Fresh Arts Podcast

S2, Ep. 1: Should I or Shouldn’t I Collaborate With Another Art Practice?

September 29, 2021 Fresh Arts Season 2 Episode 1
Fresh Arts Podcast
S2, Ep. 1: Should I or Shouldn’t I Collaborate With Another Art Practice?
Show Notes Transcript

Are you a sculptor considering collaborating with a writer? A dancer wanting to work with a filmmaker? A graphic designer looking to create something with a fashion designer? An artist’s creative imagination knows no bounds. However, how do you even begin defining your project’s parameters if you’ve never seen a model for it before? Can you work with someone if you don’t speak the same artistic language? We will have two guests to discuss their experiences in developing and executing inter/multi-disciplinary projects and/or events from the ground up.

Y. E. Torres (ms. YET) is a professional movement artist, instructor, model & specialty entertainer: Fusion Bellydancer, Fire Performer & Flow Artist. She holds dual BFAs in Drawing & Painting and Fashion Design from the University of North Texas and multiple dance and yoga based certifications. Torres is an arts educator, movement instructor, and Public Programs Coordinator at Contemporary Art Museum Houston. She was named one of Houston's Top "100 Creatives" by the Houston Press in 2011, inaugurated into the Houston Music and Arts Hall of Fame in 2016, and awarded 2nd place for the “Best of Sideshow Arts” at the 2019 ABurlQ! Burlesque & Sideshow Spectacular. Torres is also a Flame Effects Operator, licensed by the state of Texas and a Principal on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Special Effects (SPE-AAA) Committee.

Koomah is an intersex & genderfluid multidisciplinary artist, performer, and filmmaker currently residing in Houston, Texas. Koomah has facilitated several interactive public art projects including: "Chalked" around the outside of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, "Intersex Welcome Mat" at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, and the immersive multi-sensory interactive art experience “No Such Thing As A Free House” inside a home in South Park. Koomah has performed, showcased artwork, presented workshops & lectures, and screened films across the US & internationally.

Music: "Ike is Gone" by Nick Gaitan

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Transcripción en español disponible aquí:
Reyes Ramirez: Hello and welcome to "Should I or Shouldn't I". A Fresh Arts podcast hosted by me, Reyes Ramirez, where we explore the decisions artists make every day to succeed in their creative practice.  Today's question is actually really, really interesting one, one that we get a lot, there's no one right answer to it which I think makes it a perfect fit for this podcast. But it's Should, I Shouldn't I collaborate with other artists? And today we have some really, really great artists that I know, I've seen their work through the years. We've all, I'm sure you've seen their work through the years and it's always chock-full of collaborations and really cool new interesting ways. And so we have YET and then we have Koomah. And so if y'all just kind of very quickly wanna give yourself a little introduction starting with YET.

YET: Oh, hi. My name is YET also known as Y.E. Torres and I am a visual and performance artist as well as an art educator based here in Houston, Texas.

Reyes Ramirez: Koomah, please.

Koomah: Hi everybody, I'm Koomah. I'm an interdisciplinary artist also in Houston.

Reyes Ramirez: Nice, and so I think and kind of formulating this question for this particular podcast and for this particular discussion, I don't think, so I think kind of like the question of should I, shouldn't I collaborate with other artists I think just at straight up the obvious answer to be like, yes, absolutely. But I think kind of what I hope we get into, it's kind of the intricacies of how does that happen? How did those collaborations happen? I think a common hangup maybe as, for people is, we know we're all used to working as an artist, just from our own minds, our own brains and creating our own visions. But then when we start to kind of step into shared visions and shared ideas of what an art in a "finished product" and it looks like, I think that's kind of like where maybe some of the fear or maybe some apprehension occurs. 'Cause I know like for example, as a writer myself, I'm used to being like, okay, this is my poem, this is my thing, these are my words. This is what it needs to look like. And so I do plenty of collaborations but I have my own limitations of my own stuff. So just right off the bat, just want to ask what do you feel are the benefits of collaborating with other artists, YET?

