photo by Local Infinities
photo by Charlie Levin

...wrenching images that haunt the psyche and lift the spirits.
Lucia Mauro, Chicago Sun-Times


Daughters of Memory Series
by Lucia Mauro
Chicago Sun-Times, January 14, 2000


Taking their cue from the nine muses of classical mythology, the artists behind "Daughters of Memory" reflect on the creative process through the disciplines of poetry, visual art, theater, movement and music. Curated by visionary collaborative artists Charlie Levin and Meghan Strell of Local Infinities and staged as part of the Links Hall Performance Series, this experimental project examines the concept of artistic inspiration for our rapidly fluctuating times.

For the show's opening-weekend program, three original pieces tackled conflicting notions of reaching self-fulfillment through the arts. Anyone who has ever struggled with a loss of inspiration or has felt dwarfed by the towering geniuses of the past will appreciate these artists' frank and funky viewpoints.

The most striking work on the program is "wax (v.) to come to be." The work, which uses the lost-wax casting process as a metaphor, silently re-enacts the power struggle between the artist and his art. It features "living" sculptures that shed their wax forms to assume the role of active shapers of their own destinies.

As the performers interact with masks, wax-hand prostheses and malleable wax balls, they evoke various levels of mentor-student relationships, issues of artistic control, fear of revealing one's true self, and the courage to break through barriers of prejudice and elitism. Director KellyAnn Corcoran and collaborators Levin, Strell, Mark Comiskey, Hilary Mac Austin, Sheri Doyel, Heather Ireland and Linda Solotaire craft wrenching images that haunt the psyche and lift the spirits.

"Split," co-written by Chris Seibert and Ivana Bevacqua, is another ambitious psychological piece. Performed by Seibert, it follows a spiritual being in her erratically shifting search for the contemporary meaning of the muse. She gathers white bundles of material, which represent male ideals of "nymph"-like sources of inspiration. Then she spreads out the fabric and traipses across a landscape that symbolizes society's contradictory perceptions of female traits. Although portions of her monologue lose focus, Seibert presents a complex study of identity, self-empowerment and the artist in search of her voice.

Amy Ludwig, a respected writer and director, examines the more destructive aspects of conjuring the muse in her solo work, "Master Piece." It uses fragmented references to Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare to trace the torment of a writer stifled by her own inner spark. Ludwig ponders a huge white billowing sheet, tries to free herself of distraction and even prepares an altar to elusive muselike spirits. But the meandering work ends abruptly and leaves us as empty as the artist who has lost the burning passion to create.

Over the next two weekends, "Daughters of Memory" will feature new works dealing with similar themes; "wax" and "Split" will be repeated.

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