2011 Events

Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden of Secrets & Natural Wonders (excerpts)

Production Workshop showcase performance of the Queen Victoria steampunk opera

September 2011



Act I, Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden of Secrets & Natural Wonders previewed in Massachusetts on September 18, 2011 at the The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition. You can view a selection of numbers here: http://www.youtube.com/user/QVSteampunk

Inventing Earth granted 501(c)3 Status
After a 9-month gestation period of incorporation and answering lots of questions in lengthy letters and phone conversations, Inventing Earth has been awarded 501 (c) 3 status as an exempt educational organization.

Inventing Earth completes successful “kickstarter” fund-raising project
What’s more fun than:

  • mutineering pirate lasses who can’t keep their petticoats down
  • hilariously malfunctioning contraptions by steampunk designer Ryan Lunt
  • beautiful singing
  • rollicking music & dance
  • seductive Mermaides
  • Tea with the Queen
  • and a witty story with an environmental message
  • all aboard a steampunk scientific sailing vessel that doubles as a floating reformatory for wayward young women?

We can’t think of anything more fun than this!

In May and June 2011, Inventing Earth posted a creative “project” on Kickstarter.com, raising $4,282 from 95 individual “backers.”

Click HERE to watch the video on Kickstarter! Also check out the updates here.

Creative Project Development Residency with Director Christopher Fülling
Inventing Earth currently has two separate opera projects in development. In June 2011, director Christopher Fülling joined Inventing Earth Artistic Director Mary Lin and composer Ben Sargent in a creative residency in Prescott, Arizona to further these projects through cross-training among disciplines and planning for studio production workshops. The participants explored somatic body work, dance and stage movement, Gregorian chant, world vocal technique, extended vocal techniques, and stage and ritual performance theory. They also reviewed librettos and works in progress for character development, dynamics, and flow of action, and developed production plans for upcoming shows.

>>>Read more about Christopher Fülling



A Walk in the Park

The big puppets made an appearance on June 18, 2011 at the arts festival “Tsunami on the Square” in Prescott, Arizona during the promenade:

Photo credit: Monika Shepard 2011

Puppets: Kate Rinzler


Hector Aristizabal is working with Oma Dance Theatre to launch the Oma Dance Theatre and Grandmother Stories projects – more info to come! Also, check out this amazing woman who advocates creating Grandmother Universities all over the world so that local folk wisdom will be preserved: http://www.amazon.com/Monocultures-Mind-Perspectives-Biodiversity-Biotechnology/dp/1856492184 and here is an abstract.

The Prescott Fine Arts Singers performed “Works and Days” from the Inventing Earth-sponsored opera, The Greenest Branch, on Saturday May 14, 2011. The piece was heard at the concert “Music without Borders” at PFAA in Prescott at 2pm and 7:30pm. Mary Lin and Carmen Whitted sang the Jutta and Hildegard roles, joined by four other soloists and the full choir in this stirring chorale from Act Two.

Inventing Earth co-founder Ben Sargent sang with the Blanche Moyse Chorale in the memorial service for Blanche on Saturday May 21, 2011 in Brattleboro Vermont. Blanche was an important teacher for Ben. She passed away this year at age 101. Moyse was considered one of the 20th century’s greatest interpreters of J.S. Bach’s chorale works. Here is the NYT obituary for Ms. Moyse: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/arts/music/15moyse.html

Our Kickstarter is up and already receiving funding! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inventingearth/steampunk-opera-queen-victorias-floating-garden-of?ref=live

Steampunk Art Takes Viewers Back to a Time that Never Was

Show of Steampunk Opera: Thime Machynes at the Frame & I to support production of opera 

(May 3, 2011) Prescott, Ariz. – The fine bones of a baby dinosaur claw arc delicately through space, as if reaching to grasp at other items in the shadow box: a faded, postcard-sized birth certificate and an almost microscopically embroidered linen baby christening gown.

Antique brass clock innards randomly click and tick on some unseen timetable while the oiled paper wings of a golden dragonfly quiver, hovering over faded sheet music.

It’s been said that the past never dies, living on in the space between reality and memory. For multimedia artist Mary Lin, M.Ed. M.F.A., the past is the key to the future. She combines printmaking, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and found objects with biology, archaeology, history, and storytelling. The resulting works offer glimpses into haunting narratives about thwarted dreams, mysteries of the ancients, and the potential to change our past into the future we desire.

