Friday, March 27, 2009

Butoh Water Dance Concept

I was asked by a San Jose museum to brainstorm on ideas for a public participatory activity that tied into Bay Area water issues and textiles for the SUBZERO Festival in June.

I have been thinking of a project that would incorporate small amounts of local water into a very large dramatic outdoor hanging “tapestry”. The tapestry would be composed of hundreds of recycled snack sized clear ziplock bags folded and partially filled with water. Each bag would suspend from an earring hook that is pre-attached to a large metal grid. At night this hanging “tapestry” could be lit up really fantastically. The project would work like this:

1. Visitor receives a zip lock bag.

2. Visitor cuts out a water related shape (ie: fish) from recycled scraps of fabric. Maybe writes something about water conservation?

3. This small shape is placed into the bag.

4. Visitor partially fills bag from water provided (buckets will be there labeled with what the source was)

5. Bag is folded in half and hung from an earring hook on large outdoor vertical grid.

I thought it would be also interesting to create a dramatic garment composed of local water filled baggies (recycled baggies) that a butoh dancer wears and breaks as she moves to music concrete made up of sounds from water sources in the Bay Area. Maybe part of the garment would be plastic bags reclaimed from creek and Bay water clean ups.

Butoh dancer I am thinking of is Christina Braun.
She is a choreographer/producer of SF Butoh LAB and Co-producer of BUTOH SanFrancisco's "80/08" Butoh Dance :

I envision the tapestry illuminated at night, but not at a high cost so I have been thinking of solar options. The dance performance I would like to be in the evening as well or at least at dusk.

Possible solar lighting options:
Solar Glowing Globes by Frontgate: $49.99 each (shifts through different colors)

I really enjoy these round floating lights as they remind me of the old Japanese glass fishing floats so prized in Hawaii when my dad was growing up. After big storms these glass floats would sometimes wash ashore unbroken. I remember at my grandma's house on Maui there were a few of these precious finds nested away in the garage.

Solig Solar lights from IKEA $7.99 each. Man, good price!

I need to see how luminous these are at night and I need to find out if they are study enough to be among foot traffic during the festival days.

It would be great to have a combination of each type of light...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dance Collaboration Project

I am very interested in learning about set design and have one piece I created for the de Young exhibit that I would like expand into sets with a dance group and perhaps a taiko group. I am kind of just brewing ideas. The Fortune Tapestry above is inspired by the intersection of histories of Japanese American families, the Japaenese Tea Garden of Golden Gate Park and the creation of the Fortune cookie.

The interment tag elements and the fortune cookie tag elements hang form the ceiling and dangle. The barbed wire hanging structure cast strong shadows on the ground. I will be posting more thoughts on this later.

Below are some amazing images from a butoh performance titled Kagemi by the group Sankai Juku. Here is an article on the performance.

I just am so inspired by the imagery.

Final images from de Young Residency

I finally have images of all the pieces I created for my de Young Residency. I will add the dimensions later. Just wanted to post them all together as I don't have them up on my website yet.

Video shown in the Kimball Gallery during the residency is at:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obon Lanterns of Juice Cartons and Kadomatsu

I was just researching recycled art projects and came upon this Amsterdam artist, Anke Weiss. I first saw her work on this blog. Wow! Amazing work. I love how the pin pricks transform the cartons into beautiful unique art. So simple, clever and elegant.

Art below created by Anke Weiss

Tonight I am brainstorming on high school craft projects for a Japanese Hawaiian themed workshop for a San Francisco high school's International Day in late April . I need to present three concepts. One of the ideas I am thinking of is a Japanese Obon lantern project (creating recycled carton art like the above, and dropping in battery powered tea lights). I like this idea because: 1. It is gender neutral, 2. uses recycled materials and 3. juice boxes have the same form as the Toro Nagashi Obon lanterns. 4. These look so cool. We would add a floating base and a modified roof element. Here is a nice video on the Obon Festival ritual adapted to Memorial Day in Hawaii.

Above, Toro Nagashi lanterns off Oahu and below in Japan.

My second project idea is the Kadomatsu. In Hawaii these are still made large and with real bamboo. In Japan, Kadomatsu in general are small, plastic and fit on top of the TV. These are a Japanese New Year decorations full of symbolism and like so many objects in ritual and celebration, evolved from a practical object: large sections of bamboo used to be filled with water and kept out side Japanese homes and were used to put out house fires.

Here is an early sample I worked up for a young children's project on this theme. If I did this with teens I would really refine it significantly. I would also incorporate some of the more elaborate elements. The matsu (pine element) is not included in this prototype and the pine is really important. We would use real pine and make elegant cording knots and refined fans. Instead of green construction paper for the bamboo, we'd cover the paper tubes in manga and paint with a green wash so that some of the manga imagery would come through. My dad made lovely bases for a kadomatsu project at the de Young Museum and I still have quite a few left over.
young children workshop prototype

Below is the real thing in Japan. Note the plastic flowers.

The third project idea is lahala weaving with manga, candy wrappers and plastic sushi grass. I'll make a prototype soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

High School Recycled Materails workshop

I conducted two days of workshops at Lynnbrook High School in Cupertino last week. These workshops were in the sculpture classes of Charlotte Kruk, an amazing teacher and artist. She and I are kindred spirits as we both use recycled food wrappers in our art and when we met we were both working on matador jackets (she has since completed hers and I am still working on mine). Here is her artist site: Anyway, I had a blast in her seven classes.

Charlotte had asked the students to bring in their own recycled wrappers, but being a seasoned teacher, knew that many would forget so she bought big bags of Dum Dum lollypops. I also brought in some of my manga comics, Asian food wrappers and a big container full of produce netting (the colorful mesh bags onions come in).

It was a dramatic and fun opener to the project when Charlotte passed ou
t the candy while insisting that not a single wrapper could go into the trash cans. Charlotte had also created these wonderful floral centerpieces for each work table. They were made of real and silk flowers. I was so impressed by her enthusiasm and creative set up. I will certainly take a lot of cues from her in my future workshops. She was just great.

I started the workshop with a 15 minute Powerpoint presentation about the inspiration for my work and the step-by-step process I use. Then I demonstrated how I shape and twist the wire to create a flower and attach the paper. My step-by-step board helped some students when I was at other tables assisting. At first I was struck by the students' attentiveness and then realized that they were quietly content because of the tasty lollypops in all their mouths! Some determined boys ate nine or so lollypops for the wrap
pers and weren't feeling so good. I told them that was truly suffering for your art!

Below: Wire orchid covered in chocolate wrapper. The student really looked at the flower form.

Anime flower below.

It was fascinating to see the different creations. Many students made cleverly original flowers that I never would have dreamed up, like this one below. Very inspiring.

Another idea Charlotte had that I thought was great was to deconstruct some of the silk orchid flowers and place them on each work table. This helped the students look with a clearer eye at the different forms and layers of the flowers. I will be going back on Thursday to take pictures of the completed projects. This was a really fun experience and I hope to do more workshops like these in the future.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Completed Book Arts Project

A few weeks ago I blogged about prepping for a book arts project using stamps. Here are the final books created by a second grade class. The workshop was two one hour workshops that explored the history of stamps and the meaning behind the images on them. The children were asked to write information about the country and imagery of the stamp on their diorama book.

Thank you again to Deborah Corsini, curator of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, for donating amazing stamps to my workshops. I greatly enjoy working with this museum and last week conducted a kite making workshop with them.