Visiting Artist Will Rawls

October 24, 2018

Rawls will join 12 Visual Studies 2nd year candidates at the Caldera Artist Residency in Sisters, OR. PNCA Caldera Laboratories is a collaborative effort between Caldera Artist Residency and the Pacific Northwest College of Art, who have joined forces to construct a program where visiting artists, scholars, curators, and critics come together with PNCA faculty and MFA in Visual Studies students to engage in art making, research, and visual and written investigations in a laboratory setting.

Will Rawls is a choreographer, performer, and writer exploring the instability of identity and form afforded by live performance. Curious about the ambiguous nature of dance as a medium, his choreographic practice employs movement, often in conjunction with text, objects, and other media, to reconsider how personal and cultural histories are embodied, resisted, and reconstructed. With the support of his FCA grant, in 2015 Rawls presented three new works: #loveyoumeanit, at Danspace Project’s PLATFORM 2015: Dancers, Buildings, and People in the Streets, curated by Claudia La Rocco; Personal Effects, a solo performance that for Performa 10; and Settlement House, a choreographic installation for the 100th Anniversary of the Henry Street Playhouse and the Abrons Arts Center. #loveyoumeanit was a collaboration with former New York City Ballet dancer Kaitlyn Gilliland that, Rawls notes “touched on themes of intimacy body dysmorphia, digital estrangement, and the dynamics of race, gender, age, and dance training.” Personal Effects, Rawls explains, “is a series of scores in which I am singing, dancing and uttering bits of text comprising my history as a performer.” For Settlement House Rawls choreographed and directed a three-hour installation and performance with nine collaborators—five dancers, one sculptor, one writer, one singer/composer, and a lighting designer. Rawls explained that Settlement House drew on “Henry Street’s 100-year involvement with the local residents, immigrant communities and performing artists that have populated the Lower East Side.”

Prior to his 2015 Grants to Artists award, Rawls premiered The Planet-Eaters at The Chocolate Factory Theater in 2013. His other choreographic work had appeared at Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Dixon Place, the Brooklyn Museum, Tanzquartier Wien, Mount Tremper Arts, and Williams College, among others. From 2006 to 2013, Rawls collaborated with Kennis Hawkins on the performance duo Dance Gang working in public spaces and galleries, including MoMA PS1, dOCUMENTA (13), various Brooklyn parks, ISE Cultural Foundation, Dance Theater Workshop, and Performance Space 122. As a dancer, he has worked with Jérôme Bel, Brian Brooks, Alain Buffard, Maria Hassabi, Noemie LaFrance, Nicholas Leichter, Neal Medlyn, David Neumann, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and Katie Workum. Rawls has also been an interpreter for Tino Sehgal and has re-performed works by Marina Abramović. Rawls is co-editor of Critical Correspondence, Movement Research’s online publication, focusing on developments in contemporary dance practice and thought, in New York City, nationally and internationally. Recent and upcoming publications include Dog Years (2014), Leap of Fake: Speculations on a Dance as Doubting (Scores 4, Tanzquartier Wien), and Mirror Mirrored: A Contemporary Artist’s Edition of 25 Grimm’s Tales.

Prior to his 2015 Grants to Artists award, Rawls received residencies and fellowships from danceWEB (2008), Mount Tremper Arts (2010), and The MacDowell Colony (2013). He was a 2014 Process Space Artist with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and joined Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s two-year, Extended Life fellowship program in 2015. Rawls has been a guest artist at Bard College, Barnard College, Williams College, and a mentor for Colorado College’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Rawls graduated with a B.A. in Art History from Williams College in 2000.