Maelstrom Collaborative Arts had an entire year of programming planned, but when the pandemic hit, they had to reconfigure how to provide performances to its audiences by transforming two of its storefront windows on Detroit Shoreway into performance spaces. Now, executive artistic director Jeremy Paul is continuing that momentum with Activate, weeklong residencies in which artists across multiple disciplines showcase their work through a window. Ahead of its June performances, Paul sheds light on how the program works.
Q. What inspired the Activate residency program?
A. We have these two storefront windows that we have at various times used as stages or display nooks. So it was a pretty easy jump: What if we started doing work inside of those windows, and the audience could be outside, social distancing and wearing masks? The artist could be inside and there would be this protective glass barrier. This was also a way to say we can work with installation artists or other kinds of visual art in one window and then the other window can be our performance window.
Q. How is Activate changing the way we consume art?
A. It’s opening up some opportunities to rethink how people can engage with art on a more regular basis. If you’re going out with friends, you might be able to catch a 10-minute or 15-minute show before you go to dinner. In March, we had a dancer in our performance window, which is really 4-by-6-feet. One of the interesting things about that performance was seeing dance, especially a style of dance that usually takes up a lot of space, confined to this much smaller location.
Q. What can we expect from June residencies?
A. We have poet Brianna Janae from June 9 to June 13 and poet playwright Kevin Latimer from June 16 to June 20. Pittsburgh drag preformer Princess Jafar will be from June 23 to June 27. They’ve worked with us before. In our visual arts window we have artist Deanna Dionne doing a projection mapping installation from June 23 to June 27 while Kaitlin K. Walsh is doing a photography installation from June 16 to June 20. New artist Amanda Miller will have an art installation from June 2 to June 6.