Throughout my 20-year career as a writer and artist, I have made the daily and the mundane my muse. By placing my art and poetry in unexpected locations, I draw attention to the possibility of beauty in the everyday. Exploding poetry out of books and putting it back into our mouths and scrawled on our walls, where it originated, realizes art and literature’s vital role in our daily lives. By taking my art into the public sphere, these individual private moments become part of the larger human collective experience, providing opportunities for individuals to connect with art during private moments in public places.
My exploration of the everyday came out of a personal frustration with the mundane and a desire to transform the drudgery of chores and make it into a creative act with elements of surprise, to play with the idea of “have to”. I have designed and constructed domestic items, such as dresses and household chore wheels, inscribed with lines of poetry to investigate ideas about feminine beauty and family life, and as a tool to excavate daily life. My fascination with the way regulation circumscribes our lives and truncates the way we experience time continues in my work. My “Public Health Poems” interactive hand-washing installation can be found in public restrooms throughout Seattle. I wrote poems, mounted on PSA-esque placards, that are designed to be read for the 20 seconds of hand-scrubbing recommended by the Department of Health. I initially designed them to captivate my kids at the sink, but wound up drawing attention both to the time spent washing hands and the ounces of inscrutable water we waste.
My interest in placing work in unusual places arouse out of my experience collaborating with literary performance art groups The Typing Explosion and Vis-à-vis Society. By inventing persona, and establishing a kind of three-headed hive mind, we experimented with ideas of authorship. We brought our unique improvisation methods into one-on-one interactions utilizing obsolete technology (typewriter, record player, overhead projector) with participants in public spaces, such as the sidewalk, the library, the ferry. My collaborative performance art has been compared to Laurie Anderson, exploring the effects of various technologies on human relationships and communication. By asking an audience member to contribute words, lines, or other data to make a poem, everyone became implicit in the act of creation. In engaging others in creativity, like when I facilitate creative writing in the classroom, I am witness to the energy of exploration and discovery.
It is important for my work to interact with the real world. Creative non-fiction gives me the format to put my work in less rarified venues. I wrote about eating and hair removal for Seattle’s alternative weekly The Stranger, incorporating the experience of my family’s trips to the foodbank and dependence on foodstamps while freelancing and being paid to dine out. I feel compelled to take the worst parts of my self and turn it into comedic autobiography. I am currently writing a book –length series of essays about the intersection of puberty and religion and failure using my own experiences as a kid in the 1970s Jesus People movement and later raising daughters myself. I performed a part of this project using projected old photographs and my cartoon sketches to play with the tone of and illustrate the story. I received a Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs CityArtist award to help fund this project. My creative non-fiction has been likened to writers David Sedaris and Allie Brosh, in their use of dark humor and distinctive voice to explore family relationships and identity. I want to make people laugh and cry.