KAIT MAURO

Being An Artist

Labor Day Weekend

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Things are looking up, but it might just be because it's Labor Day weekend and I get Edward home for three days straight! We'll see how I'm feeling on Tuesday when it's back to real life. Here are a few more photographs from the safari park Mackenzie & I visited a few weekends back.

Yesterday my mother-in-law visited and we were ALL so happy to see her! Sam & Lena when nuts when she showed up! Also she & Beatrice were instant friends - I started jokingly calling her the cat whisperer because Beatrice took to her so quickly. We went to the Montgomery Art Museum & ate a lot of vegetarian sushi & went to the dog park so she could see what it was like to run around with Sam & 20 other friendly pups. It was a wonderful day. I was sad when she left to go back to Birmingham, I hope she comes back soon. I got to show her Edward & my wedding photos, which was a really wonderful moment become when we first kind of "eloped" she was not thrilled about it. But we've been married for almost 2 years now & I think she has grown to love me.

Finding My Tribe

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For a long time now, I'm been wanting a tribe of woman friends - and I feel like I am beginning to have one. They don't all live in the same city as me - but we all have something in common. Mackenzie & I met on an app while I was living in Birmingham looking for models while going through a fashion photography phase. I was anxious about losing her when we moved to Montgomery in May but she's come to visit me pretty regularly. Last time she visited we went to Alabama Safari Park. Last time Edward & I went to a Safari park in Georgia (my first time at one) the petting zoo part made me cry because all of the animals seemed so trapped & miserable, but this one was different. There was also a massive aviary with lots of parakeets in in that you could feed. Mackenzie has such a soft spot for animals. She's a bit wary of cats, even Beatrice, but she loves Sam to pieces. She likes his nickname, Moose, because that was her animal name at summer camp once as a child. Also, how could anyone not love Sam?

Another woman friend I have in my tribe is Jessica. She was the first friend I made in Birmingham. I haven't seen her since I moved to Montgomery but we still text sometimes and she always has the best things to tell me. Jessica is my spiritual friend. She recently texted me a book recommendation & we talked about starting a little two person, over the phone book club. She's a blogger too, which is how we met (at the one & only blogging meet-up either of us ever attended) and spent a ridiculously kind amount of time trying to help me figure out what my blog's problem was when it was at artistashuman.com and glitching out. She's wicked smart and also loves animals & plants & has the most beautiful, easy-going style I have ever seen.

I meet them in unexpected places. I met a woman named Jessie at the dog park on Sunday and we hit it off so she & her dog, Pig, came over to our house for like 5 hours yesterday and we just talked & talked & talked while Sam & Pig played. It was amazing! I've been so isolated since I moved to Montgomery - I've literally said to Edward, "How can I find another woman friend who doesn't work during the day to spend time with me and is understanding of my anxiety struggles? How do I even begin to look for such a person?" Then appears Jessie. I feel like I almost willed her into being lmao. Her man is in law school (read: busy like Edward), she LOVES dogs & is super intuitive about them, she doesn't work right now because her anxiety is also through the roof & SHE NEEDS SOMEONE TO HANG OUT WITH DURING THE DAY OR ELSE SHE'S KINDA TRAPPED AT HOME - sound familiar? 

We all have mental health struggles in common, all of the women in my little spread out tribe. And a love of animals. There's something about us that just finds & understands each other because of it I think. There's some kind of magnetism between those of us who have brains that don't function quite along the rules they are "supposed to." Maybe it's because when the rest of the world is telling you to just "not be" depressed or manic or anxious or "too much" or whatever it is, and you meet someone who knows those feelings & can relate to them instead of trying to just tell you to basically "pull yourself out of it," you feel seen. We recognize each other. We find each other.

A Room To Be An Artist

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After experiencing having my first designated "studio" room as an artist, I don't think I can ever go back. Having a designated & private place to work & create makes my artistic practices feel more legitimate - it makes me feel more like an artist. Before I had a studio, when I'd just work in bed or on the couch or on the floor, I was always distracted by other things that needed to be done. While I was trying to write a post or edit images or collage or whatever my artistic practice entailed that day, I'd be constantly reminded of the other responsibilities I had. I could see the dirty dishes in the kitchen, the laundry on the floor, the floors that needed to be swept, the bedding that needed to be washed.

