I have found myself in a period where I have been writing less and reading more. I am reading political things such as Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis as well as a number of articles that have been assigned from a Buddhist Kalyana Mitta workshop (Pali for “spiritual friends”) I am participating in, called “Freedom: Waking Up to Whiteness.”
This shift has occurred because I feel the need to listen in order to not project my conditioning onto things but to try and truly understand. To understand things like, how did we get to where we are now and what needs to be done to truly “make America what America must become” (James Baldwin). Listening to the words of writers, activists, people of color and my fellow white spiritual friends, I am learning to listen to what my role has been in the perpetuation of the color-blind myth and the institutionalization of racism in America.
Although I feel the pull to incorporate these themes of race into my studio, I continue to stay with listening. I have the tendency to analyze things and project meaning onto what I make. As a way to explore listening, I am recontextualizing some of the pieces I have completed (imbued with their symbolism) by taking them out of the studio and putting them back into the world. I am just at the beginning of this exploration; these are a few examples.
So for now instead of interpreting everything in order to feel like I have a grasp on what is going on, I am actively engaging in formal meditation, sitting back and looking and listening in the studio and playing with space. For now it is just this; no definitions, labels, answers or goals. I am truly in a space of not knowing. But I’m learning, or unlearning—whichever way it goes. Isn’t this how we evolve as humans, artists and a nation? I want to believe so, but for now it is just this.