Monday, July 02, 2018

Image Text Ithaca 2018 (+ Photos)

The barn, a/k/a art-space
I recently returned from Image Text Ithaca (ITI), the superlative art-text program at Ithaca College organized by Catherine Taylor and Nick Muellner, that I attended in 2015, and which is now a thriving MFA program. I once again participated as a Fellow, and so was only on campus for the first half-week, before the seminars began. As was the case last time, I was in perpetual creative motion the whole time I was there (sleep not included), so I once again had no chance to post about the projects I got involved in, initiated by the students, faculty and fellows, and interns, but suffice it to say that I think I did more in that week than in the previous six, so it was a fruitful mini-sojourn, to put it mildly. This time I presented on only one project, a "handbook" of "unusual emotions" that had begun as a list poem, but which came to involve a lively cast of those present.

The chickens who were present
while we were there
The chickens often
came to greet us
In addition to Nicholas and Catherine, also present as Faculty or Fellows were Stephanie Barber, Nydia Blas, Tisa Bryant, Jason Livingston, Luke Stettner and Carmen Winant, and Nina Strand. Heading up for the seminars the following were are Melissa Cattanese & Ed Panar, Bruno Ceschel, Tonya Foster, Emma Kemp. Elana Schlanker, and Jo Ann Walters. Bruno and Tonya attended back in 2015, and Elana was the designer of what became GRIND, my collaborative project with Nicholas. The amazing students included (and I will inevitably leave someone's name off the list, so my apologies in advance) Justin Audet, Matt Baczewski, Andre Bradley, Mel Collazo, Edith Fikes, Hugo Gallo, Marcella Green, Jeewon Kim, Pablo Lerma, Carla Liesching, Jason Lipeles, Melani Lopez, Martha Ormiston, John O'Toole, Laura Pierson, Nicolina Schonfarber, Nina Perlman, John Rufo, Kirslyn Schell-Smith, Amy Schuessler, Janet Solval, Kesley Sucena, Grant Willing. This year's interns were Sophia Feuer, Eadan Halloran, Maxwell, Innis, Tyler Macri, and Shane Reynolds. My heartfelt thanks to all of them!
Cascadilla Creek
On one of the first afternoons in Ithaca, as a group of faculty walked to Jason's car, parked on Cascadilla Street, to head out to the rural barn where the creative seminar took place, Jason pointed out to me one of the town's mostly hidden monuments: Alex Haley's birth home, with a memorial stone and garden. The co-author of the Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) and the force behind the cultural phenomenon book and landmark series Roots: The Saga of An American Family (1976), Haley, a distant relative of mine whom I, like many people, tend to associate with Tennessee and the South, was born in Ithaca during the period when his father,  Simon Haley, a noted professor of agriculture at Alabama A&M, among other historically black institutions, was enrolled in a master's degree program in agriculture at Cornell University, which did admit black students in small numbers before the wide-scale US college and university integration of the 1950-1975 period.
Socializing in the barn
The stone detailing Alex Haley's life was almost completely obscured by plants, as was the little brick patio and bench; had Jason not pointed it out to me, it would have been easy to walk right past it. I revisited the site the following day, and snapped a number of photos, which you can see in the next post, and collected notes about Haley's life, for a short piece I began--but have not finished--titled "Unremembered." (At least that's the working title.) It wasn't clear to me whether the homeowner or the city was responsible for maintaining the site, but as things stand, neither was doing much at all even to clear away the branches. Had I been in town for an extended period of time, I might have done it myself. Additionally and interestingly enough, while Haley's birth memorial and the house next door (which even had a Black Lives Matter sign in the window) do not appear on maps, there is an Alex Haley Pool, just a few blocks away on North Albany Street. I did not have the opportunity to visit the pool, but perhaps it featured information, somewhere onsite, about the birth house and memorial stone. At any rate, Haley, and Malcolm X, whose autobiography's history I discussed with Jason, were with me throughout my short visit.

The view looking out toward the road
Here are photos from the stay; just imagine constant movement, numerous collaborative, simultaneous art, video, performance, and writing projects, intent visages and whirring printers and lots of laughter, as well as delicious meals punctuating everything, and you get a hint of what ITI was like. If you are interested in the program, please click on the link above or this one to learn more.

The beginning of Melani Lopez's
haircutting performance
During the performance
(Tisa in the foreground)
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Melani Lopez (in t-shirt), beginning her
ritual performance
The performance
During the performance
Melani Lopez
Andre Bradley cutting
Melani's hair
A photo shoot involving
getting up (as opposed to falling) 
Nicholas taking a picture
Sketches 
Responses to one of the prompts
The tent behind the barn
Nicholas, looking from above

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