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SUELLEN PRIMOST, United States Representative for Evelyn Roth Festival Arts

Suellen Primost, Director of Symba Edventures in Oakland, CA, is a seasoned storyteller, teacher, event planner, performance artist, multicultural arts educator and professional musician. Suellen has coordinated hundreds of special programs for schools and major institutions, including San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences, Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, Museum of International Folk Art and the Children’s Museum of Santa Fe. Over many years, she has performed at local, national and international family festivals. In 2010 Suellen was invited to perform at the WOMADelaide Festival in Australia with Evelyn Roth, Creatrix of THE NYLON ZOO. Suellen then traveled to Storybook Theatre of Hawaii in Hanapepe to commemorate the opening of The Children’s’ Garden and launch Evelyn Roth’s Stuffy, The Vegan Caterpillar. She coordinated a weeklong residency featuring Roth’s spectacular 4-dome Eco-Maze at the International Children’s Theater Festival in Pittsburgh. The Eco-Maze also appeared at the CA Academy of Sciences (SF). In 2014, Suellen coordinated a 10-day Bay Area Arts Residency for Evelyn Roth sponsored by Expressions Gallery of Berkeley. Suellen has performed at many Bay Area school assemblies and Family Reading Nights for Oakland Parents Literacy Project. With the NYLON ZOO, she appeared at Berkeley’s Shorebird Festival, Save the Salmon Festival at The Ferry Building in San Francisco, Salmon Dance in Nevada City, Temescal and Fruitvale Street Festivals in Oakland, and at International Oceans Day at The CA Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Suellen can be seen throughout the year at Oakland Zoo’s Feasts for the Beasts, Boo at the Zoo and ZooLights events.

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Evelyn Roth, acclaimed eco-pioneer, textile, performance and self-taught community artist, specializes in environmentally sensitive events. Born in 1936, Evelyn grew up in the small rural town of Mundare, Alberta.  In the 1950s, she moved to Edmonton, working as a children’s librarian while taking classes in arts, crafts, yoga, fencing, Modern, Eastern and Classical Dance. After moving to Vancouver, BC, in 1961 she joined Intermedia, a cohort of artists, dancers and filmmakers that became a vital part of the flourishing international art scene at the time (i.e., Happenings, Art & Technology, Wearable Art and Videography).

When recycling came to the fore in the early 1970s, Evelyn’s knitting and crocheting skills were used to recycle natural fibers and videotape from television stations into “Articles” - topical functional objects showcased in “The Evelyn Roth Recycling Book” by Talon Books (1974).

From 1973 through the 1980s, Evelyn explored sculpture and dance in the environment with her Evelyn Roth Moving Sculpture Company. “Woven in Time,” a film showing the company in various outdoor settings, won an ETROG award in 1976 (Canadian Film Awards). It is still widely shown today.

In 1977, while living in Vancouver, in the Pacific Northwest, Evelyn was invited by the Haida First Nations people on the Queen Charlotte Islands to design a giant Salmon tent which became the focus of their yearly Salmon Festival. While Evelyn was working on the Salmon tent with the Haida people, she also created “Salmon Dance,”  a choreography of costumed totemic characters including Eagle, Raven, Bear and Frog, interacting with Human. To accompany the "Salmon Dance," Evelyn commissioned a 30-minute electronic musical composition, with narration by her colleague, Hannalore. The first Salmon Dance” had an interactive component wherein children from the audience donned Web-of-Life creature costumes and were invited to dance around the inflatable Salmon. For over four decades, "Salmon Dance” has been performed with local youth groups around the world, in Hong Kong, Brazil, Africa, Korea, United States and Canada. 

In 1981, Evelyn was invited to the Adelaide Festival Centre, in Australia, for an interactive display, “Video Jungle.” Adelaide television stations supplied VHS videotape of discarded TV programs which Evelyn crocheted into a video playland and placed in the Centre's foyer. Being interested in indigenous culture, Evelyn accepted an invitation to Pitjitjanjara communities and held workshops in rabbit knit and painted leather garments, and crocheted videotape shade canopies. While there, she installed a crocheted nylon play web. These articles were displayed at the University of Adelaide in 1982 and also at an exhibition in Canada entitled “Evelina Down Under” that same year.

