Dear comrades and friends in the Midwest (and beyond: the last of these
events is online),
We would love to invite you to present/breath: an exhibit, a symposium, and
artist talks. Disability and precarity are central to this project, and
we'd love to welcome you.
present/breath: 2 visual arts/symposium days
Join us Friday May 6th and Saturday May 7th for a rich exploration of
resilience, being-here, and co-breathing.
present/breath presents two artists, Jennifer Lickers and Chanika
Svetvilas, framed by the ongoing present/breath community arts project.
This event will be the ending of the multi-year EcoSomatics/EcoArts
exploration series (2019
[Image Description of image on website,
https://www.petrakuppers.com/presentbreath: 3 panels, community participant
in present/breath drawing action during summer 2021, black and white
charcoal drawing of lungs and plants, a residential school photo
reproduction overlaid with patterns and dancer. Dates of full exhibit: May
6th to May 27. Artist names: Jennifer Lickers and Chanika Svetvilas]
Gallery Opening as part of First Friday Ypsilanti, May 6th
22 North Gallery, 22 North Huron, Ypsilanti, MI
5.00pm onward: present/breath community drawing with Petra Kuppers
Let’s see each other as humans in the three-dimensional wild. Come and join
10-min participatory drawing actions. Community performance artist Petra
Kuppers invites people to create surreal contour drawings of one another,
of dancing participants, and of quietly meditating ones. All materials
provided, zero drawing experience necessary, grounded in disability culture
values of access aesthetics and experimentation. Enjoy spending a few
minutes to look deeply at or sense and witness another human being.
6.30pm Artists' Talks with Jennifer Lickers and Chanika Svetvilas
Jennifer Lickers (she/her) is a biracial First Nations artist with ties
to both Detroit, Michigan and Six Nations, Ontario. She grew up in the
Detroit area. As a child she had little contact with her indigenous family
and information about her native identity was formed through old photos of
the west and one sided history books. Beliefs of the vanishing race theory
started to surface early in her childhood. She often lived in two worlds.
During the school year, she spent her time between Dearborn and Detroit.
During the summer, she was with her grandparents on Six Nations Reserve in
Ontario. The space between two cultures is the focus of her work.
Jennifer's present/breath Artist Statement:
What does it take to be present? Through the process of projecting video I
plan to document movement while we are present with our own breath. My hope
is to capture the nuances that occur while connecting the present with
history. I consider the installation a living document, always in flux,
leaving a mark of history behind.
Chanika Svetvilas (she/her/hers) is an interdisciplinary artist based in
Princeton, NJ who utilizes lived experience to create safe spaces, to
disrupt stereotypes, and to reflect on contemporary issues. She has
presented her interdisciplinary work at ABC NoRio, Brooklyn Public Library,
Westbeth Gallery, Denver International Airport, Asian Arts Initiative,
Islip Art Museum, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, and more. She is
curator for the annual exhibition, Unique Minds: Creative Voices, at
Princeton University and presented by the Graduate Student Government
Mental Health Initiative. Svetvilas is also co-founder of ThaiLinks and Thai
Takes, the first biennial Thai film festival in New York City. For more
information, visit chanikasvetvilas.com.
*Chanika's present/breath Artist Statement: *
Chanika Svetvilas’ interdisciplinary work focuses on the lived experience
of mental health difference and the impact of the stigma. Materials used in
drawing, sculpture, and installation include an archive of medication
guides, prescription bottles, media documentation of current events,
historical and psychiatric resource materials that reflect mental health
conditions and systemic and historical legacies to find strength in
vulnerability. She recognizes the medium of charcoal as a transformative
material that in its activated form is used to absorb chemicals after a
stomach is pumped from a drug overdose. She layers found text, imagery,
acrylic mirrors and found paper and objects to reveal relationships between
psychosocial realities, disparities, and disability justice while asking
the viewer to reflect on their own circumstances. The large scale drawings
and sculptures magnify the discrepancies between the alienation of medical
treatment and individual care. Svetvilas applies personal narrative as a
way to share experiences to disrupt stereotypes and to reflect on
neurodiversity, contemporary issues and an intersectional identity.
