Molly Surno is an artist and curator using her eclectic background to create dynamic and community driven cultural programs. Graduating with an MFA in Visual Art at Columbia University, she blends art, film, music, food, and technology to create performances and happenings. We of Me, her large scale sound performance, was exhibited at the Getty Museum in 2017, and to date this was the Getty’s most ambitious performance as part of their efforts to bring in new audiences through creative programming. Molly has also been a resident of Recess, Pioneer Works, Steeprock Arts, and Watershed. In 2008 she founded her nomadic performance series Cinema 16, which pairs contemporary musicians with experimental films, and has shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Kitchen, MoMA/PS1, and Museum of Moving Image among others. She has worked for the team that created TEDx and as the first Outreach Director for Kickstarter. She now consults on cultural research, curating, and creative programming for brands and organizations such as Kickstarter, Spotify, Neuehouse, Sonos, Clif Bar, MANGO, and WhatShouldWeDo, and she’s the art director of Elsewhere. Today she’s sharing five things she finds inspiring with us for Friday Five.
1. League of Kitchens
A few springtimes ago, I wandered up a stranger’s apartment stairwell to take a day long Uzbek cooking intensive in her home. League of Kitchens is a powerful network of immigrant women who open their New York and LA households to teach the recipes that make up their cultural cuisine. In a time of great controversy around immigration, this project feels almost urgent as you bond in meaningful ways while building understanding and friendship over the course of a day. And did I mention leftovers?!
2. Electronic Arts Intermix
Some of my fondest memories when I first came to New York are of hiding out in the screening room of Electronic Arts Intermix. Part archive, part living breathing resource center, EAI is the home for over 3,500 video and media works. As an example, it was there I discovered Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta’s, whose work has since become one of my favorites.
I work at a nightclub and I have a baby boy, which means listening to music is a huge part of my life. Whether at work or at a singalong, you could say I always have a soundtrack of sorts. That said, I love Radiooooo, which is an app that acts as a musical time machine. Like Pandora, you can have an algorithm set up for your listening pleasure – only this time you pick a country and a time period and let the good times roll!
Before my son was born, I had the ability to take wildly unique adventures. One of my most memorable was Verana, in the raw verdant landscape of Yelapa, Mexico. This handmade boutique hotel is a true destination. You have to get on a boat docked an hour outside of Puerto Vallarta and ride around the Bay of Banderas to the private docks of Verana. From there you hike up a little trail, where nestled in the jungle you find yourself the most unique paradise there ever was.
5. Walden Video Game
In celebration of Henry Thoreau’s 200th birthday, game developer Tracy Fullerton and the USC Games Lab memorialized his signature book Walden with a….video game? I was immediately intrigued when I read the New York Times article. Not a gamer myself, in fact the last time I played was maybe Zelda as a girl, I found this concept very appealing. How can you teach stillness, contemplation, and communing with nature while using a first person POV via video game format? I have yet to try, but I am eager to find out. Oh and for the record, I would still rather sit next to a lake IRL.