outside of my "day jobs" as tattooer (since 2009) and art teacher (since 2008), my personal work has often focused on zine and bookmaking, expanding on a practice i have worked with since adolescence. not allowed to go to many shows, i survived on mix tapes, learning to play the bass via guitar world magazine and downloaded tablature, and publishing my first zine, “mecaroni and fleas.” i was able to access community without leaving my house - networking with other zinesters, making flyers for local bands, and poring over mail-order catalogs.
i grew up, got a car and eventually could go wherever i pleased, but never stopped seeking out this type of engagement that allows participants to forge connections not between public personas, but inner lives. these interactions have guided my work as an educator, artist and a researcher alike. through independent publishing and community organizing, i’ve been able to remain in conversation with disparate aspects of my work as well as other artists considering the possibilities of art as research, community building and political discourse.
when i paused graduate studies in 2016 prior to the birth of my first child, it was with the understanding that with no extensive support for student-parents, i was leaving the academic community and the classroom. i knew i had to keep working through this new lens - to find other, more accessible, equitable, and responsive ways of learning and generating knowledge. it's a ridiculously trite cliché, but my job as Mama has been the most challenging, humbling and radicalizing. parenting is a process that transformed my passion into MISSION.
in 2017, i started WAYFARING PAINTER, a 501c3 nonprofit arts organization with a focus on engaging the Gainesville, Florida community with accessible, contemporary artmaking practice.
this work was closely entwined with my graduate research at the University of Florida, which focused on development of community art practices that seek to mitigate political polarization and social disconnect. i sought to investigate the spaces where faith, art and activism overlap and ask what a feminist, interfaith art education could look like. how can i get the Jesus kids and the art school kids in the same room to create work together and develop restorative understandings of community through new materialist approaches? uh, i mean, by PLAYING and MAKING and eating pizza together. in the words of CORITA KENT, "to create is to relate." no more internet comment wars. no more saying "no child left behind" or "all lives matter" without looking deeply at what "left behind" and "matter" really mean.
i thought it would be very simple, when i decided to move to Germany, to just pick up this work and set it down, undisturbed, into a new context and culture. amid the difficulties of life as a parent, student and immigrant, i'm also navigating the emotional and personal entanglements of the growing political unrest in my home state and across the globe. creating to relate is more critical than ever, and a practice in itself. through my work - drawings, zines, daily observations - I’m trying to prove to myself that it’s still possible.
as of fall 2022, i am expanding this work into a doctoral research project at the Institute of Political Science and Sociology, University of Bonn. i am curious to compare the role of the state across different welfare regimes in arts and cultural policy, how communities of faith come into play (in to play?), and how artists and organizations function within and against institutions in promoting social cohesion and social change.
all that aside, can we just paint or watch a game, make some zines together and figure it out, please? bring your kids.