104 Work Weeks: On Tour With The Merce Cunningham Dance Company

This series of drawings and paintings documents the dancers of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on their final two year world tour.

After fifty-eight years of artistic achievement, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company disbanded on New Year’s Day of 2012. Through years of collaboration with artists like Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, David Tudor, and many more, their work forever changed how we see and define art in the twentieth and twenty-first century. In January of 2010, I joined the Legacy Tour which showcased eighteen works in fifty cities around the world featuring the last group of dancers personally trained by Merce Cunningham.

While traveling with the company, I observed and took hundreds of snapshots of the dancers for reference material. My focus is not what happens on stage during performances but the dancer’s way of life. These pieces capture quiet and private moments, loud parties, the rigors of traveling, celebratory dinners, exhaustion, and many rituals. The paintings consist of acrylic and oil, layered on collages of found paper and printed mementos collected from our stops around the world. All these scenes express the essence and complexity of the dancers personalities and underlines their drive to contribute and be a part of something that is bigger than themselves.

The dancers‘ story is one of courage, physical sacrifice and commitment; it encompasses a wide range of emotion. Under the patina of grace and glamour, there lies a working-class ethic. In a world that seems to glorify hyper-individualism and social dysfunction, this group of people worked together everyday on and off stage. I hope that my work captures some of this ethos and stimulates a personal experience for viewers.