Symposium Day: May 7th, 11am - 5.30pm
11am-1pm: Meet in 22 North Gallery (we will go outdoors if the weather
allows, and we will only be about 15 people). We will engage in welcoming
somatic work with Stephanie Heit (independent artist, Turtle Disco,
Ypsilanti), Charli Brissey (UM, Dance Department), and Petra Kuppers (UM,
English, Women’s and Gender Studies), followed by a structured conversation
about the work that surrounds us, in the presence of artists Jennifer
Lickers and Chanika Svetvilas.
1-2.30pm: Communal Lunch in Ypsilanti
2.30-3.15, 22 North Gallery: Book Launch for Petra Kuppers' Eco Soma:
Pain and Joy in Speculative Performance Encounters (University of Minnesota
Press, 2022, open access https://manifold.umn.edu/projects/eco-soma).
This book grew with and out of many of the engagements we had in our
Eco-Somatics series these past years. How do dream journeys, poetry
explorations, science fiction, dinosaur bones, and soft blankets go
together? Celebrate the book release with us!
*3.15-4.00: Workshop with Jessica Rajko. *
In this small workshop we will focus on the palpability—the feeling of our
active senses—in interactions with various technologies and
with small, sensory explorations augmented by non-digital technologies such
as ear plugs and stethoscopes we will explore the richness of our active,
seeking senses. This will transition to similar explorations with
custom-made wearable technology bands that unpack various biosensors and
methods for making biosensor data legible. This offering is slow and
playful—engaging curiosity as an entry point into criticality, particularly
around questions of quantification, surveillance, and digital
Jessica Rajko is an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University in
dance and big data analytics. Her creative research and critical
scholarship explores what we learn pragmatically, aesthetically, and
ethically, when researchers cultivate spaces of methodological plurality
and generative tension between dance and computing fields. Jessica has
presented her research at Harvard’s Digital Futures Consortium, UPenn’s
Price Lab for Digital Humanities, and University of New Mexico’s ART Lab.
She’s also shared her interactive/performative artworks at CHI, Digital
Humanities Summer Institute, Electronic Literature Organization Conference,
Amsterdam’s OT301, Currents New Media Festival, and the Heard Museum.
4.30-5.30: Closing Performance Sharing with bree gant.
bree is an artist and thinker from the westside of Detroit. They studied
film at Howard University while gentrification paved over Washington, DC,
and moved back to Detroit, when the city filed for bankruptcy, to see the
cranes had followed her home. She has held residencies and fellowships with
Art Matters Foundation, Kresge Arts in Detroit, Red Bull Arts, People in
Education and Detroit Narrative Agency, and exhibits artwork nationally.
Some of their most transformative experiences were collaborative,
improvisational performances with folk like The Gathering, Visions of the
Evolution, and The Fringe Society. bree is currently researching the bodily
experience of depending on the bus in the Motor City, binge watching early
2000s science fiction, and probably at a park somewhere dancing in the snow.
Registration for the Symposium (free, 15 spaces):
Access Notes: Wheelchair access, microphone, various access technologies
will be on site. If you require CART, ASL or other access provisions
during the symposium events, please inform us at firstname.lastname@example.org by May
2nd, so that we can arrange the exhibit space accordingly.
May 26th, 6.30-7.30 ET, online: Final Artists' Closing Talks
with Jennifer Lickers and Chanika Svetvilas.
Register here for free for the online talk zoom link (live captioning will
The Eco-Somatics/Eco-Arts series has been sponsored by the Eco-Arts
Think-Act Tank from the National Center for Institutional Diversity, the
University of Michigan’s Departments of English, Dance, Theatre, Initiative
on Disability Studies, Graham Sustainability Institute and the Program in
Anita Gonzalez Collegiate Professor of Performance Studies and Disability
University of Michigan
Artistic Director of The Olimpias and co-director of Turtle Disco
Out now! Eco Soma: Pain and Joy in Speculative Performance Encounters