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Press Release: Essential Voyage 2015

Local Sculptor Valerie Gilman and dancer Margaret Bowrys are collaborating to create a site specific
temporary sculpture as a public performace.
Essential Voyage will be a site specific installed sculpture of a figure interacting with its environment on
the North Commons in Amherst. The opening reception will be October 1 from 5-8 during the Amherst
First Thursday Art Walk. Additionally certain parts of the creation of the work will be open to the public
earlier in the two weeks.
This work is a raw exploration of human interaction with land, nature and our animal selves. It is also an
interactive exploration of the creative process, in an attempt to demystify and desegregate the arts.
Dialogue with the audience is encouraged.
The event begins Monday, September 14 at 12-2pm and Tuesday, September15 from 9-11am with an
improvisational dance in which the dancer Margaret Bowrys will explore the location around the base of
the large tree with the seating frame, one of two such trees on the north commons. During this
performance the pose is chosen by Gilman and Bowrys and developed with three major considerations,
practicality (structural engineering and low impact on the site), visual design and conceptual interest.
While this is open to the public, and will be an exciting time for members of the community to see the raw
work of creative process in action, it is not widely advertized. Press is welcome.
The second day of on-site work will be Monday, September 21 from 9-2 pm. The armature, or welded
steel skeleton-like structure, will be installed first. Gilman will then build up the figure with wire mesh,
hemp fiber and raw clay to complete the sculpture.
This is a rare opportunity for members of the community to witness the creation of a sculpture. The press
is welcome and there will be a brief question and answer period at noon and again at 2 pm. During the
construction phase, community members will be encouraged to visit and will be exposed to both the
rawness of the creative process, and how ideas are developed, and also the practical construction
techniques of building a life-size sculpture.
The piece, being made of raw clay, will have a short life cycle, reflecting our own short life cycle. As it
begins to disintegrate in the weather over the course of 2 months, we will document the changes and
keep a photo record of the progress available on site as well as on the Taproot Arts and Insight face book
page and a running blog at At the end of two months, or earlier if necessary,
the piece will be dismantled and removed from the site.
The resulting piece will inspire dialogue and reflection about the human narrative in relation to our
environment and the vitality and fragility of life. It is intended to speak to students and local citizens who
are concerned about ecology and the human participation in the changing environment, as well as
anyone interested in witnessing a transparent creative process.
Valerie Gilman earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997. She has more
than 10 years of college teaching experience in sculpture, and ceramics and has an extensive show
record, as noted in the attached resume. This project is a further development of the collaborative work
that she did with the dancer Doug Lodge in fall of 2012 and winter of 2013 as seen in the supporting
Margaret Bowrys is a teacher of childrens dance, expressive movement and creative yoga. She is a
facilitator for Authentic Movement integrating mindful movement and compassionate healing practices. A
performing activist, she is a touring member and choreographer with the Survivor Theater
Project. Margaret was a member of the Dance Generators dance theater company. Margaret is currently
performing with choreographer Fritha Pengelly in New Work and Michelle Marroquin's Day of the
Dead. Margaret presents place-based dance as a member of Movement Arts Ensemble. She brings

dance into interdisciplinary collaborations with other local teaching artists including, project Motion with
abstract landscape painter, Marlene Rye. Margaret is a Laurel Park Arts board member and American
Poodles At Work ambassador.
Gilman and Bowrys danced together as part of MAE in a performance called Stone Songs, staged at
Laurel Park in 2014.
Essential Voyage is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst Cultural Council. The Amherst Public
Arts Commission and the Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee have been very helpful.

Valerie Gilman
(413)253- 0171

Essential Voyage
Previous works by Valerie Gilman and
some images of Margaret Bowrys
Images of Essential Voyage will be
available after Sept 21

Margaret Bowrys on site in North

Commons Amherst
Photo by Valerie Gilman

Margaret Bowrys in previous work.

Photo by Peter Raper

Backing In,10 x 12x 4, wall, floor, wet clay, chicken wire, wood, 2012

Backing In, detail, 10 x 12x 4, wall, floor, wet

clay, chicken wire, wood, 2012

Portrait of Doug, 18 x 12 x 10,

earthenware, 2012

Engaged Transit, wet clay, chicken

wire wood, 2/20012

Detail, Engaged Transit