“YOU ARE GOING TO BE HEALED” with Imaginary Island

Dates: Friday, June 24, 2022 + Saturday, June 25, 2022 

Time: 8pm – 9pm

Location: Payson Park at the site of Pamela Moulton’s Beneath the Forest, Beneath the Sea

Rain date: 6/26/22

About the event

As a mental health counselor and a craniosacral therapist, respectively, Kristen Stake and Hannah Wasielewski have felt tremendous pressure, during these times, to HEAL their clients–on demand!–while also going through their own challenges with Covid, climate change, white supremacy, and the threat of nuclear war. This juxtaposition of helping while hurting, has led them to ask themselves: How can we leverage these unrealistic expectations to catapult ourselves into a realm where true connection and healing are possible?

Equipped with fake Tarot cards, intake forms, and fluorescent wigs, the two therapist-dancers will guide the audience through an interactive experience in Payson Park using sacred and mundane objects to perform the problem of community, to cast spells, abolish bad energies, and invoke ancestors for karmic healing. This performance is part of a lifelong choreography project centered around healing, grieving, and improvisation. 

This project has received generous support from the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Maine Arts Commission, Casco Bay Movers, and Hewnoaks Artist Residency.

General info

The performance duration is 60 minutes and will have optional participatory elements. There will be some chairs on site, but you may want to bring a picnic blanket and an extra layer of clothing.

Performance material is not suitable for children.

This event is part of TEMPOart’s summer event series, Every Tree Tells a Story, curated by Pamela Moulton.

This event is FREE and OPEN to the public.

About the Company

Imaginary Island is an experimental dance company started by Kristen Stake and Hannah Wasielewski located in Portland, Maine. Imaginary Island is a nod to Ram Island Dance (a modern company active from 1968-2001). Located somewhere in the Casco Bay, Imaginary Island is home to the dance that can’t be erased because it exists in our collective imagination. Their work is influenced by the trials and tribulations of Contact Improvisation, the “fake healing” scores taught by Keith Hennessy, the effervescent spirit of (d)ancestor Kathleen Hermesdorf, and the experiential community gatherings of Anna Halprin. Through this project, they embark on a lifelong dance process centered around healing, grieving, and improvisation.


About the Artists

Hannah Wasielewski

Hannah Wasielewski (she/her) is a dancer, performer, educator, and biodynamic craniosacral therapist based in Portland, Maine.  She has been engaged in choreographic practice as a soloist and in collaboration since 2012, working throughout North America and abroad in Europe.  Her current collaboration, (ii) Imaginary Island, with Kristen Stake, is a lifelong dance process centered around healing, grieving, and improvisation. Previously based in the Bay Area, she works with her sister, Amy, and has performed with Sara Shelton Mann, FAKE Company/Kathleen Hermesdorf, Kinetech Arts/Daiane Lopes da Silva, and Sara Kraft/ KraftyWorks.

Kristen Stake

Kristen Stake is a dance artist in Portland, Maine. Rooted in DIY values, her work explores ritual, memory, and emotional-relational dynamics. She has danced with Melinda Buckwalter, Vanessa Anspaugh, Terre Unite Parker, Katarina Eriksson, and Michael Figueroa.  From 2016-2020, she was the director of the Living Room Dance Collective. She has held many jobs in the “helping” fields and currently works as a mental health counselor. 

Aretha Aoki and Meredith Glisson provided invaluable dramaturgical support.

Public Art as a Call to Action

Last month, I walked along the site for the Blaze Trail which is a public art project that follows the outline of the Great Fire of 1866. It is set to be installed this fall in Portland and identifies points of interest and landmarks related to the fire, and tells stories about people affected by the fire. The collaborators for the project are TEMPOart, Portland Trails, Gib Foltz, Caitlyn Cameron from the City of Portland, and more. The project facilitates interactions between the viewer and Portland’s history, stories and architecture. It will include art on street signs and sign posts as well historical information and sound installations. Also, the project will include a webpage on the Public Art website with an interactive map and information about each stop along the trail to help expand the project and make it more dynamic. The project is meant to be easily accessible to everyone at any time because it is embedded in the city’s structure and flow of daily life. 

