Magic in Rural Southwestern Wisconsin: Meg Leary Sounds Off at ACRE Residency

Art21 Magazine

By Alicia Eler / 2.27.13

In any place that isn’t the otherworldly realm of the ACRE Residency, twelve days doesn’t feel like a long time away from one’s day-to-day life. Launched in 2010 by Nicholas Wylie and Emily Green, ACRE (short for Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) was founded with the mission of providing the arts community with an affordable, cooperative and dialogue-oriented residency. Set on 1,000 acres of Wisconsin farmland, in an area so remote that one can’t get cell phone reception and even the Internet flickers at times, ACRE staff runs three 12-day residencies every summer, hosting 25–30 residents at a time. This year I am a curator with ACRE–it was one of the main inspirations for this Art21 series that is now coming to an end.

In this final post, I talk with two-time ACRE resident Meg Leary, who attended in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Her multi-disciplinary practice incorporates sound, performance, and visual art for multisensory experiences that bring together her formal operatic and stage training. In her work, she explores the corporeal body of the diva and performer, questioning the relation of voice to the performative experience. And yes, Leary is interested in “diva” in that sense of the word. By applying strategies from music theory (such as repetition, harmony, and remixing) to her stage presence and performances, she forms an aesthetic that is entirely her own. From her two summers at ACRE (not to mention winning the Critical Fierceness Grant), Leary has been able to bend and shape her practice, forming it anew...