NEWPORT – A renowned artist and seasoned curator have called for nominations for 100 people to participate in a free live public art performance called ‘In the Waves’ at Rough Point during the month of August.
“We are reaching out to many groups, without wanting to exclude anyone, but we like the idea of young people being involved here,” said Dodie Kazanjian, project curator and founder of Art & Newport.
“The participants, whom we call the ensemble, will have a very meaningful experience with the creation of the work and its sharing with the public,” said artist Melissa McGill. “I think it will be very memorable.”
The Newport Restoration Foundation, which owns the former Doris Duke Mansion and expansive lawns hosting the event, is a co-sponsor with Art & Newport who has brought prominent artists to Newport for projects over the past five years. This will be the biggest to date. .
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The casting call went to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center, local schools and the Newport Health Equity Zone. No experience is necessary, but potential participants must be 15 years of age and over and available for all performance and rehearsal dates.
Rehearsal dates are August 15-17, and performance dates are August 18-21, Wednesday through Saturday, and August 24-28, Tuesday through Saturday. The performances over these nine days will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Participants will earn $ 15 per hour and snacks and drinks will be provided. Those interested should send an email to: [email protected]
McGill will have experienced artists in another field who will help it achieve this ambitious project.
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Melanie George, who is a dance presenter with Jacob’s Pillow in New York City, will be the producer and complement the dramaturgy of the production. She is well known in the jazz dance world, Kazanjian said.
The choreographer will be Davalois Fearon, formerly of the Stephen Petronio Group in New York and who now has his own dance company.
“It’s Melissa’s vision, but it’s become all movement in the landscape,” Kazanjian said.
Rising seas is a theme of the project
McGill, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, has experience in major public art projects. She created “Red Regatta”, which debuted in Venice, Italy, in May 2019. She filled the city’s waterways with 52 traditional “vela al terzo” sailboats, hoisted in hand-painted red sails . “Vela al terzo” is a strange quadrilateral thimble sail with four unequal sides.
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“The project celebrated the city’s maritime history and called attention to the forces of climate change and mass tourism that threaten its future,” explained McGill.
His next job at Rough Point will have a similar aspect: sea level rise.
“It’s really about raising awareness of rising waters and respect for the waters as part of a collective and inspiring shared experience,” said McGill.
Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organization, donated 50 lengths of fabric, each 25 to 45 feet long.
“The fabric is recycled ocean plastic – plastic that has been collected and taken out of the ocean and made into textiles,” McGill said.
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She will be painting waves all over this fabric at Rough Point, starting August 1. The public will be able to enter the domain and watch her paint. There will be no charge to view upcoming art or performances.
“I paint the waves in a very expressive way, with the different colors that refer to the ocean at Rough Point,” said McGill. “I did the studies and research to make them really sound like the ocean there.”
These long lengths of fabric have special handles at the ends so they can be held and moved to create movement.
“When this fabric is painted, it becomes something very different,” Kazanjian said. “The movement is like an ebb and flow as it approaches the house, then recedes like the tide. There is also the sound of the wind through this fabric.
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The Newport Restoration Foundation created the Keeping History Above Water conferences which began in Newport in April 2016 and focus on crises posed by rising sea levels. Since then, conferences, workshops and programs have been held. held in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2017; Palo Alto, California, and Des Moines, Iowa, in 2018; and St. Augustine, Florida, and Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 2019.
The most recent conference, held in Charleston, South Carolina, was in June this year, Kazanjian said.
“I think it’s going to be powerful”
McGill began planning an art installation at Rough Point in early 2020, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. The project has evolved since then, she said.
“With large-scale projects like this, especially when you get to know a landscape, there is always a process and an evolution,” said McGill. “Is it easy to do something like this?” No, but it is possible.
“It’s about our relationship to water and the environment,” she added. “I think it’s going to be powerful. I can already see it in my head.
“Everyone who participates is a part of the project, including the viewers,” Kazanjian said. “Everyone will carry the story with them. It will be remembered and told by the people who participate.
There will be a video of the production, so people who haven’t had a chance to see it in person will also tell the story, she said.
“This will continue in our community and beyond, we hope,” Kazanjian said. “He’s got that kind of message.”