August 18, 2020

Stuff I Did This Summer

It’s back-to-school time, which means we’re all going to have to submit our reports on what we did this summer. Aside from garden stuff and learning different ways to use sourdough starter to make an array of breakfast baked goods — and watching LOTS of Netflix and listening to LOTS of podcasts — I mostly worked on fiber art. Being locked away in my home for endless days is not just my secret preference, it’s also great for my fiddly and time-consuming art practice. Much of my work and materials was supported by an Andrew W. Mellon grant from the Mellon Foundation, through the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, where I will be showing work in September (physically AND virtually). I’m really so excited. More on that later, here is a messy assortment of images accounting for my time this summer. There’s a few different categories:

COVID masks:

Since the start of the pandemic, I have made between 250 – 300 COVID masks, for donation and to order from friends, family, and random people in the neighborhood and on the internet. I charged $5 per mask to cover materials, and since June, proceeds have mostly been donated. Masks help prevent disease spread, so it’s a great idea to wear them, plus these mask orders helped me to donate:

$1,000 to ActBlue Defense Fund; $50 to RAICES; $50 to Unicorn Riot; $122 to the Black Hills Legal Defense Fund; $128.25 to the Detroit Justice Center; $95 to the Michigan Humane Society; $90 to ARTS.BLACK; $100 to Rent Party Detroit; $100 to Black Lives Matter Global Network; $100 to Sheneen McClain’s fundraiser connected to the loss of her son Elijah McClain at the hands of the Aurora, Colorado police; $117 to the Ruth Ellis Center; $100 to G.L.I.T.S.; $100 to Community Justice Exchange. The amount of these donations was determined by mask orders, week to week, aside from the ActBlue Defense Fund, to which I made two overarching donations of $500 each. These are all exceptionally worthwhile organizations and causes, and I urge everyone to learn about them and support them in any way you can!

All-Seeing Eye & Hand of Fate (ASEHOFs):

This soft-sculpture series was an offshoot of a self-portrait soft sculpture “Selfie” (2020) that incorporated a hand and eye with an involuntary collabo with a snake design by Michael Lombardy, who I met while doing my residency at SPACES in Cleveland last summer. The series of 5 small soft sculptures sold out made-to-order in about two weeks, which is so nice. I’m glad to see them go to a cohort of amazing, creative, vibrant, and capable people…I think this makes us officially a coven.

Eyes and hands are from tea towels designed by a studio called Native Bear, that I can’t find a link for since I sourced them through a third party.

Soft Sculptures!

Speaking of soft sculptures, I’ve made a bunch, many of them emerging from screenprinted designs furnished by my favorite #screenqueen Melissa Dettloff.


I’m from California, and have been grappling a lot with what it means to be raised in the West, especially after living for 11 years here in the mid-Coast. In French, “ouest” means “where is it?” and when I squint my brain a little, that makes the correct spelling of “West” in my mind. I don’t know what it means, but every time I encounter another expatriate Californian here in Michigan, I rush to commiserate, because home can only be understood once you leave it, I think. I’ll figure it out one of these days. There are some works in this series that I’m very excited to finish for the show, so bear with my works in progress!

These also include some cowboy commissions for America’s Next Top Oona Louise baby, the amazing Grace, and Andy Krieger who promised me an art trade but hasn’t yet delivered I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE ANDY DAMMIT.

Immigrant Song 1 & 2:

These are the two largest new works in my show, and I’ve been working on the first one since New Year’s Day of this year (more on that one here).

The second one, featuring two female figures and the Detroit skyline is made entirely of found materials from Detroit, and is a riff on the city flag, and also maybe about my own journey here, even though it’s visually more about what Detroit looks like to me. I find some sense of solidarity in the hope for opportunity that brought all of us to Detroit through the centuries, and deep love of the land that unites us with the tribes that were displaced and warred upon: Meškwahki·aša·hina (Fox); Peoria; Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ; Bodéwadmiakiwen (Potawatomi); Miami; and Mississauga.


Here’s a few things that defy categorization, but I feel confident they mean something. One of them is a beaded portrait of Channing Tatum; one of them is dogs in space; one of them is my only real work in miniature so far this year, wherein I made tiny, edible sub sandwiches on freshly baked tiny bread. There’s the fledgling beginnings of work on an #involuntarycollabo with some designs by Pony Reinhardt, which I hope to have finished for the show, but less sure about that. There’s a better chance of it if I stop blogging now and work on it. So that’s what I’m gonna do!

One Comment on “Stuff I Did This Summer

sarah e lauzen
October 1, 2020 at 1:51 pm

wow –what a discovery–love your work!


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