The thing is: You're somewhere -- you start there -- from there you will go onward.
We'll begin somewhere.
The Scene: Barb and I were standing in what I would consider a risky location: The commissary on the United States Air Force Academy base. It's a Wednesday. We're in the frozen foods section somewhere between Blue Bell and family size bags of frozen peas (no brand). Oh, Barb is my mother who I fondly refer to as, well, Barb.
The crowd: People who go to daily Mass at the Catholic church conveniently located across the parking lot on the other side of the bowling alley. And others.
I'd recently declared a major in Studio Art. I came to the decision after attempting 3 technical degrees, and 2 teaching tracks...the decision did not come easily.
I was afraid of doing the thing I was meant to do because I thought it would interfere with what I was supposed to do.
But, I digress.
We are there, Barb and I, we bump into an acquaintance of hers. A church going woman with a hairstyle and worldview that has yet to depart 1982. She tells us how her son is having a hard time finding his way -- we're cordially sympathetic.
She turns to me.
"What are you doing?"
Stiffly: "I'm going to school in Nebraska, have declared a degree in studio art, and am preparing to leave for Ireland on a research fellowship."
She gave my mother a concerned and sympathetic glance.
She and I locked eyes: Contempt mixed with dismay.
In a tone to match the look: "Good luck" and some generally uncomfortable body language.
As far as I'm concerned the conversation ended there.
With each visitation to the memory I realize something new. At current, on the basic level, I shared her concerns. There was much uncertainty in this decision. I probably filled out my degree declaration form with a similar attitude: "Good luck, ya (pick your expletive)", disdainful eye roll and shrug of the shoulders. Hand form to stern woman at the registration desk and it's on.
We jump ahead a few.
I'm 27. It is 2017. I begin my fourth year as Assistant Curator for the InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts (IDEA) Program at Colorado College. Things were moving forward the way I'd hoped they would.
I was taking on the challenge of doing more independent curatorial work for a visionary program and institution I love. I was making art. I was scheduled for a residency at Burren College of Art (IRE) for the Summer. I applied to graduate school.
The IDEA program was growing. The art: it was what I was making. The artist residency had (and has been) a dream of mine since 2010. Graduate school my greatest desire.
The work changed as did the art. The residency rescheduled. Along with a sweeping rejection from schools.
The Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (CSFAC) announced a plan to merge organizations in a matter of months. The Fine Arts Center became The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College (CSFAC at CC). This was momentous and the largest gift given to The College in THE HISTORY OF TIME. (See here by clicking).
The IDEA program, it's mission, Jessica Hunter-Larsen (the director) and I were thrust into a constantly churning environment with half a year's programming to run before joining the museum officially in July 2017. Everything was moving quickly and there was lots of disappointment and even more opportunity.
I went somewhere.
I went to Philadelphia for an intensive at Tyler School or Art at Temple University. I was invited based on my MFA application so not all was lost on that front. I worked with excellent human beings; we made stuff and did things. It's impossible for me to describe the feeling but the experience was transformative, both affirming and mystifying. All I can really say about it is this: "everything is everything"
Left: Henry Stoehr, Rebecca Levinson, Courtney O'Dell, and Zipporah Norton at New Boone, Philadelphia.
Right: In walks Brian Palmieri fondly known as Teddy.
I came back for a while.
Upon departing for Philadelphia there were decisions to be made: would I return to Colorado Springs and Colorado College where I had built and spent all of my adult life?
While in Philadelphia I realized that I was too comfortable in Colorado Springs.
It was like realizing that you spent all day reading an inspiring book, snuggled in your blanket, your phone wedged between the couch cushions, having myriad thoughts and mental ventures only to find that your back hurts and you smell...as does the sofa. Let's be generous to the moment: You definitely got up to get at least 7 cups of tea and pee twice.
For this analogy to be received as intended you must know that I love reading a book in one sitting and I love tea but I hate to be in pain and to smell.
I dislike the feeling of rotting.
With that clarity, both for you and for me, I realized that I wanted to finish the things that I had started in Colorado Springs at Colorado College and for the Museum at the CSFAC at CC. And move on.
I returned in July to act as coordinating curator for the Mellon Artist in Residence, Raven Chacon, and the two associated exhibitions: A Very Long Line by the collective Postcommodity and Lightning Speak by Raven Chacon.
In a collaborative effort between so many parties we pulled the exhibitions together.
(An aside for gratitude: This project was made possible by the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Colorado College, and everyone at the CSFAC at CC. To Rebecca Tucker, Jessica Hunter-Larsen, Jonathan Dankenbring, Naomi Van der Lande, Michael Lorusso, and Polly Nordstrand, know that I am especially grateful.)
Simultaneous to this: I completed a longstanding project of my own. A series of 500 drawings and an installation entitled Perturbations. The exhibition served as a beautiful way to conclude this chapter of my life. We held a farewell party as part of the closing for the show.
As of 31 October we parted ways: They stayed. I departed. We hugged. It was everything.
Written at NOLA, Palo Alto and my sisters apartment in South Korea
Oh, and, I now report all Instagram ads as "It's a scam or it's misleading" cuz it feels right.