Sunday, June 13, 2010


Initially, I wanted to make a puppet show for my MFA Thesis Exhibition, THE END IS EVER NIGH. It would have fit in perfectly with my imagery: humanity controlled by outside forces beyond their control.

However, my MFA was in Painting, not in Intermedia, Performing or Performance Arts. I felt it would be too much of a disconnect from the thrust of my Thesis. I also did not feel I had the time or experience necessary to plan out a proper puppet stage at an appropriate MFA Thesis level without enlisting help from people who already had their own crosses to bear.

Becoming a member of the Eye Lounge collective immediately gave me the push and experimental freedom necessary to begin to seriously think of doing a puppet show. The theme of my Eye Lounge solo show is the desert. The desert in the Bible, also translated as "wilderness" is a place for wandering, introspection, exile: a place to return from after spiritual revelation and visions. Since I have always lived in Arizona--near South Mountain and the radio tower lights--in a modernized "quasi-desert," I find this an experience that is hard to replicate in my own life.

I have gone on many hikes, twice to the Grand Canyon, but have never experienced "the desert." I did not feel lost, I do not feel deserted or wandering, because I know that I can go back anytime...there is a trail "back home." The Desert Fathers had no such conceit: they were always living in the desert, as they wanted to escape the modernization of the church as a legitimate, Roman institution. It became their new home for Christ.

Therefore, my home may be a desert, but it does not feel like a desert...there is always a way back home. I have to use my imagination in order to construct a scenario that could even come close to the experience of the Desert Fathers, John the Baptist, Christ himself, or St. John of Patmos.

I worked on a script for a puppet show: Jesus' Temptations (Matthew 4: 1-11) with Tommy Cannon, a puppeteer from the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. I wanted to tap into his humor and improvisational skill to amplify the sense of irreverence I want to convey in the banter between Jesus and Satan. Jesus maintains His cool throughout the process, tempted three times, to return from the experience steeled in His resolve. Satan, though defeated is unchanged by the experience, a Trickster who moves on to others to be made Fool.

I would like to think that it all happened in His mind, as does all of my imagery in mine: Satan may still have been real, as all visions are to the person experiencing them.