The Phoenix Project: Artists & Educators Building Hope In A Changing Climate.
Mendocino College visual and performing arts faculty, along with countless students, fire survivors, and community members, have been working together for over a year to bring to fruition The Phoenix Project.
The Phoenix Project is a multi-media community and campus-wide arts action, with over 100 locally, nationally, and internationally-recognized visual and performing artists joining fire survivors to confront human-caused climate change and its effects on the community.
The ensemble of events that make up The Phoenix Project includes workshops, a gala opening for the indoor and outdoor art exhibit, an original theatre production, a dance concert, and a choir and vocal jazz concert. The full schedule of events is as follows:
“The Climate Change Quilt” Plastic Upcycling Workshop with Renowned Artist Laura Fogg.
October 5 & 6. 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Mendocino College CVPA Building Room. 5330. FREE materials provided, no sewing experience needed! Just bring plastic bags & packaging to collage. To register: firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Exhibit: Gala Opening
October 5, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Show open indoors & outdoors thru November 1, 2019; Gallery open Tuesday-Thursday 12:30 pm – 3:30pm or by appt. Info: 707-468-3207. email@example.com
Original Theatre Production: WildFire.
Written by Jody Gehrman, directed by Reid Edelman. October 18 thru 27, 2019 (10/18-10/19 & 10/24-10/26, 7:30pm; 10/27, 2:00pm) Info: 707-468-3172. Tickets: artsmendocino.org
Fall Dance Concert: Arise
Directed by Eryn Schon-Brunner. November 21 thru 24, 2019 (11/21-11/23, 7:30pm; 11/24, 2:00pm) Info: 707-468-3079. Tickets: artsmendocino.org
Choir & Vocal Jazz Concert: Earth, Air, Fire, Water.
A free concert, directed by Janice Hawthorne Timm. Monday, December 9, 2019, at 7:30 pm. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Phoenix Project began in response to the wildfires. The vision is to use many forms of art to reach out to fire survivors, students, and all the cultures in our community, and bring them together around the underlying issue of climate change. Ceramics Instructor and Phoenix Project Director Doug Browe says, “The project brings together artists and survivors in collaborative projects to build a new understanding of the transformative power of the fires in our community.”
These exhibitions and performances are designed to be more than just shows; they offer art as direct action towards the future. The college faculty guiding the various “Phoenix projects”— outdoor sculptures, the original play, the dances– agreed to a new kind of process: art that is participatory, collaborative, and proactive towards issues that affect our survival.
Instructors invited local Native American and Latino elders and students to help represent their cultures respectfully; the Indigenous perspective is particularly important because of their deep resonance with nature. Sculpture instructor and Phoenix Project Curator Jess Thompson was instrumental in drawing cultural groups into the project: “We all share concerns for the future, for our children and the land. The college can be our creative hub amidst challenges, with tools and workspaces that belong to all of us. Through artmaking, strategizing, brainstorming, and performing together, we build a network and accomplish more than we would alone. It’s also a fun, relaxed way to work through really difficult issues.”
“Working with students to develop a play that incorporates their research and taps into their personal stories has been a life-changing experience. Even as the cast rehearses, I’m drawing on cast members’ feedback to enrich the script,” said Instructor and WildFire playwright Jody Gehrman.
The Phoenix Project is generously supported by Johnny and Gloria Keys, who share the hope that projects like this can help the community work together for the future.