On Sunday June 30, beginning at 2 pm, PMA presents a slideshow of Tess Felix's artwork (Decker Gallery A). In addition, there will be a special 20 minute Butoh dance performance by guest artist Eric Larsen.
Scholar and environmentalist Eric Larsen will perform Ocean Cathedral, a dance in the style of Japanese butoh, a sparse and dramatic format that communicates directly with hearts and minds. Inspired by music from the composer Debussy, is based on a myth from northern France of a cathedral that has sunken into the ocean, and rises above the water during times of stormy weather to ring out a warning. This is also the nature of our lives, from generation to generation, and from moment to moment, rising from a sea of darkness,to soar above the waves with wisdom.
Eric Larsen graduated from Harvard University with a BS in Applied Physics, while he studied with visual artists from around the globe. He practiced dance in Berkeley and New York City, then lived in a Zen Monastery for 15 years. After leaving the monastery, he received a PhD from UC Berkeley related to the environmental stewardship of rivers. He taught in the Environmental Design department at UC Davis for 23 years, focusing on how to collaborate with nature while doing large scale environmental planning related to rivers. He returned to dance in 2018, with a passion for communicating an understanding of our environment, essential in a world facing massive threats to its climate and natural resources.
About Tess Felix:
Artist Tess Felix ‘paints’ stunning portraits of family, friends, and ocean heroes using plastic litter combed from the beach. She starts by taking a photograph of her subject, then puts together a ‘palette’ of washed and sorted multicolored plastic, working off the photograph to assemble her piece. Roaming the coast, Felix looks for interesting plastic shards and small objects like toys and containers. In her work, she wants to tell a story not only about the person, but also of the materials themselves and invite the viewer to consider how plastic has insinuated itself into our daily lives:
“These ocean plastics convey a long story of their journey starting with extraction of oil from the ground. Plastic is everywhere in our lives, in fact we touch it more than we touch our loved ones—it’s just a brute fact that plastic is a ‘thing' in the world.”
She first started creating art with plastic debris after a large storm in 2010 left the beach so littered she could not see the sand beneath it, plastic that washed ashore from the Delta and the Bay. Despite her dismay, her message is ultimately a hopeful one:
“If I’m lucky, what I do in my work is show that the human spirit and beauty still has the power to rise above the ugly. To arrange the ugly into a beautiful thing is a metaphor for demonstrating that we have the power to overcome the very thing that threatens us.”
A Bay Area native, Tess Felix has lived along the same stretch of coastline for most of her life and has watched its slow transformation. In her youth Felix would gather sea glass and shells. Today she primarily sees brightly colored ocean plastic debris with the sea shells and sea glass mixed in.
This article was kindly shared by PMA's media department, headed by Christina Chahal.