YET:  Man, the biggest benefit for me with collaborating with other artists is that I am working with people that are doing things that I may not be very good at and that really are enhancing my own work. I think of collaboration as an opportunity to work beyond myself and I tend to work with artists who aren't necessarily doing what I do, which is a dancer and I'm a fire dancer. And so I'll often work, even if I'm working with another fire dancer, with someone who works in a different prop. If I'm working with movement artists across the board I also try to work with musicians. And so I think that a really big advantage to working with other artists is that you in a way like hire to your weaknesses, like what are you not great at? And what will your project, like how can it blossom by including other people.

Reyes Ramirez: Koomah, please. The same question of what do you feel are the benefits of collaborating with others with your work and your practice?

Koomah: I definitely agree with everything that was already said for me also, it's kind of the difference between what I'm able to give my audiences and the sense of like if it's just me, it's a single serving, but when I collaborate with other artists, I can present an entire buffet of art beyond just the single serving. And so you have more opportunities to provide variety and different points of view and also creating a platform for additional artists. A lot of what I do really focuses on trying to create a stage or create a platform for other artists to have their work seen and their voices heard, particularly when I'm, you know I try to focus on bringing marginalized voices and so opportunity to then bring more people and have more people's work seen in addition to just-

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, I think, in the way that you all are talking about collaboration, there's different definite ways that collaboration can lead up to something. And so I guess a follow-up question to this would be for me, yeah, like my writing, like for example, I don't know particularly like how to create like a collaborative writing piece. It's just not something I've thought about. Just something that I don't know how to do. However, I still do like collaborate with other writers. Whether it be like in one single publication or a reading event or something like that. And so for me, I guess my question is then to y'all starting with YET, is what types of collaborations and like I guess what types of end results of those collaborations do you like do you like to kind of include everyone in the process of your craft and what you're doing or are you more of like conjoining kind of efforts to create a bigger event or what have you? If that question makes sense.

YET: Yeah, it's absolutely making sense. So my answer is it can vary based on what I'd like my end result to be. So at times I've collaborated with musicians, for example, as a dancer and our collaboration began simply as experimentation. What is possible, there may not be an end result but simply an interest in seeing what's possible. And sometimes it's so successful. And sometimes it's absolutely not! However, every single time there's a learning process happening because we're learning what may work and what may not work. And if we're interested to continue whether that's like soon or even later. I think the really amazing thing about going in without expectations and collaboration in the process of experimentation is that you're open to innovation. And so when we understand that nothing's original, that really what we're looking to do is innovate by combining things that have never been combined before. There's a huge potential for that when you leave collaboration open-ended and then there's the other side where I may be collaborating with someone that whose work I'm familiar with and maybe the end result may be a film or just simply getting content or producing one show. And so going in through rehearsals, through discussion through practice is how we figure out how we can collaborate. Because I think that in terms of the question is like do you kind of go in blind sighted? Do you like, what do you expect? I think that both are allowed you can expect anything to happen. And that's where I think the process is what leads. So perhaps going in with a very strong process, or at least with the knowledge that you have a timeframe and at least a goal by which, like, I just want to get an hour of collaboration done and then let's see what happens. You know, it can be helpful 'cause we don't want to set ourselves up to be disappointed. We want to set ourselves up to actually push through the fear and the practice of the collaboration.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah. Koomah, same question. The idea of like the types of collaborations you prefer whether it be like, do you prefer to have people kind of fit specific roles or places or do you want them to be part of the, like the, you know the brainstorming, the creation, the art itself?

