“A Knobby-Kneed Creature Arrives at Elsewhere Studios and Stubs Her Toe”

So, I tend to fall into my favorite places. Bed, freshwater lakes, love. 2 years ago, upon arrival in Edinburgh (which would quickly become a favorite city) I fell down an entire flight of double-decker bus stairs. Needless to say, after completing the hefty drive from Minneapolis to Paonia, emerging from my car a knobby-kneed creature and promptly tripping on my own shoe to tumble down into Elsewhere’s whimsically landscaped lot, I took it to be a very good sign. Alice has fallen down the hole, folks. Welcome to wonderland. 

It’s been a few weeks since my klutzy arrival and every day there’s a new surprise - quick friends, marimba concerts, an orange cat with unnerving 007 stealth-like tendencies. Lightning storms and apricots that hit me in the head (no Newtonian eurekas as of yet), grasshoppers the size of my thumb. Every time I start to form what feels like an accurate “first-impression” of this town, I’m surprised again. There’s a shimmering, kaleidoscopic quality here and the unexpectedness of the days has become reassuring. What an incredible place to make art. What a beautiful place to just be. 

But Elsewhere is not a vacuum. In my hometown, Philando Castile was brutally murdered by city police while his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter sat in the same car. As Minneapolis ripples with shock waves of grief and anger and the videos play over and over on social media, I’ve been honestly wondering if this is where I should be. As an artist, is my role to hermit away for an extended period of time or to join my generation in ferociously demanding progressive reform on both local and federal levels? Can I, in good conscience, experiment with looping compositions while friends, schoolmates and family members are singing and chanting outside the Governor’s house, using their voices until their throats are hoarse, and not even stopping then? These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’m asking because I am trying to understand. I do not believe that art is a luxury, but essential to survival. That being said, with an increasingly frightening presidential election approaching, is this time well spent? It is overwhelming and scary and if my music becomes nothing more than an “escape” then I have failed. 

I don’t know that I’ll ever have answers – for the duration of my stay at Elsewhere and beyond that. I started reading this book, though, called Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The title alone was a very needed reminder that as Paonia continues to shimmer and surprise me, as my hometown struggles to mend and grow, as it rains in Edinburgh and Alice wanders around in wonderland, wherever I go, there I am. You, reading this, are right where you’re at. For whatever reason, this stark and simple truth has been like pulling back a veil– I am right here. And I can say Philando Castile’s name, I can support my friends at home, I can ask impossible questions and I can make art - right here. I don’t have to do it gracefully, in fact, I can embrace the colorful, devastating edges of uncertainty, I can learn to relish the slip, tumble, fall and shattering in order to better contribute to the mosaic of, ya know, life. So, here’s to being a klutz, Elsewhere. Here’s to fantastic failures, slip n’ slides, mud slings, stubbed toes and the beauty of brokenness. I’m so excited to be here for the next 2 months.