Jumblies was proud and delighted, at our March 20th space-warming celebration, to present the first Al Levitt Award to Adrienne Marcus Raja. The award commemorates Jumblies long-standing volunteer participant and master puppet-maker, Al Levitt, who passed away in July 2013, at the age of 79.
We hope to make this an annual award to a promising artist with an interest in community-engaged arts. This year’s award consisted of a mini-replica of one Al’s puppets, made by Jumblies artists Sonja Rainey, Arber Makri and Kit Currie, and a bursary of $1,000 towards internship time with Jumblies. We plan to announce two more commemorative internship awards at our June 3rd Platform A event.
Al Levitt was born and lived his entire life in Toronto’s South Riverdale. He connected with Ruth Howard when his life story was recorded and inspired a ballad for the production of Twisted Metal and Mermaids Tears in 2000. Al built the inner structures of puppets for every single Jumblies production since 2000. As well, Al performed in all of our shows, contributed to numerous workshops, and spoke in public and to students on several occasions about his Jumblies experience. Al’s wife, Norma, also contributed to every show in a variety of ways, from papier mache to performance. Al’s puppets, life story and personality inspired many artists, students and community members.
Adrienne Marcus Raja is a filmmaker and an interdisciplinary artist. She is a MFA graduate of Ryerson University with a focus in Documentary Media. She also holds a BA degree specializing in Mass Communication and Television Production from Curtin University. In 2013, after years of working within the digital video realm, most of Adrienne’s artistic concentration has centered on celluloid film and photography. She continues to explore chemical developing and printing within the darkroom facilities of LIFT and Gallery 44.
Adrienne is a member of the indigenous Kelabit tribe, from Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo and is particularly interested in using video and other media to explore the cause and effect of disappearing communities and new communities. Her obsession with the documentation of memory, history, and identity is reflected in her artistic endeavors. In her installations, she explores and questions the fragile connections between her own displaced identity and her traditional community through the combination of artifacts, images or spoken narrative.
The day after the awards ceremony, Adrienne flew back to Malaysia to work and visit family for several months, after which she will return to Toronto and her work with Jumblies.
left: Adrienne receiving award, with Ruth Howard (photo: K. Fleitas)
right: Al in Twisted Metal & Mermaids Tears, 2000