Self Reveal

If you turn my body inside out, you will see my vital organs, but you might also hear an aria, piercing and sweet.  Since I was 8 years old, I studied classical music, working hard to perfect my head voice, chest voice, and all that lies in between: perfecting and syncing my breathing to a song’s tempo, the tempo to the transitions between my voice, my voice to the pitch, and the pitch to the amount of vibrato. The sound of opera rising up through me and entering the world through my open mouth is incredibly intimate for me. This is why, even after years of expensive lessons, I couldn’t face the intimacy of doing it publicly: it was too private, too personal, and too revealing. When asked to perform, my body twisted into knots; I sweat, choked, vomited, cried, and became so overwhelmed by physical distress that I would lose my voice completely. After months of rehearsing, I could barely muster a hoarse whisper.  

I’m not shy, nor do I have an acute fear of failure in anything other than singing, but the intensely personal experience of revealing the sound that comes from the deepest place inside me causes me the deepest anxiety I have ever known.  In this photo essay, I attempt to illustrate the physical distress I feel when I am asked to perform, as well as how I am beginning to overcome it. I share the pressure I feel not to fail others and myself; performing classical music is intensely revealing and I am slowly learning to conquer this anxiety and turn myself inside-out to share the insides of this alto-soprano.

Artist Statement Project 1

Frosty Starbucks cups with their emblematic green straws poking out are a symbol of tween independence, a fashion statement being made en masse in malls and trendy thoroughfares across the U.S. that says, “look at me, I grew up!”

But like the dreaded plastic grocery bag, plastic straws are well-known to cause harm to marine life such as fish and sea turtles, and add to the towers of plastic that crowd toward our cities from our landfills and clog our oceans.

Like most people, I was ecstatic when Starbucks announced last week that they would be eliminating plastic straws. Some progressive U.S. cities like Seattle and Berkeley and have banned them already. However, many public policy issues have two sides. Disabled activists and their advocates have spoken out against plastic straw bans, asserting that they unfairly discriminate against the disabled, especially those with hindered motor skills for whom drinking from a cup without a straw is not an option. They argue that it isn’t fair that able-bodied people aren’t inconvenienced by the ban, but the disabled will be expected to carry reusable straws with them everywhere they go.

I appreciate the concerns of the disabled but I think people in general have grown too accustomed to lives of convenience at the expense of the planet. Caring for the environment requires that we ALL make some sacrifices – from giving up the shiny green adolescent accessory of choice, to making sure you don’t leave the house without a metal or silicone straw in your pocket.