“I have done nothing all summer but wait for myself to be myself again.”
— Georgia O’Keeffe, in a letter to Russel Vernon Hunter, from Georgia O’Keeffe: Art and Letters
I’m not sure what type of Seasonal Human I am.
I have friends who grumble and sweat their way through summer, yearning for the day when the leaves begin to turn. “YES,” they cry, the minute the mornings get cold, conjuring a cocoon of woolly sweaters and bobble hats out of thin air. “THIS IS MY SEASON.”
Do I have this? I don’t think so. At least not consistently. This year saw a huge uptick in interpersonal energy around the Summer Solstice, but it was frenetic and surreal and overwhelming. It left me dizzy. I wanted to return to the gentle rhythm of work; going to the studio every morning and having enough room to breathe. And I got that for a while! But then there was another social energy surge in October? That’s not so common.
Martha Graham spoke of not using an emotion to generate a movement, but rather letting the movement return the emotion to her body. I wonder if seasons work this way, too.
I’ve been taking these pieces out and shuffling them around my floor for months, stacking them this way and that way, leaving them awkwardly in the middle of the room for weeks before whisking them back to the box from whence they came. I kept chickening out about committing to a single composition to have up for the rest of the year. Something about the imagery I was choosing scared me.
I think it’s about cycles and mortality and isolation. Writing letters to the underworld. I still don’t know, but it’s up.
2021 came down earlier this week.
That year ended up being about multiplicity and sexuality and ingenuity. A sense of the absurd. Family coming in threes. The ocean as home. Situating myself in a flock. Returning to a primitive sense of belonging.
2020 was my first. Jocelyn put us up to it during Hi-Fi. I’m a wall maximalist, so the idea of putting imagery up wasn’t really new, but she encouraged us to focus on images only. No words. This continues to appeal because I’m shifting my brain from thinking in words to thinking in pictures. Allowing the meaning of something to be layered and evolving over time.
This first year felt very instinctual, since I had no idea how the exercise would unfold. I just went through my big shoe box of blank postcards (everyone has one of those, right?) and picked things that felt…something. Good. I don’t know. And lo and behold I ended up with something that was saying, even before it was something I’d acknowledged consciously, “Time to move back to Ojai, you numbskull.”
I mean, it was saying other stuff too. “It’s okay to feel prickly for a while” “You’re going through a tunnel” “Hey, there’s a lady trapped in here who’s great and you should probably set this other stuff aside so you can get to her,” not to mention “GET IN THE SEA.”
I was a really nice thing to have at my desk, because I could just space out and stare at it between bouts of answering emails or watching city council meetings or drawing or whatever else we were all doing on our laptops for so much of 2020. Like being in a gallery all the time.
The longer I looked at it, the more stuff seemed to come out.
I’m wrestling with the letter I want to write to introduce my 2020 100 Day Project when I release it later this month. I’m feeling the pressure to get it just right. To say it just so. (Sound familiar? I keep finding different elements of this project to obsess over as a way to avoid sharing it. Go figure. Just share it, Lucy.)
I poked my head into Instagram briefly this morning and found Anis sharing a project that has its roots in a much older project and is now reemerging:
Back in 2014/2015 I was in a place of heavy loss, a place of relearning, rewiring, reforming my self, & began writing down & sharing online these monthly wisdoms/lessons for my self to learn, think on, & try to remember. Have wanted to return to this for years now, & being now in some months of heavy reflection seemed a good time for this returning. Here’s things I put down last month for me to hold & turn over & try to remember.
This subtitle sings to me.
It’s a funny thing how we all begin turning toward the same subjects at the same times (or have already been turning for several years). Reminders. Permission. Speaking to the self as the self, but at a removal from the self. This is the energy of the thing I’m about to release, too. Seeing it reflected in these words from my brilliant friend fills me with compassion and energy and, okay, a little envy, too. I have to elbow myself in the psychic ribs as if to say “Hey. Cut it out. There’s no race here, ya dingbat.”
On another slide, Anis writes:
I sometimes use vulnerability w/self to avoid vulnerability w/others. I wear my heart, but wearing can be a costume.
This is one of the things that drives me away from sharing such a personal thing in public. I want it to be known (I want to be known), but not in a space where I’ve traditionally used perceived vulnerability to mask real connection.
The greatest pleasure I’ve gotten from this project has been pressing the physical prototype (or the Dropbox folder of images) into the hands of trusted friends, and then talking about it with them. That’s energy I want to preserve moving forward. This connection. This depth.