Last weekend was perhaps one of the most important of my life to date. I’d say it was great and fun and wonderful - and all those things are true - but they also don’t really hit the level of importance that the experience contained within it. On Friday, May 19, I had an art show opening party and book release for Exorcism: Symbols of Pain and Recovery - my latest small book and a new evolution of my practice. This body of work is a byproduct of a deep and deliberate introspective journey to discover, understand, and hopefully begin healing from my childhood religious trauma and what is called Religious Trauma Syndrome, which I received at the hands of evangelical Christianity. The show was made up of 17 ink drawings, all hung in a loosely narrative manner, and the book contains those same images, a couple poems, and a longer written piece about my experience - including some resources that have helped me in my journey.
I was excited to have my show at the Odd Sea in Ballard, WA - a Seattle neighborhood that often wishes it was its own city and is home to the house that inspired the Pixar movie, Up. The Odd Sea is primarily a garage/shop for the designer/fabricator/welder/product developer/gear head/all-around wizard proprietor of the space, but he has expanded it to include a painter’s studio, a ceramics room, and a community/event space with a barbershop out front. Describing it well is… tricky. It’s a special place and I’m happy I got to have my show there.
The opening was on Friday night from 6-9 and it was amazing. The space was full for the duration as so many friends and strangers came to see and talk about the work, share their experiences, have a drink for two, and enjoy time together. On a personal level, getting this work out into the world was important and cathartic in a way that’s hard to put into words, and the fact that I had so many friends there made it that much more powerful and encouraging.
After the opening ended, we moved the work and the hanging walls into a different space in the building to make room for the flea market that would be happening in the main event space the following day. Saturday morning I came in, rehung the work to better fit the new layout, and opened up shop for the flea marketers to come in and experience the show. More friends and strangers came through (I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t deliberately try to invite the people who looked the least likely to be comfortable with the subject matter) and I got to have some more powerful discussions with people. One person in particular was telling me how much the show resonated with them and their Muslim upbringing, which was surprising to me since the work is all very much centered around Christian iconography. It was, to me, one of the most beautiful moments of the weekend.
Once the flea market wrapped up, we shut down for the evening. On Sunday, I came back in to set up and hang around a couple hours for some friends who couldn’t make it earlier, chatting with barber in the front room (who is an excellent person that also cuts my hair), his customers when he’d send them back to check out the work, and a couple strangers who came in off the street. After a few hours, I took down the work, packed it into a gig car, and took it home.
Overall, it was one of the most incredible and important weekends of my life - and well-worth the exhaustion incurred leading up to it. I am so grateful for everyone who came, talked about things, bought things, and provided a welcoming atmosphere for my pain and growth.
I would like to give additional thanks to Jordan Kraft for the incredible photos and to Henry and the Odd Sea for hosting me.