est. July 2009

Lisa Krause's Artwork (2003-Present)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shrine for D

Recently, I was walking some dogs in the woods that are near the neighborhood where I first lived when I moved to Baltimore. I suddenly remembered the last time I went there.

It was 2008, I was led by two little boys that I knew from the art program that I was teaching that summer in the neighborhood. One was nearly mute when I met him. At the point we were at that day- he was the bold leader while his older cousin was scared and decided to meet up with us later. I walked into the woods with the then 8 year-old boy, listening to him talk about his father.

He led me through the woods for quite a while to the spot where his father's body was dumped after he was shot earlier that year. His father was 3 years younger than me. His body was severely decomposed and had to be DNA tested to determine his identity. This was a huge confusing concept for the boys. They'd grown obsessed with watching the dead rats in the neighborhood rot away in the alleys. I assume it functioned as part of a folk-science that happens in childhood, when you need an explanation for abstract or terrifying things. They asked me many questions that summer, and their voices still haunt me sometimes.

I also remembered that the boy's father's body was found by a man walking dogs, and it reminded me that I am not so safe in the woods here. I remember that day and how much fun I had with those boys after we left the site- climbing trees, hiking around, and throwing rocks in the stream. I remember how one of the boys asked me if I was remembering my childhood, and how hard I hoped that day that they were forgetting their adulthood.

At the end of that summer I did an installation about what it was like to be with them in those months. It was my first shrine and I called it Prayer for Innocence. I no longer have it, but I guess being back in the woods in that area brought all the memories back to me clearly. I needed to put them somewhere so I made this one.

I've seen the little boy a few times in passing over the years since moving away, and he's gradually forgotten me. His stare is cold, and his look is hard. I am scared for him.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Giant Papier-mâché Puppet Head

So I've been doing a lot or research lately while planning to go to Bread and Puppet, and am totally inspired and overwhelmed with all the awesome options for making cheap and huge puppets!  Here's my first shot at a giant paper mache puppet head.

I built the armature out of clay I already had from making the heads for human wack-a-mole and stuff in my recycle bin and went to work. It took lots of layers of papier-mâché using newspaper and torn brown paper bags, but I was satisfied with the process. Especially since it is totally nontoxic!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recreation Center Puppetry Workshop - Baltimore City


This past summer, I had the opportunity to work at a Baltimore City Recreation Center with several groups of young people.  After several weeks of projects that introduce the kids to building types of hand and rod puppets, we ended the summer camp with a puppet show. "Zombies In My Neighborhood" was written, designed, and choreographed by the older boys in the program.  

I helped the boys choose their roles (as director, set designer, choreographer, etc.) in the creation of the show, as well as facilitated and moderated production meetings.  Giving the older boys the responsibility and freedom to create a show and a performance date deadline kept them focused and excited for art class duration of camp.

 They performed for an audience of the younger kids in the Recreation Center, and it was a fun time for everyone.  Especially the surprise choreographed Thriller dance sequence!  After the show they all were excited to make puppets and try out being puppeteers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Making of "Jack and the Beanstalk" Marionette Show

At Black Cherry Puppet Theater, a few of us are working on a new marionette show for our original family shows repertoire. We're adapting it from the rod puppet show "Jack and the Beanstalk" created by our puppeteers Justin Durel and Jennifer Strunge for the 2010 Free Fall Festival. It was a huge success, and featured live banjo music by J Dilisio.

I've been charged with the task of creating a chicken that lays a golden egg.

Lucky for me, Michael had this schematic on the technical design of how the mechanism would work:

I guess the drawing was a little less technical than he remembered. I had a similar issue when I went to look for the original chicken from the rod puppet show.

After acquiring the cardboard puppet used in the first show and the crow from Hansel and Gretel (one of our other shows), I went to work on our little chicken.