A Universe For Us / A Ritual Completed

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We did the recommitment-style ritual in the little "universe" I created for us on Saturday. We repeated our vows from our wedding, we read each other things we'd written for each other about our love, each other, the struggles & surprises our marriage has survived so far - it was all very sweet & full of love & made me so giddy. I wish it had lasted longer.

At the very end Edward put an opal ring on my finger. I still love my original engagement ring but it's rather delicate & I wanted something sturdier I could wear around without worrying about losing something emotionally irreplaceable if a stone fell out. Here's what Edward had to say about my idea to use opal as the stone for this new ring:

A Universe For Us / Process: Part 3

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Yesterday was a victory-frustration-victory-frustration day of creating a universe. I started out by hanging the lights, creating the stars, behind the center of the universe. It took me much trial and error to get that part to look how I wanted. It actually didn't end up being how I envisioned - creative endeavors almost never do - but it turned out better than my original idea would have turned out. It's the part of the universe I am most proud of so far: the constellations.

A Universe For Us / Process: Part 1

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I had the idea that, since we’d been going through a rough patch, Edward & I should do some kind of re-commitment or vow renewal ceremony. Edward was open & responsive to the idea - though he’s virtually always exhausted from being overworked at the hospital these days, so most of the planning & ideas were going to be coming from me. The first day I spent time thinking about what we should do, how we should celebrate our love in a ritual once more & celebrate it’s endurance through the rough times, I felt overwhelmed by my own lack of creative ideas. I knew it was a stupid thing to beat myself up over, but I used it as another weapon against myself. I thought, “If I were more like this person I admire, I’d be coming up with something wonderful...” I thought, “If I were a real artist, a truly creative person, I would have more ideas about this.”

What Bloggers Like Me Are Supposed To Write, Then The Truth

Being An Artist, Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

On Friday morning I learn I've gotten a grant I applied for - a photography grant having to do with reproductive rights! It is my first real grant as an artist & I am so excited I almost cry. I am floating around for a while after that news. But then the anxiety returns & I spend most of the afternoon giving my aquariums a very thorough cleaning and fixing the issues with the water so hopefully my fish will stop dying. It makes me really sad when one of them dies - I feel incredible guilt.

Now that I'm done being a good blogger, summarizing a week in my exceptionally dull life up with pretty words & photographs for you, here are four truths about my life right now:

  • I feel invisible.

  • My throat hurts from screaming.

  • Sex feels like abuse.

  • I want to disappear but I've cleaned the house instead.

8/365: Lena & Sunshine In What Will Soon Be My Artist's Studio

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Those french doors lead out to the deck/backyard.

Today ended up being mostly driving to Montgomery and back to Birmingham again. I enjoyed it though because I was listening to "Nobody Belongs Here More Than You" by Miranda July (and also, happily, narrated by Miranda July) while I drove. I have a poor memory so I can enjoy books I love over and over if I just wait a bit in between reading/listening to them, almost as if they are new to me all over again. I could not tell you how many times I've read this book. I've had a copy since the end of high school, so for at least 8 years.

Edward and I each took our cars - we got all of the balcony plants moved (except the few I gave to my sweet, soon-to-be-ex-neighbor, Kim, who I am going to miss). We got all the remaining indoor plants (though my giant peace lily looked pretty rough after the car journey, here's hoping it recovers) except for 3 in the bathroom (2 vining pathos & a pearl fern) and an orchid, my favorite so I need to be very careful moving it. We also got all of our framed art off the walls and moved. Edward packed up most of his clothing and that is now moved too. We bickered a little bit once we both got the the new house and were walking around after unloading the things about which room should be the bedroom, the living room, etc but it wasn't hostile, more just logistics and trying to figure out where things will best fit and what would be the best use of the space with our furniture.

Tonight my job is to pack up all of my clothes and things in that category - except what I've put in the suitcase to wear tomorrow, Sunday & Monday. The plan is to move all of that tomorrow, along with whatever else we can fit into our cars (probably kitchen stuff/dishes) when we both drive down to Montgomery again to A) move more stuff & B) leave Edward's car there so he can drive the moving truck we SHOULD have on Sunday. The truck company took my reservation earlier this week - they said I'd hear from someone on Saturday. I thought this meant we wouldn't actually know if the truck was available until sometime on Saturday (remember, we are planning on doing the final haul on Sunday and there is no way we are getting our furniture in our cars - truck is necessary) so I was anxious about it. I called today to see if they had any more information for us yet and the woman on the phone said we'd definitely have a truck Sunday, it's just a matter of which location we'll be picking it up at in Birmingham. I hope she's right.

