BRANDON PERDOMO in conversation with AUDREY DIMOLA []

Fellow NYC native artist Audrey Dimola met Brandon while he was in undergrad at SUNY Fredonia, teaching yoga, playing music, and living in an old house he partially transformed into an unforgettable curatorial and artistic hub called birdhaus. Years later their kindred fascination with and participation in the human-creature’s creative experience continues with a Long Island City tea house chat as Brandon talks life and death(s), giving voice and holding space, the importance of working with what you have, and the origins of an expansive practice that inquisitively embraces multiple disciplines in the name of connection, community, and compassion.

AD: We’re gonna talk about your work, your life... And your death. [laughs] And your rebirth!

BP: It’s fresh.

AD: Your death is fresh?

BP: [laughs] It depends on which one.

AD: How many have there been?

BP: Oh that’s... That’s something else.

AD: Is that a private question?

BP: Is this usually how your interviews start?

AD: You have to swear on this piece of bread – you have to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

BP: I offered it to you already.

AD: The whole truth?

BP: The whole bread.

AD: [laughs] I have to include that. That’s fucking hilarious. ... What did you want to be when you grew up?

BP: I remember being really little and telling everybody, oh I want to be an artist. And I think I translated it in my head– I didn’t know what that really meant, but I kind of in my heart meant painter.

And then I’d tell my dad and he always made me defend it. Or – made me – have the feeling of needing to defend it. And I started playing flute and I was like, well I’ll just be a musician.

AD: A magician or a musician?
BP: A musician – but I did take magic lessons when I was in elementary school.

AD: Yeah, see! I know what I’m talking about. ... Wait so – you went from painter to flute?

BP: Well in middle school to enter the art department you needed to submit a portfolio. And I grew up taking art lessons. I grew up following my aunt, my mom’s oldest sister – she was getting her Masters at SVA so at like 6 years old I was gallery hopping and really being involved, just kind of checking out what the landscape was like. And upon entering the 6th grade –“social forest” – I was playing flute for a few months and was like, oh I’ll try out for the music program – which I had little to no interest in. I was like, oh that’ll just be my second choice. And I think anybody who tried out or showed any interest just got into music – so I just kind of stopped doing more tactile arts around then.

AD: That’s a good start. Anyone who tries, gets in! So then what were those first mediums you were jumping into?

BP: I think I took piano classes first – I was always doing some kind of practice at home. But then like 1st or 2nd grade – my mom put me in for my first lesson just to see what it was like, at the JCC on Staten Island, and I liked it – and it just kept going. And she was so happy to just introduce that option for me. She was a single mother and she didn’t have much encouragement when she was younger– I remember she would always talk about playing trumpet in the house in middle school and everybody was like, practice over there, practice over there, stop practicing.

One of my first memories was dancing to Klaus Nomi’s music in pieces of fabrics in my aunt’s bedroom.

AD: Are you kidding? When you were how old?

BP: Kindergarten, Pre-K? I don’t know, I have pictures of it. Maybe Kindergarten. Although I didn’t particularly initially want to go into music section of classes in middle school – that teacher was so engaging, and he just knew how to capture people. Especially, you know, like – think about what a middle school is like. Like being able to grab someone’s attention at that age and really – not that I didn’t have want to be there, but, you know – make the students feel like they were a part of something. That’s where I learned about Gestalt – in practical life. He always told us – part of the whole.

AD: Part of the whole.

BP: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

AD: That’s important because that’s a really early seed planted of something that extends through your work – because community is involved and you got to understand how it changes the tone of whatever you’re doing when you feel like you’re really part of it.

BP: Yeah, I mean – before even middle school, my aunts – both my mom’s sisters were in the arts, and they opened up an art gallery and gift shop with all local people in Staten Island – and I was just this kid hanging out watching these people present projects. And there are people that I follow until today – Vivian Vassar, she’s known as Hey Viv! – she has her collective called Day de Dada. I remember being like maybe 4th, 5th grade watching this Dada collective do this pop-up community walk all along a map. Every literal stop for that event – just blew doors open.

