It was only about a year ago that I embarked on a collaborative film project (Ch’u Mayaa) with artist Clarissa Tossin where I created choreography and performance at a Frank Lloyd Wright home (i.e. the Hollyhock House at Barnsdall Art Park) in the same Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles where the Sowden house is located. Having worked in a Wright home before, the architectural style at the Sowden House offered a sense of familiarity to me, as it was very clear how influenced Lloyd Wright was by the work of his father which denotes colonial implications through exoticism of the foreign. Knowing this, my instincts were to apply decolonial practices during my process to cultivate habitable space for me, plus one. As I begin to nest my own home, I find myself in a moment of creating and performing while pregnant, accepting and embracing all the changes that come with my body and the influences this process has had on connecting me with my womb and child. I will be a mother. I am a mother.
** Rooting Within is a performance that re-imagines the architectural function of the façade at the Sowden House as an evolving womb punctuated by obscure visibility and scale, as a mother gradually foregrounds her connections to the Taíno fertility goddess Atabey. **
The façade is typically the outside front of a built environment. Often, the façade is a fleeting experience that frames the entrance of a building. With intention, I set out to be within the façade, to imagine it as an interior dwelling. In doing so, I come to my body and acknowledge its most present signifier of growing life, of a world rooting me from within. Rooting Within. The façade at Sowden House has three tiers. A pathway is carved for me to descend into the various stages of my evolving womb. Perceived from a two-dimensional perspective, the symmetrical halves of the Sowden façade can pass as an abstraction of the female reproductive system. Centralized gates flank open to greet a concrete-block sculpture. Here an altar is created with offerings for Atabey. Connecting with my indigenous roots, I prepare an altar to Atabey to grant me a safe childbirth and connect me with my great/grandmothers from my matriarchal lineage. I have made the passage from their womb to be here now. From this intentional place a corridor leads outwards, departing from the womb.