Erin Garber-Pearson

Erin Garber-Pearson

Visual Artist and Circus Performer

May 11, 2015


Birds Eye View Circus / Violet and Fortuna / The Ann Arbor Aviary


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

When I moved here I was doing room size installations using sculpture, video, and performance.  I make work that is based on the history, architecture and environment of a place.  In one project I took photos and video of homes in the Toledo/Columbus area and made a video where the homes are being built up while simultaneously being destroyed- a reflection on living in this area’s environment and socio/political climate.   I have choreographed group aerial fabric projects about travel, and entanglement and recently produced and directed a large scale circus theater show called Baba Yaga.  Baba Yaga is a traditional Russian fairy tale, I rewrite it with my partner Erik Bang!!! to be a contemporary tale set in a place similar to Toledo.

What current projects are you working on?

I am currently in an acrobatic storytelling project with another woman called ‘Violet and Fortuna.’  Its an extension of the place- based work about a single home.  All vignettes in the hour long show are different stories about the home told through each room at different points in the home’s lifespan.  It is about the home/place and the somewhat transitory nature of the people who pass through it.  The stories are told through lyric writing, acrobatics, and video

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

I have 3 studios, one for circus, one for sculpture and one for all my sewing projects.  I would never be able to afford so much space in another place. 

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

The Baba Yaga show was the best success of 2015 so far.  It was a huge personal success to write, direct, produce and perform in this show.  Over 800 people came and saw it in our 2 day run.  Even more then all that, the show had a cast of about 30 people who were either choreographing scenes, performing, or building sets.  It was a big step in our circus community because a lot of folks grew into their roles and I was really proud to help make that happen, as well as see them step up to some of the very daunting tasks I asked of them

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

Elizabeth Streb, a NYC based artist.  Her work is so incredible.  She builds machines that people dance and do acrobatics on, and is a real innovator when it comes to movement, boundaries and overcoming fear.  My partner Erik is also a huge inspiration to me.  He works at Toledo Bikes and does so much for the community through bicycle education.  He has the patience of a saint!  He helps me and the other people around him to be more understanding, kind and patient.

Tell us about your background.

I am from Tucson, Arizona.  I was raised by ceramic sculptors and spent my whole life building objects, drawing and sewing.  I moved to Milwaukee on a whim in my 20s and worked as a welder for awhile and joined roller derby there.  I played for 4 years!  I got my masters in sculpture back in Tucson and just finished a circus tour with friends from Minneapolis when I got a job teaching Foundations art at BGSU.  I worked there for 3 years before teaching circus and performing full time.  Theres some other stuff in between too…

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

“There is no progress without failure. And each failure is a lesson learned. Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artist tries to second-guess an audience's taste, and little comes out of that situation except a kind of inward humiliation.” — David Bowie

Favorite place for local culture?

Collingwood Art Center!

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

The public library system, but hopefully that’s not a huge secret.  Great selection of books there

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

The Attic on Adams

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

Oak Openings Preserve

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

My porch or community garden

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

An all around city-wide commitment to attracting more creative young people such as: more venues for performance and art, better conditions for bicycling in this town such as bicycle safety for drivers and painted bike lanes, health food stores locally and more coffee shops.  More events such as free movie nights during the summer or music festivals (all downtown) to get people coming back to the center of the city for more then a night of drinking

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

The sculptor Louise Bourgeois.  Her ideas and whole approach to art making is really natural and her visions for form are incredibly powerful.  Her work engages my heart and mind, in that order 

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

The book Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

harder, faster, better, stronger . . . (Thank you Emily Ellis and Birds Eye View Circus Youth)

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Grimes - “Halfaxa”
The Devil Makes Three - “Do Wrong Right”
Circus Contraption - “Grand American Traveling Dime Museum”
MIA - “Kala”
The Tailor - “The Salt”

My biggest vice is . . .


I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

more bike lanes

One movie character I identify with is . . .

Maude, from Harold and Maude

I want my last meal to be . . .

anything made by my personal chef and partner Erik - he makes EVERYTHING taste good

View Bird's Eye View Circus website and Facebook.

Photo Credit: Split Sugar Photography


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