Rachael, 2020 

 

I’m retroactively claiming a series of events that occurred between a dear friend of mine, Rachael Anderson, and I as socially engaged art. During a time of quarantine, I would visit my friend on her family’s orchard. We would commiserate over the woes of current events, usually resulting in venting about problematic behaviors of men from our lives and the structures similar men either built in which they benefit from. And, we would discuss our love of art, and the different approaches that we explore. My friend reinvigorated my love of photography through introducing me to the SX-70 Polaroid land camera. We would wander through the land, almost like children, wild and free, and take our photographs. I’m choosing to claim the intimacy between my friend and I, and the safe space we generated together as women artists, this care of another, art. Learning from Rachael isn’t a fixed title, but it is the best way I can describe this act of claiming. It’s very much something that is still in progress and I hope to add on this experience.

Leon’s Birth Book, 2020

 

My spouse’s close friends had a baby this past July. They named their baby Leon. For a gift for Sam, the mother, I began making this kind of birth book. Outlined in the birth book, I have included Leon’s astrological chart, plus readings that I’ve pulled from various website sources (of which are credited in the book). Leon was born in July, so he was born in Cancer. I pulled astronomical information about the Cancer constellation. Intermixed with the chart readings and astronomical information are images I pulled from NASA of galaxies, constellations, and star formations. At the time, I had been extremely engrossed in everything esoteric. I researched astrological charts, tarot, tantrika, moon phases, and Human Design charts. 

Auditing Ohio, 2019-2020

 

Auditing Ohio was an experimental act of combining questioning and learning in a 4th grade context. In the fall of 2019, I worked with my son’s teachers and 4th grade class to audit and critically analyze their Social Studies textbook. Newsprint copies of the textbook were created of the textbook and handed out to groups of students. Students were assigned into 9 groups of 3 and given red pens to write out their opinions, thoughts, and reactions to their textbook content. Kevin Acton, the teacher, and I worked together to curate conversations that cultivated questioning and reasoning. As a class we discussed things like who was being represented and how people were being represented. My interest in this topic grew from my experience working at a major educational publishing company as a media designer and being critical of processes that I had experienced while working there. The project materialized when I recognized my son’s textbook as one that I had actually worked on while working for the textbook publishing company. The content of the book was one that I was familiar with. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the project was interrupted. We were only able to audit ⅓ of the textbook. I am in the process of finding a way to share the student’s notes on a larger scale.

Something to Hold Onto (by Cannupa Hanska Luger), 2019

[Local Participation]

 

Something to Hold Onto is a project organized by Cannupa Hanska Luger (Luger’s website). For the project he put out a call for people across the US to send in handmade clay beads that he would assemble at an exhibition. The exhibition, Passage will be housed at the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum at Mesa Arts Center in Arizona. From Luger’s site:This collective call to action is not designed to confront policy change, but creates an opportunity to embed handmade earthen objects with empathy -- from nation to nation, from human to human. These small clay objects embedded with a fist print, will string together a line of solidarity, building global consciousness around Indigenous peoples and our connection to movement and land. In opposition to the incarceration and militarization that separates geography, Something to Hold Onto pieces together people and places in a tapestry of borderless compassion.

In December of 2019, I facilitated a local participation in Luger’s request. I worked with Minus Plato (Richard Fletcher) and the Kiln Room in Columbus, Ohio to invite people to meditate on immigration of people while creating the beads Luger's project; to “consider ancestral migratory routes and the lands of Indigenous peoples affected by imposed borders, acknowledging all asylum seekers, tribal lands, longstanding relationships to land and migration as cultural practice. This intersectional project highlights the impact of borders on Indigenous bodies and how, across the continent, our migration routes have been traumatically interrupted through incarceration and death” . The Kiln Room donated the clay that was used to make the beads. Over 50 beads were made and sent to the museum. 

