Origin Stories is a community-based artistic project exploring concepts of identity, isolation, assimilation, difference, and family. This project documents a multi-year process conducted with marginalized communities in Southern California and Iowa. Originally designed to empower adopted and fostered people to record their unique histories, this 2-hour workshop invites participants to work in groups to create a story using visual prompts. The stories are shared with the entire cohort of participants. Then individually each participant creates at least one card (by drawing, tracing, collage …) that visually illustrates something from the collective story, i.e. a character, the plot, the resolution, a problem along the way.
While at first the workshops were presented only to adopted and fostered people, the workshops were expanded to artists, particularly female-identifying artists and artists who feel marginalized, and the general public. Additionally, for other workshops in Los Angeles, I invited co-facilitators who were not adoptees but told their “origin stories” as they related to social belonging that may intersect with their social positions in the society (immigrant identity, queer, ethnic minority, etc). The cards created in the workshop reflect not only remembered and imagined pasts, but also stories that have been passed down in their birth, adopted, or chosen families; stories that have been whispered from one woman to another; and imagined futures. Each card becomes part of another deck that is printed and used in future workshops.
This project was partially funded by the Veridian Community Engagement Fellowship Award and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation’s Artistic Community Engagement Grant Los Angeles.
2016 - ongoing
Self-Help Graphics & Art, ONE Gallery/MOCA Pacific Design Center, California African American Museum, 18th Street Arts Center, University of Northern Iowa + AMP Youth