I remember once – I’m really jumping the timeline, but – my mom’s oldest sister took me to this warehouse in the city – it was still the 90s so it was pre over- sanitized New York. It was a warehouse kind of situation – it doesn’t look like much from the outside – but you enter and it was all done up with velvet like this lush fantasy Victorian lounge situation, it’s all gorgeous reds and golds, like you walk through the wormhole. And I just remember melting, like – this is the coolest place, I have no idea where I am. The whole space was basically meant to – not augment reality, but maybe take you away from that.

AD: For some reason I feel like I didn’t fully internalize that about you, that you grew up inside that kind of atmosphere and you had those doors open to you. So your mom and your aunts were encouraging of what you started doing?

BP: I was encouraged because I was introduced to these things, you know? Yeah, and then when they saw that my interest was sticking they really helped amplify it. And even like, it wasn’t – you have to do this, it’s like – it seems like something you want to do, so let’s try it out. Which is something I see echoed in my little brother. Even all the things he tries out – if violin lessons doesn’t stick, he’s into singing and musical theatre – he always ends up at his anchor which is textile work, so like fabric and knitting and crocheting and felting. And apparently he’s really great at making costumes. So it’s funny to be removed from the situation and then watch more or less how encouragement evolves.

AD: Mmm – expound on that, though – how encouragement evolves. Because obviously – you have a love for art, it’s not the easiest path, it’s not the most straightforward path, so how does that manifest as you get older? It’s easy when you’re a kid, right?

BP: I mean maybe it has to do with expectation – maybe it’s like a balance of where you find yourself. Like as a kid you’re like okay, I go to school and then Wednesdays for example you end up at the Art Lab with classes and then you feel good about yourself and then you go home. So what it is, is like – it’s really linked to what I see and what I remember because for me it’s always layered.

So I remember [pauses for a long time] I remember – not finishing a lot of projects, that’s the first thing I’m gonna say [laughs] – as a kid, like in elementary school, god bless Nancy Quinn and her patient heart. She’s someone in the Staten Island art community who – we’ve shared each other’s work and she’s come to my openings. Last year we were on stage receiving a similar grant – that was my art teacher, at least one of them. And this is something that I struggle with now – I would get too in my head.

AD: Even as a kid?

BP: Even as a kid. And I remember THE time, the moment that that happened. I was in piano lessons and I was really excited to be repeating the tunes over and over from the book, and I was so excited to show my grandmother. And I was like Yiayia, Yiayia come over, look, and I started playing some melody that I learned from the sheet music, from memory. And she looked at me and she said – oh you’re doing it wrong. You need the music, you need the sheet, you need to stay on the paper, and––

AD: Oh–– [sighs]

BP: And I think of that – and maybe it’s something that I perpetuate but I found that to really engrain itself in my––

AD: What does that mean to you, her saying that? To do it in a certain way, the way that it was intended, quote unquote?

BP: Yeah the intended way, the prescribed way, you know – follow these directions and – and I always work with what I have, and sometimes the project will tell me how it’s gonna go. So like you have the skeleton and then you act within those guidelines. But it was always hard for me to break that. So in music in particular it’s hard for me to memorize – it’s something for me to say, oh well I just don’t – it’s just not necessary, which I started shooting myself in the foot and saying – I just didn’t work as hard because it’s not something that I needed to do (extra work, RE: memorize, internalize). Like how an art project could go – well this isn’t the right thing I have, and that’s not how it looked in my head. And I mean more or less I’ve broken those chains – but you know, you still fall back to what you know, and those patterns in life. They continue.

AD: Well that’s what I was going to say – what is the mechanism for breaking that?

