introducing... The Constellation Project

A multi-sensory journey to discover + develop new and promising practices in collective art-making.

I reckoned with my love for creative collaboration four years ago. Before that I would flutter around it... writing parodies with friends. Jumping in a cypher. The occasional Vagina Monologue. I couldn't deny the power and significance in creating in community.

In ’08 I was moved to find collaborators to devise theatre inspired by the tumultuous life of Saartjie Baartman. This performance turned into the founding of The Saartjie Project, a performance ensemble that has devised theatre and arts projects that interrogate the intersections of race, gender and power in Washington, DC and beyond. Our becoming is a beautiful mosaic of history, fate and sisterhood.

This summer I stepped out of my role as Founding Artistic Director of The Saartjie Project. Through my transition and ever-present creative limbo, I've gained a deeper appreciation for the creative processes we established and practiced over time - intentionally and unintentionally. We defied specialization: "Yes we dance, no we are not a dance troupe." "Yes we do theatre, but not always on stage." Coming to the work from difference and similarity ultimately generated transformative art - which was what I came to do.

If one wants to become an “artist,” there is a bounty of educational opportunities—everything from matchbook correspondence schools to elite art academies. Yet in spite of this broad spectrum of possibilities, there is no place where one can prepare for a collective practice.

- Critical Arts Ensemble

My co-facilitation of The Saartjie Project's practice was always informed by cultural collectives that carved out spaces for that kind of work to take root. As lightbeams in that galaxy of collectives I enthusiastically look to the next chapter in my work as a practitioner:

The Constellations Project -  a map +  tool in development for artists interested in cultural collective practice. Personal narrative, capacity building tools + creative prompts integrated into a guide for those of us interested in creating with others. 

Get Involved

  1. Tell your stories! I want to talk/jam with anyone and everyone who creates in a collective. DJ's, Playwrights, Burlesque Dancers, Cultural Workers, Clowns. You. (How? jess@artinpraxis.org, Skype, phone, This survey, hologram, snail mail, 3D... the possibilities are endless.) Express interest and I will follow up. 

  2. Sign up for updates about the project here. If you are about liberation, art as catalyst and intervener for good and creativity for all,  I am accountable to you! I'd love share stories and learnings with you as The Constellation Project grows.

  3. Share.  Share this with creative communities you are a part of or who should know about this. 

     

Be able to recognize many of the major constellations and know the stories behind them. - Marilyn vos Savant

Onward!