On Thursday night, my friend, Alfonso, and I attended Kip Fulbeck's solo exhibition at UNC in Chapel Hill. The exhibition featured a series of photographs known as The Hapa Project. Fulbeck photographed several hundred individuals who identified themselves as hapa, or having partial Asian ancestry, and asked each one to answer the question, "What are you?"
The Hapa Project at UNC
Interview of Kip Fulbeck by Pacific Fusion TV
Intrigued by the premise of the exhibit, I was excited to meet Kip and see his work. I had the event on my calendar for over a month. The idea behind the project was something I could personally identify with, having grown up in this country with a mixed cultural and ethnic background. As I looked at each photograph on display and read each subject's response to the question, "What are you?", I could see myself in each person. Many of their experiences were my own. It was so refreshing and satisfying to see each face and read each person's response to that question.
The Hapa Project exhibit at UNC
Fulbeck did a wonderful presentation for his audience in Chapel Hill. He admitted that he did not do this project to "find his tribe" -- instead, he was opening himself up to the experience of meeting people and hearing their unique stories, stories that could alter his perception of the world. Even so, I would argue that there is still some level of preexisting camaraderie that exists between people who have gone through similar hardships with identity, particularly with the struggle of finding one's place in two or more cultures. I think Fulbeck explained it best when he said that when people of mixed backgrounds are asked to choose one category to describe their race on applications, they are essentially asked, "Who do you love more? Your mother or your father?" And if the option of "other" exists as a category, it seems unimportant and not even worth mentioning, let alone needing explanation.
Kip Fulbeck's presentation at UNC
Not only did Fulbeck discuss anecdotes of his time putting the Hapa Project together, but he also showed two short films and performed his own poetry, all of which were centered around the idea of hapa and how hapa cannot be fully defined by the category of "other." I was moved and impressed by the voice and recognition that Fulbeck had given to the hapa community, a community that everyone knows exists but never really discusses. (To see more of Fulbeck's work, go here.)
After his presentation, Fulbeck offered to meet and greet audience members in the lobby and sign copies of his books. How could we resist?
All the book signing excitement!
I left the event feeling a little prouder, having come so far from the days when I wished I was like "everyone else." I'm just happy being me.
"Identity is such a crucial affair that one shouldn't rush into it." - David Quammen
I am at home sick today with a little bit of a fever, a little bit of a cough, and an uncontrollable production of mucus. What does a sick girl do besides lay on the couch, takes naps, and drink cocktails of Nyquil and orange juice? Why, she creates!
To pass the time and feel like I'm doing something productive, I began flipping through my most recent issue of Glamour and selected ads that looked interesting to draw. I often do this as practice for drawing the human form to work on proportion and perspective. After a bowl of chicken soup and a glass of orange juice, I created the following drawings from the ads I selected:
All three ads from Glamour
A Kate Spade ad for fall
An article exploring the many ways to wear black and white
A survey reporting statistics about men and contraception
I like to use ads from magazines to practice my illustration. Not only are they helpful for finding subject matter, but they also expose me to elements of design. For instance, what is it exactly that is catching my eye and how are those details translated to illustration? I think for each of these ads, there is something to be said about being a woman, and I tried to translate that in a way that was fun, colorful, and quirky -- just the perspective I need to get me out of my sickly slump. Enjoy!
Autumn show your pretty face, and I shall show you mine, too.
Never lose your imagination.
Be the girl with many hats who wears each of them well.
"Drawing is putting a line 'round an idea." - Henri Matisse
I remember when I was in my twenties, it seemed like everyone was getting engaged or getting married. Everyone was happily leaving that realm of singledom while I lingered behind the crowd. I was the last of my friends to take the marital plunge, but now that I am in my thirties, I find that many of my friends are having children at this point in their lives. Parenthood is that great new adventure that I haven't quite yet joined, but I enjoy hearing about the many blessings it can have. Often times, the stories that are shared with me are of simple moments - memories that warm the heart and bring a smile to your face. The sweet, sweet innocence of childhood.
My friend, Kristen, recently posted one such moment on her blog. The moment was just so precious that it made me remember a great animated short from my childhood. It was one of my all time favorite cartoons, and, now with the glorious age of the Internet, I am able to share it here with you:
The Cat Came Back
I did some research and found out that animator Cordell Barker was the genius behind this classic for me. His animation style is quirky and fun and nothing like the Disney phenomenon that many children hold dear to their hearts. It was his nitty gritty animation that made me want to recreate the cartoon for myself and come up with zany antics for my own comic book characters as child. If nothing else, it made me realize that drawings could be "unpolished" and still be great.
Thank you, Cordell Barker, for inspiring children in the 80's to laugh and be original. Cordell has recently completed work on his third animation, Runaway, which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2009. Yay! A new generation of children able to enjoy Barker's work.
