On this Stage & Studio, we hear two artists pushing boundaries of traditions and limitations. Dmae Roberts profiles musician/dancer Michelle Fujii and her new solo performance, Choking. And Producer Tali Singer presents a NEW story on Catherine J.H. Miller, who created “A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art.” This is a Pushing Boundaries special funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

Michelle Fujii

First up, Dmae Roberts presents a feature story on Michelle Fujii. She’s a fourth generation Japanese-American and the artistic director of Portland Taiko, as well as a Japanese folk dancer, composer, and choreographer. Fujii is using all of those talents to push the boundaries of Japanese tradition with her solo show Choking.

The show tells the story both of Fujii’s artistic journey and of her family history through a blending of the ancient and the modern–a mixture of taiko, dance, and video. Fujii also created a gallery installation that theatre-goers can check out before the show. The installation explores Fujii’s Japanese-American identity, and the experience of her parents and grandparents being incarcerated during World War II. Click here to learn more about the performance, including ticket info and showtimes.

Catherine J.H. Miller

Next, Producer Tali Singer present a NEW piece about artist Catherine J.H. Miller, creator of an exhibition called “A Somewhat Secret Place: Disabilty and Art.” Miller is a young artist who is legally blind, but she’s been creating art her whole life. We hear about how Miller went from a doodling toddler to a graduate of the Pacific Northwest College of Art. And we visit the multidisciplinary  exhibition on disability arts pride at PRESENTspace gallery.

Joy Corcoron (left)

A Somewhat Secret Place is about far more than the gallery, though. With this project, Miller is pushing the boundaries of how we think of limitations. And she’s opening a conversation that join the worlds of disability pride and fine art. The exhibition runs through the end of July. Learn more at their website.

Highlights from the show

Michelle Fujii

“I want to not only make sure that I can be that person that can come make a century-old, two-century old dance come alive as best as I possibly can, but also to be inspired by that particular story and history to reflect myself with freedom, as well. That I can go through that artistic process of true creation.”

“One of the ways that I look at myself artistically is that as I move forward, I’m also moving backwards. It’s sort of like this ever-expanding stretch that goes in both directions. And it’s funny because I always have felt that as I go a little bit more off path, risky and riskier, then I find myself grounding and grounding and grounding, to even look farther into why was this important to have existed.”

Catherine J.H. Miller

“I didn’t grow up in the disability culture.  I went to art school since I was 11 years old. I’ve always existed in place where visual art was the words, and I wasn’t completely a visual person. Though I do see, I also don’t see as well as everyone else. So I don’t quite fit into constructs and the language. I didn’t see problem, I just thought it was very inexact for a long time. I gotta say, what a blessing it has been to find in almost an accidental circumstance, disability culture.”

“When I became aware of disability art and disability pride art, I found that in disability community, there wasn’t great attention to talking about things formally. It pointed something out to me that in a way, it was stuck in a sphere of folk art. But people like me, who have created few pieces that would be called disability pride art, I didn’t thinking it was fair, because I think artists can make work for that community. But also I thought those things could be really beneficial to all of mankind, and so I wanted to bring it into fine art dialogue and in order to do that, you have to create some sort of structure.”

You can hear Stage & Studio  live at the KBOO.FM or on 90.7FM live at 11am Tuesdays.

And tune into re-broadcasts of Stage & Studio at Portland’s Cascade Community Radio at  Radio23.org.

Or you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you don’t have to miss a show.

And always browse our archive of shows at the official Stage and Studio website.

Pushing Boundaries is a year-long project that explores artists and arts groups pushing physical, emotional and artistic boundaries in their work and it’s made possible with funding by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

Joy Corcoran's artpiece
Catherine J.H. Miller at Exhibition