Koomah: I tend to find that what kind of work... Well, I definitely work both, but I also work in this kind of in-between space where there will be kind of a general concept or somewhat of a prompt or a theme that I can bring other artists into and have them create their own work off of that. So for example, the most recent thing that we did at Fresh Arts was the Artcade. And so this was having vending machines where we could have art pieces. And so people knowing what that is had the opportunity to include their work whether that was poetry, whether it was visual art. We had some like video works and could then use that platform to either put whatever they wanted out there. Different arcade machines also had themes of there was one that was cats. There was one that was like... or just provide whatever art that they were going to create or go with the theme that was planned or just kind of label sort of our arcade eighties sort of theme. So I do like being able to kind of connect people's creativity loosely, whether it's a slight theme of a show or something like that. And I also find that a lot of times in doing that it also really ignites my own creativity as well. Being able to see what other people are creating and being able to work with people on what they're making as well. I often will bring in people that maybe self-identify as artists too and help create kind of workshop artwork as well. And that's always really amazing because there are people that don't consider themselves to be artists or sometimes they do but they consider themselves to be one type of artist. And when you can bring other people in have them collaborate with yourself or with other artists, it's really amazing to see what that final product looks like. Times you find that someone who considers themselves a visual artist is also a really great performer and things like that.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, yeah. I think... Yeah, as a writer, I often forget like you know, everyone's relation to language is different. And so like when I talk to other writers we're going to talk like writers, or we're going to speak in the language of writers, but what does it look like? Yeah, when a dancer enters that realm of like the use of language; verbal, written but then also myself as a writer, how do I incorporate the idea of motion in the body, in my, in the way that I speak and things of that nature. So, yeah, I think there's always that cool new wave seeing your own craft and your own art, but also hopefully that other person gets that benefit as well. And then the audience ultimately. I guess then goes into this next question of what do you think are like some limitations of collaborations. For me, for example, I'll say like, yeah, like one, I don't speak let's say, perfectly the language of painters, right? So I'm like like, "Oh what are you working on there? Is that acrylic?" And they're like, "No, what are you talking about? It's an oil painting" It's kinda like so I don't even know, like the basic, like foundations of those things. So I'm like, "Oh man. Now, so who am I to talk to this painter or the sculptor or something like that." And I think that's kind of like a limitation of a collaboration is like whether or not how much of that language I can speak or how much of the what I do know or what I don't know. And then I guess like another would be like, just even like practice, like general practice, like maybe I'm more of like a night owl versus someone who's like really like gets up like at 6:00 am to like work on their writing and stuff like that. So it's just like that's maybe that's insurmountable or whatever but I guess like YET for you, what are some like limitations or what are some things that maybe like you have to work around with when you collaborate or you think of these collaborations?

YET: Yeah, my biggest obstacle is often time because I have way more ideas and interested collaborators than I have time in line space to execute a successful collaboration. And at times over the many years I've started a collaboration that one, or all of the artists even pre-COVID couldn't get together for a variety of reasons. And sometimes that becomes really just a simple commitment issue. Somebody may go into a collaboration and then, you know a real life event can happen that makes them unable to have that free time. So I think time has been a strong issue for, you know, obstacle for collaboration. I think sometimes communication has been a challenge in collaboration as well, especially if there's more than one collaborator and sometimes one doesn't want to lead the collaboration but wants to participate in it. And so sometimes collaborations have I've both watched other collaborations and experience my own collaborations fall a bit short because artists had a hard time communicating during the collaboration. Perhaps visions were not started out similar and then in the middle of the collaboration or later it became something different and sometimes that's created conflict. And so I would say, yeah, keeping, you know just keeping people on track sometimes in time has been challenging, because life is real.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, and so Koomah that same question for you this idea of like, what are the limitations or what are kind of some obstacles that you've had in collaborating as YET mentioned the idea of like schedules and different workflows and all that good stuff. For you, what has kind of been those limitations?

Koomah: I've definitely experienced that. And sometimes certain personalities just don't work together. Like as much as we'd like to all be like, you know, "Oh we're all just a big happy cuddle puddle family." Sometimes you just don't merge well with somebody. And so that has happened before and you just kind of, "Well, you know, maybe we're not meant to collaborate together." So that happens sometimes. And I think also sometimes people can go in extreme kind of opposite directions of how they want the outcome to look or where they want certainly the direction for the work to go. And that can make things really difficult. Also when you have a lot of really intense ideas and desires to try and find what's going to work best for collaborations specifically when you're working on like one single project. So I've had experiences it's a little bit of butting heads. You have different people who have really strong feelings about certain ideas or how things should go. I think also for some people and it probably fits into this idea of like time and scheduling, but just life in general people that have families and kids and jobs it can be really difficult to find time to collaborate with people. And then also accessibility of resources sometimes there's the ability to collaborate that can be difficult for some people.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, And I guess to even like add on to that like even when you do run into those moments of like, "Oh, maybe I'm not meant to collaborate with this person or this person." So maybe like maybe we're not jelling so great. I think even that's kind of like a good lesson to learn to be like whether it be like, for example, collaboration where I've run into where it's like this person was really like, "Oh, do we do this? Do we do this? Do we do this? I'm like, "Yo, like we're let's just relax. Let's, go with the flow rather than like try to like do this or that." But it's also like, again it's not that what they were doing was wrong. Like that's their idea of what work is and what how they collaborate. And for me, like maybe to learn maybe I should set up more parameters or more goals, to define goals. So yeah, there is a benefit to being like free flow and like creativity flourish but there's also a time to be like the deadline is to now, like the deadline, I need something now, right now. And it's kind of like, how do you do those things in a way that's flourishing and nice and good.

