I am a visual artist who makes paintings and drawings, and enjoys playing around in other mediums when given the opportunity. I have been keeping journals and sketchbooks since I was a child, and consider daily writing or sketching to be a crucial part of my practice. My work uses observation of patterns as a framework for considering attention, embodiment, and communion.
What is art for you?
Art is learning to see more clearly, and responding in a generative way. I think about “learning to see” in the senses of honing my skills of observation, growing in the ability to remain connected to the present moment, and of paying attention to reality in the world and in myself, even (particularly!) when it’s difficult. For me, this is a spiritual practice.
What/Who/Where inspires or motivates you for your artistic practice?
This week, I’ve found inspiration in: cherry tomatoes ripening in our container garden, the book “Enduring Lives: Portraits of Women and Faith in Action” by Carol Lee Flinders, colleagues across the museum field who continue to call leaders to account for institutional racism and unfair labor practices, writings on pregnancy by Amy Bornman and Caitlin Metz, and conversations with a dear friend about the false divide between art and craft.
I’ve been thinking about what I read and why. Maybe this at its broadest: I am trying to understand the world, and myself, and the ways everything overlaps and intersects. Right now, though, it feels sort of difficult to focus on reading. I’ve been turning to poetry more than usual which feels manageable and grounding (midway through a Jane Kenyon collection currently), and am also finally getting around to posting my list of books read last year.
In mid-2019, went through a several month period of not reading much of anything but decided to let it happen and not try to cram in a ton of books at the end of the year to meet my GoodReads goal. Similarly, I only sort-of kept up with the “write something about every book you read” practice, and that’s fine. It’s back in progress for 2020, though! I missed having it to look back through at the end of the year.
Something else which feels significant in reflecting back on the year-in-books is that both Mary Oliver and Rachel Held Evans died in 2019. This interview (“Listening to the World“) with Mary Oliver from the On Being podcast has held up to multiple re-listens for me, and I returned to previously read books by both them (Searching for Sunday, Why I Wake Early). These women helped shift and expand my vision in meaningful ways and I am grateful for that. ♡
It’s mid-February which means I’m overdue for my year-in-books post. It’s been about five years now since I started keeping track of each book I read, after a friend recommended GoodReads to me. This year, instead of just keeping a list of titles, I had a goal to practice writing about what I’m reading. I set out to write something, at least one sentence, about each book I read in 2018, and now have a google doc 30+ pages long with notes, observations, etc. I do think it helped with remembering the books I read; I can read a bit manically at times, and this practice served to counter and calm that a bit.
Another reading goal for last year was to read more poetry, and serendipitously an acquaintance introduced me to Pome*– a daily newsletter by Matthew Ogle that contains just one poem in your inbox, at the start of each day. (Which helped me to read many more poems!)
And finally: for the first time in my (adult) life, I read as many books written by women as by men, and they surely did not disappoint me. So crucial, so obvious. I feel like I’m catching up, stocking up on women’s voices to return to and recommend and reference moving forward.
The list of books I read in 2018 is below, with some that I particularly enjoyed and learned from in bold. (Past reading lists here: 2017, 2016, 2015)
This year, I read more novels than I’d read in awhile. After growing up on them, I’ve been reading more and more nonfiction in recent years. Twenty-two of the books below were written by women. 42%, not quite up to half. Books can show you things you don’t believe, too, and should. Expansion, integration, mystery – yes to both.
In the coming year, I want to read more artist biographies, more science books, more by contemplatives and mystics, more novels that are the kind people call “sweeping”. I want to read more poetry. After looking through a few essays from my last semester of college, I also want to write and talk more about what I’m reading. It seems important to practice holding articulation and uncertainty together.