Melissa McGill's 2014 Artist Residency at Manitoga including the PALMAS site specific sound installation, as well as the PALMAS Performance.


Melissa McGill's PALMAS

May 2 through November 9, 2014, Performance September 27, 2014

PALMAS Sound Installation

McGill’s PALMAS activated Manitoga’s Quarry Pool and encircling paths from May 18 through November 10, 2014. The work takes its name from the improvised, rhythmic clapping that is an integral part - the heartbeat - of Flamenco. McGill’s exploration enlivened Manitoga’s landscape in a unique call and response, creating a dialogue with the rocks, the water, the trees.

A recorded sound composition of a professional palmero clapping accompanied visitors moving along Manitoga’s Quarry Pool paths at timed intervals. The clapping, plucked from its usual rhythmic role in the Flamenco dance, intertwined with the world of Manitoga’s woodland garden. “The sculptural quality of sound followed by its palpable absence enhances the visitor experience of and intimacy with nature, building upon Russel Wright’s original intention at Manitoga,” explains McGill. Palmas animated and activated the site aurally to invite a heightened sense of awareness of Manitoga’s landscape – its natural richness.

“Themes of presence and absence, accents and pauses are explored in the sound installation and at Manitoga,” noted Executive Director Allison Cross, “where the quarry itself is about the relationship between absence and presence of actual rock dug out, and later, of boulders purposefully placed to punctuate movement in the designed landscape. The recorded clapping of PALMAS is body percussion - literally hand-made sound that finds parallel with the hand-made and the hand-crafted at Manitoga.”

Melissa McGill, Artist
Paul Geluso, Sound Design
Arturo Martinez “Espiritu Gitano,” Palmero
Emily Philips, Site Installation

Palmas Performance

McGill, a life-long dancer, produced a site-specific live music and dance performance at Manitoga on September 27. The work was performed on the Quarry Pool’s edge with an ensemble of musicians, dancers and singers, exploring their mutual interest in form and space through the traditions of Flamenco – essentially a dialogue with Manitoga’s spirit of place.

Artist Melissa McGill and Flamenco y Sol Ensemble take inspiration from Manitoga's spirit of place in a riveting performance around the Quarry Pool

Artistic Director Sol La Argentinita, baile/cante
Music Director Cristian Puig, cante/toque-guitar
Peter Basil Bogdanos, percussion
Isabel del Dia, baile
Barbara Martinez, baile/cante

Stage design, LnJ Tech Services
Video, Rob Featherstone, Michael Arginsky

Press for Melissa McGill and Manitoga

Upstate Diary
Melissa McGill, Artist
Melissa McGill's PALMAS at Manitoga 
The New York Times
A ‘Constellation’ of Light Above the Ruins of Bannerman Castle 
This Summer, Take a Kayak Tour to See Melissa McGill’s “Constellation"  

About Melissa McGill

Melissa McGill has been exhibiting her artwork internationally since 1991 including solo exhibitions at White Cube, London; Power House, Memphis; and CRG Gallery, New York, where she is represented in the United States. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work involves an interdisciplinary process, primarily incorporating drawing, sculpture, and sound to explore the space between absence and presence, bringing to light the overlooked, hidden, or lost aspects of architecture, found objects, and art historically significant works of art. In recent years, McGill has become increasingly passionate about art in public spaces and its ability to contribute to communities in a larger sense. She is currently working on Constellation, a large–scale sculptural installation on the Hudson Highlands’ Pollepel Island, scheduled to premiere in June 2015.

Photos: Vivian Linares, Mary Ann Glass