Stephanie Mei Huang
01 Object (new): a new object that held significance
I am finishing up a series of nine paintings on basswood. The panels are 14.5” squares - the last piece I worked on before this series was an installation with a 20 ft x 30 ft bulk overhead feeder that holds 28 tons of food. I thought, surely, I must be able to hurtle through paintings this intimate in scale - yet working so much smaller has proved to be incredibly challenging. For me, small decisions have always proved more adverse than large ones.
02 Object (old): an old object that took on new/different kind of meaning
I gave my sweet dragon tree to my friend Matthew. I am about to leave Marfa for Los Angeles for an MFA program, and he just bought a house here, so it felt only fitting that as a housewarming gift, he keep a plant that I had repotted multiple times and spent years nurturing. Embedding a new space with objects that are tokens of the ritual of daily care and friendship feels important.
03 Utility: describe an occasion when you felt useful.
My friend and weaver Elizabeth needed to transport her loom. She asked to use my truck because she didn’t want to ask a man with a truck for help. It’s nice to know I can offer that just by owning a truck.
04 Story: What’s the best story you heard?
Etel Adnan’s “Notes on Weaving,” a series of ten letters about a weaving course at an American college to a friend, first published in 1972. Such a wonderful lens to examine the immaturity of America as a country.
05 Nature: An encounter with the natural world
- A leech that almost got me in a swimming hole.
- Starchy yucca blossoms in Mexico - feeding blossoms to Emma and Rae.
- Hummingbirds on Travis’ porch.
- Cactus blooms at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute.
06 Minor secrets: Describe something you did in secret.
Decided my move out and moving dates. Booked flights around those dates.
07 Proportion: A specific moment that reminded you of the scale of the universe; that you are part of a greater whole
In Marfa, we live an hour from the Mexican border. Across the border, on the opposite side of Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend is this sleepy canyon town with swimming holes and a creek that runs through San Carlos canyon into an arroyo. I went twice this month. It’s easy in a town as small as Marfa (population: ~2000) to magnify triviality, but the size and beauty of a canyon is a gratifying, welcome reminder of one’s smallness. I relish any sort of natural space that renders every thought insignificant.
08 Culture: A list of front-burner interests from the last month
I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about the siloing of the art world. So much of my practice is a conscious dedication to the accessibility and digestibility of art.
- The Death of Alt Weeklies podcast by carla (contemporary arts la)
- Duty Free Art by Hito Steyerl (thinking about the morality of digital technology - steyerl articulates the plights of our time unlike anyone else, great for Walter Benjamin fans.)
“besides the international biennial, duty free art storage is probably the most important contemporary active form for art. It’s like the dystopian backside of the biennial, at a time when liberal dreams of globalization and cosmopolitanism have been realized as a multipolar mess peopled with oligarchs, warlords, too-big-to-fail corporations, dictators, and lots of newly stateless people”
snack: Iced matcha with topo chico. Grainless carrot/chickpea flatbread with cultured vegan butter.
09 What was missing last month?
for the past few months, I’ve been working on a lot of commissions and tying up loose ends before I move from to LA - it’s felt too long since I’ve been able to produce art that feels autonomous. I’m really looking forward to and feel so lucky to soon have two full years to do so in graduate school.