Kelly Shaw Willman

is performing 111 therapies: phase 2 at the Pankhurst in the Park 2018 art salon @ Mothership NYC on the 11th September, between 7.30 pm to midnight, for more event info go here

artist’s statement: kelly shaw willman

     my installation, 111 therapies: phase 2, birthed itself (as an initial vision) approximately 4 months ago while i was quietly living in nicaragua-- i had just left behind the caribbean coast of costa rica, where i’d been based for 3 years.

     in costa rica, i was no longer able to healthily exist-- machismo’s rampant dysfunction was too gross. i am developing my own personal feminism, which debuts as a manifesta on my blog this year-- frankly, i was not living true to my feminism’s values by staying in a place that (majority/culturally) did not protect or value women. sex tourism was also impossible to ignore. the land is undeniably intoxicating, and i value (immensely) a quaint handful of old skool local friends of mine ... still, i could not stay.

      in the 3 years that i lived on the caribbean coast of CR, i was in a prolonged period of descent, a term i’d been taught by an elder friend whose past was parallel in many ways to mine. her reference for the term, descent, is from Maureen Murdock’s book, The Heroine’s Journey. ... i had to descend levels more deeply into my past, the realities of my present, and in doing so: confront shadows, darkness, pain, guilt, memories, extreme anxiety, rage, my ancestry, unhealthy relationships-- all without turning away; it was ouchy, and sometimes (necessarily) isolating. 

      in leaving costa rica, i mourned, but have been able to recently reclaim my voice as warrior*woman*artist-- ultimately, i am now risen into a steadier stance of owning who i am thru honey-laced confidence-meets-vulnerability. i share all of this (about my feminism and descent) because with no inkling of a doubt, these concepts are threaded throughout all of my creative work-- you will feel it.

      anyway, during my time in nicaragua recently, i began building phase 1 of 111 therapies for EMINENT DOMAIN, a radical feminist art-explosion that took place this past july in nyc’s chelsea district. as i built, beaded, and placed spells within phase 1, i wrote myself the following note: in the future, build a phase 2, 3, + + + of 111 therapies, each new phase possibly pushing quantity (# of handmade pieces) and scale. beaded detail can be pushed to ‘more intimate,’ meaning more time, more attention, more focus, more intentionality is infused process-wise. use items purchased or found from areas i visit/live upon my journey. tell visual stories.”  

     phase 2 hones in on **childhood/inner-child juju,** with a choiceful aesthetic focus on pastel and fluorescent colors. i romanticize my childhood memories of easter, which is the holiday of pastel bunnies, fluffy chicks, lambs, eggs, and sweet + innocent forest scenes. in this adulthood of mine, i have a personalized spiritual practice (of protection) in which i fiercely visualize myself surrounded by cocoon-shaped energy that is always pastel-hued; it is immensely soothing to me. fluorescent colors, simply put, are freaking fun, though also an homage to my childhood in the 80’s and early 90’s when fluorescence (of clothing, accessories, knick knacks) was popularized.

     altogether, 111 therapies: phase 2 is an installation of handmade (beaded) wall hangings, 4-5 unframed performance art images from my body of work, satchels of seashells i’ve collected, laminated pages from coloring books, and more. each phase of 111 therapies plays with numerical patterning-- i often bead (and install) in units of 2, 4, 8, and 11.

additional concepts for 111 therapies:

●   art-items-as-talisman, ritual offerings

●   the casting of a visual spell

●   visual/experimental/energetic storytelling

●   the artist as self-proclaimed art therapist

●   heal thyself thru art, art as medicine

     my second offering for this evening is a performance of 15-20 minutes in length. this performance is part of my ongoing project, new/mind/ritualz. in my original artist’s statement for n/m/r, i write: “the project's title alludes to a new ‘mind space’ coming forth for the artist, a rebirth of sorts, but before the wholeness of this rebirth can be embodied, a little storytelling (from/of the past) comes first. new/mind/ritualz will ultimately explore memories, demonstrate moments of growth in the present, and invoke rituals of healing for the future.” i will perform movement 11, which was also performed at EMINENT DOMAIN as a smaller experiment of just 10 minutes. movement 11 includes the following iconography for live ritualizing: a cutting board, knife, oranges, garlic bulbs, glitter, small tinctures of colored water, honey, feathers, corn kernels, bubbles, ribbon or string for a cord-cutting spell, and more.

     in my performances, intentions and semi-order are secured, but as always, there is space for channeling in the moment, for feeling into inspiration en vivo, ultimately allowing the performance to breathe organically. you will also experience a little bit of live chanting (stream-of-consciousness + subtle hip hop vibes) as well as a 6-minute opening backdrop of pre-arranged sounds co-created with Steve Narvaez. lastly, please know that new/mind/ritualz is performed one movement at a time until 56 total are completed; this is my most expansive performance art experiment to date.

Follow Kelly Shaw Willman on Instagram, twitter and support her self-designed art grant at gofundme

Kelly Shaw Willman also performed at the EMINENT DOMAIN exhibition at the former Robert Miller Gallery in West Chelsea between 12-14 July, 2018. This was a collaboration between Art 511 Magazine and Alexandra Arts, read the recap article here