Origin Story – “Where Justice Meets Joy”

Art, creativity, Origin story, process, Story, Works In Progress

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.

. . . . . . . .

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.💜

Point of Process

#NoPanelLeftBehind, Art, creativity, inspiration, Narrative, process, Story, Works In Progress

I’ve recently become aware that I need to refine how I talk about my creative process. My process is largely iterative ~ far from linear. I love repurposing old paintings, building upon the history that is already there. I’m happy to abandon ideas of where I was trying to steer my painting, and open myself up to where it wants to go.

But in the midst of these bold 180s, one can miss the fact that there is a method to the madness. Every layer is deliberate and serves a purpose. Every layer is infused with intention. And this intention, whether it can be seen in the final piece or just felt, can be sensed by the viewer when they stand in front of the finished painting.


For example, here are four starts to four separate pieces:

• A meditation on contemplative imagination (and the ways that our art can amplify our activism).

• 2 collaged panels of transcribed interviews with my family/Chagga tribal elders.

• And images of notable milestones in my life.

Even though my approach might seem intuitive and loose, rest assured, it is not random or mindless. Every layer serves a purpose and informs the final piece, even if they lie deeply embedded beneath the surface…🤓

10 years ago today…

creativity, family, Film, inspiration, Narrative, process, Story

#TBT2011 10 years ago today, I had the thrill of seeing myself, my family, my film through a stranger’s eyes. Lindy West (who later authored Shrill, The Witches Are Coming, and most recently Shit, Actually) wrote the first ever review of my film. By the end of it, I was crying. Up until that moment, I had no idea whether my film would resonate or connect with anyone outside my circle of friends and family. Mostly because I had been told by funders and distributors for 8 years that no one would care. I was an unknown. There was no one famous in my film. It took place in “Africa. Who could relate to this? Why should anyone care about the stories of these people? What makes you think your story matters to anyone but you?” It was a relentless torrent of unequivocal No’s.

So after hearing (but not believing) that my personal story was unrelatable, the power of seeing my film reflected back at me in Lindy’s words knocked the wind out of me.  She got it.  She got all of it. She offered insights into my family and my story that I hadn’t even made. I felt seen and validated.

I cannot overstate the power of this moment.  Reading Lindy’s words erased the years of rejection, and set me on a new course.  I stood taller. I breathed deeper. I stopped seeking the permission or approval of traditional gatekeepers, hoping they could pave the way for my film. I carved out my own path instead, and my film’s life span has exceeded all expectations.

My take away, from both my film and experiencing Lindy’s review ~
Never underestimate the power of bearing witness to another person’s story.🖤

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.

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.😉