Mixing More Media: Growing (Through) A Grant Installation

On the evening before the day of the opening reception for our 2024 emerging artist group exhibit, it is time– no I’m finding / making / taking / stealing time for a look back and forward and at the “right now” of the grantee experience.


1. Exhilarated, overjoyed, still slightly anxious about the upcoming exhibit – and extremely curious about the response to the artwork, which I hope to be a trigger of conversation, question, emotion, action.

2. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful. … for the experience of this grant cycle, the opportunity to exhibit, the support and work of Creative Pinellas staff (Beth, Freddie, Lori, Roman, Ketzy, Shanna, Kimberly, Sheila, and everyone behind-the-scenes – thank you!) … for my mentor Victoria Jorgensen, whose support and own work inspired me and gave me the confidence to stretch further (more in a future article)… and for my partner Scott Solary, who helped directly with his wood-working expertise and indirectly by cooking so many late-night dinners (yes, pretty much all of them over the last 2 months).

3. A little under pressure (my own) to get one more artist story published before the opening (with more to come during the run of the exhibit).

4. Exhausted… because I worked over 300 hours on creating the installation “Public Walls and In-Between Spaces” over the course of 9 weeks (35 hours a week on top of my day job and creating other work) – and because I stayed up until 4 am last night putting together a map-legend for the 229 photos in my installation. That’ll also be a future “artist story”. Also by the time I finished writing this, it’s 2 am again. Sigh.

THE PAST: Growing (through) a mixed-media grant installation

In the article Now What? How To Choose Your Art Path I wrote about what I intended to create: a location-specific biophilic photography installation. And that’s what I did; it just got bigger, took longer, and included more elements than I initially thought. It also cost more money. I may still write a separate “accounting” article with all the nitty-gritty, e.g.: 2 gallons of clear gesso, etc.

Also, I believe the artwork became a lot more meaningful – and more cohesive. It ties together so many elements of my creative and personal passions and goals. It helped me understand better the common thread in my work, which previously had felt a bit scattered.

Unexpectedly, what helped me understand this particular artwork better and focus my efforts was the assignment to write a “one-liner” for the art postcard you’ll be able to pick up at the exhibit.

overlooked dismissed shunned weathered distressed illegal provocative informative creative nurtured ignored changing surviving thriving, loved undeniable beautiful

A few thoughts about all the media and art genres that are coming together in “Public Walls and In-Between Spaces”

1. Photography

I’ve incorporated 229 photos of urban outdoor aesthetics that I’ve taken between 2002 and 2024. It was a stimulating, gratifying, exciting, reminiscing – and sometimes triggering and sad exploration through space and time, bringing together my passion for street art, urban exploration, vintage signs, wildflowers, wildlife and birds – and photography, of course.

2. Woodwork construction

So many pleasures: working with and learning from my husband Scott as we chose and prepared wood, and his time-generosity when he built the three walls and 6 planter boxes.

3. Mixed-media wood + photography

Most of the photos I got into the wood through the “image-to-wood hand-transfer” process. First there were all the printing trips to Office Depot to use their self-serve laser printer. Often cursing of the broken USB drive or yet another printer not working, running late for work, and super last-minute dashes to the further store that’s open until 9pm. Next, the sometimes-stressful application of the printout with gel medium without much wiggle-room. But then came the hours and hours of revealing the hand-transferred photos. I learned to love the combination of caressing the wood and revealing the photos and seeing it all come together. The price to pay: currently I’m missing fingerprints on several of fingers.
To try something new for the planters, I finally did some wheat-pasting aka paste-up.

4. Social art / social sculpture / artivism

I knew my work would aim for achieving a deeper message or higher purpose than just be pretty to look at, but at first I wasn’t 100% sure how far I would go when addressing outdoor aesthetics and all that and all whom that includes. It ended up becoming a very prominent, and possibly controversial aspect of the installation. At this point, I still don’t want to say more about it because I hope that visitors will discover it for themselves and consider their thoughts, feelings and actions. Ultimately, I hope it can at least change some awareness. It already has changed mine. Exploring the topic has taught me a lot already – one being: don’t wait for someone to give you permission to help. And one way to help is to bring awareness. I’ll write more about it in another post.

