• Mary T

ICA Wall Talk Commission

Updated: May 18

How many different ways can you move with a wall?

This is my second school year working for the ICA Teen Programs. I teach writing and performance for the Wall Talk Program across seven BPS High School classrooms. Usually I spend the fall visiting schools, doing creative writing projects and guiding tours through the museum. In the spring we collage together all our ideas into one big collaborative, day long spoken word, dance, music and theater performance called The Reading Jam. This year our theme is Beyond These Walls, where we discuss works in I'm Yours, the current exhibition on display in the museum. This year is not like other years. This Fall, we will engage not in the physical walls of the ICA but instead will bring our focus to other “walls,” both physical and metaphorical, that represent the challenges we face today. We will ask ourselves how can we adjust and expand into this global pandemic moment instead of feel trapped and collapsed? Is it possible? Can we feel that possibility in our bodies? All of our zoom workshops will still build toward a Spring performance but our discussions will be more integrated with current events than in a typical year.

Art has always offered spaces for people to reflect, respond, express, communicate, and make meaning. Engaging with contemporary works of art as anchors and inspiration, together we will create work that moves us toward a future of hope. Twenty twenty and twenty twenty one program themes include discussions around how the stories museums may tell through art are never fixed but always in process. Our workshops will use dance and creative writing to move through ideas of home and history, social and material transformation, and frames of identity in portraiture and sculpture. How can we think "Beyond the Square" or "Outside the Box"? How can we expand beyond the four walls of a room, a house, an apartment, a block? How many different ways can you move with a wall?

Hand in hand with the curriculum teaching artists create, the Teen Programs department is making an interactive website and a print publication to display our work. Each staff member has been granted time out of the fall schedule to build a new work connected to Beyond These Walls. In addition to a finished piece we will make demo videos or worksheets that break down our creative process in a step by step way that students can follow. In this way we extend the invitation to them to make their own art at home with us. In January 2021 I built a new dance for camera called Helicopters. You can see it here, and read a more thorough description of the piece here. I will continue working on this dance throughout the winter, and exploring more the sounds and feelings of helicopters I have been interested in all summer, after they became a pervasive entity in my life. Recently I discovered one possible root of this obsession. In 2017 I saw Static by Steve McQueen at MoMa, and was completely transfixed for almost an hour. The videos hang from 3 large monitors high above the first floor of the museum, you can also walk to the second floor to view them at eye level. The sounds fill the hallways of the museum. It also reminds me of a term I just read: Surveillance Capitalism. I found this in Miguel Gutierez's bio on the Segue Reading Series website at Artists's Space in NYC.

Most recently! My Wall Talk co teacher Rimi Malick made a video about my teaching pedagogy as part of her Masters Thesis at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The sound was provided by Michael Wall and some of the images were originally captured by Callie Chapman.

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