Fans of “steampunk” as well as the curious will enjoy a multisensory evening and introduction to this cultural movement at the opening for Steampunk Opera: Thime Machynes on Friday, May 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. The Frame & I, 229 W. Gurley St. and adjacent The Art Store around the corner at 109 S. Granite St. Prescott, will provide a joint showing of art by Lin in the gallery with steampunk-inspired live music in the art store, along with inventive Victorian- inspired costumes and refreshments from another time.

As well as being a visual artist, Lin is a writer and performer. She and her partner, Ben Sargent compose operas and have received a commission to write and debut scenes from their second opera, Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden of Secrets and Natural Wonders, at The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition this September in Boston. Sales from the show of visual art will support that musical endeavor, she said.

Set on a scientific sailing ship that also doubles as a floating reformatory for wayward young women, the opera plays with notions of “Empire and empirical method”, the former referring to the British Empire and the latter to the scientific method of inquiry. “In the end, both tend to have ulterior motives of control over nature and its creatures,” Lin said. “The opera is set in a world where, for example, a mermaid is either a specimen of a species, or a subject to the Queen. No other categories exist.”

When Lin told Ida Kendall, owner of The Frame  & I, about the opera and the need to raise matching funds to make the debut performance a reality, Ida donated $2000 in custom framing so that Lin could complete a series of shadow boxes reflecting the themes of the opera.

“Ida’s been a collaborator all along. She’s a true patron of the arts,” Lin explained. “She not only donated dozens of antique and curious items and bits of artwork that made their way into the final art pieces, she spend long hours with me figuring out how to tell the story of each piece, and teaching the ins and outs of gluing, wiring, and attaching bits to the boxes.”

Lin finds that art and science tend to make their way into all her creative activities. Several months ago she was rummaging at a second-hand store and found three boxes of latex molds of what looked like tiny, intricate dinosaur fossil parts – claws, skulls, ribcages, even some whole animals. “The shop owner told me that they belonged to a retired archaeologist from the Smithsonian,” she said. Keith Kendall, a master bronze sculptor and also Ida’s husband, taught Lin techniques for making casts from the moulds in a weekly sculpture class at The Art Store.

Craftsmanship is key to steampunk, Lin explained.

“Steampunk is as much an artist’s movement as it is revisionist history,” she said. “Many of us appreciate the craftsmanship of earlier times, when most things were made by hand, and if something looked like wood or metal, it actually was. It’s as much an arts and crafts movement as it is a literary and musical phenomenon.“

“I think of it as a revisionist history of future, or the future that might have been,” said Sargent. “It’s a great platform for storytelling. Mary and I have an in-joke that all our operas have nuns and pirates in them. We’re having a lot of fun.”

According to Lin, Arizona has a large steampunk community, and she’s heard from both steampunkers and the opera scene statewide that the project has been generating buzz. Lin was contacted by prop maker and sculptor, Ryan Lunt, of Tempe, Ariz., who has been working for months on “wild and hilarious” gizmos for use in the opera, many of which will be demonstrated by staff of The Frame & I during the opening.

The preview has been cast with seasoned professional opera singers and accompanist who are active performers with both the Arizona and Phoenix operas, all of whom will travel to Boston together for the debut. Rehearsals start in July. Plans are in motion to repeat the preview performance in Prescott and other locales in Arizona after the September debut.

Check out these snippets of the music as it emerges:

Seeking Performers
Inventing Earth is now casting a professional pianist, a lyric baritone, and a lyric mezzo ASAP for a preview showing of a new Steampunk opera about adventure on the high seas. We will perform the first act only, for a preview in September at The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition. Performers must be able to act, do some comedy, move well on stage — please be somewhat athletic for physical comedy, sword-fighting, etc. Rehearsals in July and August in Arizona, location to be determined depending on where cast members live (we will try to accommodate you). Must be available to travel to Boston, Massachusetts area weekend of September 16-18, 2011.
Audition and Rehearsal Locations: Flagstaff, Prescott, or Phoenix areas
Compensation: Paid trip to Mass. for weekend of Sept 16-18, 2011. Possible other paid gigs related to this event, including full opera performances in 2012.

