Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for supporting the Enormous Elsewhere's Eating Animals with Exhibition Assistance Grants. Eating Animals is an installation piece by me and Alexa Fraser. Alexa and I took our piece to Atlanta, Georgia for XPT 2017 at the Center for Puppetry Arts, and we had a blast. Next up for Eating Animals: it will be at the Woodstock Art Gallery from November 24 to the end of January 2018.
Wow. Spectacular. A few days ago, I went to Ottawa to check out a giant dragon and a giant spider created and operated by the French company, La Machine. Somehow, miraculously, we managed to get really close to the dragon when it woke. Later, we bumped into the spider as it roamed the downtown. Spotting the beasts on the city streets throughout the afternoon was quite neat.
Currently reading: Billy Budd and Other Stories by Herman Melville and Rod & Table-Top Puppets by Hansjürgen Fettig.
Currently listening to (obsessively): Arcade Fire's Everything Now.
I recently returned from the New England Puppet Intensive in Williamstown, MA. It was pretty fantastic. I met some interesting people, I ate lots of good food, and the setting was dreamy. I also learned a great deal, most notably how to carve wood, how to make a lantern, puppet mechanics, and painting techniques. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the movement and puppet manipulation portion of the intensive. Not a comfortable area for me, but it brought a lovely tranquility to my body at a time when I greatly need it. Back home, but still thinking about the intensive and dreaming of future projects.
Making life-size puppets is very hard but also extremely rewarding. I picked up many tips on making big puppets when I was in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago at XPT at the Center for Puppetry Arts from Michael Harrison, whose puppet play, Coyote Love, closed the show. It featured two beautifully-made life-size puppets. My puppets aren't as elegant, but I had fun making them. I love how puppet making employs so many skills - sculpting, painting, engineering, haircutting, etc. These puppets are for Shotgun Wedding in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It runs June-October.
By Wednesday, a day off and then straight into a few mask commissions. I do love my work.
Still reading the Angela Carter biography, still listening to the Bombay Bicycle Club obsessively, but mixing in a little RL Burnside and the Talking Heads. Always the Talking Heads.
I spent the last two days in a workshop for the play Virginia Wolf with my collaborator Cole Lewis and our dramaturge Jessica Carmichael. Cole and I are combining our writing and visual talents in our adaptation of Kyo Maclear's beautiful children's book. Today, actors Sochi Fried and Mina James joined us in our exploration of the script.
The workshop was immensely helpful, and by 10:30am, I was teary, by 6pm emotionally shredded, but in a good way, and in a way that will inform my drawings. The book and play are about days that you and/or people you love feel wolfish. How far do you go with them? How much can one's wolfishness take over?
It depresses me (intended) that mental health is one of the subjects that's still somewhat taboo. It's not socially acceptable to speak freely about our own dark days, the days when the wolf gets the best of us. Sometimes I think (to make a broad generalization) that we are too quick to deny our complexities, which is understandable. Our motivations and desires and sadnesses can be strange and frightening beasts.
Currently reading: The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography by Edmund Gordon.
I'm in Atlanta with my friend and colleague, Alexa Fraser, with our installation piece, Eating Animals, which we created under our company, The Enormous Elsewhere. The piece is part of Xperimental Puppetry Theater at the Center for Puppetry Arts. It's amazing - the festival, the center (while in the US, use US spelling). I am quite blown away by the creativity, puppets, and performances of our fellow XPTers.
Traveling down here took forever, but when we hit Tennessee I was overwhelmed by that intense yearning and excitement that travel gives. The air smelled different, the mountains were misty. I thought of a road trip I took ages ago around the US and how I was overcome with desire to settle down in Arkansas. I hate the politics of the South, but it's stunning, and the lushness and heat tempt me to forget about the many objectionable things about these places (but I won't). It turns out I'm also a little in love with Georgia itself - at least Atlanta. This city is surprisingly beautiful and wonderfully hot, and I spend part of every day going for a run in Piedmont Park, which is one of the best city parks I've even been in. So far, most of the people I've met are good-hearted and interesting. Bonus: this place has some awesome thrift stores.
Currently reading: The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning by Maggie Nelson and essays from The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance, editors Dassia N. Posner, Claudie Orenstein, and John Bell.
Currently listening obsessively to Sand in the Vaseline by the Talking Heads.
Current temperature: 22 degrees but going up to 31.
Lead news item at the moment: Trump fires the head of the FBI.
Ottawa-based photographer Lesia Maruschak commissioned me to make a mask for a series she's working on. She sent me the design and I sculpted, cast, filled the mold, painted the mask. It leaves here tomorrow.
Lesia asked me to document all of the steps in my mask-making process for her, and it became fascinating to me. I was hyper aware of each step and the time that went into each step - steps that I've taken so many times that they're almost second nature (I've got hundreds and hundreds of molds in my basement). I can't wait to see what she does with the mask.