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2024 Annual Conference

St. Louis

March 21-23, 2024

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Hannah Smith Allen

SPE Member since 2015
Member Chapter: Northeast

Becoming Circus

In the early 1900s my grandfather's family ran a circus that traveled by train throughout the American Midwest and South. When my grandfather was a teenager, he left home to join his brothers in the circus. But after one summer on the rails, they sent him back to finish school.

For the past few years, I have been working on several projects that bring me closer this history, a history that has seemingly vanished.

I would never call myself or my family circus people. We are not nimble, and we are not nomadic.

Nevertheless, this circus history intrigued me; I began to teach myself circus skills and video record my efforts. I also started to photograph myself embodying different circus personas.

This project to date records the struggle in finding the past inside the present, discovering the imaginative potential in the every day, and tapping into one's own desire to continue to transform and become — even in mid-life — when everything can feel fixed.

Sideshow Persona (Long Haired Lady)

Sideshow Persona (Two Headed)

Sideshow Persona (Bearded Lady)

Cabinet Card

Becoming Circus: Juggling

Becoming Circus

Becoming Circus: Balancing (still)

Installation View (Becoming Circus)

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