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Puppets, parades, and passion, a conversation with Spiral Q

In this episode of Artblog Radio, Wit speaks with the two co-directors of Spiral Q: Liza Goodell and Jennifer Turnbull. They discuss the history, present, and future of the organization. Listen in, or read the transcript to learn more about this amazing organization using art as a means of advocacy.

Liza Goodell (left) and Jennifer Turnbull (right) of Spiral Q. Photo courtesy the artists.
Liza Goodell (left) and Jennifer Turnbull (right) of Spiral Q. Photo courtesy the artists.

Wit sits down with Liza Goodell and Jennifer Turnbull, the co-directors of Spiral Q. In this podcast episode, they explore the advocacy work of the organization’s founder, the annual Peoplehood Parade, and the search for a future physical location. Thank you to CultureWorks for allowing us to record this episode of Artblog Radio in their space.

You can listen to Artblog Radio on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Thank you to Kyle McKay for composing Artblog Radio’s original podcast intro and outro!

Wit López: Hello and welcome to another episode of Artblog Radio. I’m your host for today, Wit López, and I’m extra super excited to be joined today by Jennifer Turnbull and Liza Goodell, who are currently the co-directors at the most amazing organization, Spiral Q. If you aren’t familiar with Spiral Q, you’ve probably seen them around. Giant puppets, amazing parades, different things around the city. So welcome to the show, Jennifer and Liza!

Jennifer Turnbull and Liza Goodell: Thank you. (laughter)

Wit López: So excited. So can we talk about, uh, Peoplehood really quick?

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah!

Liza Goodell: Yes!

Wit López: Can you explain to those who are listening who might not know what it is?

Jennifer Turnbull: So Peoplehood is a parade, and pageants, often, and is a celebration, lifting up, um, folks who are living and working at the forefront of oppression and anti-oppression work, and for 20 years, we have walked through the Philadelphia streets in West Philly in a citywide parade, walking Philadelphia streets, uh, from Paul Robeson house at 50th and Walnut to Clark Park at 45th and Kingsessing, and this past year we had our 20th one, which is amazing.

Wit López: Wow! That is amazing.

Jennifer Turnbull: And we partner with three, um, three activist organizations, uh, Philly Thrive, Act Up Philadelphia, and Shut Down Berks.

Wit López: Wow. That’s amazing.

Liza Goodell: Yeah.

Wit López: That’s beautiful.

Liza Goodell Yeah. And so, typically, the, in the 20 years it’s looked a lot of different ways, um, but typically it brings volunteers and neighborhood organizations, um, youth volunteer groups, stroke recovery center. We’ve worked there for a long time together to make art for the parade, and this year with this, um, intentional partnership with these activist groups, it was to bring all these efforts together towards artwork that they could use in the parade and then also for their demonstrations and protests, um, to amplify the messaging, and it was beautiful. It was a really beautiful process.

Wit López: That sounds really beautiful. So, do each of these parades spotlight activist organizations? How does that work?

Jennifer Turnbull: Um, well, the, this format of people that has been kind of a long time evolving, um, Act Up Philadelphia was our actual, like actually our first partner organization, and part of the reason why Spiral Q was alive in the first place. Um, our founder, Matty Hart, um, was like, “what can I do for the movement, um, to support folks living with AIDS and HIV?” and, um, and discovered that, that making, like, giant art and street theater, um, in community with, with that community was the way that he found he could, um, activate himself. And so, that was our, like, first foray out into the world, um, was being like super big and joyful and colorful and out and loud and proud in the streets, um, and. So Peoplehood this year was a way to A) highlight those organizations and, um, have all these public bills, uh, Liza works for like 31 days in a row, (laughter)

Wit López: Wow.

