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S3.E4. Adam & Haley

Updated: Jan 14




Adam: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities, and our organization as a whole. I'm Adam Mendez, and I'll be your host for this episode of Any Other Anythings.

Hello all. Welcome to the episode number four of season three of Any Other, Anythings. I'm Adam Mendez and we'll be the host for this episode. A quick little brief context of me with GBC is I started this out with this crew, this company, back in 2013 when I first moved to Arizona.I did a lot of movement based work with them as a dancer and as a performer. And today, even as I'll venture out, I've come back to the roots because this is where I learned the most about myself and strengthen my artistic integrity. And today, I'm here with the one and only Haley Nielsen. Welcome Haley.

Thanks for, thanks for happy.

Haley: Thanks. Thanks for interviewing me, Adam.

Adam: Of course. In a moment we'll get into more of your origin story, but first I wanna do a quick little check-in. So if we can just take a big deep breath in together just as our check in and here we go.

Thank. So one of the things we're doing slightly different in the season is dividing out each episode into three segments. One, to focus on GBC creative's personal stories, one section to talk about behind the scenes of our most recent projects. And the last section is where we lean into the Any Other Anythings title, our choosing what we want to spark a conversation about today.

And for little transparency, we talked about the structure and the content of today prior to the recording. So while a lot of the content will be spontaneous, the form we're working within has already been agreed upon by the both of us. All right, so up first we have holding space for GBC creatives origin stories on this platform and origin stories can take many shapes we, but we can think of them as clues throughout our lives that suggested we end up where we are today, either physically, professionally, personally, and et cetera.

Another way to think of these stories are the parts of our journeys that don't necessarily make it into our bios or websites, but are definite threads that have been part of our lives. So today I'll be holding space for Haley to share their orders and story. Now as a formal exercise, this is often done with a challenge to the listener, to hold space for the speaker without interjection with minimal non-verbal communication and no vocal responses until a storyteller feels complete in their story.

So I will go quiet en me silencio and Hailey when you're ready.

Haley: Thanks Adam. So my origin story yeah. So when I think of myself as an artist, designer, creative, I tend to think about my childhood and how I grew up as I think a lot of us do. But I tend to think about growing up in Turkey and that was where I moved when I was six with my family and lived for 10 years.

And I think being exposed to and immersed in culture that was just so different than what I had known for the first six years of my life and so different to what I knew. Quote, unquote, home culture was like was a really formative experience. Both just like in my personal life, but also in my aesthetic life and the way that I see beauty, the way that I see, you know, color, shape, patina and the way that I see human beings.

So, yeah, like for example, in Turkey there's layers of culture, ancient culture on top of each other. So there's like Greek culture and on top of that Roman culture and on top of that Byzantine culture and on top of that Ottoman culture and then modern day Turkish culture. And so that like rich cake of layers of cultures is.

Like obvious in just how the kind of cult like current day culture works and functions and the interactions between people groups, but also just like from like a physical, tangible sense. If you go to one of these ancient cities, you can see arch, like, not architecturally, but you can see excavated these layers of earth.

And then you can see these cultures go down, you. Thousands of years by thousands of years, or hundreds by hundreds of years down into the earth itself. On top of that, it's like a beautiful Mediterranean climate and just incomparable, like something that sometimes to me feels like I dreamed it and it wasn't really real.

But it's very real because I still speak Turkish and have all those memories. So anyway, I feel like that was kind of the, the, the bed of the bedrock of my design sensibility and I think infuses it with a lot of, like, I always seek out layers of Kind of patina layers of distressing in my work.

Stuff that harkens back to nature and natural processes of decomposition or, or color. So yeah, that's kind of where my sensibilities originated, I would say. Yeah,

Adam: Yeah. That's all about that. That was, I think the word you said earlier that really described what you just told me was rich cake. That was a lot of, lot of very, very good details and origins, and honestly, you and I have never had this much of a conversation before because the project we worked on in the past was, excuse me, if I'm mispronounced, please correct me prise de guerre.

Haley: something like, yeah, I don't, I don't think I even pronounce it right, because it's supposed to be French, but it's prise de guerre or, yeah, something

Adam: like that. Yeah. Yeah. So actually would love to, would love to mention on that I was a performer for that opportunity. I remember, and Molly was the choreographer, the, the movement leader on that.

And you, what was your role in that?

Haley: I was the director and costume designer and wore all the other hats that no one else was wearing. So yeah.

