Last Week of Residency! Plus Open Studios

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I am in my last week of residency with Centrum and I am having a mix of feelings. I am feeling both ready to go home (I miss my family and my pets and the space of home), however, I am also feeling like there is still so much to do, one week is not enough. I have to keep in mind what my cohort members were reminding me: this is not the end of the work; the work will continue.

This experience at Fort Worden has been absolutely amazing. I feel so lucky and privileged to be able to take a month in a beautiful coastal town and focus on myself and my practice. I have furthered some work already in progress and planted a number of new seedlings here that I will continue to water and nourish. I have also resolved some questions in the work (see previous post). I will hold off sharing in more detail the work that I have made while here. I will write a more full post at the end of the residency next week.

In the mean time, I would like to use this opportunity to announce that you can have a preview before next week by attending the open studios this coming Saturday. Granted, Port Townsend is a ways away from the major cities (Seattle and Portland), but if you have the means, interest, and time, I would encourage you to attend, as all of the artists in residence are doing some amazing work and it will be a fun opportunity to meet and talk with them.

If not, no worries, I plan to do a full post that will include photos of the new work and some of the my thoughts on how this time has shifted my process. I am also hoping to update my website in the near future. Keep an eye out!

Last Week 02

 

Feeling Flat- Late Post from 10/14

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**This post is a reflection of my feelings in process that I wrote last week:

The struggle has been so real the last 3 days in the studio. I am making bigger drawings based on the small studies I have been working on over the last year, or so. The larger drawings have grown to incorporate sculpting the paper, which I love, and yet, they still feel empty. I worry that the line drawings do not carry the same gestural energy as the ones in the small drawings.

While I have experimented with different line qualities, thickness and using different materials to make the lines, nothing feels as right as the thinner lines that I have been making with micron pens. They are meant to mimic the traces of the hair, after all. Unfortunately, something with the larger drawings just isn’t clicking yet. And while my goal is to walk away with 4-5 large successful drawings, given that there are only about 2 more weeks left, I worry that I will just end up spending the rest of the time and materials playing around, trying to figure out why things are not working.

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I was talking with one of my cohort members last night about the idea of getting out of your own way so that the work can come through you. I am struggling so hard with that right now. This is my process and I know it won’t always be like this, and the time, no matter how it is spent, is very valuable for my practice. I think that I just need to back off myself a bit and allow things to unfold as they need to. Perhaps I don’t have any successful large drawings when I leave, then what? At the very least, I can walk away with a strong sense of what is not working so that I can move forward.

Not everything is going to be a hit and not everything is going to click easily. I am reminding myself today to stay engaged with everything, be it stretches of intense work and problem-solving, or backing off to let things sort themselves out. Everything in life calls for a unique approach and part of my work is figuring out what that is so that I can better support my practice.

 

Pain as Portal

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I awoke 45 minutes past my alarm this morning. It was still dark out and the light behind the foggy clouds just began to illuminate the landscape in hues of grey-blue. I gathered my things and went downstairs to my apartment (yes, I am chicken and sleep in the spare room of the apartment above me because my cohort understands how spooky Fort Worden can be). I turned on the space heater, curled up on the couch and watched the blue light on the grass shift to bright green.

I was suddenly hit with this wave of intense emotion. To distract myself, I went on instagram, but my brain continued to spiral into thoughts of worthlessness, doubt, and grief, allowing my sense of being to repeatedly crash against the edges of rocks. I spent about an hour crying, and, just like that, my tears dried, my inner landscape settled and I was able to make myself a cup of coffee and read a few pages from Octavia Butler’s Fledgling.

It must just be my period coming or something, I thought. But then as I was journaling, I realized that I missed the portal. That tidal wave of pain was an opening to go in deeper beyond the surface skin of repeated stories that I have always told myself about my pain. There is a spiritual wild woman on instagram that I follow and she is always talking about portals. I never could really understand what that was, and I still don’t. I can say, however, that I stood directly outside of one this morning, watching it rupture open, raw and awaiting the feel of my presence, only to close, sewing itself back together, disappearing into the air.

What if next time, I am able to hold onto my life-line, keeping my head clear enough that I can see the opening and know that if I am to learn anything valuable about my pain, that I must go inside? What if I can manage to look past myself, as she tries to tell me stories about the sad tale of my life, so that I can see that there is light deep inside the darkness of the tunnel?

With all of this in mind, I realize that the mere fact that I turned around to actually witness the portal is a huge step forward. I am actually eagerly awaiting its return, my next opportunity to step through. Surely, I will take it because the cycle of repeated fallacies no longer serves me or my interests. Next time, I hope I step through the portal.

Week 1 of Centrum

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It has been a long time since I have posted actual content on this site (and not just an announcement for a show or something). Well, I have not be very vocal about my acceptance as a Centrum Emerging Artist in Residence at Fort Worden State Park, but that is what I am currently doing right now! Week 1 of the residency is coming to a close and I have until the end of October to enjoy this park, the facilities, the uninterrupted time to make work and the cute coastal town of Port Townsend.

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I have never done a residency away before, so I feel very grateful to be here and to have the time, space and support to make work. This gift has not come without some hick-ups along the way (which is not unusual in life). Because the residency is so long (1 month), I had to give up one of the classes I was scheduled to teach this semester, forgoing half my usual income. The last few months have been rough financially, but for me, this residency takes priority because my practice takes priority. I love teaching very much and my students mean a lot to me, however, I am a better instructor because of my practice and I am worth putting myself first.

