When likeminded creators and movers join together, powerful initiatives begin. For the founding members of ArtPile, Rachel Thorne Germond, Dale Lazar, Ann Mazzocca, Kelly Rossum, Megan Thompson, and Suzanne Wiltgen, it was about joining forces to create a new venue and opportunity to present performance work.
“We are all interested in post-modern experimental ideas,”Germond said, describing the origins of ArtPile. “So we thought, let’s create our own thing.”
Creating their own thing is exactly what this team of dancers and musicians do each time a new ArtPile arrives to the Norfolk area. ArtPile brought together the minds of professors currently teaching at Old Dominion University and Christopher Newport University, creating opportunities for students, artists, family and friends to come together and experience art in their community.
The artists will be presenting their third ArtPile on Sunday, June 29 at 4:00 PM on the Hague, which has been a new and challenging approach for the artists and will be an equally new and out-of-the-box way for ArtPile audience members to experience art.
The audience will be moving around–walking from location to location–experiencing the performances as a collective group in different areas that were specifically chosen by the artist.
“When you’re in a non-traditional space, it’s a lot of work; it’s not designed to be a performance space,” Thompson said. “At the same time, you can make whatever you want. We don’t have the same restrictions.”
For audience members, Thompson is excited about the different experience they will have while standing, sitting, surrounding the live art happening right in front of them.
“It’s more interactive. There’s less of a divide from what’s going on. It’s community building,” Thompson said. “There is something about experiencing the pieces together with a group.”
Community building is one of the foundational ideas of ArtPile which harkens back to the original founders of modern dance. From audience members volunteering to help set up the space to members performing or serving wine after the show, ArtPile has grown with a refreshing momentum from the hearts and minds of people dedicated to getting art out there and accessible for everyone.
“People are excited. They want to be a part of it and then that makes us think, that is so exciting. So we’re figuring it out,” Thompson said.
Figuring it out has meant more to the creators of ArtPile than just pulling together pieces to present. They spend months to a year tossing around ideas, asking each other questions and figuring out logistics of how to present the works in a way that inspires community involvement and growth.
For this one-hour presentation of ArtPile, featuring works by Rachel Thorne Germond, Dale Lazar, Ann Mazzocca, Kelly Rossum, Megan Thompson and Katie Iacono, the artists are taking dance to public places to reach people who may not have the funds or time dedicated to experience art.
“You can sit and watch for 30 seconds and walk on your way and still appreciate that this exists,” Thompson said.
scene from a previous ArtPile event held at Fawn St.
For Germond, she used the bustle of activity and public life happening around her to help feed and inform her piece.
“I was thinking, do I really want canned sound? But no. There’s a lot of sound that’s there,” Germond said. “There’s a vulnerability [to performing live in public]. Everything isn’t tied up in a little bow like when you have a concert. I could have a giant pit bull that decides to hang out on the bridge and bark loudly.”
Germond was inspired by the life and activity happening at her chosen location, the Hague Walking Bridge.
“I became very interested in this location as a place of nostalgia,” Germond said, recalling how she found the locks that people leave behind on the bridge. “I was intrigued by the locks. It wasn’t just lovers [leaving locks], it was people who had died. I literally had tears in my eyes when I saw the locks. There’s something about this place… the contrast between the flow and the desire to hold on to something.”
Together, the artists challenge each other to discover new ideas, questions or thoughts through their work and hope to leave the audience with inspiration or lingering questions. Together, ArtPile brings a new way to experience art in a world where everyone is just trying to figure it out.