"Sites of Passage" to Open September 9th, 2011
This summer, ArtUp Director/Founder Tavia La Follette has been busier than a family of beavers preparing for the annual dam convention. The only difference is that her Project, Firefly Tunnels, is far from backed up.
Breathing life into the meaning of coordination, Tavia chewed away tirelessly at the forest of possibility to build a diverse program schedule with the wonderful staff at The Mattress Factory Museum.
Early in June, Tavia began presenting her idea to the Hillel Center of Pittsburgh to initiate an effort for young Jewish artists to work professionally with Egyptians. While ideas spread like wildfire, an agreement was made to wait until students were back in order to give them the chance to be part of the planning process.
"Something like this could be huge for our students to launch a career in the arts," Director David Katz said excitedly, with his group of graduate students majoring in everything from business to fine arts in mind.
Meanwhile, Islamic Center of Pittsburgh's imam Atef Mahgoub welcomed ArtUp in with open arms, promising Tavia a place for Egyptians to pray. During an iftar she was invited to during Ramadan, Tavia was also able to set up a loose discussion panel for the visiting artists to explore a variety of topics with American Muslims.
Continuing her quest to conjure a most meaningful experience for the surrounding community, Pittsburgh's Hope Academy was brought into the picture to help reach out to inner-city youth. The Academy's Executive Director Linda Addlespurger agreed on the benefit to setting up a series of workshops that will end with a theatre performance by the Academy's Hat Co.
If all of this was not exciting enough, early this August, ArtUp received a grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation to provide additional support to continue developing the exhibit's programming!
"The driving force for our work (this summer) has been to expose people to new cultures," Tavia explained. "We want to open a wider lense on global society than what is usually portrayed in popular media."
"One of my collegues said it best at the end of one of her presentations: 'When you get to know people, you tend to want to kill them less.'," she chuckled.
The Exhibition Sites of Passage will feature installations by a core of 11 American and 7 Egyptian artists (full list HERE). Highlights include the migration of a few pieces shown at in Cairo during a one-night-only show in August 2010, some work from the website's Online Gallery, a rotation of personallly lead tours, a community Bike Ride, as well as an unjulation of performances & events lead by visiting American Art Groups/individuals.
For instance, UC Davis theatre professor Larry Bogad will visit Pittsburgh to give a dynamic performance exploring the Mattress Factory's garden during sunset. Later on in October, a puppet show by Mark Staley will explore Mandy Fessenden Brauer's poem "Celebration in the City: Cairo". As the months progress, local groups & artists will work virtually with Egyptian artists to help build a room on the Annex's Third floor Tharir Square, into a conversation about the Egytian Revolution.
"Our biggest challenge has been coordinating Visas for the Egyptian artists," Tavia relented, describing how they now wait on the Status of a Petition P process to hopefully have the artists arrive in early December.
If you are curious to know more about Firefly Tunnels, we invite you to attend a special presentation that will take place this Thursday, Sept. 22nd at 4:30 PM. Tavia will be explaining the depth of her current work and the challenges in cultural divsion between America and the Middle East.
Opening night takes place this Friday, September 9th at 7:00 PM in the Mattress Factory Annex (Map location here) and will include live music by the local band Toys du Jour, some Egytian food, Henna tatoos, and a small Islamic-style market.
For a full list of accompanying shows, activities, and workshops in Pittsburgh throughout the next 5 months, keep an eye on our front page.
All artwork & programming was made possible by our Sponsors.