Saturday, December 30, 2023


performer Lauren Vroegindewey - photo: Christian Solerti



Cilla Vee Life Arts




RAW MATERIAL: Re-Wilding The Body


an immersive multi-media performance installation

and environmental Call to Action

at Chashama NY Port Authority Bus Terminal

August – September 2023




Project Report Audio:


Nature Soundtrack:



performer CillaVee - photo: Fred Hatt




This is Claire Elizabeth Barratt (also known by my artist moniker CillaVee).

I’m the director of Cilla Vee Life Arts and the creator of this project:

RAW MATERIAL: Re-Wilding The Body.


Cilla Vee Life Arts is an interdisciplinary arts organization, established in the South Bronx, New York in 2002, now based in Asheville, North Carolina at The Center for Connection + Collaboration.

Our mission is to cross categories and blur boundaries between artists, art forms and creatives of all kinds.


Re-Wilding The Body is part of a larger on-going, continuously evolving project entitled RAW MATERIAL, which explores the raw materials of the Self in relationship with the raw materials of Nature.

There is an emphasis on themes of transformation, metamorphosis and transcendence and a philosophical influence from transformation myths such as those described in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where a Human Body is transformed into a Nature Body. The RAW MATERIAL project investigates in particular the myths where this transformation takes place in order to rescue the human from danger in their human form and provide sanctuary in the embodiment of nature – such as the metamorphosis of Daphne into tree, or Syrinx into water.


This project report presents our experience of producing RAW MATERIAL: Re-wilding The Body as a collaborative, immersive, audience interactive multi-media performance installation with an environmental Call To Action mission for one month in the heart of one of the world’s busiest transit hubs!

audience at final performance - photo: Christian Solerti










Chashama store front view - photo: Fred Hatt


Our production host organization Chashama was founded in 1995 by Anita Durst for the purpose of providing New York City artists with studio, gallery and performance space. Anita comes from a commercial real estate family background and was able to establish Chashama by the use of her own family properties. Since then Chashama has grown by leaps and bounds with many New York property owners generously loaning unused real estate all over the city and beyond.

Cilla Vee Life Arts has a long-standing and much appreciated history with Chashama, producing challenging projects with their support since 2004.


looking down from the performance space mezzanine - photo: Fred Hatt


Performance Space at Port Authority Bus Terminal

Our performance space for Re-Wilding was previously a Mrs. Fields cookie store on the second floor mezzanine of the Port Authority transit terminal South Building - next to McAnn’s pub on one side and Dunkin Donuts on the other. Gates for the buses were located behind us and access to the subway trains then doors to the street were down below, with an escalator directly in front of us. So we were right in the crux of a busy public pedestrian hub.

Our performance installation area was only divided from the public through-way by a waist-high barrier, so although the public could not enter the space they could still gain an immersion experience by leaning in.


audience side view - photo: Kasia Skorynkiewicz




Our public mission for Re-Wilding at PABT was an environmental Call To Action.

Based on the philosophical themes of the RAW MATERIAL project that refer to nature providing sanctuary and restoration to humanity, we realize how important that relationship is for our well being. Not only have we as a species removed ourselves from our place as part of nature but we are destroying it to the point where the Earth’s resources may not even sustain us anymore. We need to Re-wild ourselves and recognize our place as part of nature’s balance.

In order to provide practical steps for action, Cilla Vee Life Arts partnered with six New York City based environmental organizations, offering a platform for them to share their valuable work in the community and encourage individuals to get involved in their programs.

Our six environmental partner organizations were:

NYC Parks Green Thumb, New York Restoration Project, the Climate Museum, Climate Ad Project, We Act and Earth Celebrations.

Each organization could choose how to use this opportunity. Some provided materials and also tabled the sessions whenever volunteers were available.


NYC Parks Green Thumb flier - photo: Susannah Pryce




Re-Wilding The Body is a multi-layered installation project combining a number of components:

installation set pieces, sculpture pieces, digital imagery, video projection, digital sound, live performance (movement and sound), costume – and an audience interactive nature station.

