The transformation of our cities through cultural programming that engages the public directly is at the core of my practice as an artist and curator. I produce solo and ensemble interactive performances and public engagement projects for neighborhoods and cities. I work from a Fluxus sense of poetics and stand firmly within the feminist legacy that the personal is political. My research draws on ancient poetic traditions from the Alexandrian canon of poetry where coteries were formed to interpret lived experiences into poetry and performed for communities. This was also a practice in Celtic culture and dates back to early Gaelic Bardic systems where each municipality had its own poet that would transform local events into a poetic discourse. Working in these current times it is imperative that we find processes to reintegrate thought, ideas, and morality back into public discourse. There is an urgent call in my work to reconsider what is at stake in quotidian forms of communication and how we can create agency in these narratives?
The process of engagement begins with individual interviews, that are transformed into poetry and composed in lyrical form. The poetry becomes a starting point for performance and a visual art practice. I seek to give voice to the voiceless and create space for in-depth conversations. The work appears to be a spectacle at one moment and mindful contemplation the next, but at its core it’s intended to draw people in, to spark meaningful conversation about the complexity of what it means to be human.
I’ve been performing as the Queen of Luxuria (TQL) since 2008, seeking to create transformative experiences for all who participate directly and indirectly in my work. All of my practice is interwoven, conceptually linked as a comprehensive body of work. TQL has a wardrobe of costumes that become the starting point for my “painting backwards” series. The visual series examines that which has been left behind by giving visual voice to the forgotten and marginalized through an examination of the negative shapes in sculptural expressions. I have created a utopian color palette inspired by my personal childhood growing up in Scotland. I employ the philosophy of “The Abject” by Julia Kristeva in my work believing that when we go through horror we can reach enlightenment.
I am currently working on a project entitled Spare Rib Revisited that I intend to do in five cities. I started interviewing eight women between the ages of 20 to 100 in the city of Lucerne, Switzerland in the summer of 2016. I have composed poetry inspired by the interviews and am developing a visual body of work in the studio. I am thinking about how women’s stories get lost from one generation to the next and how we are constantly having to relearn our past. This will be an intergenerational project that highlights our personal stories by building a poetic encyclopedia that is activated through performance and a visual archive of personalized thoughts and experiences.
In addition to creating my own work, I have facilitated over a hundred public performances in Chicago by local and international artists as Director of Out of Site Chicago. For more information about Out of Site Chicago please visit outofsitechicago.org