December 8, 2016
Ananya Chatterjea • Photo by V. Paul Virtucio
The O’Shaughnessy is one of two Minnesota organizations awarded a $50,000 grant to support collaborations with artists of color from the Joyce Foundation‘s annual awards competition. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts was also an award winner.
The Joyce Awards is the only program supporting artists of color in major Great Lakes cities. The Chicago-based foundation has awarded nearly $3 million to commission 55 new works since the program started in 2003.
The O’Shaughnessy will commission Ananya Chatterjea, artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre, to develop and stage a new production called “Shaatranga” in 2018. Meaning “seven-colored” in Chatterjea’s native Bengali, the work will celebrate women’s labors as community sustainers and change agents, using blue jeans as metaphor for shared humanity and the multifaceted and different journeys of women of color to achieve justice. The 18-month collaboration will include students from St. Kate’s and refugees living in the Twin Cities.
“This support from The Joyce Foundation will broaden the collaboration that The O’Shaughnessy and Ananya Dance Theatre began in 2012 to share women’s stories through performance and inspire passion for justice around the globe,” says Kathleen Spehar, executive director of The O’Shaughnessy. “The ‘Shaatranga’ collaboration – deepening dialogue with St. Catherine students and our community – will amplify the collective voices of women.”
A distinctive feature of the Joyce Awards is that a winners’ work must include the process of engaging community members to inform and shape their art. Community forums, workshops, panel discussions, social media input and one-on-one conversations will help influence each artist’s final presentation.
“It is exciting to see such a powerful focus not only on the creative aspects of these works, but also on how the artists plan to involve diverse communities in their development and presentation,” said Ellen Alberding, president of The Joyce Foundation. “We are confident these productions will do a great job of telling stories that can foster civic participation and cross-cultural understanding, and we are proud to support them and showcase the artistic talent of the Great Lakes region.”
Additional 2017 award winners
The Cuyahoga Community College Foundation in Cleveland won a Joyce Award to commission new jazz work by Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer, Terence Blanchard. The Free State Theater in Chicago will commission a new play, Meet Juan(ito), from playwright Ricardo Gamboa. Finally, Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music will commission Quantum Music/Englewood from musicians Ernest Dawkins and Rahul Sharma.
December 6, 2016
The National Performance Network (NPN), including the Visual Artists Network (VAN), is a national organization supporting artists in the creation and touring of contemporary performing and visual arts.
The NPN has made a FY2017 Creation Fund Award to Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT) for the production of “Shyamali: Sprouting Words,” co-commissioned by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh, PA, Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia, PA, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, and The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN.
The Creation Fund Award to ADT is $19,000.
Photo by James Davies
“Shyamali” is an evening-length dance work created by ADT and inspired by the ways that women across the world repeatedly talk back and embody dissent against injustices, despite daunting consequences.
“Shyamali” will receive its world premiere performances at The O’Shaughnessy in September 2017.
Weaving movement with text, speech, breath and song, “Shyamali” will create a rich, multi-lingual performance celebrating the histories and stories of women’s courageous acts that may have slipped through the bonds of public memory. The metaphorically staged, juxtaposed stories in this work will be choreographed in Yorchha, the company’s unique vocabulary of contemporary Indian American dance, and will be produced through collaborations with several design artists.
The creation of “Shyamali” will proceed through a community-engagement process and will incorporate several strategies for audience engagement during the performance.
Support for the research and development of new performances is rare, and funding sources often require artists and presenters to define new works before that process has even begun. The Creation Fund was established to provide direct and unencumbered assistance to the process of creation and to encourage others to do the same.
The NPN Creation Fund contributes a minimum of $13,000 directly to artists toward the commissioning of new work. NPN Partners apply for Creation Fund support for projects by artists who live either outside or inside the initiating NPN Partner’s community. This flexibility encourages NPN Partners to work with emerging artists in their own communities while introducing and promoting these artists’ work to the NPN Partners at large.
Click here for more information about Creation Fund Projects.
“Shyamali: Sprouting Words” is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh, PA, in partnership with the Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia, PA, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI, the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, and NPN. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). The Forth Fund is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information: www.npnweb.org.