BP: Um – if somebody was asking me, I would give advice and say – do, and just find the sense of play with it. But for myself – I think everybody has that thing where it’s different – the advice you give is different from what you follow. So it’s a lot of just deep self-reflection and saying it’s okay. You know – I was practicing – I’ve never written songs before. And I think that’s my biggest – because visuals and music are so connected for me, it’s like the first chain to unlock and the biggest one. My friend Ray (Brown, anti-folk) told me – just take a song and make one out of a chord or two, you don’t even have to know what a chord is, just make something up. And I translated it to – just make some sounds. And that freedom to not need to follow a pattern is something that I take across the board when I’m exploring where I’m going.

AD: Where are you going?

[both bust out laughing]

BP: Good question... Where am I going? Maybe right now I’m in one place. But I’m growing. ... Where are you growing? [laughs]

AD: Where are you growing? How are you growing?

BP: Well – upwards, downwards, or sideways, you’re still taking up more space than you were before, so – any way’s fine as long as I am.

AD: [laughs] Well so – is that one of the names of the game? You’re a mover, you’ve been a mover for a long time in different ways – yoga practice, butoh––

BP: I kept on finding it. And it’s just like funny the synchronicities that catch up with you in life. Like one of my first moments of moving or dancing was the fabrics and Klaus. And then – I remember Tanya, my mom’s middle sister – it was a big house! [laughs] It was me and 5 women.

AD: That’s an important note.

BP: Mom, two aunts, grandma, great grandma. Cramped house. And my aunts moved in and out. So my mom’s middle sister Tanya brought home a yoga tape and it’s something that I remember now – Tanya was trying to do full lotus or something and I was like, oh I can do that! And I just like, you know – utilized my flexible Gumby 7 year old self, and she’s like [annoyed] okaaaay.. I didn’t know I was being obnoxious then. But – that was where that started.

AD: Moving and expansion, that idea––

BP: I saw my dad on the weekends and he wanted me to go to martial arts. He was this karate nerd when I was growing up. And he likened himself to Bruce Lee – and I was Brandon Lee.

AD: [laughs] Oh my god!

BP: Brandon died around then and it was like the nerdy development of that. So you know – I didn’t want to be following that channel, but activation of body was something that was in me. And in my mother’s house I had the more fluid channels of just – playtime. No one taught me how to ride a bike until I was in 8th grade.

AD: [laughs] I remember that.

BP: And that was the first thing. I was like – I never thought in my entire life this would happen. Let’s see what else this body of mine can do.

AD: Aw, that’s beautiful.

BP: And then I found myself at my first yoga class I ever took. My friend took me to St. Marks Place and you know, it was a community class and we were in the back, sweaaatingg myself to tears – but I woke up the next day unable to move and at the same time saying – WOW, I feel like I’ve never felt. Not unlike that one time I did three pushups. [laughs] And since then – building up the body and seeing what this machine can do.

I was thinking, you know – what things are named. And on my way here I was thinking about the anime title, Ghost in the Shell. And you know – just how we find ourselves – as creatures. And what my practice is. It’s ghosts and shadows, and in between the bones, and what gives the activation of pedestrian life, and what enables that to tear the pedestrian out – from itself.

AD: .... WHOA, to tear the pedestrian OUT from itself! BP: [laughs]

AD: So are you talking about spirit in that way? What’s activating the shell, what’s activating the skin?

BP: Like, you know – for me it’s all spirit once you get out of your head. Not to say that the mind stuff isn’t spirit either. But you know – what in your practice enables you? It’s about you letting it breathe. So what in your practice lets you allow it to breathe? I have and I’m sure you have – everybody’s worked on something that just – didn’t feel right. And you’re just like – well maybe if I just – let that part change or took that part out, then it’s this entirely different beast that is just allowed to let be. And that’s not to say that you’re not honoring your process, either.

AD: No, I think that IS the process. The process IS – it’s exactly what you said, in whatever your practice is, understanding how to let it breathe. Getting out of your own way. The last thing I was working on, PROVENANCE [an alchemical theatre piece] – the only way I was able to finish that script is because I kept saying yes to everything. And every time I would contract and write a question mark and question myself – I would sit back and just breathe and keep saying yes, and then it just – kept flowing.