Jennifer Turnbull: um, to hold space for all of the organizations and all of the folks who we invited to participate, to, um, to make this art together, and, so, each of the, um, groups had a section within the parade, and we went through, like, a story circle process with them to really understand what kinds of messaging needed to be, um, lifted up and translated into art, and then through that sort of civil process, we also derived the pageant scenes, um, that happened in the parade, that happened at the park, um, to be able to, to like, really display and, like, reveal what all is happening behind the movements, like why, why does Act Up have a prescription for housing campaign? This is why.

Wit López: Mmm. Wow.

Jennifer Turnbull: These are these stories and you can see them really clearly. Um-

Liza Goodell: Yeah, and it ended up being the most specific pageant we’ve ever had because in the past it was working with a lot of different community members about issues that were important to them, but not necessarily, um, for everyone, the issues that they were living, and so the, for moments of the pageant, um, there were specific things that came out of the people who are enacting them’s lives that was a little next level, I think, for the pageant, and it was a specificity that felt really good for pageantry, ’cause a lot of times pageantry, in my experience, I’ve seen other people do it too, it can be really beautiful and really fun and have all the emotions, but not necessarily be super specific.

Wit López: Definitely.

Liza Goodell: A lot of broad strokes, and this felt really different from that, um.
Turnbull: And, one of our, like, passport members, like longtime friend/family of the Q, um who’s been to, every single Peoplehood except for one, was like, “this has been the best pageant,”

Wit López: Awww.

Jennifer Turnbull: and I was like, “Woo-hoo!” (laughter) Finally!

Liza Goodell: And like, this also wraps up into, like, I have this theory, but, I, its, like, a little untested, but, so, we’ve done, our founding work is with activists making artwork for protests and demonstrations, and so it’s always been this thing that we’ve done kind of on call within our capacity, cause it’s. So it’s like ‘this thing is happening next week, um, and can you help in this way?’ And so we’re like, kind of get in, or get in where you fit in, and so, this was an intentional way to be like, ‘how can we go deeper with people and be ahead of the game and plan that out?’ Um, but then also in this moment in time when there’s so much is, like, so clearly wrong with the world, a lot of, you know, it’s all been happening forever, but, what is the role? I feel like there’s artists and people with specific skills that could, that aren’t necessarily the people in the meetings and on the streets, um, who want to help, in movements, in grassroots movements, but don’t have a space necessary to connect with those activists, and so a vision for this is that this base, every fall can come together and, like, design a screenprint for banners or, you know, learn how to make puppets and then become awesome at it ’cause you already have all these skills and make these connections that can live, um, throughout the year too, so we’ll see.

Jennifer Turnbull: And, and, all of the art that was made for people, it has been used, um, at least once, if not more than once, in those three groups’s direct fashion since then.

Liza Goodell: Yeah.

Wit López: Mmm, wow.

Jennifer Turnbull: So there’s some more purpose and, yeah, there’s so many different, you know, I’m, we’re like ‘everything is everything! It’s all connected!’ She’s like, “yeah, it is all connected. And it’s, there are these really specific through lines that we can see, um, that are like, ephemeral and, like, feelings and soft in that way, but they’re also, like, “look!” this puppet has been seen by this many people. It was used in this direct action in Harrisburg, in D.C.,

Wit López: Wow.

Jennifer Turnbull: in Philadelphia, and that feels great. That’s like, yeah.

Wit López: Wow.

Jennifer Turnbull: That was, that was the vision and it’s working, so.

Liza Goodell Then there’s this, like, the softer thing, I guess, is that the way that bringing activists together in a making space who have all levels of experience, you know, creating artwork or protest art or whatever, um, have, is their, like, actual, like, really interest in doing it and like how it’s sort of, you know, we all know that art is therapeutic in a lot of ways, but, um, is the bonds that they create, making that art together in this, um, and that you can, you have different conversations, paper mache-ing, you know, a house puppet, um, then you do in a meeting where you’re like strategically planning your next steps in the movement, so that’s really cool to see too.