Adam: Definitely, definitely. And I remember we would, we shot in Yuma one day, like we made the drive down and we were in the actual nature of Yuma, which was actually a freaking experience of itself.

And I loved it. I loved every second of it. There was never a dull moment from movement into the. The, what was like the little mud old abandoned huts with like a prisoner sort of looks then out on the fields with the twigs. It, it was just insane how we did everything with the smoke. And there's like a few other people, which I think I still talked to.

Can't remember one of my friend's names, but he, he, he does remember, and him and I had had good friendship from that, but wow. I just. Oh my gosh, I forgot totally all that. But the way you described everything from your origin, from the rich cake and from the architecture, from the layer and layer layering and thousands deep built into the earth and how that influences and brings you back to your work and your artistic inspirations, that really, really reflected in that project we did back then.

Wow. That was, wow. So do you still go back to these homes? Like do you still have family in these regions where you grew up in or No.

Haley: So, I will answer that. But first I wanna say thank you for sharing that with me. Because sometimes I think as a creative, when you initiate a project, you look back and you think like, oh man, you know, did anything ever come of that?

You know what? What happened with that? And I really think it's more than what you put out in the world or maybe an equal value of what you put out in the world for people to see. Is the people who engage with each other within the project. And I'm really glad that you reminded me of that because I often think like, oh, what's the value of that thing that I did?

You know? And I think sometimes the value is more in those relationships and those experiences you have with the people on set or, or in the performance or moving together. That's way more I don't know, like effective. Affecting than necessarily the, the glossy finished product that you put out. So thanks for sharing that.

And then coming back to your second question, what was that? Can you repeat it again because I had said I was gonna remember it and I didn't.

Adam: You're totally fine. Sorry. Real quick thing too. Yeah. I love that you said the building of relationships and experience, cuz I remember his name is Daniel, the friend I made on that set. It's solidified because he actually went to Montana where my family lives and he was doing a a drop off. From the AZ up and he had drive back down, but he wanted some food and he heard about me sharing about my family all the time. So with that connection, beating him, I got my family more business for that one day.

So, you know, I love, I love that. Thank you so much for the opportunity, Haley. I appreciate it. But that also ties back to my other question was, do you still have roots in these countries that you used to, you grew up in? Or do you still visit back home? Yeah,

Haley: So unfortunately I haven't been able to visit since 2008.

But I will say the, the testament of like, I think how valuable that was, was in the friendships that have continued. And I have to say, like with social media and stuff, it has its negative sides. But I have been able to stay in touch with friends from back then. One of my best friends from high, no middle school, actually one of my best friends from middle school.

You know, is an architect went to architecture school and is now actually having her first kid. And so she reached out and she was like, hey, it's like we're on the same path but in different places. And I was like, yeah, that's so cool. And it's cool to just hear the, those stories, you know? And I really hope someday to go back.

It's on, you know, my top five list of where I wanna. You know, go back to and, and visit with my family and reconnect with those families. But I think it's really cool to see how people from, you know, earlier in your life just go off to do things that are sometimes similar to you even, you know? .

Adam: I agree.

I completely agree. And speaking of like those old ties, old connects, we're more on the connect side when it comes to you creating work who is like a source, a resource, or individual or entity that you pull from the most when it comes to creating in your mediums?

Haley: Yeah, so I would say there's several in several different categories.

At like a very technical level. I studied Madeline Vionnets cutting techniques when I was in college. So in terms of like the draping and finding forms that maybe look different in two dimensions than they do draped on a body and the interaction with fabric and cutting pattern making, in other words, Is from her work, from Madeline Vionnets work, and I think she was, she was a designer in the 1920s who didn't call herself a designer but call herself a dress maker.

And really revolutionized some of these like bias draped looks of the 1930s through her work. And so I really admired all of her stuff and I studied it, and I think that influenced both my passion to like learn more about pattern drafting and cutting. Just thinking of it about it in a way that's really outside of the box.

And then I would say in terms of natural dyes, I studied kind of the goddess of natural dyes. The first woman who kind of did it and really made it popular in, in my decade, I would say, or generation, was Indian, India, Flint. So India Flint is a woman from Australia who kind of re-awoke this whole like natural die thing that was in kind of popular in the 1970s.

And had a moment in the, the textile and fiber arts area. But then India Flint brought in a kind of bundling process where you actually. Steamed the plant material with the fabric and it left a direct print on the fabric. And that was called eco printing. And that was something completely new that as far as we know, has never been used explicitly in fashion history or garment history.