My ode to Barker
"I never thought I would ever have a film in the Cannes Festival. I’ve always assumed my stuff was too goof-ball for a place like this. But then I got here and realized my stuff fits in rather nicely." - Cordell Barker (on being at the Cannes Film Festival)
Often when I am creating, I am mentally trying to get back to a time when art was pure joy for me. It was such an important part of my childhood. It was right up there with playing Barbies or riding my bike. My earliest memories involve me drawing picture after picture of unicorns and horses (I was obsessed!). And when I wasn't drawing, I was constructing makeshift dolls out of cardboard and crayons. Glitter, glue, and scissors were my tools of choice when designing masks or other fanciful artifacts of my imagination. My world was a great big craft box, and I just couldn't get enough.
So is it any wonder that music really helps me to get back to that place in time? It is an essential element to my creative process. Often when I am painting, I play music that tells a story or has a special association for me. Here are some of the standards on my playlist:
Tracy Chapman - Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution
Fiona Apple - First Taste
David Gray - Say Hello Wave Goodbye
Basia - Until You Come Back to Me
As you can see, I tend to lean more toward the ballads. So if you ever come over for a visit and hear me belting one of these songs from my upstairs studio, you can probably guess I've got a paint brush in my hand and a canvas in front of me with a big, goofy grin on my face.
"Music is an outburst of the soul." - Frederick Delius
For about a month and half or so, my sister-in-laws and I have been keeping a secret from someone we love very dearly. It's been hard, but we were able to finally share our secret yesterday for the first time.
At the end of July, Jeanine sent an email out to our family about the Making Strides for Breast Cancer charity walk in October. She asked if any of us would be interested in joining her in the charity walk, and she received an overwhelming response of YES. The day after she sent that email, my sister-in-law, Meredith, asked me and Kristie, Jeanine's older sister, if we thought getting t-shirts and hats made for the event would be something Jeanine would like. Meredith had a contact at her children's school that could print a design for us at a really great price. Kristie and I thought it would be fabulous surprise for Jeanine, and Meredith and Kristie wanted me to create the design for the t-shirts.
Initially, I drafted two design concepts. The first design concept was one of Jeanine riding in her new convertible. She had once joked with me that when her hair started falling out because of chemotherapy, she was going to ride in her convertible with the top down and let the wind just swish all the hair away. It was that conversation that gave me the idea to draft the following sketch and t-shirt mock up:
My husband came up the second design concept. He described for me his idea of a silhouette with sparse hairs sticking out from the scalp that spelled out words like love and hope. Together we came up with the messaging for the t-shirt and ended up with the following sketch and t-shirt mock up:
When I presented the concepts to Meredith and Kristie, they fell in love with Jason's design concept. With the design chosen, we began collecting orders for friends and family. The t-shirts arrived just in time for Terry and Jeanine's 60-40 Party. Before the guests arrived for the party, we presented Jeanine with our surprise for her. Needless to say, she was verklempt.
Jeanine hugging Meredith
Jeanine posing with the official Team Jeanine gear
Jake and Jeanine promoting Team Jeanine
It was a very special moment to share with the family. The further Jeanine progresses with her battle with breast cancer, the more I am in awe of her and our family. I am so proud to be a part of something so strong and so special despite the circumstances from which it was derived. It is true what they say about blood being thicker than water. I think Jeanine explained it best last night when she said that she feels the love around her each and every day and is thankful for it. There's just no greater gift than the bonds of family.
"Families are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter." - Brad Henry
I am a visual person. Always have been. I just can't seem to shut off that part of my brain. If I could only share the visions that float in and out of my head all day with other people, they'd understand why I have the ideas that I sometimes do. When other people interpret the world the way that I do, I am inspired.
Take some of the lovely ladies I work with, for example. They share an office space in the center of the building. The room has no access to the outside world. No windows. No skylight. No nothing. They have affectionately named their workspace "the cave" and have referred to themselves as the daring batgirls who work in the cave. Instantly, my head started churning. I got the urge to create a proper sign for them to proclaim this cavern formally to the world.
It's welcoming, yet it means business. Go Batgirls!
Batman: "How did you know that Robin and I
might be in trouble at this glue factory?" Batgirl: "Through the one thing you couldn't possibly have in your utility belt, Batman. A woman's intuition."
My friend Jeanine has cancer, but cancer does not have Jeanine. For as frustrating and as difficult as cancer can be, it has given her the unique opportunity to refresh and renew relationships with those closest to her.
Yesterday was the first day that I felt a hint of a chill in the air. All I could think was, "Fall is finally coming." For a December baby, having to go through a season of sweating, humidity, and heat (unless I am poolside with a daiquiri to enjoy) is just too much to bear.
With autumn on the horizon, a giddy feeling tends to build up inside of me. The prospect of changing out my wardrobe and airing out my winter sweaters and scarves is a task that allows me to bring out my inner diva. I am much happier in my skin with a few extra layers of stylish cashmere or colorful wool knitting cloaking it. Even the threat of static electricity cannot bring me down during this change in the seasons.
And as with the start of every fall, I am in search of the perfect boots! Not only do they have to meet my specifications below, they also have to be affordable. Does such a thing exist?
Not sure if I can pull off the bitch boot... That's just too much diva to channel. But a girl can set a goal for herself, I suppose.
"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." - George Eliot