Local Artist Channels Rene Magritte with Multimedia Collaboration

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Given the current reality of social distancing and isolation that we're all grappling with, there has perhaps never been a greater need for art that is collaborative and deeply reflective. Kelly Izzo Shapiro, a local singer-songwriter, is hoping to bring that experience to Rochester through a multimedia work titled "Ceci n'est pas: The Treachery of Images", a project that channels surrealist art and the human psyche, and conveys the idea that our subconscious is going to reflect onto the art that we consume.

"Ceci n'est pas: The Treachery of Images" is a 25-song multimedia experience based on the artwork of Renee Magritte, the evocative Belgian surrealist who died in 1967. First launched in 2013 while Izzo Shapiro was living and working in the NYC area, the project combines visual art, animation, music and dance to depict the subconscious mind as it interprets paintings. It embodies the idea that art has the ability to speak universally, but also touches and affects people in very unique ways. Collaborators on the project, in addition to Izzo Shapiro, include Sarah Eide (arrangements, piano, vocals), Danielle Izzo (choreographer, dancer), Mike Kaupa (trumpet, flugelhorn), Kyle Vock (upright bass), Mikhail Shapiro (guitar), Katie Knusvig (violin, vocals), and Austin Retzlaff (animation).

"I like to work collaboratively; I don't want to tell people how I want it, because I can be short-sighted" says Kelly about the writing process. "Good art is about subtracting, so I'd rather get input from a lot of different people and shape it from there; I like them to have free reign."

Presently, the project's many collaborators submit sketches and samples to Kelly remotely, who takes their contributions and works them in to the overall design of the piece. While most of them live locally, Kelly's sister Danielle---the project's choreographer---lives in the Washington D.C area, and sends Kelly her ideas digitally.

Though the project is not completed yet, large swaths of the musical composition, animation, and choreography have so-far come to fruition, despite the various collaborators' inability to be in a room together at the present moment. Izzo Shapiro hopes to bring this project to Rochester's Fringe Festival in the near-future, as well as other local performance venues. For more information and samples of the project, click here.


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From This Author Colin Fleming-Stumpf