Down a residential alley off Warsaw St. in Georgetown, you’ll find a common backyard shed once utilized by a local metal worker. In it, he crafted ornate treasures, like an iron door with a scene of spiraling birds and plants, which leads from the backyard to the front, and a little metal crown that still hangs from the fence post. According to local lore, he was also known for brewing moonshine in the shed which neighbors and friends may or may not have come to enjoy with him every now and again.
When Christin Call, local assemblage artist and co-artistic director of Coriolis dance, moved into the accompanying house on the property, she was committed to upholding the spirit of the space as one for creative experimentation and felt inspired by the DIY mentality of the Georgetown art community.
“I wanted to have artists in my backyard,” Call tells me, and so she began accepting applications from local artists for residencies in the space and The Shed was born.
The Shed encourages blurring the lines between artistic mediums and makes space for artists with complex processes. The interior of the space is sparse and dark, with wood panelled walls, cross beams over head and a concrete floor. There’s nothing fancy about it, which is exactly what gives it its charm and opens up possibilities for a messier art making process that wouldn’t be possible in a white walled studio space.
Arriving at The Shed feels like you’ve been invited to a private party, where all of the guests just happen to be talented and interesting artists. The casualness lends itself to deeper conversations around artistic process. Attendees have the chance to mingle with the art makers and learn more about the inspiration behind the work before the performance begins.
Ana Puzycki and Ryan Hatfield, creating multi-media art as part of the Tuya Vale Collective, are the most recent awardees of an artistic residency at The Shed. The time and space allowed them to create an installation and performance piece titled Malakinsi, a Greek word that describes the feeling one gets when they’re so tired that they begin to feel loopy.
Hatfield is a visual artist who focuses on installation and painting. For Malakinsi he crafted a playground like structure with wood, colored plexiglass, mirrors and a long, white, cylindrical hanging sheet. Images of hands, arms, feet and legs were projected from different angles onto the surfaces. The strategic use of mirrors both within the structure and on the walls of the shed itself created infinite perspectives from which to view the installation.
During the 30 minute performance, Puzycki entered into the interior of Hatfield’s installation, interacting curiously with the elements of the structure. Her movement vacillated between sharp and smooth, quick and slow but there was a clear focus on limbs. Gestures often initiated from the fingers or toes, spreading out and filling up the crevices of the structure as if seeking something that might’ve been hidden or lost.
Puzycki is a dancer and holds degrees in both dance and psychology. It’s clear that these two areas of interest have overlapped in her creative process. For her, the residency was a chance to work with the idea of grief as a tangible object and to explore her interior space through interactions with the environment. During the performance this manifested as disorientation and fragmentation and the separation of the body into parts.
Audience members circled the periphery of the installation with the option of moving to watch from different sides. Each perspective both revealed new details of Puzycki’s body, and concealed others. At no angle was Puzycki completely unobstructed from view, forcing the focus to those parts which remained visible.
There was a certain magic to witnessing Malakinsi, both because of the nature of the work itself and the energy of The Shed. It’s not often that we get to witness performance in such an intimate setting, nor to have the chance to talk so openly with artists about their work. One gets the feeling that they’ve had the opportunity to observe the precious infancy of a new creative endeavor, which can be just as exciting (if not more) as the polished and perfected version. The Shed promises that artists of all kinds will find creative community and inspiration through this new space.
Follow The Shed on Facebook at @theshedseattle. If you’re interested in applying for a creative residency at the Shed, contact Christin Call at firstname.lastname@example.org.