The Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating for the arts in many ways, leading to postponements, cancellations, and the closing of arts venues. But it has also inspired innovative ways to bring art to audiences. This panel brings together the people behind four compelling examples, encompassing dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts.
Leaning Toward the Sky, U.S. Botanic Garden Commission, 2019 (photo credit: Mariah Miranda)
Colette Krogol and Matt Reeves (photo credit: Jonathan Hsu)
Orange Grove Dance is a multimedia dance company realizing visually athletic experiences through the lenses of dance, film, and design. Recognized for its powerful imagery and choreography, Orange Grove Dance creates unique, site-specific performances in which mythopoetic tropes and reality collide. Under the direction of Artistic Directors and 2020 Helen Hayes Award winners Colette Krogol and Matt Reeves, Orange Grove Dance has presented their work on concert stages, in museums, black box theaters, film festivals, underground tunnels, city streets, public parks, and botanical gardens. Their work has been presented internationally, in locations including Rauma, Finland, Brooklyn, New York, Washington, D.C., and Wuhan, China. In 2017, Orange Grove Dance was selected as the ‘Audience Choice Award’ winner of the 34th Annual Choreographers Showcase for their work Holding, Here, described by Dance Metro DC as a “magically spun… visual tale of suspension, tension, and community within a multilayered moving painting”. Krogol and Reeves each hold Masters of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Maryland and Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees in Dance from the University of Florida.
Emlyn Johnson (flute) and Dan (cello)
Emlyn Johnson and Daniel Ketter are the founders and co-directors of American Wild Ensemble. The ensemble’s Music in the American Wild initiative began in 2016 with a commissioning and touring project inspired by and performed in American national parks, in honor of the National Park Service centennial. Since those initial tours performing in the great outdoors, from caves to mountaintops, American Wild Ensemble has continued to celebrate and reflect on American people, places, and stories by commissioning new works and performing them in site-inspired and site-specific locations, with the support of organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, Mid-America Arts Alliance, and New Music USA. Recent projects have taken the ensemble to the old growth forests of Washington state and the lava fields of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In summer 2021 the ensemble will embark on a collaborative touring project commemorating the bicentennial of the state of Missouri. American Wild Ensemble aims to engage with audiences through the commissioning, programming, and production process, offering a cohesive experience that connects listeners to the spaces around them through music designed with those spaces in mind. The ensemble is comprised of young professionals who perform with orchestras, teach at universities, and freelance across the country. Ensemble directors Johnson (flute) and Ketter (cello) are both on faculty in the music department at Missouri State University.
The Institute For Counterfeit Memory, photo credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker
Lola B. Pierson’s The Institute For Counterfeit Memory is a play in a box sent to audience members at their homes. The piece chronicles the grief of what was lost to the pandemic and imagines what might have happened, but never did. Using an MP3 player, diagrams, and small props that the audience manipulates, the play asks the audience to be present with the feelings around everything we’ve missed this year, but also with what has arisen in its place. Lola B. Pierson is a playwright, writer, and director. Her work challenges theatrical form, incorporating elements of social media, performance art, visual art, switcheroos, and boredom. She is the co-founding Artistic Director of The Acme Corporation, a Baltimore-based theatre company that brings the professional, educational, and DIY communities together, presenting new plays and re-imagined classics. Pierson is a graduate of Baltimore School for the Arts, Bard College, and Towson University, she is passionate about the intersections of language, time, presence, and philosophy.
Shelter in Place Gallery, exhibition of work by Susan Metrican
Shelter in Place Gallery is a 1:12 scale, miniature but highly detailed and realistic gallery space that asks artists to create miniature works for display in exhibitions that are shared with the public via the Shelter in Place Instagram account. The gallery was founded in 2020 by Boston-based artists Eben Haines and Delaney Dameron. At a time when galleries and museums are closed, studios are often hard to access, and monetary and social resources for artists are slim, the miniature scale of Shelter in Place Gallery counteracts this so that artists don’t necessarily need access to their studios to create work. Working from home at a reduced scale, artists are able to make much more ambitious work than they could ever afford to at full scale, let alone have shown in a commercial gallery in Boston. The goal of Shelter in Place Gallery is to allow artists to make the work they’ve always wanted to make. Since its inception, the mission of the gallery has grown as the art world continues to change drastically. They hope to continue to run a platform that makes both showing work and viewing work more accessible for all.