Alysha Layla Shaw (born Passaic, New Jersey 1986) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Shaw has studied and worked with performance and music for the majority of her life, as well as video, interactive arts, sculpture, installation, and writing. Shaw has worked on multiple political campaigns, social advocacy efforts, and community organizing projects. She is a student and performer of Balkan and Middle Eastern music. Shaw’s current work explores the intersections of art, politics, and folk culture.
FINDING HOME is a collection of interviews with people involved in the Balkan folk music and dance community in America. Interviews were conducted and edited by Alysha Shaw and Jenny Luna. Print versions of the publication were distributed at a "Balkan Dance Party" event at the 2011 Open Engagement depicted above. Participants in the event were taught Balkan line dances by local instructor, Susan Reagel. Portland-based Kafana Klub and Santa Fe-based Avenue East performed live music from the Balkans. Issues and questions of home, community, folk, tradition, globalization, music, dance, and roots were explored in the project.
Download and read "Finding Home" here
November 20-28, 2010 350 EARTH launched the world’s first ever global climate art project. In over a dozen places across the globe, citizens and artists created massive public art installations to show how climate change is already impacting our world as well as offer visions of how we can solve the crisis. Each art installation was large enough to be seen from space and was documented by satellites generously provided by DigitalGlobe.
Santa Fe's project for 350 EARTH was an especially community-based endeavor, bringing together a large coalition of people and institutions to fill the dry Santa Fe River bed with 1,500 people on a cold November day, producing the images of water in the dry river you see above with blue-painted cardboard and tarps. Community outreach before the event included lectures, art-shows, multi-generational cardboard-painting workshops, community-produced videos on water issues, and radio appearances by organizers.
You can find more information about Flash Flood here.
ENCHANTING POLITICAL CONSULTATIONS
In 2011, Alysha Shaw intervened at the New Mexico State Legislature during the final week of their session by offering free tarot card readings in the West Hall, adjacent to the Capitol Rotunda. The first day of readings was non-stop for nine-and-a-half hours. Legislative staffers, elected officials, retired legislators, lobbyists, and random visitors to the capitol of all ages lined up to receive readings. Many of the same cards repeated for querants-- cards like "Justice," "The Hierophant," "The Emperor," "10 of Swords," etc. Common themes emerged, like being stabbed in the back and wanting career changes. The most memorable reading was perhaps the lobbyist who had an outcome card of "Justice," and asked the reader, "Does that mean Justice working for me or against me?" To which Shaw replied, "It means Justice..." Generally, participants opened up about significant issues and struggles in their lives, in ways that are unusual in hectic governmental spaces. Uncommon levels of honesty and intimacy could be found at the tarot table in the Legislature.
See more images of the readings and the written comments querants left for the reader here.
HOUSTON FOR SANTA FE was a 2012 city council campaign Alysha Shaw managed, exploring the limits and potentialities of political campaign as a socially-engaged medium. The questions posed were: How much can we deviate from norms in community engagement and campaigning, while still being "in it to win?" How much does the form and requirements of political organizing dictate content? Houston, the candidate, was 25 at the time, and he unsuccessfully, but valiantly, challenged an 18-year incumbent. The campaign relied heavily on the traditional mediums of direct mail designed by local artists, door-to-door canvassing, press, and radio spots, in addition to a sophisticated social media presence, videos, livestreamed debates, and a livestreamed horizontal community forum, aimed at addressing issues and needs in the Santa Fe Community. The project will continue in more informed directions in the coming years.
In 2011, Alysha Shaw was Santa Fe City Hall's Artist-in-Residence. The above video is documentation of one of the classes Shaw organized that City Workers taught each other during their lunch hour.
Santa Fe Social Songs-- songs written on request for strangers and acquaintances. The two featured here are songs written for politicos: http://www.myspace.com/santafesocialsongs
Rusalki-- a 5 women a cappella group playing original arrangements of Balkan Folk Music: http://www.myspace.com/rusalkisings
Avenue East-- a 3 piece ensemble playing Macedonian Folk Music, with some deviation into Turkey: http://www.myspace.com/566793478
Old recordings of experiments: http://www.myspace.com/alyshashaw
Letters to the Art World is a very slow letter service that was initiated in 2011 at Santa Fe's first AHA Progressive Arts Festival. Shaw offered participants the opportunity to write letters to any figure or institution in the so-called "art world" with the promise to send the letters out. Shaw will act as an intermediary post office, as a medium between senders and addressees, and as a voyeur who will archive all correspondence online.
there's more to it... I'm very slowly updating my website with more works and writing from the past, present, and future...
questions? email artlesspolitics [at] gmail.com