bio + artist statement

I am a transdisciplinary artist working primarily in performance and site-specific participatory encounters. My work activates the performance space as a site of critical action. My projects invite collaboration, exchange, and intimacy between performer and spectator.

At various moments playful, ironic, and unsettling, participatory works such as Witness (a performance for one person at a time) and Your Photo-Op with Abby Ghraib (in which I pose with audiences for torture-themed tourist photos) invite viewers to insert themselves into the event, and then make moral decisions about how to act. In this is what I call the light of god, media artist Erika Katrina Barbosa and I invite viewers to rub our touch-responsive “pregnant” bellies, triggering vibrations and audio recordings of NRA leaders, clergy, and police officers who praise their weapons with religious zeal from within the womb. (The title is a direct quote from one of these officers.)

Though I've only lived here since 2008, I am deeply inspired by the histories and communities of Los Angeles. My site-responsive projects In the Current and Sibling Rivers reference the complex social histories embedded in the relatively forgotten wild spaces of the Los Angeles River. From 2014-2015, I curated performances for Play the LA River, a public art project encouraging residents and visitors to creatively explore the river’s 51 miles. I was born in Northern California, but my parents grew up here in the LA area. One of my grandfathers built the iconic Rose Bowl sign, and the other worked on silent movies for Mack Sennett in the neighborhood I now call home.

My work has been presented in theaters, festivals, galleries, universities, museums and on streets across Los Angeles, Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, and internationally, in Berlin, Calgary, Montreal, Perth and Melbourne. I was an Associate Artist of La Pocha Nostra from 2004-2016. I founded and directed San Francisco-based Black Stone Ensemble from 2005-2008.  I have an MFA from UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, and a BA in Theatre Studies with concentrations in Directing and Visual Art from Emerson College. (See my CV.)

Since 2012 I have been a regular participant in Encounter, a practice initiated by performance artist Mariel Carranza, and engaged by an informal group of artists including Dino Dinco, Rafa Esparza, Doran George, Douglas Green, Asher Hartman, Rebeca Hernandez, Carol McDowell, Rosen Ventzislavov, Samuel White, Dorian Wood, and Ladan Yalzadeh, with occasional guests such as Alastair MacLennan, Rocio Boliver, Rochelle Fabb, and Sheree Rose.

I am motivated by a deep investment in artist sustainability. I founded Rhizomatic Arts to support my peers through professional coaching, services and training; a Sustainability Network; and a creative laboratory. Visit rhizomaticarts.com to learn more.

photo by Dani Navia

photo by Dani Navia