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Jeanette Andrews Is No Ordinary Magician

Watch the sensory illusionist perform February 26 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Photo: Saverio Truglia

Starting with her first paid gig at age 6, local “sensory illusionist” Jeanette Andrews has held just one job: magician. Today, her act leans closer to art, incorporating history, science, even literature. On February 26 at a free event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, she’ll demonstrate some tricks and offer insight into her creative process.

Your approach is very stripped down. Why is that?

All my clothes are black; everything in my apartment is white. In terms of materials, I use a lot of glass, plants, some paper. No technology. People have this notion they are being visually distracted by flashing lights and smoke and mirrors, so I try to keep the aesthetic really simple.

Beyond magicians, who has influenced your performances?

I fell in love with a lot of minimalist artists as a teen. I was interested in composers like John Cage, Michael Nyman, and Philip Glass, then I got into sculptors like Dan Flavin and Richard Serra. The pieces of magic I pull from date to the mid-19th-century European style. I use them as a starting point for plot or technique, then rework them.

What stereotypes do you hear about magicians?

People have very limited cultural references. They ask, “Are you like David Blaine or Criss Angel?” I’m not going to lie, it’s an uphill battle.

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