It was like a scene out of Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, like the filming of a Merry Prankster adventure. It was a “Vision Quest,” in the form of a film by local artist Starroot, premiered at the June Bug Center’s Black Box Theater last night.
Filmed and directed by Cameron Nelson, the movie combined a series of paintings Starroot did for her daughter with music that she and her Galactic Band recorded during a live performance of the “Vision Quest Multi Media” show at Baylees in Blacksburg. Music from Starroot’s CD’s “Yellow Magnetic Sun” and “Red Cosmic Dragon,” and Starroot reading her poetry were also part of the soundtrack. She and Cameron enlisted the help of friends to act out and “get into” the paintings. Darcy Marsh portrays Starroot’s daughter Johanna in the film.
A Vison Quest is a Native American rite of passage, traditionally taken just before puberty, which involves spending time alone in nature with the intention of discovering a new life direction. In the May Museletter (community newsletter), Starrroot announced the showing of the film and explained how her daughter, Johanna, asked for help with a Vision Quest when she was twenty years old. Johanna’s request inspired Starroot to paint a series of twenty paintings with a Vision Quest theme. About the film, she said, “We had lots of fun as we created a film with a surreal, beautiful feeling in a simple low tech production style.”
The movie was filmed last summer and fall in settings around Floyd County, many of which were familiar to some in the audience. The majority of the audience (which included a number of Merry Prankster artist types) didn’t know the film was being made before it was announced and were surprised that some of the actors were also recognizable to them.
When the credits rolled, I was shocked to see that even my name was included. Over ten years ago I was one of a group who participated in a jam session in Root’s studio. My friend Jayn, Root, and I played the Jew’s harp, which ended up on one of her CD’s and then in the Vision Quest movie. I haven’t played the Jew’s harp since.
At the question and answer period at the end of the film Root and Cameron explained how props were made and how scenes were filmed. Root introduced the actors who were present, calling them up on the stage.
Psychedelic, Cosmic, Galactic, Shamanic and Harmonic. Starroot’s art, music, and now her film draw from her study of the Mayan calendar, as interpreted by Jose Arguelles, Native American teacher, author, and founder of Planet Art. Starroot once co-hosted Arguelles to speak in Floyd.
Photo: Cameron Nelson and Starroot. Hear a Jew’s Harp HERE.