So yeah, a lot happened this year. I self-published my first book - and then my second, a photography book. I was featured in a few magazines, a book, and online in the press. I had my art in a few gallery shows, and a few film festivals. I performed a few times, reading my writing. In the spring, I continued to freelance as I worked on a new endeavor, the “research and development” stages of my upcoming business, Art Inspires You. Then, you know, I moved to Syracuse, NY and started my graduate program at Newhouse, where I’ve continued to move through the preparation stages of my business – almost ready to launch! I think, though, the biggest development of the year is…me.
At the start of the year, I self-published my first book 'Dadalectic: Waking Dream', a surreal, Dada-inspired collection of poetic stories and dreamy artworks playing with pattern and perception. Watch the book commercial to hear my reading of 'Pink,' one of my favorite poems in the collection, and get a taste of the overall work!
I also had my first book reading and signing, and Laura Drinan at Hometown Weekly Newspapers wrote a great article about it! She even managed to record my thoughts on the spot as I answered questions about my work:
"I'm using nonsense to discuss the truth of opinions. The whole thing is that I tell a truthful story with my opinions. I’m having a truthful story with the reader, and it’s through an obscure lens of Dadaism."
In April, I also read my work at an event called “Storytime At The Ape’s Nest,” or SATAN! It made me sort of nostalgic for my time at MassArt, insofar as being around other artists and creators in a small space, experimenting with art, sound and words. And, in September, I read my work at an event held in Syracuse by Mouri Pour Viv!
Soon after, previously-unreleased work from my eponymous series "The Girl Mirage" was published in JellyBaby Magazine, Issue 11 Volume 1. A little surprise for me – I made back cover! Just after that, my artwork “Scream,” part of series “The Coorain Circus,” was published in Maintenant: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art, Vol. 12. This annual journal "features the most significant contemporary dada writing and art from around the world" and is published by Three Rooms Press. You can find more from the series in my online shop, too.
Finally, for my third publication my March, my artwork was featured in the 2018 quarterly review magazine for the Circle Foundation for the Arts winter issue! Out of 350 submissions, my art piece "Silk," series "Flower Daze," made the list.
My work also made it all the way to a gallery show in Athens, Greece! The Blank Wall Gallery exhibition "Monochrome" held its reception on February 23, and the gallery took pictures of the reception to share with its international artists. My black and white photograph "Freedom," taken on my trip to Israel in late 2016, was featured amongst other work in the exhibit.
In film-related news, two of my short films, "The Best A Man Can Get" and "Depends" from the "Fauxmercials" series, were selected to screen at the Breaking Fate Entertainment 2018 Mountain of Laughs Comedy Film Festival in Gatlinburg, TN! What's more, my film "The Best A Man Can Get" won Director's Choice Award!
After that, well, then I self-published my own photography book featuring favorite photos from my trip to Italy in 2011! I figured, hey, if I didn’t do it now, then when?
After several exhibitions featuring prints from the series, I created this 96-page travel photography book featuring over 100 images of my trip, which includes an introduction to and commentary on most areas we visited. After editing the images and designing the layout, the book was self-published through Blurb.com and with Amazon.
I also entered three writing contests – and my story "Rabbit" earned a semi-finalist spot for the 2018 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize with Ruminate Magazine! Out of 420 entries, mine was one of the 39 semi-finalists. Exciting!
I also had a summer feature in the “Art & Life” section of Boston Voyager, an online magazine! In the article, I talk about my interests in art and writing, a bit about my background – and what ultimately led me to my current Masters program at Syracuse University, along with my future plans for "Art Inspires You." Plus, they added a taste of my art.
Speaking of grad school, I moved to Syracuse, NY to start classes in July! Next up, we head to NYC for our “NYC Immersion” course, a one-week immersion into the throes of the city! Hm, no, I’m sure that’s not the right word - but it will be epic. I haven’t been to NYC since I was 14, and that was for a funeral. I remember the cab more vividly than the services.
In mid-August, my summer semester at Newhouse came to an end, a six-week summer intensive affectionately known as "Boot Camp." When I told people that "I have class every day, 9-5 - plus homework," they smile and nod, as though that's a totally normal "fun" thing to do and why am I saying it like I can't breathe. However, the Goldring Arts Journalism students are given opportunity to which other programs aren’t privy – travel! We spent late Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays touring the city, Rochester, and other areas to immerse ourselves. Then, in September, we went to TIFF together for class! It was so awesome to see premiere films like ‘White Boy Rick,’ ‘Freaks’ and ‘Nekrotronic’ (my favorites), and the stars in the cast were right on the stage in front of us. I also wrote a few reviews, which you may see pop up in the future upon their theater release.
And, then, I started to model. I didn’t expect that to pick back up, but there it was – people asking me to model for them and my mouth was saying “sure!” – and I didn’t stop. I first walked in the Syracuse Fashion Week Syracuse Style Fashion Show for American Reserve Clothing Co., and then modeled for Michele Abercrombie. In fact, work from our shoot made it into Perception Magazine, too!
I also modeled for a bunch of the military program students, as I was the T.A. for a graphic design course in the fall semester. I looked forward to this class every Monday and Wednesday, and am so happy these guys are in my life now. Towards the end of the semester, we even took some photos together!
The above photos are a variety of images from J.T. Armstrong of Run N Gun Photo, Gabriel Kotico, Tyler Harrison, Matthew DeVirgilio, Huey Younger, and Natasha Stannard. I also threw-in a self-portrait, because I was done with finals, had a ring light - and used it.
I’m still waiting on photos from a few other shoots (guys) – what a variety, and so much fun! Not only did I model for others, I was also a Creative Director on a shoot with ZAM Photo at the New York State Fair!
It was also pretty exciting to be interviewed on the podcast “Mildly Profound” in November! This conversational podcast talks about the things we love to do and the things that keep us grounded, so I spoke about my passion for writing and creating. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about letting go, perceptions of others, and the fact that I like to start a million new projects purely because I love organizing things. (Excel spreadsheets? I got ‘em.)
Above all, the most important thing I did this year was to let go, lower my walls, and process a lifetime of pain. I moved to Syracuse, NY this past summer for my one-year Masters program. When I arrived, I thought the place was absolutely magical. I was consistently happy for two days – and then, two weeks – and then, two straight months. It was only recently I realized that, for the first time in my entire life, I was in a safe environment. I was in a space where I could process my thoughts and feelings over a lifetime. This is how "normal" people must feel, I thought – this is how people feel when they are safe and loved.
Everyone enters our lives for a reason; they help us to grow – if you’re open to it. This openness led me to a catalyst who sparked changes in me, in my future, and may have pushed me towards new friends. This led me to reconnecting with one of my few and greatest catalysts from a decade past. Looking back on who I was just one month ago is sort of like looking back at someone from a decade ago, and that’s why I’m reaching out – to you, to them – to everyone.
I’ve had so many epiphanies I can’t even count, so I pieced them together to share with you. Maybe it’ll help you, or someone you know. Maybe I’ll write a book.
I’m looking forward to 2019, too. The more people with whom I speak, the more I realize everyone seems to view 2019 in the same way: 2016 was a year of airing out the crap, 2017 was a year of repairs, 2018 was a year of skyrocketing growth – and 2019 will be the year of implementation and success. Do you feel that way?
See you in the new year!