As an exercise during graduate school I spent several months practicing “laughter yoga” in the car every time I had to drive somewhere. It was more difficult to do than anticipated, and most of the time I had to force a fake laugh for several minutes until a real one emerged. As I fake/authentically laughed to myself in the car, I was aware that other passerby probably noticed and wondered what I was doing. This performative defiance, a simple action against the Monday morning blues, transformed my daily routine. The idea of inserting humor and discomfort into everyday moments has become the main focus of my creative work.
I use writing, performance, video and animation to explore autobiographical topics related to motherhood, maternal health rights, childhood memory and loss. Because the subject matter I explore is often vulnerable and difficult, I strive to integrate elements of humor and participation to make it more accessible to an audience. I often supplement my performance or video work with handmade objects using paper mache, soft sculpture and collage. Puppets, masks, red blobs and hand-sewn fish have all been featured in past projects.
The participatory focus of my work is intended to encourage vulnerability as a means of collective liberation. This often manifests itself in absurd interactive situations that challenge an audience to let go of their inhibitions and become key collaborators to a project. For example, my audience has worn ugly teeth while playing limbo under a giant mouth to disco music, photographed themselves washing the dishes and pumping breast milk in full body suits, drawn sketches of me in a naked old man costume, and been showered in endless amounts of tomato juice. Each of these projects respectively addressed deeper issues related to social inadequacy, postpartum depression, gender identity and body image. In many ways my work forces laughter on my audience until they, too, are able to find the authentic sense of humor in more complex psychological situations.
My work has been presented in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Chicago, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland OR, multiple cities in Java Indonesia, and Shijr City Taiwan. I currently teach time-based media as a full-time Lecturer at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design and Interarts Performance Program. I hold a BFA in Theater & Original Works from Cornish College of the Arts, and an MFA in Studio Art from the Stamps School of Art & Design. For four years between my degrees, I resided in Yogyakarta, Indonesia where I studied traditional mask dance with Didik Nini Thowok and collaborated with contemporary choreographer Fitri Setyaningsih and the political arts collective Taring Padi. I’m originally from northern California, and will forever miss the redwoods and living near the ocean.