September 24, 2016
Reprinted with permission of Pulse Autumn 2016 – Issue 134
Elena Catalano is an odissi practitioner and a social anthropologist who teaches dance at Kingston University. She has been searching for a theoretical framework in which to anchor her practice and came across a model she wanted to explore, proposed by Ananya Chatterjea.
Ananya Chatterjea (at right), Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson
– By Elena Catalano
I met Ananya Chatterjea for the first time in 2009 while searching for bibliographic resources on Indian classical dance. She was there on the pages of her book speaking of choreographies of resistance, weaving a feminist reading of Chandralekha’s work. At that time my personal journey with odissi had just begun. I had learned a few basic moves, but I was unfamiliar with Indian classical dance at large, and even less with the politics that had created and sustained its aesthetics. Yet, the complexity of the style and the challenges it posed fascinated and motivated me to deepen my understanding of the form.
It was in this attempt to know more about odissi and to confront my new-born passion with a dance style apparently so alien to my cultural background that I entered into a conversation, albeit for long more imaginary than real, with Ananya Chatterjea. I started to talk to her through her writings and discuss with her through the clips of her choreographic works. More recently, I introduced and discussed her work with my dance students at Kingston University. Ananya’s voice and bodiliness have long haunted my relationship with odissi in a consistent, although indirect and sometimes even troubled way.
Ananya, who is now Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota and Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre, is not only one of the very few academics to have extensively trained in odissi; she is also an active practitioner and a rigorous intellectual who carefully appraises the pernicious effects of established narratives and everyday vocabulary. In her numerous writings, she confronts the patriarchal underpinnings of traditional aesthetics. In her choreographic practice, she endorses the voices and experiences of women of colour.
Ananya Chatterjea, Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson
Ananya contests several aspects of the traditional aesthetics, yet she is committed to developing a contemporary language that refuses the cultural imperialism of Western contemporary dance. Ananya is an activist and a feminist who uses her artistic practice as a tool for provoking social awareness and change. She has developed a very personal movement vocabulary, Yorchha, which, while rooted in the classical form of odissi, chhau and yoga, is compelling, fearless and unique in its results. Her choreographic work sits now at the margin of both the classical and the contemporary dance scenes, although quite resistant to fitting easily into any of these categories.
When I met Ananya for the first time through the pages of her writings and the clips of her choreographies, I felt at the same time deeply fascinated and somehow unsettled by her bold and brave statements. As a Western woman, trained as an adult in India, I did not feel particularly inclined to political and even less to feminist arguments. However, Ananya’s articles were explicitly confronting me, posing difficult questions, provoking further uneasiness in my already uneasy embodiment of the form. Her voice was haunting the relationship with my guru, the embodiment of the vocabulary, the learning of the classical repertoire, my daily practice. Perhaps Ananya was questioning the innocence of my passion for odissi. She was forcing me to wonder about the dynamics of power I was involved in, and even generating, as a white Western woman training in India.
Then, this year I had the opportunity to organise an Odissi Summer School at Kingston University. The school included traditional repertoire workshops led by Monica Singh. However I felt it was crucial that Ananya was somehow part of it. Despite being ground-breaking, Ananya’s choreographic work was surprisingly unknown to most idissi dance practitioners I had met. I wanted participants to be shaken and inspired by a woman who fearlessly pushed the boundaries of the dance form from within, through a physical and intellectual engagement with its aesthetics, holding a serious, sustained and politically-aware standpoint.
Ananya Chatterjea (at right), Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson
Ananya was invited to give a lecture and a master-class as part of the Odissi Summer School. She talked about her journey within the dance form, growing up in the busy streets of Kolkata, under the traditional guru-shishya system. She then explained how the contrast between the glossing aesthetics of the dance and the harsh reality of Indian urban life made her feel uneasy with the traditional form and training system. She talked about how she became sensitive to the experience of women in Indian patriarchal society, and how after moving to the USA, she began to research the dance form and develop her own technique and choreographic language, inspired by street theatres and other Indian bodily vocabularies. Then, in the master-class, Ananya taught some of the basic principles of Yorchha, and a challenging excerpt from her own repertoire. It was with this dance material that we really had a first-hand understanding of the distinctive way she uses the body and energy in movement and her pedagogical approach to training. While physically and emotionally challenging, Ananya’s work provoked in all of us a new ay of understanding our relationship with the dance form and with our own practice.
