Images from Little Salon

Little Salon blew me away Wednesday night! I am so, so fortunate to be in such good company. Nights like those make my heart swell up with the love and creativity that this city has to offer -- what a really beautiful place! DC gets hit a lot as an uncreative city, and that's just plain wrong. 

I brought an old-school clamp board and set it up in lovely Jane's living room and we did some live screenprinting. I've done it before, but at a really poorly attended event. This felt like I was on a stage - there were crowds of people around the table, taking pictures and watching with smiles on their faces. It was so cool! I walked away with a killer adrenaline rush and full of positivity.

My friend Will and I getting ready to do some damage. (Image thanks to Will Gordon)

My friend Will and I getting ready to do some damage. (Image thanks to Will Gordon)

A guy asked if he could print his shirt instead of the paper  - of course, I said yes. (Image thanks to Adam Clarke)

A guy asked if he could print his shirt instead of the paper  - of course, I said yes. (Image thanks to Adam Clarke)

Sandra Beasley reading to a packed house. (Image thanks to Chris Maier)

Sandra Beasley reading to a packed house. (Image thanks to Chris Maier)

Can't quite see me, but I'm demonstrating a pull here. (Image thanks to Chris Maier)

Can't quite see me, but I'm demonstrating a pull here. (Image thanks to Chris Maier)

The Questions We Ask

I recently went on a trip to Costa Rica which consisted of ten days of mountain biking, hiking, and surfing - and I came back shattered and sore and so happy. The last time my sister and I went on a trip it was cabin camping in New Hampshire, in which we managed to high center our rental car, melt my shoes, snowshoe in the dark in the wrong direction for an hour, lose an iPhone, and have everything freeze (including our contact solution). That was also an incredibly awesome trip. 

The point to this is that life should be full of those ups and downs - those high highs and low lows. During the week, it's amazing how much of a flat line my life is - I'm almost indifferent to it. These are also the precious hours of your life that go by where you can't remember for the life of you what happened. I was talking to a co-worker yesterday, and asked her -- what'd you do this weekend? And she couldn't remember. What a way to have entire days, weeks, months, years go by without anything notable having been done! It's so important to slow down time a little - to do it all. I remember a line distinctly from the documentary, "Tiny": "Time is a non-renewable resource." 

This video below made me think of my up and down life philosophy. Bruce Kirkby stand-up paddle boards from Vancouver to Victoria and asks why? Why struggle through it? Because the super lows of screaming muscles and thinking you're not going to make it and the super highs of making it to a beautiful campsite make life that much more richer and worth living. Pleasure earned is so much purer.

One of My Favorite Videos of All Time

I love this video even though I know it's really a marketing video to sell hoodies. I think it's beautiful, and it gives me chills when I watch it. It's a great soul boost when I'm not sure I know what I'm doing - or when I'm working late at night by myself while everyone else is out .. absolutely worth a watch, even if just for the music alone. A good reminder for me that every day is a chance to make myself wiser, stronger, happier, better.

Wisdom

Ideas are cheaper than they've ever been before

SO

The only way to stick your head up above everyone else is the old-fashioned way:

Work harder than ANYONE ELSE

 

- Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York

Three Shows in Three Weeks

It feels as though I just got off the tail end of Half Wild and just caught my breath, but I'm up and off working on three new shows. What a wild ride! As the title mentions, I have three shows in the next three weeks and I also have to get myself out to Austin for SXSW with plenty of spark and energy.

I just filled out two sets of interview questions for two different blogs and in both they asked if I had advice for aspiring artists which knocked me back a bit. I'm giving advice to artists? What on earth is going on?

The next couple weeks are going to be a bit of a blur for me, but man, I love it.

 

Press + Praise for Half Wild

Hello all!

Just wanted to do a bit of an update on how things are progressing!

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I've been so lucky to have the Post and Express push my work out into the public eye. I just found out today that Express published a HUGE picture of (my personal favorite in the show) Black Mountains: East! Blown away. I love Express -- I try and grab it when I get a chance and pretty excited that their huge readership might see the picture.

And of course, the Post review -- the gold star for DC artists. Man! It's pretty exciting. Thank you Mark Jenkins for looking out for the galleries and artists. I am floored.

AND the beautiful and talented Carolyn Becker has begun a fashion blog focused on the fashion of artists -- which is a fascinating idea -- and I am her very first interview. I am very flattered and a little confused, but there you go. Take a look HERE: http://wannabeedc.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/fawna-xiao/

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Half Wild is doing wonderfully and I'm so proud of this show. I'll be there on Saturday the 25th, just camped out in case anyone has questions or wants a private tour from 1 - 4 PM! If you're swinging by, please say hello! I'd love to meet you.

HALF WILD

The reception for Half Wild was last night and I am still in a bit of a high off the crowd and energy from it. The weather last night was every artists' nightmare -- cold and rain all day (monstrous puddles)... and yet, we were packed. I couldn't even get into my own gallery space for a good half hour. Mindblowing.

I love gallery openings. I get a huge adrenaline rush from running around and talking to passionate people with great questions. Last night may have been one of the best openings I've ever been a part of; it rocked.

