Off the Wall is a gallery space that centers human connection and radical joy. In the spirit of the experience, we asked the artists: How did connection and joy make your project possible?
Mehgan is usually a dancer and performer, but started experimenting with object sculpture and visual art during the pandemic. Her plastic-magnetic sculpture experience, Meet Me At The Trash Yard, was inspired by her work as Lead Teaching Artist at Asian Arts Initiative:
“This project is very much inspired by my work with kids. Taking my students on field trips has made me realize how art galleries and museums are so often geared towards adults, not young people, unless it is specifically a “children’s museum.” I think art can be important, impactful, and really really silly at the same time. I had a blast turning the leftover milk crates from our classroom into a massive toy set, as well as testing every magnet available at the Home Depot!”
Watch Mehgan build her project: https://www.instagram.com/p/CceC1MRJcCY
The “always serious, always silly” cooperative Obvious Agency is leaning into the change, distance, and uncertainty of recent years. Their Care (about each other) Package invites you to play silly parlor games with the serious joy of reconnecting with one another.
Arianna Gass, one of the worker-owners of Obvious Agency, shares: “Care (about each other) Package started from a desire to connect and create with other Philly-based artists during the pandemic, and it also asked those artists to think of rituals, games, and playful frameworks that incite connection across distance and time. We wanted to make tiny games and playful experiences that could bring joy into people’s living rooms, especially during times in which we might feel divided and dispersed.”
Watch Obvious Agency play a Care Package game:
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Severin’s Medicine Meditation invites you to immerse yourself in sound and meditation, as well as contribute your own words to a living oral tradition. They facilitate “intentional spaces of bravery, vulnerability and joy making” and their inspiration followed a similar journey:
“A strong connection to my collaborators and friends who believe in me and my ideas made this specific project possible: Applied Mechanics, Zandra Espinoza, Nikki Brake Silla, Brie Knight, Marina Murayama, Cat Ramirez, and Daniel Park. I draw source material from guided meditations, the dagara cosmological tradition, a love of water, feeling the deep pull of the ocean, and appreciation of whales. I derive particular joy from the opportunity to create and build on oral tradition and to find fun ways to communicate with the ancestors and one another. Inspiration is in every breath.”
Preview Severin’s soundscape here:
Playwright and screenwriter Savannah’s Oedipus in Seattle makes the audience the star of the show. You and another person, preferably a stranger, listen to instructions and act out a “play” that questions the role of destiny:
“This project was inspired by a lot of great artists who are working in auto theater, or theater that is performed by audience members in response to a series of instructions. I love the oddness and silliness of this form, and I think it can have moments that are really profound as well. It was fun to imagine the audience “playing” the show while I was creating it!”
Check out Sleepless in Seattle, one of Savannah’s inspirations:
Roopa’s QR code-based experience, Provocations For/On Technology, draws on her practice as a media artist, computer programmer, and researcher. Her handmade codes lead you to websites which prompt you to engage with yourself and others in new, playful ways:
“My project uses something that has lately been widely criticized for driving us apart – technology – to bring us together instead. I hope to use the fact that we are always on our devices to bring attention to ways we can change our digital habits and assumptions, as well as prompt connections with others in the same physical space. I hope viewers find the project fun and enjoyable, and that it makes them think about the role technology plays in our lives!”
Swipe through to preview Roopa’s project:
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Experience all of these connected, joyful pieces yourself! Off the Wall will be open Saturday, May 14 through Sunday, May 22.
For more information and tickets: https://paintedbride.org/events/off-the-wall/