Ananya’s contribution to the odissi world is greater than most are ready to understand and recognise. Her choreographic work should be showcased in the UK, and odissi dancers who are willing to explore the creative potential of this dance form should have the opportunity to work with Ananya. There is little doubt that her work will inspire many who want to fly outside the little cosy but somehow narrow cage the odissi community has created for itself.
July 27, 2016
Amy Crawford, Ananya Chatterjea, Peter Leggett. Photo: Darren Johnson
The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) selected Ananya Dance Theatre and the Caponi Art Park as recipients of the 2016 MRAC Arts Achievement Award.
The awards were presented by Amy Crawford, executive director, and Peter Leggett, board president, during MRAC’s annual meeting, July 26, held at the Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis.
Ananya Chatterjea, artistic director, accepted the award for Ananya Dance Theatre. Cheryl Caponi, executive director, accepted on behalf of Caponi Art Park.
MRAC’s Arts Achievement Award recognizes two organizations each year that exemplify its mission of increasing access to the arts in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.
July 25, 2016
Christopher Yang, board chair, Center for Hmong Arts and Talent
Ananya Dance Theatre performed at the 3d annual Little Mekong Night Market in St. Paul, July 24. The performance was part of two days of events programmed on the Mystic Lake Casino Stage by the Center for Hmong Arts & Talent.
Ananya Dance Theatre at Little Mekong Night Market, July 24, 2016
Little Mekong Night Market is the Twin Cities’s Asian-inspired twilight street market, located in the heart of the Little Mekong District near the Western Avenue Green Line LRT Station.
Little Mekong is the Asian business and cultural district in Saint Paul. Located between Mackubin and Galtier streets along University Avenue, the district boasts a diversity of cultures, top rated restaurants, and unique shopping experiences. The neighborhoods around Little Mekong include Frogtown and Summit-University.
June 30, 2016
NBC News has highlighted Ananya Dance Theatre’s “Dancing to Heal” fundraising campaign in a news report, ‘Dances of Transformation’: Ananya Dance Theatre Finds Justice Through Movement, by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang posted July 20.
Ananya Dance Theatre launched the crowdsource campaign on the Indiegogo platform to support “Horidraa: Golden Healing,” its 2016 production that explores healing practices and women’s work as healers. The production will premiere at The O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul, September 16-17, 2016.
The campaign has a goal of $10,000. Follow this link to learn more and to donate.
The campaign launched with a fundraising party attended by more than 130 people at Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis, June 28. In its first 36 hours, the campaign raised $4,885 in online donations. As of July 29, $8,500 has been raised online from 158 donors.
[Original post was updated July 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 29, 2016.]
May 22, 2016
Members of Ananya Dance Theatre performed Odissi dance in a contemporary format at the Hindu Temple of Minnesota in Maple Grove, May 21. The presentation was made on the second day of Brahmotsavan at the invitation of the Hindu Society of Minnesota for its 10th anniversary.
Ananya Dance Theatre at Hindu Temple of Minnesota, May 21, 2016. Photo by Prabha Venkataram
l-r: Lela Pierce, Prakshi Malik, Renée Copeland, Ananya Chatterjea, James Galtney, Kealoha Ferreira. May 21, 2016.
May 21, 2016
At the invitation of Marianne Combs and MPR News, Ananya Dance Theatre shared The Fitzgerald Theater stage in Saint Paul with Minnesota Artists from Duluth to Lanesboro, May 20, 2016.
ADT backstage at The Fitzgerald Theater. Back l-r: Prakshi Malik, Renée Copeland, Gary Peterson (managing director); Center l-r: Magnolia Yang Sao Yia, Kealoha Ferreira, Jay Galtney, Leila Awadallah; Front l-r: Hui Wilcox, Ananya Chatterjea.
The occasion, hosted by Combs, was an Art Hounds Live showcase in a cabaret style performance featuring live music, dance, theater, comedy, film, visual art, and animation. The event was also a “Thank You” to the hundreds of Minnesotans who have been Art Hounds over the years, volunteering their time to share their enthusiasm with MPR audiences.
