Opening of Gibney Dance Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center

Founded in 1991 as a performing and social action dance company, Gibney Dance made Studio 5-2 at 890 Broadway the Company’s artistic home.

Gibney Dance has and continues to do amazing work within the dance and local community. They provide more space for dance, support for the development of emerging choreographers, opportunity for artist feedback sessions, studio rentals, affordable dance classes and work with domestic violence survivors. Their community action division was founded in 2000 and provides workshops, programs, training and residencies in relation to working with domestic violence survivors. In fact, Gibney Dance was the first program to unite dancers with survivors with domestic violence.

On Thursday October 30th I attended the opening of Gibney Dance’s Lower Manhattan location near City Hall named the “Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center”.  It was such an exciting and inspiring event as I viewed the new facility!

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Photo by Erin K. Hylton

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Opening night shot by Erin K. Hylton


Photo by Erin K. Hylton


Rosanna Martinez “Between Two Lungs” 2013 Beet ink on paper Photo by Erin K. Hylton

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Complete set of Rosanna Martinez “Between Two Lungs” 2013 Beet ink on paper Photo by Erin K. Hylton


Kristen Coburn “Head Turner” 2014 Video installation still

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Studio F Photo by Erin K. Hylton

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Photo by Erin K. Hylton

Songs for Spirit Lake at the Rauschenberg Project Space: North Dakota Museum of Art

Photo credit: Erin Hylton
Bill Harbort, Passing through the Spirit Lake, 2013

As per the press release for the Rauschenberg Foundation and North Dakota Museum of Art:

“Curated by Laurel Reuter, director of the North Dakota Museum of Art, the exhibition Songs for Spirit Lake  will  reflect  the  ongoing  conversation  between  six  artists (Rena Effendi, Bill Harbort, John Hitchcock, Terry Jelsing, Mary Lucier, and Tim Schouten) who  created  artwork  on  or  about  the Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation in North Dakota under the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s Artistic Innovation and Collaboration Grant Program.”

Songs for Spirit Lake is a poignant and unique show within the Spring season in New York City with its theme, artists and curatorial selection. The project began in November 2012 when an exhibition of the artists work went up in the gymnasium at the Cankdeska Cikana Community College, in Fort Totten, which was the first contemporary art exhibition at the reservation. Artists explore several topics in connection to their conversations with each other and their experiences with people and landscape of the reservation. Exhibition includes photography, painting, installation, and video as well as a performance at the Opening by live musicians from the reservation. In seeing the exhibition you will engage with voices and traditions of the Spirit Lake community as conveyed through the eyes of the artists.

Songs for Spirit Lake runs May 24 through June 29, 2013 at the Rauschenberg Project Space at 455 West 19th Street, New York City and open to the public from 11 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free.

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Photo credit: Erin Hylton, close up of
Bill Harbot, Passing through the Spirit Lake, 2013

Book on the Edge: Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video


Photo credit: Amazon
Carrie Mae Weems, Three Decades of Photography and Video (First Center for the Visual Arts)

Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video is a must-read retrospective accompanying the national tour of the exhibition with the same title. Featuring some of Weems’s most important art works, the book has essays by leading scholars, explores Weems’s interest in subject matter such as folklore, spoken and written word, and black beauty. In her artistic style, Weems is committed to a variety of issues of social justice. Her early career focused on African-American women and families and has evolved to the stories from the African diaspora, from the legacy of slavery to stereotypes and continues to evolve to include global struggles for equality and justice.

Take a virtual tour by visiting the Frist Center’s mobile site,, from your mobile device.

Interview with a Curator: Fiona Mahurin



Fiona Mahurin is a Global Studies student at the New School bound to graduate in May. She has studied and conducted field work in Cambodia on the topics of the history and politics of education and development, and most recently with Khmer Exiled Americans who were deported from the U.S. after completing prison sentences that they began as youth. After graduation, she intends to continue her research and collaborate on a multi-media exhibition with deportees exiled in Cambodia, that highlights their absence in order to address the U.S. immigration and prison systems.

On the current show, Cambodia: Drop by Drop you will Feel the Water:

“Cambodia: Drop by Drop You Will Feel the Water is a multimedia exhibition exploring historical and contemporary relationships between Cambodia and the world with a particular emphasis on its ties to the United States. Maps, photographs, drawings, video recordings, installations, and fieldwork narratives from student work across the divisions of Parsons and Lang in the Anthropology of Development, History and Politics, Architecture, and Urban Design and Ecology thread together interdisciplinary connections that highlight a fluid and changing country. Coinciding with Season of Cambodia, a Living Arts Festival in New York City, this exhibition hopes to spur curatorial dialogues that engage with the communities of The New School, the larger New York area, and the visiting artists from Cambodia.”


