Dallas’ Design Society and PechaKucha present evening of art, architecture, poetry and music.

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Into the Wild is a month-long investigative blog series that explores an array of events hosted by The Wild Detectives, a café/ bookstore that brings the Dallas community together through interesting events hosted in a welcoming atmosphere.

 

Audience members chat and cool themselves with complimentary fans as they wait for Design Society's PechaKucha Night to begin. (Photo by Sara Magalio)
Audience members chat and cool themselves with complimentary fans as they wait for Design Society’s PechaKucha Night at The Wild Detectives to begin. (Photo by Sara Magalio)

The outdoor performance space of The Wild Detectives café was filled with people chatting enthusiastically and waving complimentary white paper fans Thursday evening, as they waited for the start of “Origin” a presentation put on by Design Society, an affiliate of The Dallas Architecture Forum. The Design Society partnered with PechaKucha, an international presentation network that uses “20×20,” a presentation format where 20 images are each shown for 20 seconds, and the images advance automatically while presenters talk along to the images.

PechaKucha Night is a form of presentation that is now in over 1,000 cities. It began in Tokyo in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture as a way for young designers to network and share their work in a public setting. Every PechaKucha Night city is hosted by a local organizer, which ensures that each PechaKucha Night is relevant to that city.

This PechaKucha was the inaugural event for the Design Society, a group that “provides a platform for empowering interdisciplinary discourse in the design community” according to their Facebook page. The Design Society decided to choose the theme of “origin,” since this event marked the beginning of public events for the group. Design Society members meticulously curated a group of artists from a variety of backgrounds, including studio artists, designers, architects and musicians, to speak on the idea of origins, in whatever capacity that topic meant to them. The presenters were allowed to ask questions, but a Design Society representative noted that not one presenter asked a question before the event. They all just went for it.

One of the first presenters was Evelyn Henshaw, a project manager at STASH Design, a sustainable, commercial design firm in Dallas that is dedicated to utilizing salvaged objects to create spaces for businesses. Henshaw interpreted the event theme as “the origin of learning from our ancestors, people before us.” Henshaw revealed that she gained many of her carpentry and construction skills from her father and grandfather and showed signs of creativity and innovation as a child, constructing a skateboard ramp from cabinetry and a chicken coop from an old play set.

Evelyn Henshaw presents at the Design Society's PechaKucha Night host by The Wild Detectives. (Photo by Sara Magalio)
Evelyn Henshaw presents at the Design Society’s PechaKucha Night hosted by The Wild Detectives. (Photo by Sara Magalio)

Henshaw later translated her ability to create new constructions from recycled materials to her professional life, both in working with STASH Design and in helping to build churches and buildings from recycled materials for communities in need in Peru and Uganda. Whether she is experimenting at home, working for STASH, or volunteering abroad, Henshaw noted that for her, the action of taking something old and repurposing it into a new useful object or building allows her to stay inspired and “keep her creative juices flowing,” while also staying connected to her origins by using the skills she gained from her father and grandfather.

Another presenter, Lisa Huffaker, has trained as a singer, musician, poet and visual artist and integrated all of these mediums into her presentation. As a visual artist, Huffaker’s work has been featured in D Magazine and the Dallas Morning News, and she has appeared as a visiting artist for the Dallas Museum of Art. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals, including Southwest Review and Poet Lore. Huffaker also sings with The Dallas Opera and teaches creative writing in museums, youth shelters and libraries.

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Lisa Huffaker: Poet, musician, visual artist, and “Origin” presenter! Lisa’s prize-winning poems have been published in many publications including Southwest Review and Poet Lore, among others. Her latest project, White Rock Zine Machine, in which she transforms retired vending machines into whimsical sculptures offering tiny books by Dallas writers and artists, has been celebrated in local magazines, and awarded grants by the Dallas Office of Cultural affairs. In addition to being a classical singer by training, she also served at the Dallas Museum of Art as a visiting artist last summer. We can’t wait to hear experience her presentation during origin powered by Pacha Kucha at @thewilddetectives this Thursday, June 14! #dallasarchitectureforum #pechakucha

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Speaking with Huffaker before the event, she hinted at the unconventional nature of her presentation. “They encouraged us to be as creative as possible with our presentations and that’s what I set out to do,” Huffaker said.

Huffaker noted how the idea of design can bridge the gap across multiple art disciplines, and she was enthusiastic about presenting under the topic of design, because it allowed her to utilize her various talents in her presentation on our origins. “The idea of design is important in many disciplines and art forms, including studio art, architecture and poetry,” Huffaker said.

Lisa Huffaker playing the flute during Design Society's PechaKucha night hosted by The Wild Detectives. (Photo by Sara Magalio)
Lisa Huffaker playing the flute during Design Society’s PechaKucha night hosted by The Wild Detectives. (Photo by Sara Magalio)

Huffaker demonstrated this ability to mix media to create design with her abstract presentation. Instead of simply describing photos that relate to her career, as the other presenters chose to do, Huffaker instead created 20 original illustrations. As these compositions changed on the screen, Huffaker recited lines of poetry reflecting on the origins of the universe and one’s life journey. After each line, Huffaker played a series of notes on her flute, allowing the audience to contemplate her words before hearing the next line of her poetry.

