Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SaGrAdO- (sacred) mY FirSt InsTalLAtiOn

So I went from creating small intimate pieces of art not more than 8x10" on an average, to creating a 4ft by 7ft shrine installation for the Eighth Annual Seattle Erotic Art Festival. Wow! what a ride!

I have been fascinated with Shrines of all kind for all of my adult life. Road side memorial shrines, the amazing eclectic Voudou shrines in New Orleans, Dia de los Muertos shrines, Catholic shrines, and personal shrines of all kinds. Within my home I always have a main shrine in my bedroom with images, statues and words of the things dear to my heart, and then I also am realizing that a lot of the vignettes spread around my house are really just small shrines as well.

So that is one part of my history, the other part is that I have always been an advocate and participant in the sex positive cultural movement. I believe that by removing shame, stigma, and judgement from one of our most basic human experiences (sexuality) we will all be happier and healthier. Last fall on a little mini retreat, it hit me that I had never seen an altar to Sexuality, an altar celebrating the sacredness of our sexual experiences in all it's diverse, messy, and controversial expressions. I wrote and sketched with lots of energy and excitement and then I closed my notebook and went home to work on production for the x-mas season, not thinking much more about the idea.

Then a call for installation proposals came from SEAF, it was there first year to promote and include interactive installations. I figured it was too much of a coincidence to ignore an opportunity from the universe that linked up with my inspiration so clearly. So I wrote up some artsy, big word sounding proposal and sent it in, not thinking there was much of a chance of being picked.

Well the committee wanted the installation, (YAY!) but.... they could not offer me any funding (BOO!) I knew it would be a fair amount of money in supplies(SEAF did end up compensating me for some of the supply cost) and A LOT of hours of my time, so it took some serious consideration to go forward. But obviously I went forward, I couldn't pass up this opportunity for experience and this opportunity to express something so important to myself and I felt to the world.

OK so how does a small scale assemblage artist become an installation artist in 3 months? Freak out... write lots of emails, explain to people that you need their panties, discarded sex toys, love letters, pornography in the name of sacred art not because your creepy.... Freak out... write more emails.. explain again... worry that I am not getting enough contributions... PROCRASTINATE... realize I just have to start... nail things to the wall of my studio... EPIPHANY... use the same techniques for a small shrine as a large shrine just more nails... dunk everything in instant coffee and throw some paint on it... be touched by the powerful objects and symbols people entrust me with..... shed some tears.... realize that visually shrines are about excess and flowers.... learn how to make faux Polaroids... be amazed and touched by the generosity of my friends and family... get the shrine looking just about the way I want and then realize I have to tear it all apart pack it up and recreate it at Seattle Exhibition Hall.... FREAK out... pack, label and bring half my studio to Seattle... spend 9 hrs recreating the shrine in the antithesis of a good environment for creativity... lets just say, LOUD thumpa thumpa music, full on smoke machine, flashing lights, and electrician in my personal space every 10 mins (they were testing the stage set up that day) LOSE MY BRAINS TEMPORARILY.... then finish it with MUCH thanks to my assistant for all her help and for keeping me fed, hydrated and marginally sane.

I did it! It was finished and up, now I just had to put on pretty clothes and comeback and schmooze with people. It was highly rewarding to watch people interact with it throughout the festival and to share it with my friends and family who were such a huge support!! The question that I got asked the most was what will happen to the shrine when the festival is over? I had been so busy creating I hadn't thought much about the after. I hope to find other places to display "Sagrado", I think it would be really powerful for it to be displayed in a more mainstream environment. Most of the visitors to the Seattle Erotic Art Festival are pretty sexually savoy so there was very few shocking or controversial responses. I think it would be a very different response in a more mainstream venue. Any one know a gallery that wants to stir things up? I have also considered reworking it structurally to take it to Burning Man in the future. But for now Sagrago is packed up safely in my storage space waiting for the next opportunity, and I do find my art brain thinking in a larger scale.

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