• Amenda Tate

Meet the Artists on Facebook Live


Transcript of my Meet the Artist Talk on Facebook Live:

Thank you, Veronica for the introduction and for creating an online opportunity for this event to take place. Thank you to the Iowa Arts Council, Iowa Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts for supporting the Arts in Iowa. The funding needs now are greater than ever, and I believe that the arts will help us emotionally heal from this global crisis in reconnection. 

As this live format is somewhat awkward and impersonal -- it does not permit me to see and read my audience, I will be taking a more formal approach in my presentation today. I do promise that I am charming, funny, and full of laughter in “real life.” I hope to share that with you all in person again soon! 

My name is Amenda Tate, and I am an Interdisciplinary Artist with a background in fine art and metalsmithing. I studied Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University before going on to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver in Colorado. I moved back to Iowa in 2011.

As a jeweler and metalsmith, I can create tangible objects that convey feeling uniquely and specifically in relation to the body and the presence of the body in relationship to others. As my conceptual notions expanded, I began to more deeply consider the role of the body in the process of artistic creation.

My recent work derives from movement. I had an unexpected and personally cathartic moment while attending a ballet performance. I saw dance as something transformative beyond the scope of formulaic choreography or construct. It personifies lines, patterns, rhythms and fluid compositions.  I was determined to push beyond simple sensory investigation into the realm of interactive synergy. My artistic vision led me to create the implements, processes, and parameters necessary to produce work in new ways. I began fusing the elements of dance, electronics, painting, video, play, and performance.

My current focus is the Manibus Project in which dance is translated into painted works of art utilizing a motion-controlled paint-bot that I created for this purpose. In Latin, the word Manibus means “from the hand.” I created my Manibus robotic painting device to act as an extension of my own artistic hand. A dancer wears a motion-sensing remote directing Manibus to render an artistic depiction of elapsed time and motion. Using this new tool, I capture and translate the movement and dynamics of dance into abstract painted works of art.

My works utilize both scientific and aesthetic processes to address topics such as identity, individuality, longevity, and the culture of social interaction in our digital era. 

This is a subject which has experienced a dramatic cultural shift within the course of the last month. Much – if not all of our social interaction is currently facilitated by digital media. While it has in some ways redeemed us in our need for connection and we are grateful, we are simultaneously as individuals recognizing firsthand how this still leaves us longing to be in the physical presence of others.

Though my work utilizes digital or electronic manipulation, the source of creative input is human and the output is analog. The Manibus robot is not intended as an artist replacement, it is intended as an artistic tool, much like a paintbrush or a stencil. It is not automated; it requires human operation and assistance in real time. This work raises questions about authorship, privacy, and the responsible use of technology.  Humans are encouraged to have meaningful face-to-face community interactions. Within the realm of New Media Art, I engage the public in social practice work blurring the separations between everyday life, the creation of art, the digital world, and performance.  

I facilitate the collaborative processes as a director combining the necessary components. Akin to Abstract Expressionism, I allow for spontaneity in the mark, but utilize my own set of constraints to orchestrate order in the process. I determine the scale, width of the brush, the color, the starts and stops, while resigning myself to accept some aspects of the output as they occur. 

At Manibus dance-painting events, I collaborate with public attendees. Individual participants take turns wearing the control device and dancing to make their marks on a collective, layered painting. In the spirit of Happenings, I encourage the contribution of impromptu creative energy within a prescribed structure. Viewers become co-creators and their energies render inherent meaning in the work of art. Together, we practice intentionality as living bodies in motion evidenced by means of mark-making. The process explores the role that participatory culture plays in the construction of identity, shared lived experience, and access to artistic expression and civic engagement.

This time-based process yields an observable abstract representation of what has transpired. It is an opportunity to analyze the fleeting movements of dance. The works take shape as dynamic linear renderings that embody kinetic verve. The emotion of the dance becomes a painted vestige honoring that instance in time. The lingering traces are mapped connections of social interface facilitated by the encounter of art, engineering, and technology.

We know for students, a physically active environment provides opportunity for social and emotional well-being exploring core competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. 

This is not only true for students, but for adults as well. The act of movement grounds us in our body and anchors us in the present. It opens the channels of communication between our logical and emotional brain regions and permits a type of dialogue that transcends spoken or written words. The non-verbal expressions are witnessed by audience members and embodied via kinetic empathy. Dance activates multiple zones within the brain and this theta synchronicity is linked to emotion and memory processes which are central to interpersonal interaction and self-understanding. This is play, yet it reminds us that we are all human and we all want to be seen and acknowledged. We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

My personal mission as an artist is to empower diverse audiences through the creation of exploratory objects, tools, processes, and performative works of Art.  I promote critical thinking and visual literacy by modeling social connection within our digital world-- cultivating the capacity amongst individuals and communities to interpret the world in which we live through richly meaningful expressions and interactions. 

In closing, I am looking forward to a time when we can all celebrate humanity face to face again.

I’d like to give a quick shout out to the people who’ve contributed to documenting my work in the form of video clips or photos: Iowa Artist Fellow, Jack Meggers, Bruce Bales, Loren Eckhart, and Brianne Lewin.

Thank you.

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© 2020 by Amenda Tate, LLC

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