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Sha Sha Higby’s multifaceted art to take wing at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Sha Sha Higby’s art is a continual work in progress. The performance artist blends sculpture, puppetry, costuming, drawing, lights, and music, all influenced by ancient traditions from Japan, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian traditions. When Higby presents her one-person show “Paperwings III” at Bowling Green State University Wednesday, she will bring together two pieces. This is not their culmination though. The puppeteer-sculptor will surely make more alterations. Higby’s performance will be the opening event for the New Music Festival, which continues on campus through Saturday with a full schedule of concerts and presentations. “Paperwings III” will be staged Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. The performance is free. When people arrive, they will find a sculpture on stage. That sculpture that the audience sees will come alive. “I’m using my body as a motor,” Higby said in a recent telephone interview. The work then unfolds as she uses her limbs to bring masks to life. Her drawings are projected onto the wings of her costume, and the whole scene is bathed in dramatic lighting, designed with the assistance of her husband Albert Hollander, also assists with the music. That soundtrack washes over the scene. Some of it is original music, but mostly it’s snippets of sound picked up from her travels. It may be birds, electronics or a gamelan orchestra. (Higby performed years ago at BGSU with the university’s gamelan.) Some audience members will be given small bells so they can contribute to the sound. “It’s like a piece of poetry. You have to use your imagination to link the parts,” Higby said. “It’s a visual dessert of images that are flowing.” In addition to the performance a retrospective exhibit of her work will be on display at the Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center through Nov. 4.  “The costumes and sculptures are elaborate, lyrical and meticulously hand-crafted,” gallery director Jacqueline Nathan stated. The show will include a video of some of her earlier performances. The exhibit was  a challenge to set up because it is shipped in pieces and requires assembly. In fact, Higby said, the amount of work would cover a football field of arms, legs, wings, masks, and more.  “I’ll fluff it when I come,” she said. Higby, who was born in Michigan and grew up in California, started…

New Music Festival adds puppetry & dance to the mix

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, contemporary classical ensemble Hub New Music and puppetry/dance artist Sha Sha Higby headline the 39th annual New Music Festival at Bowling Green State University Oct. 17-20. The international festival features the work of more than 30 guest and BGSU faculty composers and performers and includes eight concerts, plus composer talks, panel discussions and a performance and exhibition by artist-in-residence Higby. Organized by BGSU’s MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (MACCM), College of Musical Arts and Fine Arts Center galleries, the festival supports the creation of new work and engages the University and regional communities in the process of music appreciation and awareness. Most festival events are free and open to the public. A complete schedule can be obtained online at Higby leads off the festival Oct. 17 with a 7 p.m. performance in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. She has entranced audiences with her mesmerizing puppetry/dance performances at major venues throughout the world since 1974. The first full day of events begins Oct. 18 with a 1 p.m. Composer Talk by Kernis in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center, followed by three concerts, two including his compositions. One of America’s most honored and prolific composers, Kernis’ music appears prominently on concert programs worldwide. He has been commissioned by America’s preeminent performing organizations and artists, including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco, Toronto, and Melbourne (Australia) Symphonies, Los Angeles and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestras, Walt Disney Co., Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Joshua Bell, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Sharon Isbin. Also a conductor whose works have been recorded on several labels, Kernis teaches composition at Yale School of Music and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Classical Music Hall of Fame. Leta Miller’s book-length portrait of Kernis and his work was published in 2014 by University of Illinois Press as part of its American Composer series. Hub New Music performs at 8 p.m. Oct. 19 in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Hailed by Oregon ArtsWatch as “one of the most talked about younger contemporary classical ensembles,” with its unique instrumentation of flute, clarinet, violin, and cello, the ensemble has been praised for performances of adventurous repertoire that are “gobsmacking and perfectly played,” said Cleveland Classical….