Making art out of miracles - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Making art out of miracles

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Mandy Zajac writes and edits arts, entertainment and lifestyle content for the Get Out section of the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6818 or

Posted: Friday, January 13, 2012 5:00 pm

The new year feels full of possibility. Promise. Hope. Dreams. Perhaps, then, it’s not too far a stretch for two New York artists, recently arrived in Tempe, to go looking for miracles.

Ken Landauer and Julianne Swartz, here for a six-week residency with the ASU Art Museum, are hoping residents will come forth and share their experiences with the miraculous.

 “We will gratefully record anyone who wishes to retell his or her own miracle. We will record audio and video from these interviews, but identities will be obscured,” they say in a statement about their project, which they’re calling “Miracle Report.”

The recordings will be edited into fleeting vignettes and played, beginning Jan. 21, on audio and visual equipment in the museum.

The pace of modern life — that frenetic blur of demanding work weeks, bumper-to-bumper commutes, jam-packed schedules and the distractions of ever-present glowing screens — doesn’t induce us to think often or deeply on something so mystical.

But if we took the time, I wager we’d all be a bit fascinated by the tales of miracles in our neighbors’ lives, much like we’re drawn in by ghost stories and recountings of the unexplained.

I consider it more coincidence crossed with superstition than miracle that, 20 minutes after we buried a St. Joseph statue, head first, in the lawn of a house we were once trying to sell, we got the call that sold it. But darned if that little story doesn’t get people talking, sharing their own encounters with the mysterious, every time it comes up.

Will Landauer and Swartz’s call get people talking? More than 100 Valley students have already responded to the artists, telling stories of a great-grandmother dancing with the ghost of her late husband, dressed in his wedding suit, and siblings who survived near-fatal war injuries.

The artists say the finished installation, which will be free to view, will achieve “some beauty, some hocus-pocus and some unexplainable magic.”

To share your story, contact Nicole Herden by email at

The opening reception for Miracle Report, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 20, is free and open to the public. Swartz will speak about the project. The ASU Art Museum is at Mill Avenue and Tenth Street in Tempe. Contact it at (480) 965-2787 or

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