This was a unified conglomeration representative of all global environments, incorporating aspects of anything from tundra to tropics, streams to deep sea, mountains to mud pits.


installation - photo: Christian Solerti


Installation Set

The space was divided into three main sections and two smaller sections. 

performer Lauren Vroegindewey - photo: Hisayasu Takashio



The forest section was a combination of organic and manufactured pieces. Large wooden hand sculptures by Hisayasu Takashio, a big gnarly tree structure serving as an entrance and exit way for the performers – constructed by master craftsman Stewart Hoyt, plus tree and bush branches of various types, as well as natural branch wooden shelves to contain plants (both real and faux) – and a tank of three goldfish. 

forest - photo: Fred Hatt

sculpture by Hisayasu Takashio - photo: Fred Hatt


A waterfall effect was created by back-projecting water video imagery through layers of organza fabric.

water - performer CillaVee - photo: Christian Solerti

water - performers: Marianne Giosa (L), CillaVee (R) - photo: Fred Hatt


The center of the space was left open as a desert area. There was a floor covering of cardboard with a loose layer of rough sandy fabric spread over it. Performers could bring nature items in and out of this space – such as rocks and branches.

desert - performer Stewart Hoyt - photo: Fred Hatt


Sound and Video Station:

A small section near the front was dedicated to sound and video with a large TV monitor, speakers, a microphone and small instruments made of natural materials.

sound and video station - photo: MaryLinda Moss


Sensory Nature Station:

An interactive sensory nature station was set up just behind a section of the barrier for audience members to access. Written prompts were provided to guide a series of interactions – and whenever possible we had a team member there to directly communicate with the public and encourage them to touch nature objects such as sand, earth, moss, rocks, water, bones, feathers – to notice the textures, forms, colours and smells.


sensory nature station objects - photo: Susannah Pryce

sensory nature station - photo: Fred Hatt


Digital Components

Digital components of sound and imagery were holistically integrated into the installation environment with the same approach as organic matter.


sound screen - photo: CEB

Video Projection:

Video projection artist Fred Hatt crafted a gently kinetic immersion into nature’s flickering light and shadow play, surrounding us completely by the strategic placement of two projectors. One video loop contained imagery of sunlight through grasses, leaves and branches for the forest section, while a second video provided light dancing on water to be projected through the organza waterfall.

installation featuring projections - photo: Fred Hatt


Digital Images:

A collection of images was displayed on two digital picture frames that were embedded into the organic materials of the forest section. Photographs included nature imagery from previous RAW MATERIAL projects plus nature sculptures by MaryLinda Moss.

digital images - photo: Fred Hatt


Sound Installation:

I composed a sound installation from a number of field recordings that included birds, insects, bodies of water, wind and rain. This was transmitted through speakers placed directly on the barrier between public space and performance space to serve as a sound environment and catch the attention of passers-by.

sound speaker - photo: Susannah Pryce


Video Pieces:

Video pieces created by members of the artistic team that addressed themes of the human body in nature environments were displayed on a large TV monitor in the audience interaction area.


performer Susannah Pryce in front of video on monitor - photo: Christian Solerti




Each day of our residency at Chashama NY PABT, our performance took place during the evening rush hour period from 4 til 8pm. On the final Saturday of our time there we performed all day from Noon til 8. Then on September 11th we held a 9/11 memorial ceremony in the space.

performer Sarah Pope - photo: Fred Hatt


Our movement and sound performance was improvised according to a rigorous methodology. On a number of occasions there was also a live sculpture and sound performance by Hisayasu Takashio.


Hisayasu Takashio sound sculpture performance - photo: Christian Solerti


Performance Philosophy

Based on the concepts of Human-body to Nature-body transformation mythology, the performers used nature embodiment imagery to become elements, creatures and nature-beings. This is not to say that we literally “mimicked” particular species of the natural world – but rather, we adopted the essence of various aspects of them, abstracting imagery into form, gesture and attitude.


performer Stewart Hoyt - photo: Fred Hatt


Motion Sculpture Movement

Motion Sculpture is a movement method I have developed as a durational performance and a meditation practice. In both cases one’s relationship with time and space becomes both expanded and hyper-focused at the same time. The movement is gradual and incremental, holding long periods of stillness. The performer can exist as part of an environment for extended periods of time. There is a sense of transcending the Self as though inhabiting pure form and energy.

