Aurora – Powered by Reliant is an immersive art, light and sound experience that will span the entire Dallas Arts District on the evening of October 16, 2015 from 7 p.m. – 2 a.m. More than 80 local and international artists and five noted curators will participate. The founders of Aurora and the nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center are proud producers of the event.
By Abbie Kopf ¦ Center Staff
Photo: Courtesy Erica Felicella
Erica Felicella has quite the experience planned for those who visit her piece “Traveling to Together” at Aurora – Powered by Reliant. The executive director of Art Conspiracy (Art Con) and perennial performance artist is perhaps most famous for “Visible Shell,” an award-winning piece where she spent 48 hours alone, in a box, writing the same sentence over and over.
Lest you think Felicella will expect the same of you, don’t worry; she simply wants people to experience something that resonates with them and causes them to reflect. “I work in people,” Felicella explains. “My art explores every aspect of the human condition.”
Her Aurora piece, located in the central section at the nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center campus, will corral attendees through a series of guided pathways before the finale, which takes place in an area Felicella calls “the hug zone.” Beyond that teaser, she’s mum on the details but promises an impactful experience. Felicella does expand on the message of her piece. “It’s a buildup,” she says. “We are all traveling down a path, any path, and there has to be something at the end. Good or bad, it will end up somewhere.”
Erica’s path as a Dallas arts fixture began with a lot of closed doors. Literally.
Despite living in The Continental Gin Building, a community designated for artists, she found that most of the people who worked there were doings so behind closed doors, creating separately. Felicella began knocking on doors during the day, facilitating conversations and arranging meetups for the artists there.
The door-knocking foreshadowed her later role as Executive Director of Art Conspiracy, an organization collectively led and implemented by a cadre of Dallas’ top creative talent. Art Con’s initiatives have proliferated and flourished over the past decade, raising visibility for artists and extending $300,000 in funds to local nonprofits.
As an organization, Art Con will also exhibit at Aurora, with five of its players (Rick Fontenot, Mike Arreaga, Jonathan Rudak, Tramaine Townsend and Felicella) collaborating on an 8’x8’ pyramid where Aurora attendees will enter to see themselves projected onto the internal wall. You might view yourself a little differently, which Felicella says is the goal. “On social media we have total control of our image. Here you don’t get to alter or change it and people might view themselves in a way they’re unaccustomed to,” Felicella says.
Art Con itself has experienced shifting perceptions as it grows beyond scrappy startup and enters a new phase of sustainability. Despite the fact that Felicella sometimes uses “grassroots” to describe the organization, she corrects herself in conversation; Art Con has graduated into an enduring, legitimate force in the artistic community. As Art Con widens its scope beyond visual arts to explore film, music, writing and even art collection, they are fast becoming one of the region’s strongest incubators of up-and-coming creatives.
“Dallas is so big, and these grassroots organizations are a catalyst to its growing cultural vitality,” says Felicella. She believes that Art Con and other like-minded organizations are just beginning to “poke through the surface” and become more mainstream, both within the arts community and for all North Texas citizens.
“We want art to be accessible, which is why I love Aurora,” says Felicella. “My favorite crowds are those who might not go to every gallery opening or arts event.”
And crowds she’ll have. At least 30,000 visitors are expected to attend and immerse themselves in unique arts experiences. Throughout the event, which spans the entire Dallas Arts District, there will be evidence that the founders of Aurora and the producers at the nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center intentionally created a democratic event. Local artists are peppered throughout, in addition to noted international artists – all of whom have sections curated by professionals. The local-meets-global feel of Aurora promises to provide people with art that’s fun to experience, interesting to see and impossible to forget.
Entrance to Aurora is free to the public and will include educational activities for families. If you are interested in elevating your experience, A VIP Experience ticket is available for purchase. It includes all-night access to three exclusive VIP Lounges located throughout Aurora (featuring private bars, food by Wolfgang Puck and themed décor) and admission to a special Aurora afterparty. Tickets for the VIP Experience and afterparty are available at www.attpac.org/auroravip.