DANCE AMIDST ART at Make it, Break it, Rebuild it

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

On first walking into the raw warehouse space at 100 West Oxford Street in Fishtown where this installation and dance performance series took place, I was struck by the sense of warmth and community. The space, and the event as a whole, part of the Philly Fringe Festival, had the feeling of a warm, gently lit barn raising party where people work through a task together: sharing music, conversation and food, and drinking with each other.

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

The space was filled with a wide array of work of all types investigating in different ways the theme of human use, destruction, and recycling of their surrounding environments and materials. More than 25 individual artists were represented. I was impressed by the installation’s commitment to reach out to and incorporate the surrounding community. Collaborations with local student groups and the craft-based, do-it-yourself feel of the event seemed to welcome participants from all parts of the community regardless of age, class, or formal experience with ‘Art.’ The fact that many of the works were either made out of materials found here in Philadelphia, or else depicted recognizable parts of the city or issues pertinent to its inhabitants (homelessness, abandoned buildings, urban decay) added to my sense of the exhibition’s engagement with its surroundings.

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

One of the main draws the night my friends and I went (Thursday the 14th) seemed to be the interactive “Giraffe’s Dream,” co-created by Tara Wosiski and Brad Carney. This piece was a sort of vertical loom, a freestanding wooden frame strung tautly with pieces of string and accompanied by a palette piled high with colorful strips of fabric. Visitors were welcomed to weave these strips through the loom to add to the growing creation. A sight in itself, the mound of glittering, opaque, and sheer fabric scraps had all been discarded from local Kensington clothing factories. There was also something quite moving about the sight of visitors, many of them strangers to each other, engaged in their collective task with bowed heads and a kind of dutiful seriousness.

 

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

The installation moved seamlessly between interactive pieces, videos, sculptures, and found object constructions, photographs, collages, and paintings. Though there were a great variety of pieces, they worked together as a collection in the space without one outshining the rest. Nothing felt crowded, and there was plenty of room to move around the concentration of large, quirky sculptures. The emphasis was certainly on the built construction; many of the works directly spoke to the Make it, Break it, Rebuild it title, giving one the sense of an energetic, fluid working process of collecting, constructing, deconstructing, and reassembling.

Some pieces were clearly made to be seen in the context of the dance performances that happened on the other nights of the event, which made me wish I could have attended these shows and seen the pieces activated by the dancers’ movements. Lincoln Line, the band that played the night I was there, was more of a separated accompaniment to the artwork– they provided a focus, but didn’t specifically interact with any part of the installation. However, the black and white images projected behind them provided a nice backdrop and implied connection to the visual stimuli elsewhere in the warehouse space.

A kind of youthful, energetic cheerfulness seemed to spread throughout the installation, embodied by the event’s organizers, who warmly greeted people as they entered the space, telling them what to expect and how they could make themselves at home. As I neared the back of the warehouse space, I came upon one of the final pieces, Mike Konrad’s series of simple illuminated lamps spelling the words “Great Idea.” This seemed like a fitting encapsulation of the down-to earth, hopeful approach of the show as a whole. Make it, Break it, Rebuild it reminds us of art and artists’ capacity to engage a community in an examination of its own problems, hopes, and creative potential.

Leah Macdonald's diversity and experience in the realms of photography, encaustic painting and mixed media continue to merge and compliment one another.
Leah Macdonald
Leah Macdonald

Leah Macdonald's diversity and experience in the realms of photography, encaustic painting and mixed media continue…

Leah Macdonald's diversity and experience in the realms of photography, encaustic painting and mixed media continue to merge and compliment one another.…

Leah Macdonald's diversity and experience in the realms of photography, encaustic painting and mixed media continue to merge and compliment one another.…

Mindy Flexer makes magical realist, figurative, oil paintings. She uses observation and invention to explore identity and family relationships, and the way personal history resides within the larger arc of time. Her current work is about our extraordinary historical moment, when climate crisis threatens all life on earth, and climate justice offers the possibility of global transformation to a just and equitable world. Her visual language of a seamless world of people, animals, and place, is the language of the interconnection of all life on earth. Flexer’s paintings speak about climate in a language personal enough for people to hear it. Her goal is to inspire people to action. She hopes to connect people to themselves and each other, so each person can find their place in the mass movement necessary to create a sustainable future. In this way, she sees her paintings aspart of the great web of healing she deeply believes can save our planet.
Mindy Flexer
Mindy Flexer

Mindy Flexer makes magical realist, figurative, oil paintings. She uses observation and invention to explore identity and…

Mindy Flexer makes magical realist, figurative, oil paintings. She uses observation and invention to explore identity and family relationships, and the way personal history resides within the larger arc…

Mindy Flexer makes magical realist, figurative, oil paintings. She uses observation and invention to explore identity and family relationships, and the way personal history resides within the larger arc of time. Her current…

Nancy Neill is a contemporary abstract artist whose work combines painting with drawing using lines and scribble to portray the movement and energy of outdoors.  Her work can range from very colorful to monochromatic.  She paints with various mediums (acrylic, oil, oil pastel) on canvas, mylar and paper.
Nancy Neill
Nancy Neill

Nancy Neill is a contemporary abstract artist whose work combines painting with drawing using lines and scribble to portray…

Nancy Neill is a contemporary abstract artist whose work combines painting with drawing using lines and scribble to portray the movement and energy of outdoors. Her work can range from very colorful to…

Nancy Neill is a contemporary abstract artist whose work combines painting with drawing using lines and scribble to portray the movement and energy of outdoors. Her work can range from very colorful to monochromatic. She…

Elynne Rosenfeld
Elynne Rosenfeld
Jenn is a painter! Mostly she's an oil painter, though she's been known to use just about any medium available at a given moment.

She Loves to paint. It's pretty much all she wants to do.
Shes Loves to paint the world and the beautiful things in it — 
and she Loves that people really Love her paintings of our beautiful world and the beautiful things in it!

There is nothing really special about Jenn, she's just painter who paints... just about anything, just about all the time. 

P.S. She's a bit of a formalist — her world is made up of line, color, shape, form, structure, composition and plasticity. And, while she paint from observation, the subject of the painting is not her objective. The process of painting is her objective — the process of how to best use the medium, often oil paint, to create and subjugate form on the two dimensional surface of the canvas.
Jenn Hallgren
Jenn Hallgren

Jenn is a painter! Mostly she's an oil painter, though she's been known to use just about any medium available at a given…

Jenn is a painter! Mostly she's an oil painter, though she's been known to use just about any medium available at a given moment.

She Loves to paint. It's pretty much all she wants to do.
Shes Loves…

Jenn is a painter! Mostly she's an oil painter, though she's been known to use just about any medium available at a given moment.

She Loves to paint. It's pretty much all she wants to do.
Shes Loves to paint the world…

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