Machina Arts: Innovative Collective Looks To Shake Up Local Alternative Arts Scene

SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE – Launched in 2012 by artists Rebecca Hamilton and Dayna Pugliese, Machina Arts is a female-founded art collective designed to inspire and invigorate the alternative arts scene throughout Southern New Hampshire and beyond. Hamilton and Pugliese are looking to alter what locally, may be viewed as the “contemporary art scene” and promote a more open-minded scene of Dadaism and modernism through art, music, dance and costume.


By Joe Milliken * Photos by Daniela Maria 1. Painting by Brian O'Neill 2.LED hoop dancer from Titans of Industry 3. Machina Arts Founders Rebecca Hamilton and Danya Pugliese 4. Machina Arts logo

“Machina” is Latin for “machine” and intended to remind us that one can work as hard as the machine to promote the hand-made within art, challenging us to be strong, persistent and never stop creating. To that end, Machina Arts is eagerly providing artists the opportunity to show their work in alternative spaces and with a much more open-minded approach. To create a platform for artists to display their works in something more than simply a “gallery space” experience.

“We were inspired to create a venue for artists in our area to display their work in a non conventional way... something that is more of an experience than a gallery,” Rebecca Hamilton said in an exclusive, Standing Room Only interview. “We don't want to have people just look at art, we want people to feel, hear and participate in the art as well.”

Danya Pugliese: “Machina Arts wants to create a space for artists who are strong-headed and needing the chance to show their skills in new spaces. We plan to work together, collect more individuals over time and create a stronger movement as we grow. We believe it is important to show artists and musicians who are motivated, to change the world with their work and we are providing them with the opportunity to expand their careers and release their creative energy in a space that is supportive and excited about our ideals.

“We plan to change the outlook on art in the New England area, opening the minds of many people to a new way of looking at how to create an art show, and what we can create when we work together. Machina Arts isn't just gallery to display art - it's an experience... an opportunity for people to dance, dress up in costume, listen to great music and have fun all while being surrounded by incredible art.”

So how did Rebecca and Danya come together to create this unique art cooperative?

“I like to tell people I met all of my favorite people in this area on the first night I arrived and Rebecca was one of those people,” Danya said. “I was visiting from Queens, New York where I was living at the time, to work as an assistant to a sculptor who has a summer home in Nelson, New Hampshire. I was at the birthday party of a friend and Rebecca was one of the people I met that evening. Later that year, we were having dinner and I mentioned to Rebecca that I wish I could put together an installation-based art show within an alternative space.

“I feel like we just don't get enough exposure to the contemporary art scene in this area and being from the city, it is something I've been missing. In hearing this, Rebecca strongly agreed with the concept and in a matter of three hours we had a name, a venue, a DJ coming from San Francisco and a big list of ideas. I am happy to say we have accomplished every idea we came up with that night.”

In further brainstorming their idea and where such an art show of this caliber could be created, the Molehill Theatre in Alstead, New Hampshire was the tandem’s immediate choice. “The Molehill is a brilliantly interesting space, with so much character,” Danya said. “The machines make the space not just any music venue and the owner, Dennis Moleski, has taken great care in making the space truly a work of art in itself. Ironically, the very night Machina was born, Molehill was having a show that same evening so we took and trip down to speak with Dennis and was able to set a date and book the venue that night.”

"I grew up in Gilsum, less than three minutes from Mole Hill Theatre," Rebecca Hamilton added in a recent interview. "When Danya and I first discussed the idea of creating an art music event, Mole Hill was the immediate first choice for a venue. The name Machina was inspired by the striking machines that make the Mole Hill venue such an amazing venue."

The result was Machina Arts’ first in a series of ongoing art and music events last December titled Titans of Industry, in which artists, performers and musicians created a surreal experience of industrial art. Visitors to the unique gathering enjoyed progressive art installations, flow performance, electronic music and dancing, while the art exhibits included various interactive installations, LED hoop dancers, sculptures and other live performances.

“Everyone diligently worked together to make the Titans of Industry event into what it was and putting everything together would have been so much harder if we didn't have the amazing team work of the artists, staff, and musicians,” Danya said. “Visitors entered through a ‘fog room’ which created the illusion of entering another reality, as the fog reached throughout the space creating a lighting effect that shined through the smoky air. The large sculptures and installations had their own areas throughout the space with each holding its own aura, while the artworks varied in size and media, ranging from an eight-foot tall metal sculpture to an interactive light show.”

The event featured thirteen artists, seven DJ’s, go-go LED hoop dancers, a beer tasting and an artist store for spectators to help support the artists. The music was a diverse mix of electronic music ranging from live techno fiddle, to deep and tech house, to electronic swing house.

"When we first decided to put on this event, we really didn't know how our community would respond," Rebecca said. "One friend pointed out that our community would be surprised and shocked at having one house DJ at Mole Hill let alone five DJ's, over a dozen art installations, LED hula hoopers, a fog room, professional lighting, costumes, and a full night of dancing. We weren't sure if it would be a huge hit or a huge flop. But as the day drew closer, we heard more and more people talking and gossiping about our upcoming event. We overheard people that we didn't even know telling their friends that the Titans of Industry event was the place to be for the winter solstice.

Not everyone liked what we were doing with the event...but everyone wanted to go, if only as a spectator to see what strange thing we had created in this small community. On the night of the event, I saw people from all walks of life. From my kindergarten teacher, to local business owners, to the progressive young art crowed and anyone one else just looking for a fun night of dancing. Our artists received a lot of positive attention and recognition from the community and everyone danced. The event had the vibe of a hip city party thrown in San Francisco or New York." The event was a huge success.

“I believe our first event was a success,” Danya added. “But we will always strive to improve the next event with a higher number of visitors and I would like to see that number grow as each new event unfolds.”

Machina Arts is currently beginning to plan their next event, titled Devine Intervention and slated for April 19 at the Marlborough House, a beautiful repurposed church, with vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows located in Marlborough, New Hampshire. "We have decided to move the venue for each event and keep the theme of said event connected to the venue so that our installation artists have a rich background from which to create their art," Rebecca said.

"Divine Intervention is connected to the inspiration behind our name, Machina. The Deus Ex Machina, also known as god from the machine, is a literary plot device in which the god machine literally enters a play or story to change the plot through Divine Intervention. This next event is not religious on any level but in keeping with the theme, we will be holding the event in a repurposed church. We were inspired by the success of our last event. We hope that word of this next event will spread quickly and that this next event will be even more successful than the last"

“We are looking for mainly installation and sculpture artists, in any media, who want to work with our theme to create a different environment and transform our space into its own world," Danya said. "We want our artists to think big and out of the box, playing off our ideas and the fact that we are hosting the event within a church... to be clear, however, this is not a religious event.”

The music presented at Devine Intervention will include alternative electronic music and the costume theme will be “black and white dress to the nines.” There will also be an open call for artists through Wooloo.org and the fee to apply is $10. “To apply, the open call will be posted on our Facebook page very soon. We will also be running an Indie Go-Go campaign in order to raise money for our event,” Danya concluded. “We are a self-funded art collective therefore, sponsors make our events happen. This gives us the ability to have creative freedom, so our artists and musicians can have the opportunity to create an amazing event for all our visitors.”

Machina Arts is always looking for talented, motivated people – artists, musicians, performers or otherwise - who want to be involved in creating something artistically unique and powerful. To learn more about the Machina Arts collective, contact Rebecca and Danya at Machina.Arts@gmail.com, or send a Facebook “friend request” to www.Facebook.com/machina.arts... they would love to hear from you!