November 8, 2019




Marisa Williamson, Astral Beings (2019)

What was it like working on Room with Artist-in-Residence Marisa Williamson? Responses by Cleveland performance collaborator, Martinique Mims:

What was it like collaborating with a SPACES artist-in-residence?

Cultivating relationships and exchanging artistic opportunities with the other artists was an amazing experience. Collaboration on this piece challenged and uplifted me, it allowed me to think, articulate and receive clarity on the journey I would take discovering more about what it means to be a black woman. This piece served as a mirror into the lives of three strong African American women in history, giving us all a small glimpse into history. I was encouraged to learn more about myself as an artist and I appreciated the opportunity to spend time in a new atmosphere and environment. I was a part of something bigger than myself. We all came from different stages in our careers and from different backgrounds. But it is through art, we came together, encouraged experimentation and facilitated art across multiple forms. We became a creative collective of women and I am proud to have been a part of that experience!

What drew you to participate in this project?

I was informed about the awesome work and the creative culture at SPACES. A fellow artist that works there told me about the project and recommended that I check it out and apply. As a local poet, I was intrigued and knew I wanted to portray Phillis Wheatley, I was automatically drawn to her. After I researched more about the project, I knew this could create community impact and would help provide a unique voice to women that impacted history giving them the ability to live on-continuing to make change. As an interactive installation, I loved that audiences received the opportunity to explore, learn, and enjoy a new way to interact with history while providing a legacy piece for Cleveland.

What about Marisa's project, approach, or methods seemed to work well or support you in a positive way?

Marisa supported cultural and artistic exchange and nurtured experimentation through new ideas and I appreciated witnessing her genius. She opened my mind up to the things we as women and black women can do through the art of sharing our stories. This was a true collaboration piece, she took all of our ideas into consideration. She challenged me as an artist to think beyond just my role and allowed me to discover more about why I am proud of my ancestry. She gave me the opportunity to discover work outside of my usual environment, providing me with time to reflect, research and produce an important piece that will definitely create ripples of change. I learned and grew so much by working with her and the other women involved. We all became change-makers through this project.

Was there anything about the process and experiences that surprised you?

I was surprised by the work that went into creating the actual space. I was impressed with how detailed, creative and fast SPACES worked to create all the rooms. It was fun to see the production process come to life in just a matter of a few weeks.

Has being a part of Room enhanced, changed, or otherwise influenced your practice beyond this work?

Yes, Room has definitely left an imprint on my craft and what I vision for the future. I have learned that through art, we can share our stories and learn history from one another. One big take away I will carry with me, one thing that Phillis Wheatley said in this project was, “We must never forget our stories for they save our lives.”


Related Artist

Marisa Williamson

Marisa Williamson is a New Jersey-based artist who works in video, installation and performance around themes of history, race, feminism, and technology. She has created site-specific works at and in collaboration with the University of Virginia, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Storm King Art Center, and the Metropolitan Museum... go to artist page

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