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Introducing Our 2020 Artist in Residence

Mar 23, 2020 By Rebecca Testrake

We are pleased to announce our 2020 Artist in Residence as Sapient Soul (Marlanda Dekine).

You may be familiar with their beautiful, previously commissioned works: “Know Thyself” (2016) and “Getting Lighter” (2019). Marlanda also tirelessly served as a Spark+Echo Arts curator for three years, bringing many fantastic artists to this project.

We invite you to read below to get to know this year’s artist in residence and snag a preview of what she has in store for us this year!

From Sapient Soul: Project Free/Write

When I quiet my mind, I am amazed at what emerges during the following free-write. I first encountered free-writing during a writing workshop with Crystal Tennille Irby. I heard of automatic writing while visiting a Unitarian Universalist church. How do you do a free-write or engage in automatic writing? In my own creative experience, I meditate for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, I open a book to a random page. I read it. Then, I put the pen to page and let my hand write without ceasing for about 10 minutes.

Sometimes I read it right then. Other times, I return to it weeks or months later. I am always surprised at what I find.

The Bible can be a complicated book for me. Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Living Budda, Living Christ” as well as an anthology, “My Soul Is A Witness: African-American Women’s Spirituality”, edited by Gloria Jean Wade Gayles have been very influential for me in beginning to reconcile with my particular religious “rootedness”. While I am not religious, I come from a religious family and a ministerial family. I thought long and hard about what it means to engage the Bible in 2020 while political voices across the globe continue to oppress and destroy with the Bible in their hands and hearts.

And, because I have so many preconceived notions, I am excited to see what emerges as I engage the book in the mode of the free-write or automatic writing. I look forward to sharing my process with you as it unfolds. I look forward to inviting you to join me as I engage the Bible with freedom in my hand and heart.

About the Artist

Through spoken word, poetry, and music, Sapient Soul engages the complexity and slippery nature of our human being-ness within the world. She values intellect and craft while enjoying the world of play and transmutation. The act of making has the power to enact transformation within the maker, those witnessing what has been made, and the larger community.

A friend of hers who often speaks publicly told them once: “If a child doesn’t get it, you should try again.”

Sapient Soul has lived in the depth of big questions since she was a child, and she did not always have someone around who knew how to guide through her darkness and unknown. She continues to hone her creative gift and learn how to listen to her inner guide.

Sapient Soul’s work seeks to illuminate our connectivity as human beings, sharing a planet, living through hard things, and remaining soft and intact with an ever-evolving emotional intelligence. Her hope is to awaken the living and curious child within us all. While doing so, Sapient Soul centers the Black, queer womxn experience, as it is her own. A descendant of Gullah-Geechee people, she is connected to a Black radical tradition of innovative creativity as well as international imaginings for healing and future.

Sapient Soul’s background in social work and psychology influence their creative process in myriad ways.

Evidenced by their most recent multi-media project, “i am from a punch & a kiss”, she designed and self-published a collection of poetry and an audio mixtape featuring sound healing frequencies, silence, andhip-hop. The work is a processing of questions regarding race, gender, sexuality, and spirituality with intentional empathy and directness for our humanity.

In 2015, Sapient Soul founded the non-profit organization, Speaking Down Barriers. This effort continues to bring people together across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, national identity, and religion through facilitated dialogue and communal interaction with spoken word poetry.

As an artist, Sapient Soul aims for healing and justice through facing the complex emotion of our being and working to alchemize fear and communal deprecation into joy and possibility. Currently, Sapient Soul is an MFA candidate with New York University’s Low-Residency program in Paris, France. She is excitedly working on two muso-poetic works for community exhibit during 2021-2022:

Ars Poetica with Douglas Boyce (Composer) & counter)induction (Chamber Ensemble);

Thresh & Hold with Anthony R. Green (Composer) and The Rice Museum (Georgetown, SC).