|Shelly Mosman asked me to stop by her studio after seeing me wear this coat at the Walker Art Center recently. I'm looking forward to possibly working with her next year.|
As in past years, I’ve been engaged in some intense year-end rituals these past few days. I get no small amount of pleasure from filing my 2016 folders away and making way for a clean slate that is 2017. I’ve been writing lists, checking to see how many of my goals from last year that I accomplished (a sobering practice), and reflecting on the highs and lows that this year brung.
In the personal sphere, it was a shit show, but in terms of my career it wasn’t so bad. I definitely hit some of my goals and had other accomplishments that I hadn’t even planned.
Let’s start with the career highlights. The story I’m most proud of is my piece for Fusion about a makeshift school started at the No-DAPL camps. I have to pat myself on the back for reading about the news from Standing Rock, wanting to cover the story myself, and finding an outlet that would pay me enough to actually go there and write about it. It was a short trip, but it was a powerful experience to see the movement happening out there, and to write a piece which I think was pretty unique.
Here it is:
Amid Dakota Access Pipeline protests, a makeshift Native school empowers young activists
I also, by sheer luck, reached my goal to write for Salon. An editor there had reached out to my friend Mary Turck to cover the Philando Castile killing, and she couldn’t do it, and passed them on to me. So I wrote that and also another piece for Salon about Bernie supporters who were planning or thinking of voting for Jill Stein.
Here are those two pieces:
Mr. Rogers with Dreadlocks”: A grieving community remembers police shooting victim Philando Castile
Minnesota’s Bernie voters turning Green: Jill Stein courts progressive voters in an uncommonly independent-friendly state
Besides my piece for Salon, I wrote two other pieces on the police brutality beat for Complex:
How Michael Brown's Death Affects the Way Black Parents Talk to Their Children About Racism
Underground Police Brutality: Why There Won't Be Justice for Freddie Gray
I did a lot of arts writing this year. I got to write profiles of Rory Wakemup, Rosy Simas and Karen Sherman for the Star Tribune, in addition to my reviews for that publication. I had a lot of fun covering Lee Kit’s “Hold your breath, Dance Slowly” at the Walker, for Hyperallergic (Slowly Dancing to an Exhibition About Love) in addition to these other pieces for Hyperallergic:
The Salvaged Belongings of a 1980s Punk Drummer
A Dance of Constant Movement, Propelled by Light
A Public Display of Our Private Belongings
Five Years After His Arrest, a Chinese Artist Continues to Tell the Truth
Why Can’t Artists Deduct Donated Artworks from Their Taxes?
Nine Mexican Women Fight Stereotypes in Their Printmaking
From Challenging Kant to Elevating Moss, an Artist Upends Hierarchies
I also wrote some arts features for the Growler, in addition to my work with City Pages, and had a piece that took a year to write published on MN Artists (Truly "Public" Art is Messy Business). I continued my contributions to the Minnesota Women's Press, which is always a pleasure. In December, I was pleased to learn that I was accepted into an arts writing mentorship program, funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation. In 2017, I’m thrilled to be working with Rachel Corbett, a fantastic writer and editor based in Brooklyn.
In the miscellaneous category, I wrote a food feature for L.A. Weekly (A Food Stylist Takes Us Behind the Scenes of a TV Cooking Show) and wrote about Collin Mothupi for Macalester Today.
Creative ups and downs
One of my goals for 2016 was to act in one project, which I randomly did because a friend of mine dropped out of a feature film and asked me to take her place. The film is called “Lake Street Detective”, starring Paul Dickinson, and I’m playing a wealthy CEO. This year I got to see the short film I acted in, directed by Pablo Jones, called “The Mountain”, screened at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. I also hear that a film I was a part of a number of years ago, called “In Winter”, finally is just about done and is going to get submitted to festivals soon.
In the fall, I had the wonderful opportunity to present a play I wrote back in 2013 for the American Society for Theater Research conference. The play is dystopian fantasy, and it was originally created for the Outlet Performance Festival that my friend, Jaime Carrera curated (Jaime passed away this year, more on that later). Next year, I’m looking forward to flying out to Stockton, California to see the play performed by students of May Mahala, my friend who has been one of my strongest supporters over the years.
Speaking of students, I had a mostly fantastic year teaching theater. Highlights include summer camp at Stages Theater, where I was immersed in princesses and fairies all summer, and an incredible experience this fall doing a residency with Barbara Schneider Foundation. For the latter, I designed a residency at Avalon, a charter school in St. Paul, working with students to create a play about mental illness and crisis intervention. It was an incredible experience, and I was so proud of the kids for the work they accomplished.
I had some dismal failures too, this year. In the spring, I co-wrote and directed a series of videos that my partner and I shot and began editing. Unfortunately, due to a number of personal issues that came up, we didn’t complete the editing process and I don’t think it will ever be finished. Then, this fall, I was given the go-ahead for an investigative piece in which I poured hours and hours of work. I did finish the piece, but it didn’t feel ready to submit, and now I think too much time has passed. One of my goals for the new year is to try to re-visit the story and hopefully get it published.
I’ve alluded to some of the negative things that happened this year, and there were plenty of them. Besides the horrifying results of this election, which spiraled me into a depression, I lost an uncle and my grandfather, and my friend Jaime Carrera passed away. I also had some real drama happen in my personal life, and I became estranged with at least two, possibly three friends. I truly hope that next year will be an improvement.
Other than that? I took a trip to San Francisco and got to see my dear friends Sasha Warren and Martha Lincoln, and spent some time with my Aunt. I drove up the 1 and saw the beautiful huge trees and the ocean, took a stroll down Haight-Ashbury, and spent some time in City Lights Bookstore. I wasn’t able to find a place that would take an article about my trip, which was a disappointment, but I’m glad I was able to go. I’m looking forward to traveling to California again this year, and hopefully do at least one other trip before the year is out.