May 10, 2016
Choreographing Equity / Staging Social Justice
Ananya Chatterjea conducted a “Choreographing Equity/Staging Social Justice” workshop at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, May 10, 2016. The workshop was conducted for Arts in a Changing America, part of the four-day Placemaking Residency: Design for Equity, held at a variety of Twin Cities venues and organized by the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation.
The participatory workshop used movement and text-based strategies to imagine and embody what justice might look and feel like.
May 1, 2016
Pre-parade gathering, May 1, 2016. Photo by Gary Peterson
For a second consecutive year, members of Ananya Dance Theatre danced the length of the annual May Day Parade in South Minneapolis, May 1, 2016. The parade is organized and sponsored by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre.
This year, the ADT dancers were joined by 33 members of the Jumping Jets Drill Team & Drum Squad, based in Saint Paul.
Jumping Jets Drill Team & Drum Squad. Photo by Almeda Harvey Childs
The May Day Parade route follows Bloomington Avenue in Minneapolis and is followed by a festival in Powderhorn Park. Approximately 50,000 people attend the parade and festival.
April 15, 2016
April 14, 2016
Performing for Leadership Twin Cities in The Ordway’s Drake Room.
Members of Ananya Dance Theatre performed for the Leadership Twin Cities annual Arts Day, held at The Ordway Center in St. Paul, April 14.
Leadership Twin Cities is a nine-month series that informs people about the critical issues facing our community. Its focus is to inform and inspire future leaders – and challenge them to make a difference through personal commitment and involvement.
“Warming up” in St. Paul’s Rice Park, across the street from The Ordway Center.
The program is for individuals seeking to learn about community issues and to discuss solutions to the problems. The program selects approximately 50 people each year from the public, private and non-profit sectors who share a commitment to improving our community.
Leadership Twin Cities also creates opportunities for participants to form relationships with classmates, making it a lasting experience.
March 30, 2016
Members of Ananya Dance Theatre performed at Saint Paul College, part of a day-long rally against violence, March 30. The day was sponsored by Mending the Sacred Hoop, Men as Peacemakers, Minnesota Alliance on Crime, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition.
ADT at Saint Paul College. March 30, 2016. Photo by James Davies
Marchers from Saint Paul College to the Capitol Lower Mall, St. Paul MN, part of a day-long rally against violence. March 30, 2016. Photo by Gary Peterson
Ananya Chatterjea speaks against violence. The Capitol Lower Mall, St. Paul. At far left: MC Patti Larsen, Mending the Sacred Hoop, Duluth MN. March 30, 2016. Photo by James Davies
The Capitol Lower Mall, St. Paul. March 30, 2016. Photo by James Davies
Rally ended with a Round Dance, sponsored by Native Lives Matter. March 30, 2016. Photo by Ananya Chatterjea
March 15, 2016
The University of Minnesota Dance Program presents a three-week Summer Dance Intensive, June 20-July 9, 2016.
This intensive offers a first ever experience for its participants: one week each with Twin Cities dance companies Ananya Dance Theatre, Black Label Movement, and Shapiro & Smith Dance, and their respective artistic leaders, Ananya Chatterjea, Carl Flink, and Joanie Smith. Each company will tailor its residency week to the unique qualities and aesthetics of each organization.
There are two sections for the intensive, SYMBIOSIS: Dance That Moves & Thinks: Section 1 (2 credits) is for University of Minnesota dance majors and will provide 1 performance credit toward their degree. Section 2 is open to anyone 16 years of age and older, no audition required.
Ananya Dance Theatre: June 20-24, Monday-Friday
Flow from a yogic half-moon balance into flexed feet grounded jumps into footwork marked by asymmetric rhythms. Experience Yorchha™, ADT’s unique contemporary Indian dance technique that brings together movement principles from Odissi, the classical Indian dance technique, Chhau, the East Indian martial art, and Vinyasa yoga. ADT artists will lead participants through a rigorous technique class (9:30am-11am), share the company’s choreographic process that intersects dance with social justice goals, and teach sections from ADT’s repertory (11:15am-1pm). There will be an informal showing on Friday June 24, 1pm.