On the walk I learned not only about the Great Fire, but also a lot about Portland’s history in general and about the infrastructure that holds this history. I was able to see the city I grew up in with a new set of eyes. Buildings I had walked past hundreds of times suddenly held a deeper meaning and were now crammed full of history and alive with resilience. Although I didn’t remember all the specific facts, I took with me a new understanding of Portland as a city with a rich history, and a new desire to learn more about the events that have shaped it. I also took with me a heightened awareness of the lived environment as a piece of history with meaning, value, and intentionality, not just something that exists as an element of the present. This made me think about the role of this project, and of public art in general. Like much other public art, the role of the Blaze Trail is to resurrect the history of the city in an accessible way and to create a dynamic interaction between this history and the present. 

Walking the Blaze Trail helped me realize that I was not really aware of the history of my own environment. While the focus of the Blaze Trail walk was the historical impacts of the Great Fire, I found myself also learning about other issues along the way. For example, we passed by many markers of The Freedom Trail, which immediately sparked my interest and further research at home. I was ashamed to admit that I hadn’t known much about the immense importance of the landmarks along this trail. 

The Freedom Trail follows points in the Underground Railroad and other important sites like churches and Black meeting houses. It also tells stories about the people and events that were integral in helping African Americans escape slavery. I was saddened that I had lived in Portland almost my whole life and barely knew about these stories or Maine’s anti-slavery movement, and about Maine’s Black history in general. Learning this helped me understand that one of the main roles of public art is to cultivate awareness about the many layers of the lived environment.

As we continued along the walk, we encountered another site for the project, which is also an important marker on the Freedom Trail – The Abyssinian Meeting House – located at 73 Newbury Street. The house had a particularly interesting story about how members of the community helped save it from this fire, which is why it was included in the project. I learned  that The Abyssinian Meeting House was a major hub for the Underground Railroad in Maine and the social and political center for Portland’s African American community during the 19th century. The members of the Meeting House included leaders in the abolition movement, formerly enslaved individuals, and leaders of the Underground Railroad system. According to the link above, the building was first used as a church and a segregated public school as well as place for dinners, concerts and other entertainment. In 1917 the Meeting House was closed and turned into tenement apartments soon after, then taken over by the City of Portland after being abandoned. 

The Committee to Restore the Abyssinian bought the building in 1998 and started restoration, which is still continuing today. To this day, the Meeting House maintains local, state, and national historical significance for the cultural heritage of African Americans in Maine and beyond, stands as an important landmark in Maine’s anti-slavery movement and as a symbol of Black resillience. Encountering this Meeting House on the Blaze Trail reminded me of the importance of preserving and honoring Black history in my own hometown and across the country, as well as raising awareness about the racial history alive into our surrounding environments. 

At a Black Lives Matter protest later that day, one of the speakers emphasized the importance of donating to the effort to restore the Abyssinian House, and it felt like another sign. I was grateful that I now understood the reference. That Sunday, the Portland Press Herald released an article titled “The Abyssinian: And the Struggle to Save Black History in Maine”. Once again, it seemed like the world was trying to tell me to pay attention to this Meeting House and to the history right in front of me. The article centered around Leonard Cummings, who has led a 25 year effort to restore the meeting house. Cummings articulated the significance of the Meeting House to understand the present Black Lives Matter movement, saying “People need to understand the importance of this building to the African American community. Because until you know your history, you can’t know where you’re heading. This building is the beginning of that story. If Black lives really do matter, let’s finish this building”. Cummings emphasizes the utmost importance of restoring, understanding, and honoring Black history in moving towards an anti-racist society that values Black lives in the present and the past. 

Circling back to the original intention of the walk, the aim of the Blaze Trail is to bring to life Portland’s history so it can interact with the present in an interesting and attention catching way. Like much public art, honoring and engaging with the city’s history is the whole point of the project. Going on this walk and doing research about landmarks we passed helped me understand the significance of sites like The Abyssinian House and forced me to confront my previous lack of awareness. It also reminded me that public art has the power to draw connections between history and current issues such as racial justice. For example, public art can tell histories of oppression and illuminate the violent way our country has engaged with people of color for centuries. Art in public spaces has a powerful voice in the Black Lives Matter movement (among others) because it can reach many people and help cultivate a sense of awareness about the environment as a living piece of history that exists both in the past and the present. Public art is an indispensable tool for activists, and must be viewed as such.