Jennifer Turnbull: And knowing that that kind of connection happens with, um, adult activists, and it happens with youth in our, you know, education programming, and it happens with neighbors who are, you know, working around a specific place-based issue, um, all have that, like, same connection with, with one another when you hold the space for them to collaborate, collaboratively create art together

Wit López: Mmm.

Jennifer Turnbull: toward a specific purpose, and that feels also really amazing.

Wit López: That is really amazing. Thank you for sharing that.

Liza Goodell: We could talk forever about…(laughter) like “oh, you wanna talk about Peoplehood?”

Wit López: No I love it!

Jennifer Turnbull: Peoplehood, October 20th, 2007, was my first day of work with Spiral Q.

Wit López: Wow, that’s amazing.

Jennifer Turnbull: So I got bit by the people who had voted first day.

Wit López: (laughter) almost 13 years ago.

Jennifer Turnbull: Mm-hm.

Wit López: That’s amazing. That’s really wonderful. Um, so I had a question about, uh, possibly Spiral Q’s influenced by Bread and Puppet Theater, um, or is it called Bread and Puppet Theater or just?

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah.

Liza Goodell: Yeah.

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah.

Liza Goodell: Yeah!

Wit López: Like, they, they also made giant puppets and the puppets are also used a lot for kind of revolution work, um, and making a difference within the community. So is there a connection between the two?

Liza Goodell: Yeah, I think, um, Matty, our founder,

Wit López: Mhm!

Goodell: um, I don’t know if he did the actual apprentice program, but definitely spent time there and was part of his influence in even seeing giant puppets I assume, because, you know, the internet wasn’t as big as it is now. Um, I have not personally done any. We’ve had a lot of people come through who’ve been through the apprenticeship program and, you know, come through that route, so, for sure. And they come to Philly, like, once a year, so I always try to get out there to see them, but.

Wit López: That’s wonderful.

Liza Goodell: Yeah, they’re awesome.

Jennifer Turnbull: Yup! Direct connection.

Wit López: That’s amazing. That’s so exciting. Uh, a long, long time ago, (laughter) I had taken some college courses in acting and we learned a lot about puppetry, like full body puppetry, but then also like, making puppets, and so, like, Bread and Puppet Theater was, like, one of my favorite things, to know that there were puppets that giant,

Jennifer Turnbull: Ooooh.

Wit López: But then I went to someone’s house and they didn’t tell me that there was a giant puppet directly behind the front door.

Jennifer Turnbull: Ooooh.

Liza Goodell: Oh my God! (laughter)

Wit López: It was, like, nine feet tall.

Liza Goodell: Oh my God!

Wit López: And so, like, you know, I go into their house and as I’m leaving and I see, like, the hand. (laughter)

Wit López: And so I look up and it was just (screams) (laughter) Terrifying.

Liza Goodell: We used to have a, in our previous space, we had this warehouse on Spring Garden and we had a puppet museum in it, the Living Loft Puppet Museum. And so you would enter these, it was at 31st and Spring Garden, and we moved in 2012 but, um, we’d have summer camps come in or just anyone who was coming to our offices, and you had to go through the museum to get into the office or

Wit López: Oh my God.

Liza Goodell: the studio, and some children, there’s, like, an age of child that’s just, like, I think I have things figured out, like, “I’m, like, four and I’m, like, I got this life thing,”

Jennifer Turnbull: I’m good, I’m good.

Liza Goodell: and then they see a giant puppet and they’re like “Wait! Aren’t those a little big? I cannot” Like, babies are like, “anything goes. I don’t know anything!” And then, like, four- or five-year-olds are like, “this is scary. I’m not entering your building.” (laughter)

Wit López: I-I’m still that four, four-year-old. I’m still that four-year-old, yeah.

Liza Goodell: And the adults, ’cause there was, like, thousands of puppet eyes. Like, thousands.

Jennifer Turnbull: Thousands of puppets.

Wit López: Oh my God.

Liza Goodell: It can be intense.

