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Maria Finkelmeier ǀ Sofie Hodara ǀ U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo ǀ Martha Rettig

Maria Finkelmeier Photo: Adam DeTour Named a “one-woman dynamo” by The Boston Globe and Boston’s Best 2018 "Creative Catalyst" by The Improper Bostonian, Maria Finkelmeier is a percussionist, composer, public artist, educator, and arts entrepreneur. Maria has created large-scale multimedia events in public spaces from Cincinnati to Northern Sweden, with several locations in Boston, including Fenway Park, Charlestown Navy Yard, Edison Power Plant, and Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Empowered by and curious about the sonic world, Maria finds music, narrative, and collaboration in unexpected places.

Sofie Hodara ©Hodara Sofie Hodara is a Boston-based multimedia artist and educator. Often working collaboratively, she explores the intersection between traditional and emerging media in order to create beautiful, non-utilitarian experiences with technology. The results range in form from paper weavings, to letterpress prints, to interactive installations, and to mixed reality. Hodara has exhibited her work across the country at spaces including Icebox Project Space in Philadelphia PA, UC San Diego’s Calit2 Theater, and the Bromfield Gallery in Boston MA. Her work has been featured in the Boston Globe, Fresh Paint Magazine, Made in Mind Magazine, and the Journal of the New Media Caucus. She has presented on augmented reality at conferences internationally, including the AR in Action Leadership Summit at the MIT Media Lab and the IXDA Education Summit in Milan, Italy. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses and workshops in design, printmaking, typography, augmented and virtual reality, and creative activism at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, SMFA at Tufts University, Emmanuel College, University of Massachusetts Boston, and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. More Information here.

U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo ©U-Meleni U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo is a Zimbabwean-American poet, performance artist, storyteller, and educator with an international reach and a transnational lens. Her debut poetry collection, Soul Psalms (She Writes Press), was published in April 2016, and hailed by David Updike as “a fearless female voice … tempered with optimism and healing possibilities of love.” Most recently she has been featured on WGBH’s “Suitcase Stories” and “ Growing Up Black Part 2 “, collaborated on multiple films for the 2021 Boston Globe Black History Film Festival. U-Meleni is an advisory board member for Write On the Dot and a member of the New England Poetry Club. She is a 2021 Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship recipient from the Arts and Business Council of Boston. She is also the founder of Maoko Project, an arts-based approach to DEI, Wellness, and Education guided by Ndau ( Shona) principles. U-Meleni is also an occasional adjunct professor at Endicott College (Boston) teaching creative writing and performance poetry. She has a Master’s in Education from Lesley University, focusing on multicultural education and theatre arts. Also very proud of undergraduate alum of UMASS Boston. She is fiercely passionate about using her voice for women’s empowerment, holistic wellness, and exploring “hyphenated identities” through her work. When not writing, performing, or collaborating with other artists, she can often be found enjoying a Riesling at a winery, biking and running for charity with her husband and son, and traveling the world. She lives in Boston with her family. More information here.

Martha Rettig ©Rettig Martha Rettig is a designer, experimenter, and immersive artist whose work focuses on merging traditional mediums with emerging technologies. Her experience crosses many disciplines, including design concept, visual design, interactive design, interface design, data visualization, experience design, and creative direction. She co-founded an interactive design agency, Cykod, in 2006 and helped build digital solutions for over two hundred companies. Martha currently is an Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art + Design teaching in the undergraduate Communication Design department and the co-director of the college's Dynamic Media Institute MFA program. More information here.

Maria Finkelmeier

Threads of Assumption: The Biases You Weave

Multimedia Performance Installation 
June 24-27, 2021
Goethe-Institut Boston

Video by Nick Blanchette
Threads of Assumption is an interactive performance and installation by Maria Finkelmeier, Sofie Hodara, U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo, and Martha Rettig. 
Our work responds to real stories about experienced bias, gathered on a virtual, anonymous conversation platform and analyzed by natural language processing artificial intelligence (AI). The resulting exhibition is a visual, sonic, and tactile representation of human truths and errors. The project asks us to reconsider our assumptions surrounding bias and what we accept as normal. How can we expect machines to extract meaning from what we don’t understand?
Data was collected from 22 sourced conversations. Each conversation was analyzed for emotional content and thematic language and transformed, by AI, into datasets. As artists, the concept of weaving this rigid data and the human experience became essential at every turn, similar to the way tactile weavings are made, with a tense warp and threaded weft. 
The exhibition is centered around an interactive, room-scale loom, while hanging weavings, spoken word poetry, projections, and musical composition allows attendees to learn about and reflect upon the gathered data. 
The data we gathered did not teach us anything new. It simply reinforced our society’s acceptance of harmful structures and individual’s perpetuation of rigid assumptions.
Thanks to our 44 participants, including: 
Annie Lundsten
Bianca Mauro
Brian Calhoon
Jasmine Lellock
Kendall Rhymer
Ksenija Komljenovic
Lindsay Akens
Lisa Daria Kennedy
Lydia Lucas
Maria Servellon
Natalie Gray
Sheryl Pace
Susan Hodara
Ulrike Rettig
Wendy Richmond
Additional thanks to: Bianca Mauro of BRM Production Management, J. Cottle, The Loop Lab, Aram Boghosian, Adam DeTour, Gabi Ammirato 

The Boston Foundation logo This project is made possible (in part) by a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation.