I've made a list of body parts. I've made a list of non-human body parts. I've made a list of spaces and places that body parts might inhabit: dresses, pants, jackets, chairs, couches, beds, houses, cars, airplanes, boats, forests, fields, etc. And then I've combined these lists into my 12 favorite items. Some of these items seemed imperative--heart, lung, arm--but some of them simply seemed to lend the most interesting shapes--intestines, wing, hand. And some were kept on the list for how they might surprise the viewer or add a bit of contradiction or wonder--house, dress, tail.
So I've made the first two sculptures--a set of three 12 foot long intestines and one set of eyeballs. But I'm still grappling with the conceptual answers to my own questions: Focus on body parts that are internal or external? And if I'm including non-human body parts (I instantly think: bird, whale, fox, bear, cat, dog) then which animals and why? And if I've been given free reign to make work that is "dreamy, abstract, and mysterious while based on parts of the body" where might these pieces conceptually live? In the forest? In a house? In a completely abstracted space of bubbles and lines and nonsensical shapes? Oh, gosh. Help.
So I'm tackling the technical parts first: Acquire enough fabric to fill a stage, acquire enough stuffing to fill an army of sculptures, acquire enough images so the design team can have a conversation and see sketches, and then make lists. And more lists. The show opens May 2nd so I still have a few months to prepare, refine, and build but the rehearsals start next week so I have to have a few pieces finished ASAP. Gulp.
And if this wasn't challenging enough, I've decided to stick to my own guns and try to make this set as environmentally friendly as possible. This is not a priority in the theater design world but I'm making it my priority because I just don't feel like I personally have another choice. This means recycled, reclaimed, and rescued materials whenever possible. In addition to the usual thrift store finds, I am lucky to have access to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, SCRAP, and the upcoming White Elephant Sale. And I am also lucky to have dear artist friends who have made blue fabric donations! (Thank you L, K, and V.)
I love collaborating across disciplines and I love working on a really large scale. It's a great shift from making small, one-of-a-kind objects, and prints. It stretches the thinking and also the technical skills--it causes me to shift my intention and also find new solutions. Some of you might remember the Red Yarn Wall I built in 2011, or The Dresses/ Objects Project I created in 2010. It's exciting to try my hand at installation work once again. I can only hope this project will come together to include the strange, the mysterious, the beautiful, and the body all in an interactive soft sculpture mania!
Okay, then, back to stitching up these fabric intestines before tomorrow's rehearsal. What a very strange thing to do for work! But I am grateful.