Re-Frame: A Gathering

Across cultures. Across disciplines. Engaging thoughtful discussions within the community of artists, neighbors, anyone witnessing. Inspiring collaborations. Listening. Creating consciousness surrounding the beauty & insights from the creative process… 
Facilitated by award-winning performance artist Baraka de Soleil & co-facilitated by multidisciplinary artist Awilda Rodriguez Lora Re-Frame: A Gathering is a two-fold communal workshop  for artists at variant stages of creative development. We want to provide a sustainable space for active witnessing, supportive feedback  and rigorous crafting AND a laboratory for experimentation through interdisciplined explorations and cross-cultural discussions. Re-Frame: A Gathering focuses on the ‘practice of process’ – what is discovered in the act of making work is valuable and should be experienced as well, by other artists, by the larger community.

Baraka de Soleil and Awilda Rodriguez Lora initially met in Chicago. He was curating a unique multidisciplinary series “Studies n Black” for Links Hall and she produced an award-winning film STILL BLACK: a portrait of black transmen that premiered in Chicago. Since meeting, they have worked together on numerous creative endeavors including S’Kin Deep and most recently co-facilitated Agua/Tierra: A Listening Project in Panama in 2010.

Re-Frame: A Gathering is an initiative of D UNDERBELLY, a network of artists of color, seeking to create a  communal space for rigorous experimentation and investigation of an expansive performance aesthetic.  One that can serve as a model for creative process within community that can adapt and shift to various areas throughout the country &  internationally.   Through both invitation to select artists within the experimental art community and an open call, we will seek out a diverse group of 7 -10 with wide-range of disciplines who have a creative lineage (how they have been making work), a piece to ‘excavate’ and a desire to be part of a contemporary practice. Re-Frame: A Gathering will start with the artistic community of Chicago.

Our current vision:

The workshop process will begin in November with weekly Re-Frame sessions where Baraka will lead artists participants through a series of techniques in order to cultivate: communal consciousness around witnessing & offering feedback, excavation of themes/pieces brought by each individual artist and potential collaborative groupings. This leads to the beginning of December where Awilda will join the process as co-facilitator, to take artists through an intensive journey towards deepening the practice of the developing works.  Mid-December at A Gathering with the larger community, artist participants will share their developing work, engage in conversations and share food for thought and body!

Re-Frame: A Gathering’ Key Objectives

To provide:

– a reduced cost or free opportunity for artist participants.

– a platform for creative process that can be molded to whatever communities it travels to….

– a unique opportunity for experimentation, to ‘dig deep’ & try things out with developing work or already-created work that may need ‘re-framing’.

To support:

– artists at whatever stage in their career.

– exchange and community building

– sustainability for the active creative process

To enhance:

– a multidisciplinary network of artists within the Chicago experimental aesthetic community and beyond.

– an expansive & diversified cross-pollination of collaborative possibilities.

– visibility for process-driven models with thoughtful intercultural community engagement.

Funds from this campaign will support the vision  in multiple ways beyond the costs associated with creating work.  We deeply believe that with your support, Re-Frame: A Gathering will impact not only the artist participants, facilitators and community of witnesses, but the larger discussion on the value of the creative process.

For Re-Frame: A Gathering, we are seeking to raise funds to support space rental costs, materials for the workshop process, honorarium for the artist participants and facilitators involved.

More specifically if we reach:

  • $1500, this amount will cover rental & production costs associated with the space; both for workshop process & performance showings
  • $2000, in addition to covering rental, will support any materials for the workshop process, ‘bare-bones’ production elements for the showing & travel for one artist facilitator
  • $3000, in addition to the above, secures a no cost opportunity for all artist participants and provide honorarium for both artist facilitators &
  • $4000, in addition the above funds, will provide  honorarium for each of the artist participant

In alignment with this campaign, we are working to ensure Re-Frame: A Gatheringhappens, even with the smallest of funds including:
  • soliciting in-kind contributions from organizations to reduce the cost for rental of space.
  • box office contributions from A Gathering‘s three showings.
  • barter/trade of services in order to promote/market the event.
  • based on amount raised, seek financial investments from artists who wish to participate in the process.
  • re-configuring the model so that it will reduce costs but still honor the artists & the process.
  • cooking meals that can be purchased at the showings.

We want to you to know that we value whichever amount you pledge. In exchange for your support, Baraka de Soleil, Awilda Rodriguez Lora, artists participants & D UNDERBELLY will acknowledge you through the program, online, via phone, with hand-made art, original designs, through complimentary tickets, invitations to A Gathering and future projects. You’ll notice on our perks list what kind of acknowledgement each tier of funding support will garner.

Other Ways You Can Help

If in Chicago, come to A Gathering.  Join us for food, art, dialogue and community building….this will further support the artists & future opportunities for more gatherings…check out our site:  for the updates. Current dates  December 16th – 18th, 2011. A gathering will offer a unique experience with up to 3 different artists sharing their process each nite.

Spread the word by putting this campaign on your facebook, twitter or other social network site.

Email blast your networks.   

