WOW | In Focus
RYAN ELISABETH REID
Ryan is a multi-disciplinary artist from the United States. She is a graduate of BA/BFA program at Eugene Lang College and Parsons School of Design. AAMAA is a dance performance created collaboratively with a multi-generational ensemble of Nepali women and girls from different backgrounds, decades, and dance origins. The performance is supported by Ryan’s Fulbright Creative Arts grant and will be presented at the Taragaon Museum Amphitheater on March 28. Excerpts of a conversation with the creator of Aamaa:
What encouraged you to create Aamaa?
I initially had a different idea for my Fulbright project, but when I arrived in Nepal I quickly discovered that I wanted to collaborate with women and girls, and through that collaboration support their work and artistry. Throughout my artistic career I have worked with elders, featuring them in all my biggest projects. In the past few years, I have begun expanding that and creating work with multi-generational ensembles. This has continued here as the ensemble for AAMAA features Nepali women and girls from every decade of life.
What makes you an artist?
Becoming an artist was not easy for me. I think deciding to be an artist is a political and social statement – a form of rebellion from what is typical. It is also difficult to survive financially and not compromise what you make.
When I was young I wanted to be an astronaut. Eventually though, I started to realise my love of art. That led to me deciding to study it after one year in college. After graduating, I was so connected to the process of creating that I felt (and still feel) that art is how I survive: emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually. It is a part of every moment I live. I never stop thinking about it, really.
Why a women and a female driven project?
I think I was encouraged to make this work because of the importance I place on my relationship with my own mother, sister and grandmothers. The women in my life are very important to me. I also think that something special, unique and important can be created when women come together – whether that’s to support each other, figure out how to live life together, or make artwork together.
What made you work with different generations of Nepalese women especially the oldest?
When I met our eldest dancer, Honey Shrestha, I was blown away. She is so beautiful, so wise. I wanted to work with someone with that complexity and wisdom and understanding of the world.
Working with different generations helps to tell the story of the life cycle. And the collaborations can be so interesting. What happens when an eight year old and a 38 year old dance together? And what does it mean when an elder dances across the stage alone? For me, the possibilities for beauty and universality were limitless when working with women of different ages.
Words for women to heed
– Be exactly yourself.
– Dance a lot.
– Explore and understand the world.
– Befriend women from different generations.
– Rest when you need rest and work hard when it’s time to work hard.
– Trust your intuition.
To learn more about Ryan’s work, visit www.ryanelisabethreid.com.