YET: I think in addition, one of the things that Koomah mentioned earlier about collaboration reminded me of often in certain events that I would do collaborations I had an opportunity towards work with both established and emerging performers and so there's certain events performances, opportunities that I love to keep carved out for emerging performers and others for established performers. And I love doing collaborations where I can bring in both because Ayanna McCloud is one of my favorite Houston artists and educators. Early on in my art career taught me about the reciprocity of inspiration. And I really feel as in collaboration that you're looking to be inspired and also to share, as Koomah was mentioning we have our, like our individual serving. And then we have this buffet that brings us all together. And so I, this reciprocity for inspiration I can't offer anything unless I'm also being fed and there's this constant flow. And so those opportunities that you just mentioned where things can be difficult, it's I think over, you know, doing many collaborations we can all get to a great point where we can look forward to future collaborations and go like, for this I really need someone with the skill set for this. There's an opportunity to bring in emerging people. So that I'm also keeping this new flow this flow of new artists coming in while supporting like these established artists. So yeah.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, Koomah, did you have anything to add to that or?

Koomah: Not really, I mean, yeah.

Reyes Ramirez: Cool, cool. This brings me to my next question. 'Cause you kinda mentioning like, when you collaborate with someone else, you know, there are some like maybe some agreed upon things or like I think kind of another hang-up that I think maybe an artist or creative may get is like, "Oh man, does this all need to be in writing. Does this need to be a contract? What needs to be stated? And it kind of gets uncomfortable because then it becomes like a business kind of really almost, but I mean, it's not but it feels like one and it's kind of like, you know, like, no, I'm just here for the art man. I'm just here to create be creative. And I think some of this leads to the question of like in terms of like boundary setting or like setting like what the goals are and the ideas. When people say collaborations in an arts creative context they may mean different things. And so for you, it started with you YET, when people say collaborations, what do you mean? And maybe like how it can be interpreted.

YET: I think it can be interpreted in a multiple ways because a collaboration quite honestly for me, is full-time creative. I can collaborate with my partner on a meal that evening and I can collaborate with my colleagues at the contemporary arts museum on a series of educational programs. And I can collaborate with another performer and like jam and get some combinations out and just like flow. And then I can produce an event in three months where I'm collaborating with another artist and I am the lead of that collaboration. Therefore, I've asked for specific roles to be met. So I think really a collaboration is the coming together of different ideas, and it may not be as successful and it may be challenging. But as you mentioned before, it is all a learning process. And one of the things I learned really early on as an artist is sometimes the things that I don't like really teach me that I don't like them and therefore I can choose not to do them ever again or work with those people ever again. And those other collaborators can be very successful at many things and I will recommend them for many things. And I now know what, I just maybe don't need in my own work. You know, I think that there's a lot of potential for collaboration to be what one makes it and the processes can be different based on what the outcome is. Because again, the process may be I really just want to know what it's like to move to this new type of music, or I'm really inspired by this projection artist and I wonder if they would be available to just jam with me one day. Like sometimes it's simply the working out of ideas and that was it and sometimes it is a full on production. So I think, again, collaboration for me is the joining of more than one person, to create.

Reyes Ramirez: So yeah, Koomah and kind of building off of that, when people say collaboration, we can all come at that word with different interpretations. So to kind of follow up then is how do you define collaboration and what are some ways that you navigate that word, and then maybe some other ways it can be interpreted?

