Pai, Thailand

Nestled in the mountains, Pai is one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets. It eloquently intertwines a social backpacking scene with a nature lover’s paradise. Pai has managed to keep the perfect small-town hippie vibe, amidst waves of expats and other travelers flooding Thailand.

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We arrived at Bueng Pai Farm as the sun cast a golden hour glimmer on everything it touched. In this very moment, I fell deeply in love.


The farm lies just outside of the bars and the bustle of town. We specifically searched for housing in Pai that was more authentic, and had less Western comforts then we were used to.

 As we were shown to our bungalow, we walked past banana trees, chickens, peacocks, and rows of fresh vegetables, aloe plants and cattle. We were encased in a simple, and serene way of life. Every morning the kitchen was home to warm tea and coffee; fresh eggs and bananas that were gathered only a day prior. Our bungalow was equipped with simple mosquito nets, a rust orange bathroom and a hammock that overlooked a large pond. I was in heaven. We only had a few days here, but we sure did make the most of them.

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Pai’s innate peaceful ambience, rolling mountainside and Zen aura crafted a perfect setting for some yoga. We woke up early, scooped up our new French friend on the back of a scooter, and eagerly scurried to a neighboring hostel. We arrived a little out of breath, and running a few minutes late only to find out we had been misinformed. The class was three hours later than we thought. Our French friend, Yohann, had never done yoga before and was greatly looking forward to his first class in Pai. Instead of allowing a deep sense of disappointment to bruise our morning, I turned to Adam and said, “Screw it, let’s make the most of it.” We pulled out three yoga mats and co-led my favorite yoga “class” to date. We gently guided each other through a vinyasa flow session, and even gathered ourselves a joiner. The air was crisp, cool and quiet. Our view was farmland, and mountainside. I’ve never felt more connected to my body and to the world then I did that morning.

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Yoga at Deejai Backpackers


After feeding our soul, we needed to feed our bodies. Yohann had showed me a restaurant called Earth Tone only a day prior, however there was a catch. It wasn’t open yet. Eager to introduce Adam to the friendly staff, and organic fresh food we decided to wait it out. What’s the best way to pass the time in Thailand? If you answered “a massage” you’d be correct. We received 30-minute massages, outside, under a tent, with Tiger Balm, and Blue Pea Flower tea for 100 Baht or roughly 3.50 USD. The day so far, was perfect.

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Homemade granola with coconut milk from Earth Tone

 

Earth Tone was open! We took our shoes off (common and polite among Asian cultures), and walked across the bamboo floors to a stretch of restaurant that was built out much like a tree house.  We sat on Thai style cushions and began to search through the extensive, raw, vegan and vegetarian menu options. The entire staff- was female. The entire menu-sourced from their garden out back, or local farmers. I would highly recommend this gem to anyone setting foot in Pai.  

Food, booze, music, and local artisans were all the best of the best that I experienced in all of Thailand. Perhaps my personality lends more towards loving Pai than another’s would; Perhaps I’m a little biased. Be that as it may, I’ll never forget those few simple, perfect days spent in Pai with lovely company.

 

A Dissection of Ethics

It’s been about a year since I started working towards a more eco-friendly art practice. I began creating my own natural dyes from edible sources with the mindset of opening a dialogue.

“The Natural Series” was something that grew as a result of an intersection in my homelife and my creative life. I’m a vegetarian and always have fresh fruits and vegetables in my home. One evening, I started chopping beets for dinner. If you’ve ever cut beets you know they stain your cutting board, your hands and they were my first inspiration to create a natural dye I could use as “paint”. Almost a year later, I’ve discovered an entire range of colors that can be sourced from non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and edible products.

I believe artists have one duty to society;

to create accessible, well-priced, and culturally impactful work.

Working in time where your visual aesthetic is not unique, one has to challenge themselves to create artwork that causes pause, that shakes foundations, and that creates a discussion. I believe that you can create beautiful artwork, however if it doesn’t mean anything, could it ever exemplify timelessness? Appreciating art because it’s beautiful is a formative application. I simply believe there should be more than pleasure behind a work of art. Perhaps your view on that is different, and that’s okay.

