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Meet Emmeline Cordingley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emmeline Cordingley.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve wanted to be a performer for so long that I can’t remember when that seed planted itself in my young brain. I come from a family with rippling, fractured creativity; ideas and aesthetic talents pushed to the margins in favor of realistic, down-to-earth livelihoods. I grew up feeding voraciously on the fantastic tales my grandfather spun, the sound of my aunt’s beautiful singing voice, and the full colorful worlds I created and play-acted with my best friend. The journey to claiming my creativity was relatively long and boring and includes many, many instances of giving up. I waded through dreams of being an actress, a musician, a documentary filmmaker, a director, and have found myself here, as a performance artist.
I lived in Massachusetts until I was 25, in blizzard winters and humid summers, with pines and cranberry bogs, and also the suburbs. My family was religious in a vague, church-at-Christmas kind of way, but I became a devout Catholic by myself as a teenager. I left the church about 8 years ago, but that time of piety has shaped my worldview, and now my art. I consider myself a fundamentally spiritual person, and art-making a fundamentally spiritual practice.
I’ve had the privilege of living spontaneously and nomadically for the last 3 years; a cross-country road trip with no planned destination brought me to LA, where I’ve lived for just shy of one year.

Please tell us about your art.
I am a performance artist. I create containers of experience in which I may encounter a multitude of emotional states. For a piece I performed called Revisit, I built a version of a Catholic sacred object called a monstrance. In an old barn, I placed myself in front of the monstrance and makeshift altar for an hour while audience members watched from the rafters above. For me, the piece was about confrontation, reconciliation, and subverting institutional claims on religion and spirituality.
Performance is powerful in its capacity to be immersive and immediate. There is no language acting as a barrier between body and experience. What attracts me as an artist are explorations of interpersonal relationships, different modalities of intimacy, and investigations of religious concepts: worship, devotion, sacredness.
The best response an audience member could have to my work, is what a fellow artist said to me after watching Revisit: “I want to do that.”

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
The increasing cultural doubt about the value of art and artists is a challenge and a worry. Marina Abramovic said, “Artists are the oxygen of society.” Art can show us where we are societally flawed, where we lack compassion, where there is suffering. And, especially for children, the arts can do so many things: improve mental health, provide a voice for activism, expand emotional intelligence, teach problem-solving skills. I think on an individual level, the challenge becomes choosing art over an easier and financially safer path; a choice not everyone has the privilege to make.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I have a website! And I run an instagram about windows at night.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Gregory Grano, Raianna Ramirez

1 Comment

  1. Sheila Rayburn

    December 13, 2019 at 21:48

    The artistic talent is in our genes 🧬. Your Grandmother Cordingly spoke of you a great deal, and it was all good. From the time you were a baby…. Your Great Grandfather’s brother John Mulcahy painted many pieces.
    There are musical voices in the family as well, my sisters (Mary Lou & Judy) have angelic voices. Your Aunts Denise & Diane are 2 more.
    I admire &praise your talents, but keep doing & doing; don’ let this gift 💝 grow stale.

    God’s Blessings,
    Your 2nd cousin- Sheil Mulcahy Rayburn

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