Wit López: It sounds like it. yeah. Terrifying!(laughter)

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah. My kid is like, “Oh! Okay. Puppets, puppets, puppets. Got it. Puppets.”

Liza Goodell: She can’t help it.

Jennifer Turnbull: We already had the, like, very terrifying moment.

Wit López: Okay.

Jennifer Turnbull: It’s alright. It’s good now. (laughter)

Wit López: Oh, that’s good.(laughter)

Wit López: That’s hilarious. So, you mentioned when you used to be at 31st and Spring Garden, Liza. Um, so currently you’re at 40…?

Jennifer Turnbull: 40, 4100 Haverford Avenue.

Wit López: Right. Right.

Jennifer Turnbull: It’s a beautiful, historic warehouse barn building that is under contract to be sold.

Wit López: Hmm.

Jennifer Turnbull: So that means we got to move! (laughter)

Wit López: So what are the plans for Spiral Q’s future?

Jennifer Turnbull: Well, we’re asking a lot of really important questions right now, um, internally, with organizations to determine, uh, what the next best move is. Um, we have a place-based initiative that is not, like, super official, so we’re wondering if that is going to be the thing that we stick to, um, so we do definitely want to, like, run it by our stakeholders and, and, and have those questions answered, not just by us internally, but, um, really making sure that if we move outside of the neighborhood that we’re in right now, that, that it’s the right move

Wit López: Mmmm.

Jennifer Turnbull: for, for the future.

Liza Goodell: And that it’s done in the right way, too,

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah, so.

Liza Goodell: honoring the work and the place and the relationships.

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot to be mindful of

Wit López: Absolutely.

Jennifer Turnbull: so we want to be sure that we’re, that we’re, like, that we’re doing all those things because, you know, people have harmful practices and we don’t want to really be a part of that.
Goodell: The other thing is what kind of space we need, ’cause, like I was saying, in the other space, it was, um, a little more public, well, we didn’t mention that our space is a little more raw, that we’re in now, and so, that, do we need a space that we can again welcome people into our studios or have the puppets on display like we did, um, in the living loft, um haunted house or whatever? (laughter)

Liza Goodell: Um, no, it was amazing. (laughter)

Liza Goodell: um, yeah, so what kind of space that we need to, um, but yeah. And we have time, too, so it’s not an emergency. The last time we had to move, I think we had like 30 to 60 days notice

Wit López: Oh my God.

Liza Goodell: and so we have a collection of puppets, um, from the past 23 years, and we haven’t got to all of them, but, um, we do, you know, it tells a lot of stories of, like, movements and culture and people of Philadelphia, um, from the past 23 years, so.

Wit López: Wow.

Liza Goodell: But also, it’s paper mache, and so paper mache isn’t meant to last forever, so

Wit López: Yeah.

Liza Goodell: you know, what is, what is the future of this collection? Um, and, yeah. There’s just, like, a lot of decisions to make, so. We have a lot of stuff, and we need time to move and we have till the end of the summer, basically, right?

Jennifer Turnbull: Yep.

Wit López: Hmm.

Jennifer Turnbull: So we’ll see. We’ll see. To be c-, to be determined. We’ll keep you posted, for sure.

López: So is there, like, a fundraising campaign right now, or anything of that sort?

Jennifer Turnbull: All of those things are definitely, they’re getting off the ground and we haven’t, like, worded them all and, like, really done a, a solid cash analysis to see what our figures are going to be, like, what we’re going to need for our figures, um, but, you know, small nonprofit is always, always, always, always, always, always, always raising money. (laughter)

Wit López: Yes. Always.

Jennifer Turnbull: Um, so, you know, I think after, I think by the, eh, like, middle, probably within the next month, we’ll know exactly what we’ll need. Like, we have round figures, but we don’t know exactly what they are, and so, we know that they’re also connected to our business planning that we’re doing right now, which is really exciting, and, um, it does feel like Spiral Q’s in a moment of, of like, we’ve been, like, crouching down and crouching down, you know how, like, when you’re doing, like, a relay race, and you get your cleats on and, like, you get, like, you’re, like, doing your, your knee kicks and your, like, high knees and you’re like, (huffing and puffing)

Wit López: I don’t personally know. (laughter)

Liza Goodell: Yeah! Totally, totally, totally.

