Yesterday I slipped on the bottom step and landed in a puddle. Full soaker from my lower back to my knees but the books and laptop were fine; I kept going to the car, to the studio, to the cello, to the paintings then to catered ramen for lunch, which turned my day back in the right direction.
Factory life here among artists and arts workers is not so dissimilar from how it works in the twelve acres of forest where my cabin is. Each living thing there takes ownership of its space according to the conditions of nourishment available to it. Some need direct light, some indirect. Some grow best in the lee of things, others push out west into the prevailing wind, and so provide shelter.
All are connected in a system of shared growth that does not privilege strength or size or ability of any one kind, but instead demands and supports difference, so long as there is fair exchange of nourishment. Tree, critter, lake, wind, insect, sun, rain, snake and amphibian all require each other’s full active presence, in order to thrive.
Oh how I miss my toad friend, and that singular, complex world! Even as I remember the daily surprises of living and listening in the woods last summer, I meet another resident here in the complex and overlapped worlds of this old factory/ new arts building, and I feel… a resonance. Carlos and Avery build and restore, now the new boardroom, next the floors downstairs; Avery also runs a weekly life drawing class and paints beautiful figurative pieces on burlap. Carissa runs a kind of creative dispatch for the owners and is also a singer songwriter. Glen does interactive sound installations and books live music, Warren does any number of things and is generally awesome; all are fully, actively present.
We meet at lunch upstairs, tenants, staff, owners – like critters at the watering hole, thirsty but also curious. More names to memorize and pin to stories. Another reference to part of the building I’ve never heard of or been to… I learn more of the shorthand every day. Who are the guardians, who the connectors. Who the generators, the observers, the part-timers who come like bees do to a meadow full of flowers.
Tenants are active and connected, come downstairs now! Someone’s moving studio and giving away stuff (I find a good stretched canvas and a vase, which I fill with flowers and put in the shared sitting space.) Hey Keira, don’t you like to work large? Ashley’s giving away a huge canvas – go find her, she’s right down the hall from you. Ashley tells me the story of her unfinished 2017 piece, and how she turned to sewing instead. I tell her what it will be used for and invite her in to make some marks on it, which makes her happy.
I carry My Eight with me in my head through the halls, through studios and conversations. Spread them out on pages of newsprint and toothy paper, measure them on the walls, sort and rearrange their answers to Proust-inspired questions. Serious, then playful, I’m less and less overwhelmed by the task of shining some kind of light on what is becoming in me, and in them.
Though they have never met one another and may never meet in person, I imagine us sitting at table together and playing an obscure board game after dinner. These Eight who have commissioned internal portraits from me are part of this ecosystem too.
More and more every day.