Hey y’all! It’s been a minute. This has been an incredibly dense year and I am proud to say I survived it. I finished my fall semester of my third year in my PhD in anthropology at NYU and I’m tired! Although this was supposed to be the first real “in-person” semester, I must have spent at least half it Zooming in because of how sick I was throughout and how many speaking engagements I was apart of.
When breaks in the academic year come around, I rarely take time to stop and celebrate myself. Instead of resting, I want to go go go and move onto the next thing. In an attempt to really embrace slowing down, resting, and reflecting, I am using this post to stop and celebrate myself and let you all know a little bit about what I’ve been up to this semester.
I took my first solo trip (without the baby) to Seattle, WA for the American Anthropological Association 2022 Annual Meeting where I presented my research and screened my short film An Astrological Diagnosis as part of my work as a SVA/Lemelson Foundation Fellow. Throughout the process of making and presenting this film I have become more comfortable being “out” with my bipolar diagnosis in academic spaces. I felt encouraged that my liv(ing) experience with bipolar is part of what makes me a great artist and scholar.
Mexico (in spirit)
I was SO ready to go to Mexico for the 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) conference where I was to present on a panel titled “COVID and Cripistemology: Disability and Knowledge During a Pandemic.” My presentation was titled, “Pandemic Parenting and Psychiatric Disability: Mad/Cripistemology At The Intersection Of Reproduction And Global Mental Health.” I had been sick for three weeks prior to my flight to Mexico City. I was hopeful that I would recover, but I was coughing, congested, and barely had a voice the day before my flight. Thankfully the conference was accessible via Zoom and I was able to be in Mexico in spirit. I paced myself and took lots of sips of water throughout my presentation. I had someone on standby ready to read for me if I went into a coughing fit, but thankfully it did not come to that!
Artist Advocates in Residency Program
I got an email over the summer telling me I had been nominated for the New Yorkers for Culture & Arts’ Artist Advocates in Residence. It is a five month program with a cohort of four artist-advocates where we meet biweekly and are provided a stipend. I had never heard of this before so I was skeptical at first. I also did not think I was worthy of this nomination.
Given that my work has never fit inside neat categories, I’ve always felt insecure about labeling myself. I would tell myself, “I came to my dance practice late so I’m not a real dancer.” Or, “I taught myself how to shoot and edit so I’m not a real photographer or filmmaker.” I thought, “My political engagement does not look like protesting in the streets or engaging with politicians on social justice issues so I’m not a real advocate.” And the list goes on…
But being a part of this cohort was one of the most rewarding parts of my semester. It was a space where I could meet with other artists and not only share my work, but discuss how the day-to-day minutiae of life, like illness, rest, and parenting, is all part of my advocacy and artistic practice. Every meeting, I came as I was and talked about the aspects of my life that were seemingly unrelated to art and advocacy. It’s been healing to have a refuge from the hyper-productivity and performativity of academia and be in a space that primarily aims to support and encourage me and validate the work that I’m doing.
There is so much more I could talk about (including the bad) but I wanted to stick with highlights. This winter break I am really going to challenge myself to lean into rest (which is SUPER uncomfortable for me!). This means I am going to get into my hobbies, dive back into blogging, and do anything that gets me out of my head and back in my body. Stay tuned!
Image Description: Sitting in the green outdoors, a Black person joyfully throws sheets of paper into the air.