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Theresa Byrnes breaks through barriers in ‘GLIMPSE’

BY PAUL DeRIENZO | Theresa Byrnes, the artist in residence at Grace Exhibition Space, at 182 Avenue C, said the lead-up to last Friday’s performance was “THE most stressful time of my life.”

Theresa is an artist who refuses to be defined, and Friday’s performance gave her loving fans exactly what they came for: the artist’s relentless drive to break through and, in her own words, “inhale the unexpected.”

In “GLIMPSE” she likens the artist’s mark to the release and thrill of falling into the unknown.

Theresa Byrnes getting into the zone before the performance. (Photo by Paul DeRienzo)

Byrnes has been painting full time and exhibiting since she was 16 and performing since she was 19. Since age 26 she has used a wheelchair due to Friedreich’s ataxia, a disease of the nervous system.

Eric Rossi raising Byrnes in the yoga-silk harness. (Photo by Paul DeRienzo)
Theresa Byrnes struggling to free-fall during “GLIMPSE.” (Photo by Paul DeRienzo)
(Photo by Paul DeRienzo)
(Photo by Paul DeRienzo)
(Photo by Paul DeRienzo)

A mountain-climbing pulley suspended a white yoga silk over a wading pool filled with yellow liquid, all biodegradable, 10 pounds of ground turmeric, donated by SOS Chefs on Avenue B for the performance.

The artist became the art as she was lifted in the silk, slowly lifted into the air. She was slowly lifted into the air. The cocoon of pure white enveloped the artist. Then, as she struggled from the support of the silk, she fell. Her free fall made a splash, and in that splash, she disappeared into the bright yellow water.

The artist descended into a viscous lava-like solution. (Photo by Paul DeRienzo)

There was a collective gasp from the full house. A bit of fear, was Theresa O.K.? In a second, her face appeared from the opaque yellow fluid. Grabbing on to a stick, she was helped out onto a long sheet of white watercolor paper, the audience protected by white smocks distributed beforehand.

An assistant helped Byrnes get out of the pool by dragging a stick on to which the artist clung with both hands, like a pull-up bar. (Photo by Paul DeRienzo)

Dragging her body along the paper, onto which she pulled herself and flopped out onto, her struggle made marks. Finally, she rolled and was assisted onto a brown cotton strecher, her raw-silk costume now bright yellow. She was carried by two assistants — returned to the world on the other side of a curtained divider. Leaving the artwork behind.

Theresa Byrnes spent from the effort at the end of her performance of “GLIMPSE.” (Photo by Paul DeRienzo)

The performance was classic Theresa, an artist who smashed the barrier between art and artist, struggle and poetry and made them one.

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