Koomah: So a lot of times I think for me collaboration looks like one of two things and that is the opportunity to try new things. Either me working with artists that have a different practice than my own or vice versa or the opportunity to create a platform or what I often call like a stage for other artists to try new things. And then sometimes it just looks like working with other people. I think a lot of times we really overthink collaboration and we want it to be this like hugely innovative, something like creating something spectacular, but sometimes it's just like a group project, it's just working with other artists and that's not to make it like sound less than it really is because it's still important and you can still accomplish a lot. But I think it's also important to realize kind of what YET was saying that like collaboration can look like making dinner. It can look like a lot of different things. So when we talk about collaboration within the arts like it can really, really look like anything just as long as you're working with another artist whether they're an established artist or a new artist or whether they're somebody who's never really worked in art before, when you're working with somebody else to create something and to put something out there that is collaboration.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, and I think this goes really well with my next question for y'all, which is when we say like collaboration, you know, everyone comes out with different viewpoints and different ideas and maybe different interpretations of that word regarding the context of the project. Maybe what are some personal or business or creative boundaries that people should consider when they want to enter collaboration. So for me, for example, a kind of make a personal boundary or a boundary that I have with my organizing projects and stuff like that is like I need something of a budget. So it's sorta like, it's cool if you want to collaborate you want to do something cool like on our time. But if you want something that's public facing then there has to be a budget. Whether if I organize something then I need a budget to pay people I collaborate with and vice versa if you want me to collaborate with you, then like, what are are some, like, what is a budget? If there's no budget, why not? Or what are we working with here exactly? And so like for you YET, I guess, what are some like maybe personal business or financial or whatever limitations that you have that you consider when you enter a collaboration with someone?

YET: For me, because so much of the work we do is lives as documented content, such as images and video because a lot of our artwork is based on live performances. We often have discussions we being my collaborators, discussions on how is this content going to be used? Are we working with people outside of our immediate group and therefore need photo and video releases? And I say that, especially due to the fact that the way that social media is and the way that like images are stolen, the way that once an image is taken of a person, I've watched battles between photographers and performers on who gets the rights and images and how to use them after a collaboration has already happened. So documenting what the, or like having a discussion ahead of time of what the end result will be. And even how you will update that once the collaboration is completed because feelings change during a collaboration. And once the final products are made because people get inspired and sometimes things just don't go the way one thinks. And especially when one's like this is being used. So I think that agreements, you know, it would be so lovely if we didn't need contracts but contracts really can save you in the long run. And I know we want to trust our family and friends. Anything can happen in the middle of it. And I've definitely done some collaborations that were really just fun evenings and years later someone asked for images to be pulled because perhaps they did something risky at one point in their career. And now their career, they're scared of those images being out, just as an example. Or someone wrote something that they would like to rework and therefore they would like something pulled. Often I've also found in collaboration that someone is very eager to get their workout out and has agreed to something and having their workout for a period of time and then somewhere along the lines gets a little bit of stage fright or social anxiety. And once everything pulled and it effects an entire team I've seen collaborations not see their last, you know their combination because of one disagreement at the end and agreements weren't made ahead of time. So I would say agreements, photo releases, and I think that sometimes it's called community agreements where you meet with all of your collaborators ahead of time. Ideally would be great even if it's just two everyone to meet ahead of time and consent is real across every arena. So get like what consensually what you all agree upon and really make time to discuss it throughout the collaboration and at the end. So agreements, consent forms, consent talks, and wishlists I think are really great because anything can happen. People's mind change really easy.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, I think as a writer, like one common thing that I run into is like, "Oh yeah, we're going to make a zine or we're going to make like a limited printing of like a book where multiple people are featured in." And it'll be like, you go in there and then all of a sudden it's like, Oh, you put this stuff online. Like, I didn't agree. I didn't want my stuff online. I thought it was like a limited print of this thing just out in the world. I didn't want it to be published online but it is what it is. Yeah, and so kind of building off of that, Koomah what are some personal business, financial, whatever kind of like limitations or boundaries that you set up that are important to you when you kind of enter or seek collaboration?

