It began nearly ten years ago as “an evolving experiment for improvisational free jazz movement, performance-happenings and new ideas in dance,” and The Pillow Project has never wandered far from its roots.
Pearlann Porter heads the group that sees the word “jazz” as a verb. The group gathers the second Saturday of every month at “The Space Upstairs” in Pittsburgh's East End to perform. Project members call the studio in a repurposed warehouse a “4,000 square foot canvas where audiences and artists interact.”
“Its been an evolving project… that has developed into this small community of local artists, all with the same idea of execution,” said member Jordan Bush.
The Pillow Project invites the public in for “live multimedia experimentations and honest, spontaneous, jazzed expressions of the moment.”
During those experimentations Bush does chalk sketches. “It’s a very different style of art because being jazz it thrives on the improv. So it’s definitely art but it’s kind of in its own category.”
“The Space Upstairs,” where the group performs, forces the Pillow Project to use everything in the room. “There’s no back stage to this space,” said Bush who has been called the Chalk Ninja, “we’re moving in and out with the crowd… and all that just adds to the honesty of the experience.”
Members of the troop and some of their audience members have called the art scene in Pittsburgh a “Petri dish” and they are working to develop cultures from their improvisational experiment.