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Fri, Jul 07


Epsilon Spires

TRANSCENDENCE: Multidisciplinary Artist Salon

Performances by groundbreaking multidisciplinary artists from around the world: Explore the poetry of Rumi through Song with Haleh Liza Gafori, an Artist Talk on Artifical Intelligence by Minne Atairu, a new film by Shanta Lee, and The John Hughes & Stephen Katz Duo performing on Kora and Cello

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TRANSCENDENCE: Multidisciplinary Artist Salon
TRANSCENDENCE: Multidisciplinary Artist Salon

Time & Location

Jul 07, 2023, 7:00 PM – 10:30 PM

Epsilon Spires, 190 Main St, Brattleboro, VT 05301, USA

About the event

Epsilon Spires and co-curator Shanta Lee present an unforgettable evening of performances exploring the theme of Transcendence: Call & Response/Things Unseen featuring groundbreaking artists from around the world. Thanks to generous support from Vermont Humanities and Arts Council of Windham County, we are able to make this extraordinary program accessible for all by offering tickets by sliding-scale donation. 

Inspired by the latest sonification of the black holes in our universe, we are interested in exploring the latest theme in our Transcendence artist salon. We are inviting creatives to explore the theme of call and response within the realm of the unseen.

Makers and creators of art are in conversation - but with who and with what? This year's salon is dedicated to this idea of creativity as a dialogue and conversation. What are we calling or what is calling us? In our summoning, how do we respond?

We open this question to you as our invitation to participate in year three of our artist salon series that connects with creatives across mediums and geographic boundaries who transcend the surface of the things they create. 

Friday, July 7th, doors 7pm, performances begin at 7:30 and are listed in order of appearance. 

John Hughes & Stephen Katz: Kora / Cello Duo

An avant-garde fusion of African and European strings in euphonic praise of poetry and fellowship!

An avant-garde fusion of African and European strings. Reverent and cheeky, these two virtuosic trailblazers from different backgrounds weave a seamlessly genre-blurring tapestry of sound. Hypnotic grooves, unalloyed soloing and deep synergy celebrate both tradition and improvisation in a spell-binding nexus of bliss. Playing in unison or in poignant counterpoint, the kora and cello, in the hands of these joyful souls, act as crystalline foils for each other, glorifying the unique and arresting beauty of each. 

Cellist and award-winning composer Stephen Katz has charted  new territory for the rhythmic potential of the cello. The groundbreaking technique he calls Flying Pizzicato juggles two or three “voices” at a time to make music that simultaneously lays grooves, weaves tunes, and lifts spirits. Stephen has  premiered his cello compositions at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City, and  performed internationally with the Paul Winter Consort, Rachael Sage, and the Essex String Quartet. Stephen is a 2012 NEA grant recipient via the SUNY/ Buffalo Arts in Healthcare Initiative. He received a Master of Music degree from  the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. 

John Hughes is an internationally recognized sculptor, kora  player, percussionist, singer, dancer, instrument builder and educator. He holds an  M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.F.A. from the Tyler School  of Art of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and the West Surrey College of Art  and Design in Farnham, England. John has studied the music song and dance of  West Africa for over 25 years, training with numerous master drummers and  dancers from Guinea and Mali, including Mamady Keita and Famoudou Konate.  As a Kora player, John is intirely self-taught and has developed a style all his own,  though deeply rooted in the ancient (more than 800 year old) Mande tradition. 

The Metadata Memoir: Artist Talk by Minne Atairu

A presentation about reclaiming the obscured histories of Benin Bronzes by utilizing Generative AI and 3D printing.

In 1897, British colonial forces looted over 4,000 of the Benin Bronzes from the royal palace and later auctioned them to European collectors as souvenirs from their so-called civilizing mission. To date, less than 100 of these artifacts have been repatriated to Benin city, Nigeria. To address these concerns, Interdisciplinary artist, Minne Atairu proposes the Metadata Memoir, a decentralized archive dedicated to documenting repatriated Benin Bronze objects. Can this lead to promoting accountability, transparency, and correcting a historic wrong?

Minne Atairu is an interdisciplinary artist who through the use of Artificial Intelligence, recombines historical fragments, sculptures, texts, images and sounds to generate synthetic Benin Bronzes which often hinge on questions of repatriation, and post-repatriation. Minne has exhibited and performed at The Harvard Art Museums, Boston (2022); Markk Museum, Hamburg (2021 – ); SOAS Brunei Gallery University of London, London (2022); Microscope Gallery, New York (2022) and Fleming Museum of Art, Vermont (2021). She is the recipient of the 2021 Lumen Prize for Art and Technology (Global Majority Award).

Time Is... A Film by Shanta Lee

How does time pass for the forcibly shape-shifted Black body?

A short film inspired by Shanta Lee’s second full length poetry collection illustrated by Alan Blackwell, Black Metamorphoses. The short film attempts to address the question: How does time pass for the forcibily shapeshifted body? How does race, gender, and colonialism impact shapeshifting? Does time cease to exist through morphing?