Starting My Summer Internship

Mother’s Garden by Daniel Minter a 2019 TEMPOart Project

I’ve always been interested in creating, participating in, and viewing art in general. I chose to work with TEMPOart because I wanted to get more involved with art on a more public level. My goal for this internship is to understand more about how public art can make powerful and thought provoking statements in ways that are more difficult (or impossible) for other forms of art. I want to learn more about the value of showing art in a public space that is accessible to everyone as opposed to a more formal setting, like a museum. Also, I want to learn more about the relationship between public art and activism, and how public art can address social, racial, environmental, and economic issues, and bring communities together while exciting public spaces in the process. 

Going into the internship, I had a lot of questions about what makes a piece of art “successful”, what counts as public art and what doesn’t, and about the definition of public art more generally. Looking at all the different projects and approaches to public art by each of the organizations I’ve researched—such as The Association for Public Art in Philadelphia, Creative Time in New York City, Forecast Public Art in Saint Paul, and Now and There in Boston—I’m beginning to understand that public art can mean many different things, and lacks a universal definition.

It is problematic to try to define public art because definitions in the past have excluded the voices of marginalized communities, and public art has often failed to take into account non-white perspectives while installing projects. Perhaps public art should remain undefined in order to elevate the voices, approaches, and experiences of people that have traditionally been silenced. I’m realizing that the question of what “counts” as public art, something that I asked earlier in the week, is unanswerable. Allowing only some pieces to “count” makes it easy to disregard non-white ideas of public art and continue to erase diverse perspectives. This makes me think about the need to diversify and decenter whiteness in public art, increase the accessibility of public art, and  bring out the voices of communities that have been excluded. 

I’ve also had a lot of time to think about how we are supposed to interact with public art. The short answer is that there is no answer, and that “supposed to” is not the right way to think about it. There are so many ways people engage with art, and the way this happens with public art is especially hard to control since the pieces are integrated within daily life. It’s sometimes easy to glance at a piece and forget about it if you are rushing or preoccupied, for example. Since public art has no solid definition, beyond art that happens in public, sometimes it can be hard to find a uniting factor. Each project is so unique. But no matter the intention or medium, each project is meant to catch viewers’ attention in some way and cause them to think about and remember the piece. 

Although artists can try to guide the way their projects are perceived, each person will take something different away from the piece based on their level of awareness, their experiences, their beliefs, and their willingness to engage with the project. hat it is depends on the way it is perceived, which is extremely subjective from person to person. I’m beginning to understand that redefining public art is essential to embracing the versatility of public art and helping diversify and expand the movement in Portland and as a whole.

Occupied Wall by Christian A. Prasch

Occupied Wall asks us to break down barriers in the hope of creating community. The installation consists of a wall of modular, moveable blocks that can be transformed from a barrier into a gateway that leads to a community gathering space available for all. Join the artist, TEMPOart Portland, and the public at August’s First Friday Artwalk to participate in the transformation of the Wall!

Occupied Wall will be temporarily installed in Post Office Plaza during the month of August. The artist and TEMPOart Portland thank Bard Coffee for their additional support of this privately-funded project.

Prasch’s Occupied Wall is the third project in TEMPOart’s summer series UNDER REVIEW: The American Dream, and follows John Sundling’s Ghost Fence in the Franklin Street Arterial and Christina Bechstein’s Now We Plant: Seeds for our American Dream at the Boyd Street Urban Farm. All three projects commemorate the one-year anniversary of TEMPOart’s inaugural installation in Lincoln Park, Judith Hoffman’s The American Dream. The summer 2017 projects respond to Hoffman’s sculpture by offering ways to understand the meaning of the “American Dream” today.

The Artist
Christian A. Prasch is an artist and design professional who strives to instigate constructive interaction and community relationships through his design, and treats play and experimentation as his most important tools for developing and realizing his work. He has worked in Los Angeles with Michael Maltzan Architects, ProtoHomes, Design Hunter LA, and Kim Lewis Designs, and earned his Master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Prasch currently works in the Engineering and Infrastructure Group at the Portland Amec Foster Wheeler office.


#OccupiedWall #TEMPOartMaine

Now We Plant: Planting Seeds for our American Dreams by Christina Bechstein

Community Potluck
First Friday Art Walk, July 7, 5-7pm
Boyd Street Urban Farm
(at Cumberland and Franklin Street arterial)

Please join us in the garden at on July 7th for the launch of this project.

