In a few hours, we’re gonna be setting up for my second solo exhibit. All 29 pieces are packed up and ready to be moved and I don’t think I will ever be able to part from my works without feeling a strain of sadness. My heart is feeling all sorts of things right now but, I think for the most part, I feel grateful.
If there’s one thing I want people to remember from this exhibit, it’s the story behind it. I know it isn’t until tomorrow night – but you see, my work is already finished. I poured my heart into this project and in turn, it has changed me – as the act of creating always seems to do.
Anyway, allow me to rewind and share the backstory. I will try not to ramble hehe.
Two years ago, I had my first solo exhibit called What’s Stopping You, where I kind of just released years worth of anxiety and frustration, and personal reflection – in the form of 21 canvas works. At that point, it was already the 5th anniversary of Details Ink but, it was the first time I was ever going to share to the world the kind of art I made solely for the purpose of self expression. And it was scary. Super scary. Cause normally, with murals or commissions, I try my very best to make someone else’s vision come to life – with my style, yes but for those projects, I’m an instrument. I stop when they’re happy with it. But for that exhibit? My heart, mind and soul were literally on display and I was just so worried about… everything.
During that time, I was in the middle of my architectural thesis and was quite burnt out with projects. I was tired. And that’s why I felt the need to tap into the deepest parts of my soul and ask myself: “what do you feel like creating?”
And whenever I ask myself that question, I always end up translating whatever’s in my head onto the paper. It becomes some sort of personal reflection. Quite literally, a piece of me on paper. I can’t seem to do things in any other manner.
Eventually, my output became, my first canvas collection: “What’s Stopping You” – all the works there revolved around being held back, being afraid, feeling constrained, not living up to your full potential – and not knowing why. The words on my artworks were basically my random notes to myself like “you can do so much more” or “slow down, you’re doing fine” – a line from Vienna by Billy Joel, my all time favorite song.
Anyway, my point is – it was a coping mechanism. Art has always been my coping mechanism. It was always my outlet. A tool for processing. Sometimes it’s kind of hard to explain that this is really how I deal with life. One thing I learned from all of this is that in order to live a life that is filled with joy and gratitude, you have to know what to do with all the stuff that comes with it. The good, the bad and the ugly. So, yes. Art is my coping mechanism. This is how I deal. I write. I draw. I make stuff. Meaningless lines and shapes to fill up spaces. Random words and thoughts here and there. And somewhere in the middle, something happens. I learn and grow and change.
Last year, I had just finished my thesis – which means I was bone-tired, 90 pounds and had an empty passion tank. It was generally not so great a year. Many bad things happened to good people. Sickness, death, depression, heartbreaks, failure, you name it. There were so many ugly truths revealed that made me lose faith in people and in the world.
By June 2017, I was in terrible shape but, had one goal: to get stronger. I wanted to do whatever I had to do to rebuild the walls around my heart, restore my belief in goodness and refuel the joy in my soul. By the time I got a studio, I was on project mode. Turned it into my personal thinking space and didn’t allow anyone in there. Haha. Throughout the year, not only was I aware that I was going through some process, I was also taking notes all throughout – using my own experiences as research and trying to step back and view my own life from another lens. For art’s sake, haha. It has always been my belief that all bad/painful experiences can be turned into art. Somehow.
Anyway, I did yoga every day from June to December – to develop my physical and mental strength, and to keep me focused on my project. I traveled, went out with friends, talked to God a lot, tried new things, drank a lot, cried a lot, enjoyed a lot, hid from the world in my secret studio and spent as much time as I could surrounded by nature and beauty – and used all that as inspiration to try and make beautiful things. And like I said, somewhere in the middle, something happened. I learned and grew and changed.
Today is June 30, 2018. It has been exactly a year since I started conceptualizing this exhibit. And whew! With all that said, I am extremely excited, and lowkey super scared, to finally share it with everyone:
W I L D E R is a collection that represents the emotional intensity of personal growth, as well as the calm continuity that such growth entails. The pieces featured in this exhibit are the end results of a long process of awakening, learning, healing, and moving forward. Kara explores the various moments involved here, through this new series of intricate black and white artworks.
While moments of intensity are depicted through fierce animal expressions and characteristics, moments of calm are expressed through the imagery of leaves. This contrast is highlighted deliberately, as it takes both a single moment and a lifetime for a person to grow and change. It takes a lot of time and no time at all. And in facing a world as beautiful and as terrible as the one we live in, you have to find a way to be both gentle and brave. You have to be patient but, firm. You have to flow along with life and somehow, live intentionally.
Who you are today is a result of a billion moments. And sometimes, if you look back and remember those moments, especially the difficult ones – like the moment you were forced to be brave, or the moment you were left with no choice but to get angry, the moment you were betrayed by your firm belief in goodness, and all the moments you heart broke because of life’s cruelties. When you look back at all of that and see yourself today, still standing and still breathing, you may find that you have grown immensely and that you are much stronger and much braver than you once were.
And for that, you should be proud.
Kara’s second solo exhibition, W I L D E R ,will run from July 1-28, 2018 at the _GALLERY at ASPACE.
Tomorrow is the day but, like I said, it’s already done. I’m already happy, fulfilled and really, really grateful.
There’s a line in the opening song of the Tony Awards that goes – “In a world that is scary and hard to endure, if you make art at all you’re part of the cure.” The world IS hard to endure. And art was my cure. And I am happy and grateful that I get do this, and that I’m gonna get to share it with all of you tomorrow. Thank you so, so much for everything.