The Stories We Inherit

Art, Film, Installation, Origin story, Story, Works In Progress

Backstory:  Couple months ago, a friend invited me to create a piece for a project she’s working on about dimensional wax pieces. While most of my encaustic paintings are textured and could be considered “dimensional,” I really wanted to push myself to get off the wood panel and see what I could create in 3D space. She asked for a piece that reflected the themes of cultural inheritance and legacy I explored in my film, A Lot Like You.

This prompt reminded me that in April 2018, I pulled out the transcripts of family stories I collected for my film — and, with no clear end goal in mind, I started cutting up and inking the shredded transcripts…trusting that they would some day find their way into a piece…

4/17/18 – These interviews I transcribed with my family elders on Kilimanjaro were the heart of my film. Even on the page, my Aunts’ stories are arresting. Now these transcripts will form the foundation of my next piece…

 

4/20/18 – As an encaustic artist, it’s rare that I can work on an art piece outside my studio. so I’m relishing being able to ink the shredded paper wherever I please. Especially on a day like today when I’m feeling pretty lousy, I can binge watch Theaster Gates & Andy Goldsworthy docs while reclining on our sofa, wrapped in a cozy blanket and sipping coffee.

 

4/20/18 – End of Day 3…inking each piece by hand is a slow and meditative process. 7 hours straight today. Time to switch gears and walk the dog!

 

FAST FORWARD TO 2019…

2/14/19 – …and now, for something completely different!! Spent the past 2hrs cleaning the studio, getting ready to work with encaustic, paper, wire and fabric. Won’t have anything finished to show for the next few weeks…but i’ll be posting detail shots of this piece in progress. (just for the record, i have Absolutely No Idea where this is going. i’m just committing to experimenting with 3D play.) 🙂

 

 

2/14/19 – The motif of yesterday’s painting of chain links takes root as I finally find a use for the shredded transcripts of family interviews that I inked last year.  While I don’t have much experience constructing dimensional pieces–I do remember making paper chains in grade school…

 

2/15/19 – Spending all day making encaustic paper chains out of shredded family transcripts. 5hrs down, 4hrs to go…

 

2/21/19 – I started the day making strands of orange & red, but then decided to limit my palette to colors of the Tanzanian flag — fitting since these paper chains are made from shredded transcripts of interviews with the Tanzanian side of my family. So now I’m focusing my efforts on blues, greens, yellows. Onward!

 

2/25/19 – All day, today & tomorrow, I’ll be 1) coating transcript strips with encaustic medium on the hot plate to 2) make links, then 3) gluing them into chains. Podcast playlist is packed, headphones are fully charged. Here we go…♡

3/1/19 – Much gratitude and love to my friend Connie for coming over this morning to help me create an alginate mold of my face.

 

3/1/19 – Been obsessively scraping and cleaning up this piece with my pottery & dental tools for 4 hours straight. SO satisfying! But it’s time to step away, and return with fresh eyes tomorrow to check out my handiwork in the light of day…

 

3/4/19 – As I experiment with making an encaustic cast of my face, I’m struck by how much the wax-filled mold looks like an oyster shell…🌊

 

3/5/19 – Turned out, and cleaned up, the encaustic cast of my face. The verdict is still out re: how I feel about it. It’s getting a bit weird (and eerie), having disembodied faces on my work table. Here’s hoping I can turn them into something beautiful!

 

I made this short video about the “source material” for these paper chains – shredded transcripts of the family stories I gathered while filming on Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2003.

 

3/19/19 – Working on the bottom half of my dimensional encaustic piece today — arranging the wax/paper chain in (what I hope will be) an ascending spiral!🤞🏽

 

3/26/19 – Spending the day weaving twigs to form the interior walls of the Chagga hut that will surround the wax mask…♡ Wood up top, paper below.

 

3/28/19 – Yesterday was a “2steps forward/1step back” kind of day. This is the challenge and the thrill of #LearningByDoing . Even tho I had to undo a lot of my work, no effort was lost. Each go-around leaves a trace of story that will be seen and felt in the final piece. Every turn is worth the effort.