Half Wild is an interesting show because it's in the same place as before but the look is quite different. Everything has morphed in a very short period of time -- most of the work was created in the last few weeks which also means that I didn't have time to sit and stare at them and register what I've done. Usually the framed works hang in my house for a couple months and I get to see how they look actually up on a wall before I decide if they can go out into the world. Much of the work for this show is black on white, which perhaps some people perceive as really "dark" work, and definitely a contrast to the bright colors from before. So essentially I was not sure how people would react to the work -- luckily my fears were unfounded.

I got a lot of questions about what Half Wild means and where it's from. Balance is such an important part of my work - both visually and as a basic concept. If you live a balanced life, you'll be alright. My work is constantly seeking a meditative balance -- something between chaos and nothingness (the ink on the paper and the paper itself), something between one and many (many prints have another half to them, i.e Black Mountains: East and Black Mountains: West), something between dark and light (black on white vs. white on black). The process behind my work is of focused chaos. I consider half wild a way of living, a life philosophy. Live a wild life but always have a home, a core, a focus.

Anew

Happy New Year! As we say hello to 2014 and make plans and resolutions for it - I'd like to take a look back at our dear friend 2013 and examine some of what I accomplished this year:

  • Exhibited my first solo show (LOST LAND) at Hillyer Art Space
  • Sold out LOST LAND for the first and only time in Hillyer's history
  • Received a nice spread in the Washington Post and City Paper
  • Showed continuously throughout the rest of the year (including another solo show in June)
  • Awarded a large grant as an Artist Fellow for the DC Commission of Arts and Humanities
  • Met and worked with many of the amazing shakers and movers of the DC creative scene.
  • A new understanding of where I want to be, who I want to be, and what I need to do to get there.

I have lots of exciting plans and schemes for 2014, and I'm ready to get going.

Something I've kept in mind all this year, and something to remember for next year -- Every day is a chance to make yourself better, stronger, and wiser.

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I leave you with a picture of Hail the fat cat snuggling with me this morning. After a riotous night off celebrating the new year - I am off to the gym to start the year of right and then to the printshop!

Getting Angular

I hang my show in six days.

Of course this means that I've recently started creating a very different body of work from what I started with. It's similar in subject and some parts of the process, but it looks quite different:

(as of yet untitled)

It's a black print on white paper. It's large too (for me) -- 20" x 30".

Although it's just one color - it's about 30 different shapes/layers printed on top of each other to form this thing. My inspiration comes from looking at black and white photographs of mountains covered in snow and how abstract they are all of a sudden- just harsh cracks of black and white. I wanted to recreate that intensity, that contrast -- wanted to build a mountain from angles and shards.

Two of these unnamed black mountain prints, side by side.

I wanted to make something really edgy, less comforting than my other works. Something standing up straight.

 

More to come.

Searching for Pura Vida

I just took both an ill and perfectly timed vacation to Costa Rica. Ill timed because of the insane amount of work I have to do for my shows; perfectly timed because of the insane amount of work I have to do for my shows.

Marino Ballena National Park - Uvita, Costa Rica

I've been lucky to travel fairly extensively before - but this trip hit me a bit differently even though it was only a week long and I usually don't come to any philosophical implosions until at least a month or two. Not sure why this trip was different.

More from the Whale Tail/Marino Ballena

Our rental car on what Google Maps thinks is a highway. Middle of nowhere. 

Another taste of freedom in my life and I can't shake it from my mind. The exhilarating freedom of having nowhere you need to be in an hour, or tomorrow, or the day after. That kind of freedom that you can taste in the ocean and smell in the jungle. 

This was perhaps the first time that I've seriously thought - what if I don't come home? What if I just keep going like this? 

Jungle garden at La Casa del Arbol, a treehouse lodge near Piedras Blancas.

Jungle garden at La Casa del Arbol, a treehouse lodge near Piedras Blancas.

"This easy living -- it sure tastes good." -Shakey Graves

Tiny Series

I'm working on some little baby prints! They all fit into either 4" x 6" or 5" x 7" frames so they're pretty small. I've always been better at making small prints than large prints so I thought I'd take it to an extreme. So I made some tiny mountains.

And since we always end up with leftover glass, my dad and I designed and built some little wooden frames to go with them.

Two little pieces!

Two little pieces!

Building Frames

Anyhow, I was in Dallas a few weeks ago seeing family and building more wooden frames! I was discussing with my father about why we're building frames, and he pointed our rightly, that I could buy a frame for much less. So why would people pay an extra, say, $100 for a handmade wooden frame? These frames take a lot of effort, time, and money to build and I hope that viewers can see that. I hope they can see that it's much more than just a frame. These frames are more than a supplement to the print -- they are a pair. They are part of what makes the print shine. They are beautifully crafted and built with a lot of muscle and sweat (especially since they're built outside in the Texan summer).

Here's a peek from inside the workshop (which is a roasting garage with the door open).  

 

Rustic wooden barn-yard style frames with extra sturdy lap joints.

Rustic wooden barn-yard style frames with extra sturdy lap joints.

Freshly cut frame pieces, ready to be nailed and glued together. 

Freshly cut frame pieces, ready to be nailed and glued together.