With that being said, this past year has brought a wave of recognition and an unexpected shift in momentum in my career. I’m incredibly thankful. Alongside this recognition has come an upswing in commission work. “The Natural Series” has one major pro, and a counteracting con.

Pro- Clients love purchasing artwork that starts a conversation, and that was supplied sustainably.

Con - They fade and color shift a little. There are no chemicals to bond the color to the cotton and therefore the pieces are not lightfast. For this reason…I’ve recently obliged to creating longer lasting works of art… in acrylic.

So where do I stand as an artist if

I’m being recognized for “The Natural Series” focused on environmentalism

but still creating artwork for clients in toxic plastic A.K.A. acrylic.

This is a question I’ve asked myself for a long time. Here’s where I’ve landed.

I can create artwork that causes waves. I can also create artwork that is lovely to look at, without the intellectual burden. I can do both.

I am, doing both.

I will always emphasize the need to push yourself as an artist. I will always hold myself to a higher standard than “pretty”. I won’t turn down clients because they want an acrylic work rather than a piece that made fade and change over time.

Most recent acrylic commission in Gold Coast home of Kira Cole.

Most recent acrylic commission in Gold Coast home of Kira Cole.

Canvas size 60’’ x 48’’ with mural integration.

Canvas size 60’’ x 48’’ with mural integration.

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Modern Women

Writing is not directly correlated to creating visual art for me. They do not intersect. They are two separate practices, two mindsets, and two necessities in my life. While creating visual art manifests as a constant compulsion, writing emerges in moments of heightened emotional stress.

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.” D.W. Winnicott

Both practices allow me to communicate with the world behind some kind of veil. Writing, is much more direct and forces the reader to listen, at the least.

“Heightened emotional stress” - here’s what I mean by that. The last time I wrote for an audience was when Trump was elected. I tend to hide my writings; I keep them tucked away for the sheer act of doing it is enough for me. So…here’s my current state of heightened emotional stress, I’m getting divorced.

This post isn’t a sob story of my life, how I got here, and where I’m going. It isn’t a self-help guide to getting divorced in your late twenties. This post isn’t for me.

This post is for you. Yes, you. The person reading this out of sheer interest in my personal life. The person who has noticed a shift in my behavior, social media posts, and overall demeanor but haven’t had the care or concern to ask how I am.


Modern women….specifically, listen up.

Let’s stop chastising her for doing what she needs to survive the circumstance you’re too self-involved to ask about.

Let’s stop talking about her behind her back.

Let’s stop having an opinion unless you know the entirety of her situation, (which I guarantee you do not).

Let’s stop giving her your opinion, unless she asks.

Let’s stop judging how she decides to heal.

Let’s stop assuming your way of moving through a difficult situation is the same as hers.


I have never made a more difficult decision in my life.

I have never been so disappointed with the women in my life, “friends” and family.

I have never fully opened up about my past, because you don’t have any right to it.

I have a great group of humans around me who have shown me exactly who they are, and what I mean to them.

I have focused my attention on my career in the midst of an emotional hurricane.

I have found mental clarity.

I have rebuilt things I lost.

I have reestablished a sense of self.

I have, most importantly…kept my shit together.



So here’s to you, human reading this (or maybe you’ve fucked off by now),

Grow up. Be a better woman, a better friend, a better family member. Stop gossiping like a teenager and just fucking ask. Support fellow women in whatever journey they’ve chosen for themselves. She knows herself better than you do, she has put a lot of thought and time into her decisions. Support them.

That’s all for now folks.

(until the next state heightened emotional stress)

Britni.






Emotional Nutritional Deficiency

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Explorations in Self, Photograph & Cosmetics Installation 2013

Writing about personal creativity and giftedness, and it’s correlation in a dissonance to society seems so self-indulgent. However, I think perhaps it’s the only way to fully understand the way I function. I need to explain it to myself, in words, in order to grasp it. The emotional swings of a creatively gifted individual is staggeringly polar. It seems however that no one discusses it?

