A lot has happened in the world since I last made a post. In America we have a new administration and a lot of world outrage that followed. The world is rising up because the powers that be are not reflecting our values and who we are. I truly feel most of humanity wants to be inclusive not exclusive. It is part of our instinct for survival. So the world is resisting with full hearts. Art has always been an important reflection of history and acts of resistance and bravery. Whether it's Shepard Fairey creating iconic imagery to ignite an activist movement, or Ai Weiwei getting arrested for his activism against his government - art is activism and stirs something inside of us that transcends any walls that are put around us. It is a liberating act to create and to witness art. I know that part of my resistance will be to continue to create. My art isn't political in content, but will be political as an action. I have the freedom to create, I have the freedom to continue to do something that liberates me from any other constraint I may feel outside of myself. I will continue to bring joy to others through my work, and resist the temptation to feel helpless. Every time I create will be an act of resistance and an act of unity.
TEN YEAR ITCH
Two years ago I had come off a ten year break from making art. This was an unusual time in life for me. You could liken it to saying something like I took a break from being Erika for 10 years. I had always identified as an artist, and it has always been a part of my foundation. My awakening started at the tender age of 4, when I was drawing with my Uncle Andy and watched him create beautiful drawings of horses running. It instantly stirred something inside of me. It was as if I decided or even remembered that this is what I want, this is who I am - I am an artist. From that point on I had always identified as an artist and was immersed in making art. As I grew up it wasn’t a question of will I have a creative career, it was more, what is this going to look like?
So what happened? To back up a little, along my travels I had lived in San Diego for 3 years, painting almost every single day in a makeshift studio I had created out of the shed in the backyard. It was a sacred space for me, my refuge. Things came to a head when two life changing events happened to me at the same time. The action sportswear company I had worked so hard to help brand dissolved, and a friend of mine who I believe is schizophrenic started stalking me. I won’t go into nitty gritty specifics, but after two years of dealing with the stalking and worried that it would escalate, a SDPD investigator stepped in and I finally had some relief.
It was only when I felt more protected that it gave me space to realize that I was really burnt out from feeling unsafe and living with the constant vigilance of hyper awareness. After a lot of thought I decided I needed to leave. San Francisco was always a place I wanted to live, and became a natural next step for a fresh start.
I left my life in San Diego, my friends that I considered family, and I was heartbroken. I knew I needed the change, and began a refreshingly anonymous life in San Francisco taking myself off the grid. The strange thing was, painting which had been my refuge in San Diego, was something I had little interest in those first 10 years in San Francisco. Despite the city’s abundant creative energy, I was mourning the life I had left, the free spirit in me that had been silenced, and I put all of my energy on my new life and graphic design work.
TWO YEAR FLOW
During those first 10 years, I had tried multiple times to paint again, but nothing ever stuck. It wasn’t until my husband (then boyfriend) and I moved in together that things started to shift. We lived near a beautiful trail that I discovered right before we had become engaged. I had decided to walk that trail every morning before going to work, and it instantly felt so good to be there. I knew I needed to be in that space, and as I walked that trail daily, daydreaming about getting married, something began to stir inside of me. I began to get to know it as if I was getting to know a part of myself. As the seasons changed so did the surroundings and so did I. I started to paint, and although I wasn’t painting direct landscapes of the trail, I knew I was influenced by it. The space feels sacred, and when I’m there it feels like I have closed my eyes and dreamed it. A white path, surrounded by a sea of neutral colored shrubs. Purple dragonflies and yellow banana slugs are the inhabitants. It has it’s own ecosystem and it transmits itself inside of me. I then transmit it in my work, and the results are ecosystems on paper.
It is now two years later, and I have painted ecosystem upon ecosystem. They are isolated in composition, color on white, and you must focus on the world at center - as if looking under a microscope. Sometimes it’s an environment, sometimes it’s an organism, but they all feel alive with energy. They all fall naturally from my hand onto paper. I have been painting for two years now non-stop. Something inside of me has awoken and a part of me has healed. It was something I never expected but as I sit here and write this feels like it was always supposed to come. I have often heard when people look at my work that they have an energy to them or that they feel healing. I am so honored and grateful that they are resonating with people in such a profound way and I hope that as I continue to paint, that the energy in these paintings inspire and heal others the way they have done so for me.