Sha Sha Higby visits Washburn and hosts workshop

Elizabeth Evans / Washburn Review

Pastels, glue, and watercolors covered the hands of those who participated in Sha Sha Higby’s workshop Saturday at the Mulvane Art Museum. This performance art workshop incorporated visual art, music and dancing. Higby is a sculptural artist who emphasizes in costume design.

To begin the workshop, Higby turned off the lights and talked the participants through a series of different movements. The participants moved up and down and waved their arms to the sounds of one of Higby’s performances on the screen in the background. After the warm-ups, the participants began to create costumes out of paper plates, butcher paper, paper bags and wires. They layered their costumes with watercolors, pastels, fabrics and colored tissue paper. Once the participants finished their costumes, they put them on and danced throughout the room, simulating a small part of Higby’s performances.

Among the participants at this workshop was junior Candice Morris.

“I’m an art student, and we’re making costumes and masks in one of my art classes,” said Morris.  “I wanted to get some ideas for my costumes.”

Other than the United States, Higby has performed in several other countries. Higby started her work in art by sewing dolls and puppets at a young age. She also began making sculptures. Her art made it into galleries, but she decided she wanted her art to move.

“[The main idea] is to show how people can transform into something else and make stories,” said Higby. “The costumes are the atmosphere around our bodies, and the story is up to the audience.”

Higby creates her performances through a process, which includes making the costumes, taking pictures, and then recording her practice performances. After watching the video several times and adding different props and movements, it usually takes Higby a year to fully develop her performances.

“I feel the most satisfaction when I’m making something with my hands,” said Higby. “It’s refreshing. I love the surprise of how it comes together in the end.”