Into the Night Sea is a multimedia project navigating the unsettling world of childhood nightmares. The collaborative team of musician James Isaac and visual artist Laura Isaac will create a series of short films combining visual art, photography, and dance with an accompanying soundtrack of re-imagined traditional lullabies.
The project title is taken from the origin of the word nightmare, “mare” being the Latin word for sea. The proposed work addresses their experience as parents, and reflects a complex response to their son’s night terrors – a combination of tenderness, powerlessness and bewilderment – and their desire to protect and comfort him. They have come to call this experience “the continually breaking heart of a parent.”
Laura is beginning the project by knitting ten objects and costume pieces, including a black night cap which wraps fully around a child cocooning him in warmth and darkness, cabled socks that extend out into roots to anchor his feet to the ground, conjoined-twin teddy bears, and a large Chinese-inspired dragon puppet.
To make up the soundtrack, they have selected eight traditional lullabies. Together, they will work out new arrangements for the tunes, leaning heavily on James’ experience as a jazz performer and arranger, and incorporating Laura’s experience with performance art into the finished sound. James will then record the soundtrack with local musicians and colleagues.
The films will feature two original dances by local choreographers. The sets will be simple, and filmed in a sparse interior location in the historic “West Bottoms” district of Kansas City, creating a magical world that hovers between enchantment and threat. The final films will be a combination of live-action, still-photos, and animations, with a nod to turn-of-the-century silent film dream worlds.
The public presentation of the project will involve a screening and live performance. The artists will produce a limited edition book and CD/DVD packages which will be available for sale to the public at that time, with a limited number of the songs and films available for free online after the event.
James Isaac kicked off his professional music career over twenty years ago by running away with the circus. After playing saxophone for the touring Circo Mundial, James returned to his hometown of Kansas City and has become a mainstay of the thriving jazz scene there. He is adept at playing everything from traditional jazz to more experimental and ambitious contemporary compositions, as is evident from a small selection of the many groups he performs and records with: Killer Strayhorn, The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, and The Village Gypsy Jazz Band. James has played with many musicians visiting Kansas City, including Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Debbie Boone, Louis Bellson, Phil Woods, and The Neville Brothers. After having provided music for everything from acrobatics to musical theater, ballet to burlesque, traditional swing to avant-garde free jazz, James is currently founding a group of his own with select area musicians to play his unique arrangements and new jazz compositions. James is on the music faculties of The University of Central Missouri and Johnson County Community College. James received his Master of Music in Saxophone Performance from the Eastman School of Music.
Laura Isaac is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Kansas City. Currently, Laura is in the midst of a long-term performance/visual project called 10,000 Hours tracking and documenting the development of mastery by learning to knit. Now at just over a quarter of the way through the project she is a professional knitter and receiving recognition for her knitted art. Laura’s knitted wearable-art pieces will be seen this Summer on the West Eighteenth Street Fashion Show runway in Kansas City’s Crossroads art district. In 2012, her temporary knitted installation on the Alexander Calder sculpture, La Grande Vitesse, in Grand Rapids, Michigan was placed on the ArtPrize Top-Five Urban-Space Award Short List by juror Susan Szenasy. Laura has shown her work in galleries and arts venues throughout the United States including Kansas City, Santa Fe, Miami, and New York.
Laura received her Master’s in Studio Art from The University of Missouri – Kansas City.