Black Label Movement: June 27-July 1, Monday-Friday
Learn and move with BLM Artistic Directors Carl Flink and Emilie Plauche Flink and their ballistic movers during a rigorous daily schedule that will challenge your physical and creative limits. Each day begins with a contemporary movement technique class, followed by a short partnering laboratory, and ends with a focused, two-hour repertory rehearsal. Flink will give a presentation on his dynamic collaborations with scientists and creation of TED Talks during the week.
Schedule for the BLM week: 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. Contemporary Technique; 10:45 – 11:00 a.m. Partnering Laboratory; 11:15 – 1 p.m. BLM Repertory; June 29 at 1 p.m. BLM Presentation on Bodystorming and Unique Collaborations with Scientists; July 1 at 1 p.m. public repertory showing.
Shapiro & Smith Dance: July 5-9, Tuesday – Saturday
Shapiro & Smith Dance performs tales of beauty and biting wit that run the gamut from searingly provocative to absurdly hilarious. Dancing with breathtaking physicality and emotional depth, SSD has earned an international reputation for virtuosity, substance, craft, and pure abandonment. Classes in contemporary technique and repertory will be led by Laura Selle Virtucio, Scott Mettille, and Joanie Smith. The intensive week will re-stage “Hands,” a work that examines the power and beauty of people’s hands.
Schedule for the SSD week: 9:30am-10:30am Contemporary Technique; 10:30am-1:00pm SSD Repertory; July 9 at 12pm public showing.
Tuition, registration, and housing information: https://theatre.umn.edu/dance/summer; 612.624.5060; email@example.com.
March 15, 2016
Ananya Chatterjea in a discussion on cultural equity in dance education, Feb. 28, 2016. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
Ananya Chatterjea participated in a discussion on cultural equity in dance education, moderated by Camille A. Brown, at the Dance/NYC 2016 Symposium, February 28.
The 2016 Symposium hosted 500 participants to consider connections between the art form of dance and New York City, and to explore questions of cultural planning, affordability, equity and inclusion, public-private partnerships, and the future of technology. More than 1,200+ dance makers and companies work and operate in the New York metropolitan area.
Misty Copeland, principal dancer, American Ballet Theatre, and Virginia Johnson, artistic director, Dance Theatre of Harlem. Dance/NYC 2016 Symposium, Feb. 28, 2016. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
The full-day gathering of New York’s dance community, held at the Gibney Dance Center, aimed to share information and innovation and to stimulate awareness, interest, and ongoing engagement in dance. The Symposium made use of multiple studios for panel discussions, case studies, interactive workshops, a networking lunch, and more.
Darren Walker, president, Ford Foundation, and Lane Harwell, executive director, Dance/NYC. Dance/NYC 2016 Symposium, Feb. 28, 2016. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
February 8, 2016
“Table 13”: Roundtable discussions included representatives from Asha for Education, Ananya Dance Theatre, and Bollywood Dance Scene Twin Cities. Asha raises funds for teachers’ salaries, child nutrition, and instructional materials at six schools in India.
Nearly 200 people gathered for the 2016 Connect India event held at the Minnetonka Community Center, Feb. 6, 2016. Ananya Dance Theatre’s board chair, Gina Kundan, and managing director, Gary Peterson, stepped out to attend.
Purnima Desari, classical dancer, performed as part of the Connect India festivities. Here, with ADT’s Gary Peterson (l) and Gina Kundan (r).
Connect India is a platform for all Indian organizations in Minnesota to share missions and goals and to seek ways to cooperate and collaborate. It is sponsored by the 40,000 member India Association of Minnesota.
The evening’s festivities included a keynote address by Minnesota House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, who visited Delhi and Hyderabad with the U.S. State Department in October 2015.
February 6, 2016
ADT ready to dance at IDS. L-R: Jay Galtney, Emma Marlar, Renée Copeland, Chitra Vairavan, Leila Awadallah, Ananya Chatterjea, Prakshi Malik, Lela Pierce; front: Kealoha Ferreira, Magnolia Yang Sao Yia. Photo by Gary Peterson
The third in a series of four “Radical Recess” performances in public spaces around downtown Minneapolis included Ananya Dance Theatre, Feb. 5.
Our dancers opened the lunch-time event at the IDS Center Crystal Court, performing “Emerging from Shadows,” stories of people who push through the darkness into which they have been cast to emerge into voice and light.