Evelyn with environmentalist David Suzuki, Vancouver, 2009

Evelyn with environmentalist David Suzuki, Vancouver, 2009

As international interest in Evelyn’s interactive fabric arts grew, Evelyn was invited to an be Artist-in-Residence at Spokane’s Expo ’74 (USA), Commonwealth Games ‘82 (Brisbane, Australia), Canada World University Games’83 (Edmonton), Vancouver Expo ’86 (British Columbia) and the Commonwealth Games ‘94 (Victoria). Giant nylon inflatable structures filled football sized stadiums and hundreds of “children of all ages” sat enthralled inside these magical multi-colored creatures for storytelling. The need for tactile, hands-on public events at festivals led Evelyn to construct a series of quick-to-put-on bird, animal, insect and vegetable Web-of-Life costumes for instant parades to accompany the NYLON ZOO. The NYLON ZOO, a portable classroom and storytelling theater, continues to travel the world and is the main focus of Evelyn’s livelihood and work. In 2017, the Nylon Zoo has made 21 consecutive years of appearances at WOMADelaide, a world music festival in Adelaide, South Australia. For over 30 years, United States Fisheries have commissioned Evelyn to create Salmon NYLON ZOO story tents for eco-programing and Web-of-Life programs, with added costumed elements of fire, sunshine, forest, etc. She appeared on “Adelaide: Smart Global Cities,” a National Geographic TV special seen by 120 million people worldwide in 2014. In 2017, her work was featured in "Hippie Modernism," a retrospective at BAMPFA Museum in Berkeley, CA.

Evelyn currently lives with her husband, gifted painter John Davis, at the beautiful coastal town of Maslin Beach, near Adelaide.

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Polar Bears painted by John Davis

Polar Bears painted by John Davis

JOHN DAVIS, Painter, Evelyn Roth Festival Arts

John Davis is a South Australian artist who lives at Maslin Beach on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula. He is a caretaker of Maslin Beach for the Kaurna People. Born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1958, of Indigenous Australian, Welsh, German and Spanish ancestry, John, a keen observer of nature, got interested in art at a very young age and at the age of 15, sold his first painting to a high school teacher. In 1998, John decided to become a full-time painter. In 2000, he married Evelyn Roth, an internationally renowned textile and performance artist who, like John, was a lifelong environmental activist. They began working together creating wearable art, spectacular air-sculpted NYLON ZOO storytheaters to raise public awareness about global warming and endangered species, and staging eco-events with their artwork at major festivals, celebrations and events around the world.

John is a self-taught painter with deep interest in surrealism, abstract art and native art from around the world. John, while fluent in many mediums, works primarily in acrylics, pencil and oils.

In 2008, John was invited by movie maker/environmentalist Gregory Hemmings to join a sailing expedition around North America to highlight environmental issues. The same year, his Polar Bear paintings were used in eco-education programs in Alaska and they accompanied Evelyn’s Roth’s “Bear Necessities” installation commissioned by the Burnaby Arts Center in BC, Canada, for a 30-Year Retrospective of her work. This show was also presented at Red Poles Gallery in McClaren Vale, South Australia.  Currently John is involved with environmental issues related to Red Ochre at the City of Onkaparinga Coastline near Maslin Beach.

John’s art has been shown in the US, New Zealand, France, Canada and Australia at the Fibre and Textile Forum in New South Wales, and the Arts Centre, Port Noarlunga, SA. John was Highly Commended by the Rotary Club at the Victor Harbor Art Exhibition, SA. He was also a Finalist at Fleurieu Biennale in 2000 and again Finalist for the 2007 SALA Advertiser Art Prize in Adelaide.