Motion Sculpture was the foundation of our performance mode for the Re-Wilding project.


performers: Sarah Pope (C), Lauren Vroegindewey (L), Marianne Giosa (R) - photo: Christian Solerti


Organic Sound

Live sound was performed with an organic approach – without emphasis on the development of rhythmical or melodic themes – using instruments of natural materials such as small wooden percussion and pipes, as well as extended vocal techniques.


performer CillaVee - photo: Fred Hatt



Costume and make-up for Re-Wilding was an extension of the installation – wearable versions of it. Costuming could vary from day to day, depending on how each performer was inspired. The two specific categories were Earth and Water. Earth bodies attired in colours, textures and accessory pieces to represent earth, minerals, plants and creatures – while Water bodies wore flowing and shimmering aqua layers.

In our approach towards costuming, it was extremely important to transform into an Earth or Water body – and not to just look like a regular human in a costume.

performer Lauren Vroegindewey - photo: Fred Hatt

performer CillaVee - photo: Fred Hatt

performer Sarah Pope - photo: Fred Hatt

performer Stewart Hoyt - photo: Fred Hatt


Audience Interaction


In-keeping with our mission to give an environmental Call To Action and to draw attention to the practical, realistic opportunities provided by our partnering environmental organizations, I created a series of prompts to guide our audience members through thirteen stages of engagement with us.


audience - photo: Christian Solerti


Audience Prompts



1 + Stop for a moment to immerse yourself in the Re-Wilding nature environment.


2 + Breathe.


3 + Become mesmerized by the slow motion movement of the performers.


4 + Relax with the sounds of nature. Birds, Wind, Water.


5 + Touch the sensory nature objects. Sand, Earth, Bark, Rocks, Water, Plants.


6 + How does this encounter with the Re-Wilding nature environment make you feel? How does it TRANSFORM you? Make you different than you were before.


7 + What is your favorite type of nature environment? And Why?


8 + Is there one specific nature environment that is your special place?

Describe it and how it makes you feel.


9 + Do you feel these special environments are in danger of changing?


10 + What are your thoughts about environmental sustainability?


11 + Do you practice an environmentally supportive lifestyle? How?


12 + Do you want to know more about realistic ways you can make a difference?


13 + We have information here from our partnering environmental organizations. Get involved. Community engagement. Personal activism.


audience prompts poster

audience - photo: Christian Solerti


Audience Response

Audience responses were many and varied, humorous, beautiful, thought-provoking, delightful and honest. Many people drew and wrote with the art supplies we provided and stuck their papers up on the barrier to display. Many people engaged in touching the nature objects on the Sensory Nature Station and closely examining and experiencing them through sight, touch and smell. On seeing the performers, some people exclaimed loudly with surprise and asked us “Are you REAL?” One lady even jumped over the barrier and started dancing with us to her own imaginary beat!

The assortment of humanity represented at New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal is broad and diverse. From the station employees and regular commuters who stopped by almost every day, to travelers with suitcases from all over the globe, local New Yorkers of all types; families, teenagers, young couples, old couples, homeless, drunk and disorderly – you name it!

It’s a place where most people have an acute relationship with time. They either have too much time or not enough. Waiting because they are early or rushing because they are late. How I love the intersection of public art with public humanness in public places!


Susannah with audience drawings - photo: Lauren Vroegindewey

audience drawing - Dahlia

audience drawing - M.R.

Shio talking with audience - photo: Christian Solerti




Preparation for Re-Wilding The Body began in March 2023 with a proposal from me to Anita and Chashama. I had noticed announcements about their performance residencies at the Port Authority space and knew that I wanted to present something there. I loved the idea of slow ‘Motion Sculpture’ movement in extreme contrast to the whirlwind of New York rush hour in the middle of that transit hub. Almost immediately the image of bringing a nature environment inside the bus terminal came to me. I could see how it would be a development of my on-going RAW MATERIAL project, as well as the perfect opportunity to advance the project into an environmental Call To Action.