I decided to copy some of the joints from the crow because I like it's neck movement. Here is the armature for the chicken with a hallow cavity for the egg to come out:

August 6, 2011: I finished forming the hallow body w/egg cavity from paper mache, so it covers the body armature photographed above. After some sanding, I attached those wings that I carved and voilà!

I began working on some little chicken claws:

And below is the control, specially designed so the chicken can bob it's head and flap it's wings erratically.

August 27th, 2011:
I finished working on the feet and painted the chicken after resolving some issues with the wings getting twisted. I still need to decide on the textile covering for the body and wings.

My next step will be figuring out how to make the egg and release mechanism for the chicken to lay the golden egg. After that will be stringing it. I'm almost done!

Bench Hook

I made my own bench hook the other day and I'm pretty proud.

After my marionette carving workshop in Prague, I bought some chisels. So now with my bench hook, I don't have any excuse not to begin working with whatever scrap wood I can find!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Straw Bale Construction in Ohio

Over the first weekend of July, Eamon and I went to a farm in Ohio and learned to build with straw.

We helped build a simple shed for the llamas and goats on the farm.

The foundation is made from old tires rammed with earth. Each tire is pounded by hand using sledgehammers and shovel loads of dirt. They are then leveled.

Erika (PA) taking a break from pounding tires, Chris (OH) leveling, and Eamon, stoked.

Walls are a wood frame with chicken wire and rebar to pierce the first level of straw bales- additional levels are pierced with saplings. It is all girdled together with additional saplings tied to the structure through the strawbales- to cinch it into place. Layers of clay/straw/water mix are applied to the walls.

Chris and Marilyn (OH)

The walls are scratched between layers, and a final mix of clay/water/shredded straw this time, and addition of a high % of sand content. The final coat is a lime wash (not photographed).

If this is compelling to you, and you would like to learn more- I can recommend that you look on some natural building message boards to find some projects happening in your area. Like
this one in Chicago, or this one in Philadelphia. Or go to the Earthship Website to find the closest project in your area where you can volunteer.

I will tell you that the place we went had some wonderfully inspiring workshop participants, but the people that ran the farm were quite obnoxious. I would think that people on messageboards would be way more appreciative of the help that you could provide than those two shifty tycoons.

But on a positive note, we finally got to see a real live

Eamon has been researching natural building techniques over the past few years- in addition to working on his next book while rehabbing houses. Through this research, we both have become very excited about
the work of Michael Reynolds in pioneering a style of housing that is an entire ecosystem- collecting rainwater, generating solar power, and a grey water filtration system that includes a food producing greenhouse. Featuring earthen construction, recycled materials, and beautiful glass bottle walls; all sitting on a foundation of rammed earth tires and built into the side of a hill.

They are so incredible...

That weekend, we learned that we totally loved the process of building with natural, nontoxic materials and that we both felt so comfortable inside the Earthship, despite
strange energy.

All in all, we had a pretty good time
...right, Eamon?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Clusterbomb Bears: the Czech Republic

Clusterbomb Bears in Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora
and overlooking Staré Město from Prague Castle.

The Ossuary in Kutna Hora contains the remains of 40,000-70,000 people who died from the plague and wars in the 14-15th century. All of the bones were dug up when a nearby town was mining the area for silver- and the cemetery was in the way. The church gave the job of stacking bones to a half-blind monk (1570s). Later the Schwarzenbergs, wealthy Bohemian aristocrats owned the church and charged František Rint, a woodcarver (1800s) with figuring out what to do with the bodies. He decided to decorate the church with them- which has things like altars, garlands, and a chandelier all formed by human bones.

Through the wars and occupations of Prague by the early 1910s, traveling folk puppeteers often kept most of the stories and history alive going from town to town putting on performances that subtly challenged or critiqued society. Some were even put on trial for their political activism, but they shifted the blame onto the puppets.

Puppets and a replication of the theater used by Katel Novak

While Prague was never bombed in WWII, it was occupied by the Nazis and later the Russians until 1989. During those periods, the Czech culture was threatened- people were stifled, jailed, and probably killed.