Shanta Lee is a writer of poetry, creative nonfiction, journalism, a visual artist and public intellectual actively participating in the cultural discourse with work that has been widely featured. She is also the creator and producer of Vermont Public’s “Seeing... the Unseen and In-Between within Vermont’s Landscape” and is a regular contributor to Ms. Magazine and Art New England. Shanta Lee is also the author of the poetry collection, GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues, winner of the 2020 Diode Press full-length book prize and the 2021 Vermont Book Award. Within this latest illustrated poetry collection, Black Metamorphoses (Etruscan Press, 2023) is a work that Shanta Lee describes as a 2,000+ year-old phone line opened to Ovid as well as an interrogation of the Greek mythos while creating her own new language in this work. Black Metamorphoses has been named a finalist in the 2021 Hudson prize, shortlisted for the 2021 Cowles Poetry Book Prize and longlisted for the 2021 Idaho poetry prize. Shanta Lee is the 2020 recipient of the Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts and 2020 and the 2020 gubernatorial appointee to the Vermont Humanities Council’s board of directors. Her current multimedia exhibition, Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine, which features her short film, interviews, and photography, and other items has been on view at the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum of Art and the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Shanta Lee has an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, an MBA from the University of Hartford and an undergraduate degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality from Trinity College. Across all of her endeavors, Shanta Lee shares, “I have an enduring passion and hunger to explore the unseen and invite others into that space of inquiry. This endless hunger to ask questions, create conversation through visual or written commentary, and journey into the unknown catalyzes my work across  various creative endeavors or collaborations  even if what I unearth scares me.”  

Conversations with Rumi: Haleh Liza Gafori 

Poetry by 13th century Persian mystic and sage Rumi, translated, recited and sung.

The 13th century mystic and sage Rumi was dedicated to unshackling his mind, opening his heart, and accessing deeper levels of serenity, compassion, and generosity. Inducing ecstatic illumination and liberation in listeners, his poetry has been sought by readers across the world, returning to his text for inspiration and nourishment. Among Haleh Liza Gafori’s body of work as a translator, vocalist, poet, and educator, Gafori is this cross-media performance piece, also entitled GOLD, weaving translations from the book, original musical compositions, and stories

Haleh Liza Gafori is a translator, vocalist, poet, and educator born in New York City of Iranian/Persian descent. She grew up hearing recitations of Persian poetry and has maintained and deepened her connection through singing and translating the poetry of various Persian poets such as Sohrab Sepehri and Omran Salahi, along with a selection of original work, earned her an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Goodman Grant for Poetry. Gafori’s work has been featured in Literary Hub, Hyperallergic, The Marginalian, the Marquaz Review, and Rattapallax. In musical projects, including Haale and The Mast, Gafori has toured across the US and in Europe, playing events such as One Note at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, and the Bonnaroo Festival. She has released a few albums to critical acclaim, from which songs have appeared in NBC’s series “Life” and CWTV’s series “The Originals.” 

Regarding the art of translation, Gafori said, “It is a boon for readers when a translator is steeped in both cultures, aware of context, double and triples meanings inside words, nuance, and idiomatic expressions in both languages. However astonishing the rhythm, rhyme, and wordplay of the source language may be, the translator must be able to forgo this music to create new music in the target language. My ears are tuned to the rhythms and melodies of contemporary American poetry, and I hope the images and meanings of the Persian texts sing through its modes.”  Sharing her passion for the expansive, compassionate, and ecstatic nature of Rumi’s poetry and philosophy, Gafori has taught classes at Dartmouth, Taos Poetry Festival, and the Omega Institute. She has also offered presentations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rubin Museum of Art. A graduate of Stanford University, Gafori received her MFA in creative writing from CCNY. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

We will be continuing the Multidisciplinary Artists Salon on Saturday, July 8th with Interactive Workshops at The Green River Bridge Inn in Guilford Vermont.

Olfactory Imprints: Scent for Self-Reflection Workshop with Dana El Masri, 12 pm, July 8th

An empowering, multisensory workshop exploring Scent as a powerful tool for self-reflection and expression. Perfumer Dana El Masri will share essential oils from around the world, covering their history and cultural significance to elicit and inspire personal scent memories.

Conversations with Rumi: Interactive Poetry Workshop with Haleh Liza Gafori. 2pm-3:30, July 8th

The 13th century mystic and sage Rumi was dedicated to unshackling his mind, opening his heart, and accessing deeper levels of serenity, compassion, and generosity. Inducing ecstatic illumination and liberation in listeners, his poetry has been sought by readers across the world, returning to his text for inspiration and nourishment.

In this workshop, we will read new translations of Rumi’s poetry, using them as prompts for discussion and for our own writing. We’ll hear excerpts in Persian, unpack Sufi terms that have no one-to-one exquivalent in English, and explore the wise, confessional, and sometimes humorous messages and imagery that pervade his poems. Through our discussions and writing, we’ll see how his insights on love, ego-death, mortality, generosity, greed, and compassion dialogue with our lives and our times.



    Admission to TRANSCENDENCE: CALL & RESPONSE. Thanks to support from Vermont Humanities and Arts Council of Windham County, we are able to make this extraordinary program accessible for all by offering tickets by sliding-scale donation. Taking equity and inclusion into account, please pay what you can to help support the artists and ensure that we can continue for future events.

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