There will be free seed packages and a garden potluck.
Bring a dish to share if you like.

All are invited!

Now We Plant is a collaborative art installation led by Christina Bechstein that brings together gardeners, neighbors, and friends with  the Boyd Street Urban Farm and Cultivating Community. Through yard signs, widely distributed seed packages, and community interactions, Bechstein creates a vibrant and diverse exchange of recipes as well as visions of the American dream. In a project rooted in partnership and interchange, the vegetables and herbs–grown here and from the seed packets–become the basic sustenance of community engagement, reminding us of the importance of tending to both our collective environment and dreams.

The Site
Boyd Street Urban Farm, corner of Cumberland and Franklin Street arterial, Portland Maine USA. The Boyd Street Urban Farm is a community garden in downtown Portland that serves nearby Kennedy Park neighbors. In the heart of Maine’s most diverse census tract, BSUF encapsulates the potential impact of agriculture in a culturally rich, economically challenged urban area. The idea of turning city spaces in very poor health into vibrant farms that support youth programs as well as individuals/families who want to work in the soil is essential to the vision of a local, sustainable food system. For more information about the garden, please contact Laura Mailander, Cultivating Community #207.761.4769 ext 855.

Now We Plant’ wishes to thank
The Boyd Street Urban Farm and the gardeners, Cultivating Community and it’s Youth Growers, Laura Mailander, Zainab Imran, Maher Al Asadi, Jennifer Muller, Sandrine Chabert, Dara Lestrade, Sarah Marshall, Sister Makings Group, Charles Schreiber, Papa Mendy, Tempo Art, Alice Spencer, Andrew Eschelbacher, Anne Marie Levine, Bonnie Norlander, Laci Hoskins, Skillins Greenhouse, Johnny’s Seeds, The City of Portland and The City of Portland Public Art Committee, friends and neighbors to the garden.

The Artist
Christina Bechstein is an artist and mother who has taught in art, design, and architecture programs across the United States. Bechstein’s record of international exhibitions and lectures include Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain; Bates Art Museum in Lewiston, ME; Harvard University in Cambridge MA and more. She has studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art and Skowhegan School of Painting and has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from places like the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the New England Foundation for the Arts, The Graham Foundation and Weimar Jena Akademie. Her creative practice is interdisciplinary and collaborative in nature, encompassing and overlapping such fields as public art, sculpture, textiles, community based art and activism. In her landscape based projects, she investigates the role of art in place-making and community-building. These projects, like ‘Now We Plant’,  convene diverse neighbors of all ages and backgrounds around a creative project, food, sharing and imagining to co-create the places we call home.

#NowWePlant #TEMPOartMaine

Ghost Fence by John Sundling

TEMPOart Kicks Off Summer Artist Series with
Ghost Fence by John Sundling

Ghost Fence, a temporary artwork by Portland’s John Sundling, will debut in the Franklin Street median at the corner of Congress and Franklin Streets as part of the First Friday Art Walk on June 3, 2017. It will be the first of three summer projects by Portland artists commissioned by TEMPOart Portland, the non-profit organization dedicated to energizing Portland’s public spaces through temporary art installations.

Sundling’s piece utilizes the visual language of surveying and construction, using flagging tape, simple wood poles and plastic sheeting to create a “ghost fence” that outlines the original boundaries of Lincoln Park.

In the late 1960’s, the City of Portland razed existing communities to create the Franklin Street Arterial and make the area more “functional” and “modern”. Sundling is interested in this lost physical and social space and wants to “create a simple and effective reminder of both past and present, as well as a place to envision the future.” “My goal is to create an awareness of the past and a place in the present to gather, share stories and create positive memories,” said Sundling.

Sundling’s June project will be followed on July 7th by Christina Bechstein’s Now We Plant: Seeds for our American Dream at the Boyd Street Urban Farm, and Christian Prasch’s Wall.., opening August 4th (pending City of Portland Permit) in Post Office Plaza. All three commemorate the one-year anniversary of TEMPOart’s inaugural project, Judith Hoffman’s, The American Dream, the Lincoln Park sculpture that will remain on view through the summer, and each new installation responds to that first sculpture by offering ways to understand the meaning of the “American Dream” today.

