WorldSmith of the Month is a new feature, showcasing traveling artists and creative professionals around the world. I believe travel in itself can be a creative pursuit, but there are so many ways travel and art can (and do) intersect and fuel one another. Travel can bring you closer to creative endeavors, and living creatively can help you travel more. Read on to meet the newest addition to the WorldSmith community and learn how she balances art and travel.
If you’re walking through an airport terminal in the near future and spy a petite blonde with a five-foot carbon fiber pole and some “ninja-looking stuff on [her] pack,” try not to be intimidated. Chances are, you’ve just run into flow artist Kellie Mogg on her way to a music festival.
Did I lose you at flow artist? You might think of it as fire dancing. Kellie breaks the tradition down:
“Poi, [the lit sticks used in flow arts], specifically started out as a tool that Maori warriors of New Zealand would use to train for hunting or for battle. So badass! Over time, it evolved into a form of ritualistic dance. Now, people of all different backgrounds utilize flow arts for their own expression and/or form of meditation.”
Kellie’s been in the flow world for three years, after a coworker at a seasonal job in Hawaii brought in a pair of poi and started teaching her moves after work. “I grew up playing softball,” Kellie says. “All dance was to me was shaking my hips every now and then, but I had always been interested.”
“She also insisted on me lighting up my first night,” Kellie says. “[I’m] still really glad she did that.”
Since that fateful first light, Kellie has ventured as far afield as northern Thailand for her art, where a friend arranged a stay at the Pai Circus Hostel. Finding enough space to work with poi, or the larger dragon staff (described at the beginning of this post), can be tricky for a flow artist on the go. But this hilltop property in Pai features a swimming pool and ample room to play. “The vibe at the hostel was great in lots of ways, [but] it was especially geared towards beginners,” she says. “Even though the extent of what we could learn sort of fizzled out after a few days, it was still amazing just to be practicing flow arts with a group of people.”
“A group of flow artists is one of the coolest things,” Kellie says. “There [are] some standard moves, but it’s a dance. You make it your own.”
She adds, “Getting to be part of a new community, even if for a short while, facilitates creativity.”
Kellie’s no stranger to joining new communities. Long before her fire dancing days, she’d been well entrenched in the nomadic lifestyle through various seasonal jobs. “I’ve worked in kitchens, for events, waiting tables, managing food trucks, and behind a bar,” she says. “I’m either slinging tacos or slinging beers!” Her travels have taken her all over the United States, from her Oklahoma hometown to jobs in Alaska, California, and Hawaii. A semester abroad in college helped her explore Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. She’s also been a van-dweller in America’s wild West.
“When I was younger, I’d always go meet up with my gypsy sister wherever she was in the country during my school breaks,” Kellie says. “I had my first seasonal job working with her right outside of Yosemite National Park when I was 15 and I was sort of hooked on this concept. I realized I didn’t have to stay put. That was amazing to me.”
Currently, Kellie is in Nicaragua and gearing up to attend music festivals all over the Americas where she can find other flow artists to practice with. She says, “I’m always on the search for the best flow destinations to add to my own blog.”
Her 2017 “wish list” includes Oregon Eclipse; the Gem & Jam Music Festival in Arizona; the Joshua Tree Music & Arts Festival in southern California; Campfire Flow Arts Festival; the Envision Music Festival in Costa Rica; and “if I’m really stretching it” Hulaween Music Festival in Florida.
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