The Offering (48″x48″): I love pieces that develop in their own time. As these paintings grow with me over months, my challenges, wishes, joys and sorrows get embedded in the layers. The painting becomes a time capsule that captures who I am and how I’m feeling as the piece evolves.
I love some of the color and energy in the earlier versions, but these passages, while pretty, were meaningless. I relish paintings where the struggle leads me to unknown places and pushes me beyond my capabilities. At their best, my paintings feel like an archeological discovery, as if I’m unearthing something that’s always been there. The finished piece is something I never could (or would) set out to paint. So these origin stories remind me of how a painting came to be…
June 15, 2023: I am both here and not here…a meditation on impermanence that is resonating with me today. And so I embedded it in the first layer of this 48″x48″ piece.
June 18: Starting to build up surface history that I can later work back into. Happy to be working large once again…
June 22: Working on large pieces in a small studio makes it hard to stand back and view the painting from a distance. So posting progress pics on Instagram scales down the image, allowing me to troubleshoot compositional problems and figure out where the piece wants to go next…🤓
June 25: Very early stages yet, but after a brief TimeOut, we’re starting to listen to each other…
I was recently a guest on the Future Tripping Podcast, a project of the Trauma Stewardship Institute. The host, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, is an author/activist, an internationally recognized leader in the field of trauma exposure ~ and one of my dearest friends for the past 30+ years! As such, she holds all the pieces of my personal, family, work and creative life. At its core, our conversation reveals the depth and breadth of “making art to better understand my cultural inheritance and legacy,” and shows why art – the creation and maintenance of it – can be an essential act of liberation.💗
I am delighted to be featured in the Summer issue of PublicDisplay.ART ~ Seattle’s only community-supported, arts-focused publication. What an honor to be in the company of so many artists I admire. And it’s the first time my art & story has been featured in print media!
If you’re in Seattle, you can find the magazine at 600+ local retailers, restaurants, cafes, galleries, bars and libraries around town. Or if you prefer, you can view the issue online here (I’m on pg 26-27).
PublicDisplay.ART is published by OneReel, the same organization that produces NW Folklife and Bumbershoot (among many other cultural events/projects year round).
Collaged transcripts, oil & cold wax medium on wood panel
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…
I’m so grateful to art collector Paul Drinkwine for inviting me to partake in his project, Lost In Composition, “an art blog focusing on living artists and their works.” What a gift, to have this growing record of folks making art in our region at this moment in time.
Our conversation covered a 30 year span ~ starting with my activism, then moving through my work in film, photography, parenting, and finally visual art. What a rare treat to have this much time and space to reflect on my life and creative journey!
Paul created this dedicated page for our conversation which includes his reflections, images of work we discussed, and links to other artists mentioned in our conversation.
I look forward to seeing who he selects for future episodes…
This piece taught me about the role of art in my life, which I wrote about here. But I wanted to assemble the origin story of this painting. So here’s a look back at the rather challenging evolution of this painting.
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2/14/2020: New day, new words, new piece. The words inscribed on this piece is the following quote from John O’Donohue: “Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”
2/14/2020 End of Day: This metro map of my hometown will be coursing thru the painting like veins just below the surface. #Rockville #RedLine
2/20/20: I seem to have painted myself into a corner. By the end of the day, the painting was feeling too tight and controlled.
3/2/20: …and now for something Completely Different. The metro piece has taken a turn as I play with perspective and purples for a change.💜
🔴 1/5/2021: “Quieting the Mind” (40″x30″) is a painting I never thought would leave my house. It’s a subtle piece that’s impossible to photograph ~ so it was never going to sell online. And being mostly white, it didn’t show well on white gallery walls. So I stopped showing it/sharing it, and hung it in the espresso colored living room where I write every morning. Then a dear friend/neighbor/fellow artist asked if she could come by this weekend to see my paintings. And this is the piece that caught her eye. It’s amazing how each painting finds its way to the person who’s meant to have it. This one is easily overlooked by some, mesmerizing to others. And it’s a piece that could only ever have been bought by someone who saw it in person. Thank you for taking the time to notice this piece, S.G. I’m honored that it will be living on in your love-filled home at the end of the lane.🌸
Here is a look back at the relatively swift evolution of this piece.
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Process shots of the piece as it evolves, starting with blanket layers of colors. First the warm layers…
Everything I create is about exploring the stories I’ve inherited and the stories I’m passing down. I make art to better understand my place in this flow of cultural inheritance and legacy.
When I was pregnant, I had a book that gave weekly updates about the fetus development. I remember reading one week that if I was having a girl, my body was creating all the eggs she will ever carry.
Having worked for 12 years as a crisis counselor, and knowing what I know about inter-generational trauma, I didn’t take this news lightly. So I took that week off, and reflected on what it means to be creating descendants whom I may never meet.
“When We Were One” deals specifically with this week, being pregnant with my daughter ~ and more expansively, considers the bloodlines that connect us all.
Here is a short video where I reflect on what this piece means to me…