Jennifer Turnbull: Well, for those of us, this is for people who have done track and field, and then you’re like, ‘alright,’ you got your cleats on, and I feel like right now we’ve done a whole lot of the, like, ‘okay, everybody’s ready,’ you know, um, in the, the, like, next legs, and we’re, like, prepping them, but it does feel like I’m getting ready and I’m putting my hands on the line right now.

Wit López: Mm.

Jennifer Turnbull: My butt isn’t in the air and the, like, gun hasn’t gone off yet, but, like, it does feel like we’re in that crouching down moment, that we’re all like, ‘alright, I feel like we’re-

Liza Goodell: All the energy’s been built.

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah.

Liza Goodell: Yeah, I feel it too.

Jennifer Turnbull: We’re like, ‘ooooooh, okay!’ So we’re just ready for, ready for the last, like bits of planning in there to, like, every, for everything to be set, and then for the, for the person to say, ‘okay, get your mark, get set,’ (makes gun pewing sound) (laughter)

Liza Goodell: I didn’t know I felt that, but it’s cool to now understand that I do. (laughter) That’s awesome. (laughter)

Wit López: Oh my god. Y’all are so hilarious. Thank you. I appreciate this.

Liza Goodell: We work like two feet apart from each other. We’re constantly talking every day (laughter)

Jennifer Turnbull: Our previous director when, before we were in leadership, our previous director, um, like, we were sitting next to each other in the quote unquote “computer lab” that we had set up. It’s like, ‘okay, we’re all ready!,’ and then we’re, like, laughing and talking and our previous director’s like “You’re having too much fun over there!” And we were like “hehehehehehe” (laughter)

Liza Goodell: See, that’s co-directorship. That’s what you can do with shared leadership

Wit López: That’s amazing!

Liza Goodell: Because it’s not one person holding all that stress.

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah. That’s just too much stress to handle. (laughter)

Wit López: I love it. So speaking of co-directorship, both of you are the directors. Um, back when Jennifer stepped into the interim director role, it was just you, right, Jennifer?

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah. It was just me being like, “Hey, know what? I’m going to take this position because I’ve been here for what is now nine years-

Wit López: Wow.

Jennifer Turnbull: And-

Wit López: Wow.

Jennifer Turnbull: And there’s no one else who can come in and tell us how to do our jobs better than we can.” Period.

Wit López: Wow. That’s real.

Jennifer Turnbull: And for nine years, I’ve been doing the work alongside Liza and I have visions for what I want to see happen.

Wit López: Mm.

Jennifer Turnbull: And I want to make sure that the people who are filling up our roles, um, that they’re taken care of in a way that someone who hasn’t been in the world can’t do. They don’t have that insight

Wit López: Yeah.

Jennifer Turnbull: and they don’t have the relationships. They don’t have all the experience that we’ve had, um, to bring into the role.

Wit López: That’s real.

Jennifer Turnbull: And, so, I used that, um, I used the opportunity to jump in there and be like, ‘yes, I will do it.’ Um, also as an opportunity to say, “okay, well, you know, we’ve been talking about shared leadership and what that could look like and maybe what that could be like for a little bit, and it’s time for it to actually be real.” So we got-

Wit López: So when did the codirectorship between you and Liza start?

Jennifer Turnbull: It started the year after. So the first, the interim year, um, we got, uh, uh, Organizational Effectiveness Grant from the Philadelphia Foundation, um, to help us restructure.

Wit López: That’s great.

Jennifer Turnbull: And so we went through, like, a great process to figure it out and make an official.

