I struggle to see the violent narratives and assumptions that influence my values and beliefs. I am challenged to feel safe in relationships. My fear of judgment and the resulting isolation is born of a poor understanding of love, and yet I long to deeply know others. Facing these truths, I realized I needed to confront my fears and reimagine life. I needed to better understand myself if I was to ever expand in empathy and love towards others. I needed to start asking questions, and I knew I was not alone.
In 2017 I launched my social practice project, Making Conversations, using handmade, illustrated dinnerware to prompt conversation on complex issues. I’ve made plates about my racism. I’ve confronted my heartbreak over my family dynamic. I’ve critically challenged my worldview, and in exposing my contradicting complexity in front of strangers, I work to build spaces free of blame, shame or guilt where guests can join me in asking: What do I believe, and why? Where do these stories come from?
In 2018, I was invited to bring this project to my former high school, where their student body represents 50 different countries. Leading students to understand their stories as means for better understanding others, my curriculum successfully facilitated cross-cultural engagement on campus.
Over the past several years, I’ve borne witness to creation desperate for meaningful connection but lacking the language to engage. In our age of connectivity, we are lonely. Liberation from our isolation comes only when we reckon with our own flawed narratives as means of redefining and reimagining how we live together.
Art has the power to render visible the things we can’t see, to expose the deep stories that frame our worldviews, and to make explicit the oft dehumanizing narratives that undergird all that we know and experience as humans. If we are to survive and thrive as humans, we must learn how to connect with each other across differences. Making Conversations is a step in this direction.
If you are interested in bringing Making Conversations to your community or organization, please contact me.