If you are familiar with my work, by now you know it starts with a feeling. We shall call this one ‘Usnea’. What is commonly known as genus of fruticose lichen, to me translates into something more visceral. This fungus redefined itself into an experience. A drawing-in toward something, an allowance for a new way of seeing. What initially seemed to be merely an aesthetic attraction, eventually proved itself to be something more. It showed me something I was missing. Usnea reminded me to be closer, to look closer and to ask darkness its name.

 It wasn’t until researching the lichen that I learned it had a personality — one that could show me something about myself. The lichen is greatly impacted by its environment; in fact it takes on the color of its surroundings. The top is green, or the color of its surrounding flora, and the bottom black. While the green vibrant color is what initially pulled me in closer to this organism, it was the darkness on the back that attracted me the most.

This past year I have had the opportunity to intimately observe my own inner darkness. I began to feel comfortable without seeing, with being in the dark. During this period, my intuition guided me to the things I needed to survive. In my art, this translated into the introduction of color. Color helped me find the strength to respect, love and admire my own dark parts. Similar to the contrast of darkness and light, both sides of the lichen are important. One cannot be appreciated nor understood without the other.

 My hope is we all learn to ask darkness its name, and that we all get to know that name deeply and intimately. That we let go of our fears of being lost, and that we embrace knowing how complex and deep our roots can grow if we let them, if we take care of our corroded soil. Our world has the ability to heal, to grow, but we must all heal as individuals first, each becoming our strongest, best self. Here’s to healing, and to knowing that you are not alone in the dark. You can find me there- if you dare to go .

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