Many people hear the word “gifted” and feel what? Envious? That’s a myth I’ll debunk right now. Creative and gifted minds do not think on linear paths. Our minds wander furiously, asking ourselves “What if…”. We constantly struggle to squeeze ourselves into a perfectly categorized box society deems us worthy of being in. However, the issue is we will never fit into one, square box. We are frequently viewed as dismissive because our minds travel to a far off land of endless possibilities, while most of the time the person we are talking to is stuck in the present and the concrete. We hate authority and rules because they zone us. We are intensely curious and overly sensitive to pretty much everything. My sight, sound, tactile sensation, and taste are incredibly elevated, and trust me that’s not always a good thing. We need frequent solitude but are afraid to spend time alone in our own thoughts. We have extraordinary abilities AND deficits. We struggled our way through school, bored and out of touch with the other children and even teachers.

There is a strange misconception that lack of interest, means young gifted or creative students are disciplinary nightmares. Wrong again. We just don’t care about your down to earth explanations for things. Our heads are in the clouds exploring the new and exciting possibilities that this thing called life has to offer. 

This "giftedness" and hypersensitivity has adversely affected my life as a grown woman. 

The one place I’ve found solitude, is my artwork. This was a later discovery. Sure, my creative interests were always present, but the emotional stability found inside the production of artwork came later. I’ve struggled on and off for years with bouts of depression and intense anxiety. What many people fail to acknowledge (including the people suffering from these sorts of disorder) is that treating depression and anxiety in creative individuals differs from the traditional treatment. Depression in gifted creatives is the result of an emotional nutritional deficiency.

In a world built for commerce and financial dependency, I am finding it’s increasingly difficult to feed my well-being with emotional connections of other gifted creative individuals, consistently. This leads to highs and lows in emotional stability, which is again….a very dangerous game to play. 

DisorderGiftedAnxietyCreativeDepression; all words that hold some sort of negative stigma SOMEWHERE in society. That’s annoying. Self-awareness is key, but it makes for treacherous waters. Finding yourself, and being happy with what you find are two extraordinarily different things.

Happy self-discovering. 

Anderson Center Residency

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"Cherry Red"

Cosmetics on paper, Sept. 2015

There is a misconstrued idea that a residency has a sole purpose; which is to cultivate the personal work of each individual artist. I’m here to prove otherwise. My time here at The Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN has been one of the most incredible months I’ve had in a long time. Creatively, socially, intellectually I’ve grown on so many different levels.

My time here is quickly coming to an end, as I pack my things and prepare to drive back to Chicago tomorrow. I woke up this morning, and after eating breakfast, and I sat. I sat in the library while the yellow sun warmed my face. There was a slight chill in the air, as we’ve watched a warm summer disintegrate to fall. My hands were warmed from the coffee while my heart felt saddened to leave this lovely place. I sat in reflection, pondering what this place has provided for me: delicious home-cooked meals, free laundry service, a beautiful early 20th century home, studio space – mind space… freedom. Most importantly, it cultivated community.

Perhaps for the other’s here, community wouldn’t be considered the most significant part of this journey, but for me it’s become obvious it’s the reason I was so creatively successful. I cannot stress enough that we all need the feeling of acceptance. In small pockets of creatives we finally feel, after an eternity of meandering through life- accepted.

Here, we became a closed community for a month. We shared what we could with our loved ones in efforts to explain this extraordinary experience. I believe we often fell short. Stories of experiences only provide so much insight to the truth inside this old house. While I’m saddened my loved ones will never fully understand what this month has been for me, I’m delighted to know, their incomprehension was a partial necessity of this process. Exclusion of the outside world allowed us to turn our focus inward on each other and on ourselves.

A residency should provide a rounded, enlightening experience full of prolific fundamentals. Time, space, food, and shelter, they are all a given. Community, unspoken understanding, intellectual discovery, and interdisciplinary exchange, those are not a given. I’ve found The Anderson Center has provided all of that, and more. I’m incredibly thankful for the generative time I’ve spent in rural Minnesota.

Residencies are not just about the artist as individual. They speak to the larger good of the creative community and attest to obligatory exchange of ideas. Allowing ourselves to believe otherwise is a gross misconception.

 

Sept. 2015 | Red Wing, MN | Anderson Center for the Arts