Earlier this month, I made a quick trip back to Montana to participate in a collaborative art project. My hometown of Billings is a place I’ve had trouble reconciling over the years. As an adult, I didn’t believe I belonged there. After five years in larger cities, the homogenous feel of the town was a bit smothering — I didn’t wear the right clothes or listen to the right music or think the right things. And yet, I want to want to be there. It is where my roots are, the last of my family, the vistas I know by heart.
I’ve spent more than a quarter of 2014 in Montana and it’s almost as if I can’t escape.
There are people making a difference.
People using art to start a conversation. Some of these people were my friends. Now almost all of them are my friends. Asked to join in the concept of “Tug of War: Where Conflict Resides,” I sent a batch of appropriate work. Directors Krista and Mike (who developed the idea), selected “The Great Divide” and “From the Kitchen of Helena Wilson” as components for the show. Around there were moments of dance, poetry, visual art, metaphor, audience inclusion, heat, light, breath, and the magic that comes from being a part of something truly unique.
I sat talking to some of the younger dancers before the show. They weren’t sure what some of the pieces meant, how they related to a tug of war. Some of their confusion, I said, was because they still had so much life to live before they could feel love and loss the way those of us in our 30s do. I hope someday they’ll look back and realize how lucky they were to touch so many creative minds at once, supported by a subset of a community that loved us back. I know I’ll carry this tiny hope, this flame of gratitude with me for the rest of my life. xo
Please check out just a few of the artists I was privileged to work with: