Artist Jan Harrison will perform her multimedia piece “Animal Tongues,” as part of the Dorsky’s exhibition “Dear Mother Nature: Hudson Valley Artists 2012” on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 2:30 p.m.Linda Weintraub, guest curator at the Dorsky, said the theme of the exhibition is “the condition of the planet today as interpreted by members of a profession known for sensitivity and originality — artists.”
Weintraub said the artists are creating environmental art which ensures the well-being of our planet.
Harrison said that Mother Nature constantly expresses herself in different ways.
“[Mother Nature] expresses things she feels very strongly about — sometimes she shows anger at the way the earth and its inhabitants have been treated, and she has a right to, but she also shows joy, and nurturing, as well as strength and vulnerability,” Harrison said. “She expresses a kind of wisdom that displays both parts of our psyche.”
Harrison’s performance piece “Animal Tongues” originated in a dream she had in 1979. That same year she completed a piece, titled “The Tongue Drawing,” which was the first time she spoke and sung in “Animal Tongues.”
She said “The Tongue Drawing” inspired “a lifetime body of work, of paintings and sculpture,” including “Animal Tongues.”
Harrison defines “Animal Tongues” as “different animal beings expressing themselves and interacting with other animal beings, as well as with me, and with the audience.”
Weintraub said that Harrison’s exhibition works with both verbal and non-verbal language, and her physical “motion helps convey her meaning.”
“Animal Tongues” involves singing, chanting, dancing, sculpture and audience interaction and participation. Harrison said she will ask questions that range from playful to serious, but they will all give the audience a chance to connect with Mother Nature, one of the primary goals of her piece.
Harrison has been performing the piece for five years. She said she will caress the surface of her pastel painting, “Big Cat — Mountain Lion with Foliage Fur,” and then the animal beings come alive, sharing their distinct voice and language with the audience.
She said the sculptures in her performance, made from fusing wax and pastel together, portray the limitlessness of nature.
“Nature knows no boundaries,” Harrison said.
Harrison said the dialect is not a literal representation of animal sounds, although there are animal sounds within the “tongues.” She said her piece is not an interpretation of these sounds, but “animal nature speaking and singing” through her voice.
“The animals…are not [a] specific species,” she said. “They come from the dream world, and they speak from the collective animal spirit and soul. They are Mother Nature.”
Here are the credits for the painting: “Big Cat – Mountain Lion with Foliage Fur”©2011, Jan Harrisonpastel, charcoal and ink on rag paper45 x 34.25 inches.Private Collection