Abigail Susik | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Abigail Susik

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Abigail Susik is the lead curator for FIGMENT Jackson.

With less than 24 hours before The Plant on Highway 80 is transformed into a participatory arts event with more than 40 projects, FIGMENT Jackson Lead Curator Abigail Susik is calm as she helps artists set up their projects.

For the past six months, Susik has been in charge of overseeing applications for projects and ensuring that the old Coca-Cola bottling plant has the technical capabilities and capacity to support the projects.

FIGMENT is a participatory arts event that started on Governor's Island in New York in 2007. It's based on principles similar to "Burning Man" in Nevada and encourages creativity and community participation without commerce. At FIGMENT, you won't find artists selling their work, corporate sponsors or vending trucks. It's meant to be inclusive and organic--anyone can participate.

Since November, Susik and several board members and community members have volunteered their time to ensure that the event is a success.

One of the projects, "The Future is the Past," is a durational performance by Millsaps College visiting assistant professor Collen Keough that explores the themes of ancestry, emigration and family history. On Saturday, May 14, Keogh will create a "Singing Dress" and allow event participants to share their stories about their family's origins.

"She's making a dress that has sensors and audio and video," Susik says. "It's a multimedia dress that is wearable."

Susik recommends that participants bring bathing suits to cool off in a cooling room with sprinklers, as well as picnics and chairs.

After months of hard work and planning, Susik says it's rewarding to see the festival come together. "The way the site has already transformed--the energy and the air ... it's just incredible," she says. "I think Jackson is going to be inspired."

Susik, 34, is the postdoctoral teaching fellow of art history at Millsaps College. The Tampa, Fla., native earned degrees in art history from Columbia University. This summer, she will move to Salem, Ore., to work as the assistant professor of modern and contemporary art history at Willamette University.

FIGMENT Jackson is from 10 a.m. to midnight, May 14 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 15 at The Plant on 80 (1421 Highway 80). For information, visit 
jackson.figmentproject.org.

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