creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walk: Make Art Whatever the Weather & Artist Profile: Yozmit

Here's a photo to emphasize that taking art walks is a necessity no matter how cold it is outside!

When it comes to inspiring urban environments to walk among, New York City ranks high and mighty. It's a city of numerous stimulating sights and sounds. It can be flourishing and pulsating, gritty and intense, vibrant and exhilarating, and at times overwhelming! This past week I was happy to trade in the t-shirts of Los Angeles for the bundled up layers of the Big Apple. I love the ease of moving around a city built for pedestrians, and even though my cheeks got rosy and my fingers numb at times, I was thrilled to be exercising my feet, and in the process my brain (see last week's post about the neurological benefits of regular walks).

Even though I saw shows (a few Broadway, an edgy alternative dance and an intimate cabaret) and art exhibitions, nothing quite thrills me like taking long walks in the NYC streets. And after feasting upon images of all sorts for several days, I ended my trip by meeting up with some fellow artist friends for a couple of photo shoots. This week, I focus my attention on Yozmit Mukta Avalokita, a very multi-talented gender-transcendent artist, fashion designer, performer, musician, and spiritualist.

Yo and I met several years ago in Rachel Rosenthal workshops. We've performed and collaborated in several pieces together. When I first moved to MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, Yo was my neighbor and welcomed me to the 'hood by taking me on my first walk through the park (which I have subsequently documented diligently during many a dog walk) and to lunch at Mama's Hot Tamales (a fixture of the community). His home for the past several years is NYC. I visited her in spring while she was involved in the performance recreations of Marina Abramovic's "The Artist is Present" exhibition at MOMA and it was great to visit once more this month.

I wanted to mark the occasion by taking photos of Yo for part of a new series I'm working on pairing up artist friends with digitally manipulated flowers that expresses part of their artistic personality (you'll see examples in time - these pictured here are pre-process). When Yo choose the lotus blossom, I thought shooting Yo underwater would be great. In asking Yo if he knew of anywhere we could do that, he declared Central Park. I was thinking a tub or an indoor pool. Somehow the freezing temperatures didn't seem to phase her, but I didn't want to risk her catching pneumonia.

She assured me that meeting up in the park and seeing what happened was the best way to go. I liked and trusted her approach. It didn't take long for us to find the perfect spot - a section of a pond near the southeast corner was covered with a thin layer of ice. So Yo stripped above the chest and laid out partially on the ice.

Because the process of making art is a very spiritual one for Yo, he mentioned that after the initial shock of cold, it didn't seem to bother him very much - it was a matter of mental discipline to ignore it.  A little crowd gathered around us, shocked that someone would brave the elements like she was.

After the shoot we continued our reunion by strolling around the park and talking about the importance of walking in the artistic process. We discussed spontaneity and being open to the surprises of nature - how surrendering our minds allows for an experience of transcendence. At times we took notice of the placement of leaves on the ground or little birds foraging for food. At one point Yo was elated to come upon an arrangement of tree branches that reminded her of the exact image she had in a dream the night before and showed me her sketch of it in her journal.

During our time together I definitely got the sense that Yozmit's spiritual and artistic growth is combining in beautiful ways. I got to hear an early track of upcoming music that combines pop/dance sensibility with spirituality. The lotus blossom's roots in the murky depths and beautiful flowering bloom above the water is the perfect representation for her.

"Walking is something very ordinary, but something very special, like the present"
- Yozmit

Yozmit is currently doing a series of "walks" - part performance, part meditative art pieces in which she dresses up in her self-designed and made costume/fashions and moves through various locations. To see more of Yozmit's art, ranging from the shocking to the spiritual - go to:

Yozmit in full regalia during one of her performance/meditative walks in Bedstuy, Brooklyn recently.
Photo by Jonathan Balthaser

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