And be part of the discussion: What has been meaningful to you as an artist in the creative process? 
Whether you may consider yourself an artist or not, your thoughts will be appreciated and expand the discussion on why people should support the creative process of artists.  

water moves the soul – RETURN experimental choral rendering for a voice and many bodies

i share this as a beginning of distilling the memories i experienced while being in ghana in 2007…this is its first poetic rendering

water to replenish
a large body of water
breath to cleanse, fired up dry
wind to move, steady gust of wind
21 days. 37 years 3 years ago, 20 decades
how many centuries since one begets a life that amounts to 2 hours of wondering if 37 – 3 years ago would be the last year of existence…..the moment, prior to being grabbed and taken, strength… still feel weakened by the hours, days, months of years of being held against will…. shackled, imprisoned, tortured across the water…a large body …in a small vessel and taken to unknown land; unknown ways, life…
beginning in
Cape Coast Ghana – two and 1/2 hours from Accra Cape Coast
a two hour walk TO
immerse TO take in
the ocean
to Cape Coast TO ancestors…
you come here for redemption’
to El Mina’
can feel ancestral sensations the moment one steps inside the female dungeon…it is a feeling so palpable and strong …it’s like can still see smell the stench shit and blood and piss of those African females held here…on the ground there are markings
dark cavernous area
heaviness in my heart and longing
Assin Manso
the long walk of ancestral Africa to who knows where
Assin Manso
where brought to rest were the slave remains
from Salaga market up north ‘last bath’…
Tamale, WALKING, chained together feet, hands, neck, fall. rise. knees. thirst.
through trees and forest
to sacred waters flow…sacred
the ancestral bodies last cleansing
texture of the trees, the color of water, sounds of river, the quiet …
in Ghana
lookout upon a hill, past frail mango tree
ascend to a healing
of a healing
the pain anguish of the inflicted souls…bow
spirit’ falling
21 – 37 – 20, journey, 21 centuries
RETURNING to the sensations
the morning ‘baptism’
awakening a deeper connection
a feeling
ancestors being here… portrait of what transpired …. standing on hundreds of years old feces, piss, blood, sweat, skin and bones ancestors….thousands of African’s bodies piled ontop of each other as they screamed, sought comfort …fought to survive beyond the holding area –
whole being open and alive now…sensitive to air smells the ocean so close …aware of the opening of the door of no return … fishing kingdom – the Fanti – ocean coast…
guiding seeing walk lifting carrying lift carrying and lifting journey breath lifted onto
the water passage 1 1/2 hours 21 days, journey, 37 years, journey, 20 somethin decades, journey, 21 centuries”
a large body
seized by ancestors coming up from the ocean waves and on board on top cannot open eyes getting heavier and heavier sense more and more ancestral bodies piling on top of bodies tilthe weight is almost unbearable
can barely breathe….
sounds of the waves and the sensation endured journey NOT knowing the end…going on for months in cramped spaces, chained, ensconced in darkness…
a day later, months years ounds voices eyes move….cross water to land….carried
land falls step
land touch water before land, lifted and land on this new site… not able to speak
distance between falling and fallen
a minute an hour a decade a century passes and returns
unfolds /souls moving
walk legacies memories
memory conscious memories of people these memories, the ancestral memories residue, shackles salty ocean water…remember whipping..
re-remembering water
elder says
“We came from the water and to the water we shall return”
elder says
the going in the sacred anointing
water to replenish
a large body of water
breath to cleanse, fired up dry
wind to move, steady gust of wind
earth. make an offering, name it, find it, ask .sense.
elder says
earth. find tree. make an offering:
the meditation, reconciliation releasing old tree elder – coarse and mangled, yet majestic….those trees that seem to have captured the many spirits of those people whom have come in contact with it
a tree that, if it could speak, would be able to tell some of the most horrific and spellbinding tales…a tree that, if it could speak, may choose not to reveal the sacred secrets or hidden encounters it has witnessed seen felt heard
speak elder ancestors speak
Freed Slave Gordon of Louisiana (1863)
Martin Luther King
W.E.B. Dubois
Sojourner Truth
Booker T. Washington
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
Harriet Tubman
Benjamin Singleton – “walk and never tire”
Ouladah Equiano
Frederick Douglas
George Ekem Ferguson
Marcus Garvey —
No one knows when the hour of Africa’s redemption cometh. It is in the wind,
It is in the wind
It is inthe wind, it is coming.
One day like a storm, it will be here. When that day comes, all of Africa will stand together.”

the “O” – unfinished!

Childr’n of “O” – the workshop process begins March 31st….
This piece is a journey towards discovering the multifaceted dimensions of this iconic black woman. In this regard, she is an allegory – the metaphor of Oprah or “O” as everywoman in our culture; but not only representing women, but men, children of all races. To get at the many layers of this fascinating and beloved figure, I am experimenting with how the hybrid of disciplines I employ dance, theatre, video, conceptual art) can truly embody “O”. I am also seeking to re-establish my cultural relationship with her as a black man, coming from Chicago, ‘trying to make it’. To me “O” is an American dream realized. One that has been objectified and glorified; mammy-tized & ostracized; deemed saint and blasphemously condemned. Inside the waking conscience of cosmic space and temporal distortions exists the humanity and charisma that begat ‘The Childr’n of “O”!