BEVERLY — For those who have never had a poem written about them, The Queen of Luxuria will gladly oblige.
Titled Neighborhood Magic, the pieces debuted Oct. 3 at as part of the Beverly Art Walk. Little was commissioned by the Beverly Area Arts Alliance, the organizers of the annual walk, to chronicle the life stories of eight community elders. The project was sponsored by Beverly Bank with support from Smith Village.
To her goal, Little interviewed candidates age 70 and older and creating large sculptures that represented their stories. She then wrote poetry to create a narrative around each work.
The wooden sculptures doubled as mail boxes and were placed throughout the neighborhood in locations of importance to the individuals who inspired the art, Little said Monday from her studio in Garfield Park.
Members of the public were invited to visit these mail boxes and drop a note inside detailing their own important life moments. Little transcribed these moments into poetry for the art walk.
As for those who inspired the sculptures, the locals included two people actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement, a neighborhood horticulturist, a member of the San Francisco-based psychedelic theater group The Cockettes and others, Little said.
The poems she created on these individuals were performed by an eight-member choir who traveled via trolley to each piece. Dressed a costume inspired by her work, The Queen of Luxuria introduced each piece wearing elaborate face paint and a bright wig.
"This project has really opened up the history of Beverly," Little said. "The history that is in each one of these people."
This time, the eight pieces will be placed throughout grounds of the historical society at 10621 S. Seeley Ave. The society hosted a roundtable discussion ahead of the performance for the Beverly Art Walk and will also host a screening April 15 of a short film about the community art project.
"Hopefully, it inspires debate, and people share their stories," said Little, who speaks with a bit of a brogue inherited from her Scottish parents.
Post cards and pencils are again located in all of the artists' mail boxes. Little, who also teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is asking local participants to include their addresses this time along with their some important life moments.
In return, Little will write poetry based on these moments and mail them to the participants. This an important part of Little's philosophy as The Queen of Luxuria, as she aims to create transformative experiences through her performances.
"It's really a public art project where the public can engage anytime throughout the course of the month," she said. "We have so much to learn from each other."
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