This summer I was invited to participate in a residency program at PreNeo Press in Redwood City, California. PreNeo Press invites artists to work together in collaboration with founders Kent Manske and Nanette Wylde in both digital and traditional printmaking practices. Since 2003 PreNeo has been pushing the boundaries in print media through their residency program. I am truly honored to have been invited to play in the PreNeo studio.
Since ideas are at the heart of creating art, I began my journey at PreNeo with a conversation with Nanette while hiking together in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This conversation began to explore some of the reasons I had chosen to relocate to Panama and to begin the Art Farm project there. As we hiked, Nanette posed some questions that touched a deep place in me, and I still find myself thinking about them today.
One thing about Kent and Nan is that they are explorers, and their route of exploration is through thought provoking questions that cause pause and reflection. Their questions are not easy to answer, and sometimes make one a bit uncomfortable, because they make you dig inside of yourself for the answer.
The next conversation was with Kent, sitting around their big round table in a sun filled room. We both spoke about life, and what we were finding meaningful at that current moment. I had been thinking about the residency, and had some loose ideas about imagery and content that I was considering, however, during this conversation, all that was abandoned. What came up full force was how I was feeling about the process of relocating: packing, inventorying and shipping my entire life overseas. On one hand, I felt full of promise and adventure, on the other hand, I felt entirely vulnerable, and a little scared. It was one thing to live in a country with a backpack full of stuff, but it was entirely a different thing to ship your life there.
On a side note, interestingly, that same week, my best friend and I pulled Goddess Cards – a tradition that we had enjoyed together over the course of our long friendship. We pull one card, asking for Goddess guidance on something happening in our life. I asked that a Goddess come forward to support me in the work I was doing packing up my life. The card I pulled was Cerridwen, the Goddess of Death and Rebirth. This was huge, as I had been going through the motions of packing and inventorying, but had not consciously connected to the fact that I was in the midst of a huge transformation, that I had reached the end of a cycle – my life in California – and that I was in the process of birthing a new cycle – my new life in Panama. It was a beautiful gift that Cerridwen came to remind me to honor this process, to look it straight in the eyes and to embrace it for all that it is and will be.
As my conversation with Kent deepened, it became clear that the work I would create would center around this big and important decision I had made to relocate to Panama and begin a new life there. We discussed symbols, icons, and code that could represent these feelings, and together we began to identify a direction for the work we would collaboratively create. Over the course of this conversation, we identified five main coded components that could begin to tell this story.
1. Since I had been photographing the entire contents of my life, these mundane photos became an important record of my process. We discussed using these photos to populate a map of the Americas into a mosaic to represent the movement of my stuff from one country to another.
2. The shipping container itself was playing a big role in the transformation from California to Panama. This 20 foot metal crate would hold and transport my life from one place to another. We decided that this icon would be printed as an etching on natural paper and incorporated into the digital print.
3. We discussed how the night sky looked different in other places on the planet, yet no matter where we were, we were still part of the same universe. We decided to use the changing position of the moon as a reference to the interconnectedness of my life in both places. In California, we see the moon as a crescent, however, in Panama, we see the moon as a smile. However, in all places it is the same moon.
4. The next piece of code was a nod to the flags of both countries. Both use symbols of the star and stripe, both contain the colors red, white and blue, and both countries have had a longterm relationship with each other. We decided to use a hybrid design of both the American and Panama flag to represent my connection to both countries.
5. The last piece of code that felt important was the unique ID number of the actual shipping container, and this was silkscreened onto the container etching as a way to individualize my own personal experience.
Over the course of a few days, the ideas solidified and came together into two small unique editions. The first an archival digital print combining chine-colleé, etching and screen printing, and a second print that incorporated screen printing, etching and chine-colleé.
It was truly an honor to spend time in the PreNeo studio and I have deep appreciation and gratitude for their nurturing of my recognition and honoring of this transition in my life. Pura Vida PreNeo!