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…
5/18/18 – Looong day laying down the first layer of oils&cold wax over the encaustic mixed media base. Will take the weekend to let this piece set while I get to know these guys.
5/28/18 – Gilded my elephants in gold today. The diffuse light from our cloudy Seattle sky is just what these guys needed to bring out their bling 🙂
Every painting has an origin story. My initial vision for this blog was to show the evolution of pieces, from start to finish. (If I could, I would name my blog, “The Journey Is Everything.”) You can track the progress of all my pieces on my Instagram feed.
Here is the origin story of Shine On – my rusty sunflower piece, which has taken on many forms over the past year…
8/12/17 – Wrote out my morning meditation on engaged, contemplative imagination. #BeginAgain
8/14/17 – Morning Meditation (final). For my COCA Residency, I took this 24″x24″ white painting, and brought it to life in a 90″x 90″ 3D installation ~ The Truth Has No Borders. This shipping container installation combined 40 years of work in writing, music, film and art into a single exhibit examining identity, family, culture and migration.
2/10/18 – I lied earlier when I posted the white painting, Morning Meditation, and said it was my “Final” layer. The following week, I was bored to death of it. So I taped it back up, and went back to work.
2/12/18 – Shoreline. Came downstairs to find the kid laying out wax scraps on my painting, telling me it needed more texture. So I spent the day fusing the wax scraps onto the painting, and adding silver leaf.
7/19/18 – And now, for something completely different. I scraped and torched the Shoreline piece all the way down to the panel. 🔥🤩 The free write on the base of this panel was suffocating under the layers of valiant, earnest effort. Now it (and I) can finally breathe again.#BlowtorchTherapy #NoPanelLeftBehind #BeginAgain
7/31/18 – Today I return to a mostly empty studio, and start the day by making sunflower seeds ~a perfect meditation for beginning again.
8/1/18 – Got my first coat of rust on the sunflower seeds.
8/2/18 – Conquering fears today about not being able to draw by just painting these petals on free hand. More coats to follow. 😅 (I needed some way to pass time while the second coat of rust dried on the sunflower seeds!)
10/16/18 – Shine On! Applying new knowledge about color mixing to this piece, which is vying for a spot in pop-up exhibit/talk next week (“My Life in 24 Frames“, 10/23 at 6pm, Columbia City Gallery).
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….
Title banner is fused and curing. Mapped the final layout. And now, with my plan in place, it’s now a full on sprint to the finish line. 9 days to go…
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…
After a week of hacking and wheezing, I’m happy to be back in the studio for a full day of making art. Lots of catching up to do. Today I’m making the title banner for my show — using the letters cut from my journal pages. Still have a full night of fusing ahead of me…
Today in the shipping container, I had a photo shoot for some upcoming press about the residency. I hung some freshly waxed papers for the backdrop, and fired up some wax to lay down the final layers on my Morning Meditation panel. Many thanks to Anthony Bolante for snapping some extra pics on my cell phone 🙂
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…
Technically, this is Day 3 of my Residency.
Day 1 was the key hand off/orientation day.
Day 2 was a crazy shopping spree–Harbor Freight, Lowes, Michaels, BedBathBeyond, DanielSmith, DickBlicks.
Today is moving day. Relocating to a shipping container downtown is hard when you have a cozy home studio. It’s not plush, or decked out for comfort. It is an actual shipping container, complete with dust and cobwebs. I have the combo for the Honey Bucket on the fenced in premises, should the need arise. Otherwise, everything you see here in the photo–this is it. But I am excited to have the time and the space to really push myself creatively. The final installation will visually combine my film, music, art and activism — for the first time ever.
By the end of the day, I waxed and fused my first round of decorative papers. I wanted to see how the encaustic medium would affect the translucency of the paper, and how delicate/sturdy the papers would be, since they would be hanging on their own (not backed by wooden panel.)