CREATIVE PEAKS: Souls Ignited

By on March 8, 2016

Multi-faceted performance includes a mosaic of music, dance, film and plenty of paint.

 ‘Ignis Anima’ is an interactive art show where art lovers, paint brushes and the naked body coalesce. (Photo: ignis anima)

‘Ignis Anima’ is an interactive art show where art lovers, paint brushes and the naked body coalesce. (Photo: ignis anima)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – There is a process called trophic cascade, when a predator population changes, it impacts populations of species down the food chain. That concept, along with a Sherwin Williams paint commercial, inspired a film created by Kayla Arend, which then inspired a photo exhibit and a live performance piece called “Ignis Anima.”

The idea is an exploration of life cycles and energy flows. “I wanted to convey that through art,” Arend explained.

Arend has always been interested in the collision of art and science. Hailing from Rochester, Minnesota, she studied film at Montana State University, minoring in entomology with a focus on woodboring beetles. “You can’t have art without science, and science without art,” she said. “Research is an art.”

When Arend got into filmmaking she knew she wanted to explore ways to use her left and right brain. “I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to biological processes,” she said.

Arend partnered with Luke Zender—recently featured in The Planet cover story on the arts in Jackson, “The Creative Conundrum”—to create a video featuring Francesca Romo, an instructor at Dancers’ Workshop and former member of the professional company Gallim. Zender choreographed a piece set to a score composed by Jackson resident Madelaine German.

“I wanted something representing birth, life experiences, and then eventually reincarnation,” Arend said. “[Zender] got really creative with it.”

Arend didn’t care where the colors fell; she just wanted the film to feature dancing in paint. Romo danced on large pieces of canvas covered in paint. When finished, Arend cut and framed the canvas, creating paintings.

Each piece of the production inspired the next. The music inspired the dance, which led to the painting, which became the film, which translated into photography that inspired the idea of the live-theater.

Arend explained how each piece of the performance represents something different. Paint is the emotional experiences across a lifetime. Dance is the perception of those experiences. Music is the historical aspect of the human condition as an idea. Film is another person’s interaction with someone else’s life experiences. Photography is the impact and the memory of the moment, and art is the means of expression for it all.

“The film embodies an outsider’s interaction with one’s life experiences,” Arend said in her artist statement. “From this, once a life’s materials are spent and all the energy has gone elsewhere, memories of our life remain, symbolized by the still photographs that surround the projected films.”

Ignis means fire and anima is the animated soul. Put together, the phrase means “soul fire,” Arend said. The multi-sensory experience explores the major processes of one’s life. “It’s all about how your spirit and your life force flows through these different processes,” she said.

The performance and exhibition is one of the largest collaborations Arend has been able to create. It involved about 25 residents who performed duties ranging from the film’s makeup to the editing process.“Film really is a collaborative art,” she said.

Carrie Richer, arts in public spaces coordinator at the Center for the Arts, called the exhibition a true multi-disciplinary project.The 15-minute film will play on a loop in the coat check closet, converted into a screening room, until April 4. Arend will hang stills from the film in the gallery. The pictures capture dancer Romo playing in the paint. “It’s really beautiful and really colorful,” Richer said. “The images are delicious.”

There will also be a live performance from 6 to 7 p.m., Friday. Romo and Zender will stand on blocks, performing and posing while people pour paint on them. They created a similar performance recently at the Pink Garter Theater that garnered a robust turnout. Richer likes that the performance is a way to get the public involved and interacting with the show. “It’s sort of like taking the public and putting them inside the film,” she said.

The Center is actively trying to offer more of these types of interdisciplinary performances that encourage collaboration. “It encompasses what the Center really wants to be about,” Richer explained. “It’s about people coming together and making something new and greater. It’s a good symbol of what we are trying to strive for.”

The show opens Wednesday with an artist talk. There is a reception Friday evening. The gallery is open to the public during the Center’s regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information on the show, follow #ignisanima on social media. PJH

Ignis Anima by Kayla Arend, artist talk Wednesday at noon, reception 5:30 to 7 p.m., Friday. Show hangs through April 4 at the Center Theater Gallery at the Center for the Arts.

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