Artist Talk
Trina Michelle Robinson, Marjani Forté-Saunders, and amara tabor-smith in Conversation
In-person at MoAD
Nov 2, 2022
4:30 am
6:00 am
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MoAD and ODC Theater invite you to an artist talk with MoAD Emerging Artist Program awardee Trina Michelle Robinson, choreographer and performer Marjani Forté-Saunders, moderated by artist amara tabor-smith. Working across mediums, each artist will discuss the roles of lineage, Black migration, and futuring in their work and creative visions. The conversation will also be accompanied by a short excerpt from Memoirs of a… Unicorn, performed by Marjani Forté-Saunders.

This program is presented in conjunction with Marjani Forté-Saunders’ performance Memoirs of a...Unicorn, on view at ODC Theater November 4-6.

Memoirs of a...Unicorn weaves performance, sound, and media to ritualistically remember, interrogate, and relish in the "Unicorns" of the artist's life. Occupying roles like Father, Husband, Brother, Son, Uncle, Cousin, Homie, Pahtna, and Fam, these powerful figures merge with images of the magical creature that is full of mercurial passion, timelessness, and fortitude. Unicorn was spurred by stories from Marjani Forté-Saunders’ father’s life and came from an urgent need to thicken the common and seemingly inhumane narratives of Black People. These narratives were intersectional for the artist as the mother of a son, so Memoirs of a… Unicorn unveils the celestial ecliptic journeys of folks identifying with—and building legacies within—the spectrums of blackness, maleness, and womb-ness. It is a two-time NY Dance & Performance/Bessie Award-winning project and recently had its international debut in Brussels, Belgium (Bersschouwberg, 2019).

Use the code MoADMemoirs for a 15% discount on General Admission tickets to see Memoirs of a...Unicorn at ODC Theater. Purchase tickets to the dance performance on ODC's website.

About the Artists

Trina Michelle Robinson explores the relationship between memory and migration through film, print media and archival materials. She wants to get to the root of lost memories, especially in relation to migration, whether the move forced or initiated by a search for new opportunities, we all have a migration story in our bloodlines. She studies the fragments of memory and repurposes them. The lives of her ancestors are the catalyst behind her artwork and their stories are woven into every detail. Why did they leave? What were they hoping to find? What remains? She wants to explore every fracture, fold and glitch to release the trauma that lives inside. Her work has been shown at galleries and film festivals throughout the country including including the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia, the San Francisco Art Commission Main Gallery, Southern Exposure and Root Division in San Francisco, and New York’s Wassaic Project. She has told the story of exploring her ancestry with The Moth Mainstage on stages throughout the country including New York’s Lincoln Center and NPR’s Moth Radio Hour. She previously worked in print and digital media in production and as a managing editor at publications and companies such as The New York Times T Magazine, Vanity Fair, California Sunday Magazine and Slack and received her M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in 2022 where she was also awarded the 2020 Yozo Hamaguchi Award. Later this year her work will be included in the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington’s Biennial (formerly the Arlington Arts Center) Assembly 2022: Time and Attention.

Choreographer and performer, Marjani Forté-Saunders is a recent awardee of the prestigious Dance Magazine Harkness Award (2020) and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Fellowship. She is a founding member of the collective 7NMS, alongside composer and husband Everett Saunders. 7NMS are recipients of the 2021 National Dance Project Award for Prophet, premiering Oct 2022. Saunders is an anti-racist organizer with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and a lead facilitator with UBW’s Builders Organizers and Leaders through Dance. Humbly, Saunders defines her work by its lineage, stemming from culturally rich, vibrant, historic, loving, irreverent conjurers!

amara tabor-smith (She/her) is an Oakland, CA based choreographer/performance maker and the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater. She describes her work as Conjure Art. She makes interdisciplinary site-specific and community responsive performance works utilizing Yoruba Lukumí spiritual technologies to address issues of social and environmental justice, race, gender identity, and belonging. She creates ritual experiences where audience and performers converge in mutual vulnerability and transformation. Her work is rooted in black, queer, womanist principles, that insist on liberation, joy and well-being. amara has performed in the works of Ed Mock, Joanna Haigood, Anna Deveare Smith, Ronald K. Brown, Julie Tolentino, Adia Tamar Whitaker, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Faustin Linyekula, and is the former associate artistic director and company member with Urban Bush Women. She is a 2020 recipient of the Hewlett 50 grant with East Side Arts Alliance; a 2019 Dance/USA Fellow, 2018 United States Artist Fellow and a 2018 recipient of KQED’s “Bay Brilliant” award. Her current work, House/Full of Blackwomen in collaboration with director Ellen Sebastian Chang  is a site-specific ritual performance project addressing the displacement, well-being and sex trafficking of black women and girls in Oakland. amara received her MFA in Dance from Hollins University and is an artist in residence at Stanford University.

This program is presented in partnership with ODC Theater.

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