GOT MY WINGS
Creative Alliance Project presents “Got My Wings.” Inspired by That Bird Has My Wings, the personal and spiritual journey and writings of Jarvis Jay Masters, an innocent man on death row in San Quentin State Prison. Composer Daniel Blake performs his original composition with ballet choreographed by Tomiko Magario and performed by Westchester Ballet Company. Following the performance, a panel of formerly incarcerated men and women share their experiences and reflect on living and coping in prison.
Masters tells his story in That Bird Has My Wings, a memoir written in solitary confinement. While in prison, Jarvis Jay Masters has become a Buddhist and an author. Blake has been able to contact and converse with Masters, developing a relationship despite Masters’ incarceration.
“My heart was opened by his achievement,” says Blake. “That he could write his book in solitary confinement, that he could become connected to his core humanity in those circumstances – it is a deep testament to the potential of the human spirit.”
Amy Harte, President, Board of Directors of Westchester Ballet Company:
“It’s hard to find the words to express fully what being a part of the Got My Wings project has meant for our ballet company. The piece demands empathy and awareness. The experience has given our young dancers a profound understanding of how the arts can inform, educate, and facilitate civil discourse and engagement.”
Choreographer Tomiko Magario describes the ballet as “in service to Blake’s music.” Talking about her creative process, she says that many of the shapes and gestures of the piece were developed in rehearsals. The young dancers of the Westchester Ballet were “open,” they “did not hide behind technique.” Magario wanted to maintain the honest feeling behind the movements. “My job was to make it cohesive,” she said.
That Bird Has My Wings has been selected for Oprah’s Book Club. While the book is a narrative about Jarvis Jay Masters’ life from early childhood through his time in prison, Blake’s score is not focused on the details of that story. “I’m dealing with the topic of freedom – freedom from the limitations and strictures placed upon us by the circumstances of our lives, which for him are extraordinary.” Jarvis Jay Masters, from his cell, also reflects on freedom:
” Sometimes when I refer to home, it means more about what you feel, how you get along with you, and how you cope with the environment you’re in. When I speak of home, I’m speaking of keeping my heart soft and strong, and not letting this place bring the worst out of anybody.”
Daniel Blake, composer, multi-instrumentalist and activist is the producer of three albums of his original music. He has toured with Esperanza Spalding, Julian Lage, and is a recipient of the 2022 New York State Council On the Arts Fellowship. Tania León, Pulitzer Prize winner and Kennedy Center 2022 honoree, describes Blake as “a talent whose time has come. He is doing great things.” Blake produces the annual Concert To Feed The Hungry. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the City University of New York and is currently on faculty at the New School for Social Research.
Creative Alliance Project encourages broad community engagement with the arts as a means to promote equity and justice. CAP founder, Mindy Yanish, shares Blake’s vision. Reflecting on this project, Yanish says,
“Got My Wings” is the most socially and artistically significant project CAP has produced. It is a privilege to work with an artistic team that is calling attention to injustices embedded in our culture and is dedicated to equity and compassion.”
Thanks to our community partner, the Bedford Hills Free Library, in support of this program, That Bird Has My Wings has been designated as a community read with every library in our area.
Art in Store (AIS), a project to showcase art in vacant storefronts and enliven the main streets in the Town of Bedford launched in Katonah as CAP simultaneously reinstated the Katonah Art Walk, a wonderful community multi-arts event started by CAP’s founder in 2018.
AIS featured quilts by Donna Chambers, a Westchester -based and nationally renowned artist. Also featured were the quilts of Brazilian artist and designer Arlete Chaves, an Ossining-based quilter who teaches sewing and quilting at the Community Center of Northern Westchester . Also on display were quilts created by incarcerated women from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.
“Art In Store is an amazing collaboration with landlords, artists, community members and town organizations,” noted Mindy Yanish, founder of CAP. “This project not only attracts visitors and shoppers to our main streets and beautifies our physical spaces, but also cultivates equity and inclusion by showcasing art that reflects our shared humanity and unites the community.”
The festivities featured live music performed by New MUSE4tet, an improvising string quartet that offers 20th and 21st century works and original compositions as a vehicle for social activism. Listen to their music HERE.