BP: Yes is so important.

AD: But that’s funny right, because like – you’re taking a yogic principle and applying it to everything – right? Getting the body to flow and getting an awareness of breath. But it applies to art in general, life in general.

BP: So much of what I’ve learned through my yoga practice in particular – especially the line of working with what you have – I mean that’s really how I live my life. My work with limited resources that I have – it’s still given life by who I work with, obviously. But past that, you know – if I’m working in movement, I have long legs and very tight hamstrings and I ride bicycles all the time now and I’ve never been able to touch my toes. And you know, if someone comes to my yoga class, especially when I was teaching a lot in college, I had these older women who would come, like seventies, eighties, and they would say – well we’re not so good at being flexible and moving. And that’s the best way to bring everybody to the same place, the same point. I’d say – you know I’ve never been able to touch my toes – and they’d laugh and feel comfortable. And I’d say – at the same time, just because – this is tongue in cheek – just because I’m at the front of the room doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing – so let’s just play.

AD: That’s real.

BP: And I found myself teaching at a time when I really needed to be – it was my anchor in college, when I needed to be doing a lot of healing and reflecting and communicating with other bodies, and help facilitate or channel, and just you know – letting all that mind stuff go and not even like maintaining the ego of the teacher, letting that go too, and saying – I’m here to help, you’re here, and together – you know, it’s the reciprocation. In watching them heal I’m healing myself. And that’s another thing that’s important in community – to hold space for one another.

AD: That’s exactly where I was going to go. Because what I hear in that – how you hold space in a yoga class is how you hold space in your other work. And what you just mentioned, in community – the space you create around you. You know, when

we met you had birdhaus and I was so fascinated by that. As I was just barely even starting to get into curating you were an inspiration in that, literally how you take this old house and you create a space and you welcome people into it and you let them shine, and you let them have a space. So just thinking about those threads that go through all of your work – you’ve gone from there, curating at birdhaus, putting shows together – into the photography, into the movement – into photography of movement... So like what’s that thread that goes through everything? How do you create that kind of space around you – that allows for expansion of other people, that allows for healing, allows for communication.

BP: It’s like a non-linear thread of history for me.

AD: As it is!

BP: You know – in high school and in college I was flyering for a monthly art walk in Staten Island and all these places would pop up, artist studios and DIY spaces and a couple galleries and cafes – it was really thriving then. I would do flyering for them and that was a comfortable thing – again I’ve been in these settings forever. And then when I moved to Dunkirk [for undergrad] I saw this huge empty space and like, we only had a couch and a coffee table. And then my roommate picked up a gorgeous cabinet grand piano, this peculiar tall upright thing for what, $50 from Pennsylvania along Lake Erie. And there wasn’t really much going on in this small town – I mean Dunkirk was a city and then where I went to school wasn’t even a town, it was a village in a town.

And I was just looking to occupy myself in college, because you know – college was complicated for me. And you remember Shauna? I mentioned to Shauna – I’m in a great place, loads of room, I’d love to do this project. And this is – just beautiful, I don’t want to say ‘dominos falling,’ but one thing affecting another. She mentioned this idea that I had to her professor, who emailed me. And I go to this professor’s office and he just talks ideas – there’s picture moulding, this track you can put along the ceilings, we could use S-hooks and plastic coated wire – and I have all this material, still – just waiting for, you know – birdsnest [laugh] – the next –

AD: [laughs] The next generation.

