(The Late) October 2022: SLIM THICC #002
getting back to my senses; pickle weed; an architectural and geological history of east palo alto; sun collaboration; glass bricks
Bismillah. We begin everything with the name of Allah. We say Bismillah to initiate an act to acknowledge the intention and the ethics we carry with all that follows Bismillah.
— A[n] [Un]learning —
This newsletter is off schedule, but also on the time I need to be on.
On October 16, the morning after giving the keynote for the 2022 Contemporary Artists’ Books Conference (CABC), I took a plane to the Bay Area, CA, then to Claremont, CA. I spent nine days in the geographic regions that continue to be deeply formative. Admittedly, visiting my old haunts - my childhood home we were removed from- my university- was a bit overwhelming. I am grateful that I had a chance to come home, literally and figuratively, because I could feel my senses open up in ways I had not experienced in quite some time. Having experienced synethesia or something adjacent, as well as sensory overload, the possibility of noticing more feels overwhelming. However, I found myself open and ready. I noticed my attention turn toward the vernacular architecture of East Palo Alto and Claremont. As my mother drove me around town, she’d oblige me and stop so I could take photographs of glass bricks and rocks. Her indulgence of my sudden and intuitive desires to stop, hop out of the car, and photograph something is one of the reasons I love my mama. She indulges and encourages all my bits.
I miss the smell of the marshes and skies that part to allow the mountain peaks to be the protagonist. I miss long and slow looking. I miss paying attention to details. I want to share some of my favorite sensory moments.
Smell and Taste: One day in Redwood City, there was an aggressive smell of the marshes. Suddenly, I could taste the pickleweed we’d pick and eat at the marshes on field trips. I wanted nothing more than to lick a salty spoon and dig my fingers into murky marsh waters.
I navigated most of my childhood near water, open fields, and nature reserves. People know things about East Palo Alto, but not the things most important to me. There was an inactive farm across the street from my childhood home in East Palo Alto, remnants of our longstanding floriculture industry, and abandoned greenhouses. Japanese-Americans in East Palo Alto were a part of a group of 144 sent from Palo Alto to the war-time internment camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, in May 1942, and many did not return to their greenhouses. For decades, I saw these greenhouses - seafoam green translucent material scattered across the city and I did not know why until several years ago.
Men were also riding horses down our unpaved streets, and we took trips to Coyote Point to dissect owl pellets. I remember watching one science teacher feeding lab mice to a visiting eagle that stopped outside our classroom. My middle school science teacher, the first Black male scientist I’d ever met, noticed my peculiarness and inability to (or disinterest in) find commonality with my peers, so he would take other students and me to collect water samples at San Francisquito Creek. The first full apartment I got was a short walk from San Francisquito Creek. I miss smelling water. I miss eating directly from the ground.
While in Claremont, I had too much frozen yogurt. I am not a sweets person, but I love tart things. This was the most basic flavor: frozen tart vanilla yogurt.
While in the Bay Area, my little brother’s partner took us to a lovely Thai restaurant. I am grateful that she ordered because she made some really good choices! I had the best beef I have ever had in my life.
Touch: While in Claremont, I made lumen prints with students at Pomona College. I read excerpts of Amelia Groom’s Beverly Buchanan: Marsh Ruins then we collaborated with the sun.
I also touched a lot of cacti and rocks.
Sight: There were so many beautiful things to see, but I was most drawn to clusters of rocks, built architecture, and shadows.
I have been paying attention to unique architectural moments as well. I have always been a bit obsessed with glass bricks. I saw them a lot when heading to Oakland to attend our masjid. I never researched them, just admired them. While in Cleveland, I kept seeing them and wrote a note to do more research, then forgot. I poked around recently, and as Wikipedia shares, “The modern glass block was developed from pre-existing prism lighting principles in the early 1900s to provide natural light in manufacturing plants.” And now it makes sense why I have seen these where I have seen them: manufacturing and industrial sites.
Hearing: Many days, I sat outside and listened to the wind and birds. There are things I cannot hear about the sound of the trains and people talking.
— Reading/Watching/Listening List —
Wikipedia: Government by Algorithm (also known as algorithmic regulation, algorithmic governance, or algocracy)
— Rewind —
Over the past few weeks, I’ve reflected on comfort, notions of civility, and state-enforced silencing. I returned to this work, How to Suffer Politely (and Other Etiquette). I started this work at the end of 2013 and have continued to share this work through this year at EXPO Chicago. I often think about retiring the work. Unfortunately, the work remains relevant at an interpersonal level and beyond.
2022 (Group, Override at EXPO Chicago)
Chicago, IL | Photo Credit: James Prinz | More Information
2018 (Solo Project, Yaletown Bus Depot as part of Contemporary Art Gallery)
Vancouver, CA | More Information
2017 (Art in Ad Places)
New York, NY | Photo credit: Luna Park | More Information
2016 (Solo Presentation, Transmission Gallery)
Glasgow, UK | Photo credit: Transmission Gallery | More Information
2016 (Solo Presentation, VOLTA Art Fair)
New York, NY | More Information
— A Prompt —
I first saw these prompts in Aminatou Sow's newsletter and am compelled to share them here! This resource was created by Divya Victor for students of her Creative Writing courses at Nanyang Technological University in January 2016.
— Good Things to Support —
Please check out Whitney McGuire’s (personal website | Substack) peer-to-peer artist grant: a fund for Black artist mamas. She is distributing $100 microgrants. Please donate, share, or apply.
How to cite this newsletter: Rasheed, K. (Year, Month Day). Newsletter Title. I Will (?) Figure This All Out Later. URL
The next THICC issue will be released on November 15, 2022.
The next SLIM THICC issue will be released on November 22, 2022.
The next SPECIAL SUBSCRIBER issue will be released on November 30, 2022.