UW–Madison students and Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence Litza Bixler present Bodies, Borders & Belonging multimedia exhibition May 8 & 9

Litza Bixler, the spring 2021 University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of the Arts Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence and students will present Bodies, Borders & Belonging at the Arts Lofts (111 N. Frances Street) from Saturday – Sunday, May 8 – 9. The exhibition is open to the UW–Madison community on a limited basis.

Bodies, Borders & Belonging overlays image of vintage suitcase with archival photographs collaged on top.

Litza Bixler is a choreographer, filmmaker, movement director, visual artist and writer. She has produced work on stage, screen, galleries and mountains. Bixler works across the spheres of art, performance and film and has been a working artist and educator since 1995.

The final residency event from May 8-9 will feature a multi-media exhibition from the over 20 students in Litza Bixler’s interdisciplinary arts course “Creativity, Collaboration and the Creation of Self.” The students in Bixler’s class represent a wide range of undergraduate and graduate majors including art (visual), arts administration, business, communication arts (radio, film, tv), dance and design + innovation. Residency guest artists attended the class via Zoom including actor and dancer Reshma Gajjar, filmmaker and educator Simon Aeppli, film editor Paul Machliss and multi-disciplinary photographer and director Sean de Sparengo.  In addition Professor Faisal Abdu’Allah (Art Department and former IARP artist) and sound artist Tim Russell (Dance Department) also provided guidance to the students.

The final multimedia collaborative piece examines the movement of people across physical borders and conceptual boundaries. It also examines diaspora, geography and immigration as storied processes that create and transmute identity. The work encompasses how generations move: literally, metaphorically and culturally and questions what it means to be “from” a particular place or country. The images, sounds and films produced during the course draw from the diverse personal narratives and stories of the students involved in the exhibit, as well as the UW–Madison community.

The final exhibition is divided into three sections. The first section includes dance films projected on fabric with rich, layered soundscapes. The second section showcases three vintage suitcases and references personal families’ histories and life journeys. The third section features ‘pocket-sized’ objects built from paper, ancestral photos and letters. A triptych series of self- portrait photographs taken by the students during the course will be presented at the front of the exhibit. For more information, visit the IARP website.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the exhibition will be limited to the UW–Madison community in 30 minute increments between 5–8 p.m. on Saturday, May 8 and 3–6 p.m. on Sunday, May 9. Sign up here or contact Heather Owens at iarp@arts.wisc.edu for more information. Later this summer there will be more information about the exhibit found on the residency website.

Per Litza Bixler, “Creativity and innovation are essential not just to the arts, but also to science, business, education and social policy. So determining who is allowed access to creativity and its material products and whose voices are encouraged is an important part of the examination of creativity. As such, creativity cannot be divorced from the society it exists within. So my intention with this course was to encourage students to engage with their own creative process by first situating it within a wider social, cultural and historical context. However much we might like to romanticize creativity as a product of individual genius, creativity rarely occurs in a vacuum. In order to collaborate effectively, we must engage with diverse ideas and perspectives, manage material resources (time, money, space, tools and equipment) and build strong, respectful relationships.

During the creative process, we must recognize limits and boundaries whilst at the same time allowing our minds and ideas to be limitless. This tension between the imagined and the possible is at the heart of creativity and collaboration. If you can imagine it, you are one step closer to achieving it. But creativity is ultimately forged in the crucible of reality, so imagination is only the beginning. It’s the first step down a long arduous path, full of twists and turns and dark nights of the soul. A path that may or may not get you to your final destination. But a path that is worth pursuing nonetheless.”

The spring 2021 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program (IARP) is presented by the UW-Madison Division of the Arts and hosted by the Dance Department with Professor Li Chiao-Ping as lead faculty. Co-sponsors include the Art Department and Department of Communication Arts.


Litza Bixler

photo of a pale skinned woman with dark hair and blue eyesLitza Bixler is a choreographer, filmmaker, movement director, visual artist and writer. She has produced work on stage, screen, galleries and mountains. Bixler works across the spheres of art, performance and film and has been a working artist and educator since 1995.

Bixler has created movement and action for some of the most iconic scenes in film including “Shaun of the Dead,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” and “The World’s End.” She has collaborated on a movie musical, a musical series for Disney and a salsa dance comedy. She has worked with a variety of award-winning performers such as: Hugh Jackman, Colin Firth, Simon Pegg, Lake Bell, Sienna Miller, Nick Frost, David Beckham, Bill Nighy, Jude Law and Sam Rockwell.

She has created live-pieces, screenplays and paintings and worked on numerous award-winning projects. She has also produced live-art and physical theater pieces with her company Litza Bixler Performance. Bixler often explores liminal spaces, thresholds and metaphorical journeys in her work. She has lived in numerous communities within three countries (England, Mexico and the United States) and is a dual national. Bixler’s longer bio and work samples are on her website: litzabixler.com.