 

3/28/2019 – #TBT2004 to filming in my father’s Chagga hut on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Fast forward 15 years, different medium, same story (exploring my cultural inheritance and legacy). Spent today finishing the woodwork that, for me, is reminiscent of the interior of our hut.♡

 

3/29/19 – The Stories We Inherit (72″x 12″x 11″) – Wax, wood, wire, and paper. Calling this piece done…for now…at least in its current iteration. You know how it goes.

 

2018 Artist Trust Fellowship

Activism, Art, Exhibition, family, Film, Installation, Narrative, Story

So excited to share this news with you!!!!

It was just announced that I am one of 16 recipients of the 2018 Artist Trust Fellowship ~ “an unrestricted grant program that awards $7,500 to practicing professional artists of exceptional talent and ability.” (You can read the full press release here.)  I am in awe of all that Artist Trust does to support the arts and artists across Washington state!  And I am grateful to the Jurors for their time and thoughtful deliberation — and for their kind consideration of my application.  Having served on numerous film festival and grant juries, I’m aware what a time and energy commitment it is to review and deliberate over hundreds of submissions…

This news has me Standing Taller and Breathing Deeper.  With this generous Fellowship, I will finally have the time and resources to complete the ambitious project I started during my COCA residency last year.  The Truth Has No Borders is a multi-media installation that integrates 40 years exploring my family narrative through writing, music, film and art.

And finally, a Huge congrats to my fellow Fellows! I am deeply honored to be in the company of so much Excellence.

Screenshot_2018-06-19-19-29-03-1-1

Pictured Left to Right/Top to Bottom:  Tariqa Waters, Barbara Sternberger, Taiji Miyasaka, Christopher Paul Jordan, Ryan Feddersen, Haruko Nishimura, Jade Solomon Curtis, Salome MC, Grace Love, Christopher Icasiano, Eliaichi Kimaro*, Tessa Hulls, Diana Xin, Mattilda B. Sycamore, Laura Da’, and Cathy Linh Che. *A warm thank you to Zorn B Taylor for my beautiful headshot.

 

Residency Day 19

Activism, Art, Exhibition, family, Film, Installation, Narrative, Residency, Story, Works In Progress

Going thru so many family photos today, feeling profoundly still and in the flow, cracked wide open, and aware of how intertwined love and grief are for me in this moment. Really feeling the beauty and depth and value that age brings as I reflect on the complexities of our real lived lives. looking deeply into the faces of those who came before, I can see the indelible imprint of their love in Lucia’s being. Been crying on and off all day, feeling so very grateful for these creative openings….

Residency Day 16

Art, Exhibition, family, Film, Installation, Narrative, Residency, Story, Works In Progress

Today was Photo Day – tracking down, doctoring, and printing out images of the Korean side of my family. The images in the final show won’t be this crisp. They’ll be faded, broken up, washed out, imperfect…just like our memories.

End of day:  First image transfer done (my grandfather), many more family photos to go…

Residency Day 11

Art, Exhibition, Film, Installation, Residency

I’ve been laid up with a hacking cough all week. But I finally made it out to the container for a quick projection test. Total Success!!! The fact that this worked, and that it looked as good as it did in my mind, is such a rush!! 🙂 I’m bringing back all my materials so I can continue working in the comfort of my own home…

Residency Day 4

Activism, Art, Exhibition, Film, Installation, Narrative, Residency, Works In Progress

For 40 years, journal writing has been my key to unlocking my story.  I write to explore the stories I’ve inherited about who I am and where I come from, and to examine the stories I am passing down to my kid.

This journal writing has also served as my gateway to art.  When stories surface in my pages, I figure out the best medium to express these emerging stories, I immerse myself in learning a new creative language — film to explore Dad’s side of the family, encaustic mixed media for Mom’s side.

So today, I pulled out 40 years of journals, and then took a stencil and paper cutter to the pages to carve out the letters for my title banner…

TEDxSeattle – Why the World Needs Your Story

Activism, Art, Film, Narrative, Speaking, Story

I’m excited to share that the video of my TEDxSeattle talk is FINALLY live!!!

When I started working on this talk in July, I couldn’t have imagined how vulnerable I would feel, delivering what now seems like a timely counter narrative to a packed McCaw Hall, just 2 weeks after the election.

So…if you like what you see, please consider giving the video a “thumbs up”.

And I encourage you to share this with any/all who might be interested.

Thank you kindly!