Liza Goodell: I want to thank you. I never thought about it, but I wasn’t ready to do that. I want to thank you for that. That was really, where would we be?

Jennifer Turnbull: Got your back, Liza, from the beginning!

Liza Goodell: I was like, “not me.”

Jennifer Turnbull: I was just like, I was like (laughter)

Liza Goodell: I mean, I don’t think people wanted me either. (laughter)

Wit López: Awww, no.

Jennifer Turnbull: I was just like, I’m not, I’m not gonna be Liza’s boss. Like, why am I gonna be Liza’s boss? Like,

Wit López: That’s real.

Jennifer Turnbull: Liza has been here for longer than I have and twice more hours.

Wit López: That’s wonderful. That’s, that’s really great that you were able to do that and make that decision and work together.

Liza Goodell: Yeah, well, we have a good split of like, you know, it’s two of us now. I mean, it’s been some part-time people. So, in a small nonprofit, it’s, it’s like, “well, what are you good at? You’re going to do it.” You know? (laughter)

Wit López: That’s real.

Liza Goodell: It’s not like, “here’s your job description that totally makes sense together,” and so I think that we have a lot of complimentary, yeah, we have a lot of complimentary skills.

Wit López: That is a beautiful thing.

Liza Goodell: But then you grow.

Jennifer Turnbull: Yeah.

Liza Goodell: I would not have been able to do, I’m somewhat relaxed right now. (laughter) As for four years ago it’d have been like… a lot worse than this. (laughter)

Jennifer Turnbull: I mean, like, we’ve watched each other grow in, like, leaps and bounds in the years that we’ve been in leadership, and just being able to, to support each other through that and, like, really see one another, I feel like is, it’s a real honor and privilege to be able to do that within, within a nonprofit and really continually be, um, pushing against what like, what the rules are supposed to tell you to do and what status quo is supposed to be like and-

Wit López: Yeah, definitely.

Jennifer Turnbull: how we’re, like, our organization is just not like that. It’s like, the purpose of our organization is to, like, rebuke the harmful system practices. And so,

Wit López: Yes! Yes.

Jennifer Turnbull: that’s some of the, that’s one of the, so those are some of the, some of the things that we continue in our work very intentionally, um, because, shit ain’t right! (laughter)

Wit López: It, it isn’t, you’re absolutely right, and

Jennifer Turnbull: Right? There’s just, like, a whole bunch of stuff that’s not right, even, and even being in compliance is, like, being in, being in compliance in this way is actually really a harmful thing. So how can we, how can we do it without doing that?

Wit López: Mmm.

Jennifer Turnbull: You know?

Wit López: That’s real. That’s real. I definitely am in deep support of, like, collaborative models of leadership where it’s not just, like, one person and everyone reports to the one person. Like, I love the idea of, like, a team leading things because, like the two of you said, you have skills that compliment each other’s skills, and that’s pretty much the thing with a lot of folks, like, a lot of people have, you know, not everyone has this skill and not everyone has that skill, but when you put it all together, things work very well, like a well oiled machine, so thank you for sharing that. That’s really amazing. So I have another question for y’all, ’cause I know each of you is individually an artist, so how do you, well, first of all, what are your art practices? Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Liza Goodell: Um, okay. Mm, I’m bad at talking about this part.

Wit López: Sorry, sorry!

Liza Goodell: ‘Cause I have to, like, write about it. Um, so, I actually started, my foundational entry into this role was doing a parade

Wit López: Hmmm.

Liza Goodell: in Cleveland through the art museum.

Wit López: Oh wow!

Liza Goodell: It’s, like, a community engaged parade, but then also has, like, guests artists parade the circle. It has guests artists from all, from, like, festival traditions from all over the world

Wit López: Oh that’s amazing!

Liza Goodell: work together in this tent, this event tent, in the parking lot, and everyone’s, like, really good about sharing techniques and

Wit López: Awww!

Liza Goodell: Uh, yeah! So anyway, I’ve been doing that for, like, 25 years or something. I still do it so that

Wit López: That’s amazing!

