When I was a child, my father taught me how to play the piano, and handwrite words with their definitions from the dictionary. I enjoyed reading books under the covers at night with a flashlight, keeping quiet whenever my parents came in to check on me, thinking I had fooled them into believing I was sleeping.
My parents met through a pen pal advertisement in Reader’s Digest, which might explain why I had an early interest in writing letters. Even in the early days of the internet, it was magic to find a letter in the mail, along with a picture of a kid you’ve been writing to who feels like they’re a million miles away.
In second grade, my teacher–Ms. Salamander–gifted me a “write your own adventure” book for my birthday. I loved turning through the blank pages and adding stickers of dragons and knights and castles. I still remember the feelings of trepidation, excitement, and giddiness from putting pencil to paper.
In fifth grade, my teacher–Mr. Fiers–read us books so we could wind down at the end of the day. My favorite stories were Hatchet–about a boy learning to live in his own discovered woods–and Dear Mr. Henshaw–a boy and a man who become, you guessed it, pen pals.***
Outside of school, I would somehow convince my siblings and my best friend to run around the neighborhood, enacting stories while I filmed them on my father’s VHS camera. Once my mother caught us making a “pool” by filling the entire patio backyard with a garden hose. I took eggs from the refrigerator and had the cast act out an action movie around saving it. For Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and my parent’s anniversary, I painted landscapes and portraits as gifts.
I wrote stories on wide-ruled notepaper, and submitted poems to contests online. My favorite poem–Lumpia and Cornbread–won a small monetary award. It felt like such an honor. I wrote a screenplay in high school thanks to the encouragement of my film teachers–Mr. Gleason, Ms. Seubert, and Ms. Cohen–which won honorary mention, and sparked a life-changing conversation with the writer Allen Armer. I chose to go to Cal State University, Northridge after sitting in their film orientation in the Allen Armer theater.
My art education at university consisted of splitting my time between Creative Writing, where my emphasis was Poetry, and Cinema and Television Arts, where my emphasis was Multimedia. As much as I enjoyed the cerebral conversations of film students, my heart was most excited for Poetry and Fiction workshop days. Having the chance to listen to the work of my peers’, my professors, read my own writing–aloud–and take in feedback was an exciting way to engage with the work as a group. It reminded me of an expanded version of piano classes. While piano classes focused on technique, repetition, and “perfecting the right sound,” poetry workshops were more introspective, examining what each line evoked in the reader, questioning artistic choices, and wondering about the effectiveness of certain syntax, phrasing, and literary techniques.
As much as I loved poetry, I was not in love with the world and the rules which the poetry space/industry was comprised of. Instead of shifting towards grad school and going after an MFA, I had a vision for a mobile museum where people could look at sentimental keepsakes donated to the project, read notes about the meaning behind each object, and leave behind something of their own. I called this “Stories From Strange Places.” The vision was inspired by a trip up to Northern California, where my college boyfriend and I took a roadtrip to visit my middle school friend in Humboldt. We connected over shared ideas around storytelling–he wanted to get to the Himalayas and document folktales for later generations. I wanted to travel around the world, collecting stories from people about their personal mementos***.
In my pursuit of “Stories From Strange Places,” I came across a typewriter for sale on eBay. I liked it because it was pink, it was from a brand called Royal, and it was made in the 1950’s–it definitely had the cute 50’s vintage appeal that I associate with refrigerators and cars of that era.
I shifted away from “Stories From Strange Places” into “Typewriter Poetry” by typing stories and poems for my siblings and friends. My sister still has the story I wrote for her about a friendly ghost:
One day while Googling “traveling typewriter projects,” I came across a Kickstarter by ***. She was raising funds to travel for her chapbook release. I donated and received a typewritten poem from her, and wrote back with a letter of my own. I stopped writing stories and started writing poems, taking prompts from friends on Facebook.
Typewriter Poetry became its own journey–one with its own website, if you’d like to read more about my travels giving away Free Poetry to strangers. I participated by invitation in the Betty Bressi Typewriter Love Fest exhibition at the Staten Island Museum, typed poems for guests at Princeton Public Library’s annual fundraising gala, and was interviewed about quitting my job to wander around the country with only my backpack and my typewriter. Meeting new friends, reconnecting with old, and exploring cities and places and driving through neighborhoods I had never been in was a trip I’ll never forget. I’m especially grateful to have met several other artists, musicians, and writers who are living their own truths of what it means to be a creative human in this time and country.
Weeks before the pandemic lockdowns, I watched a television special about black holes with my father. We talked about what black holes could be. I told him I imagined them to be portals to other universes. The next day, I painted the ***name*** series: acrylic paintings with typewritten text, meant to evoke my imagined “purpose” of black holes.
My current medium and style are inspired by those black hole pieces. I’m exploring paintings because of their archival quality, because they can be worked on in one place, because they often require long periods of time. Black backgrounds and gold text is a style that came to me while I was typing Poetry Care Packages for people during the pandemic. I loved the messy elegance of it–typewritten text embossed with gold ink by hand. On a canvas, I do everything freehand, mimicking the typewriter experience but also transforming it into something human. I used to give away one-liner stickers at art festivals and events. Now I paint one-liners by hand.
The main messages and themes of my work revolve around the desire to manifest a reality on this planet where life can be rooted in Love, Adventure, and Energy instead of corporatism, profits, capitalism, and money. I am interested in what life would be like if people chose Dreams instead of fears. I challenge myself to choose Love instead of worries as a parent–every day. My practice is a reminder that we live in a new age; we are shedding the previous generations ideals and reclaiming our own.
Here is mine.
Dreams, Soul, Spirit, Energy–Divinity. We are here to serve and strive towards our Highest Hopes. I hope my pieces of creative expression–in the myriad of methods I cycle in and out of–help you see, visualize, imagine a path where this is possible.
I ask the viewer–“What god do you serve?”
My answers: the Goddess of Creation–the Highest Force. The Goddess of Earth–represented by my mother. The God of Good Vibrations–represented by my father. The Goddess of Water, of the Moon–represented by my daughter. And of course, the Goddess in Me.