- Gayle Laird
A few years ago, on a very cold New England Sunday, my grandmother and I ventured out to a local theater to see a performance by an artist. That was all I really knew. What unfolded on the stage was part animation, part performance, and all magic by the artist Miwa Matreyek.
Matreyek creates animated pieces that she projects on stage and performs within, actually climbing behind the screens and interacting with her animations. The visual performances land somewhere between dance and puppetry—a new form of movement unfolding alongside a new form of animation. The form of the performance itself will delight you, and then the content will move you. Matreyek's work takes the viewer on a journey of dreamscapes. Using visuals for language, she layers hundreds upon hundreds of images and small animations together to explore time, the natural world and mythology.
For the last nine years, Matreyek has toured the world, and will soon bring her amazing work to Bend for the Bend Design Conference. Not only is her animation and storytelling insightful, beautiful and transcendent, but she's also utilizing technology and media in a new and exciting way that opens up the possibilities for our tech-driven world.
Matreyek studied integrated media at the California Institute of the Arts, where she was able to explore mediums beyond her own, building collaborations with a theater group and taking classes outside of animation that opened her eyes to how to "break out of the screen."
"I'm interested in the empathetical bridge of the audience and the generosity of us both being present, which I am consciously bringing into it," Matreyek explains. She sees her own body in the piece as a vessel for the audience to see themselves through. "As a shadow, the audience sees one recognizable as a human and as a woman—but there are a lot of details taken away, so I like to imagine that my shadow becomes a vessel and people can take people on a journey."
My experience with the work left me inspired in a way that had felt lost in recent years, the way great art does. It allows you to see the world in a whole new way—a way that wakes you up to its possibilities and wonder.