PechaKucha to unite ideas, stories, performancesWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Toledoans can see slide shows on steroids at the Glass City’s second PechaKucha Night on June 12 at the Toledo-Lucas County Main Library.
In PechaKucha, presenters have six minutes and 40 seconds to share concepts, stories, performances or artwork by sharing 20 slides for 20 seconds each.
“It can be very entertaining because you don’t know what’s going to happen in those 20 seconds, the audience doesn’t know what’s going to happen in those 20 seconds and mistakes do happen,” said event organizer Kimberly Adams.
PechaKucha began in Tokyo in 2003 as a way for young designers to share their ideas.
“They started it for architects, because the architects tended to be a little long-winded when they were presenting their designs so they kind of shortened that format for them,” Adams said. Now the nights occur in more than 500 cities all over the world and Tokyo itself has had about 100 PechaKucha Nights. The events even have their own designated space within the city.
Adams, founder of tart :: projects, an artists’ platform, also organized Toledo’s first PechaKucha Night, which took place March 31 at Manhattan’s. She recently moved back to Ohio after living in Tampa, Fla., where she first observed PechaKucha.
“I’d been to a couple in Tampa and they were really well put-together so I just thought it’d be great to happen here,” Adams said.
PechaKucha almost started in Toledo in 2010, but never officially took off. However, 2012 was a different story for PechaKucha in Toledo. After deciding to bring the events to Toledo, Adams reached out to the PechaKucha organization in Tokyo.
“I had to sign a contract, like a handshake contact. The contract had a picture of the two hands shaking,” Adams said with a laugh. By signing the contract, Adams agreed to organize four nights within the year.
The first Toledo event included 10 presenters of all kinds and 30-50 people attended, Adams said. So far, the June presentation also looks to be full of variety.
“[PechaKucha is] used for like artists, designers, people that are advocating for anything and everything,” Adams said.
One of those artists is Tina Gionis, who returned from making a documentary in Taiwan about a month ago. While in Taiwan, she documented the Mazu Pilgrimage and Festival, an annual celebration honoring Mazu, the sea deity of the Taoist faith. Her PechaKucha presentation will feature images and stories from her trip, she said.
“[Filming] was really a good experience, pretty high-pressure. I did a lot of traveling around and the pilgrimage was very fast moving. A lot of times, I didn’t get enough sleep but I managed to get the footage I needed and I was able to get a lot of interviews with the right people and capture the intensity,” Gionis said.
The next step is the film’s editing process. “I believe the making of a film, half of it is actually shooting and capturing footage and the other half is editing. You really tell a story with how you put the shots together,” she said. Depending on funding, the editing process could take up to a year.
This is Gionis’ first PechaKucha night and she is still putting together her presentation, but plans to share some exciting stories.
“I’ll probably talk about how I almost got trampled in a religious frenzy by Mazu followers,” she said.
Events like PechaKucha Night can make the city stronger, Gionis said.
“It sounds like a really good way to make people aware of different projects artists are working on,” she said.
The movie-inspired poet
Imani Lateef, an independent graphic designer and presenter, agreed with Gionis.
“[PechaKucha] creates an opportunity for people to share in real time. It’s so odd with all the technology that there’s so many connections, but we’re still very much separated. This actually gives us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone so to speak, in ways that social media outlets don’t normally do,”
Lateef plans on presenting a poem he wrote based on scenes from the film, “Black Orpheus,” which won the 1960 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was made in Brazil and directed by Marcel Camus.
“I thought it would be a cool way to use the PechaKucha format,” Lateef said. “[The format] lends itself perfectly to poetry and artistic presentations.”
Lateef first heard of PechaKucha in 2010 and even offered to sponsor a night at his now closed Ground Level Coffee House, but the event fell through. But now the designer is happy to be working on his new presentation. “I enjoy the challenge. I think it’s going to be very interesting to see how people work in the constraints,” he said.
The nonprofit worker
Sam Melden, executive director of Food for Thought, hopes to be helped by those constraints. “It’s actually helpful because you know exactly what’s expected. The interesting part for me is I’ve never seen [PechaKucha] done,” he said. If his presentation is successful, Melden may start talking in “20-second bursts,” he said.
His organization, Food for Thought, aims to feed the hungry while investing dignity and respect in them, Melden said. He plans to share the story of the nonprofit along with “how thought or being thoughtful really matters to the work that you do in the nonprofit type job.”
Food for Thoughtn was founded in May 2007 and Melden joined the organization in August 2011 after working in retail and ministry positions. Food for Thought now operates a stationary and mobile food pantry, a lunch distribution program and gardens for growing healthy foods.
Melden said he hopes to impart some of the group’s philosophy at PechaKucha Night.
“It would be my No. 1 goal just to offer something of value. If [the audience] considers it valuable then I’ve accomplished something,” he said of his presentation.
The out-of-town artist
Samantha Hookway has a few reasons to be in Toledo this June: a friend’s wedding, the Glass Art Society (GAS) Convention from June 13-17 and, of course, presenting at PechaKucha.
When she heard of PechaKucha, “I thought, ‘Score!’ because I wanted to come to Toledo and do something but I’m feeling very tight with the wedding and the GAS conference,” Hookway said. She plans to present some of her artwork and background on the slides.
The artist, influenced by how painters interpret windows, often puts the look of a stained glass window on materials like silk.
“I was making [glass art] traditionally … but then as I kept making the work, I realized I wanted to take the stained glass in the leaded window into another world altogether,” she said.
Hookway lives in Columbus and has heard of PechaKucha Nights, but never attended.
“It’s a platform where all the disciplines can find a way to fit together, so that’s a really strong part of it and I’m hoping I’ll learn something I hadn’t considered,” she said.
At press time, other presenters include Karen Ranney Wolkins of the Toledo Botanical Garden, Adam Goldberg of Gathered Studio, Amy Fidler of You Are Here Toledo/AIGA Toledo and Aesa Bjork, a glass artist. The event is sponsored by Toledo Free Press, Erie Construction Mid-West Inc., DoxSystems, Paul R. Sullivan Jr., AIA LLC, Law Office of Gretchen DeBacker and tart :: projects.
Adams is still looking for presenters for June 12. The only requirement of presenters is that they use images and send Adams a statement to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The minimum number of presenters is 10 and the maximum is 16.
“[PechaKucha is] pretty wide open. It’s just a platform for people to share their ideas, you know, get it out there. With as much as we’ve got going on here, it’s a great way to inform the community of what’s happening,” Adams said. After June, the next PechaKucha Night is set for September and Adams hopes to get Rep. Marcy Kaptur to present.
PechaKucha Night is 7:30-10 p.m. June 12 at the Toledo-Lucas County Main Library, 325 N. Michigan St. Admission is free.
For more information, visit www.pecha-kucha.org/night/toledo/.
Tags: Adam Goldberg, Aesa Bjork, AIA LLC, Amy Fidler, DoxSystems, Erie Construction Mid-West Inc., Gathered Studio, Imani Lateef, Karen Ranney Wolkins, Kimberly Adams, Law Office of Gretchen DeBacker, Paul R. Sullivan Jr., PechaKucha Night, Sam Melden, Smantha Hookway, tart :: projects, Tina Gionis, Toledo Botanical Garden, Toledo Free Press, Toledo-Lucas County Main Library, You Are Here Toledo/AIGA Toledo