Some of Huffaker’s striking lines include, “All I know is I’m in the middle of something which is nothing,” and “What will it have meant this walk across the stage, this little feat of having lived a life.”

Audience member Tim Cloward attended the event to support wife Lisa Huffaker, but he was also interested in seeing the PechaKucha form of presentation for the first time. Cloward noted how an event like this showcases “how different organizations could come together to express a common idea of beauty.” Cloward also remarked on the fact that “these presenters have to be very disciplined to get their ideas across in such a short amount of time,” but that the short presentations also “allow for a variety of interesting presenters.”

By the evening’s conclusion, viewers were indeed introduced to a variety of interpretations on origins in design, from a young aspiring designer learning carpentry from her grandfather, to architects discussing the process of translating a line drawing into reality, to a poet sharing lines on their interpretations on the origins of life itself.

Infographic showing data points on PechaKucha. (Graphic by Sara Magalio)
Infographic showing data points on PechaKucha. (Graphic by Sara Magalio)

North Texas poets debut new work at The Wild Detectives bookstore.

Into the Wild logoInto the Wild is a month-long investigative blog series that explores an array of events hosted by The Wild Detectives, a café/ bookstore that brings the Dallas community together through interesting events hosted in a welcoming atmosphere.

 

 

The atmosphere was buzzing at The Wild Detectives this Wednesday evening as the anticipation mounted for the next installment of their poetry reading series “inner moonlight.” Groups of people milled about the crowded coffee shop, chatting with the friends that they came with and meeting new ones. They were all here for the poetry reading to be performed by Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi and courtney marie, who prefers that her name be printed in lowercase. These two North Texas poets are on the verge of releasing a new dual-chapbook “Moon Woman / don’t get your hopes up.”

Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi is the founder of Dark Moon Poetry & Arts, which is a monthly series that spotlights “the creative feminine and non-binary powers of North Texas,” according to their website. She has also been featured in D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, and the Dallas Morning News. courtney marie is a poet out of Denton who is also the co-founder and primary organizer of the literary and art collective Spiderweb Salon, which was named Best Literary Arts Group in 2016 by the Dallas Observer.

courtney marie reads her poetry at The Wild Detectives.
courtney marie reads her poetry at The Wild Detectives. (Photo by Sara Magalio)

Some people in the audience were quite familiar with the poets, including Joel Constantine, who has known Hirsi for years. Constantine was excited to hear Hirsi’s new work, which he described to me as “personal, women-inspired and freeform.” Constantine has watched Hirsi’s progression as an artist from their “hippie drum circle days” to her present success as a published poet, and was enthusiastic about this next stage in her career.

Other audience members, however, had never heard of either of the poets, but the reputation of interesting events put on by The Wild Detectives attracted them to the event. One such audience member was Mari Ramirez, a recent graduate at UT Arlington who enjoys the “homey and friendly” atmosphere that The Wild Detectives café provides. While she was not familiar with the work of these two poets before this performance, she explained that for her, “Live performance is always a great way to dive in and get familiar with an artist’s work.”

As the emcee for the night approached the mic to introduce the poets, the audience’s enthusiastic chatter immediately subsided, but the energy of the performance to come remained palpable in the room.

Hirsi began the night with powerful declarative statements on life and living it as a woman, eliciting frequent verbal affirmation from the audience with her powerful messages. Her use of direct eye contact and inflection in her voice added a theatrical quality to her demonstrative statements. Hirsi touched on a number of current social and political issues. Some lines from her poetry include, “The paradox of pro-life refuses to accept that black lives matter,” and “My body is a used refrigerator waiting for death outside of a dumpster.”

 

“Reading the news and seeing posts from friends helps us forget what it means to trust. How many people who ignore our words don’t believe us human.” – Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi

 

The pieces of paper that courtney marie read from during the poetry reading at The Wild Detectives. (Photo by Sara Magalio)
The pieces of paper that courtney marie read from during the poetry reading at The Wild Detectives. (Photo by Sara Magalio)

courtney marie contrasted Hirsi’s more severe approach by taking a lighter and more whimsical method to reading her poetry. After beginning her turn with a brief anecdote about her witnessing a dead turtle on the side of the road on her trip to the event, marie read lines from small pieces of paper that she allowed to flutter to the floor as she finished reading each scrap, allowing the audience to visualize the separations between her lines of poetry in an unconventional manner.

In courtney marie’s opening poem, she involved the audience in the reading of the poem when she asked the audience to make loud noises as she shouted her poem over our dissonant sounds, declaring lines such as, “I will tell you that I have had enough. I will not be silenced.” The effect of her shouting over our noise enforced her resolution to get her point across in the poem against all odds.

At the event’s conclusion, the audience remained to reflect on their interpretations of the poetry they had just heard, some of the work having only been finished that very day. The conversation incited by this performance emulated the dogma of the Wild Detectives, which is to provide thought-provoking events that catalyze new ideas and conversations.

Infographic presenting data on increases in poetry readership in the U.S. (Graphic by Sara Magalio)
Infographic presenting data on increases in poetry readership in the U.S. (Graphic by Sara Magalio)

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