Guest Artist Conversation with movement artist Keely Isaak Meehan, 8/19, 4pm

Tomorrow, Friday 8/19, from 4pm – 5:30 pm, please join me at The Project Room for a chat (with treats) with multi-media, movement and dance artist Keely Isaak Meehan, founding artistic director of Manifold Motion.  We’ll be talking about her work, including watching some of her favorite films of her performances, as well as talking about her work as a Certified Movement Analyst.

I asked Keely to come in and talk with me for a few reasons, first and foremost as part of my artist interview series for Solstenen project, talking with people I want to learn something from.  And with Keely there are definitely  several things I want to pick her brain about!

I met Keely in 2008 while I was working on the film/live performance The Silvering Path, with Haruko Nishimura and Ian Lucero.  Haruko had invited DAE supporters to a series of crochet parties we held to generate some of the raw material for my Slug Princess wearable, and Keely was one of those people who returned again and again.

Slug Princess party with DAE

Slug Princess party with DAE

It wasn’t until the performance that I really realized she too was a performer and spearheaded Manifold Motion, when she and her husband media artist Mike McCracken began telling me about a massive production in the works all about a forest of fabric.  Having just made a forest of fabric, I was intrigued!

A few months later, Keely and I began this very funny meet-up of each hunting for yarn colors at thrift-stores for our respective projects and trading with each other what we had found, a bit like addicts of some sort.  And then many months later, seeing “Wool Gatherer”, I was, yes, drawn into the environment they had created, but was more drawn in by the precise yet fluid movements of Keely’s choreography.   I’ve always wanted to know more about her, and also how she manages to wrangle all that is involved in running her own performance company.  I have always been impressed with the scope and professionalism of MM, and their very well thought out fund-raising efforts and showcases, so their performers can eat.

Then an email from Keely in 2010 opened up something else.  She was enthusiastically letting everyone know she was now Certified Movement Analyst in Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals.

“I have found the past two years of study to be hugely transformative. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me, and gained clarity, precision, and ease in my movement and communication. In my final research and presentation I focused primarily on applying LMA/BF to neuromuscular re-patterning for integrated, functional movement.”

As an artist, with the intensely labor intensive work that I do, I am always wrestling with pain, and knowingly perform damaging repetitive movements to get the massive installations done.  Sometimes it feels like a war between my own stamina and the images my mind comes up with.  I try my best to remember my body in the process of making, but when push comes to shove for a deadline, I will work through deep pain.  I know it isn’t good, and somewhere somehow, I will need to (or be forced to) find balance.  I have deep relationships with chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga and any number of patches and ointments, but what it comes down to is, what I do is punishing my body.  Keely spoke with such enthusiasm about her new work, I was so curious about what she had to offer, particularly in terms of seeking a balance,  and because I am not at all familiar with Laban.

“I bring together my training in movement analysis with my background in dance and other somatic movement practices to identify, understand, and help re-pattern tension holding and movement habits. “


“…we will find ways to more balanced cycles between Stability/Mobility, Exertion/Recuperation, Inner/Outer, and Function/Expression.”

But time and life have sped by and we have not yet explored anything together.

With my new work I am beginning with Solstenen project, my body and my relationship to physical and psychosomatic gravity are at the center of it, as well as ‘punishing/penance’ as themes.  It seems time to seek out new and other ways of examining my body, and come to terms with the idea of creation and punishment I seem to hold in my bones.  So it is time for me to discover some ideas about Keely’s skills as a performer, maker and movement analysis.  Please join us for an informal conversation, if you are curious too. I’m so looking forward to learning things I don’t even know I don’t know….. I hope this can begin to help me unpack some of my deeply felt identification with A.S. Byatt’s character in the story “A Stone Woman”.

Stone Lungs, 2011

Stone Lungs, 2011

The Generosity of the Adorned Surfaces of Amanda Manitach, come watch her work at TPR, Aug. 15-20

This week, August 15th – 20th, Guest Artist Working, Amanda Manitach will be working in the studio with me, using The Project Room’s large lovely walls for drawing, and other things! 

Amanda’s hours in the space: M, T, Th, Fr, S; 12 -5 pm

I adore Amanda Manitach’s work.  In some ways, it is so divergent from my own work, yet, I feel like our brains and eyes flit across baroque surfaces, seeking similar heightened sensations.  I also sense a kinship in what I feel is her practice of probing the abject body from a care-taking stance.  Whether she is painstakingly sewing onyx beads onto a lamb’s tongue, meticulously recording and inventing the convoluted ruffled forms of disease and erotic cavities in graphite, gilding a pig’s head, dissecting the ways words expel from the body and mind, there is always care, love and reflection…and even temperance.

Amanda also brings a generosity to the way she interacts with the creative community of this region;  she curates, she writes, she analyzes and researches, she gathers people together.  She shows up and participates, and contributes; not to shine a light on her own efforts, but to celebrate the works of those that she find invigorating.

Initially, I asked Amanda to come work with me at The Project Room on a simple impulse.  We both spend, long, long, long hours doing tiny movements, she with graphite on paper and me with stitches and loops. Especially with the palette of my new work of silvers and grays, I thought there would be this curious tension between an austerity and the desire to accumulate to the point of excess in both our practices.  One week of work for either of us is a drop of water in a sea of labor….what happens when we put a microscope on that drop.

As par for her course, Amanda has contributed so much already to my time here at The Project Room, and to TPR’s mission in general.  She was a guest artist at the Defornament talk, and a contributor to the “Artist’s Who Interview” roundtable (including transcribing the conversation, helping me to create a record of that lively discussion soon to publish!)  Watch out very soon on The Project Room’s literary journal ‘Off-Paper’ for some of her own deeper analysis of what it means to wear the multiple hats of artist and writer.  I am so looking forward to spending this week, looking further into the generosity and furrowed planes of Amanda Manitach.

I’ll be writing more about this in a bit, but just a heads up…we will also be joined on Friday from 4pm – 5:30-ish, for a Guest Artist Conversation by multi-media, movement and dance artist Keely Isaak Meehan, artistic director of ‘Manifold Motion’.

photo: Carolyn Isaak

photo: Carolyn Isaak

We’ll be talking about her work as well as her own practice as a Certified Movement Analyst using Laban/Bartenieff & Somatic Studies, and how this may help me unravel some of my impulses to use my own body (as well as my husband’s) to explore this new work in Solstenen.  Please join us in conversation, and some light refreshments.