Open to Experimentation

On any given weekend, art-starved Tucsonans dabble in the city's offerings of art shows, concerts and literary readings. However, our starvation is not a symptom of a lack of beauty, emotion or things to do in our dry, sandy town. We're starved, because we are little desert sponges who can't seem to get enough of creativity.

When Casa Libre en la Solana co-founder and executive director Kristen Nelson heard about Cache Girl Saves the World: A Novel in Visions from academic colleague and Grammy-winning musician Thirza Defoe, she knew it had to come to Tucson.

"I think one of the great things about the Tucson arts community is that people are interested in the idea of the experiment," Nelson said. "It's a big enough community that there are lots of artists around, but it is a small enough community that there is a lot of collaboration going on. There is a good deal of crossover when it comes to visual art, literary art and music."

This "novel" is not like a traditional novel. Instead, it is a series of images or visions, backed by audio from various characters, all put together in a video format. According to Defoe, who co-produced the novel alongside author Adam E. Stone, the only important time element in the story is that the ancestors of the main character, Ta'li, passed away in the Trail of Tears. Ta'li is on a quest of sorts to save the world from itself.

Stone wrote three novels in more traditional forms before Cache Girl, which includes themes of spirituality, sustainability and a connection to the earth in a new-media approach to the novel.

Of Stone, Defoe said, "His day job is being a lawyer. He deals with so many things of the world that have to do with the black and white of the judicial system by day. ... For Adam, I feel as a friend this is personal work and also work to give to the world. He definitely writes about the interconnectedness of all people, that we are related and all interconnected."

The weekend Cache Girl event will kick off on Friday evening at 7 p.m., with a viewing of the novel in 10-minute segments interspersed with conversation with Stone and Defoe. On hand will be a handful of poster-sized prints of photographs featured in the novel, as well as artifacts that visitors can interact with. Defoe will also perform a Native American flute demonstration, something which plays a role in the novel.

On Saturday, the late morning and afternoon will be devoted to workshops.

"Adam is doing a workshop geared toward how to produce work in the way that you want to produce it. ... It will be (geared) a little bit more toward writers who are interested in new media and incorporating video or using other alternative methods to produce their work," said Nelson.

Defoe will later head a workshop that covers hybrid writing and how to write when inspired by an image.

The event will carry on into the evening, with a screening of Native American short films. Native Punx, an organization founded by Defoe that seeks to bring together collaboration on a variety of projects, will provide the films. This past October, Native Punx put on the first Native American Film Festival in Wisconsin. The organization is considered a sponsor of the Casa Libre Cache Girl weekend.

"It is something to raise awareness and really to connect different groups of art collaborators—people who are in literary arts, people who are in the film community and performance artists as well. I think it's something to tie and bind things together," Defoe said about the weekend. "There are so many forms that can be adapted into others."