Great Lakes

Ongoing interdisciplinary work about nature, identity, modernity, belonging, and more, oriented around the wild, populous site of the Great Lakes region.

I circled the Great Lakes borderland first in 2007 and much more thoroughly in 2015 with a curiosity about this vast region between the US and Canada I've been living all around. I wanted to embody this wild, populous, circuitous coast of people and places, with its coherent history, economy, and ecology. We speak of East and West coasters, islanders—to what extent is there a Great Lakes identity and culture oriented in this geography? My work with the region imagines how place constitutes people and not just vice versa; how people live with, and not just on, the lakes. It explores the idea that though we project onto nature a pristine essence that's been culturally-saturated, it's actually culture that is thoroughly naturally-saturated—when nature can be seen off the pedestal and in the rough corners of everyday life. Though this is an environmentally-tuned project, it also reaches for something less utilitarian in its conception—beyond resource management and towards a sense of nature as a radical "other" with which we have a relationship that can expand our capacity for difference, human and non-human. Personally, my interest in the Great Lakes also comes from the mythic immigrant trials of assimilation and making home; to identify myself not only with a nation-state or an ethnicity, but with a land, and conceive of how diverse others do so, daily, commonly. How big can “a place” be, to be from? What sort of bond is it to be tied by water?

NEW: ATTENTION VISITORS ATTENTION / 25 poems hiding in plain site as official signs in Great Lakes national parks 

H O M E SInterdisciplinary, ongoing / 2015 Joyce Foundation fellowship for research, writing, performance, and partnerships: Prøve Gallery, Duluth MN; Grand Marais Art Colony, Grand Marais MN; Defsup Art Centre, Thunder Bay ON; Pukaskwa National Park ON; Debajehmujig Centre, Manitoulin Island ON; Bruce Peninsula National Park ON; Leamington Arts, Leamington ON; Theatre Centre and Great Lakes Commons, Toronto ON; RoCo, Rochester NY; MOCAD, Detroit MI; NOAA Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, Alpena MI; ISLAND, Traverse City MI; Silk Road Rising and Joyce Foundation, Chicago IL;  Write On Door County, Door Peninsula WI

See weeks of images and text, map and itinerary, 
and site-based serial pieces Selfes and Tidings here

In 2015 I was awarded a special Joyce Foundation fellowship which allowed me to trace the continuous Great Lakes coastline for four months to research, develop a collection of poems and prose, capture images and collect materials, experiment with on-site work, and present performances and installations through diverse host partners--art spaces, science/environmental, maritime/historical centers, national parks, and Native and other cultural organizations.

A Great Lakes Vista
Performance poetry show / 2013 Pillsbury House Naked Stages fellowship, Minneapolis MN

Performance art, installation, mock lecture / history and science as poetry / vacation slides with an eccentric host / an inner landscape drawn from real land, city, and waterscapes / exploring the place of nature in culture, parsing the terms of identity politics and environmentalism, and romancing the heart of a borderland

Tent Trace Place Lake Landing
Night-long participatory installation / 2014 Northern Spark Festival, Minneapolis MN

A camping tent with an overhead projector inside were installed in an urban park in downtown Minneapolis from dusk to dawn as part of a nuit-blanche-style Twin Cities street art festival. Passers-bye saw Great Lakes images and live writing projected and collaged on the tent from the outside, and were invited inside to participate. A torrential night-long storm wreaked havoc on the festival, requiring tarp and raincoat.

"Lost City of Erie" 
Performance poem / 2014 Tvtakeover, PBS Twin Cities live studio event with Northern, Minneapolis MN

One of a series of poems exploring the idea of lost cities of the Great Lakes and implications for the tensions between history, memory, and place.

A see-thru book
Art book / 2010, Proxy Press, Montreal, QC

A book made of alternating vellum and card stock etched with text and tracings of postcards and photographs. To be "read and reread" through manipulations actual postcards and photographs. An experiment with the precise yet associative aesthetics of memory and how experiences distill meaning and identity.

This beach has more than two sides
Chapbook / 2009 Buffalo Runs press, Montreal, QC
Online version

Other related work
"Brag to me"
Multimedia performance poetry piece / 2012 Eclectik 12 performance art event, MAI, Montreal QC
"Please be real"
Video poem / 2012 Co-Kisser Festival, Minneapolis MN and 2012 Collage Festival, Philadelphia PA
"Circumnavigating the Great Lakes by land and writing: towards an ethics and aesthetics for socializing with nature"
Master's thesis / 2008, OISE-UT, Toronto ON