Caught up… (Work in Progress)

2024


Caught up… started as a revival or continuation of my questions about home.

My connection to home centers on a place where I didn’t grow up but where my roots run deep—Louisiana’s coastal regions. If you drew a line along the coast of Louisiana from my house to where my mom grew up, that would be the sort of magnetic field that always draws me back there. From the prairie to the bluffs to the River to the wetlands to the bayou and finally landing at the island—Grand Isle. At various points throughout the year, our family would migrate along the coast to visit relatives, sampling bits of French and Cajun heritage, bits of familial belonging. But then we would retreat back to Lake Charles, and all those stories, those accents, spices and delicacies would fade away. Mom, dad, brother, sister, our nuclear family would go on living in something of a silo, like every other “American” family.

My mother’s upbringing on Bayou Lafourche, despite its challenges, instilled in me a profound curiosity about this watery environment. Seeking to understand this connection, I embarked on a journey, running from the Mississippi River’s headwaters to its Louisiana mouth asking all the way, “what is home?”. 

Despite my pilgrimage, questions about home persisted. I turned to family members, delving into their stories and uncovering a rich tapestry of personal and socio-political narratives. Exploring my family’s legacy in Louisiana’s coastal communities revealed complex feelings, particularly regarding environmental justice and adaptation to industrialization. Listening became central to my artistic process, capturing voices and stories that resonate with Louisiana’s way of life. Inspired by my aunt’s tale of my grandfather weaving nets with his toe, I embraced net-making as a metaphor for catching people in dialogue about Louisiana’s culture and challenges.

As a choreographer and performer, I see this practice of listening as leading to a choreography of voices and this practice of net-making as an on-going durational performance that involves counting, handwork, postures, rhythms, and gestures of tying knots and weaving. This project provides me the chance to explore new materials and methodologies while staying true to my core technique. Also, as a collaborative artist, I am able to invite others into this work and expand its possibilities. Working with others not only broadens the scope of the project, but it broadens my vision. Listening is just as important in the process of artmaking as it is in the research.

As lead artist on this project, I find it very personal but also very political for me. The project has become much bigger than my original questions about home, but it still feels connected there. In fact, I think it is having the personal stories woven in with larger concerns that will bring our audience out of their entrenched positions and into a space where they can perhaps imagine a future for Louisiana together.