Hisayasu Takashio - photo: Fred Hatt


Assembling The Team

Initially I reached out to three specific artists to begin assembling my team. Fred Hatt, Marianne Giosa and Hisayasu Takashio (also known as “Shio”). Why these three? They all were my collaborators in the very first installation series I did with Chashama almost twenty years ago! They each have specific skill sets needed for this project and I have a history of collaboration with each of them. Fred brought Stewart Hoyt on board as a craftsman and performer. I reached out to a number of dancers who performed in my Motion Sculpture projects over the years and the lovely Sarah Pope responded, I also reached out to Gwen Charles, an artist I know whose practice is in alignment with this project – she brought in Lauren Vroegindewey, who could not have been a more perfect match for Re-Wilding. Interdisciplinary artist MaryLinda Moss is the sister of a partner organization rep who connected us and Susannah Pryce came in last minute as a volunteer, then created a whole artistic role for herself as an audience guide. This was truly an incredible artistic team of collaborators who understood how to be true to the vision of the work while making it their own.


performers: Sarah Pope (L), Stewart Hoyt (R) - photo: Fred Hatt

performers: Stewart Hoyt (L), CilleVee (R) - photo: Fred Hatt

performers: Hisayasu Takashio (F), CillaVee (C), Lauren Vroegindewey (B) - photo: Fred Hatt

performer Gwen Charles - photo: Fred Hatt


Partner Organizations

In order for Re-Wilding The Body to truly serve as a public Call To Action, I knew it was vital to partner with local environmental organizations with a strong mission for public engagement. There was only one direct personal contact I had to begin with – and then it was all a matter of on-line research to find potential good fits, reaching out to them, receiving recommendations, following up with emails, phone calls and video chats.

To be honest, it was surprising just how difficult it was to get a response from many of them (especially as we were offering a platform to feature them and asking for nothing in return!) – but eventually we had six incredibly strong environmental partners on board. And out of that six, there was only one who really took full advantage of the situation we offered – and that was the NYC Parks Green Thumb project, who oversee about FIVE HUNDRED community gardens throughout the five boroughs of New York City.


performer Sarah Pope - photo: Fred Hatt


Rehearsal and Planning

Due to the wonders of modern technology all the rehearsal and planning for the project took place in the virtual world. I created a blog site “handbook” that included extremely detailed descriptions as well as sketches, photographs and videos for each component of the project. Planning meetings and performance rehearsals took place via Zoom and there was a continuous flurry of phone calls and emails with the artistic team members and Chashama administration staff, plus reps from our environmental partner organizations.


first sketch of floor plan
later sketch of floor plan


Budget and Financing

Re-Wilding The Body at Chashama NY Port Authority Bus Terminal was essentially all produced on ZERO budget. I received a $1,000 stipend from Chashama that covered my travel expenses from North Carolina plus project postcard printing. I was hosted at the home of collaborator Marianne Giosa and bought groceries plus provided dressing room snacks with my EBT (food stamps). Cilla Vee Life Arts ran a GoFundMe fundraising campaign that raised a grand total of $243, which was spent on art supplies for audience interaction and other miscellanea. Our large event poster printing was donated. Installation and costume pieces were all already in the CVLA collection or found, donated, loaned or belonged to members of the artistic team. Audio-Visual equipment was loaned by MoMA (as collaborator Fred Hatt works in their AV department) and by a Chashama associate Jake Rich. All artistic team members generously committed their priceless talents, energy and time with unquestioning devotion.

Stewart Hoyt drawing - photo: Hisayasu Takashio



I had applied for an AWAW-EAG (Anonymous Was a Woman – Environmental Arts Grant) through NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts), which would have provided up to $20,000. When tallying up the project expenses for the grant, it amounted to the full $20,000. So essentially we produced a $20,000 show for next to nothing, without slacking on quality in any way!