So it's like a really new way of using it that feels very ancient and old because. It has this effect of like time that you put into it and it has this very like modeled like patina effect with the fabric. And I just fell in love with the, the kind of raw quality of those dyes and fabrics. And so I definitely used that a lot in my experimentation and I use that still in my work is the natural dyes.

And if I'm not working with plant dyes, then I still tend to. Go towards those natural colors and greens and browns, which we're incorporating in this new season as some of those mossy greens and, and earthy browns and stuff. So those are two of my influences that just popped up for me.

Yeah. So there's others, but.

Adam: Wow. India. India, Flint. I've never heard that. But other, wow. That was, to hear it from your perspective versus my perspective and the performance world, it's always interesting to be educated and to learn new things. And I think this final question of your origin aspect, I want to ask.

have you ever wanted to be a performer or is there ever a time you wanted to, you know, just be an artist? Yeah. Performer wise,

Haley: Yeah, absolutely. I, I love performing. I think I have had a few chances in my life to perform When I was in Turkey, I did a lot of folk dance there. Which kind of aligns with my kind of desire to be like authentic cultural and like just traditional.

Earthy and you know, and I think folk dance is kind of all those things. And so I, I would perform with my schools, whichever school I was in. And that was just amazing. The sense of like, unity you get with the people that you're doing the same steps with is incredible. I think I had a moment in my teens where I was, you know, I had this desire growing up to be a ballerina and I had this moment in my teens where I was like.

I don't have enough training. I'm never gonna be a ballerina. And I had like this grief moment where I was grieving that I wasn't gonna be a ballerina. And if I wasn't gonna be a ballerina, then I wasn't going to perform anymore. And so I kind of didn't choose that in college. I could have done dance at ASU I think I could have.

And I didn't go that way. I minored in dance. I didn't major in it. Was afraid of the audition process a little bit. So, yeah, I didn't go that direction, but I did do ballroom dance and I performed in that and that was super fun. Salsa, you know, gotta do that in Arizona. But other than that, no. I was in a musical in high school and I got just a bit part and one time I was late going on stage and I felt off and I was like, oh, I could never be a performer. I'm so bad at this. But I mean, you know, I was fine in my little role. It was just embarrassing. But yeah, I mean, if I got the opportunity now, I would definitely do that. It's not something that I'm like overtly seeking out.

I audition for a few, like films. Never got the roles so. Yeah, I just hasn't been a huge drive in my life to be on the performance side of it, but I think if the right thing came along where I felt like it was a fit, I would definitely do that again. And I think I would love to perform dance wise again, if I ever got the time to really put the work in, because I do think I would want to do right.

My idea, my perfectionist idea of like the level that I would wanna be at. So it would take some work. But yeah, I'd love to do that again someday.

Adam: And you know what? At any point in our lives, we can be actors if you want, or as you're doing, you're working on the site. That's just, I don't know, I feel it's more, what's the word I'm looking for?

Steady. It's more consistent cuz you know, as you know, as a performer consist inconsistencies or nos are so common. It's more common than water. Yeah, But yo, thank you. Excuse me. You don't say yo, Haley, you say Yo. But yo, thank you so much for being transparent for that origin story and for sharing so much about you.

That was really insightful. Honestly, I had no idea.

Haley: Good questions, Adam you're well prepared.

Adam: Thank you. I appreciate your endearment. Okay, so now let's get into the creative process and behind the scenes of the most recent projects you've been working on with GBC. Now with almost any creative pursuits, the final project, project performance, et cetera.

It's just sharing a tiny part of the work with the audiences. So much time and energy happened well before audiences are aware of the project. We want to take us some space to share more about our creative process as individuals and within the company. So Haley was there any recent projects or things you're doing right now with GBC?

Haley: Yeah, so right now I am working on the current project about othering. Yeah, so when, what do I wanna say about the behind the scenes? I think, like I mentioned earlier about actually enjoying the behind the scenes. Than the finished product myself. I think maybe that's go, sorry, going back here to some of your questions of like, part of the reason why I prefer the production side to the performance side myself is because you get so much more time to work with the people who are kind of pouring their time and energy into this product, into this show.

So, yeah, what I like about working with GBC is that it's very organic, it's very unscripted, unstructured or I, I would say loosely structured in the sense that the people who are working on it give it the structure. And so every season it's different. And I get to kind of respond to that in a really natural way with the costumes.

So whether it's how I fit it to the performer's body or how I, how I dye it, or how I help half incorporate some of the technology into the costume itself, that can be very, you know, personal to the performer. It can be observational as I go along watching the rehearsals are talking to the performers themselves.

