Vital Matters, an Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Change
Vital Matters LLC is a collaborative, interdisciplinary, community- and arts-based laboratory for change, based in Baltimore, MD. Motivated by the climate crisis, and related social and environmental forms of injustice, and grounded in performance and somatic practices, it brings together artists, scientists, educators, small business owners, activists and others to heal, build community, and connect diverse groups of creative problem solvers. Events and artistic productions range from very small, intimate exchanges to large scale performances, and from direct engagement with the challenges of everyday reality, to the collaborative creation of fantastic landscapes of the imagination. It is through these, and other lenses that we can envision and create a better future for all.
Vital Matters began as a workshop performance project with students at Kennesaw State University in 2019 (see project: Vital Matters at KSU). Since returning to Baltimore from Georgia in 2020, the project has grown and transformed from a single artistic project to a multifaceted initiative inclusive of various artistic, educational, and producing activities. Over time, Vital Matters will include:
- Live and Online Events that bring people together through the arts, sciences, literature, social justice, and climate change (see below).
- Artistic Productions and Collaborations with other artists and groups in Baltimore City.
- Collaborative Educational programming focused on an arts and somatics-based, intersectional approach to climate change and social justice. This includes: K-12 residencies, College and University guest lectures and residencies, Workshops offered to adults and families, and online programming.
- The Vital Body: These are group classes and individual sessions in somatic movement education & therapy. They draw on my training and many years' experience as a Certified Movement Analyst, Dynamic Embodiment Practitioner, a Senior Teacher of The Performance Workshop and Rasaboxes, an Ecosomatics practitioner and a student of essential oils and Acupoint therapy with Tiffany Carole. Unlike many somatic practices, The Vital Body is grounded in social and environmental aspects of embodiment, and works with Somatic Abolitionism practices of Resmaa Menakem and others, as well as considering climate change the most global context of the work.
Photos included here are from Vital Matters' first two Baltimore events, in which my role was primarily as a producer/curator/organizer. For both of these events, I reached out to other organizations and individuals to host and help produce.
Winter Seeds: A Climate Change Theatre Action Event
A collaboration between Vital Matters, Single Carrot Theatre, and Submersive Productions
December 11, 2021 at The Voxel, East 25th Street, Baltimore
This event was part of the biannual, international effort, Climate Change Theatre Action (www.http://www.climatechangetheatreaction.com/about/). It featured readings of six plays by playwrights from Kenya, the U.K., New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, presented by Baltimore theatre and puppet artists, with original songs by Jamie Gansell and Deletta Gillespie. In the Lobby of The Voxel, The Ivy Bookshop sold books related to climate change, the environment, sustainability, and social justice. Trustina Sabah sold her handmade gourd art.
Press on Winter Seeds: https://www.broadwayworld.com/baltimore/article/Baltimores-TheatreCommun...
Whose Earth (Day)? A Day of Reckoning, Celebration, and Digging in the Dirt
A collaboration between Vital Matters, The Ivy Bookshop, and Baltimore Beyond Plastic (a youth activist group supported by the Baltimore Office of Sustainability), with production support from Visual and Teaching Artist and Organizer, Maura Dwyer.
April 23, 2022, at The Ivy Bookshop, Falls Road, Baltimore
With Members of Baltimore Beyond Plastic: Antonio Dismel, Harry MacGillis, Yasmine Blanchard
Visual Artist Maura Dwyer, who led the decorating of reusable bags
Sound and Musical Artist: Sanahara Ama Chandra
Spoken Word Artist: Afr0delic
Speakers: Dr. Lawrence Brown, equity scientist and author of The Black Butterfly, and Farmer and Educator, Jordan Bethea
The focal point of this event was a conversation about Harriet Washington's book, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind, with members of Baltimore Beyond Plastic, Racial Equity Scientist and author of The Black Butterfly, Dr. Lawrence Brown, and the audience. Attendees of all ages also decorated reusable shopping bags using stencils and a cyanotype process, led by Maura Dwyer. Tables were set up with information about recent environmental legislation that had and had not passed the session in Maryland, with postcards for folks to write to their representatives in state and local government thanking them for their support of climate and environment bills. Finally, Jordan Bethea helped to launch the Ivy's plans to plant a community garden by instructing people on the collection of soil samples from the property.