Meant to counteract the aggressive, reactive performance pours done in the past, the crew is made up entirely of women or non-gender conforming casters. Workers cultivated the sand, similar to how a farmer prepares a plot. These rows housed the molds of seed pods and root vegetables. During this performance, workers “planted” seeds and then “harvested” them. This acts as a metaphor for our commitment to teaching this craft to others by creating opportunity for new and/or more gentle iron casters. Meant as a way to honor this welcoming group of makers, this performance also touched on themes of fertility, community, and new life; new life as in the new work created within the molds, as in the inclusion of those new to iron casting, and as in the potential of a new generation of iron casters. The totality of the process thus invokes the paradigms of creation in an all encompassing way.
This performance took place at the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art Practices at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama in April 2019. Participates ranged from college students, to artists, to faculty, who had a range of experience from professional casters to first-timers. No matter their level, there was a job for everyone. Taking influence from the Women's Land Army, a coalition formed in WWI & II to carry out agricultural work, we made our very own 'Victory Garden', paying homage to the 'Land Girls' for making it possible for us to make the 2019 version; an 'Iron Victory Garden’. I’ve been casting for a long time, but have only been in the iron community for just under a year. This performance was my way to give thanks and use my position to create an opportunity for others to participate, similar to the way the community embraced me. Every participate took a seed pod or vegetable home with them, therefore expanding our network outward from Alabama, to Texas, Illinois, Arkansas, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and California.
Tricks of the Trade
The Trade, a performance by Emily Baker, brings together the artists’ passions; gymnastics and iron casting. Constantly working using sculpture and performance to re-home her athleticism, Emily has since turned to the intensity of metal fabrication and iron casting, finding it an analogous environment to that of the gym. In this performance, you can expect to see reference to a past work, Trampoline Collaboration (2015), as she once again works within the confines of a 16’ trampoline, executing a series of skills reminiscent of her time as a competitive gymnast. Similar to Quiet Practice (2016), The Trade is meant to happen without fanfare, referencing the behind-the-scenes training that occurs everyday — both as athlete and as artist — regardless of an audience. As a long time performer of sport, music, dance, and art, Emily believes it is this type of quiet practice that is crucial to her success.
The performance lasted approximately one hour, showcasing a transformation from gymnast to iron caster; a trade from one obsessive passion to another. Bounding about the springy cylinder, she traded in her Lulus for her chaps, defying gravity with grit and grace.
Photographs by Sivash Ghadiri.
Return to the Blob
digital prints, 2017
My background as a competitive gymnast and a dancer is rooted in rigidity. These new photographs are my attempt to unlearn the toe point by peeling off the layer of rigidity, a layer that seeps deep into my muscles, my fascia, my bones. Returning to the blob is not a comfortable experience. I am trained to have clean lines from my toe through my hips to finger tip. To be a crumpled pile of flesh and nails goes against what I know. It's an act of rebellion. I rebel in hopes of finding a neutral resting place for my joints. A place where I feel strong, not overworked, fluid, but not overstretched.
The fabric aided in achieving this fluidity. It allowed my body to hide in ambiguity. I enjoy that the viewer might need a few moments to realize which way is up. They must use their imagination to fill in the blanks or take the shapes at face value. Maybe see them as flat or sculptural instead of a body that provides the structure for the billowing pink silk.
Photographs by Daria Izad.
Risk Verses Thrill
I come from a world of ponytail-facelifts, wedgies, and glitter hairspray, where chalk is the remedy for callouses ripped open, and athletic tape holds most of the team together. Gymnastics is synonymous with who I am. It’s how I stand out; it’s how I am remembered; it’s my identity. However, I am not able to continue with the sport that is my home; my aging body won’t allow it.
I re-home this athleticism to a place that still houses danger, the need for physical strength and ritual. In the metal shop, I negotiate the relationship between the memories encased in my muscles and ligaments by placing these temporal feelings within my steel and latex sculptures. They live in the ephemeral twists and stretch of the rubber tubing, and will eventually decay.
In this site-specific installation and performance, we revert back to our rambunctious, childlike selves; our animalistic selves, our wild side. It’s about reminding our bodies what it feels like to play -unlearning the toe point and relearning the crawl.
It’s about the ever-present fear of paralysis. It’s about hypothesizing about our body’s limitations and constantly testing these. It’s about bravery. It’s about thinking that we know our body’s limitations and proving ourselves wrong. It’s about kids these days. It’s about acknowledging the over-safe nature in our culture and pushing back because what’s the point of living if you only ever read about it?
It’s about the risk verses the thrill.
Steel, latex, liability waivers.
Movers: Emily Baker, Nancy Scherich, Timothy Wood
Photographs by Mohit Hingorani.
This performance is meant to be something that happens without fanfare. It is the behind-the-scenes training that occurs everyday, regardless of an audience. As a long time performer of sport, music, and dance, it is this type of quiet practice that is crucial to success; one that I intend to include in the conversation of my performances.
Performances were daily at 3:30 pm.
Photographs by Mohit Hingorani.
You ease my joints from looseness to impact, from disengage to engage, rise to fall. This fall is unlike any other. Initial contact; then I continue below the surface, below horizontal, there is no hard stop. This body, with its elastic joints and shrinking cartilage, you make it possible once again.