Jennifer Turnbull: I hear you have 27 years?

Liza Goodell: I mean, I studied graphic design and art in college

Wit López: Oh nice!

Liza Goodell: and, you know, I think I’ve always been really values-driven person, or maybe when it came time it was just like, ‘I don’t really want to be at graph-, all the ways I see graphic designers, like, not any way that I would find that would help the world in that moment. Um, and, so I really dug into this thing that had held me, is this parade, um, practice, and so making giant puppets and masks and basically stuff out of found objects has developed, and yeah, and so I guess I’m a giant puppet maker. I’ve been making animations a lot. I basically like to do a lot of, um, things for no reason at all.

Wit López: That’s amazing!

Liza Goodell: I’ll be making Instagram posts for, and people are like, “what’s that for?” I’m like, “Oh, I just threw that away, guys.” (laughter) “But why?” “Why? For my spirit!” (laughter)

Wit López: That’s real!

Liza Goodell: but, then, also, like, um, giant puppets for this parade every year, and I’ve done some gallery kind of stuff, but you know. I, yeah. I have, I never talk about that, so, cool (laughter)

Wit López: It’s awesome. Thank you for sharing, Liza.

Liza Goodell: Yeah!

Wit López: I appreciate it.

Liza Goodell: No problem!

Jennifer Turnbull: Um, I am a multidisciplinary performance, per, primarily artist.

Wit López: Oooooooh! (laughter)

Liza Goodell: Ooooh that sounds cool!

Wit López: Multidisciplinary. (laughter)

Jennifer Turnbull: Um, my, like, foundation of art is definitely in dance. Um, I started taking classes when I was three and a half. Um, my mom was like, “you were stretching in the womb!” I’m like “whoa, okay! Cool!” (laughter) Um, so, it’s always been there! It’s always been there. (laughter) Um,

Liza Goodell: Origin story.

Jennifer Turnbull: I know. (laughter) Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, and it really is, like, my

Liza Goodell: A dance superhero.

Jennifer Turnbull: primary form of communication. (laughter) People are like “you use a lot of sounds and movements” and I’m like, “well, that’s the way I’m most clear.” Most direct.

Wit López: Yeah.

Jennifer Turnbull: You never have to ask a question about what I moved.

Wit López: Yeah.

Jennifer Turnbull: Like “You know, I get it!”

Wit López: Makes sense.

Jennifer Turnbull: Sometimes people have lots and lots of questions about what I say because it’s like an area, really, um, and it’s been all about dance, dance, dance until I think I got to Spiral Q, really. Um, like, my, my experience in visual art, um, came through, like, photography as a younger person, um, and, like, some classes that I took in high school, um, but having that visual art, performance art, um, practice, I think was really, um, working with Spiral Q for all that time as a teaching artist, I think it helped, helped me, held space for other kinds of work other than dance to be integrated into my artistic practice, and, then, um, and then I think the, like, solidification of, like, of having the multidisciplinary performance work, um, happened when I was with BARETEETH and Swarm, um, BARETEETH is a collective of dancers, um, that I’ve been dancing with probably for the past 10 years, um, and then, uh, Swarm was like a performance ensemble band, um, with music and visuals and dance, kind of all fused together, and now that’s how I think about work. So this upcoming performance at QT Noir, I’m like, ‘Mmmm, visuals? Do I have time for visuals? What type of visuals! Ooh, do I have time for visuals? Oh and sound? Am I gonna read something? Do I wanna write something? Mmm”, but always dance. Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance. (laughter)

Wit López: That’s cool. Thank you. (laughter) So how do you feel that each of your art practices play a role in your shared directorship at Spiral Q. And it doesn’t have to, this is just a question off the top of my head.