Koomah: I think being really clear about expectations and what those are, because even when we invite somebody to come on and to do a project, being very, very clear about what they're expected to do even to the point of like are they expected to come to the opening? If they're going to be an opening are they expected to promote the event if there's an event or an arts opening? And so my experience has been sometimes people think that their role in collaboration is just to help make something or to provide art pieces or like a single performance but they don't really promote the event or share about it or kind of do the bare minimum. And so I think saving myself and some other people some frustration and it's been this honest, to be very, very clear upfront about what's expected of people. And then the opposite is true. I think in what I'm able to provide for people because I do a lot of times help people workshop performances or things like that, but I'm not able to do that all the time. And when I collaborate, that's not something that's on the table all the time. And so sometimes that looks like being very clear about, we'd like to collaborate for this event, like great, but I'm not going to be available to help you make your piece or a workshop or develop your performance kind of thing. Other times, similar to what YET was saying in regards to documentation. But I think also something that she mentioned about projects that have been done in the past that people have changed their mind about being clear about are people able to back out if during the collaboration it's not a good fit or something comes up or they for whatever that looks like is this something that you can stop doing this collaboration or have you made a commitment and then it needs to be followed through. I've that experience as well. And I think a lot of it just kind of boils down to communication and being really clear. And I think budgets fit into that as well. And payment and everything. Also, what does payment look like? Is it cash, is it a check? Are we able to send people funds on PayPal, Vimeo? Are we offering trades? So beyond just saying, oh, you'll be paid. You know, this is a paid whatever like being very clear about what that looks like.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, and I think even that just like establishing like as you said, Koomah will be like what are the expectations, what are the outcomes like? Is this meant to be kind of like, just this chill like project we're working on just between us or like just between like, so it may be if it gels right. It becomes something bigger versus like, oh yeah this is gonna be an event. And we're gonna charge people at the door. Oh no, we're not offering payment. You know, it's kinda like, oh, all right. Well, I guess, but it's kind of like, yeah like even those expectations of like the scale of the project or the collaboration. Which I think kind of segues perfectly in this next question of how do you tell when a collaboration is successful? Right. So yeah. For you, what is success mean to you in a collaboration?

Koomah: Oh, wow! There's a couple of things that mean success for me in a collaboration. One is simply surviving the collaboration for lack of a better way of putting it. And I say surviving, because when there's a disconnect with your collaborators and you're able to move through it successfully, that's a success. You know, being able to deal with challenging topics, being able to communicate clearly, being able to bring disconnected, angry unfulfilled collaborators back to a positive place or back on track. Being able to put out fires, unexpected fires you have survived collaboration and bravo because it's going to happen. This is not easy. And that part that's not easy makes it so worth it because you have done something new you have pushed through challenging things and you're able to do it all over again with this new awareness. So that's great. Now, if it all goes smoothly and there is not a single hiccup, that's successful too but you know what, maybe sometimes it's not as well. Maybe I didn't, I don't know. You know, like sometimes the hiccups are what makes us even push pushes it further again I just keep thinking about like innovation by things that weren't, you know weren't together before now together. So I feel that if I can make it to the end and survived it and everybody has gotten something out of it and that could be being paid for what they did. That could be exposure, that could be content, that could be like the most cathartic, art making experience like some of my, if not all of my most successful collaborations were successful beyond financial, like way to market it. How do you say like way to capture it? Because you know, really I want to do more than just make money. I wanna like work through my creative process. I wanna make something that wasn't there before. I wanna feel like as an artist I've created, beyond what existed before the collaboration. So yeah. I think it's like a combination of like an emotional feeling and the survival of the project.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah. Fair enough. I think when a collaboration for me happens the best part really is like that ending kind of like, well, it happened, we did it! Something happened, you know this thing could have just easily not have happened.

YET: And I think as an example, too, for example, with what my team, the Renegade Carnies is going through right now with the Renegade Telegram as part of the Fresh Arts space, taking artists residency we are working through our residency in pieces. We had a soft opening. We got through that opening that first, second Saturday. And yeah, everything's not finished 'cause it's a soft opening, but we like we're high fiving. Like, yeah, we got it done. We did some pop up performances that was a successful day of collaboration. And with each, how do you say like milestone we will keep feeling successful until it culminates in our final performance. So that's, what's fun about this particular collaboration is that one we're all open to additional collaborations alongside the core group. And two, everyone has an opportunity to create their own like experience and collaborate in that way. So we're really moving towards like a couple of culminating events that will then also like add to what we feel is successful.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, and so with that Koomah, same question. I guess, how do you tell when a collaboration is successful? Like in terms of what your benchmarks for success or what?

