If you’ve been paying any attention at all to Internet Julie, you know that in about a month I’m heading to Mexico! It still feels surreal to me, and I am feeling very grateful for the challenge, adventure and learning ahead.
To tell you more about it, I’m enlisting the help of the 5 Ws.
WHO? Well, me. The people of an organization called Arquetopia, and the other visiting artists who have a residency at the same time as I do.
WHAT? A four-week artist residency and traditional embroidery workshop. The average person usually doesn’t know what an artist residency is. An artist residency is typically an intensive period of time for an artist to focus on their research and work, without the demands of regular everyday life, a chance to live with and learn from other artists, and, in this case, a chance to immerse oneself in another culture and be jarred into new observations by being in a new environment. It’s not a vacation, but it is a time for allowing the type of discovery and exploration that long periods of creative time can bring—time that is often hard to find in the hurry of “regular” life.
WHEN? I leave November 8th and will be gone for about 4 weeks.
WHERE? Oaxaca, Mexico, which is in the SW part of Mexico. How to pronounce it is sometimes confusing, basically “Wa-ha-ca” gets you pretty close the the right pronunciation (as I understand it.) Oaxaca is the most biologically diverse part of Mexico, and is also an area that was never ruled by the Maya or the Aztecs, and so the local culture has been around a long time. There are many artisans and artists in the region, including muralists, wood carvers, weavers, dyers, embroiderers, and potters, keeping alive traditions special to the area.
WHY? Why not??? That may be answer enough, but I’ll share a little bit about how this came to be. A friend in Shanghai jokingly said, “What art adventure will you go on this time while you are home?” At the time I was busy working a couple jobs, trying to figure out what we were going to do about Skye and his health issues, and hadn’t had a chance to think about it, which is what I told her. Eventually I did have some time to think about it, and on a whim thought to myself, “Maybe this is my chance to go to Oaxaca. I’ll finally be on the right continent for awhile!” Oaxaca has been on my list for years, but as we are stationed in Asia for the time being, I thought it was a distant dream. My interest in Oaxaca developed out of what I’d learned of its Day of the Dead traditions, as well as the use of color and many forms of artistry in the area. I am so curious about a place where death is (or at least images of it are) integrated into everyday life. I did some googling and found this residency. I applied a little bit on a whim. What were the chances this would all come together?
Fast forward to Palm Springs, and they wrote and asked if I could do a Skype interview. Woah! This might happen, wow. Though I feel completely awkward in Skype interviews and can never decide whether to point my eyes at the camera or the screen, in the end I was offered a spot. The catch was that I would have to agree to staying one week longer than I’d planned for—I hemmed and hawed for awhile about whether I could make this work, but deep down I knew that this was an amazing opportunity. I have the chance to do some work this Fall at my old workplace, I was able to pay for my flight almost completely with miles, I have the month of November basically free of anything location dependent, and…oh man I just have to do it! I of course tortured myself with deliberation for awhile, but finally decided what I wanted to do. I’m going to go for it. I will invest this time and adventure into my art and being-human practice, and make it work somehow.
So. In a handful of weeks I’m off into the unknown. I’m currently reading about the area and watching videos about Oaxaca and the Day of the Dead from the library. Though I won’t be there for the actual day, they tell me that festivities go on throughout the month. I’m reading a great Olivers Sacks travel diary from his trip to the area with the American Fern Society (who knew?) I’m starting to listen to Spanish to try and find all the Spanish I studied in my brain somewhere.
I also am adding a few things to the shop that will support my travel and art work, but will also just generally celebrate the spirit of adventure. This includes the limited edition “go for it!” commemorative t-shirt, sets of postcards of some of the favorite palms and cactuses I saw in the American Southwest this summer, and other items that will be revealed over time. Hopefully I will come back from Mexico with some treasures to share as well.
I think that gives you a general idea, right? Ask me any questions below. Share your Oaxaca tips and stories. Buy a t-shirt if you are so moved—it will cheer you on to your own unlikely adventures!
Thanks, as always, for your support.