One such project that uses puppeteering as political commentary during the Russian occupation is Jiří Trnka's The Hand (1965):

This continued through the 1980s, and when Communism finally left Czech Republic there was a flood of creative power and freedom. While visiting, it was amazing to find how many interesting projects began in the years immediately following the occupation.

Maybe these stories don't seem to relate to my Clusterbomb Bears post, but I'm beginning to see why I pick the areas that I do for my installations. It's often because I want to relate the stories of an oppressed tribal, creative, or working class culture and unify these places through the symbolism of the Clusterbomb Bears as an absurd, immature, irresponsible, and deadly imperialistic occupier.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Marionette Carving in the Czech Republic

I was one of 12 people from 5 continents accepted into a special course in Czech style marionette carving taught by
Miroslav Trejtnar for June 2011. Mirek was trained as a wood carver in high school. After that he worked restoring woodwork in ancient churches. In the early 1980s, he began working in puppetry for Jiří Barta's studio on a famous project "Krysař (the rat catcher)".

The end of which, in all of its bad ass sonic and scenic glory is posted below:

Over the 2 weeks of this program- we designed, carved and painted our marionettes. We then took 3 days and made up a show using all of our wildly different characters. We made props, sound effects, and sets out of things we had at the workshop studio.

Tara Cooper (Austin TX)

Mirek Trejtnar helping me attach joints.

Sam Ritter (New Jersey)

Our other carving teachers included
Zdar Šorm and Sota Sakuma, and Dora Bouzková helped with manipulation and performance.
Zdar Šorm

Mirek teaches, Sota and Zdar in background

Dora Bouzková "cleaning the scene" with Kay Yasugi (Australia), Nina Prader (Austria/DC), and Abi Tucker (Australia)

Nina and Pali Diaz (Argentina)

Junko Kanayama (Japan/UK)

We then performed at the workshop endparty and then the next day at the
Prague Quadrennial Exhibition of Performance Design and Space, for their Scenofest: Street Stories program.

Leny Pinkava, me, Mirek Trejtnar, Pali Diaz, and Nina Prader

During the evenings, we saw shows at
Minor Theater, Divaldo Anpu, La Fabrika, and a small group of us went to the National Marionette Theater independently of the program. After the program, Eamon and I visited The Marionette Museum in Plzen- about two hours from Prague by train.

We also visited the home of Mrs. Varlova who has thousands of puppets ranging from the 1800s to the 1980s in her apartment. They are hung on all the walls in all the rooms, sometimes double and triple rows. Sometimes set up with the actual backdrops from the performances.

Standing: Abi, Tara, Kay, Junko, me, Leny, Nina, and Pali. Seated: Ericka Haverly, Sam, Mrs. Varlova, Peggy Rock

Mrs. Varlova, who's incredible collection began when her husband used the money they'd scraped together under communism to buy a car- on a small set of 4' puppets from the 1800s. She now has probably the largest private collection of marionettes in Prague. In her apartment. Amazing. (They never bought a car.)

This is the most incredible program for the study of traditional marionette carving techniques, costuming, and theater exercises. They also integrate many experiences for learning the history of Czech puppets, animation, theaters, and puppetry, as well as exposure to styles of puppetry and their uses in the current theater scene in Prague. I got so much more than I imagined possible from this experience and I would recommend the
Puppets in Prague program to anyone who loves Czech puppets and animation and interested in learning the art of carving a wooden marionette.

Just look how crazy happy I am...

I was impressed both by the teachers and the organization of the program as well as all of the talented women I met while in it. We came from all over the world for our own reasons and with our own stories, and became friends in this experience together. I am interested to see how our lives all go from here.

Video by Kay Yasugi

**** (UPDATE from Lisa ON FEB 2013) Hello!  Thank you for visiting my blog! ****   
Please take a moment to check out my current project, 

where I have used skills learned at Puppets in Prague, as well as Bread and Puppet.