And Molly is very open to letting people have influence and letting people have a voice. And she's absolutely not a dictator in terms of how she directs things. And so in that sense, I really enjoy the process with GBC and that it allows creatives to be creative. It doesn't force creatives to, you know, fit into a box or fit into a certain structure, rigid structure that, you know, I've worked with companies that are a little bit harder for me as a creative to work with because they want this by a certain date and it's gotta be this many copies and it's gotta be finished to this degree.

and Molly is good about being like, all right, well that didn't work with your creative method, and that's okay. And as pretty much as long as we, you know, get there, it doesn't really matter how we get there. And so at least for me, that's been my experience and, and I enjoy that. I, I like having that freedom because I do have a lot of opinions.

I have a lot of opinions about how I wanna work and what I wanna put out there. and for someone to tell me, Hey, go ahead. Try it out, you know, and we'll see if it works is great. You know, rather than being like, well, I don't think that's great, and let's do something else. You know, she, she's very open and the people who are working on the project are very much in the same mindset of.

Okay, this is gonna gonna be an emergent work. It's gonna emerge out of our collaboration rather than being like, here's what we want to see and how do we get there? You know?  So, yeah.

Adam: Yeah, definitely what you said, you have a lot of questions or a lot of statements or things you wanna point out that's just, you know, the natural aspects of an invested artist.

And you know, Molly invites that kind of open energy and transparency where she makes us aware of deadlines. But I think you also mentioned earlier, there's other companies that are so deadline and heavy or put so much stress and weight onto that, where it's, it cripples creativity, energies and it really, yeah.

Yeah. Makes it difficult for us to wanna be part of something even more invested and vulnerable. I wanted to ask.

Haley: That's a good word. Yeah.

Adam: Yeah. I wanted to ask, when was the first project with Molly or GBC and like to today, like what's that timeline like?

Haley: Yeah, so the first project I worked on with Molly, well, if I wanna phrase it a certain way, it was probably myself cuz she was my actually academic counselor before we ever worked together.

I found out she. Then in the dance program at ASU and I asked her to work on my capstone film. So that was our first creative project together, was my capstone film. And then I kind of was out of the picture for a while and I came back to Arizona in 2016 and then started working with Molly in 2021, 2022.

I think she contacted me in 2021, and then the first project was Pause, which was in January, 2022. So yeah, that's that timeline.

Adam: Wow. Okay. Okay. So from, I'm trying to think how to phrase this question from there to now. learning things about yourself as an artist. Is there anything that was interesting, unique, you know, anything about the creative process that you learned about yourself through those, those projects?

Haley: Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah. I mean, all we do is learn. Learn as human beings. I think, I don't know if we ever have learned enough, but yeah, so what I learned about myself, Through those projects, I think I gained a lot of confidence between working on my capstone and working with Molly. A year ago. I think I have much more of an idea of my capacity, an idea of my technical skill and idea of my creative persona.

I think in college you're kind of searching and looking for what that is, and I think my capstone was part of that. But I definitely feel like more settled in like who I am as a person now. And I think that shows in my work, I think it shows in my interactions with people and, and I will say like, I think I also got a little bit jaded at one point about about working in the creative field.

And I don't know if I've shaken all of that off, to be completely honest. And I think that can sometimes negatively affect my presence and my attitude. And that's something I'm working on. That's, that I, I definitely wanna work through. So that's part of my learning process is kind of figuring out like where, maybe I need more positivity in my life and to see things from a different perspective.

And I think noticing that is the first step. And then figuring out ways to kind of heal yourself and maybe, you know, set healthy expectations for yourself and for others. And so those are things that I have learned and am learning about myself. Just through being creative and, and that struggle that comes with it to, to make, you know, authentic work while you're also trying to live and eat and have a family and friends and you know, the general grind.

But yeah, I've learned a lot and Molly's been a great part of that. And GBC has been a great part of that.

Adam: That was a great way to really close that. Thank you for sharing that. I wanna say thank so much for like that and yes, to survive. Moving on to the next segment here. We're gonna go to the segment three.

Alright, so we reached the final segment of our episode where we lean into our title of Any Other Anythings, any other, any things, was a phrase that was used in our rehearsals that was essentially a last call for topics to be brought up before we closed that rehearsal. So reframing that slightly here to ask Haley.

you. Was there a spark of conversation you had? Anything you wanna talk about in this, in this episode here?

Haley: Hmm. I feel like I'm very verbose and like I cover everything that like, comes to my mind, so I might need a minute to like think.

