When We Were One

Art, Art For Sale, creativity, family, inspiration, Narrative, Origin story, Story

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.

This piece (“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…

 

Thoughts on Inspiration

Art, creativity, education, inspiration, process, Story

My dear friend Carolyn Autenrieth asked fellow artist friends to reflect on the role of inspiration in their work for her high school art class. So I wrote out some ideas in my journal this morning. While this may be too long for what she’s needing, it’s the perfect length for a blog post.

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A few weeks ago, I made this inspiration board on my phone ~ a visual reminder of things that I find beautiful. The images could be of anything, not necessarily art.

I took screen shots of my Pinterest boards and wrote down words that inspire me. What do I love? What are ideas, objects, symbols, activities, places, hobbies that make me feel alive? It could be anything that makes me feel the whole hearted joy of my daughter in this picture. Seeing these images and words together, I started to notice common themes, in terms of colors, ideas, textures, and design elements that I’m drawn to.

So pay attention to your attention, because it’s trying to tell you something. There’s something here that you love. What is it? What’s with all the doors? Why do I love rust so much? Why do I feel drawn to the textures and design found in nature. Sometimes the answers are obvious. Sometimes I don’t discover until much later why I find the texture of tree bark or aerial landscapes so compelling.

Some people might not see the beauty in these images…but to me, they’re exquisite! I want to make art that makes me feel the way I feel when I look at my board. This is what inspires me. And when I’m inspired, I feel creative…and the work starts flowing.

It all begins with inspiration.

The whole goal of art is to create something that is unique to you. So your job as an artist is to get really clear about what you love and why. From there, making art is just a series of Yes/No decisions. When you’re clear about what inspires you, it will come across in your work. And people will be able to feel it. Even if they don’t personally find rusty doors beautiful, they will feel my love of the door coming through in the painting. And that, to me, is the beauty and power of art.

Creating this inspiration board made me deeply consider what I find beautiful. And then, I set it aside. The next day, I pulled out some paper and just decided to paint something that brings me joy. I had no plan, no end goal in mind.

A couple hours later, this painting emerged. And I could clearly see elements from my board coming through.

Custodian of the World Within

So…

Notice what brings you joy.

Get clear about what you love, and why.

Make art that makes your heart sing.

Remember that inspiration is everywhere.

Interview about art & process

Art, family, Narrative, Speaking, Story

Today I had the pleasure of talking with Deborah Kapoor about my art and process. Our recorded conversation will be used in her college art class in the section called “Layering with Paint: Home/Addressing the Personal to Global.”

This was a first for me, talking about my creative process and how I use art to examine the stories I’ve inherited and the stories I’m passing down about who I am and where I come from.  I’m so grateful to be included in Deborah’s line up of Seattle artists that she is interviewing for her class.

Winter/Spring 2020 News

Art, Exhibition, Film, Gallery, Narrative, Speaking, Story

Just posted my Winter/Spring 2020 Newsletter which provided the following list of upcoming art shows and film screenings.  If you’re interested in subscribing, click here to view it and select “Subscribe” in the top/left corner.  (I send out 2-3 newsletters a year).

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Upcoming Art Exhibits:

THE CLOUD ROOM
“Showing Signs of Wear”
Solo Show

March 2020
Opening Reception & Artist Talk: March 12, 6-9pm
Capitol Hill Art Walk
* This gorgeous space includes a bar,
so this will be a 21+ event.

 

ART XCHANGE GALLERY
Sense Us 2020
Juried Group Show
March-April 2020
Opening Reception: March 5, 5-8pm
Second Reception:  April 2, 5-8pm
Pioneer Square Art Walk

 

CENTER ON CONTEMPORARY ART (COCA) GALLERY
20/20 Vision“: Juried Member Show
Nichole DeMent (Juror)
March-April 2020
Opening Reception: March 5, 6-9pm
Pioneer Square Art Walk

 

COLUMBIA CITY GALLERY
Featured Artist
May-June 2020
Opening Reception: May 16, 5-7pm

 

CONFLUENCE GALLERY
Twisp, WA
The Stories We Tell
August 29 – October 5, 2020
Fall Art Walk & Studio Tour

*Please note, you can see my art year round at Columbia City Gallery.

The Paths We Travel

Art, Exhibition, family, Gallery, Narrative, Origin story, Story

Artist Statement

As a kid, I found it comforting to think about how wildly the universe had to conspire just so I could be here. I would lie in bed and think about all the serendipitous moments that had to happen just so my Tanzanian father and South Korean mother could meet, halfway around the world, and have me. I would think about the epic stories of love, betrayal, sacrifice, migration, survival ~ all the random encounters and deliberate life choices extending back generations that had to happen just so my parents could meet and have me.

And as I got older, made friends and met their families, I realized that everyone has stories that are epic in scope ~ even if their families have lived in the same town for generations.

Every one of us is the embodiment of the life stories of our parents, our grandparents, our ancestors. We carry their stories forward with us, whether we’re conscious of them or not. But make no mistake ~ we are all here because of these stories.

