What a magical time we had in June at the annual Art Wire reading and celebration!
Art Wire is an ongoing creative writing collaboration between OZ Arts and The Porch. Each performance season, a cohort of writers (3-5 adults & 3-5 teens) is selected via application to attend a variety of OZ Arts presentations and respond to each work through original writing that is personal, playful, and deeply engaged.
Over this past season, mentors Ciona Rouse and Joe Kane worked with 2022-2023 Art Wire Fellows Tiffany Abreu, Juliana Morgan Alvarez, Coleman Bomar, Madison Moore, Walt Robinson, Anika Saar, Gabriel Seals, Ember Tharpe, Diana Warrick, and Simba Alik Woodard as they attended OZ Arts events and generated original writing drawing upon performance elements ranging from image to subject matter to thematic content.
The writers were consistently surprised by the ways the performances inspired them. "I found myself writing into avenues I have not explored before, primarily classical works of art and literature," says Fellow Gabriel Seals. "I felt the most influence through Compagnie Hervé Koubi's What the Day Owes to the Night. That piece led me to research Greek literature/myth, the Bible, and Flemish Renaissance painting, among others. Art inspires art, and you feel that when you open yourself up to the work you view." He adds, "The moment of greatest value came when I began to associate the work we attended with other things in the world, the intertextuality and connectedness of all art regardless of genre."
Fellow Madison Moore, who says her favorite show was Kid Koala's The Storyville Mosquito—"I never thought it would make me cry!," she says—notes that "there’s a lot to unpack in each performance, but I often found one or two highlights that spoke to me, and my brain flooded a Google Doc with emotions."
Art Wire Fellows often find that the experience recharges their writing lives for good. "I think, following graduating college, I let my writing fall to the wayside," says Fellow Tiffany Abreu. "It was easy to find time to write when I was attending courses centered on my creativity. It was less so when I suddenly had a full-time job to work around, not to mention the pandemic and general haziness the world experienced the past two years. The Art Wire fellowship helped me refocus on the craft by giving me goals, deadlines, and inspiration to write for. I found it much easier to slip back into a schedule with my writing once I had the OZ performances to structure it around. I hope to continue on this track!"
"The moment of greatest value came when I began to associate the work we attended with other things in the world, the intertextuality and connectedness of all art regardless of genre."
What should future Art Wire Fellows hope to get out of the experience? "You will become exposed to works unlike any you have seen before," says Seals. "You will witness bold artists making their mark and digging their own path in the world; and you will meet a lot of lovely people that live right here in Nashville. That's irreplaceable: the people with whom you go through this experience."
"I would tell them to keep their minds open and to expect surprises," says Abreu. "There are some performances that may not seem like their cup of tea that may end up inspiring them. The goal is to get out of your comfort zone and experience other mediums of art. For me, I struggled with dance performances; I initially would never have signed up for one. By the end, Requiem was one of my favorite shows. I think they can hope to get new perspective and fresh imagination out of this experience."
Learn more about the 2022-2023 Art Wire fellows here, and check out the Art Wire website to see new pieces as well as an archive of original work from previous years -- and to apply yourself for the 2023-2024 season, if you're feeling so inclined and inspired!
Photo credit: Tiffany Bessire.