First 14 Pews artist-in-resident Emily Sloan plans free marriage service amongsummer events
The nascent microcinema 14 Pews made its mark on the New Year with a performance artwork by Emily Sloan. Entitled "Funeral for the Living," the piece included visitation and eulogy writing services and an open service in which participants read eulogies, notes, confessions, resolutions and sang songs. In addition, participants were invited to contribute items to be burned in a funeral pyre. To enhance the community appeal, attendees brought their favorite funeral foods for a potluck, which followed the service.
Now, Sloan has been honored as the first artist-in-residency at 14 Pews.
"When I first founded the organization, I wasn't thinking so much about a performance arena, but I found that it really honors the space," says 14 Pews founder and director Cressandra Thibodeaux of the converted church, originally home of the Aurora Picture Show.
During "Funeral for the Living," participants enjoyed a New Orleans-style jazz band and rejoiced over a collective fire in the backyard.
"The space was so engaged," recalls Thibodeaux, who had previously envisioned the venue as an arena for theater. "I stood back and thought, 'Wow, this is such a great performance art space.'"
"14 Pews, being a church building, was a fit for the funeral, as it will be elemental to whatever else I do there," Sloan told CultureMap in an e-mail.
"I think she's just a great performance artist," Thibodeaux says. Sloan's position will allow her access to the site for curatorial needs, recording equipment, as well as the ability to host a potential fundraiser. "It's more of a platform," explains the director.
Along with hosting a second "Funeral Party for the Living" on Jan. 1, 2012, Sloan has devised two events for this summer: On June 12, 14 Pews will host The Southern Naptist Convention (in reaction to the June 12-15 Southern Baptist Convention). "I'm getting several artists to collaborate," Sloan says, dropping names of Houston performers, including a professional whistler. After the performances, the group will nap in union inside 14 Pews.
One week later, on June 18, she plans to conduct a "Free Marriage Service."
"All day we're going to be performing weddings. I'm ordained, and it's a free church and free party," Sloan says. "Part of it will be like a workshop with the of writing of vows, discussing commitment and redefining contracts."
A graduate of the MFA program at University of Houston, Sloan has emerged as a leader in the contemporary art scene with such projects as Gallery 1724, Napping Affects Performance and The Kenmore, an exhibition forum located within a mini-fridge at BOX 13 Artspace.
Also on tap this year at 14 Pews: a production of Tony n' Tina's Wedding, conducted with puppets. "I just ordered the lyrics," Thibodeaux shared, adding that she's beginning the search for qualified puppeteers.