Featured Work: Cocoons

Finished Cocoons

I am intrigued with the changes that occur in me when I live in different cultures: Europe, Saudi Arabia, China. Within time, my cultural lines begin to blur; the exotic becomes ordinary , and what was once familiar becomes foreign. "Cocoon" is about this transition and the feelings it brings.  The cocoon is my metaphor for this journey. It is a protective covering, a wrapping, a casing for all that will be changed.

The cocoons are the results of performances in which individuals were wrapped and then sewn into yards and yards of sheer cloth, forming a cocoon; at the end of each performance, they were cut out. I have reworked these cocoons -- the remains of this passage -- into talismans that hold the stories of their metamorphoses.

Finished cocoons we re developed from performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Illinois; Waldkirch Theater in Waldkirch, Germany ; Jiujiang University inJiujiang, China; Harrington Mills Studio in  Nottingham, England ; and the George Caleb Bingham Gallery at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.

Photography by Lisa Nordmann,  Video by Philip Hartigan

Will it make a difference? Waldkirch Theater, Waldkirch, Germany, 2007

Throughout 2007, Claudia Bucher and I wrote frequently to each other about the complexity of being an artist, wife and mother. I was well into my career, married with adult children and an American.  Claudia, a Swiss, was an emerging artist soon to be married. Our collaboration, Will it make a difference? was based on these e-mails. Christian Bucher provided new music for this performance. 

Photography by Rob Nienburg

Cocoon, Jiujiang University, Jiujiang, China, 2008

Building on performance elements from Will it make a difference? my Jiujiang University art students and I created the first rendition of Cocoon, exploring the questions: Where will I go after I graduate? What kind of a job will I have? Who will I become? Student performers; Shi Xiaoshan, Chen Jing, Liu Yaqian, Dang Xiaojie, Yang Zhen, Wu Dan, Ma Jie, Yu Zhiqun, Han Xiaowei, Li Chenlong, Ye Zhengyu and Hao Zhisheng. 

Photography by David C. Pritchett, Video by Zach Bremen

Work in Progress, Museum of Contemporary Arts, Chicago, Illinois, 2008 

As part of the Museum of Contemporary Arts Works in Progress program, I was invited to share my creative process with museum visitors and staff. Columbia College Chicago Dance Therapy graduate students Gail Adduci, Amanda Harris, and Kate Jonesco assisted me in the development of elements to be used in further Cocoon works.

Photography by David C. Pritchett, Video by Mary Felice

Secret Desires, Harrington Mills Studio, Nottingham, England, 2012 

Visitors were invited to write their secret desires on long strips of cloth that were sewn and wrapped into the cocoon. Joining me were British performance artist Rachel Perry and British visual artist, Alison Whitmore.

Photography by David C. Pritchett

Cocoon, George Caleb Bingham Gallery, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, 2015

Students of Cherie Sampson, University of Missouri professor and performance artist, assisted me in expanding Cocoon. Faculty and student's secrets were written on merchandize labels that were later attached to the cocooning cloth. We performed in the forest of finished cocoons.

Photography by David C. Pritchett