I have been quiet. I know. Even though I have not been here, I think about this space everyday.
Things are happening right now, both in my life and in my art. Art in cities. Art in schools. Art in hospitals. And all of these things are really good and put really good energy forward. And I have been putting little seeds in the ground and big flowers have been growing up.
Through all this, there has been a quiet change going on inside me. Visions of new work dancing in my head. And I want to show you all of it because it comes out of me effortlessly...no big push. It is every idea I have ever had and all the things I love. The bits and pieces on my desk. Old stamps and letters long forgotten. Photographs I have taken for years. Bright colored paint. Threads that make my work come out of the frame. Most of all I love three-dimensional art. Art that jumps out of the frame and these threads allow me to jump.
And most importantly, my words. I have written on remnants of paper placed in books, left in my notes on my iphone, and found in artwork done ten years ago. My words are pressed between pages all around me.
I want to share the moment when an idea was born. When something changed in me. I am always fascinated with before and after moments. This was one of them.
I write for a regional magazine. I write about make-up and beauty products as if they were art media. Then my editor and dear friend, Scott Edwards, asked me to write about where I get my fashion sense for the fall fashion issue...no products this time.
He had no idea he had pushed a button in me. No idea at all. I knew exactly what I was going to write. There was only one thing I could write.
It came out so honestly. So effortlessly. And it was then, exactly then, that I knew writing had to be a bigger piece of my art. A huge piece.
Below is what I sent to Scott. And yes, that is me above in plaid pants on the Jersey Boardwalk. I think I was around 12.
“You have a great, totally-bespoke sense of style. I’d really like to learn what influenced you.”
It was a simple request from my editor for the fall fashion issue.
But my answer is not so simple.
I wish I could say something like “Katherine Hepburn”. Maybe throw in a dash of Audrey.
But the truth is, from my perspective, my fashion sense comes more from fire.
From feeling like you are in flames and everyone is staring at you. They are staring because you look ridiculous. You are wearing clothes that are completely outdated and silly.
You never look like “you”.
My mom picked out my clothes for me from the time I started school through 7th grade. Most nights she came upstairs and would say something like “wear the tan three-piece suit tomorrow”. And it sounds so silly to even write that because a little girl in a tan suit going to school is just silly.
So I cried. I sobbed. Most nights. And I tried to change her mind.
I couldn’t, so I wrote every word and feeling down in my “dear journal”. Journals I started writing at five-years-old. Journals I still keep.
I had forgotten about the tan suit until I read about it recently in my own youthful handwriting. But I have never forgotten the feeling of being uncomfortable in my own clothes. I have never forgotten how it feels to “look” silly. Feel silly.
I used to bring other clothes to school and change in the morning and change “back” before I went home. But I still stood out for having to do this. And I still felt ridiculous.
I finally worked it out in eighth grade. It was drastic but a solution. I asked my father (my parents were divorced) to please send me to a Catholic school with uniforms. He said yes.
I showed up for year eight in a K-thru-8 school. And for the first time, I looked like everyone else. And I looked like me.
I went from being picked last to first in gym.
I knew being comfortable in my own clothes, in my own skin, was huge. And I was never going back. Never.
Let me say, I do not think my mom understood the pain I was feeling. I like to think if she had known, she would have stopped.
She was raising a creative soul that needed self-expression. I know this wasn’t easy. I so needed to be me.
I have been making up for the lost years. I know instantly what makes me feel good. And those are the only clothes I wear.
I buy some clothes and I hunt for others. I cannot go past a thrift shop or a consignment shop without stopping in.
Clothes feel better against my skin when they come with past.
So, what you wear doesn’t really matter. How the clothes make you feel matters so much.
Everyday that I get dressed, I am painting me. Each layer tells a story about how I feel.
I have a hard time getting rid of clothes I love. I wear them thin. They are ripped and falling apart. Each mark becomes a part of their story.
Eventually, I have certain pieces taken apart and remade.
And they are all a part of my story.
Ps. My sweet friend Jody mends my favorite clothes. I am so grateful to her as a local seamtress once told me she would not repair a certain pair of pants again. She just flat out refused. Jody took those pants apart, made a pattern and remade them. I love her so.