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INTERVIEW: Artist Andrea Cote On The Radiance Project And The Multidisciplinary Project’s Impact On The Hamptons

Sydney A. Braat

Diamond Tapestry. (Courtesy Photo)

The Radiance Project's multidisciplinary focus will continue to make an impact on the Hamptons community with a community art project at Southampton Arts Center (SAC). This project involves a variety of mediums, including printmaking, alternative photography, and dance. Participants throughout Southampton will come together in a series of movement and art-making workshops.

Cote at work. (Courtesy Photo)

The project is supported by a Creative Individuals Grant through NYSCA and began with a three month studio residency at Southampton Arts Center from March through May. During this time the artist held open studio hours and collaborative mandala-making workshops with the community. The tapestries will be displayed in the Theater at Southampton Arts Center beginning September 29.

The second phase of the project and dance component began on September 23 with a dance choreography workshop, followed by a performance for drone video at SouthamptonFest on October 14.

We spoke with founder and SAC Artist-in-Residence Andrea Cote to learn more about this initiative:

Why is The Radiance Project so important for the Hamptons community? What is this project attempting to achieve?

AC: In the Hamptons, people within the community tend to stay within their social groups. When I lived in the city, I was a part of a collective of dancers that performed on the streets, and the public was invited in. As an educator throughout the Hamptons I've had people express to me the desire for more opportunities to dance together out here. We all have bodies and even if there are differences of beliefs within a family, when we get together and dance in a circle at a wedding, there is a shared physical connection and pleasure taken in the body.

Already in the collaborative workshops so far, participants have found a sense of flow, and discovery together, whether printing with their bodies or choreographing as a group. In the Radiance Project, the mandala, a symbol of unity, acts as a metaphor for all these distinct individuals weaving together to make a whole. It is from this place that new relationships are grown.

Can you speak to the early stages of your career in art? Who were and are your biggest inspirations?

AC: The body was always at the center of my work from the beginning. Even my first installation in college involved casting the hands of 70 people in my life at the time. The act of holding another's hands in my own as I draped plaster-soaked cheesecloth was so visceral and intimate, and would be followed by gatherings over food and wine. A shared experience surrounded the art-making.

Later on I began using my own body as a tool to create art, painting and printing parts of my body and my hair. I would do large sprawling hair-printed wall drawings, then printed onto my own body as well. These led to photographs and video. My work was very process-driven. I was drawn to experiment with new media, techniques, and formats both inside and outside the studio.

The artists Louise Bourgeios and Ana Mendieta created with a viscerality embedded in their bodies and memory. Early on I found myself creating performance art before I knew it had a name. I remember walking through a show at The New Museum of Carolee Schneeman, so excited by another artist who used her own body, taking creative risks that could very possibly fail. Yoko Ono also invited the audience into her work, and still does - there is a poetic playfulness, and a desire for connection in her work. I am drawn to artists who are on an intuitive quest, whether internal or external, and at the brink of unknowing. It's that feeling about in the dark, where you sense discovery. It is being centered in the mystery.

What is the goal for The Radiance Project and how would you like to see the project expand?

AC: A personal aim of the project was to weave together my experience as an educator and community-based artist, to create a space for experiences that take place when people collaborate. I'd love to see it resonate in formal and informal gatherings. Leading up to the project, I'd made different forms of mandalas at Community Day at The Parrish Museum, with my students at The Watermill Center, and during the residency at Southampton Arts Center and the Southampton Senior Center. There are conversations and ideas percolating among collaborators, which I'm curious to see unfold.

If I consider the idea of expansion, I picture a radiating circle, with concentric ripples moving outwards. I hope to be surprised by where the project leads, I have learned with community-based projects you don't immediately see a concrete impact. There is a spirit that people who encounter and participate in it feel and that spark will manifest in many ways later on.

Southampton Arts Center is located at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton. For more information, visit southamptonartscenter.org.




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