Koomah: I think it looked like a couple of different things or different possibilities. I really liked what YET said about surviving. I think it can also look like did we create something that we're proud of. Whether or not other people liked it did you make something that you're proud of? Another possibility is, did we make something that impacted the audience in some way? And I found a lot of times I may not be completely satisfied with the work that I produce but the audience sometimes gets more out of it than I ever thought anybody would. And for me, that is a measure of success. When I curate things I often tell my performers to bring one of three things, show me something I've never seen before which is I've seen a lot, right? So one thing I've never before, blow my mind, which means maybe do something in a way that people haven't really done before something just be amazing for three and be a train wreck. And I think that catches people off guard a lot. But the reason for that is good is forgetful. If you're good people won't remember you next month. If you show them something that they've never seen before, if you blow their mind or if you're just a train wreck, they will talk about you forever years from now, they'll look back and remember where we went and saw that thing and they did xyz and it was so crazy. Like that's, to me, that's a measure of success. Right, and it's kind of that concept of like, as there's no like bad publicity, as long as people are talking about you kind of thing. You're not being forgotten. And I think that also kind of goes hand-in-hand with the concept of collaboration because similar to YET has it sounds like some of the same experience of having collaborations that were very difficult or maybe you didn't, you found out that you didn't work well together, but you survive it. And you can look back on those experiences and you learn from them and you remember them and you can also, maybe it's not a totally fond memory that you're looking back on but it's something that's still memorable. And I think are both collaborations themselves and the work that we produce out of collaboration both kind of fit that measure that mark as well. So if it's something that you remember even in the future, either the experience or the content to me that's amounts to success because it was significant enough to be memorable.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, so I think that kind of wraps up in terms of like, the formal questions that I had. So just kind of just really quickly before we go I'm going to just ask you some random lightning round questions, just for fun. YET, what is a really cool piece of art or work that you saw in the last year that's sticks out to you that you got a lot from?

YET: Oh, wow! A lot super cool in the last year.

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah, whether it be a show or like a book or a performance, something virtual.

YET: I don't know if it's necessarily been a show as much as just been like groups of people just doing their thing. I feel that I've seen a lot of artists emerging during the pandemic. And I feel that what I think is cool is at large is watching performers get out there no matter what be it on social media or like creating streams, or like just getting out there. And as an artist who was very active more as an arts educator and like very, very active behind the scenes, not necessarily as a performing artist during the pandemic it's been really beautiful to see the practices of various Houston movement artists grow like on the screen. And then in addition to that I really have enjoyed watching a couple of different arts organizations pivot their grants to relief funds. Like the Idea Fund became a relief grant Artists for Artists collaborated with, to do I think it's the music foundation. So it was really like, hasn't been shows, it's been like action by arts artists and arts organizations. That's what stood out to me. And even like fresh air it's like stretching their arms Space Taking Residency, you know, like just giving artists this opportunity to do stuff that you know, we haven't been able to do because we did not have public spaces for over a year.

Reyes: Yeah. Yeah. The shout out to Angela, she administrates most of that program. Koomah, same question. Is there anything within the last year that's really stood out to you or that you've learned a lot from, or show, book, TV idea.

Koomah: I think just with the pandemic people kind of like were lifting their practice. I was really impressed with the numbers who are textile artists who went make it make sense to me just artists who didn't know, you know had not known that knew that they we're willing to learn and collaborated with people to make masks. I thought it was amazing.

Reyes Ramirez: That's cool. And then finally, just real quick, YET. Favorite takeout in Houston.

YET: My favorite takeout?

Reyes Ramirez: Yeah.

YET: It's a tie.

Reyes Ramirez: Okay.

YET: Between Champ Burger in the East-end, which also has vegetarian burgers Champ Burger been there forever. I love Champ Burger and Street to Kitchen which is our Thai restaurant in the East-end. I think they just opened to the public for indoor dining. Champ Burger and Street to Kitchen!

Reyes Ramirez: Very good. Very good. All right, same question to you, Koomah, favorite takeout in Houston?

Koomah: Oh, goodness. Really hard questions. But I will say on Sundays, Shun on Shepherd because they make what I believe, they're the only restaurant in Houston that makes Japanese soufflé pancakes and they, every few weeks, months they change it up and do like a different flavor. So if you have never had a Japanese fluffy, squishy pancakes, which are like that tall, they're great. And they're real jiggly and just amazing, so delicious.

Reyes Ramirez: Thank you. Now I got something to do this weekend, so. All right. Thank you, you two. Thank you everyone for listening to this recording to this footage of really, I think again, two really great collaborative artists that you know, very inspiring. You do such amazing work in Houston. So thanks again for being on here. I'll see you around.

Koomah: Thanks.

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