Photos by Sebastian Cvitanic
a mountain’s pulse is an interdisciplinary project directed by Paige Barnes in collaboration with visual artist Mya Kerner that illuminates the connection between body and earth, linking the story of a person's pulse with that of a mountain. This project combines Paige’s research of pulse listening/dancing and Mya’s explorations of the landscape.
a mountain’s pulse began from a desire to link the internal, emotional experience with a mythology of the landscape.
Mya regards the mountains as stoic icons that are reflected by humanity. Like our bodies, they hold records, their surfaces marked by the movements of the earth and the torrents of the sky. The mountains represent a collision, or maybe, a collaboration of the elements and forces of life.
Drawing from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy, Paige believes the pulse generates awareness about the interworking of the body and its history. An infinite well of inspiration, listening to the pulse reveals what has come before. It is a topographical language, a language of feelings, a history of emotion. Like the imprints on stone made by the flow of water, the pulse tells a story of the blood’s current.
Using acupuncture’s pulse listening method, Paige listens to the radial pulse with her fingertips and responds with an improvised dance. In TCM, the radial pulse provides information on the health of the different organ systems and channels, such as the heart, lung, liver, spleen, and kidney. Using the medical framework, Paige begins to listen, then, connecting with her artistic practice, allows for imagery to emerge from the sensation and quality of the pulse. Standing up, she improvises a dance, free associating and spontaneously composing based off the memory of the pulse.
As Paige dances, Mya bends wire in response to her movements. Originally derived from her research of the terrain, the wire drawings translate the dance into a language of landscape, capturing the energy and movements in contour lines. Mya’s gestures reflect and react, forming a representation of the internal landscape, an interdependent framework waiting to be filled by the memory of the dance.
As we work, the participant often sees their personal life experiences reflected in our movements and representations. Pulse readings can be intimate, yet there are no secrets revealed. We use this process as a way of gathering, weaving each pulse into a greater mythology. Together, we work to depict the fragile interconnection of the body and earth, entwining the story of a person's pulse with that of a mountain.
PAIGE BARNES is a movement artist and Chinese medicine practitioner. Born in Alabama, raised in St. Louis, MO, Paige moved to Washington to attend college in 1994. Her coursework in women’s studies, dance, geography and Spanish led her to Ecuador. There, she met choreographer Pablo Cornejo and began to train and perform internationally. After returning, she received a BA in Dance from the University of Washington in 1999, formed a dance company with Pablo and co-founded Open Flight Studio in 2003. Expanding her education, in 2001 Paige became a certified practitioner of the GYROTONIC® method, training under Magali Messac. After fifteen years of dance making, teaching, and performing, Paige wanted a deeper understanding of the body’s energetic and healing capabilities. In 2016 she received an MS in East Asian Medicine from Bastyr University. Now, Paige works towards merging her practices in art and energetic medicine. For more information, please visit paigebarnes.in.
MYA KERNER is a multidisciplinary artist based in Seattle, WA, originally from Philadelphia, PA,. Her work is an exploratory continuation of her family’s lineage of Eastern European foresters. In 2011, Mya received a BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture and Environmental Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. From 2012 to 2014, she worked primarily in cast iron sculpture, living nomadically, and periodically working for her family’s landscaping company. After moving to Seattle in 2015, she completed a Certificate in Holistic Landscape Design at Bastyr University, and now maintains a small garden design business alongside her full-time studio practice. From her ancestral history, permaculture studies, and ecological concerns, Mya investigates the concept of humans as stewards of the earth. Her work oscillates between two- and three-dimensions, investigating materiality, tradition, and mythology through depictions of the landscape. For more information, please visit myakerner.com.
Paige and Mya met as students at Bastyr University, both working towards secondary careers to supplement their creative pursuits. There, they each found renewed inspiration for their individual practices, and in 2018 formed a mountain’s pulse, a collaborative, interdisciplinary project integrating dance, sculpture, technology, and energetic medicine.