One Year: In the Desert

Posted: September 23rd, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: A Year, aspirations, Updates, works in progress | Tags: , , | No Comments »

September of 2021

We moved again.

I’d like to share with you some of the highlights of my first year in the wildly freeing and welcoming place I have been treating as a self-made artist residency and new home.

Hello from “other desert cities”

The high desert which includes Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, Landers, Yucca Valley, 29 Palms and Wonder Valley is an area indicated on a highway sign on I-10 as “other Desert Cities”. I first came here with friends in 2019. After the pandemic insisted road trip escapes only, Hashem and I visited here and agreed it was special and inviting. Over the summer of 2021, we took the plunge to make this “other” rural desert our home.

Learning Southern California

I am learning Los Angeles from a new appreciation as my “big city.” I visit now in search of new ideas, good food and oddball experiences. Visiting LaBrea and the tar pits was an exciting convenience right next to LACMA where I saw the Obama Portraits by Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley.

Graduation and Celebration

You can see my thesis show on this website, but I wanted to highlight graduation as a genuinely sweet moment that I am proud to have shared with colleagues and family. This was a really big deal- I graduated along with Sarah Logan during a pandemic that started in our first semester. My extended family threw me the sweetest graduation party where I ate way too much chocolate. I still appreciate the congratulations from so many who have received their own advanced degrees in education, medicine, law and physics.

Volunteering with High Desert Test Sites

In April, I was invited to help out with artist Dineo Seshee Bopape’s installation out past Wonder Valley. It was a really physical challenging day of bricklaying in soft sand under a cloudless sky. Sometimes we had tools like a wheelbarrow and plywood but other times I built just carrying bricks by hand- two by two. I didn’t know anyone before heading out to work. It all ended in a morning blessing with the artist. Like many experiences, the more challenging, the more memorable it was. I was lucky to experience volunteering in this way with artists for artists.

Close Proximity to Unfamiliar Nature

There are too many photos to put in this block to illustrate what a feast of natural wonders that are here everyday. From regular encounters of rabbits, jackrabbits, roadrunners, quail, Joshua Trees, cactus and lizards to the unusual bighorn sheep, rattlesnake, flash flood and scorpions; one year in the desert has cultivated a wide open sense of awareness and wonder. I am grateful for the blessings of being on our planet. Everyday I encounter resilience and ingenuity in plants and creatures almost anywhere here.

New Kiln!

I had an opportunity to acquire a kiln and wheel from my neighbor who was moving back to Los Angeles. I am still sorry that such a cool artist is no longer next door, but I’m so grateful that she was willing to part with her kiln and wheel to me. I’ve never used a kiln- so it’s slow going learning what I need to know, but meanwhile I’m happily building a throwing practice which I find very meditative and keeps me in a beginner’s mind in my studio.

Looking Ahead

I’m excited for my next year here in Yucca Valley. I am participating in Open Studios run by Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council in October. I am working with artists as collaborators and participating in support networks locally and from places I’ve lived before. I am building a studio practice that I hope can be sustainable for me as an artist and for the work as I produce it. I am filled with joy in continuing my growth and connection with the magic out here.

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