Sweet Sweet Everythings

The event, “Sweet, Sweet Everythings: Performances, 3 minutes or less” took place in the Dalton Gallery at Agnes Scott College on February 14, 2011, Valentine’s Day.

“Sweet, Sweet Everythings” was an open-mic experience that generated laughter, thought, and much applause. In fact, the first piece of the night, “Clapping” by artist Cecilia Kane was all about applause. She began her performance by saying that the “brave people of Tunisia and Egypt” deserve recognition. After what seemed like an uncomfortably long time for applause, the artist continued clapping and started to dance while clapping, occasionally stomping her feet and clapping in posed positions. However, the audience was willing and attempted to stay with the erratic rhythm of the clapping, determined by the artist, for the entirety of the piece. The artist ended the piece with crescendos of clapping, rhythmic breathing, and some moans. For the audience, this first work was certainly an ice-breaker for the other performance pieces.

Next, Professor of Theater at Agnes Scott College, David Thompson, performed “Give My Sweet Sweet to Broadway,” an energetic monologue about resisting then accepting being in love. The monologue was filled with idioms, rhymes, vocal crescendos, and questions. The seemingly stream-of-conscious style of the monologue ended with the determined thought, shouted by the artist, “Let people say we’re in love!” Theresa Davis, a middle-school teacher, recited a witty, heartfelt poem about teaching kids to love to read. The narrative of her poem involved confronting one of her students with a bet for twenty dollars that “after ten months of incarceration with me, you (the student) will love to read.” The poem ended with poignant success, and the artist said that she spent her money well: she bought a book. M. Ayodele Heath, an artist whose work is currently in the “My Sweet, Sweet” exhibition at the Dalton Gallery, performed his piece entitled, “Home” about his childhood community. The author reminisced about the neighborhood barber, grandmothers, children, and families. The artist spoke of sweet tea, ice cream trucks, baseball games, porches, and Sunday shoes that, “shine like a good family name,” which appealed to the Southern sensibilities of the audience. Heath ended his piece with, “This is a place, this is a place, this is a place called home,” and I believe that every audience member related (or wished they could) to the southern paradise he calls “home”.

Visual and aural artist Jon Ciliberto performed with string instruments. His song offered both calming and exciting rhythms with loud and soft fades. The audience seemed simultaneously engaged and soothed by this piece. Then, in contrast to Jon Ciliberto’s piece, artist Jim O’Donnell presented a somber work about the angered frustrations of an abandoned son who lacks communication with his father. Behind the artist, while he was speaking in prose, a video of a basketball hitting the screen repeatedly played, and the loud sound of a basketball hitting a hard surface resounded throughout the room. O’Donnell recited idiomatic instructions from a father to a son and ended the piece with, “but I don’t say anything.”

The night continued with an absurd piece by the artists referred to as Mommy and Ping Pong performing “Need to Feed Song.” The Mommy wore a bizarre costume of long silver arm attachments, a metallic antennae-like hair piece, and a black eye-mask of make-up. The small child, Ping Pong, wore three, red make-up hearts on his face. The child walked around the gallery while Mommy chased the child, trying to encompass the child in her long arm extensions. “Are you hungry?” Mommy asked Ping-Pong, and after a while the child began to cry. Soon after the point of crying, Mommy left the gallery with her child, all the while still wearing her arm extensions. The piece was received as heart-warming, and the audience laughed both with sympathy for the child and at the absurdity of the Mommy’s costume.

Cecilia Kane returned to the stage with her piece, “Funny My Valentine.” She carried a lumpy looking white bag on stage and unzipped it to reveal the laundry within. The artist began vocally with heart beat noises as she put socks on her feet, then around her neck like bow ties, and on her arms. She proceeded to sweetly sing different words and phrases in conjunction with each other, but not in sentence form. These words came from, “My Funny Valentine,” and she sang the words in alphabetical order. Kane ended by placing tights over her head, raising her arms over and placing the tips of her fingers on her head, making heart beat noises, and pumping her arms like a heart. Her transformation from holding the heart to becoming the heart seemed appropriate for the Valentine’s Day venue.

Agnes Scott Professor of Art and Chair Nell Ruby presented her pieces with artist and former Agnes Scott student , Keichian, entitled, “10, 412 Situps (Wherever You Go Sweet ‘n Low)” and “Fudge Pops (Splenda: It Tastes Like Sugar But It’s Not Sugar). The commercial for Sweet ‘n Low portrayed a woman in a bikini raving about the benefits of her favorite artificial sweetener, and the commercial for Nutrasweet showed a young boy enjoying his favorite artificially-sweetened dessert.  Both pieces featured a video, projected onto a homemade screen, of Nell Ruby and Keichian dancing and standing in front of a commercial. The artists also played kazoo, a children’s piano, and wore ankle bells during their performance. Nell Ruby also used a megaphone to project statements typical of advertising. The audience responded to both pieces with chuckles and laughter, (my favorite moment being when, in the video, Nell Ruby stood in front of the Nutrasweet commercial while eating a Fudge Pop). The piece ended with Nell dancing on stage and Keichian simultaneously playing the kazoo, piano, and ankle bells.

The final piece of the night was performed by some of the Creative Agnes Staff. We used the time for shameless self-promotion and to officially launch our blog. Our piece was short, sweet, and to the point: Creative Agnes will keep you informed and entertained, and you should subscribe to our blog. All in all, it was an entertaining night filled with laughter, nostalgia, and thought. Sweet Sweet Everythings truly brought a diverse artistic approach to a Hallmark holiday.

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