Dear 21,

It’s finally time to stop looking back, where my writing and thoughts have so often been directed, pulled from, curated. There is something comforting about the past: it is finished. November is passing as fast as the leaves are falling off the trees. Time to take care of myself and fall back into the rhythm of things. I don’t have to start reeling through my mind the countless things I’ve learned the past 20 years of my life, which I so often like to do, as it’s so easy for me to look back and remind myself of the work it took to get here. Maybe instead, I can think about me now or me in the future.

My past only casts reflections on me, giving me old answers to new puzzles. 21 is cheers to my new life.

I am not old and dry, turning over a new leaf. I am growing younger with every step forward, putting my face towards the sun, encouraged by an inner drive like water, pulling itself through my stem and letting me dazzle with life. Every day I will grow younger, able to reach new parts of myself and my world.

Cheers to you, 21.

Regards,

Mary

Quarantine, Reimagined

I spent more than 50 days of quarantine in Italy. I struggled everyday with my own existence in a place so empty to me, so foreign that even words felt cumbersome. I was living and working in the home of a family that spoke Italian. Even my thoughts betrayed me as I guiltily redirected them to my role there, my work. Nothing could match the circles of uncertainty that washed over my being. Laying day and night between blank walls of that room that I could not change because it wasn’t mine. Scared to make a mistake because it was my work that kept me there. Everyday it was the large window in my room that helped ground me. Looking at the clouds gave me hope, and as they turned pink in the sunset, I knew my day would come. The birds that beckoned in the early morning brought the gift of sound, and variance. The flowers, watered and cared for brought color, blazing when the sun hit them. The lights that flicked on after 6pm in the ocean of surrounding apartments reminded me that I could have a life of my own someday. It was these yearnings that inspired my drawing, a depiction of everything that created my hope during quarantine all brought into the walls of that empty room.

3D cardboard relief

18″ x 18″ relief inspired by the work of M. C. Escher. I focused on applying the idea of “activated” vs “implied” space. Applied space is when the meaning is given to the viewer, whereas implied space is when meaning is inferred by the context of the surrounding shapes.

Taking up the middle, rectangular prisms of different heights form the shape of stairs creating a distorted rhombus shape-like that you would see as if you were looking down a flight of stairs, or M. C. Escher’s Penrose stairs, the inspiration for this piece. Some of the spaces for rectangular prism steps are missing, and they are implied.  One edge has two triangular prisms that touch the side of the distorted-rhombus “staircase”. There are a few details of corrugated cardboard as well.

I think the work tells a narrative of disconnect: meaning the story of walking down a path and realizing there’s a step missing so going back and reasserting from different angles to understand the illusion.  I think it could also be a city, with different buildings and passages.  In creating it, I made the foreground the side where there is a step missing next to the two lines of corrugated cardboard, but looking at it from different angles, I can see that there could be many interesting foregrounds.

Light and Windows During Quarantine

I often find myself between a place of home vs stepping outside, travelling, and the discomfort that comes with it.  As I stayed and worked for a family in Rome during quarantine surrounded by Italian, I navigated this intersection: both trying to make a home there living in discomfort and the unknown.  My window outside became a sign of hope, and it made me realize the impact that windows-light, and something to look towards- has on the soul. What are we seeing out of, and how does it manufacture our world and our individual view? What happens when we start to fill in the world that we can’t see?

After-effect

These days I have been seeing Rome; having flashbacks to a city in another part of the world as I’m living my life here. My quarantine was spent there: two months between the same walls day and night non-stop. Seeing gray. Forgetting color except for the occasional grocery excursion. I’ve been seeing Rome again these days even after coming home – because after having been stuck inside for so long, my weekends were spent walking the city for hours. I got to know the place. I became accustomed to routes, looking at destinations and not needing my map anymore. I knew how the light climbed between buildings and illuminated my skin, and how the sun worked it’s way through the gaps and wrapped me in it’s aura. Light from the sun was how I hoped for the future, how I dreamed, and now I’m seeing the same light across an ocean. When it rises to the trees behind my house at golden hour, I see into a corner of Rome at the same time: light hitting the same angle, resounding the same colors. For a moment my brain takes me there and it’s completely real. A moment later, it’s gone, the memory only flickering, and I remain dumbstruck, because for a second I was in another place. Eventually I regather my composure.

This is the after-effect of my time in Italy, scenes so ingrained in my mind from countless hours of escape from grayness on the streets of the city. Attached to these memories are powerful emotions: with days slowly growing longer in quarantine, my hope grew with it, along with the promise of living on my own in the not-too distant weeks. Walking around Rome, I slowly discovered a deep fulfillment inside, being free from judgement, living alone for the first time in my life, savoring that independence I had only weeks before, yearned.

Regal peplum blouse

I created this shirt for myself last year, thinking I would bring it to Italy with me, but in the end, I didn’t like it. However, after a year of travelling and coming home, I’m finally really loving what I’ve created. The simple yet beautiful lines, and the skimming yet not overly-tight fit defines my style.

August 4, 2020

What if I woke up from a long sleep and all I saw were cities between clouds, green space, and lines cutting through it, lives and the way people lived them, and the shadow of clouds on the earth. I’d wake up with the pressure of gravity on my chest as the plane would lose touch with the ground. What if that was all I remembered in life, the plane rides. But I know this flight will end and I’ll touch ground again, and it’s something that happens often. Falling out of touch, and then back in, returning is an inevitable part of life