Kids Academy Photo, 2018

 

After struggling with policies and praxis at my place of employment, a major textbook publishing company, I pitched a workflow. The workflow was an attempt to help place accountability, to redirect the misrepresentation students. Specifically, students that aren’t European-centric, don’t live in nuclear families, are LGTBQ, etc; students that aren’t included in the pictorial representation of the American Dreams seen in the 1950’s. I recognized a lack of equitable hiring practices, as well as research done to adequately relate or engage such a vast population of children through the company's educational material, nevertheless represent their historical stories correctly. Or, the problematic policies that all for-profit educational publishers abide by, swaying content to meet political demands during state-adoptions. After I began to pursue this workflow with manager approval, after I created a department diversity board, higher-ups halted progress claiming it was too political. 

I looked to my son, who was a part of the groups of students that couldn’t see themselves or relate to the stories shared in his schoolbooks. At his daycare, many students, also were not of what I suspected educational companies claimed were “normative” students. Many of the children at Kids Academy Daycare were children of single parents and youth of diverse backgrounds. As an extension of my interest in how children see their own world, as research, I developed a photography class at my son’s daycare and taught children aged 6-9 basics of photography. I shared photo-based artists with them. For four weeks, I gave each child a disposable camera. After, I developed the photos and we discussed them as a class. Then, I enlarged the photos, and hung them in the gallery space at the office where I worked. They hung in a hallway where employees are forced to walk by everyday to get lunch. My hope was that upper management would see these photos of children that they weren’t supporting through their dismissal of accountability.

Suburb Study, 2017

 

In the Summer of 2017, I did what most adults never want to do. I decided to move into a house with my mother. Together, my mother and I rented a house out of support. We were both living in overpriced shitty apartments and felt the compromise for a house made sense. Thus, we rented the first house of a suburb that I’ve lived in. My parents were divorced growing up. My father lived on the south side of Columbus and my mother moved us out to the rural rolling hills of Licking County, Ohio, with my stepfather. My places of home were not the pretty American suburbs that I saw on the television shows and commercials. My closest experience of that lifestyle was at my grandmother’s home. I would go there as much as I could, to feel safe, secure. I felt that I was more valuable being there. I longed to live in the suburbs like my grandmother’s as a child. As I grew up, though, and as a single-mom, I found them isolating; a product of the capitalist patriarchy that contributes to many issues that range from environmental to poverty. So, as my mother and I rented this house, I began to view the suburb in a particular way. I questioned the conventionalism of it - it very much was emblematic of the American Dream of the 1940's. I started to document the suburb using disposable cameras, almost as social research. 

Eat Photo, 2016

 

For this project, I assumed the role of a curator. I was given space to hang work at a local Japanese restaurant called Haiku. I made table tents to put out a request for people to send me photographs of themselves eating or their dates at the restaurant. Additionally, I put out a call for submissions through social media outlets such as facebook and instagram. The goal was to get as many people to submit photographs of themselves, or someone else, in the act of eating food. I wanted to pair tables with photographs of people eating to extend their personal dining experience to include a stranger/s eating with them at their table. I picked the most graphic images of people eating that were submitted, to create either a relatable or undesirable experience. The photographs were originally for sale, to help support another project I was working on. Although, no one bought a photograph - I overlooked whether someone would actually desire to purchase a graphic candid photo of a stranger eating food.

Suburb Study, 2017

 

In the Summer of 2017, I did what most adults never want to do. I decided to move into a house with my mother. Together, my mother and I rented a house out of support. We were both living in overpriced shitty apartments and felt the compromise for a house made sense. Thus, we rented the first house of a suburb that I’ve lived in. My parents were divorced growing up. My father lived on the south side of Columbus and my mother moved us out to the rural rolling hills of Licking County, Ohio, with my stepfather. My places of home were not the pretty American suburbs that I saw on the television shows and commercials. My closest experience of that lifestyle was at my grandmother’s home. I would go there as much as I could, to feel safe, secure. I felt that I was more valuable being there. I longed to live in the suburbs like my grandmother’s as a child. As I grew up, though, and as a single-mom, I found them isolating; a product of the capitalist patriarchy that contributes to many issues that range from environmental to poverty. So, as my mother and I rented this house, I began to view the suburb in a particular way. I questioned the conventionalism of it - it very much was emblematic of the American Dream of the 1940's. I started to document the suburb using disposable cameras, almost as social research.