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Emily Johnson Informal Showing

02mar10:30 amEmily Johnson Informal Showing10:30 am


march 2, 2016 10:30am

Event Details

Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s newest work Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars  is a multi-year project focused on all night stargazing. The work includes in equal measure: making quilts, performance, storytelling, song, and a night of stargazing. It relies upon people coming together to voice intentions, witness, work, experience time, rest, and imagine.

Then a Cunning Voice… is rooted in community visioning sessions created in partnership with the Minneapolis-based Native American Community Development Institute. These visioning sessions ask: “What do you want for your well-being? For your family and friends? Your neighborhood? Your city, town, or reserve?” These intentions are gathered on quilt squares which are sewn into a modular series of quilts during community sewing bees. Once created, the quilts are laid together to become one 4,000 square foot area, designed by textile artist Maggie Thompson (Ojibwe), upon which we will host all night stargazing including moments of silence, performance, stories, and First-Nations star knowledge. We want to share time, to feel and also imagine the space below us on the ground and above us in the air.

Community Safety Visioning: Shutting off lights in a park or spending the night in the rural darkness is needed to more clearly see the stars, and  it is also an opportunity to spark conversation and action about safety. Safety comes to mind because many intentions voiced in the past two years have been about safety- most clearly safety from police. Many quilt squares say something similar to: “[I want] To not be afraid of police.” (NYC CVS, June 2015). One says,  “[I want] The police to stop killing our kids.” (Vancouver BC, CA CVS, August 2015).  This project cannot fix power dynamics that create racial violence but it can start to examine and shift dynamics by sharing responsibility and authorship with local residents. The process of shutting off lights will be co-organized with a local youth leadership team who develops a talking and action plan for discussing community safety with police. What excites us about this is the possibility for long term effect– building relationships between young people and police begins to change the nature of power. It changes relationship.

During their time at MANCC, Emily Johnson—with collaborators Ain Gordon, Aretha Aoki and Krista Langberg—will be developing the performance for Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars. Catalyst will be holding Community Visioning Sessions and Community Sewing Bees at FSU and with the larger Tallahassee community run by Emily Johnson with project manager Julia Bither and quilt designer Maggie Thompson.

This residency was supported, in part, by the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreographers, a program funded by The McKnight Foundation and administered by The Cowles Center For Dance & The Performing Arts.