Thursday, July 26, 2012
This is my seventh day in Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute and all the people working at the Tekrema site today were truly inspirational. The whole of the group, working on the horizontal rather than the vertical plane of human connection, made such interesting and rich contributions to the project. Paloma McGregor (we are so lucky that she will be working with us in TDPS in "From the Field to the Table!) and Roscoe Reddix are guiding the process of making a site specific performance piece at the Tekrema Center for the Arts, and they are doing so with such masterful sensitivity. It is really otherworldly to experience a community art making practice that is this rich and rewarding. Why is that? Why have we lost the ability to create, commune, and trust one another as full human beings who have contributions to make to the whole? Why don't we value more art practices that respect the humanity in each of us? What have we lost in the name of "excellence" - in the name of individualism first and community last? Why is it that so often "community work" is a code name for poor black folks in need of "outreach" programming? Let's look deeper into this - Soul Deep.
Well, today we were steeped in place - the Lower 9th Ward in the city of New Orleans at the Takrema Center for the Arts. What a magical and spiritual place to create art! A magnificent thundershower came rumbling and raining its way through the afternoon as we worked in this amazing place. It is an old hardware store that has a deep history that is tied to segregation practices in New Orleans. (I will post the details in tomorrows blog.) This fantasic arts center was once a home as well, upstairs rooms were used as the private residence areas for the owners and the downstairs rooms stored and showcased the goods for sale. The old Cypress walls have withstood many floods, including the most recent and devastating one - Hurricane Katrina.
The gardens in the back are burgeoning with young vegetable plants and newly planted fruit trees. Three friendly chickens roam the yard and love to eat our watermelon rinds. Cottage style wood doors open up to the outside at various locations downstairs creating an old-world feeling of permeability to the outdoor spaces. Upstairs the front balcony hearkens back to prosperous times when the French controlled this city. Today we worked hard in the space and threw our creative ideas into the vessel we call process. Tomorrow we will make decisions and fine tune the piece. The result will be an interactive theater experience filled with the unexpected as audience members roam between the rooms stringing together their own stories and thinking about the theme "Soul Deep - Why are People Poor?"
Signing out Lisa