26 May Beth Krensky – Social Distancing and Art, Episode 3
Dispatch from Solitude #1: Walking the Unknown Path
Beth Krensky Performance
On June 5th, OCA revealed the third episode of Social Distancing and Art with an impactful performance art piece by Beth Krensky. Dispatch from Solitude #1: Walking the Unknown Path portrays a literal and metaphorical migration through fear, desolation, even death – and the transformative arrival that inevitably follows through strength and courage.
“In this performance, I walk on a pilgrimage toward myself, my memories of those who have loved me into existence, nature, and an “other” place,” states Krensky. “The walk creates and holds space for my fear, courage, isolation, refuge, gratitude and mortality.”
Krensky’s layered performance piece took place in Emigration Canyon, a symbolic setting that has historically witnessed migrations of the Ute People and Mormon Pioneers. Krensky walked through the canyon garbed in protective gear typical for front-line workers during the COVID-19 era – a mask and Tyvek suit. “The whole point is to juxtapose the stark reality of people on the front lines and this pristine beauty of the canyon,” says Krensky, who also wore one of her own found object sculptures, a wooden chair with the 23rdPsalm burned into its seat, strapped to her back as she walks. “One can walk through and out of Emigration Canyon,” she says. “This is symbolic for the performance because I am not only walking through Emigration Canyon but also through the Valley of Death referenced in the 23rd Psalm. My hope is that I, and others, will get to walk through this valley of death and out the other side.”
Krensky relates these feelings to our current societal landscape, where death and fear are ever present due to the global pandemic. “I do think we are walking through this valley right now and we don’t know our way, which is quite frightening,” she says. “Death is in our national psyche and all around us is fear. But as we continue to walk we think beyond that about what’s up ahead – and take comfort in a way that is hopeful yet contemplative.”
With this sentiment, Krensky will close her walk with a moment of gratitude as she reads several “love letters” to the world. The letters are not romantic, however, but are more about the idea of what needs to be said before one goes. “This pandemic has brought the possibility of death to the forefront for many of us. These uncertain times have given me cause to think about what must not be left unsaid.”
Krensky is a multi-disciplinary artist who is conceptually driven. Trained as a sculptor, she began her performance work in the 90s while obtaining her graduate degree in critical pedagogy and art education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She also has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is currently a professor of art education and the Area Head of Art Teaching at the University of Utah. Her performance work and her education philosophies are meant to “provoke reflection about what is happening in our world as well as to create a vision of what is possible.”
This pre-recorded, virtual performance was shown online through OCA’s social media channels on Friday, June 5.