While at the Washington State Penitentiary this past week, one of the inmates shared an acronym that he uses in his daily life. It is a powerful guide for those of us who do creative social practice work within communities. 

R - Relax
E - Explore
S - Smile (welcome people in and accept them)
P - Participate (engage fully)
E - Evaluate (assess your impact)
C - Compensate (adjust based on your evaluation)
T - Teach (share what you learn)

Shared with his permission. By request, he remains anonymous. 



I have come to see the necessity for creative breaks... rest. For the past few months I've intentionally stepped away from the active process of doing my creative work. During this time, I focused on my internal somatic experiences and took the precious moments I typically to fill with creative problem solving, to respond to spontaneous curiosities. I've been reading books, working on our tiny farm of a back yard, chasing my toddler through the sprinkler, watching light refract through the water at the local pool, taking bike rides through wheat fields, meeting with friends, cooking, canning, eating fruit fresh of the tree, sitting, enjoying warm night air....  life things. 

After these periods of rest, I see new creative projects emerge (often clearly formed) and I awe at how interconnected my creative work is with daily life. And how important it is to rest and let seeds germinate. 

An aside:  While doing research earlier today I happened upon this software/programing article that (is very dry and academic but STILL) stretches my imagination!  "Accurate and Efficient Gesture Spotting via Pruning and Subgesture Reasoning

12 Acts for Soma

Dedicated to to Nickels Sunshine and the Spring Whitman Somatics cohort. 
Written in May, 2017

Blow into a straw.
Blow into a straw submerged in a glass of water.
Blow into a straw submerged in a trickling stream.
Blow into a straw submerged in a pond.
Blow into a straw submerged in a quickly flowing river. 

Press your entire body against a parked car with its engine running. 

Place your throat against the belly of a dog
that is basking in a pool of sunlight.

Pedel a bicycle
with your hands on the pedals.

Locate a grassy knoll.
Position your body so that your back sinks into the earth,
and your head points downhill.

Take 10 deep breaths.

Move 10 inches downward.

With eyes open,
look to the sky.
Over your right shoulder. 
To the space between your tailbone and the earth.
Over your left shoulder.
To the sky again. 

Repeat, this time with eyes closed
and the bottom of your feet leading.


At the grocery store, mimic the walk of the first person you encounter in the produce department. 

Turn on an electric toothbrush.
Gently press the bristles against the crown of your head.
Then the soles of your feet.

Take a walk barefoot through a park.
Collect every fallen leaf, stick, seed, trash or rock
that touch your feet.

Tie  a string to your ring finger for 24 hours. 
Every time you notice it's presence:
       a.) pause
       b.) notice the temperature of the air against your skin
       c.) imagine that the nearest stranger's movements release the tension in every muscle in your body. 
Return to your previous task. 

Go to a coffee shot. Buy a cup of coffee. Find a seat alone.
Once seated begin to drink your beverage. After each sip, 
re-position your sits bones by moving less than a 1/4". 

Lay on your back on a carpet floor.  Clasp your bag, satchel or purse
in your arms.  Roll about without allowing it to touch the ground. 



A tour at the pace of my 1.5 year old

Six months ago, I moved to Walla Walla with my partner and one year old son. Walla Walla is a vibrant small town in rural Eastern Washington, nestled among expansive agricultural fields and the Blue Mountains. The pace of life here is unhurried. And the pace of life with an 18 month old is dawdling.  

What if I were to give a tour of my town, my new neighborhood as I experience it? 

Time Out for Happiness

"The Gilbreths [created systems for more efficient labor because they] wanted the increase in productivity to result in greater happiness for all.  After all, if we are saving time by being more productive, what will we do with all the extra time or goods produced?  We should use them to be happy, owners and workers alike." -David Merkel

 Georgetown Steam Plant workers in early 1900's.  Seattle, WA

Georgetown Steam Plant workers in early 1900's.  Seattle, WA

18 kinds of elemental motion

An excerpt from Wikipedia (Feb 26, 2015):

Therbligs are 18 kinds of elemental motions used in the study of motion economy in the workplace. A workplace task is analyzed by recording each of the therblig units for a process, with the results used for optimization of manual labor by eliminating unneeded movements.

The word therblig was the creation of Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, American industrial psychologists who invented the field of time and motion study. It is a reversal of the name Gilbreth, with 'th' transposed.

A basic motion element is one of a set of fundamental motions required for a worker to perform a manual operation or task. The set consists of 18 elements, each describing a standardized activity.