Making art is how I make sense of these stories I’ve inherited about who I am and where I come from…and the stories I’m now passing down. As a mother, I feel compelled to think about where I stand in this flow of cultural inheritance and legacy. These paintings reflect the internal and external landscapes that have been traversed just to reach this point where our paths could cross in this gallery, in this city, at this moment in time…

Currently on exhibit at
Columbia City Gallery (Seattle)
through Jan. 5, 2020.

The Scaled-Down Truth

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

“The Truth Has No Borders” is a multimedia piece that integrates 40 years of writing, photography, music, film, and art into a single cohesive, immersive installation.

It was originally created to exhibit in a shipping container for COCA’s 30-day Storefronts [UN]contained Residency in 2016. Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to revisit this project, and fully realize my vision. But I’ve been struggling with how to convey the impact of this piece in grant/exhibition applications.

I shot this test video on-site when I only had the first two layers of paper panels up (I wanted to see how the projection & sound worked in the space.) The final installation had 7 layers of paper panels.  But my dream is to FILL the room with floor-to-ceiling encaustic paper panels — a layered paper screen embedded with images of my Mom’s Korean family, that are illuminated by the projected moving imagery of my Dad’s Chagga family on Kilimanjaro.

When I brought this dilemma to Larry Calkins, he suggested building a model of the project to film. Brilliant!!  And so my diorama project begins…(projection and sound to follow).

The many faces of “Broadstairs” (Origin story)

#NoPanelLeftBehind, Art, Exhibition, Narrative, Origin story, Story, Works In Progress

One painting, from start to finish, in 768 days…

This 24″x 24″ painting has undergone a surprising number of transformations before finally settling on the Broadstairs piece currently exhibiting at Northwest Encaustics. As one of the more epic #NoPanelLeftBehind pieces, I decided to trace Broadstairs back to its origins, and offer snapshots of its evolution over the past 2 years…

March 13, 2017

Most of my pieces begin with writing…whether it be part of a journal entry, passage from a book, lyric, poem. The base layers here also includes wood glue burn, yellow india ink, and several clear coats of encaustic medium.

March 13, 2017

School’s out, which means my studio assistant is on hand to scrape back the layers. Always happy to let the kid loose on my paintings. I consider this a good return on my investment.😉

Artist Statement

Art, Exhibition, Gallery, Narrative, Solo Series, Story, Works In Progress

Eliaichi Kimaro

WEATHERED & WORN
Solo show

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Of the 40+ paintings in my upcoming solo show, 25 are new and exhibiting for the first time.

Weathered and Worn will be part of West Seattle Art Walk in May and June.
The exhibit will be up through the month of June.

NORTHWEST ENCAUSTIC
7150 44th Ave SW., Seattle 98136
OPENING RECEPTION
MAY 9, 2019
6-9pm

ARTIST RECEPTION
JUNE 13, 2019
6-9pm

Artist Statement (excerpt)

…This body of work hangs together loosely.  To me, they are more about the process, the journey of becoming.  They evoke the layered narratives that we all carry—as individuals in this present moment, and as the embodiment of our ancestors’ stories spanning generations and continents.   They represent new directions I am taking as an artist — using mark-making, texture, cold wax medium and organic materials to tell a story.  Some of these pieces came into being fully-formed.  Some were labors of love, with 2 or 3 completely different paintings existing beneath the surface.

While I am excited to share these paintings in their current incarnations, some of them will be radically transformed – melted, scraped down, carved into, painted over—when they return to my studio.  But as a lover of process, I believe that even our work-in-progress selves deserve an occasional spotlight…to be seen, witnessed and considered in our current state of being…and becoming.

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.

 

9elephants

Art, Exhibition, Narrative, Origin story, Story, Works In Progress

Backstory:  Twenty years ago, I was reeling from the upheaval of my Saturn returns. So I rented a beach cabin and spent 4 days in silent meditation, writing about what values I wanted to guide my life choices.

photo by Zorn B. Taylor

I came away from that retreat having whittled my list down to nine values…values that my spirit animal exemplifies. I got a tattoo of 9elephants as a reminder of the Being I aspired to be.

The theme of 9elephants has since informed my activism and filmmaking. It’s the name of my production company. These values formed the cornerstone of our wedding vows 16 years ago, and the foundation of my parenting principles 11 years ago. And so I suppose it was just a matter of time before this recurring theme manifested in art form…

 

5/8/18 – Starting my new biggie piece (36″²) while watching Hari Kondabolu’s Netflix special that dropped today!!! Wood glue burn of my Chagga nickname written in Korean — which will hint at land masses in the final piece. The paint palette will simply be the colors of the Tanzanian flag.  And so it begins, again…

 

5/8/18 – End of Day 1: I’ve been having WAY too much fun painting a background watercolor.  Most of this will be obscured when this is all done. But I am a big believer that all the energy, attention and intention I pour into each layer will be felt in the final piece. The beauty is in the making…

 

 5/12/18 – Saturday morning, added layers of encaustic and oils to this Biggie piece today. Reminds me of Tanzanian kitenge cloth.

 

5/18/18 – After putting this painting in Time Out for a week, I had a huge AHA! moment while writing this morning. My way forward with piece suddenly became clear. And now, instead of playing hookie today like I’d planned, I am completely Obsessed with bringing my vision to life!!! Folks who’ve known me a while can probably see where this piece is going…