For a project that centers around grief, it's coincidentally a fitting time of year for Andrea Moore to begin her work in PlatteForum's artist residency. An artistic jack-of-all-trades, the writer, photographer and performer moved into PlatteForum yesterday to begin her six-week residency there, during which she'll be putting together a multi-genre performance art piece that will involve poetry, interactive visual art and possibly a Greek Chorus.
"Four years ago this week," she says, "my father passed away from pancreatic cancer. So just the experience that I had and that my family had going through the process of watching him get sick and then eventually dying, that's a process I want to explore. But I also want to do some work around how people experience grief, and how we look at grief in this culture versus how people experience it in other cultures."
For example, Moore spent time last year in Uganda, taking portraits of children who had been orphaned by AIDS (see left). "In this culture," she muses, "there's a really strong expectation of what that would look like -- in my experience, it didn't look like that."
Like all residencies at PlatteForum, Moore's will have two components: She gets time to work on her own project, but meanwhile incorporates an aspect of that project into mentoring at-risk youth, in this case, about a dozen kids from the Joan Farley Academy and the Third Way Center, both group homes for teens who have been in foster care situations for most of their lives.
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"I'm going to be walking them thorough the process of how to write, memorize and perform their own slam poetry," says Moore, adding, "That's ideally. You know, I'm sensitive to the reality that there might be some kids who are not very outgoing or would not want to get in front of a group."
Meanwhile, Moore's own project is more a general idea than a plan at this point -- what she does know, though, is that she wants to think big. "I've never gotten to work in a big space before, and I've never got to work with help before," she says. "You know, there's all these people who are like, whatever we can do to help. So I'm doing a lot of storyboarding, with big visuals on the walls and stuff -- kind of like a cheesy cop movie, writing things on the walls and figuring out how they fit together."
Whatever it shapes up to be, Moore and the group of kids she's working with will perform the show in the evenings of Thursday, March 3, and Friday, March 4, though the locations and times aren't exact yet. And even though the topic is grief, Moore says it's not going to be a sad show.
"I'm not really interested in writing a sad show," she says. "For me, humor is one of the things that's really helped, and made it easier to bear and to be connected. I really don't want people just weeping for the entire thing."