BP: The next place – to settle. So anyway – Shauna connected me with this professor, these professors came, installed everything in my house, and all of a sudden I was equipped for this – thing. And I curated monthly for 3 years straight. Community, local art, University professor art, student art – and I had dancers and musicians and storytellers come – it’s all storytelling, but – I let them utilize the entire space, so you go in the basement and it’s like a dreamscape actualized, and then there’d be like, installations in the cabinets, and the living room was the main stage, so to speak, but everything supported its – growth. Not that it grew huge – it was active, and it was the only space in the area that did this. But you know, people wanted to see it happen – to the point where, you know, I was going through some stuff and I was calling it quits – and Laura Lee Jones in Rochester, who’s now a friend – a great, great painter and great artist, beautiful human, said – can I do a show there? And her partner was going to play – she came and showed her art, and that revitalized the entire project for another year. And it was a testament to, you know–– [pauses and then laughs after a moment] I’m getting excited thinking about it––

AD: I can see it!

BP: Because it’s really warm memories–– And it worked with my student schedule so the last event that I had was in March, it was a month after that, Mardi Gras that year – Mardi Gras translates to so many different things for different groups of people. That was my favorite party because I always had the music – that’s what helped carry it to the end. [...] And whenever I could, even if it was out of pocket, I paid people who were coming from out of town or offered them residency space, which is something that we did a number of times. And for all shapes, for what it’s worth – it was a professionally run studio. [...] It was just this amazing collage of people that just liked sharing with each other. And of course, the art [...] That was a longwinded way of saying that the whole project was a lot of looking back, and growing from–– getting back to the base of where you started and seeing what materials helped you evolve, to – find yourself rooted––

AD: What I just want to communicate to the readers who can’t see your face in front of me – just like, all the emotion I watched come over your face. It was in your eyes, like a projector, like looking off over my shoulder and remembering this, and just like – so much light come into your countenance now, remembering birdhaus. It’s such a formative moment for you and showed you what’s possible by holding space and taking chances, and holding space for other people.

BP: And it was all because I was given space, too. So you know – everything that I do is supported by community, and that’s where I find myself – in service of uplifting the same hands that lift.

AD: I think that’s really such an important time, and how that evolved is like – you coming back to the city, and kind of going from there––

BP: Remembering all that – and I remember when I was in the middle of it and I said – this is ultimately what I want to come back to. As a student you’re given so much – obviously it depends on where you are, but you’re given the opportunity – subsidized housing, opportunity of resources, and – I’ll say my college experience helped me land in where I want to end. So now – I’m exploring how to get BACK.

AD: And what has that exploration entailed?

BP: A lot of reflection – again this is sounding really utilitarian – but coming back to resources. In a bigger city – and I mean, I’m from here, the landscape is always changing and there’s so many layers to it – but it’s not a place I’m particularly uncomfortable with. And I’m remembering okay, these venues exist. What can I do, how can I connect and share my art, how to access the different webs of community. Some days it could be overwhelming, but it’s a lot of freedom to step back and watch this interconnected web – it starts and ends in the middle. And there’s so many middles! Because everybody’s in the center of where they begin and end from.

AD: Yeah – for me I always liken it to ‘the widening circle.’ And yeah, everyone is at that center of their own circle, expanding outward, outward, outward and then everyone becomes this intense Venn diagram with everyone else, the infinite Venn diagram! But that’s what is beautiful – as an artist and as an open-hearted person who cares about community and communion – a big city becomes a village again. And you create your own tight-knit villages inside this – gargantuan metropolis that eats people alive. [laughs]

BP: And you know, everybody has their own vocabulary to work with. I’m so lucky to have found myself in these communities of artists and music-makers and body movers – to be able to let go of something and let it cycle back. So for me, a lot of my visual work – becomes something I need to let go of for a little bit, and then I work more in dance and performance, or finding myself back in soundscapes and music – and then I could just turn around and it could have cycled back to me, and I’m looking at it with fresh eyes, and say okay – maybe I don’t know exactly how to grab a hold of this, but I’m able to offer it a new breath. And at the same time, back to community – you fall back. I’m lucky to be involved with other people’s projects – I just did for the first time shadow puppetry for the 10th anniversary of the Bushwick Book Club! Those people are really inspiring show runners – but back to the point, being involved in projects helps you expand your vocabulary.

