Tuesday, June 22, 2010
i'm drowning. i can't. i can't find someone who needs my skills and talents, i have no reason to create, no reason to draw, i feel like i have no voice, like i could scream and scream and no one would hear the sound as it echoed off the walls and my immense talent and passion slowly dried up like the sound of my voice fading from the air. almost as if it had never been.
you asked why i led you to the back of my neck, with my head bowed to your chest. maybe i led you to the top of my spine, to the throat chakra, so that your lips, so gifted, so appreciated in their skill, so powerfully communicative might somehow clear my metaphysical blockage, free my voice that the world can hear me speak.
i have spent so much time trying to make everyone else happy, to create things for other people, to fulfill someone else's wishes and needs... it's time to stop and really think about what I want to say. maybe in college i had it wrong, i was so focused on giving teachers what i thought they wanted... i never paused to ask myself what i enjoyed doing, or what i wanted to communicate. maybe in the year since graduating i have developed a voice, and it is fluttering and beating at the walls of my body to get out. but reality and inspiration cancel each other out. who am i to draw and paint and design, when i should be applying, and sending out resumes, and scraping together money to get by? who am i to use my expensive art supplies, when i can't afford to replace them?
why am i here?
what am i supposed to be creating?
this whole hip hop scene is fascinating. I have never before heard such subtle genius and eloquence, before i met these impassioned wordsmiths. maybe that is a part of my epiphany, watching the evolution and movement of language into a powerful medium to communicate their thoughts, but at the same time, the words become complex sounds that throb and pulse, meaning surfacing randomly out of the flow of staccato rhythm from the highly trained and symbiotic instrument that fills the lungs... their voices.
that what this all comes down to, right? same theory and composition, different medium.
so while i sit here, writhing and choking on my growing voice, but not letting it tentatively make a few interesting points, or argue for the value of its existence, i have nothing to show should an opportunity arise.
maybe, if i start to speak, to feel, to paint, to have a conversation... the opportunities will avail themselves to me. i guess it's time to stop caring who would or wouldn't like what i have to say, who i offend, who has hurt me in the past, or stopped loving me because they wanted me or my work to be something i'm not, to take a stand, to finally pause...
and listen to the sound of my own voice.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Tagging along with my sometimes lover and passionate best friend, who always leads me into fascinating experiences and surprising depths of emotions, I once again found myself facing the heavy gray door of the Drilling Company in the early hours of the morning, scraping up tape and painting over a myriad of scuff marks, baptizing the tiny theatre's stage new with a coat of black semi-gloss latex paint. My partner in crime was designing the lighting for the theatre's newest experimental production, to which she only vaguely described to me as being "organic", indefinable, possessing no book... and I painted barefoot in the night, with lights of different position and hue coming up and down, fading in and out in bursts of varied speed and color as she flicked through cues in her head. I wore patches of black paint as we stumbled home in the early dawn. It had been a year since I had painted a stage, since I had been up all night painting a space that would be brought to life by bodies moving across it. A year since I had to fiercely scrub huge parts of my body to barely remove those patches of paint, and I covered them as much as I could with sassy heels for my afternoon interview. Only later did I discover the parts I had missed on the backside of my right arm. I am what I am, sir.
That evening I was a part of the crew, one of the gang, I overheard bits and pieces of a runthrough, I was ready. It was a cool subject, cool group of people...
I had no idea what was coming.
A sassy waitress slung around drinks and coin change, the M.C. for the evening took names for the poetry slam that was supposed to take place. As the audience stumbled in a group at a time, a few people did come forward and speak with the M.C. before finding their places in the audience. With ease and familiarity, with subtlety and nervous energy, the intimate space quickly evolved into an interactive, all encompassing evolution, a tempestuous and vaguely uncomfortable transformation from the stereotypes we all hear, we all know to something we cannot escape. At first these social grenades are achingly brought up from the interaction of the multicultural cast, in artfully earnest and organic personal discussion with each other, that quickly escalates into pointed, witty commentary on the origins and perceptions of those stereotypical thoughts we all pretend to disassociate with. We as the audience are suspended in the perceptive dialogue, each of us responding to a different wealth of assumptions from the outside world, agreeing and disagreeing in our heads, wholly sucked into the Cypher...
what is the Cypher?
according to dictionary.com, the word cypher:
ci·pher also cy·pher (sī'fər)
n. The mathematical symbol (0) denoting absence of quantity; zero.