Robyn Thomas drawing - photo: Christian Solerti


Personal Experience


In closing this report I would like to share some of my own personal experiences of this project – some thoughts on process and a few specific memories.



installation process first layer - photo: CEB

Vision and Process

Often a vision for a project will drop into my mind, as if already whole and completely formed. I may not be able to actually see all the details at first and it takes a while for me to navigate through it. There may be some specific components immediately available to my mind’s eye, and other parts a kind of nebulous mist I’m able to obtain a sense about but are not concrete enough to describe. Once I can see enough of it I can begin to

activate my practical imagination to visualize how it can work, using a kind of step by step thought experiment. Based on previous experience, I might already know how certain materials behave under certain conditions, while other ideas might require some research and a process of practical experiment.

As the developmental process of a project unfolds, I am open to the influences of collaborators, situations, materials and discoveries as long as it feels right for the work. And in some cases there might not be a choice and one has to figure out how to just make it work.


the construction process: Hisayasu Takashio (L), Stewart Hoyt (R) - photo: CEB
trying out the projections: Hisayasu Takashio (L), Stewart Hoyt (C), Fred Hatt (R) - photo: CEB



Memories of producing and presenting Re-Wilding The Body at Chashama NY PABT are far too numerous to mention but I will end with a few highlights that come to mind …


materials - photo: CEB


Gathering and Transporting Materials:

In order to create an installation environment packed with nature materials, it is necessary to gather and transport them safely from their natural habitat. My 1999 Saturn Station Wagon (Sally Saturn) arrived at the NY PABT overloaded, not only with all the regular costumes, props, tech and art materials one might expect, but also with a considerable portion of Southern Appalachia; rocks, earth, moss, plants and tree branches sticking out from every window and on the roof!

Meanwhile, Fred, Stewart and Shio are making trips across town from Brooklyn with car loads of stuff; AV gear from MoMA, Shio’s large sculptures, Stewarts construction materials, plants and goldfish – plus additional trips on the subway with Stewart’s expert dolly-kart packing system!

Even after that, more was needed. Sally Saturn was resting on a farm upstate, so I took a number of trips on the subway to Pelham Bay Park to collect backpacks filled with beach-sand, rocks and driftwood. My grand nature-hauling finale was to single-handedly drag two nine-foot tree branches all the way from Central Park down 8th and 9th Avenues and into the Port Authority Bus Terminal with only a few strange looks!

Unfortunately none of this was captured in pictures … Oh how I wish I had a personal documentarian!



the fish - photo: Fred Hatt

Daily Rituals and Performance:

Each morning I had my own series of preparation rituals. I stopped at the Food Emporium on West 43rd Street on my way to Port Authority, arrived at the performance space by around 10am, went into the dressing room in the back, made some ginger tea, spent a couple of hours on my body and voice practice, ate breakfast, checked messages. Then I would go into the front installation area to feed the fish, water the plants, make any adjustments to the installation and spray the air with essential oils of Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Tea Tree and Mint before turning on the Audio Visual installation components and opening up the rolling doors to public view.

After that I retired back to the dressing room to go about the process of transforming myself. Each day I adopted a different nature ‘persona’. As an Earth Body it might be a Tropical theme – with colourful bird feathers and flora, or Creature-like with leopard print, suede and faux fur. For some performances the characteristics were Tree-like or Fungal, or like a Forest Floor and sometimes combining multiple influences. As a Water Body I might be bright and shimmery, or soft and pastel.

I encouraged the performers to alter their costuming and character choices according to their mood.

Each day there could be two to four performers, depending on availability. I always had a sense of close connection and awareness with my collaborators – each on our own individual journeys and sometimes intertwining. As the daily four-hour performance period evolved, we would often get into a meditative or flow state – “getting into the zone”. On other days it felt more like hard work to sustain the duration. I had given the golden rule “NO Noodling!” (which means just doing things for the sake of doing something) Instead, the performer should hold stillness, rest as part of the installation, or leave and take a break.

Audience energy was very influential. With an engaged audience the focus was intensified and the work felt powerful.


