Performance: Carapace

Monday, April 26 @ 6:00 pm CST
Wednesday, April 28 @ 6:00 pm CST

Choreographer & Performer: Candice Salyers
Director: Jacob Cotton
Visual Designer & Ceramicist: Allen Chen
Costume Designer: Kelly James Penot
Composer: Elissar Hanna
Music: Mercy (original composition) by Elissar Hanna

Artist’s Statement: Informed by the tenth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in our home on the Gulf Coast of the United States, Carapace explores a tension between the lasting impact of toxicity and resiliency from it–both for humans and living environments. For many animals impacted by this environmental disaster, oil became trapped between their shell and their soft body, so that their carapace was functioning simultaneously as a protective structure and the material that prevented them from releasing the toxic oil. This interdisciplinary collaboration between Allen Chen (ceramics), Jacob Cotton (graphic design), Kelly James Penot (costume design), and Candice Salyers (dance) engages a costume and set woven from ceramic pieces to explore the metaphorical shells and protections that may simultaneously keep us safe and trap toxic experiences close to the most vulnerable aspects of ourselves.


Candice Salyers is a dancer whose performance work has been presented in the US, UK, Estonia, Spain, Morocco, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic. Her work explores intersections of dance performance, feminist theories, and environmental philosophy, proposing that site-specific dance can contribute to unique ways of embodying ethical citizenship. Dr. Salyers’s work has been honored with an Alma Bucovaz Award for Urban Service, a Choreographic Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

Jacob Cotton is an educator, visual artist, and graphic designer. His efforts in the classroom have been recognized and awarded in academia with the Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Edwards College of Fine Arts and Humanities at Coastal Carolina University, and in the industry with Educator of the Year at The National Student Show and Conference.

Allen Chen has been a long-term artist in residence at Mendocino Art Center, Red Lodge Clay Center, and Lawrence Arts Center. He was an assistant professor at Central State University from 2012~2014 and is currently an Associate Professor at University of Southern Mississippi.

Kelly James Penot is a textile artist, costume designer, and producer based in southern Mississippi.

Elissar Hanna is a Canadian contemporary classical composer and singer. In 2019, she was the recipient of an Explore and Create – Professional Development for Artist grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to work on the soprano role of her current composition Mary, for which she received the Cultural Funding Program Grant from the City of Ottawa in 2018. In December 2019, Elissar was artist in residence at the Ottawa Dance Directive where she premiered the dance/music performance Mary.

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