One having no influence or value; a nonentity.
A design combining or interweaving letters or initials; a monogram.
and thesaurus.com states:
Cypher Synonyms: device, emblem, figure, hieroglyph, letter, logo, mark, monogram, number, numeral, rune, sign, type, answer, clarify, decipher, dissolve, elucidate, figure out, illuminate, illustrate, make plausible, make reasonable, puzzle out, resolve, solve, straighten out, tidy, unfold, unravel
Notes: character is what one is; reputation is what one is thought to be by others
One of the actors described it as being in a circle with no end, a literal translation of the numerical character we know as zero. It is also specifically associated with a code, and the cracking of it, or, as the last line of the definition vaguely describes as "a design combining or interweaving", letters or people, the act of multiple "characters" folding in over each other multiple times is a deft allusion to our lives and perceptions and experiences overlapping with other people's, that we are inextricably linked to the perceptions and experiences and evolution and epiphanies of the others caught in the cypher with us. So as the actors spit rhymes and make poetic and striking allusions to different forms of racism based on stereotype, the flow is periodically interrupted with a clinical/encyclopedic discussion of what skin really is: the history of evolution evidenced for us on our bodies. At the same time, we are reminded that biologically, once past the initial melanin content that floats on the surface, we are constructed alike, with membranes and tissues, muscles and nerves, emotional reactions, blood, sweat and tears.
The piece closes with the characters being reborn, baptized new with tap water and awareness, as they first investigate what they see on their own skin with fresh eyes: color, metaphor, experience, emotion. Reaching forward into the audience to describe what they see when they look at the individuals in the audience before them, the room resonates with words like "honey", "mahogany", "earth", "open", "cinnamon", "cream", "golden". Suddenly, these actors are speaking the language of my artist soul and heart and hands. No person's skin color can be found in a paint tube, all luminous and convincing skin is painted with equal parts light and shadow, warmth and coolness, subtle combinations of dioxazine purple and lavender reflections, of sienna and ocher and cadmium red, oxides and cerulean and titanium white, just as we are all colorful reflections of our environment and history. The actors find in us, the audience, the broad palette of colors and emotions that an artist begins with, all of the colors that will build a final product, a creative incarnation, a child born of inspiration and passion.
Just as this piece was born from the intellectual coupling of brilliant, inspired and passionate people.
Welcome to the Cypher.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
What is there to say? Taking the biggest scariest risk ever has been one of the best choices I've ever made. I dropped, left, threw away everything I couldn't carry, and moved to New York. No job, few friends... only the knowledge that somewhere out there, someone needed exactly what I have to offer. I now sell a designer's jewelery on the weekends at a beautiful street market and am interviewing with companies like Polo Ralph Lauren.
A beloved professor told me about his experience in NYC, before I realized the desperate reasoning that our conversations really consisted of, described a feeling of being packed in with commuters, of rushing on mass with a large body of other people, unindividual, faceless, pointless.
Like a mirror, we choose what we see.
Since being here, I am constantly enthralled with the flood of individuality that surrounds me. Every once in awhile, there are the ghosts of people I've known in the past, specters with faces I sharply remember, from high school, from college, people who might know private, vulnerable things about me, but are merely dopplegangers, look alikes, God chuckling as I am being reminded that I am connected to some larger fabric of the universe.
I have found, in this beautiful city, everything I need to live my life to its depth and breadth. Constantly stumbling on more of the quaint, bizarre, modern, profound, having so many random interactions that spawn connections, revelations, direction, purpose...
but there are things happening in parts of the country that are a deep part of me the rocks me to the core. Yesterday was the first day of hurricane season - and the gulf is a minefield, a disaster, choked with oil that refuses to capped off. Hurricanes are the earth's way of cleansing, exfoliating... with the steady increase in the water temperature, they have grown to consistently massive sizes in the last decade. How will they respond to the current state of the gulf? We already deal with the red tide, the algae that was spawned from run off polluted water from the mississippi and now rocks the gulf coast by sucking up all of the oxygen from the water and killing all forms of coastal life. How will the beaches of my childhood, where I swam while still in the womb, the only place I truly deeply call home... how will they look after this disaster?