The Only Wall We Need...

…is a wall that promotes positivity, collaboration, and brings beauty to the space it’s in.

That was my idea behind creating the “Brite Eyes” interactive stitch wall. It’s a simple idea, essentially a life size cross stitch board mounted on a frame. I’ve done a handful of public art installations featuring this simple idea but the “Brite Eyes” wall is the largest yet and the first time I’ve left it in a public space for an extended amount of time.

It’s a rogue mission, I didn’t ask anyone if I could leave it in the park it currently lives in, I just did it. Hoping to activate a public space in a new way and maybe even bring a smile to someone’s face.

I left it on a Saturday evening a few weeks ago. I’ve made a few visits to check on it, every time walking away with a smile on my face. Since leaving it, most of the strings have been used and collectively the community has started to add their own briteness to this board by adding their individual creative touch.

The most memorable encounter I had was on a Sunday afternoon. I walked up and added a few stitches of my own. A woman sitting on the bench in the park asked if I had created the board (I had my fluorescent yellow shoes on, dead giveaway that I might be responsible for it, lol). I said “yes” and asked if she had added her stitches. She said no, but said she was going to.  She went on to say how much she loved the piece and how it made her smile. She said she tries to keep the park clean and she loved how it brightened up the space.

In the middle of us talking, another man walked up and started looking at the board. He didn’t say much, but I invited him to add his stitches. He did and even smiled for a few pictures.  

The woman came over, she had a cane and mentioned she was partially paralyzed on one side of her body. Together with her on one side of the board and I on the other we added a few stitches together.

After talking awhile, we wished each other well and went on our way. And as I looked back, I saw another man on a skateboard go through the park and stop in front of the board. He didn’t add his stitches, but it did catch his eye enough to make a pit stop.

The “Brite Eyes” wall symbolizes more of what we need in this world. A world that collectively works together, supports one another, and uplifts one another. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, who you love, where you’ve come from, or what you look like. What matters is that you are here, you matter, you are loved, and you love back. That is the only wall we need. #staybrite

Current location of the Brite Eyes Wall: Fireman’s Park, Logan Square, Chicago, IL (intersection of Milwaukee/Kimball/Diversey)

Calming of the Mind - Iceland Style

I honestly cannot believe it has been two weeks since I’ve arrived in Iceland. When I was planning my trip and applied for the residency, it felt as if one month was a long time to be gone. After seeing how quickly the time has flown, in hindsight, a month feels like a blip in time.

I didn’t know what to expect coming into this experience, and really am still figuring it out, but what I couldn’t prepare for was how vastly beautiful this country is in person. You see the images (see more on the Insta) but it still doesn’t fully portray how unbelievable every single degree you turn can be. And how the landscape changes when you travel. You can be walking on grass and between rolling hills and trees at one moment, the next driving through snow-covered mountains with glaciers off to your right and left. I’m excited to keep exploring this country for the next few weeks and see even more of the scenes. 

Currently, the artist in residence are in the midst of planning our “Get Knotty” art show for the citizens of Blönduós for this coming weekend. I’ll post more on that later, but I am excited to get more involved in the community, as we are having a two-part exhibition. One being an interactive piece at the local swimming pool (where the entire community goes regularly — swimming in the geothermal pools is the haute thing to do all over Iceland); the second part being a gallery exhibition in the Textile Centre’s studio space. 

More importantly I wanted to address in this post what I’ve experienced with taking a chance to slow down and breathe. Prior to arriving in Blönduós, I was running around like a crazy person — between wrapping up my corporate job, prepping for various art shows/events, trying to sell my belongings, and packing/storing my goods until I find an place to land in Chicago — I barely had time to sit down and think straight. And then I made it, I arrived in Blönduós…

I had no schedule. No where to be. No one who frankly cared where I was or what I was doing at any given moment. And a lot of quiet…

I ran around in Reykjavik for a day before Blönduós being a big ole' tourist (even had a hotdog and LIKED it!) and really just enjoying my freedom of being on vacation and actually having made it. 

