The thread that runs through all my work is joy,” says local artist Elisa H. Hamilton. That goes for her Dance Spot series, which has brought pop-up dance floors to museums, parks and City Hall Plaza, and her latest project, Supermarket, which plays with the idea of a store for superpowers. “Not only does it tap into that joyful place of imagination, but it’s also an entry point to real conversations about the responsibilities we have to our communities.” It’s also the driving force for her 15-week spring residency at the Boston Center for the Arts; we chatted with the MassArt alum to learn more.
HOW DID THE IDEA FOR SUPERMARKET START? For three years, I lived across the street from this great supermarket. Because I lived so close by, I would go there pretty much every day. I developed a deep affection both for the store itself—they had a great wine selection—and for the people who worked there. This place brought me such pleasure that I began to think about the positivity that it brought to my life, in combination with the word “supermarket,” and began to wonder what the possibilities of a genuine “super” market might be.
WHAT’S THE PLAN FOR YOUR NEXT BCA EVENT? I released an online survey asking, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?” The answers have been stunningly rich, as have the conversations I’ve been having in person. At the March 20 program, I plan to share those survey results and ask participants to think about what these superpowers would actually look like on a shelf. Does invisibility come in a tube or a spray can? Does the ability to fly require assembly, and how would you activate it? It’s going to be a really imaginative conversation with some super fun hands-on activities.
SO WHAT WOULD YOUR SUPERPOWER BE? At first, I thought I wanted to have the ability to heal others. But that power comes with such heavy social responsibility; I would basically need to spend every second of my life running around saving people. And how would I choose who to heal and who to let suffer? … Ultimately, I decided I would want a power that could have great positive impact, but wouldn’t make me forfeit the things I love about my ordinary life. So my final answer is the power to instantly grow flowers anywhere. Instead of healing people’s bodies, I could heal their souls.