The following writing contains snippets of writing compiled and edited together from sketchbooks, paired with photos I took on my phone around San Francisco during my residency at Minnesota Street sponsored by Little Paper Planes in June 2016.
The first day in studio was a tornado. I couldn’t focus and I tried to convinced myself that my work needed to suddenly change. When thinking about the outcome of this residency, I imagined that a change of scenery would cause me to have an automatic Break Through. Feeling displaced and turbulent, I pushed through and reverted back to basic skills that have been inherent in my practice: layering and collaging. This created freedom to cut up the work and turn it back into something more substantial.
Mornings were bright and usually meditative. Breakfast consisted of boiled eggs, sometimes fruit, but mostly coffee. The 40 minute commute gave me time to prep for my day’s work ahead. I traveled horizontally through the peninsula, from Alamo Square, through the Castro, into the Mission, up Potrero Hill, over I-280 and into Dogpatch. Traveling alone, I became a quiet observer of the city. I inserted myself into scenarios and groups of friends and other seemingly lonely travelers.
I began using the city as a resource, with long days, without the convenience of running home, public and private space became very different for me. I packed food to eat, used drugstore bathrooms as changing stations, and positioned myself next to outlets when out to eat. Always testing my physical limits, I wondered how long I could last throughout the day.
I began thinking about my body in this city. About the density of my body, the density of this city and how I can blend in, how to camouflage myself. I holed up in studio for 7-8 hours almost everyday, scheming, plotting, rearranging, making, destroying, writing. Trying to think of every possible outcome. Everything became painting in my mind. I was fascinated by the city’s mark making, the history of layers and erasure. I eyed graffiti scribbled in rectangles: manhole covers, bathroom doors, windows, electrical boxes. Each becoming its own city-painting.
Just as I began to find a new pace in my newly formed microcosm, tragedy hit our country. Traveling alone as a female identifying person, I was confronted with the devastating ruling of the Brock Turner case. I walked through the streets of the Castro only to find out the Orlando shooting happened the morning after. I yearned to be near someone or something familiar, and felt conflicted in this opportunity and privilege to quit my job and travel for the summer. To rediscover the core of my studio practice, to try and figure out my true place in all of this, to what end?
This was a fraction of the news this week.
The idea of artist as image maker can often times be criticized. What am I really contributing to a world that is already inundated with imagery?
I believe in the artist as observer and synthesizer. A healthy cultural ecosystem thrives on not just one type of maker alone. There needs to be the spectrum of doer, creator, manufacturer, and thinker.
I make to find understanding. I make to find healing. I make to find my place, my function in something seemingly incomprehensible.
My best advice: Keep Contributing.