But what hit me like a ton of bricks was in Blönduós, probably on the second day or so. It was just…so quiet. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. It’s like my mind went blank with all the silence and beauty. I took quiet a few walks that first week (chased the sun like a mad woman — see previous post — still do I guess, now I’m onto chasing the Aurora just as much). 

I realized that I hadn’t planned on the quietness and the anxiety I was feeling. I couldn’t sit still to save my life. And then I was annoyed that I was annoyed. WHAT?! Seriously! I’m in this beautiful location and fabulous work space. This is what I wanted! Time to work on Fluorescent City, time to explore, time to focus on art. And my mind was all like — Oh, com’on, but doesn’t that mountain path over there look nice! When’s the next adventure? We should take a trip to explore more of Iceland — you are only here for a few weeks! You have plenty of time to work on those projects, plus you don’t even know what they are yet. 

I think week-long vacations are wonderful for everyone but I really think vacations longer than that are more important. We don’t realize how precious time is. We run around being “busy” all the time, but don’t take moments to really self evaluate, grow and channel all the hygge. This experience is causing me to learn a lot about artistic myself: how I work, why I work in certain ways, how I can improve and how to be present. I’ve started (trying) to create more of a schedule for myself — sketching more, reading more, writing more and just playing with my art. I constantly feel as if there is a struggle between my practical/analytical brain and creative brain. They feel sometimes as if they are in a constant battle — plastic swords, spray guns, and all.

I tend to overthink things. A lot. And I tend to get frustrated with that overthinking, grr... but, I’m learning to start small and be ok with mistakes (that imperfect stitch is OK!) — throw out the bad ideas and keep the good ones. Honestly, I feel like quantity is so important in art and design (I know, not a new concept here), but it’s something I’m really working on. I don’t make enough. I think a lot and search for inspiration a lot, and yes, I’m usually busy, but I still feel like I don’t make as much as I should. So on that note, I’m going to end this post and uh — go make some things! A lot probably bad, but hopefully a few good things in there. 

Thank you for taking time to join me on this adventure and actually reading this, if you’ve made it this far. The above images are a sneak peak into our world at the Textile Centre. Stay brite friends!

Bless bless,

Chasing the Sun

It's been a little less than a week since I arrived in Blönduós, Iceland for a month-long artist residency, and we've been extremely lucky with fantastic weather. For the past week, I’ve literally been chasing the sun. No, really, I have run at points. Every morning I wake up, throw on warm clothes, and head out by the water to see the pinks hitting the adjacent glaciers. And in the evenings I’m running from one side of the town to the other to see the mountains reflecting the sunset to the east and then to see the sun setting on the western horizon by the Textile Centre, where I’m currently living for the next month. I have a special spot that I perch on — the perfect location on the black rocks where the ocean and river meet.

Blönduós is a tiny and somewhat sleepy town, of approximately 1,000 residents, but the scenery—  rolling hills, glaciers, black sand/rock beaches, snowy mountains are incredible.

The other evening, I was hiking around Hrútey Island (a tiny island within the Blanda River, that runs through Blönduós) and I again, literally, found myself running as my excitement grew that I was in the perfect spot to catch the window of time at just the right moment where the sun is high enough to reflect those beautiful pinks off the snowy mountains. And then realizing that I’d have to run to catch the sun at my viewing spot.

As this was happening, I got to thinking — One, if anyone has caught me doing this from their window and wondered who this crazy character could be. And two, I couldn’t help but feel as if my efforts of chasing the sun were comparable to chasing one’s dreams.

When I started to consider the similarities of chasing sunsets and sunrises to chasing dreams it felt as if a lot made sense. 

+ Both are ever changing.

+ You might not know where they lead you, but they are always there. And the end result can be unbelievably magical.

+ They are colorful and full of vibrant energy.

+ They are unpredictable.

+ Sometimes are you in the right spot at the right time, sometimes not.

+ You can run after them or you can walk.

+ In the end, the magic truly happens when you slow down, sit still, calm the mind and take in the beauty of the process. Stop the internal self doubt/questioning and just listen.

I’m not sure where these five weeks in Iceland will lead me but I’m enjoying the process and focusing on taking every moment in. More to come but in the meantime, stay brite. xoxo