Back to holding space – when I was given time at Socrates Sculpture Park in 2017 I was able to facilitate all these movers and dance/theatre people who have helped me really form my practice. And seeing it in a place also that is a community hub – was just like another nice little anchor for everybody. Because I remember my mom, since I started taking the bus by myself, she’d say – you gotta go to Socrates Sculpture Park, Brandon. And to me, you know – it’s karma.

Venues, resources, inspiration, people. It all finds each other, it’s just – magnets. And for me – what did you want to be when you grew up? I had this idea, I couldn’t really synthesize it, I had an idea of what that would entail, but I just–– and I’m so lucky that I was given these options as someone in their development. I just never saw art as a goal. Or making as a goal. It’s just living. I could easily never take another photo or work another project – not easily, but! for the point of this – I could never do that again and live a happy life with community, because that’s what I’ll remember when I’m in my eighties, the people that I spent time with – these inspiring people that give trust to one another, to me, to share voices and uplift one another’s voices – it’s total magic. It’s practical magic! But it just makes sense – in every sense, it’s a ‘why not?’ It’s so easy to get caught up in – you know, people come to New York with ideals – you and I have been lucky to have been born and raised here, so it’s funny when you meet and work with so many people that come to New York for something. And no matter how cool your home is – everybody has a little – ugh, scrunchy face, about it. About New York, about where you’re from, anyone, universally. And then you have, like – I wanna get out. I wanna explore the ELSE. Quote, unquote. But then we’re lucky to be here again, and there’s such a strong anchor, and you give yourself – okay maybe I’ll be here for a certain amount of time. And it’s not saying the world isn’t open, but I’m gonna work with what I have. It’s like self-assignment that you give intermittently.

AD: You have a dream in mind – and it starts just like that [a little girl jumps around near their table] with a child – jumping in, right in front of us! And I feel like you always forget all that magic in between. It’s not just – okay, I want to do a show, I want to curate this thing, I want to produce these photos, this play – that’s the incredible thing. You get so much that you have no conception of – which is what you’re saying – the trust, the space created, the community, it’s not just the end goal.

BP: I mean the dream is – people ask me what my end goal is a lot of the time and I don’t know what to respond with. I just want to be able to support myself, live within my means, and be able to share with people and support in any way I can. If that’s a matter of paying people for their performance – I mean, always! PAY ARTISTS! – at the same time, what else? Space holding – if I had a house or apartment, if I had my own space and just had a room for somebody – I imagine this very simple space where the room changes organically to the project and people could just share. I think so many people as artists today go through so many shifts of – state – and I don’t want to say mental state, but it’s how you hold yourself in a day. You think of isolation, you think of remembering the community, and then you say – oh right, you’re not alone – and then you have to break out of it. And then in the work you think about – mortality, sure, you think about – as an artist you might think of death all the time, not in a taboo way – breaking a taboo, just exploring the details and what it means to thrive, what it means to – what thriving is to somebody, what storytelling is for a body. Your story and my story are similar but very contrasting – we’re from a similar place. That’s not to be compared to somebody who’s coming to New York to explore their own performance, but who is a refugee, political refugee – or I mean, it’s all political, but – if someone’s talking about being a queer person in a state or country that they needed to flee from, if someone’s just voicing opinions through poetry of their story, and they don’t have the resources or safety to return home – that’s something that you know, we all – at least I believe we all should find a responsibility to uplift and give voice to. Especially women, queer communities, people of all cultures, religious backgrounds – and it doesn’t have to be a matter of what’s like me, but what is something that I can learn from, that I can grow from – that’s another ‘the point.’ Quote, unquote! To help each other evolve and grow and see past what’s involved in our bubbles.

AD: Because in the end were all blood – we’re all united by expression, trying to express. Whatever it is we have.

