Bjorn Amelan, a sculptor, set designer, painter and artistic director took up his brush in Wyoming last month. The creative director of New York Live Arts, he visited Jackson Hole with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which is based at Live Arts.
Members of the Jones/Zane troupe spent about a week in residence in Jackson with Dancers’ Workshop. Jones created an hour-long performance with troupe members, performers from Dancers’ Workshop and about a dozen community members. Amelan set up a table in an elementary school gym when the dancers staged their performance, and painted.
Amelan, has created sets for the group’s performances and for Jones and other collaborators. In 2001 he won a New York Dance and Performance Award — better known as a “Bessie” — for his set designs for The Breathing Show and The Table Project.
Born in 1955, Amelan is of Israeli and French descent. His mother Dora is a Holocaust survivor who fled Belgium for France in 1939 and worked with an underground Jewish children’s aid group in internment camps there.
Bjorn Amelan recently exhibited “Seven Paintings, One Sculpture” at Peters Projects in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The largest of the ink paintings — all created on 18th- and 19th-century linen — is more than 8 feet wide.
He said he would rather not describe his own work, but Salman Rushdie wrote of one show; “Alphabets fly from abstract shapes, inspired by cuneiform, runic, and other ancient scripts. Color bursts through monochrome and adds new orchestration. A universe of dream comes into being; or, a dream of the universe.”
Ask what impressed or inspired him in Wyoming, Amelan said nature, of course, and the beauty of the country. He cautioned that it’s difficult to break down the creative process.
Nature, “I think that’s what moves us, gets translated,” he said. “I can’t tell you exactly this line in my painting is due to that event.”