. Kris is a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts degree in Intermedia from the University of Maine in August 2016.
I gravitate passionately towards the world of the moving image. The challenge of bringing a mental vision into the physical world through such a medium presents a journey that I find impossible to resist.
Pushing my mind creatively while working in collaboration with others to capture a moving image that projects feelings and emotions which are shared amongst a large audience as well as individually, although difficult, can be achieved only when the lines between imagination and creativity are blurred.
Although a majority of my work lies within the realm of the moving image, all of my work attempts to demonstrate the relationship between self-identity and the creative process. I work under the belief that an artist cannot create work that does not reflect them in some way. Thus, the better you know yourself the more likely you will create successfully engaging art. Many artists are reluctant to place their own opinions and thoughts into their art, however I’ve tried my best to acknowledge my own thoughts and opinions to include them into my own work. I’ve not only found creating art much more enjoyable, but the pieces I create tend to be much more successful. From being behind the camera and trying to capture the moment to editing the whole piece so it flows seamlessly is a journey I constantly enjoy taking.