Liza Goodell: I think for me, um, especially in the past five years, I guess, I would say that I’ve found more in my own personal practice, the ways that it kind of like, um, has given me energy and maybe healed some, like, depressing, depression times and like, and I, and it’s all, like, making stuff out of found materials, which is basically what we do with, like, everyone we work with, and then also kind of my background in parade and, you know, with protest and Spiral Q has, have been just more and more excited about how the history of people in the streets and parade and cultural expression in public spaces, like, like, when we work with kids at the schools we work in, we’re like, “Look! All these people, like, do this and you’re doing this now in the streets” and just, like, how it all just, it all just has always made sense for me. I have an origin photo actually, (laughter)

Jennifer Turnbull: Really?

Wit López: That is amazing.

Liza Goodell: I went to a parade, before I did this other parade, in fourth grade, I think we were, like, some parade that was already happening, but we were, like, I think it was for the school budget, so it wasn’t a protest, (laughter) it was a parade, it was like the school money or something, um, and I was like so excited about being in the streets, I loved projects when I was a kid, and so

Wit López: Aww.

Liza Goodell: we made, there’s this picture of this parade I made with two friends and it says “Spring Parade,”

Wit López: Awwww, that’s so nice!

Liza Goodell: We’re all wearing, like, notebook paper bird, and I’m like, I can’t believe this, this is like, totally who I am now! And those two people probably, like, I mean, it was all my direction (laughter) so, you know, where I am at Spiral Q makes total sense, um, in the trajectory, so.

Wit López: That’s really cool.

Liza Goodell: (whispers) It’s all connected, man. (laughter)

Jennifer Turnbull: Um, I would say that my artistic practice is probably integral to my leadership at, um, Spiral Q, but not necessarily an integral every day part of it. It definitely informs everything, though. And I don’t have a, I know that it’s integral, but I don’t have an articulated way of it. It’s like, Spiral Q’s running on this wavelength, and I came into that wavelength and was like, ‘Oh, my wavelength and Spiral Q’s wavelength matches up. This is awesome. That’s great.’

Wit López: That is great.

Jennifer Turnbull: And then, um, the ways that movement and dance have integrated into, like, my teaching artist practice, whether it be visual art or movement, um, or theater, or pageantry, and, um, and, and the ways that, that art, um, is integrated into my, like, um, very, like, very well-fostered resistance, in, like, general, I feel like there’s a lot of built in resistance from, like, my identity, like, being a Jamaican, I feel like it’s just, like, there’s that base of like, I’m going to be a resistor

Wit López: That’s real.

Jennifer Turnbull: because that’s what’s passed down to me culturally. (laughter)

Wit López: Absolutely.

Jennifer Turnbull: (laughter) It’s all just, ‘Okay!’ Um, and, like, that, the constant, like, questioning of things that are, and, like, oh, you know, being a queer person and going through, like, the coming-out process, it’s like, okay, you have to, this is, you’re told that life is one way, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, but I’m here, and, if I’m here, then what’s been told to me is wrong, so I have to break all of that down and rebuild it back up,’ and so, like, that constant questioning and, and, um, pushing, uh, and visioning for what I think should be a thing, um, comes in, in that way, so definitely process, process-wise, it, it, it informed a lot of the ways that I work, and artistically it shines through in some ways. Yeah!

Wit López: It definitely does. Well, thank you both so much. This has been absolutely wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed learning a lot more about Spiral Q and its origin and also both of your origins (laughter) within the arts and as co-directors of Spiral Q. Thank you so much for stopping by Cultureworks today to be on this episode of Artblog Radio. I look forward to more Peoplehood parades out of you and more work for Spiral Q, and I hope that you find a really great place for Spiral Q to settle in the future when you have to make that move, so thank you again for stopping by and being part of Artblog Radio. Super grateful for the both of you.

Liza Goodell: Thank you!

Jennifer Turnbull: Yes, thank you so much, Wit!

Wit López: Not a problem. Alright, this has been Artblog Radio. You can find us on our website or on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify. Thanks so much for tuning in. Bye ya’ll!