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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Life + Arts

DiverseWorks showcase ambitious

Three weeks have passed since the DiverseWorks Art Space began building the set for one of its largest projects to date. House of Mind, by world-renowned, Seattle-based artist Pat Graney, is both an exhibition and a performance that explores the complexities of memory and its dissolution, and stirs the thoughts and feelings of what one thinks about the past, memory and identity.

‘I think this is going to be one of the most unique experiences we’re going to have in performance,’ said Sixto Wagan, co-executive director and performing arts curator of DiverseWorks.

Media studies senior Cara Sarelli, DiverseWorks intern, shares Wagan’s excitement about the uniqueness of House of Mind.

‘It’s not too often something like this comes along,’ Sarelli said.

Walking through the unfinished set, objects from Graney’s past are organized to create an atmosphere of imagination. Lined with books stacked and glued together, the ‘Book Room’ is a nice welcome at the art space’s entrance.

The first room in the exhibition invites people into a bedroom in which an alligator tail sticks out from under a bed. A projection of a small child on the bed, memory books and report cards, compiled by local elementary school students, make up the stimulus for memories.

The ‘Button Waterfall’ is a conglomeration of 100,000 glued pearl buttons that serve as a shimmering background for the cascading water running down it. DiverseWorks also hosted Craft Attacks, which brought people in to help with the button wall waterfall and to create a shoe art piece as well.

‘Because it is about memory, because it is about group process, (Graney) wanted to figure out ways to bring the community in and actually make this project also part of their memory and be able to see parts of themselves in the whole piece,’ said Wagan.

One room is adorned with large, 8-foot dresses that hang from the ceiling, followed by a room with red walls. The floor space is covered with sand. In the center of this room stands a tower of spray-painted gold shoes, donated and decorated by the community.

‘This is probably one of the most ambitious projects we’ve taken on,’ said Shawna Forney, public relations and marketing manager for DiverseWorks. ‘We’re using our entire space, which we haven’t used before.’

Commissioned by DiverseWorks with Dance Theater Workshop and National Performance Network (NPN), Wagan said he and Graney have been in dialogue about this project for two years, planning the logistics for a year and a half, and preparing for the installation for about a month. With six full-time, two or three part-time and a lot of volunteer labor, it’s the largest installation DiverseWorks has done that he can remember.

Graney, an artist as well as a professional choreographer, will also be flying in five dancers from her own dance company, based in Seattle.’

Performing within the installation itself and not in a theater, the performance won’t be what one typically sees in modern dance either, Forney said.

Also on display will be a projection of interviews with Graney’s 81-years-old mother, Irene Dutcher, documenting her struggles with Alzheimer’s disease. Her experiences aided in adding to the motif of the dissolution of memory.

‘It changed the pathway of the piece,’ Graney said.

Graney hopes the installation will reach her audience in ways that invoke thoughts and feelings of their personal memories in order to reflect on their own identity. The stories display the passage of time as well as its disappearance.

The installation will be available for free viewing during gallery hours Jan. 30- Feb. 21 and will host performances at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31 and Feb. 5-7 in the DiverseWorks Main Gallery, Project Space and Theater. Tickets to the performances are $15 for general admission, $10 for members and $8 for students and seniors.

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