Process Stories

MoCo in The Burden of Joy

Art is Intimate

We are all so close to this project. As a group we have been working on this project for more than three years now, and it’s not because we are slow developers. For Mauren, this project has been on her mind and simultaneously on the back burner for her thirty plus years of dance. This project is looking at our collective relationship with mental illness, love, the randomness and significance of life and death.

Hopefulness about Life

This piece is rich to draw from in my role as costume designer. Its deeply brave and vulnerable and met with a lot of hopefulness about life. At first I spent much of my time absorbing Maureen’s feelings and memories from the 70’s and 80’s. In the beginning, Maureen was drawing directly from the clothing of this time period. The more I sat with the thoughts, emotions and imagery from this piece… the more apparent it was to me that these clothes were going to be too pedestrian. They would distract from the important message of this work. We all have associations with all sorts of clothing being indicative of experiences in our own lives. This piece is about a mathematician stepping outside of life in an effort to work out the randomness of our emotional journey through life and death. In various moments she examines different life probabilities. Maureen felt she was carrying all of this stress and history around with her in her gut. She told me that she felt a strong need to work from this place. This prompted me to create something for her stomach. It felt important to pull something out of her character’s stomach.

I had it! She needed a belly pocket!

I just had to find a material that would allow me to get super sculptural. I found cotton rope to be the most inspiring. I ran home with 15 feet of it and got to work. This prompted the addition of Motoko Honda’s (musician/ performer) spirit costume as well.

A Personified Dream Journal

Ezra’s character is this kind of personified dream journal character based on the last pages of Maureen’s late mother’s dream journal. During our last residency in San Francisco, I introduced a jacket to his character. I drew upon the sensory images Maureen spoke to me about with virginia slims and the smoke from some of these female archetypes. I tied this in with this ‘paper’ inspired character and have some “burned” lettering on the back of his jacket. These words are from the last line of the last page of the journal and read, “I remember thinking these are my people”. I ran it past Maureen and she and I both felt moved to showcase this moving sentiment on Ezra’s jacket.

Visit the Burden of Joy project page in the Portfolio section to see how everything came together!

Jacket design detail designed by Danielle Blackwell for MoCo