Making Memories with Ruth and Her Granddaughter Sarah
In this 2015 video project I work with my grandmother Ruth—my muse for many years—to explore her memories and the process of memory-making. We present a playful exploration of her past and present and, through the documentary process, discover new emotional connections. The video progresses organically, allowing Ruth’s memories and her reflections on them to unfold at their own pace.
To explore Ruth’s memories, we use conversations, music, dance, improvisation, and sound recordings. We also incorporate several of Ruth’s drawings, which depict her dreams today and her memories of her childhood in rural Oklahoma during the Depression.
The project provides opportunities to explore art’s potential as a therapeutic medium. The camera gives us license to experiment, perform and create. The process of recounting memories and creating art allows Ruth to make connections between her childhood and her life today. Our work also highlights the role that collaborative documentary can play as a tool for personal growth.
Unscripted Play, a process-based performance project and exhibition that encourages us to transform our daily routines. Building relationships with community groups through improvisatory, creative exercises, Trinks and McKemie re-frame everyday environments and experiences, playfully straddling the boundary between art and life.
Making of Werewolves and Princesses
My recent work involves collaborations with groups in the local community. In these collaborations, we use video for creative self-exploration. Through skits and improvisation, participants cultivate self-awareness through drama. By exploring laughter and trust and themes such as myth and fantasy, we reinvent our environments and develop new tools to help us grow. In Werewolves and Princesses, group members become directors, writers and actors of the performance.
Improv at Full Circle
Improv at Full Circle is a collaborative video project that took place in Norman, Oklahoma. During this project, I worked with members at Full Circle, an adult day center, where members have various levels of cognitive ability. With only small improvisational prompts, the ladies were able to take over the scene over with their own creativity and humor, spontaneously acting. Through this medium it appeared that the ladies relationship and ability to bond took on a fuller expression.
Tulsa is a recent a body of work that examines my hometown (2011). Returning from Chicago, I felt just enough on the outside to gain a new perspective of life here. As I looked at Tulsa with a fresh gaze, my aunt began to lose her eyesight, and entered a damaging relationship with a man. I started the project by photographing them, but the tensions at the heart of their world were ones that I sensed elsewhere, and I was inspired to photograph other family members, friends, and strangers. Here, I am conscious of Larry Clark’s Tulsa. Yet whereas Clark evokes the notion that “death is more perfect than life,” my series is a meditation on a city in motion, a people searching for life—its anxieties and its pleasures. It investigates labor and intimacy, and asks how people persevere and realize their desire to thrive in a difficult landscape.
How About Tonight?
In this work, How About Tonight?, I recorded Mark and Johnny, two veterans of Ol’ Blues, a karaoke bar in Norman, Oklahoma. Over a few weeks I got to know the regulars and filmed many of their performances. Mark and Johnny’s performances express qualities ranging from flamboyance to modesty, nervousness to poise.
My interest here lies in how the performers embody aspects of the actor and non-actor, and where the performed self and real self intersect. At the same time, I question my gaze, as an audience member and as a participant.
All I Want
All I Want explores the push and pull of intimacy and the awkwardness of desire. The portraits play with and examine the fantasies, obsessions, myths, and stereotypes about longing. I am drawn to the ways our bodies tell stories of confidence, self-consciousness, and humility. I look at rituals of adornment and gesture—the ways we create and display ourselves for others and define ourselves based on how desirable we think others find us. The images I capture in All I Want recreate and document the innocence and complexity of my subjects, questioning the intricacies of sexuality that are undefined, and even celebrate this ambiguity. (2007-2008)
We ask the everlasting question, “Who am I?” while realizing the absurdity and challenge of figuring out the answer. Utilizing our separate upbringings in Oklahoma and Estonia, we collaborate here on a series of dual self portraits incorporating set-up fantasies, real behaviors, and improvisational moments. The photographs focus on our coming of age—rebellious, romantic and fearful of the end. We are simultaneously the anxious girls in front of the camera and the conscientious adults making the pictures. (2006-2007)