  • Transport empty [unloaded] (TE): reaching for an object with an empty hand. (Now called "Reach")
  • Group (G): grasping an object with the active hand.
  • Transport loaded (TL):moving an object using a hand motion.
  • Hold (H): holding an object.
  • Release load (RL): releasing control of an object.
  • Preposition (PP): positioning and/or orienting an object for the next operation and relative to an approximation location.
  • Position (P): positioning and/or orienting an object in the defined location.
  • Use (U): manipulating a tool in the intended way during the course working.
  • Assemble (A): joining two parts together.
  • Disassemble (DA): separating multiple components that were joined.
  • Search (Sh): attempting to find an object using the eyes and hands.
  • Select (St): choosing among several objects in a group.
  • Plan (Pn): deciding on a course of action.
  • Inspect (I): determining the quality or the characteristics of an object using the eyes and/or other senses.
  • Unavoidable delay (UD): waiting due to factors beyond the worker's control and included in the work cycle.
  • Avoidable delay (AD): waiting within the worker's control which causes idleness that is not included in the regular work cycle.
  • Rest in peace (R): resting to overcome a fatigue, consisting of a pause in the motions of the hands and/or body during the work cycles or between them.
  • Find (F): A momentary mental reaction at the end of the Search cycle. Seldom used.

a response to my sketch, "between"

In early May, I shared a sketch titled, between.  In response to that drawing, I composed the following piece using Anne Carson's 'short talk' poetry form.   This work was installed on a plaque at Smoke Farm for the Lo-Fi Arts Festival // Ad Hoc.  It was situated at the intersection of two diverging paths.

Short Talk on Pairs

Socks are worn in pairs, usually matched.
Brackets are always used in matched pairs.  
When writing, brackets can be used to inject or
set apart text. They can denote an idea related to
but separate from the original idea discussed.
Empty brackets indicate omitted text.
Before I leave the house I put on my shoes.

Press your hands together in front of your chest.  
Pause. Separate them slightly. Pause. Repeat.

silent structures (a performance score excerpt)

The following text is an excerpt from the performance score for my Aug, 23 2014 work, Five Silent Structures.  Adapt, embody, and re-envision these words as suited for you:

The body is:  building. structure. flesh. waiting. being. past. future
The building is:  body. structure. canopy. awaiting. being. history. tomorrow

The body is a building.  A building is a body. 

We are extensions of the buildings we inhabit, the places we know through repetition and time.   Through our daily lives we enact the process of being with these spaces.  Through this performance we will enact the process of being with these spaces attentively.  The Fort Lawton structures are restricted, vacant, and empty.  They contain histories of use but are now silently observing the world, patient and overlooked by most.  Create silent spaces in yourself that mirror the spaces within these buildings.  Stand with them as you might stand with a dear friend experiencing deep struggle, a family member undergoing incarceration, or a loved one constrained by limitations that prevent them from enacting their basic humanity.  Become observant, patient, perceptive, generous, and open.


"to make meaning from the fragments we get, which are also all we get" -Anne Carson.


1. How do our daily rituals activate a building?
2. What is lost when a space is constrained?
3. How does a structure (a home, a shelter, a refuge) transform our bodies.
4. How do our bodies and the spaces we inhabit break silence? 

research: space, place, structure (list)

Writings that investigate space, place, and structures.  Worth further investigation.

Operative Design: A Catalogue of Spacial Verbs by Anthony Di Mari + Nora Yoo
A Place of My Own by Michael Pollen
The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard
House by Tracy Kidder
Short Talks by Anne Carson

For continued research...

list started on July 8, 2014

short talk on housing

For days these words have been resting on my tongue, slowly dissolving.
The lines have begun to settle into my hips. 

Here is one thing you can do if you
have no house. Wear several hats -
maybe three, four. In the event of rain
or snow, remove the one(s) that get(s)
wet. Secondly, to be a householder is a
matter of rituals. Rituals function
chiefly to differentiate horizontal from
vertical. To begin the day in your house
is to ‘get up’. At night you will ‘lie
down’. When old Tio Pedro comes
over for tea you will ‘speak up’, for
these days his hearing is ‘on the
decline’. If his wife is with him you will
be sure to have ‘cleaned up’ the
kitchen and parlour so as not to ‘fall’ in
her opinion. Watching the two of
them, as they sit side by side on the
couch smoking one cigarette, you feel
your “heart lift’. These patterns of up
and down can be imitated, outside the
house, in vertical and horizontal
designs upon the clothing. The lines
are not hard to make. Hats do not
need to be so decorated for they will
’pile up’ on your head, in and of them-
selves, qua hats, if you have understood
my original instruction.
— "Short Talk on Housing" by Anne Carson

