My MFA thesis, now seven years ago, was centered around violence, abjection, and the facilitation of connection, sometimes through violence, sometimes through carefully constructed yet casual-appearing happenstance. Both subtle and explicit violence have been a part of my life, entwined often with connection, up until last year, when life as I knew it collapsed and freed me to redefine my relationship with both violence and connection and finally create separation between the two. In making these pieces as part of bigger multimedia movement works that have been slowly developing in the wake of so much loss, I am returning to my mothertongue of drawing, the thing I did all the time as a kid, other than tell stories and play music. I also can’t stop thinking about the shadows left behind from the atomic bombs, one of America’s most intensely destructive and violent moments, and cave paintings, humankinds’ first recorded yearnings to create, express, to be heard, to make marks, to be witnessed.

Life after academia has been strange. I've been having job interviews today. My value is different out here and there is more money, more skills needed, more of everything. The farther I take my skills to the dark market of capitalism and sell them to the highest bidder that will let me work from home, the more I must counter this destruction with creation that is only for the most human of what I still can be. I have never felt pride, only resignation, in being an American. It is in itself an identity fraught with violence and self-serving contradictions. As much as I try and embrace Buechner’s famous “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” I find myself very afraid, as David Bowie once said, of Americans, including myself. How do I remain true to what I have found on the other side of destruction? How do I nurture true and authentic connections in a place that values transactions and extractions of value? How do I hold onto love in a country of such hate? How do I practice compassion in a land of zero sum everything?


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