Over the course of the next year, five artists and their partner nonprofit organizations will bring engaging arts projects to communities throughout the San Diego region as the most recent cohort of the Creative Catalyst Program . In anticipation of these projects, we are featuring each artist here on SDF News to get you excited for what’s to come and to share more about their backgrounds and impact in the region.
Erica Buechner is a professional dancer, choreographer and producer in San Diego who has performed for a variety of established dance companies in the region. Since 2011, she has co-produced youTurn Arts, an annual arts event that features visual artists and musicians from all over San Diego.
As part of her Creative Catalyst project, Erica is working with nonprofit organization Art Produce to bring together members of the professional dance community with non-dancers, including individuals from local refugee communities and older adults in the City Heights and North Park areas, through creative workshops and a final performance that blends arts, movement-based learning, and story sharing. Dancers of all ages and abilities will explore the theme of “underneath” – what is hidden, secret or surprising in participants’ lives.
We spent some time with Erica, who shared her passion for the art of dance and the community she shares her work with.
Interview with Erica Buechner
The San Diego Foundation: What inspires you to be an artist?
Erica Buechner: I like to mention that I never really meant to be an artist. I always loved the art of dance; training, teaching, and creating my own work, but when I thought about committing to it long term, I figured I would stop doing it at some point. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I was happy investing all of my resources toward being a dance artist and that I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I do it because I’m inspired to.
TSDF: What role do you believe art plays in civil society?
EB: I think art provides windows and mirrors into society. Art asks its viewers to develop critical thinking skills and learn how to interpret perspective. It develops imagination. It asks us to become comfortable with the idea that some things don’t have answers. Art helps society develop mentally and emotionally. And if we are talking about the art of dance, it can help you develop physically, too!
TSDF: How do you engage with the community through your art?
EB: I have always felt it is just as important to think about the community you are sharing your art with, as is the art itself. I have engaged with the community by creating and sharing work in a multitude of places. I teach and create new works with students in the studios and schools I work in. I mentor other artists in their creative processes through various programs. My goal has never been to keep my art or process of art making a mystery, but to share it. This benefits me just as much as them, because it helps me understand it more.
TSDF: Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
EB: The most recent real-life situation that inspired me was the decline surrounding my grandmother’s health. Death can be a tricky thing to negotiate in a family, and I felt and still feel a lot of sorrow around the way her physical decline created a lot of turmoil within my extended family. I created “The Dying Swan: Revisited/Re-envisioned” two years ago to help me process my experience. With her recent passing, I am thinking of re-staging it next year.
TSDF: What do you hope San Diegans take away from engaging with your Creative Catalyst project?
EB: Through the community workshops, my goal has been for them to feel that the art of dance is more accessible to them than perhaps they previously thought. During the culminating project, I’d love for them to take away beauty, perspective, excitement, sensation, awe…something that resonates with them. I would like them to take away a story – one they experienced while watching, one they imagined was unfolding, one that the work reminded them of, or one they uncovered in themselves.
Engaging with the Artists
The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Program works to grow the creative economy, advance artist careers and strengthen community engagement by increasing opportunities for San Diegans to experience arts and culture.
Erica is one of five artists who will be sharing their unique works with the community over the next year. Learn more about our other Creative Catalyst artists, including:
To learn how to engage with Erica and other artsts as they develop their 2018-2019 Creative Catalyst project, subscribe to our newsletter – SDF News.