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For Meredith.

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.

If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will not have it.

It is not yours to determine how good it is;
nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly
to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.
No artist is ever pleased.
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.
There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction;
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes us more alive than the others.”

–Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille


I don’t even know where to begin with a subject like the Coilhouse blog, so go ahead and dig in:

Coilhouse in Print

Coilhouse in Print

“Alternative subcultures. They were a crucial aspect of industrial civilization in the two previous centuries. They were where industrial civilization went to dream. A sort of unconscious R&D, exploring alternative social strategies … but they became extinct.”


“We started picking them before they could ripen. A certain crucial growing period was lost, as marketing evolved and the mechanisms of recommodification became quicker, more rapacious. Authentic subcultures required backwaters, and time, and there are no more backwaters…” [William Gibson, All Tomorrow’s Parties]

“COILHOUSE is a love letter to alternative culture, written in an era when alternative culture no longer exists. And because it no longer exists, we take from yesterday and tomorrow, from the mainstream and from the underground, to construct our own version. We cover art, fashion, technology, music and film to create an alternative culture that we would like to live in, as opposed to the one that’s being sold or handed down to us. The result, in the form of articles, features and interviews, is laid out on our blog and in our print magazine for all to see. If our Utopia is your Utopia, then welcome! Anyone can contribute, and we encourage you to go to our submission page and get in touch.

Here, you will find an assemblage of the visual, cerebral, amusing, challenging and, above all, the ever-evolving. Below are samples of the topics you’ll find here, bits of the Info Strada aimed at inspiring literate progress and bringing entertainment to architects of their own past, present and, especially, future:

* cryptohistory and misanthropology
* abandoned structures + sprawling metropolises
* pre-apocalypse pleasure islands
* Genghis Khan’s bow and Hiro Protagonist’s sword
* Siamese twins, and other such nature’s curiosities
* otherworldly beauties with faces painted bright
* unreasonable footwear
* complicated hair
* technological body enhancement
* incredibly strange music
* flagrant futurism
* whalebone, absinthe & silk
* patricide girls
* body scaffolding
* dressing for war

The above is just a taste, and in the COILHOUSE magazine + blog we chronicle our adventures as we research these and our other favorite topics, find out what different people do with them, and why they do it.”

-From Coilhouse’s Mission page

From KQED’s Spark Program:

It’s wonderfully difficult to describe the work of Sha Sha Higby. Her costumes, or moving sculptures, are tornados of colors, textures and shapes. They look like everything and nothing at the same time. There are no analogies that can fully characterize Higby’s work, but one might be reminded of a Venetian Carnivale mask, African tribal art or a character in Japanese Noh theater.

That familiar images make up an otherworldly whole in her costumes is perhaps appropriate, given the experience of the artist herself. The path of Higby’s artistic development has been a journey through distant places, landing her here in the Bay Area. When Higby was a child, she made birds, filling her house with paintings and drawings of them. Her parents were divorcing at the time, and she described the birds as “something to divert me, a way out.” This artwork was a form of escape, but it was also the first step in her development as an artist.

After college, Higby’s career took flight, carrying her from her home in Marin to Asia. Her experiences abroad give her work its marked Eastern influence. “I studied with a craftsman who creates for the Noh theater. They have very elaborate costumes — and these heads, these masks — they move so slowly, they’re like sculptures. They have this strong, emotional quality, but it’s very slow. It’s subtle.”

Later, Higby received a Fulbright scholarship to study shadow puppetry and make sculptures in Indonesia, a country whose artistic sensibilities balanced well with Japan’s. “I went to Indonesia to study the elaborateness,” she explains. “Japan is simplicity. Indonesia is the fullness of the ornate. … It’s like a flat landscape when you look at it, but when you peel it away, there’s all this richness and complexity of layers, which I like in my work.”

In the Spark episode “Fusion,” get a glimpse of Higby’s creative process, a process that has wandered through time, leaped over oceans and slowly grown by accretion. Each individual costume that is used in performance can take years to make and is informed by a lifetime of experience. The semi-abstract nature of Higby’s costumes allows viewers to color the experience with their own imagination — one might end up in a place far away that the artist herself may not have imagined. With her art, Higby has found her journey and achieved her escape. The hope is that the viewers will find theirs as well.