A Prayer, A Wish, A Spell series
performative, participatory actions
A Prayer, A Wish, A Spell began in collaboration with Courtney Kessel as the title for a two-person exhibition we had in Shanghai. For that exhibition, we came up with a participatory piece in which we asked show-goers to write a "a prayer, a wish, or a spell" for their loved ones. Knowing that how putting into language our feelings can serve as a protective force, Courtney and I intentionally wanted the piece and the exhibition to also serve as good tidings to the people we were meeting while in Shanghai as well as our loved ones back home.
In a similar vein, Courtney presented A Blessing, A Wish, A Spell for the Next Generation in Copenhagen, Denmark. With this performance and the book documenting it, she asked international women scholars and artists to write "a blessing, a wish, or a spell" for a girl turning 13.
In A Prayer, A Wish, A Spell for Those You Carry, I develop an installation that serves as a private/public sacred space in which I enact this performative/participatory piece. Referring to the roles of fortune tellers, therapists, and spiritual guides, I invite people to tell me about someone or something they carry with them, or in other words, about whom they care. I hand them a ball of homemade play dough, and as they talk to me, they play with the dough. Once they've shared about the one(s) they carry, I make a mold of their cupped hands with the dough. Then participants may select from a variety of objects that serve as tokens for the wishes they might have for the ones they carry. Participants place the tokens in the mold of their hands, then fill out a card addressed to the one(s) they carry, and place all on a shelf for the duration of the exhibition.
Full image of installation and participatory, performative action.
Sleeth Gallery, West Virginia Wesleyan, Buckhannon, WV
Pressing the play dough into a participant's hand to make the vessel.
A participant selects objects to represent the prayer/wish/spell for the ones they carry.
Objects, talismans, amulets, charms:
Quartz points for mental health, clarity.
Pink salt for healing.
Horse hair for strength, endurance.
Garnet for self-love.
Mirror pieces for self-awareness, self-reflection.
Cat claws for protection through effective self-defense.
Hand vessels with amulets and cards.