BP: Another ‘the point’ is just to get it out. To fulfill that basic human need of connection and expression. George Wallace – I met him when he was visiting Western New York [...] I was talking with George at the bar, and I was just giving him a sense of my gruff about needing to have left the city but still doing my thing, and – he helped me contextualize a lot of need for incubation, and he was like – ‘and then you know, a kettle without a hole explodes.’ And just – that imagery. You gotta let the steam out somewhere, that’s a basic human need that everybody needs to get back to.

AD: That’s what I feel like is being forgotten about, though. With so much social media and technology – we think we’re getting connection and we’re really not. Mental illness is rampant, dissatisfaction and disillusion – and just sadness and anxiety and dis-ease is rampant, and we’re like – we’re in the most connected time we’ve ever been in, how? Why, why? It reflects back – what’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me? This illusion of this solo sojourner and it’s like – no, no, go back to basic human need – we need community, we need connection, we need touch, we need intimacy, and that’s where the artist comes in. The artist leads people back to that, reaffirms why that is so important – especially right now.

BP: Absolutely, but don’t you also feel like it’s kind of the most isolating place to be?

AD: Oh yeah! But that’s the thing, right?! That’s why we’re always grappling with our deaths, that’s why at the beginning of this conversation you were like – which one? And I would say the same thing. Which fucking death are you talking about?! To be constantly walking the bridge between the worlds, be in this liminal space, be in this extremely isolating space – and trying to find the will over and over to remember the center of that circle, the points on that web. I think it’s why an artist’s life feels the way it does. It’s the most absolutely fulfilling and generative and incredible, colorful thing but it also bounces to the extreme. You’re alone, everything feels pointless if you focus on lack of resources, if you focus on entrapment within your mind, or money, space – and you can ping-pong between that and literally it can dead your practice, HOWEVER – the death is part of it, right?

BP: It is part of it! And it’s remembering to contextualize. Keeping that in mind for yourself at the same time – remembering that no matter where you’re going, you’re there because – you are where you are because of every decision you’ve made, everything that’s happened to you before that. And you know no matter what that moment looks like, it’s a moment – it’s not always going to be. Ideally you have the resources or you develop the ability to adapt and kind of – let bloom. And it’s, again, like you said – it’s so easy to be feeling down on all that – you know, you forget – it’s really still supporting you. I mean for me – I have life.

AD: What do you mean by that?

BP: I mean a few things. I’m saying this coming from a place of – I just found out I lost a friend who was in recovery, but he lived his life in use of drugs – and last year

I lost people who in their life have lost themselves and then came in and out of a sense of reclamation. A quote I read in “The Will To Change” (book, Bell Hooks)– “...reclamation of wholeness...” (Terrence Real). Which is a phrase that has been in my head, in my field of vision, in my veins for months, and it’s actually the title of a series in development for me – maybe with what I’ve been working on, maybe this is something – maybe this is just an elaboration for me, but really – recognizing the pain of your community, too. That’s what I meant by giving voice. And what that means to be full in yourself. And not just yourself – for others, and to help fill others – and to remember to offer that space and be mindful, compassionate, and always kind. And patient. Patience. And. Kindness. Audrey.


BP: Humanity isn’t a profession––

AD: Well that’s – going back to how you say you live – which is what I feel like we can remind each other. Our lives are not supposed to be pigeonholed, you know – there is potential for humanity and creativity and connection and community in everything, and what you were mentioning – giving voice to the pain of the community, we can all hold the banner for each other, everyone’s individual story – just in effect of it being expressed is giving honor to someone else, especially as you were speaking of, right? Deaths – especially young, tragic deaths, and not even just that – deaths of voice, of folks who are still alive. Right? That’s our responsibility as artists and as humans, because our expression opens doors for other people.

BP: I think at the base of my work, almost anybody’s work – that’s were we find ourselves, right?

AD: Telling our story.

BP: Yeah.

AD: Telling our story and our history, and tracing the lineage.

BP: The lineage – and sharing it, and internalizing it. And that’s where compassion comes in. Making room and having the ability to internalize – and celebrate one another, to grieve with one another. And to make space for it.