Lauren and Susannah backstage - photo: Susannah Pryce

Sarah backstage - photo: CEB

"Mariachi Band" - video: Sarah Pope


9/11 Memorial:

(The Mariachi Band Invasion)

Our closing event in the space was a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony (for the September 11th 2001 Twin-Tower bombings).

For this we were not in costume but came as ourselves to offer spontaneous prayers in the forms of speech, music and dance.

About halfway through, two men stopped to watch. They lingered for some time, so I handed them some of our instruments (across the barrier), which they started to play. Well Susannah got talking to them and the next thing we knew is we had a Mariachi Band Invasion! …. Actually, it wasn’t really Mariachi – they were playing a mix of traditional Central and South American folk songs. Turns out they were musicians who had come from New Jersey for the day to play a festival at Bryant Park, but it was rained out. They were on the way to get the bus home and stumbled across us. Susannah invited them inside to join us and our Memorial ended up being a Celebration.

A somewhat incongruous, yet still fitting end to the whole Re-Wilding experience!



performers have escaped! - photo: Christian Solerti



Re-Wilding at NY PABT photo albums

Re-Wilding performances – Fred Hatt


Re-Wilding Final Performance – Christian Solerti


Re-Wilding Behind The Scenes + Audience Drawings


Re-Wilding Photo Mix


Re-Wilding life-drawings by Robyn Thomas + Fred Hatt

Installation Digital Art images

Re-Wilding Project Exposition

The previous page contains information about the mission, intentions and philosophies for Re-Wilding The Body at NY PABT, as well as links for all our ARTISTIC TEAM and PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS.


Re-Wilding Artistic Team Handbook

For more insight into the artistic planning and preparation for the project.


Cilla Vee Life Arts





Re-Wilding ink drawing - Robyn Thomas




Artistic Team

CillaVee (me) – project creator producer and director.

installation design and creation, sound installation, visual media content, performance

Fred Hatt – video projection design, video tech, visual media content, life drawing, performance

Stewart Hoyt – installation design and creation, life drawing, performance

Hisayasu Takashio – sculpture, installation design and creation, performance

Lauren Vroegindewey – visual media content, performance

Sarah Pope – performance

Marianne Giosa – visual media content, performance

Gwen Charles – performance, audience guide

MaryLinda Moss – visual media content

Susannah Pryce – performance, audience guide



Environmental Partner Organizations and Staff

NYC Parks Green Thumb – Anthony Reuter, Alex Munoz, Zonobia Crowell

New York Restoration Project – Yolanda Rodriquez

Climate Museum – Jilly Edgar

Climate Ad Project – Harold Moss

We Act – Micaela Martinez  

Earth Celebrations – Felicia Young



All at Chashama – especially Anita Durst and Liza Kruth



The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – especially Myron Jennings



Jake Rich – for AV tech assistance



MoMA AV department – for projectors and AV tech



Liz Lang, Elisa Faires, Scott Gornick, Tom Bickley – for nature field recordings



Julie Becton-Gillum / Legacy Butoh, Jayne Harnett-Hargrove – for costume and installation materials



Heather and Dave Jones / Advantage Direct Printing – for event posters



Robyn Thomas – for life drawings



Fred Hatt, Christian Solerti, Gad Lee, Joules Magus, Gwen Charles, Brandon Bart, Kasia Skorynkiewicz, Lauren Vroegindewey, Susannah Pryce, MaryLinda Moss, Sarah Pope, Hisayasu Takashio, Jake Rich, CillaVee – for media documentation



Catherine M Bennett, Tom Law, David Barratt, Janet Robins, Cem Teber, Stuart Garber – for fundraising donations



And a very special THANK YOU to our Cilla Vee Life Arts administration assistant and Re-Wilding graphic designer Chloe Harnett-Hargrove




“Let us permit Nature to have her way.

She understands her business better than we do.”

Michel de Montaigne



“Land really is the best Art.”

Andy Warhol



“Preserve and cherish the pale blue dot,

it’s the only home we’ve ever known.”

Carl Sagan


Re-Wilding gesture drawing - Fred Hatt



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