I have been an artist and educator for over twenty-five years. My artistic communities have been in Northern California, San Francisco, New York and Minneapolis. I am formally educated as an actor, theater director, political scientist, and post-modern and feminist theorist.
Early in my career, I began to adapt, write and direct productions that asked questions about the role of language and linear narrative and explored the ways in which meaning could be expressed in performance without language. Following this work, I created a series of pieces that incorporated choreography, still images, tableau, and sound compositions in a range of traditional and untraditional sites. In the first phase of this work, I created pieces that utilized live performers, animals, and found texts as a way of exploring the limits of representation and in particular, identify ways in which form can function as content.
My most recent projects are the creation of occasions in the public space that contemplate the location of art, its source(s) of meaning, and the potential of the spectator. In the spring of 2014, I mounted the second of two installations at a marketplace in Minneapolis for 4 weeks. Inspired by an artifact carved by my grandfather in a POW camp post-Armenian genocide, The Swallow Project invited spectators to consider their own relationship to home and exile and physically add that reflection to the piece. Their contributions contained complexity, depth and magnitude - perspectives essential to the completion of the installation.
As part of my on-going interest in bringing artists/scholars together, I created and co-created conference/festivals in every place I’ve worked or lived. I was the co-founding director of the West Coast Women’s Theater Conference in San Francisco, Co-Creator of the first Performance Studies International (PSi) Conference at NYU, and most recently, facilitated Goddard College’s 2010 conference, “Making, Meaning, & Context: A Radical Reconsideration of Art’s Work.” In Minneapolis, where I am now located, I converted a convent into the Center for Performing Arts in 1995, a project I continue to develop and oversee. The Center is dedicated to encouraging the development of the artist and creative practitioner and supports dozens of artists and hundreds of students from different disciplines rehearse, teach, and learn.
Among my areas of expertise are the history of Western experimental theater, feminist theater, progressive pedagogy, and theories of performance. I also have substantial experience consulting with arts organizations and individual artist/entrepreneurs regarding institutional and professional development. My MA in Theater Directing is the study of an alternative approach to collaborative theater directing extrapolated from the creative practice of certain artists and methodologies found in feminist therapy.
My PhD dissertation, Representations of Utopia: Women’s Group Theaters 1976-1991, is research on and analysis of the aesthetics, creative process, and politics of women’s group theaters. My other research and writing projects include a paper delivered at American Theater in Higher Education (ATHE) outlining a symbiotic approach to dramaturgy; a presentation to a librarian association on the complications of archiving feminist theaters’ work given that the personal and the professional are so deeply intertwined; and a PSi paper/presentation on the relationship between creating dialog in art practice and in education. Most of my writing is directly related to investigations taking place in my own creative and art practice, and the questions and desires of my art work are regularly in conversation with historical, and theoretical paradigms.
I taught theater at Macalester College and St. Thomas University in St. Paul, MN and New College of California in San Francisco. I’ve been a Visiting Scholar at the U of M in the Center for Advanced Feminist Studies. I have served Goddard College since 2005 in a wide range of positions. In addition to being a member of the MFAIA faculty, I have recently served as MFAIA Program Director, Associate Academic Dean of Graduate and Licensure programs, and Chief Academic Officer and Academic Dean of the College.