7/365: First Glimpse of Our Very Soon-To-Be Home

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When I woke up this morning, I wasn't expecting to drive to our new home in Montgomery & back, but after packing up most of my indoor plants in boxes (some of them also protected by plastic grocery bags), I began to worry that they wouldn't do well in there until Saturday - so off to Montgomery Lena and I went. When I was in my college years, I'd drive 12 hours from Saint Louis, MO to my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA a couple of times per year, usually in one long trip. Today driving 2 hours each way to Montgomery and back has left me quite exhausted. I don't know how I used to do it. Anyway, today's 365 picture is of Lena with all the houseplants I moved (as many as would fit into my little Kia Rio) in the dining room area of our new home. She seemed to like the new place.

Also, the smaller room with the better lighting (as opposed to the bigger room with less natural lighting) was actually bigger than I remembered and I think it'll make the perfect little artist studio for me. I'm very excited to have a little room of my own to call my studio & work in. So the studio room has been decided upon.

4/365

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I didn't start of with the idea of making a long exposure photograph, I was just playing around and decided to try a few and was fond of this one. The photo below is a little closer to the concept I had in mind for the 365 project today - but I decided to go with the one above as my official 4/365 photo. So far in this 365 project I've been in 4 out of 4 photos. I'm not committed to it being a year of portraits - I don't have a list of concepts I want to try, I just shoot what I'm feeling like shooting each day, depending on what the day presents to me. I like that better because it makes the 365 more valuable to me because it's not just that I have to photograph everyday, it's also kind of a diary of the vibe of (at least a small part) of everyday of my life for one year.

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3/365

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This is me with my best Birmingham friend, Mackenzie, who I actually met on Tindr when I was going through my fashion photography phase in October 2017 & was looking for models. We quickly realized we had SO MUCH in common & really jelled. I’m so grateful to have her in my life & so honored that she let me photograph her for the first time today (she’s quite camera shy). We bond a lot over how much we love dry shampoo. Edward & I will be moving from Birmingham AL to Montgomery AL one week from today - but Mackenzie promises she’ll come visit.

Some photos from shooting with Mackenzie that didn't make the 365 cut:

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2/365

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I talked Edward into letting me take some photographs of us today - here is one of them. I'm so crazy about this husband of mine. I'm 5'7 and he's 6'4 but I don't know if our size difference is obviously visible in this photo.

1/365

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I've decided to attempt the 365 project again (it's a thing where photographers try to take and share at least 1 photo everyday for a year or other types of artists do the same with their chosen medium). I've tried it several times before and never gotten past around day 40 or 50. I started yesterday, so this photograph is from then.

I laid in a park near our apartment in Birmingham everyday for four days straight. It was so relaxing and good for my anxiety. Sometimes I'd have human company, sometimes I wouldn't, but I always had Lena with me. She loves rolling around in grass and quietly warning me of potential "enemies." As you can see from this photograph, I missed the back of my thighs with the sunscreen on the 4th day & my best friend didn't do well applying it to my back. I'll be avoiding the sun in the near future but I'll become friends with it again once these burns heal, and I'll be more careful about the sunscreen going forward. I didn't get burnt the first 3 days, just the 4th day. I learned a lesson. Edward has been very sweet and has been rubbing aloe vera gel into my burns frequently.

Goodbye To You & The Storyline You Came From

Being An Artist, Journal, The Healing WorkKait Mauro2 Comments

This bracelet was given to me during a very low, broke phase in my life, right before my bipolar was diagnosed, by an older man who wanted to pay me to have sex with him (I didn't take him up on his offer). He left the price tag on when he gave it to me - it said it cost almost $400. I'm skeptical that it was the actual tag that went with the item though. I never wore it because I felt like it had bad karma attached to it. I should have saged it before giving it to my friend, Mackenzie, here in Birmingham.

One Regret I Have

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I wish I'd majored in art or art history at university instead of women, gender & sexuality studies. WGSS felt like a passion when I was 19 but by the time I was close to finishing my degree I was absolutely burnt out on it (and academia in general). Maybe the same thing would have happened with art, but I feel like it would have suited me better, looking back. Luckily I have A LOT of free time on my hands right now, and I most likely will continue to have a lot of it in the future, so I came up with a little plan: I am going to do my own little version of art school on my own. I'm going to learn all about art history, I'm going to try new artistic mediums, I'm going to read and watch and listen and look and learn.