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1220-B Linda Mar

Pacifica, CA 94044


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About the Artist

Niki Ulehla is a San Francisco based artist, puppeteer and goldsmith. Originally from Tennessee, she lived in Texas, Alabama, Germany, Georgia, Massachusetts and the Marshall Islands before coming to California in 1997. She studied painting at Stanford, puppet-making in Prague and goldsmithing in San Francisco. She worked as a goldsmith in the studios of Petra Class and Sandra Enterline for five years and has had her own studio since 2005. She has been making and performing with marionettes for over a decade in the SF bay area and Czech Republic. She began performing in San Francisco with the puppet-music ensemble, Cows for Tuttle and later began developing shows in collaboration with musicians and composers. She works with a loosely organized group of collaborators to create live performances where the puppet and puppeteer are both visible.

About The Inferno

Niki Ulehla's work on Dante's Inferno continues with a new group of puppets. She combines traditional carved wooden marionettes with found object based "toys" to create the characters inhabiting the hell described by Dante. The puppets will be in action the night of the opening, with a performance in the gallery. The performance will begin with the two travelers, Dante and Virgil, crossing the river Styx. They will pass through the fifth circle of Anger, the sixth of the Heretics and the seventh of Violence. This portion of their journey will end riding away on Geyron, the beast of Fraud.

Niki began the long-term project of translating Dante's Inferno into a puppetshow in 2011 during a residency at Recology. During a four-month period she created puppets and a performance of the first four circles of the Inferno using materials scavenged from the Public Disposal Area at Recology. The use of these discarded materials provided both opportunities for new techniques of construction, but more conceptually, an afterlife for these objects discarded from our daily lives.

Niki has been developing the new puppets for over a year and working with her collaborators Renu Cappelli and Petra Class on the development of the action of the show. The performance in February will also be in collaboration with Wobby, the SF based electronic musician, who has created an aural translation of the puppets' journey.

After the opening night performance, February 22nd, the puppets will be on display through March 30th. A film of the Inferno by David Driver will accompany the objects in addition to prints by Ulehla.

Click here to visit Ms. Ulehla’s website and to view a performance video of The Inferno (Cantos 1 – 7)