What do you do?
I work in several mediums, primarily dance, writing, spoken word poetry, videography, and fiber arts.
What’s your background?
Art and creativity of all kinds has always been a huge part of my life. My father draws, paints, does calligraphy, taught himself a few musical instruments, and enjoys cooking, my mother does just about every kind of needlework out there and creates beautiful arrangements of found objects, and my sister draws and writes. Their talents and passion for creativity have always inspired me. I started creating poetry and stories before I could technically write (thank you, parents, for being my “scribes”!), learned to knit from my mother when I was five years old, and created multitudes of dances, stories, and performances with my sister throughout our childhood. I started formal dance training when I was thirteen, participated in lots of theater and dance throughout middle school and high school, continued writing fiction and poetry, and graduated with a B.A. in Dance from UW-Stevens Point in 2017.
25 • WASHINGTON DC
What are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m working on a few knitwear designs (one is a scarf that looks like a giant leaf, so you can realize all of your forest fairy dreams!), a fantasy novel, multiple short story films, a video collaboration with a painter and a musician, and choreography for a dance film about grief and loss. *looks uneasily at calendar for the next two months*
What are some of the main themes of your creative projects?
I try to make art that brings attention to issues that don’t get enough serious, nuanced attention in society. I’m especially passionate about shedding light on environmental issues, helping share marginalized stories, and reminding everyone that we all deserve to find our voices and raise them without fear.
Why did you want to be an artist?
All my life, I’ve had this drive to create things. I think part of it is a desire to communicate with the world, and part of it is because the process of watching something transform from a simple thought in my head to tangible reality is just so cool!
In the past, my work tended to focus solely on my internal life and struggles I faced mentally and emotionally, but recently I’ve become more and more interested in creating work that joins the voices of others in seeking a common good. Maybe it’s part of transitioning from the angsty teenage years into a more mature desire to work for the good of others in addition to myself, but I want to make art that actually contributes to the world and hopefully helps it in some way, however small that may be. I’m currently working on a poem about society’s current view of sexual assault (particularly as we’ve seen more recently in the Kavanaugh case), and I also have a dance video in the works that explores channeling the rage and frustration at the current state of the world into something productive.
Does your work comment on current social or political issues?
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME EVENTS THAT HAVE HELPED SHAPE WHO YOU ARE AS AN ARTIST?
There’s been a few, both good and bad. Barely getting cast in dance productions during my time in college was a painful experience at the time, but it taught me persistence and forced me to look within myself to find my reason for moving, instead of just relying on others to validate me. I had similar experiences during dance classes and performances when I was in high school, and even though I’ll be honest and tell you that it left me with a fair amount of crippling self-doubt that I’m still struggling to completely shed, I can now see what I gained from it. I now know that I have the capability of relentlessly pursuing my passions even if no one else thinks I’m worth it, and that their thoughts do not determine my beliefs. This has definitely affected the way I approach life in general, and has also translated directly into my art by making me more confident and unafraid to challenge the status quo.
Right after college I was artistically drained mostly due to the undivided attention I’d given to dance for the previous four years, and I’d almost forgotten about the other artistic pursuits that had captured me in the past. I’ll always be thankful to my partner for tirelessly encouraging me to forget about the idea of specializing in one medium and instead pursue anything that interested me, always pushing myself to develop new skills. Maybe I’m crazy to try and juggle so many different mediums, but I honestly would never give up any of them because each one encapsulates a part of who I am and how I want to communicate with the world.
Currently, my favorite piece is my most recent video project, a poetry video called “Eyes Now Open” that I wrote, conceptualized, directed, and acted. I’m very proud of how it turned out for several reasons - I finally conquered my fear and talked about a vulnerable topic (my bisexuality), it was the first project that I feel expressed what I was trying to communicate almost perfectly, and I grew a lot as both an artist and a person during the process. I’ll also always have a soft spot for the piece I choreographed during my junior year of college, “I was drifting in the ocean of my subconscious”. It was such a dreamy, complex, fun piece, I had an incredible cast that pushed me past my limits, and I really want to revisit it someday and actually complete it.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT OR PIECE YOU
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR HIGH-SCHOOL SELF?
Be confident, damn it! You are worthy to share your voice, and never let people take that away from you. You know how to work hard and persist, and don’t let your wishes for “natural talent” get in the way of seeing where hard work can take you. Also, just because someone has “credentials”, it doesn’t automatically mean that they know what’s best for you. Trust your own intuition a little bit more.
Who are your biggest influences?
I really don’t have any specific influences in the art world...I’m inspired by anyone, whether they’re world-famous or someone I follow on Instagram who has 300 followers, who just fearlessly bends the rules to make something only they could have created. Across all my art forms, I tend to be most influenced by the colors, textures, and movements of nature, and the visuals and colors of videography in anime, TV shows, movies, and concept films.
What is one thing not a lot of
people know about you?
Not a lot of people know that my first major in college was Vocal Performance and that I actually trained operatically for a few years before performance anxiety and music theory got the best of me. I haven’t sung seriously in a long time, but I plan to get back into it eventually - probably not in opera, but more indie/pop music. My teachers were all very encouraging and I’d love to see where I could go with a bit more confidence.
Artists communicate the pulse of a society, but they aren’t simply reporters. They also have a role to disrupt accepted norms and propel the world past its limits into a new realm.
What do you dislike about
the art world?
I really dislike how exclusive the art world can be, thereby preventing less privileged people from accessing the arts as artists or patrons, and how it still favors white, straight, male artists. There are so many other perspectives out there that have so much to share with the world and it’s criminal that we’ll never hear so many of them.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I’ve of course done my fair share of random part-time jobs, mostly in food service, but currently I’m teaching Pilates a few days a week and working part-time as an administrative assistant in a Pilates studio.
What’s your favorite artwork/artist?
Currently, I have to say Hayao Miyazaki, the mastermind behind Studio Ghibli. I admire the way he so beautifully blends story, visuals, and music to create a distinctive world, and I respect how he centers powerful women in almost every (possibly every….I haven’t seen them all yet!) film he’s created. I’m also absolutely fascinated and inspired by animation - the patience and precision blows my mind!
What is your greatest accomplishment as an artist?
My greatest accomplishment will always be in progress, because it’s helping change the world, one person and one project at a time.
How has your work changed
I’d say the biggest changes involve my art transitioning from looking inward to the looking outward, and becoming more genuine, original, and less concerned with what other people are doing. I think I’ll always create art that draws from my own personal experience, simply because I think that telling my own story is the only way to create something genuine, but lately I’ve been trying to think less about using my art as a diary and more about how it can help others and inspire change.
What are your goals/plans
for the future?
Moving to a more metropolitan area is happening in the near future, and I can’t wait to see how being exposed to different experiences and levels of diversity changes my art and helps me grow. But ultimately, I just want to continue pushing the boundaries of each of my art forms and challenging my own boundaries in my never-ending quest to create art that will inspire change in a meaningful way.