Today’s student spotlight is on Interdisciplinary Arts & Media thesis student, Kellen Walker. She is an amazing artist who works primarily in sensory-heavy, interactive performances.
Could you talk about some of your work before Columbia?
Before Columbia, I was living between Austin and San Antonio, Texas, making theater and performance art that involved food and smells. I directed a double-bill featuring an autobiographical work of my own, The Marnie Tape, paired next to Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape. These performances, set in a San Antonio warehouse, were fantastic artistic opportunities. I collaborated with my partner, Barry Walker (musician), and best friend, Jessica Quazi (lighting/sound designer), among so many other talented people. At the time, I was very interested in breaking the fourth wall with the senses. I wanted to play with the idea of how an audience member participates when they sit down to witness theater. Works from Matt Hislope and Josh Meyer of Rubber Repertory and Jeremy O. Torres of Theatre Synesthesia (both Austin-based theater companies) deeply inspired me to make more sensory-heavy work.
Could you talk about a project you are currently working on?
Currently, I have something in workshop called Game Night, which I’ve been working on since February of 2013. It is a choreographed experience that illustrates to an audience what a stroke would feel like. I produced a version of Game Night at Rhinoceros Festival in 2014 with Barry and Jessica, my main collaborators, as well as Chris Bednash from Columbia’s Interdisciplinary Arts & Media program. It’s a project that I need to keep alive and shape in many formats beyond the black box theater. It is definitely still in the works.
What has been a highlight from your time in the Interdisciplinary Arts & Media program?
I fortunately had the opportunity to meet an alumni from the program, Mike St. John, right when I came to Columbia in 2012. At the time, he had just graduated from the media side and had a really interesting art practice that involved, to name one project, making homemade cereal. We hit it right off, as friends but also as collaborators. Mike, his friend Moe Yousef from Brooklyn, and myself came together in 2013 and are now in a performance group based in competitive eating called The Sin Eaters. “Sin eating” is an age-old tradition, mostly practiced in the middle ages where a lower caste member of society would eat a crust of bread over a deceased body to absolve any corporeal sins. In short, we tailor an event like a pie eating contest into a performance, or moreso, a labor that we provide the audience. Our take on “sin eating” has turned into a communal exchange, where a witness confesses a sin and we essentially eat/absolve their confession in a competitive eating format. It’s choreographed chaos! We had incredible opportunities to perform at Co-Prosperity Sphere in May 2013 and then in September that year at church-turned-artist-residency, Pilot Balloon, out of Lawrence, Kansas.
Any upcoming shows you want us to know about?
The Sin Eaters are performing at the Abrons Art Center in New York in mid-August. Talk about dream come true!
For more info on Kellens amazing work check out her website!
Student Spotlight: Kellen Walker
Today’s student spotlight is on Interdisciplinary Arts & Media thesis student, Kellen Walker. She is an amazing artist who works primarily in sensory-heavy, interactive performances. Could you talk about some …
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