Blog / 2020 / Reaching for Something More with My Jellyfish Tendrils

January 13, 2020

I was talking with a friend the other day and, when she asked what was new with me, this was my answer:

“I just had a breakthrough with the jellyfish tendrils!”

Generally, I’m not that good at looking ahead, but in this one case I feel successful. Last summer, as the cruelty of Trump’s 2020 campaign loomed, I realized I did not want to be making overtly political art this year. Since 2017, I’ve done a lot of that and I’ve navigated the repercussions, but it hasn’t been easy or fun. Six months ago, I realized I would need to take a step back in order to hold onto my center as the nightmare-in-chief went into meltdown mode.

This is part of the reason why I launched my ABC book project. I was doing what I could to make sure my 2020 was filled with happy art that promotes one of the few things that can save the world. I was doing what I could to make sure that this year there would be plenty of tiny tendrils of jellyfish joy.

process of art
January 12

I know they don’t look like much yet, but the tendrils are so much more tendrilly than they were last week. In fact, it’s amusing to think back to those clumsy lines and remember how certain I was that I would never manage to accurately depict the tendrils. I still have a long way to go with this piece, but now it feels possible.

process of art
January 12

I haven’t done as much reading as usual since my last alphabet book update because that was just a few days ago. Today’s list includes the one book I finished yesterday as well as one that I happened upon years ago and that influenced my worldview more than any other nonfiction book I have ever read:

  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

    This stunning book weaves together botany, poetry, and Native American culture to present an alternate way of seeing the world and of living in it.

  • The Myth of Choice by Kent Greenfield

    Greenfield’s book not only planted the first seed for what would become Empathetic Magic, but it also purged the remains of the self-congratulatory personal responsibility narrative that was still warping my thinking. Anyone who’s spent too much time around “pull yourself up by your bootstrap” saps—which is to say anyone raised in the United States—will benefit from reading this book.

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