5. Biophilic art + Performance art

As part of the installation, I grew wildflowers in planters from seedlings and seeds already in my backyard. At least once a week, I plan on visiting them in the gallery to water, prune, touch, and breathe. But eventually, I will leave the country. Will someone else take care of them? Will someone pick them? Will someone smell them? How will they fair inside a gallery? Nurture and neglect…

6. Community participation (and the gift of extra time)

Many people, including myself, tend to work best under some time pressure because it eliminates time for second-guessing and kicks out perfectionism and lets the “muse” (aka subconscious / creative soul) step in and call the shots.
In the case of my installation, I worked until the last minute before my drop-off date (April 18) and then it was confirmed: I wouldn’t drop off that day, but bring everything on an install date 2 weeks later. This extra time with those wood panels standing around my studio and that beam I needed to include unexpectedly suddenly sparked an idea: writing on the inside of the walls (including that one sentence I was sure I had a photo of from but could never find). During the opening reception (and during the artist talk on June 1st), I hope you’ll add some thoughts, favorite quotes or drawings of your own.

7. Time and Unpredictability (and other themes)

I don’t think I’ve ever been so open with any of my work. I’m letting go of control and, as part of the art practice, I’m stepping aside to just see how time and change and other beings will influence the elements of the work. It’s part of the themes I’ve been exploring: nurture and neglect, outdoor aesthetics, urban outdoor life, lack of control, considering shame is a luxury, awareness and gratitude.

The reveal… of photos taken by me in Brooklyn and Berlin, one showing street art by Alice Pasquini

Not just in art, but in “real life: the personal growth of letting go

During our last monthly cohort meeting, Tyler asked me the very helpful question: how the art I was creating for the exhibit had changed through the process. I expressed that the artwork hadn’t changed, but I had. Because of the unpredictable and imperfect process of wood-transfers, I learned to live with and even embrace imperfection. And I actually “let go” of the anxiety, self-doubt, second-guessing about the piece itself, the scope, and my intention… and the way people may judge me or it.

Due to the time pressure, and considering my father’s health crisis and the issues I’m addressing/questioning with my piece, there simply wasn’t any space left for the self-doubt I usually would have battled when trying something so different, big, and public. What would usually be a “stepping out of my comfort zone” turned into my comfort zone. It’s about accepting what you can’t control and also what you can control but not have done perfectly. It would be amazing if this kind of growth became something permanent, I could link to this Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant experience. At least, I hope it will last through the exhibit run, because there are bound to be critical voices.

(Also, Tyler, I’ve been meaning to tell you: of course, my artwork and its scope changed as well – I just hadn’t quite realized it yet.)

wheat-pasting butterfly


First of all, I’ll be back at the gallery tomorrow to bring the last element of the installation (spoiler alert: the plants) and to put finishing touches on the inside of the installation, the part I’m still uncertain about.

And then, finally: the opening reception on Thursday, May 9th. I’m super stoked about sharing space and time with fellow cohorts as we walk among each other’s artwork and celebrate each other’s growth and accomplishments. Already it has been sweet to discover some of the creative synchronicity, e.g. I’ve incorporated a photo of a street art project Tyler Gillespie is involved in, and both Vanessa Cunto and I included Spanish Needle in our pieces.

Excited and anxious about sharing the work with the public and experiencing the audience participation – because my artwork won’t be “complete” until it is experienced by the community and brought to live through the other and through time.

What will be thought, felt, asked, written, taken, given, questioned, supported, inspired…? And how will the plants fair as we explore the concept of nurture and neglect?

I hope I’ll see you there!

Also, you’ll have the opportunity to again participate in “Public Walls and In-Between Spaces” and ask all the questions and give all the comments during my Artist Talk on June 1st at 1pm.

Lastly, I’m looking forward to having the extra time again to publish texts / photos / videos here and on my own blog. Stay tuned, please…

Cutting up the laser print of the most recent photo, featuring a street art project by local collective fax7272893069

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