ashland.news
July 14, 2024

Performance art piece set for downtown Ashland street-front window Saturday

Beca Blake, "Qualia: Moab," acrylic, 30" x 20"
June 28, 2024

Artist Beca Blake threads together art history and her own search for identity

By Emma Coke, Ashland.news

Interdisciplinary artist Beca Blake will engage in performance art in the street-front window of a downtown gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. this Saturday, assembling textile art at The Gallery at Ashland Independent Film Festival in a work she calls “Origins: Intersecting.” 

Blake won’t engage directly with the audience, instead, placing herself on-view as she sews and completes her project before wearing the completed “Origins: Intersecting,” a textile-based project focused on identity. 

Beca Blake, center, speaks during a panel discussion on “Woman Kind.”

The performance will also include audio-visual components, including images of other female performance art documentation from from the 1960s to present time and an audio loop of Blake’s thought process in creating her garment. 

Upon completion, Blake will stick around to answer any questions the audience has. Her completed identity garment will be on display at The Gallery. 

A photo of a piece of the identity garment Beca Blake will be assembling Saturday.

The final product, “Origins: Intersecting,” is rooted in Blake’s exploration of identity – that of her own identities and her children’s identities – and how these identities intersect with one another. 

“It’s about my identity intersecting with (my daughter’s) identity intersecting with my son’s identity,” Blake said. “And my kids are of Indigenous heritage. So there are some representations of them and their heritage along with my journey as a woman.”

Blake even had her children help with her project, each providing a small art piece that is included in the garment.

For Blake, the topic of identities and intersecting identities is interesting, especially because she says the topic identifies and acknowledges that identities change over time — they’re fluid. 

A photo of a piece of the identity garment Beca Blake will be assembling Saturday.

“My identity has been changing over the years as I’ve become a mom,” Blake said. “Not just with age, but just that role of motherhood and children having their identities and all of the cultural influences from their identities and then the extended family that’s grown from that.”

The idea for her latest work was born when she took a workshop on making identity garments and exploring identity through clothing in April with Maria de Los Angeles, whose work focuses on identity garments, through the Schneider Museum of Art. 

Having loved the experience, Blake decided to take on another, similar project which would become “Origins: Intersecting. She has been working on it since May. 

“I thought, you know, what a great challenge for me to really ask myself ‘What is my identity right now at this time in my life?’” Blake said. “And that’s where you know this knowledge of intersecting identities has come in to really help me understand that.”

Becca Blake at Catalyst Gallery with an image from her “Road Food” exhibit.

The performance aspect of her piece is also rooted in exploration of identity, specifically her identity as a woman and as a woman artist. 

“In art history, there is not a lot about women, for women to look to historically,” Blake said. “The names that are most recognized are men, of course, because women were left out of universities for hundreds of years.”  

Performance art, however, is one place where women have excelled, according to Blake. 

“It’s pretty significant for me as a female artist to have this opportunity to be sharing my performative work because that is a category where women have really excelled and there are a lot of very recognized names in that category,” Blake said. 

That exploration of identity, through performance art and the creation of her identity garment, has caused her to stretch as an individual, according to Blake. 

The deets
What: Performance art piece “Origin: Intersectional” — New textile art assembled by hand and machine sewing in a street-front window.
Who: Beca Blake
When: 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29
Where: The Gallery at AIFF (Ashland Independent Film Festival), 389 E. Main St., Ashland

“It’s been many hours,” Blake said. “Many hours of not just constructing but conceptualizing and researching, making sure I understand this topic.”

Blake hopes that “Origins: Intersecting” will inspire other people to think more about their identity and other people’s identities and it should be maybe more sensitive and compassionate.

“I find this to be a really powerful form of communication that’s non confrontational,” Blake said. “And that’s the beauty of the creative process is that it can spark that curiosity in somebody kind of meeting them in their own terms, their own mind, rather than, you know, projecting something onto them.”

Email Ashland.news reporter intern Emma Coke at emmasuecoke@gmail.com. Ashland.news sublets office space from Ashland Independent Film Festival.

Related stories:

Ashland well-represented at ‘Woman Kind’ art show (April 5, 2024)

‘Road Food’ exhibit offers food for thought (Aug. 12, 2023)

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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