Traveling with Nyki

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Nyki Kish is in prison for a crime she claims she didn’t commit. I have worked on and off in jail outreach for years. What the incarcerated often fear most is being forgotten. Nyki was a traveler, and so am I, and one day we had a conversation about me putting her head on a popsicle stick and taking photos of her on my travels, so it would be as if she was still out and about and free in the world. Over the years, I have taken Nyki to several countries and around the North quite a bit. Here is are some of my favourites from Northern Canada and Alaska. The use of a poor image is a conscious one.

This is an ongoing project.

Houseboat Happiness, Yellowknife

Solo Show, Chena Lakes

Solo Show, Chena Lakes

Bison Highway, BC

Sheep Mountain, Kluane Lake

Sheep Mountain, Kluane Lake

Snowmobile Nyki

Snowmobile Nyki

Dyea, Alaska!

Dyea, Alaska!

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Largest Goldpan in THE WORLD

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Vinyl Tarot

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Listen to awesome records, and figure out your life at the same time. Vinyl Tarot. A working tarot deck made of records. The cover art, artist and specific song unite, creating the coolest deck ever. Music influences our lives in so many ways. Vinyl Tarot is upfront about that influence.

I have made the Major Arcana (22 Cards)*, but I am working on digitizing the deck with it’s own website, and then completing the deck (78 cards total) during an upcoming residency. I plan to perform Vinyl Tarot at select festivals and venues in Western Canada this summer, then pass the deck into the loving hands of Weird Canada!

Check it out

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Temperance, Heirophant, Chariot and Magician cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Hanged Man, Fool, World and Strength cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made of records

Clockwise, top left; Devil, Justice, Hermit and Death cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Sun, Wheel of Fortune, Star and Moon cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made out of records

Clockwise, top left; Emperor, Tower, Empress and High Priestess cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made out of records

Left; Judgement and Lovers cards

The first performance of this piece was at Dawson City’s Riverside Arts Festival. I’ve done small readings around the North with this piece, and it was in-residence at Rue Studio on Manitoulin island, Ontario, for a year. I’ve created an accompanying booklet that describes the card’s significance, and how to do a simple, 3 card/song Gestalt reading. Each reading takes about 15 minutes, to explain the card, and then listen to the song.

For example, Billy Joel, ‘Only the Good Die Young’ is the Death card. Boney M, ‘Rasputin’ is the Strength card. Prince, ‘You Got the Look’ is the Magician. Tom Waits is Judgement, The Singing Nun is Temperance and the High Priestess is Aretha Franklin.

Check back for more news about this project.

*record selection is minimal in the Yukon, so I need an urban residency to complete Vinyl Tarot

CD Collage Party

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So, you may or may not know of my musical career as Big Mama Lele. I have been up late, gluey fingers and tiny bits of paper everywhere, making custom CD artwork.  The album is called GDFC, because that is chord progression for all of the songs. Each of these unique collages is called something different, beginning with the letters GDFC, to celebrate all you can do and say with only 4 chords.

Check it out

GDFC Artwork

(Top Left) Gentle Days For Cats, Giant Delicious F**king Club Sandwich

(Top, Centre) Growling Dominant Ferocious Cougar, Galactic Demonic Fire Car!

I have made a limited number of collages for GDFC, and they will be available for sale at my CD Release, and afterwards, remaining ones (if any) may be ordered online though bigmamalele.com.

Big Mama Lele's ReRelease

Cardboard Carnival Magical Mystery Song Show

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This year for Riverside Arts Festival in Dawson City I’ve made a musical installation and performance where you play games of chance to determine elements of a song that I write up about you on the spot. Spin the bike wheel, and where it lands tells me which instrument, (ukulele, yamaha keyboard or harmonica) to play. Throw a dart onto decorated envelopes to reveal something about yourself, like the last book you read, or your lover’s secret name for you. Roll the dice to tell me one last thing about yourself… and BAM I write a song about you, right away.

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It was a great success, and the beauty of small-town life is that I knew many of the people I wrote songs about, which made it easier. And, I got to practice my new keyboard and dust off the ‘ol harmonica.

I didn’t anticipate how popular the booth would be with kids, so ‘adult’ questions, like how do you like your coffee, needed to be changed on the spot. Will plan that into piece next time.

Finally, combining carnival work, music, spontaneity and art all into one.

Motorboat!

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I’ve been trying to learn to listen to my body more, and this latest musical installation is all about that. I’ve converted carboys, foam and rhinestones into large breasts. On each nipple is a tiny speaker, playing a song written from the perspective of my breasts and all the things they like. The song is called, “I Like”.

The installation is on display at Gallery 22, as part of the group show Melting Ice, an Erotic Thawing of the Winter Blues that opened on Valentine’s Day.

The fabulous local brewery, Yukon Brewing has donated beer to fill the breasts with, as beer is the soothing maternal milk of adulthood. The breasts are suspended high in the air, and the music played softly, so that you really have to listen.

Motorboat, ready to go!

Listening to the breasts

Everyone should listen to the body!