I’ve always been preoccupied with non-verbal and visual storytelling. What discernible narrative arises with the lift of an eyebrow, a flick of a foot or the turn of a head? How many colors make up a mood? How little information do you need to create a story? Where does narrative come from and what human need does it satisfy?
I’m interested in what connects people to each other, what brings us together and tear us apart. We create such terrible beautiful masks to hide our insecurities. As an artist, I have an intense urge to destroy them. What does it take to break a facade? What exists after we shatter?
There is nothing more artistically terrifying than creating a two dimensional image that encapsulates a multidimensional being. It is a challenge that I find fascinating and exciting. I look at all aspects that make up this person or subject: what they do, what they like, favorite past times, greatest achievements etc. Of this list I build an image library and begin to tackle how to bring in as many elements of their being as possible. In every face and every body there is a story. I use portraiture as a window into that story. They exist in a liminal space, with bits of a memory or dream defying the passage of time. The image produced is within a context only myself and the subject are familiar. To everyone else it is up to their interpretation what story they are seeing.
I’ve been developing my own methodology in creating non-verbal narratives based on my experience through dance, the deaf culture in my family, and the studies that past acting practitioners have developed to address the “talking-head” phenomenon. I began my career in the performing arts as a dancer and had grown up loving the story ballets – the choreography fused with pantomime. Parallel to those experiences there was my Grandfather, who sparked my fascination with storytelling from a very early age. He and my Grandmother were deaf so all of their communication was through ASL (American Sign Language). His storytelling was purely physical and some of the most captivating performances I’d ever witnessed. At California Institute of the Arts I studied various physical methods, most notably Grotowski Method and Roy Hart vocal technique. I worked two years with the physical theater company, Bated Breath, where I practiced Suzuki and Laban techniques while devising performance pieces for the company.
My grandparents would come to every performance I was in, regardless if there was an interpreter or not, and would share their thoughts on the performance with incredible joy and as much varying accuracy as any hearing theater-goer. I think of them at every performance of live theater, whether I’m in the production or the audience, and wonder: how little information does an audience need to understand a narrative? What kind of information is essential to that understanding?
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