what is (porous)

scissors (finger holes), drain (water holes), bobbin (gap around the barrel, center of the hub), needle (eye), door latch (inner hole of hub for door handle axis), wheel (center hole of the hub), button (eyes/corresponding button hole), dust pan (flat or curved scoop), pipe cleaner (gaps between bristles), sponge (pores), spirit level (bubble), trowel (flat or curved scoop), spade (slightly angled scoop), rotary blade (hub), bicycle chain (cutouts between links), cone wrench (u shaped cutout), crank spanner (hex bolt shaped cutout), tire lever (c shaped cutout), spoke wrench (spoke nipple indentation), bike pump (hand operated piston), pipette (inner cylinder), vise-grip (space between the jaws, hub, inner space around spring, space within grips), pliers (space between jays, hub, inner space within grips), baster (inner cylinder), bottle opener (space around the lever), bowl (inner), spoon (dish), sieve (small holes for particles), fork (gaps between tines), cake server (area above the flat face), garlic press (inner scoop and holes on the face), potato peeler (oval or rectangular shaped slot in the face), colander (inner bowl and holes), funnel (inner pipe and conical dish), corkscrew (space around the twisted screw), chinoise (conical inner area and small holes), cheesecloth (gaps in weave), cherry pitter (gap for lever and inner void the size of a spherical nickel), egg poacher (inner dish and holes), egg separator (slots between the spiral cone shaped head), egg slicer (slotted dish and area around individual wires/blades), fish scaler (slots and grooves), flour sifter (gaps in wire mesh and handle lever), slotted spoon (slots), grater (holes and divots), ladle (dish), lemon reamer (grooves), juicer (donuts shaped dish and grooves), mandolin (rectangular slots), pick ( gaps between tines), measuring cup (dish), measuring spoon (smaller dishes) , meat tenderizer (grooves), mortar (dish and miniscule granular divots in base), nutcracker (grooves in head and gap for nut), oven mitt (inner space generally shape of a hand), pastry bag (conical tip), pastry blender (area around each individual blade, ricer (inner scoop and holes on the face), poultry shears (area between blades), roller docker (space around prickly heads), rolling pin (inner hub), salt shaker (holes in face), spider (holes in mesh basket), whisk (area around wire loops), wooden spoon (shallow inner dish), zester (spaces around perforated head)

initially posted February 18, 2014
updated March 22 + March 24, 2014
audio recorded May, 2014
still in construction

research: on the creative practice (list)

Writings and radio conversations that investigate the creative practice and making processes.  Worth further investigation.

The Power of Two by Joshua Wolf Shenk
In Praise of Copying by Marcus Boon
What is Original, TED Radio Hour on NPR
Mapping the Intelligence of Artistic Work by Anne West
Creative Block by Danielle Krysa (the Jealous Curator)
Imagine, How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
Steel Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
Art and Fear: Observations on the Pearls (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles
Education for a Socially Engaged Art by Pablo Helguera

Essay Collections:

EDUCATION: Documents of Contemporary Art published by MIT Press
ART SCHOOL (Propositions for the 21st Century) edited by Steven Henry Maddoff
THE STUDIO: Documents of Contemporary Art published by MIT Press
PARTICIPATION: Documents of Contemporary Art published by MIT Press

For continued research...

list started on May 1, 2014
last updated on July 8, 2014

quietest place (assignment)

The Art Assignment is a really rad weekly video series produced by PBS Digital Studios.  It's a sophisticated, playful, fun program hosted by curator Sarah Urist Green and author/vlogger John Green. The Art Assignment takes you around the U.S. to meet artists and solicit assignments from them that anyone can complete and then post on their website:

It's a genius series (and curiously happens to mirror the model of assignment making that I have in my own studio practice *grin*).  The newest episode really sings to me.

Jace Clayton, aka DJ /Rupture, challenges you to take a walk from where you live and find the quietest place. Once you're there, take it in for a moment and then make a short video or take some photos there.

(The Art) Assignment:  Quietest Place

1. Go outside and talk a walk from where you live or are staying at the moment. 
2. Continue until you’ve found the quietest place possible.
3. Take a moment to absorb it. Then document the place through photography or video. Upload it to your social media platform of choice using #theartassignment.
4. Fame and glory. (Your work might be featured in an upcoming video.)

Artworks mentioned include John Cage’s 4’33” (1952/53) and Charles Baudelaire’s essay The Painter of Modern Life (1863).