Another unfortunate occurrence happened a few days ago when I was diagnosed with shingles. Funny enough, I am developing a few movement pieces and body-centered work at the moment, so I am slowly working through my thoughts on how I am going to approach my practice over the next month in a way that honors the current state of my body. The body has been my main medium for a while now and mine is always changing, so it is a practice in learning how to shift with it.

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Other than those two things, this residency has been an absolute dream, and every moment is so worth it (and even the not so great things). I have been fooling around with making my drawings more sculptural and I am still tinkering with making Conjure Objects and movement pieces. My goal over the next month is to keep recorded updates of my work here on this blog, mostly for myself so that I can look back on it, but also so that I can share a little more about my process. As always, I hope that this sharing will be useful and interesting to some. Stay tuned for weekly posts over the next month as I report regularly from this beautiful ocean town…

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Encounters at Indivisible

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Guess what!!!! I have a solo show coming up (like, real soon). This Saturday is the opening for the show, Encounters, at Indivisible from 6-9 PM. If you are in Portland, Or, please come through! I will be showing a mix of new and old work. I

f you missed the show in Seattle, then Encounter will be a good opportunity to take a look at the new drawings I have been up to. I have been not as active in the live performance realm, but I have been active in my studio between drawing and writing.  I am excited for this new body of work and I am excited to pursue it during an awesome opportunity this fall (more on that later).

Hope to see at Encounters!

When the Going Gets Tough

When the Going Gets Tough

Still from video piece, A Place to Move 

Aside from my recent announcements over the last two weeks, I have not been posting much of anything since March. Update: the going has been going, and while a lot of it is great and fun, there is a huge chunk of it that is tough. This journey as artist has never been smooth for me, but the waters are particularly rough right now. My emotions and mental state have been relatively the same: constant up and down. Between finding work (money), paying down debts, trying to live as healthy as I can, making art and finding ways to process this prison called colonialism, my anxiety is mostly up. But so is my gratitude, since I count my blessings everyday and I am aware that I have a lot to be thankful for.

The blessings still do not necessarily relieve the experiences of pain and stress. Most of the time, I am raw, like an exposed nerve, because my work requires it (and in all honesty, I require it of myself). Thinking back, I never really wanted to be a visual artist as a career. As a child, when I imagined what I would be growing up, I knew I would be a biologist, an archeologist, an architect, a social worker, a community organizer, a writer… Like any kid, I went through many options over time. In undergrad, I decided I would be an academic scholar and professor. Although I continued my art through college, it was a side note.

And I tried to keep it a side note as much as possible. I even stopped making art for a period after college. My thinking at the time: What’s the point? Art makes no money and it makes no direct change, so why even do it? I eventually found my way back to it through photography (and a very nurturing and inspiring mentor/friend by the name of Polly Steinmetz). When I started taking photos, I became excited about life again. I realized that this is where I belong. I am an artist. I thought: I might as well embrace it, despite my fears of being poor my whole life because of it.

I made a commitment to my practice because it saved my life (and even though that sounds corny, I mean it in the most literal way). It brought me back to me. And nothing gets my gears going more than art (in all of its forms). So here I am now, 2 years post grad school, and my practice keeps bringing me amazing opportunities, as well as some rough terrain to navigate (but I am committed to navigating it).

Things have been rocky and most days, I am not sure how I feel or if I am coming or going. Outside of my own bubble, black people are still being murdered, thousands of children are being detained in US concentration camps (let’s call them what they are), we continually disrespect the environment and animals… I have nothing new to say that hasn’t already been said. My disgust is a thick aftertaste in the back of my throat. On edge? Of course, who isn’t?

There is no positive twist or good vibe at the end of this piece (which is what I normally like to give to my posts on here). I’m just trying to process it all. As I sit in at the airport gate waiting for my delayed flight to the Bay Area so that I can teach art to youth over the next 5 weeks, I am feeling the shifts of the current, both within my personal life and beyond myself. Here I am at the intersection of art, living, healing, career, colonization, trauma, joy, anxiety, hope… It’s one cluttered intersection of feeling and thought.

I guess all I can say is if you feel like life has you pinned down, forcing you into a straight jacket, cornering you, trying to close off your options, I get that. I keep pulling the surrender card (Yemoja). I’m still not sure what that means, what it looks like, how to embody it so that it doesn’t mean to give up. I am taking a lot of deep breaths these days, trying to do my best, trying to help when I can, reminding myself that everything passes, that there is always work to do, and I am alive, here&now, living all the good and the bad. I try to be thankful as much as possible, because I have certain privileges that others don’t and my basic needs are met (and unfortunately there are many who can’t say that). I also have better ways to spend my time, rather than planning a pity party. There is just me right now, riding the waves, figuring things out and pressing on, just like everyone else.

Announcement: Joining OS New Media Fellowship

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It is with a lot of excitement and gratitude that I announce my place as a New Media Fellow at Open Signal this coming fall!

Over the last year, during my participation in Future Forum, I had the opportunity to begin exploring some new ideas regarding blackness, queerness, video installation and projection mapping. I will continue to grow these ideas and refine them during my time as a fellow.

I will be updating my process and artistic explorations on She Got Love. Stay tuned for new work on the horizon!