Birds of a Feather

Studio portrait shoot of Meg Foley for Kelly Horrigan Handmade at The Brooklyn Arts Exchange in Brooklyn, New York on September 22, 2012.This is a unique Seen & Herd. Our subject is Meg Foley. She is wearing a custom KHH feather collar & necklace that was made for her wedding. Meg influenced the color, the design, and the types of feathers all to express her vision for this vibrant day. Kelly, Meg and our photographer Angela Jimenez know each other in a familial way, each supporting the others artistic endeavors through skill trades, collaboration and love. Some know Meg as a Philadelphia-based choreographer and the director of Moving Parts (in 2012 she was awarded the prestigious Pew Fellowship). She’s built an esteemed body of work but the term choreographer limits her true approach to dance. It may be more apt to say she is a movement investigator, a spatial trickster, environment builder, a playful colorist and a perception priestess. As these pictures reveal, it’s hard to capture her in one place at one time…

Studio portrait shoot of Meg Foley for Kelly Horrigan Handmade at The Brooklyn Arts Exchange in Brooklyn, New York on September 22, 2012.1221-edited_no armpitStudio portrait shoot of Meg Foley for Kelly Horrigan Handmade at The Brooklyn Arts Exchange in Brooklyn, New York on September 22, 2012.Studio portrait shoot of Meg Foley for Kelly Horrigan Handmade at The Brooklyn Arts Exchange in Brooklyn, New York on September 22, 2012.SNH: We’re going to start by asking you your own question, how many parts are you composed of? How about now?

Meg Foley: oh gosh, y’all just want to go right down the rabbit hole! (and I see you’ve been reading my website…)   Well technically the human body has some 100 trillion cells, but I think about my body like dog dreams, intersections of color, sensation, and emotion.  There’s a lot and it’s constantly increasing.  So just now, at least double than when you first asked the question. :)

SNH: These photographs were taken while you were moving, do you make time for dancing everyday, do you have a dance ritual?

MF: I do a dance everyday wherever I am at 3:15pm and have since Oct 2012.  Sometimes the dances are quite elaborate and other times they are single gestures or ideas concentrated.  That practice along with my more structured studio practice (that happens three times a week) has started to make me feel like I can’t figure out when I’m dancing versus when I’m not.  I think that’s a good thing, but it’s a bit confusing compositionally.

SNH: In 10 words or less, How do you balance being an artist and being your own business?

MF: Not well. Ha.  Office hours! Google Calendar.

SNH: What is your favorite dimension in the space-time continuum?

MF: The third?  Oh! How about the liminal… the space in between dimensions where they connect?  Does that even exist?

SNH: Color seems to play an important part in your work, tell us a little bit about that and your decision to wear orange on your wedding day… 

MF: I like color because it allows sameness and difference at the same time, where we are all parts of the same machine but distinctly individual (like roygbiv or primary colors).  White light, which seems so constant, is composed of each of those colors of light.  So it’s like refracting an image to see all of it’s intricacy and glittery insides.

As well, the use of monochromatic costumes was an attempt to present my performers as both people and as representations of People — So because my dancers are wearing one color outfits, it’s a bit weird, you don’t often see people dressed like that, they aren’t regular people, entirely themselves, or representations of the local butcher, for example – they are abstracted-, but they are still People (and not creatures or bodies as moving forms) because they are wearing t shirts and pants with pockets and zippers.  In that way, the stage space becomes a world that is both real and a representation.

As for the orange wedding dress, I don’t believe in white wedding dresses because of the whole virginal history and what that signifies.  And lord knows I like to stand out… I wanted something powerful and punchy that was closer to who I am as opposed to traditional wedding values.

SNH: The artist Man Ray had a subtle influence on the styling of this post, besides other dancers who or what do you look to for inspiration? 

MF: I’m very inspired by a number of visual and environmental artists, including Uta Barth, Andreas Gursky, Gordon Matta-Clark, James Turrell, Laylah Ali, Alec Soth, and Fred Sandback.  Lots of photography.  And again this thing of singularity against multiplicity, expansive versus intimate, and representations of physicality.  Sarah Michelson’s Devotion is probably the last choreography I’ve seen that had me seriously buzzing or Michelle Boule’s performance in And lose the name of action by Miguel Gutierrez.  Also, the woods and the southwestern landscape.  And traveling in general.  I like separating myself from my context sometimes.  Oh and going dancing and getting really sweaty and letting my imagination run wild.

SNH: Are you originally from Philadelphia? How did you come to set up shop there?

MF: No, I grew up in DC.  I came to Philadelphia through process of elimination.  After graduating from Scripps College in Southern California, I wanted to move to the Netherlands but was really too scared to do it on my own.  I knew I wanted to make dances, and I didn’t want to stay on the west coast, didn’t want to move to NYC, didn’t want to stay in DC.  I heard Philadelphia was cheap and there was a lot of performance so there it was.  I only knew one person here when I moved here.  I kept thinking I was going to leave, and then my wife and I bought a house.

SNH: Can you share one of your best-kept Philly secrets?

MF: Hmmm, there is a really good swimming hole not too far outside the city that isn’t over run with people or trash so actually I don’t want to say where.  Ha!  Tofu hoagies from Fu Wah market, no doubt, but that’s not really a secret…. and the thrift store in the Aramingo and York shopping center in Fishtown.  It’s huge!  And guess where I got all that khaki clothing to dye for those monochromatic costumes?

SNH: How’s married life?

MF: Oh, it’s good.  I’m so freaking lucky.  I like the sense of possibility that has come with marriage for me.

SNH: If you could create a dance piece anywhere in the world and take us all there, where would we be going?

MF: Probably Australia.  Maybe intermission would involve us all heading over to New Zealand.

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About KHH

Kelly Horrigan is a fashion designer and educator. Through her company KHH | Kelly Horrigan Handmade she creates one-of-a-kind leather designs that combine old-world techniques with modern aesthetic. She earned her BFA in fashion design and has since been a professor at Pratt Institute’s fashion department. Her work has been worn by Janet Jackson, featured in the pages of the Fader, Surface, Fiasco Homme and Velvetpark Magazine, The New York Times and seen on NBC's The Voice, here!TV and Bravo TV. For more info visit
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