I wanted to provide an update on some of what I’ve been working on during March as part of the LGAL Norway residency.

To be honest, I didn’t get as much done during the month as I would have liked (although in retrospect, I did more than I thought). There were two big reasons for this:

1) This project is very much about exploration so there’s really no clear through line. I want to use it as an opportunity to observe and be curious and see what happens, and as a result, it tends to change shape on me. I knew I didn’t want to address the idea of uselessness super head-on, and I think what will happen is that I will make a bunch of art and writing and end up looking back at it to figure out what was being said and explored the whole time.

2) My mom was super sick and on life support for about a month and a half over Christmas. She’s recovering really well now physically but is still dealing with a lot of the fear and sadness that comes with an experience like that. I think my family and I are all crawling out of different types of hell. I saw her for the first time last weekend since she’s been home and off the ventilator, and I think I couldn’t quite believe she was alive until I was able to see and touch her. I haven’t been able to focus on anything very well for the past several months, but the experience clarified some things I’d like to work on, and I’ll talk about that in a later post.

For now, here’s what I’ve been working on during March! All pics are of works in progress – hence the weird shadows, pencil lines, etc.

  • A visual essay about sound and learning to play Chopin’s Étude Op. 10, No. 1 for solo piano.

  • A visual essay about pigeons and patterns and feeling stuck.

  • A hybrid prose/poem about living in an alley.
  • A series of paintings and text about sleepscapes (the –scapes formed by people sleeping in close proximity in a city).

  • A long essay about my mom’s illness, Marian theology, and feeling useless as an infectious disease researcher who has a head full of brains but can’t help her family.
  • A related visual essay about the Octave of Easter and how someone suddenly being not dead doesn’t mean everything’s okay.
  • A bunch of “stuff” about insects and how knowledge about them is often from the perspective of how to destroy them.
  • Four long visual essays about the lamina propria (the thick and diverse layer of human mucosa under the epithelium) and Jacobean embroidery, rosariums and heritage rose pigments, optical illusions of the lower atmosphere and violence, and the effects of glaciation in northern Minnesota.