The site specific works by 10 choreographers in the series are presented by Made Here – A Project of Hennepin Theatre Trust, Anderson Windows & Doors, and City of Minneapolis Great Streets.
April Sellers and Laurie Van Wieren curated the line-up of performances at Mayo Clinic Square, City Center Atrium, IDS Crystal Court, and Loring Park.
December 14, 2015
Ananya Dance Theatre at Metro State University, Dec. 14, 2015. Coalition of Asian American Leaders
Members of Ananya Dance Theatre performed at CAAL Ignites: Education and Economics, sponsored by the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, at Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, December 14.
CAAL invited Asian American leaders and institutional decision-makers to see, understand, and explore the actions that can be taken to move forward on education and economics with Asian Minnesotans in 2016.
Jay Galtney, Renée Copeland, Ananya Chatterjea, Hui Wilcox at Metro State University, Dec. 14, 2015.
In 2014, CAAL engaged over 300 Asian Minnesotan leaders who informed and prioritized issues that they believed could be worked on together for the good of the whole community. Over 20 issues were identified. Further conversations helped prioritize education and economics as the two issues that are critical for the community’s future prosperity. They then formed two work groups, who have been learning more about the issues, the data, and most importantly, listening to the people behind the numbers.
December 11, 2015
Ananya Chatterjea, Chitra Vairavan, Prakshi Malik at SOUL Food Monologues
Ananya Dance Theatre performed artistic interludes for the SOUL Food Monologues show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, December 11.
The performance was part of an evening culmination of the Hope Community Food Listening Project: a two-and-a-half year process involving local organizations and more than 400 people in community conversations about food access and food justice in the Phillips community of Minneapolis and beyond.
The Feed the Roots Community Food Listening Report provides insights into the experiences and creativity of Phillips community residents, serving as a call to action for organizations, funders, policy makers, and other committed to change rooted in community.
SOUL Food Monologues at Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Dec. 11, 2015
Food Justice Activist and Urban Goddess, LaDonna Redmond, has led several local food leaders through a StoryHealer workshop, designed to uncover and promote the powerful food and justice stories of everyday people working for change. At its core, the SOUL Food Monologues is about authentic expression, creating community, and transforming experiences from grief, trauma, pain, into awareness, insight, wisdom. These elements meld together to create a heart-centered, soul-based opportunity for deep understanding and healing to occur.
December 10, 2015
The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery at St. Catherine University provided the staging area for IN RESPONSE: An Open Rehearsal of Visual Arts shared by members of Ananya Dance Theatre and two visual art installations, Thursday, December 10.
ADT dancers with David Byrd’s paintings. Photo Petronella Ytsma
ADT’s dancers responded to the work of two artists, David Byrd, “War Is Always With Us,” and Jody Isaacson , “Form and Memory,” with a 50-minute movement meditation on violence, madness, and breath.
On arrival, audience members were invited to light votive candles on the gallery’s entry steps, and all eventually moved with the dancers among Isaacson’s installation of wax pendulums.
Carol Lee Chase, Art/Art History Department Chair and Associate Professor, curated the installations. Her friend, Isaacson, introduced her to Byrd’s paintings.
Dancers and audience move in meditation. Photo Petronella Ytsma
“Form and Memory”: Installation artist Jody Isaacson installs more than 160 hand dipped life pendulums from the gallery ceiling. Each wax form represents a person, now passed away, from Isaacson’s life. One dip for each year of an individual life accumulates into a candle pendulum that represents the time spent to remember each individual. Each relationship builds the installation, the artist’s life history currently suspended in the gallery.
“War Is Always With Us”: For 30 years, the late David Byrd worked as a night orderly in the psychiatric ward in a Veterans Administration Medical Hospital in Montrose, NY. The series of paintings illustrate the daily routines and individual personalities of institutionalized veterans. Byrd’s careful compositions reflect the isolation and desperation of mental illness, which few other artists have explored with such empathy and understanding.
Ananya Chatterjea. Photo P. Ytsma
The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery is located in the Visual Arts Building on the campus of St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul. Gallery hours are M-F 8-8, S-S noon-6. “Form and Memory” and “War Is Always With Us” are open free to the public through December 18, 2015.