Lucinda Cobley and Teresa Chapman Team Up at Wade Wilson Art
A casual chat between painter Lucinda Cobley and choreographer Teresa Chapman at a Galveston party prompted a collaboration, Shifting Spaces, an excerpt of which will be performed on March 28 at Wade Wilson Art during Cobley’s exhibition, sequence; performances that evening are at 6:30 and 8 p.m.. The exhibit opens on March 22.
“We started talking about the fluidity of the body in motion and the interpretative nature of dance,” Cobley recalls. “We both realized quite quickly that we were totally in sync, both in our use of descriptive language and our openness to the possibility of collaborating on a project together.”
Chapman, an associate professor of dance with University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance, was drawn to the way Cobley talked about her work. “Her choice of words had links to movement images,” says Chapman. “Her work strikes me as delicate, sophisticated, and complex. I interpret the sandblasted glass she uses as vulnerability. There is strength in its thickness and complexity in the layers of color.”
Cobley’s translucent surfaces dwell in optical deception and color refraction. “In these paintings, I explore movement through the process of appearance or disappearance, whether it is the suggestion of an object or place, shift in color, shadow or light, the overall effect is sequential, therefore suggestive of time passing, similar to the motion of a physical body moving through space. Forms shift in and out of focus, becoming visible and then invisible again,” she writes in an artist statement.
Chapman, known for her full-bodied and athletic dancing and choreography, is currently focused on making dances that celebrate the strength and vulnerability of women. “Lucinda seemed like an appropriate fit,” she says. “Her exhibition is also titled ‘sequence.’ What do we do in dance but arrange sequences of movement?”
After they exchanged work, the project took flight, with language serving as a starting point for their collaboration, which has been funded by Houston Arts Alliance. The piece will eventually premiere as evening-length work in the autumn of 2013.
This will be Cobley’s first time working with a choreographer, yet she finds common ground with Chapman in movement. “Painting is physical and utilizes a fluid medium,” she explains. “The characteristics of each pigment is different, whether by weight or particle size (for example, carbon black is super lightweight and dissolves easily in water, whereas blue smalt is essentially powdered glass, therefore more granular) so the flow of paint can be radically different, shifting from being flat, dense, opaque to textural, broken or transparent.”
Chapman is no stranger to presenting her work in gallery and museum settings. “Since my days of working with Liz Lerman, I’ve loved dancing in galleries. It started when I performed at the Hirshhorn in Washington, DC and MASS MoCA in the Berkshires. Now that I’m at UH, I set a dance on the UH Dance Ensemble at the Blaffer Gallery in the Fall.”
The space limit has posed some challenges in the amount of room to dance. Three pedestals allow her to use the space vertically, while the floor-length dresses designed by James McDaniel offer a floating effect in quieter moments. “With half of her work in charcoal and the other half in color, it has led me to divide the choreography into two contrasting sections,” she says.
Working across disciplines usually involves entering each other’s worlds, and Chapman and Cobley have done that and more.
“This new work is about finding beauty in spatial challenges and inspiration in new collaborations, ” offers Chapman. The fact that the team started in a place of mutual understanding has created a solid beginning from which to build a piece.
“The experience of working together with other creative people is so stimulating, especially working with dancers,” says Cobley. “I feel a strong connection to their world. I like the fluidity of their movements and gestures. It’s so freeing.”
March 22-April 27
Wade Wilson Art.
Shifting Spaces, A Collaborative Dance Series
March 28, 6:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
April 13, 6:30 & 8 p.m.
A gallery discussion with Lucinda Cobley and Teresa Chapman, followed by a closing reception will be held Saturday, April 20, 2-4 p.m.