The Artist
John Sundling is an artist and designer, working in diverse disciplines including floristry, set design, sculpture, curation and custom fabrication. Recent work includes miniature sets for puppets in a feature film, and co-directing a “no-profit arts disorganization,” the Institute for American Art. His sculptural work has been primarily large-scale, often outdoors, with an emphasis on the effects of time and nature. The artist’s set design work has grown to become more environmental and sculptural in response to this exploration. Sundling is most interested in the blurry edges of his practices and how they inform each other.

TEMPOart Portland
TEMPOart energizes Portland’s public spaces through temporary art installations – engaging residents and visitors, enriching its creative community and enhancing Portland’s reputation as a world-class city. We provide opportunities for artists to experiment with new mediums, highlight current issues and engage a wide public audience. We partner with other on-profit educational and cultural institutions, using each project to inspire innovative learning opportunities for all ages. TEMPOart is a privately-funded 501-c3 non-profit organization and is administered by a Board of Directors.

#TEMPOartMaine #GhostFence

TEMPOart Receives Horizon Foundation Grant to Support Educational Programs Inspired by “The American Dream” Sculpture

The Horizon Foundation, based in Portland, Maine, has awarded TEMPOart a $10,000 grant to support public programming associated with “The American Dream” by sculptor Judith Hoffman. The 14-foot-tall steel and enamel sculpture representing typical American homes of different scales, stacked and inverted one on top of another, will be unveiled at 6:00 p.m. on June 3, 2016 as part of Portland’s First Friday Artwalk.

Horizon Foundation supports non-profit organizations that aspire to create and maintain sustainable, vibrant, and resilient communities by enabling children and adults to lead their communities in creative, healthy, and thoughtful ways.

The American Dream is the inaugural project of the privately-funded non-profit group TEMPOart, which selected Hoffman’s work because of its provocative questioning of what the idea of HOME means to our diverse community. The sculpture and TEMPO’s outreach programming are expected to stimulate reflection and dialogue about the fluid meaning of home within the context of the Portland community.

The Horizon grant will help fund TEMPOart’s plans to partner with other arts, education and cultural groups in Portland to reach a variety of audiences over the next twelve months. Collaborations will include:

  • Oak Street Studios’ “Side X Side” program will feature artists leading 160 third graders at East End and Reiche Elementary Schools who are studying Portland history in the fall of 2016. Field trips to see the sculpture will be a jumping off point for reflections about home and map-making that is part of the curriculum.
  • Mayo Street Arts will conduct a Sculpture Study Workshop at the Portland Public Library to connect 40 East Bayside children aged 7-11 with Judith Hoffman’s sculpture as part of its RAD (Reading, Art, Dance) program during June, July and August.
  • Greater Portland Landmarks will offer several walking tours, one aimed at youth that will explore the totemic nature of the sculpture through a hunt for unique architectural features along Congress Street, culminating in art-making projects at Oak Street Studios.

Countdown begins for “The American Dream” installation!

This just in: Judith Hoffman’s beautiful and fascinating sculpture is on its way to Portland. Here are a two photos of the disassembled, finished artwork before it was packed and loaded for shipment.

Mark your calendar to attend the unveiling in Lincoln Park on Friday, June 3rd, during the First Friday Art Walk.

“The American Dream” fabrication update!

TEMPOart has received some amazing progress photos from artist Judith Hoffman for the sculpture to be installed later this month in Lincoln Park—at the corner of Congress & Franklin Streets. Mark your calendars to attend the unveiling on Friday, June 3rd—and celebrate First Friday with us.

Engineering expertise on board for “The American Dream” installation


American Dream construction/engineering detailZiggy Drozdowski is a designer and engineer who recently moved to Portland from the NYC area. With over ten years of experience working in custom mechanical sculpture and adaptive architectural systems, he has recently co-founded the company Common Kinetics, which is dedicated to providing design, engineering and fabrication expertise to large scale sculptural installations. He was initially contacted by TEMPOart at Judith Hoffman’s request for local engineering support and has been working with her, the sculpture fabricator in Detroit, The City of Portland and TEMPOart to ensure that the collective vision for The American Dream is realized. Get more info about Ziggy and his company.

Common Kinetics construction drawing American Dream 2016