Immigrants wanted for cross-cultural performance piece

The performance is this: 10 musicians play music in a stop-start fashion while 10 people circle a large table covered in paper. When the music stops, those at the table draw whatever comes to mind until the music resumes. It’s similar to the kids’ game Musical Chairs, except here, nobody gets the boot, and the result is a culmination of the participants’ creative points of view. It’s called 10 x 10, A Table and was originally conceived by Martha Skinner — an environmentalist designer and an assistant professor at Clemson University, with ties to Asheville.

“Through drawing and music — the most basic cross-cultural mediums of communication — the multi-cultural group share collective memory of transformation to reveal a permanent to their emerging faces,” reads the press release. “Since everyone is drawing on top of other’s drawings, there is no fear of making the perfect drawing. Everyone is freed and given confidence in this activity.”

Photos by Zaire Kacs.

The earliest inception of 10×10, A Table was employed by Skinner as a way to “break the ice” while she was teaching inner city youth as a student at The Cooper Union College. She’s also had dinner guests engage in the interactive format. More recently, 20 local immigrants performed 10×10, A Table at Our Stories, Our Voices art exhibit last December. For that particular performance immigrants from Bulgaria, Chile, Philippines, Peru and Poland were represented.

“Faces on top of faces, gestures on top of gestures gesticulate and represent the many faces of immigration and the transformation that takes place when one merges the stories of two cultures,” says Skinner, who immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia at the age of 13.

Our Stories, Our Voices is a multi-cultural art exhibit curated by local artist Victor Palomino, and the exhibit can be viewed at UNCA this month. Another installment of 10×10, A Table will take place on Thursday, March 1, at The Highsmith Union Gallery 7-9 p.m. Once again, local immigrants will be performing the piece, and Skinner says she is still looking for participants — musicians or artists — who currently reside in the U.S. but were not born here. An extensive background in the arts is not necessary. Interested parties should contact Martha Skinner at for more details.

Our Stories, Our Voices will be on display at the Highsmith Student Union Gallery March 1-31.

10×10, A Table will be performed Thursday, March 1, from 7-9 p.m. Learn more here.

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