Belonging ~ Origin Story

creativity, Narrative, Origin story, process, Works In Progress

Belonging (2021)
Collaged transcripts, oil & cold wax medium on wood panel
36″x 60″

The daily writing practice I started when I was 7 has become the creative cornerstone of my life. Writing makes my subconscious conscious—it is my key to mining the stories I’ve inherited about who I am and where I come from. Then I head into my studio to make sense of what I have just unearthed. The act of creating shows me where I stand in the flow between cultural inheritance and legacy.

Family stories form the foundation of this painting…

June 28, 2021: A new piece has me burrowing back in to the family stories I collected for my film, A Lot Like You. I’m cutting up transcripts of stories told to me by my family on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and gluing them onto a 36″x60″ wood panel. Even in paper form, my Aunts’ stories are arresting. What a gift that time was. 17 years later, I’m still feeling the ripple effects of our conversation in the hut. (I tell the story of our time together in my 2016 TEDxSeattle talk, Why the World Needs Your Story.)

June 28, 2021 (end of day): Record breaking 110° in the studio today. Foundation laid. 15 square feet of transcripts. Calling it a day. Going to melt into a G&T!

July 13, 2021: Laying down some warm tones over the collaged transcripts ~ the first of many layers to come. I expect this painting to be a slow and steady build over the coming weeks.

July 14, 2021: Next layer on the 36″x60″ transcript painting…

July 19, 2021: Can’t stop laughing at this guy! No time to paint the last 4 days, so my starting layers totally dried. Time to start again. It’s way too early to be precious about any of this. So I get to start the day scribbling, doodling, writing, painting with colors I don’t usually use to reactivate the surface. Getting this piece from 0 to 60 so I can cruise into the week ahead…

July 20, 2021: 36″x60″ Work in Progress (end of day): Not what I was expecting. Really curious to see how this painting evolves. You can still see the trace remains of my guy…

July 30, 2021: It’s been Tweak Week over there, troubleshooting and finalizing these two paintings ~ a combined 30sq.ft. of this Paul Klee/Gees Bend-inspired meditation on color.

September 13, 2021: The best test for me to see if a piece is ready to move out into the world is to try it out in my home. Living with a piece in my everyday environment helps me see it with fresh eyes and notice if there are trouble spots I need to resolve. After a week, in the kitchen, I had to make some tweaks to this painting. But now, it’s feeling pretty good in every orientation. Nothing’s poking out at me, demanding my attention. Will live with it a little while longer and see how it feels. If all goes well, I might include this piece in a show at the end of the month.

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