Left to right: Jenny Werbell, Radhika Subramaniam, Zoe Yates, Andres Gonzalez-Bode, Shelly Green, Jordan Lapolla, Fiona Mahurin, Jaskiran Dhillon

Curators: Andres Gonzalez-Bode, Shelley Green, Jordan Lapolla, Fiona Mahurin, Jenny Werbell and Zoe Yates
Faculty Advisors: Jaskiran Dhillon and Radhika Subramaniam

On Fiona’s piece:

The face sculpture and spoken word recordings, exhibited in the gallery, together represent the beginning of a collaboration between Fiona Mahurin and Khmer Exiled American poet, Kosal Khiev that will touch on themes of absence, identity, walls and borders, and technological pathways to publicly address the unjust policies and practices produced by the U.S. immigration and prison systems, by way of collaborative art making, storytelling, and spoken word. Khiev was deported to Cambodia in 2012 under a repatriation agreement signed in March 2002, whereby the U.S. held secret negotiations with Cambodia and pressured the country through threats and bribery to permit entry of ten deportees per month. Today, the removal processes of Cambodian refugees is a systematic operation taking individuals, who have already served time within U.S. borders, away from their families, their children, and their communities without considering individual cases before a trial. Born in a refugee camp in Thailand, Khiev’s deportation order was the first time he entered Cambodia.

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On the film in the pictures:

Masahiro Sugano, Kosal Khiev, Why I Write

Why I Write is the first episode of Verses in Exile, a spoken word video series produced by Studio Revolt in collaboration with Khmer Exiled American poet, Khiev Kosal. Through his poetry, Kosal reclaims his place in the world as a free man— a step that begins in Cambodia, not America. In the works, is a feature-length documentary, Cambodian Son:

Studio Revolt is a Collaborative Media Lab:

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1. What inspires you?

Stories. Barriers. Absence. Artifacts and objects. Conversations with my peers and professors during seminar at the New School, the gravity and sheer injustice of this topic, the tremendous talent and power of Kosal’s poetry, my friends and city that push boundaries and challenges conventions with creativity. As I’m about to graduate college, it’s helped me to realize there are so many mediums through which to execute my learning, and making art is something that I have always thrived off of. Since I had never pursued art in an academic setting, the curatorial workshop helped me to explore how I might combine what I once saw as disparate fields. New York offers opportunity to create dialogue, and the work in the show hopefully invokes that to the audience. It questions issues we don’t experience every day.

2. What do you place artistic value in?

Narrative and storytelling is a very powerful way to elicit common ground. Incarcerated youth and deportees are often dehumanized in the system and media. Connecting to an audience in a way that humanizes the issue is central to the value I place in art. I also find it extremely important that I recognize and utilize my positions of privilege and points of access in order to realize this project. This includes my citizenship status. Kosal cannot be here. Unless the laws change, he and thousands of deportees exiled in Cambodia will never return. How can you possibly collaborate on something as hands on as art, with someone who cannot physically be here? How can he tell his story to a New York audience? This is both a part of the concept and the challenge.

It is also really important to me that the work is widely accessible and not confined to white-wall gallery spaces. This is why I want it to occupy public spaces with a lot of movement. I want to make what is invisible visible. We don’t see what exists behind prison walls and national borders, and so it enters dialogue in a contrived way. It needs to be seen, heard, and put it on the street, by people who have experienced it on the inside.

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3. What would you like people to take away from the exhibition?

Art has an ability to reach people in different way. I want people to take away the raw emotion. People can interact on a very personal level with the pieces, even touch his face if they want and listen to his voice. As an artist, I want to physicalize concepts in ways that are viscerally felt. Have the pieces wash over the audience but be poignant to stay with them.

My goal, through my work, is to invoke dialogue and encourage visitors to question their own assumptions of the deportation of Cambodian refugees and humanize their stories. I believe that narrative and storytelling are very powerful tools elicit common ground and expose the historical context of U.S. foreign policy with Cambodia, which has continually concealed and remained unaccountable for acts of violence, banishment, and separation of families.

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4. What can people look forward to?

The curatorial workshop provided me an opportunity to experiment with my concept, and see how visitors engaged with some of the material, so that I can take it further. Kosal and I are collaborating on a sort of exhibition, performance, or street installation where the featured artist doesn’t show up because they have lost their right to be here. I want to pose to the audience, if you can’t legally bring back a person’s physical body, what can you bring home in order to humanize their story and personhood? So far we have objects like body castings, journals, sketchbooks, immigration documents, photographs and recordings. As a long-term goal, I hope that its impact will reach beyond public awareness and toward informed political action that is grounded in social justice.

5. How can people get in touch with you and/or any artists in the show?

For questions regarding Drop by Drop and future projects on the deportation of Cambodian refugees, please email:

Kosal Khiev’s Official Website:

Live life on the edge, with the arts of course!