Production Workshop Begins for Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden of Secrets and Natural Wonders
Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden of Secrets and Natural Wonders is taking shape! All of these drawings will be available as premiums for those who donate to the Kickstarter fundraisers we’ll be setting up to raise funds to produce the opera – coming soon.

Many thanks to Jim von Hegner and The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition for the partial commission. The steampunk community is comprised of some of the kindest, most creative, and brightest folk we’ve ever worked with. Towards the (alternate) future of our Imaginations~

All drawings copyright Mary Lin (c)2011. Please do not use without permission.

Oma Dance Theatre opens crowdsourcing effort to gather “grandmother stories”
Throughout human history, grandmothers  and elders of the family and tribe have preserved and passed on stories of the family and cultural group and shared the rich treasures of perspective, counsel, and the wisdom earned through decades of experience. The Oma Stories Project seeks to help turn the tide of marginalization of the elderly and loss of language, history, culture, and valuable mentorship and family connections, by offering an opportunity for important stories of elders to be gathered together, told, and shared between generations and cultures.
Through Oma Dance Theatre and the Oma Stories Project, Inventing Earth seeks to “crowd source” stories and traditions from ordinary people that deserve to be told and remembered, preserved and passed on. See the Oma Dance Theatre page for more info, or join the online group in order to submit a story.

Steampunk Style
Fashioning a New Twist on Steampunk: The Edwardian Alchemist. Click here to read the manifesto: https://inventingearth.org/page/why-steampunk-manifesto

Inventing Earth hires Executive Director
“Inventing Earth” Collaborative Arts Organization Hires Prescott College Graduate as Executive DirectorAurora Lee, M.B.A. heading up fundraising effort, building business infrastructure for active local nonprofit


(February 24, 2011) PRESCOTT, ARIZ. – Prescott-area non-profit Inventing Earth announces the hiring of its first Executive Director, Aurora Lee, M.B.A. Her new responsibilities include fundraising and managing grant submissions, as well as general organizational development. Her first tasks are to help expand the Board of Directors and to assist in fundraising for several operas currently under development.

Lee is also a Program Director at Arizona’s Children Association. She graduated from Prescott College in 2004 and received her MBA at University of Arizona, Eller College of Management in 2010. In addition to her work at Arizona’s Children Association she has worked with Affinity Seminars producing web-based education seminars on fundraising for nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada.

About Inventing Earth
Inventing Earth is an Arizona nonprofit founded in 2010 as an educational organization dedicated to expanding human understanding of creativity to include both art and science as individual, collective, and collaborative social, cultural, and artistic processes. The organization also develops tools and training on collaboration for performing artists and other creatives.

In its first year of operation (2010), Inventing Earth: presented a Spring Workshop Series on world, medieval, and alternative vocal techniques taught by Dr. Mary Larew; founded the Flying Body Choir that performed throughout the Prescott Area, including the Thumb Butte Festival, last fall; performed puppet ritual at a Lan Ting in honor of artist Kate Rinzler, also last fall; presented a vocal workshop at Prescott College on somatic-based singing; offered a reading of the libretto of The Greenest Branch opera about Hildegard von Bingen on the Feast of St. Hildegard in September; and presented a community Labyrinth of Stars walk accompanied by vocal music on the Solstice this past December.

Inventing Earth founders Mary Lin and Ben Sargent are working on their second commission, this time an opera in the “steampunk” style influenced by Mozart and Gilbert & Sullivan, which is scheduled for preview in the Boston area this coming September.

Inventing Earth’s Articles of Incorporation were recently approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission. For more information, see http://inventingearth.org/.

Inventing Earth
Combining the wisdom of the past with the genius of the present to co-create the dream of the future

Inventing Earth announces sponsorship of second opera project
Inventing Earth is proud to announce initial sponsorship of the steampunk opera, Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden of Secrets and Natural Wonders. The opera is in development as part of Inventing Earth’s creative residency program and initiated under the Intellectual Property (IP) Framework for Collaboration. Development of the opera will be sponsored in part by James von Hegner of The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition.
The Labyrinth of Stars, a walking meditation
The Labyrinth of Stars, a walking meditation, offered by Inventing Earth to community groups of all faiths.

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