Rituals of Secret Sharing

When the Community Media Center of Marin approached Melissa Harvey with the idea of being its first artist-in-residence, she was immediately captivated by the idea. Developing the concept for what her time at the center would look like, it was clear to Harvey that this opportunity would push her to grow creatively while providing her with the support she needed to do so successfully.

Harvey describes her project, to debut in April, as a two-part interactive installation piece that will allow viewers to join her in creating art by sharing a secret. “The piece features a secret-telling structure that the viewer can enter. Part confessional and part tree house fort, the structure will seek to conjure spaces where intimacy and secret telling are encouraged.”

Inside the space are a screen and a keyboard. The screen prompts the viewer to tell a secret by typing it on the keyboard. From there, the secret is analyzed and a video is chosen and played on a screen outside of the structure.

Interactivity is important to Harvey’s work. “In making an interactive piece of art, I’m inviting a collaboration to take place while examining the unique intimacy formed between artist and viewer.

Harvey believes that the majority of people tell secrets to people they trust in environments they feel safe in — institutionalized spaces like a church, a therapist’s office, or even a best friend’s couch. “Most of us create those spaces as kids in secret hideout spots or in forts or under covers. In these safe spaces, an intimate exchange of information occurs and a feeling is felt. The structure varies, but every person has their own implemented rituals they have developed to experience intimacy in their own life.”

A secret-telling ritual she performed with her friends when they were kids inspired the structure of Harvey’s current piece. “We came up with a game that we called ‘The Secret’ during which we would find a computer, open a word document, write a few secrets down, print them out, read them aloud, and stay up for hours talking about them.”

“The Secret” became a special and intimate activity Harvey and her friends participated in for years, one that inspired her to attempt to recreate the feeling of sharing a secret with best friends.

“I wanted to mimic the moments in our lives where we’re able to be vulnerable and feel safe enough to divulge parts of ourselves that we don’t normally share.”

Harvey hopes that her exhibit at CMCM will enable people to have a moment where they can feel their own tenderness and the tenderness of those around them.

“I would love the installation to be a cathartic experience and a chance for those who participate to reflect and encounter a small secret vulnerable part of themselves.”

Join us for the reception of "Rituals of Secret Sharing."
Saturday, April 8 (6–9 p.m.)

Community Media Center of Marin
819 A St. San Rafael