By Calder Zwicky

Jaimie Warren is the creative force behind some of today’s most playful, beautiful, and viscerally beguiling video, performance, and photography projects. When Adam Parker Smith and I reached out to her last year to come in as a guest artist for our I Am a God: Artists, Obsession & the Cult of Celebrity Culture course, we immediately saw that she was the perfect collaborator and mentor for our community of young artists. Building upon last season’s success, this summer’s Jaimie Warren’s House of Horror course has brought its participants through an array of creative and cringe-inducing experiences, including our first-ever MoMA Teen lock-in event. In this post, Jaimie reflects upon a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

– Calder Zwicky

“Cooking” s’mores around our classroom “campfire.” Photo: Jaimie Warren

When I was asked to teach an In the Making class at The Museum of Modern Art, I could have never guessed that all of my wildest teaching dreams would so quickly come true. In my personal work, I had recently been obsessing over horror movie characters from my childhood and B-horror characters for their ridiculous construction and awful transitions and effects. I was overjoyed at the possibilities and flooding my brain with questions. What would they allow me to do? How far could I take this? Just how gross can we be?!

As the class progressed, our weeks were filled with things like filthy makeover contests judged by Friday the 13th’s Jason. My apprentice educator, Sofie, and I often began classes with brief performances—heartfelt love ballads dressed as twin Freddy Kruegers, or covered in fake blood to teach a fake-blood-making workshop. We viewed artworks from an incredible range of artists such as Nagi Noda, Guy Ben-Ner, Thu Tran, Jean-Paul Goude, Charlie White, and Pee-wee Herman. After hours in the studio making guts, blood, severed limbs, stomachs, and injured hands, all out of simple materials like cardboard and newspaper, we were in need of some serious fun.

Jaimie (as Freddy Kreuger) performs with the teens. Photo: Kaitlyn Stubbs

A costume contest gets a visit from guest-judge Jason Voorhees. Photo: Kaitlyn Stubbs

A costume contest gets a visit from guest-judge Jason Voorhees. Photo: Kaitlyn Stubbs

So what are most memorable events from my youth? What brought students together, or made close friends even closer? A lock-in, of course! A giant, fun-filled slumber party!! An all-night horror-movie-marathon! I thought it would never happen in a million years, but I would have regretted it if I hadn’t asked. I’m sure glad I did.

The day started pretty simply: after class we headed out for some fresh air in Central Park, with a giant game of Frisbee that turned into hours of “get the Frisbee out of the tree,” then “get the water bottle and the shoe we used to try to get the Frisbee out of the tree out of the tree,” etc., etc. Heading back, we caught the tail-end of live music in MoMA’s Sculpture Garden, and a giant feast of Chinese food awaited us, which was perfect because we were ravenous.

On the way to Central Park for some pre-sleepover Frisbee. Photo: Jaimie Warren

On the way to Central Park for some pre-sleepover Frisbee. Photo: Jaimie Warren

Suddenly it was nighttime, the once-bustling Sculpture Garden was empty, and the realization that we had the museum to ourselves sunk in. We squealed with delight in preparation for our private tour of the museum in our oversized pajamas and socked feet. Calder Zwicky lead an incredible tour, diving into some of the most important artworks in the world, all for us. In a museum that is usually so full of visitors that you cannot even find the space to stand still, we had complete silence and a single security guard, as we quietly listened to fascinating stories about the artists and strolled around the galleries with all the time and space we needed to really appreciate them. It was so memorable and so beautiful, and we felt like royalty.

Read more here:: Starry Night, Gory Night: Jaimie Warren’s House of Horror Sleeps Over at MoMA