Adam: but if there's anything, if I can ask. If, if, if it would help prompt.

Haley: Yes, that would help ,

Adam: why? Why do what you do? Why work in the arts? What, what was, I mean, your origin story, I guess is the, the justification to that question.

But I want to ask if you could simplify, it's like one or two sentences, which is very difficult. Why?

Haley: Yeah. No, man, that question hits hard. That's a good question, and that's probably the question I struggle with the most. Is why should I do this? Why do I do this? Because then the, the, I think the opposite question to that is if there's not, if you, if I can't come up with a good reason to do it, then I ought to stop or I ought to come up with a good reason to stop and I don't have a good reason not to do it.

But I don't know if I have a good reason to do it either. I think why I do it is because I can't not, I can't not think creatively. It's kind of like a compulsion for me where, and it's, it's a coping mechanism too, is to think about something creative. And when I find myself stressed out or.

Overwhelmed or in a conversation, I'm bored with . I'll just start kind of thinking about my latest creative project or a creative project I would love to do someday and, and yeah. So yeah, I would say the reason I do the why is because it's a compulsion and it's kind of unexplainable and I. I really believe that that's true of a lot of creatives, even though they might not admit that, that they just can't not be creative.

It's not like you can shut it off necessarily. You know, I think what's hard for me is that I feel like sometimes the world doesn't support it, doesn't support creativity or value, creativity or art. Whereas we who do art, value it to the highest or one of the highest degrees. So it's a, it's definitely a tension there between what I know, how I know the world views what I do, or how I know the world values what I do versus how I feel about my art and how I feel about my creativity and wishing that we're different, you know, and it's a tension that I think we have to live with.

To a certain extent and that we're trying to reform yeah, maybe I can think of a way to help there be change in that area rather than just complaining about it. But yeah, I would say that short, short answer, it's a compulsion.

Adam: Yeah. That was a short answer. You're good. compulsion. Wow. That's the first one I've heard from an artist,

And it's so interesting when you sing this just in the random habits of your day, just going through your normal day, the, the inclination,, the just comes up like that. And. Oh, maybe that's what it means to be human, you know, to exist. And to have imagination and progression. But yeah. So this part, I just wanna ask one last, is there anything you wanna share with those, like, recent projects you're working on or any things that you look out for within your realm?

Haley: I'd say nothing specific, but I think in my. I'm looking for more joy right now. I'm looking for projects that just kind of infuse me with joy and, and I think about like growing up in Turkey and how they viewed dance and how they viewed, you know, just life. And it's so full of like this kind of bubbling effervescent joy when they get together, when they celebrate, say a wedding and.

You know, last night I went to a friend's hoedown, and that was like so joyful and fun. And then in a month I'm going to an Indian wedding and I just am like looking forward to that so much. And I just want there to be more joy, more of that joy and celebration in my life and in our culture and in art and everywhere.

So I really hope to see that in my own work and in the work that I kind of see coming out of places. And I think it's really healing. I think joy and celebration is really healing, so I would love to see more of that.

Adam: Totally. And wow, that's so many things coming up for you. That's so freaking great.

Hoedowns.

Haley: Yeah. You're really good at this.

Adam: Yeah. I'm from Montana. We have a lot of hoedowns, let me tell you. It gets, it gets a little wild. Yeah. And then for the dance, yeah. . And then for the first the dancing thing, I'm gonna Mexico next month and I'm gonna be studying all the dances of my mother.

So be good time. Wow. So we have reached the end of our episode and we'll wrap this up with a quick little checkout. Haley, how are you doing and what are you thinking about?

Haley: I'm doing great. I'm really happy I did this. It was really mining some depths that I wasn't expecting to, so that was cool. And yeah, I'm peaceful and I'm happy, so thank you.

Adam: Love it. Thank you so much for saying that. As I wanna say too, thank you for. Being the pusher to get these things solidified, the details, because for me, I like that. And you have a complete or finisher mindset, which is vital in this world of art. Oh, thanks, .

Haley: Oh, thanks,

Adam: Alrighty.

Haley: And yeah, so thank you, Adam. Great.

And it was a joy talking to you. I hope we get to talk more in the future and...

so hey listener, thank you so much for taking the time and energy to listen to this episode of Any Other Anythings. Be sure to check out the show. For links to find out more about this podcast, the Speakers and Grey Box Collective, you can also go to Grey box collective.com/podcast for a full transcript of the episode.

Thanks again for listening, and have a great week.


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