NACHMO Dance Collaboration

Over the past month I’ve been working on a collaboration that’s totally new to me—pairing painting with live improvisational dance.

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Photo from final performance at the Dance Complex

I was approached by a pair of dancers creating a work for a NACHMO (National Choreography Month) presentation in Cambridge because they sensed some overlaps between our approaches. I spent some time in rehearsal with them talking about the process of drawing compared to dancing, and there were a lot more similarities than I would have guessed!

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The challenges in this collaboration were fascinating. Every time I came across some difficulty there was an interesting question about what made it difficult, so we had a lot of great philosophical talks.

One of the recurring themes was the fact that both dance and drawing are time-based (as in, they both occur over time)—but it’s only in dance where that’s a given; in drawing the time-based process is hidden behind the final work.

We also struggled to create a process which had feedback in both directions. For the first few rehearsals I was just experimenting with ways to document the dancers as they moved across the floor, or in the different angles of their bodies.

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Glyphs responding to dancer movements

We gradually came up with some options for the dancers to work off of what I created as well. This led to some interesting moments in rehearsal where I was aware that a dancer I was documenting was echoing my drawing, creating a short-term positive feedback loop.

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Last Saturday was the final performance. I had just gotten in from 1.5 weeks in London and had not heard the music or seen the final versions of the scores (rules/patterns for the dances) that the dancers had come up with, and we’d never rehearsed under the kind of conditions in the performance space. But the experience of drawing in tandem with movement was just as exciting despite the changes. I found myself feeling bad for the audience: no one, probably not even the dancers, has as complete a view of the work as I do. It really is about movement in the moment, and I was both creating and experiencing that performance in full.

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Performance drawing (left) next to rehearsal drawings

Eyeo Show & Tell

I presented my work at the Eyeo Festival’s show & tell sessions today, focusing on the way that expanding my practice to animation and Processing has fed back into my traditional media artwork.

Download my EYEO 2015 show and tell slides as a PDF

Some animations from my talk:

New York mini residency

Over Thanksgiving I took about two weeks away from my home studio practice and set up a mini residency project. It was basically a residency dry-run: I was interested in figuring out what kinds of tools, materials and setup I’d need. I definitely learned a lot in that regard, and I also made some drawings that pushed my work in new directions.
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CSArt Project Completion

(My biggest project of the summer was CSArt—I’ve shared more about the project and work-in-progress updates here and here)

Last week was the CSArt Harvest Party, where collectors who bought shares could pick up their bags full of 9 different original artworks. It was fun to meet some of the shareholders and to see the other artists again after we’d been working hard on our projects for so long. I’m most excited to see my pieces all together!

Once I finished all 50, we scanned them and put them up on a page of this site here:

emilygarfield.com/iterative-landscape

Individually, each is a unique map of an imagined place, but since I drew all the roads to connect to the next piece in the series, when they’re all together it’s a very different object. There are islands and shapes that crop up between adjoining maps that I didn’t even anticipate. Go explore at that link to see more!

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Leaf Print Maps

For a while I’ve been brainstorming ways to combine plants and maps. I was originally inspired by a call for art from the Arboretum, but it’s also been interesting to me since they’re two things I get really excited about so there must be some way they can work together. I had an idea to do something specimen-inspired, and drew out some ideas:

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I tried drawing on actual leaves, which was fun but less than archival. But I had more success drawing around leaf prints.

I tried a few ways to make prints, including painting leaves with wash and leaving them pressed against watercolor paper to dry:

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The detail came out pretty well, although I was initially disappointed by the spottiness. As I played with the forms, though, I realized I could draw hybrids of leaves and maps, using mapping to fill out the missing spaces of the leaf print. I like how they came out!

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The above array of leaf prints was accepted into the Arboretum show, so it will be on view for the reception on Thursday, September 18th from 6-8 and through JP Open Studios weekend (September 20-21) from 10am-5pm at the Arboretum exhibition hall.