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Linda Sibio Strikes Again with The Insanity Principle

Photo by Sarah Lyon, from Linda Carmella Sibio's "Origins" performance at "The Palm Talks" at HDTS 2017

I've known Linda Carmella Sibio for quite a few years now, and she's one of the most impressive artists I've ever had the opportunity to meet. She has taken her schizophrenia, and works the hell out of it. She's an artist who crosses mediums and boundaries, and while dealing with her own insanity, has worked to help others with mental illness emerge from their isolation and find their own artistic sense of expression through the arts. She's dedicated, hard working, intensely creative, and brilliant.

I first wrote about Linda for a cover story I did a decade and a half ago for the Desert Post Weekly. Her performance art and visual art fascinated me. She has not had an easy life, and she has not let it stop her or slow her down. If you ever wanted to meet a courageous artist, you don't have to go any farther than Joshua Tree.

Linda was born in West Virginia, and raised in an orphanage. Her mother was in and out of asylums, herself mentally ill, and her father died when she was young. She began drawing at an early age. When I caught up with her at first in Joshua Tree, she was doing her visual art, large, darkly dismembered macabre and otherworldly pieces, and working with the Cracked Eggs, a multimedia arts group for the mentally ill. She told me most people when dealing with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses isolate themselves from the world. With the Cracked Eggs, I saw them emerge and build confidence in their art - and themselves.

But over time the Cracked Eggs lost their funding, falling between grant sources for arts funding and mental health funding. Linda went on to have an exhibit at the United Nations, and obtained gallery representation at The Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York. And now, you have the opportunity to join Linda for a series of workshops, The Insanity Principle, conducted through the auspices of High Desert Test Sites.

Her next workshop is this Saturday, January 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center in Joshua Tree.

"In the January workshop we will explore rhythm and the voice through extensions and units," Linda explains. "We will explore an 'alternative choir' filled with sound and movement. We will review schizophrenic thinking and structured chaos, which is the basis of all that I teach. True to our interdisciplinary outlook, we will explore drawing and performance using the bi-polar model. The class will end in total chaos with the exploration of psychological fragmentation and how to get it in the mind, body and emotions. I will be the person wearing my favorite cat skirt! Hope to see all of you there!"

This is classic Sibio, coming from a background where some of her performance art pieces have resembled a lone woman screaming and agonizing vocally for hours. It can be pretty hard core and intense, and it can also be creatively stimulating and revelatory.

“These classes were initially developed when I worked with disabled individuals on Skid Row in Los Angeles,” Linda notes. “That project led me to realize that these tools, that explore personal experience thorough a variety of methods, are an empowering way for every genre of artist to harness inner creativity while digesting the insanity in their lives...The fragmented thinking of the schizophrenic is a window into the placement of our culture. We are living in a deconstructed world, no longer thinking linear thoughts. Our perceptions are continually interrupted by television, the internet, video surveillance, and the media – we no longer have a single thought; we think in multilayered complex patterns. For our culture to go forward, the darkness of the dismembered body needs to come into the light. We need to fragment to become whole again.”

This is definitely not one of those placid "paint nights" at a local restaurant.

Participants are encouraged to wear clothing that will allow them to move freely and do unusual things. They should bring a healthy snack as the schedule includes a short break. Attendees are also encouraged to bring high-quality drawing paper, Char-kole, kneaded erasers, a #2B pencil, as well as any objects they may want to work with such as musical instruments, found objects, and/or costumes.

For those unable to attend this Saturday's workshop, do not despair - Linda will be hosting The Insanity Principle Workshops every second Saturday through April. Come to one, or go to all of them.

A $30 minimum donation per class is requested (all proceeds go to the artist). For questions and to reserve a spot, please email or call the artist at 760-808-5326.

Next Insanity Principles Workshop:

Saturday, January 13, 2 - 4 p.m.

Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center

65336 Winters Road, Joshua Tree

Linda Carmella Sibio Linda Carmella Sibio’s practice investigates the fringe of society, exploring how it affects culture. Madness has been a dominant theme in her work, having been influenced by her own diagnosis as schizophrenic and her mother’s incarceration in mental hospitals in West Virginia during Sibio’s childhood. Sibio’s philosophy reflects a combination of personal experience and intellectual pursuits. She has been influenced by Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even,” Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, Artaud’s The Theatre and its Double, and Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. Her work addresses strong social themes such as homelessness, mental illness, and the underbelly of society. Sibio is interested in the raw power of human emotional contact. She has received over 20 grants and awards including a Lannan Foundation Grant and a Rockefeller MAP Fund Award. Most recent grants received are the Wynn Newhouse Award and the Tree of Life Award. Her work has been seen at Brussels Contemporary Art Fair, Walker Art Center, Franklin Furnace, VSA Arts at the United Nations Headquarters, VSA Arts at the Kennedy Center, Armory NYC, Highways Performance Space, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Track 16, REDCAT Studio, and Scope Los Angeles at the Standard Hotel. Sibio has received media coverage in ArtNet, Art Week, CBS ‘Eye on the Desert’, Clinical Psychiatry News, Coachella Valley News, Colliding Worlds, Creator’s Project, Desert Post Weekly, Drama-Logue Magazine, High Performance, LA Reader, LA Style, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, MinnPost (Max About Town), New York Times, Palm Springs Life, Schizophrenia Bulletin, The High Desert Star, and The Sun Runner. She is represented by Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York.

Her work at The Andrew Edlin Gallery, NYC

Sibio's Bezerk Productions

Crazy for a Day clothing

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