zipper erge

erge like a zip copy

When I really need to fix a problem, I make art. I always know if I am avoiding problems, or am unable to find appropriate solutions because I make very little.

Over the past few weeks I have had to really force myself to create, because my mind has been fixated on trying to understand the source of a problem. Although my production hadn’t stopped completely, I felt like I was making nothing… not even headway.

As a strategy to force myself to problem solve, I went to a store and bought a really nice visual diary, and in this, I have been attempting to get myself into a habit of drawing regularly. Over the past few years I have been feeling quite stink about my drawing skills. I have always been a really good drawer but my digital practice has had a negative impact on my confidence to draw. One of my earliest memories was of drawing the album cover to Xanadu. I think I was about five, and I recall the drawing being a very close replication of Olivia Newton-John on an art-deco-disco podium. I loved that movie and the soundtrack. I always used to daydream a Xanadu reality, with me roller-skating and singing through the streets of Los Angeles.

I know that I am a particularly good drawer, but drawing takes patience, and I haven’t really had the time to be patient with drawing media, nor myself. My Creative Practice PhD is the space I have created for myself to enable me to re-hone my skills. From my perspective, drawing is a skill. People believe it is a talent, and I agree that some people do indeed have an aptitude for being awesome drawers. However, good drawing is simply a matter of being observant, and training to ensure that the hand matches what the eyes can see.

I am not yet feeling confident to draw from observation again as I used to. For the moment, I am investing time in working with lines. Line is a basic element of design. What I have been doing lately is engaging in a process where I draw lines which evolve into abstractions. I enjoy drawing in an abstract manner because it helps me find a meeting place between my left brain and my right brain. I take the time to focus on line, then tone, and then color. It has helped me slow down enough to start tackling a solution the problem I mentioned earlier. It has most definitely worked because my productivity has increased again, and as well as creative writing and abstract drawings, I have completed three video works (I am teaching myself to use Adobe Premier Pro), and one still digital image. During this time I have also been thinking through my research a lot. It is good to be feeling competent again.

Perhaps I will start to make observational drawings again in a week or two. I know that if I encounter a barrier when I try to draw something accurately, it will put me off, and I will give up. This is why I have been feeling stink about my drawing skills, because over the past few years every time I have tried to draw something, I haven’t been able to resolve it. I am slowly getting my drawing confidence back. Being a skilled drawer is a very core aspect of my identity, so not feeling able to draw has contributed to a huge feeling of loss within my inner-being.

I just ate a really yummy bagel sandwich and as I look out the window of this studio in Davis, California, I see a very hot guy wearing glasses riding by on a tricycle. There is a broom sticking out of the basket on the back.

Today, my friends who I am staying with, had to go to San Francisco early in the morning as one of them is having her knee replaced. It is something that has been getting deferred for a number of years, and they have both been very nervous. In order to give them a hand, I stayed behind so that I could take their son to school. He has ancestry to the tribes of people at Pitt River, and will turn six in a few weeks. In order to get him to school I had to drive. Even though I have driven on the right-hand side of the road in the US before, and also from Amsterdam to Hamburg in Germany, I was feeling very nervous. Perhaps because I have been entrusted with their son. I am very good with children. I love kids. I can identify with their wairua. Anyway, I was so focused on making sure I stayed on the right-hand side, that I got us lost. He was about thirty minutes late to school. We had to go to the office to get him a late note.

American schools seem quite different to schools in Aotearoa/New Zealand, but like all schools they operate as the places where young people learn the rules they must adhere to in their broader social settings. Schools have a hidden curriculum that subliminally internalises governance structures within our youth. Schools are the reason we ‘know’ our place in the pecking order.

I often did not ‘know’ my place in school, and throughout my schooling rebelled against being made to conform. Being an Indigenous minority in a racist colonial environment made me hypersensitive to the ways that people, including teachers, would attempt to marginalize me. I often fought back against entrenched stereotypes. However, by the time I got to the end of my high-schooling, I had given up the fight, and I stopped engaging. I think a lot of people from my past would be surprised to find out I am a highly qualified and prolific artist/academic.

I also think I dreamed of a guy that I had a crush on in high-school, because I keep encountering him in my thoughts today.

I am eating a delicious nectarine.



Night time beckons as the sun sets; it’s semi-permanent, like a purplepink rinse….inset to black back to back night and day, it’s time to play.

I dunno, but that’s the time for me I think. Blink and you’ll miss it for sure.

I like the verge of the horizon, rising stars fading into a sparkly glitter that pulsates pulsars and quasars, planets colliding into my open eyes that see nothing but imagine what I conjure into tomorrow.

I had this dream the other night. It was weird, lots of zombies eating each other’s flesh, enmeshed in a feast of corpses clamoring for the chance to survive again, dead. I woke up thinking to myselfishmess, “what the fuck Tran?” I spent my waking moments trying to backtrack into dreams of something less like shredded dread…but I couldn’t get the smell of rotting out of my closed eyes. There’s sometimes no goodbyes, just a forward meander into a slumber-filled waking daze.

But yah, being back in the village I am missing my night-time hikoi on the sand meets the moana…a boy and her poi…flick flick flick my wrists into some thumping beatz….they’re eating away at me; leaving my soul bared to the wind that rips my skin into neatly folded retrofittings that I used to wear, but are no longer the fashion.

Fusion of yesterday and next year, that’s the shit betch!
It’s funny to think that I couldn’t even spin my poi a few months ago, and yet now they’re like the spider’s limbs that weave me believing in living again. And again, I have to confess that it all has been happening under the cover of darkness. It all hearkens back to the days when instead of walking the beach, listening to the glissando of the waves that crash passion into my gliding arms as they play the music of the moana, I instead rode my bike into the drunken roamings of “something is definitely up with than blimmin kid …we should’ve sent him to boarding school in Auckland.”

I kid you not. It’s a whole other rhythm these days and to be honest, even though I think I can figure the configured rising pitch and fall from grace, I can finally keep the pace, maker of the olden days before I lived this life I have now, when the world was all steaming mudpools, waka taua spinning mere slicing carcasses of their necessary components; a new moment in time.

Today I am getting really good at the poi.