Feeling grey

Feeling grey

So today I’m going to be writing about sexuality, and I’m sorry if the article is a disorganized mess (it’s the nature of the beast, I fear). I think a lot of young people can relate to feeling confused about it, finding it hard to talk about, finding that often people just don’t understand. That was definitely the case for me, and I guess I felt lost for a long time without even realising that I was lost. Because I just didn’t know enough to realise.

Back to the beginning then, I guess. I always assumed I was ‘straight’ (read: heterosexual), with a few lil girl-crushes along the way that I kinda grew out of. I guess I always felt a bit of an outsider though.

At 15 all of my friends were starting to have sex, and they talked about it endlessly. I was disgusted. I didn’t understand the appeal. So obviously they talked down to me and assumed I was immature or a little kid or something, which made me feel sad, alienated, and pushed to cut off ties with them. I didn’t think about it much at the time. I just assumed I was the dumb little kid they were making me out to be, because I didn’t know any different.

Fast forward 5 years and I found my relationship of the same length on the rocks. I was growing tired of ‘putting out’. People I knew told me I just had to suck it up. “You don’t deserve to be in a relationship if you don’t put out! It’s not fair on him!”. Hearing it all the time, you believe it. You carry on being unhappy. And my boyfriend decided that my lack of interest must mean I was getting it elsewhere. Because who doesn’t want sex, right?

Scrolling through Tumblr one day, I see a new word. ‘Asexuality’. It was like seeing the world in colour for the first time.

You’d think that would be the end of it, but alas and alack. I still felt alone. It was probably in my head, but the people online seemed to be all “you’re not a good asexual, you have SEX!”, and my friends were all “maybe your bf is just bad in bed!”. People trying to help were just being offensive and hurting my feelings. Having to endure stupid comments from near strangers about how “only people who’ve been abused become asexual” (falls very much the opposite way, in my experience), and “but you wear ‘sexy’ clothes! You must be wearing them for male attention and you definitely can’t just find them cute!”. And the good old “romantic, physical, and sexual attraction all go together – they just can’t be separated!” from heteroromantic heterosexuals who were being plain ignorant and not caring enough to open their minds even a little.

And then one day…a wild sexual attraction appears! We have just lost cabin pressure.

Having to re-evaluate my whole existence for a second time in the space of a few months wasn’t something I was expecting to have to do, and it hit me. HARD. I felt disgusted and physically sick by what I was feeling, and I found myself pushed from an obscure sexuality to the even more obscure grey area surrounding it. And guess what? People understood me even less. Cue “so, you’re straight then”, “grey-asexuality is a thing made up by special snowflakes”, and “that just means you’re picky!”. As if I wouldn’t have given anything to be ‘NORMAL’.

But I’ve come to terms with it now (after a lengthy internal struggle), my other half is more understanding, and my life is going smoothly again (relationship-wise, anyway!). I just wish sexuality was something that was easier to talk about without being judged or dismissed as an attention seeker making up an orientation. And I wish people would make more of an effort to stop being so ignorant and thinking that you must either be straight or gay or maybe in-between. Ignorance is a choice, and we can all do our bit to share our experiences and understanding. Stopping to think about something for a second can make all the difference. It would still be a struggle for a lot of people, but it’d probably make everything a great deal more straight-forward.

I guess there’s a big problem with stuff like this with regards to ‘labels’. They make things complicated. Why can’t we just be who we are; like who we like? But, then again, without them maybe I’d still feel lost.

Abbey Swift


Autism & Creativity


I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I’m also an author. To many, these two things don’t go together. Television has told us many times over that someone with Autism is either a child rocking and humming to themselves, or the little professor type who takes things too literally and doesn’t understand abstract concepts or emotions.

I take things literally, and I often have problems recognizing emotions (particularly my own), but to me Autism and creativity have always gone together. People are scary things you see. They’re loud, and worse, they have all these rules that I’m always breaking. These rules contradict each other, so to me they’re impossible to get right, but to everyone else they make perfect sense.

Always tell the truth. Sounds like an easy thing to follow, right? Wrong, because telling the truth is a VERY bad thing. No one wants to know how big their butt really looks. When someone asks you how you are feeling, they don’t care about the truth, they want you to follow the script and say OK.

In real life keeping up with all these scripts and rules is impossible, and exhausting. But in books things are simpler. Communication is much easier to understand in the world of fiction. The ‘ums,’ and ‘ahs’ are all but gone. The non verbal communication I fail to pick up in real life is pointed out to me. In fiction a twitch at the wrong moment can mean: ‘Ye gads! This guy is hiding something. Could he be the real killer?’ In real life, if I catch the twitch among all the other things going on I think: ‘A twitch – meaning: ???’

Trouble is that in real life the world is a mess of noise, chaos, and boredom. Things don’t make sense. People don’t make sense. I’ve never stopped thinking about the teacher who said I couldn’t walk down a corridor because of a sign. The sign said: ‘No food allowed in this corridor.’ I had no food on me. I walked away with a frown on my face and several scenarios. Technically I was protein based – was I food? Did he suspect my closed bag contained secret hidden food? My latest hypothesis is that he was a power hungry guy who had turned away several rule violators before me, and didn’t want to stop at me even though I wasn’t breaking the rules. Saying that, I’m still puzzling over a decade later.

You see, in my life things have to make sense. I don’t like random. I need to understand, and in fiction this works. Fiction has rules. It’s structured. In fiction people do random things, but if it’s a good book, by the end you have an idea what drove the character to that action.

Autism includes, among other things, processing issues. I spend most of my time in my room. I recently moved to nights at my new job because I couldn’t stand all the constant stimulation that goes with working days. Nights work much better for me as usually my people time is limited. I spend a few minutes talking to fellow support workers, and a few hours with the person I’m supporting, depending on how late they stay up.

Some might say this lack of contact with the outside world is a disadvantage to being a writer. I disagree. One of the reasons I don’t go out much is because everything gets in. Most people filter the outside world. I can’t. And I can’t seem to forget much I’ve seen either. I remember the man years ago who yelled at his three boys outside a train station. How one child kept still as a statue, his face pale and eyes old. How another yelled back just as loud. How the third seemed to hide as best he could.

I remember the look of love on a mother’s face as she talked to her baby in her native language in the hospital waiting room. I remember the apprehension on the face of the pregnant seventeen year old when a group of elderly women started talking to her before her checkup. When they were happy for her and told her she’d do well, she almost cried with happiness. She’d been worried they would criticize her because of her age.

The less I go out, the less overwhelmed I get. The less overwhelmed I get, the more I see. I notice things that others don’t. In a special school I volunteered at, a mostly non verbal child, when startled, once said a spontaneous four word sentence. There were three other adults in the room. I was the only one that heard it.

Most of all I read. I read 62 books last year, and am aiming for at least 65 this year. And this is me out of practice. School was torture for me. So much stimulation, so much of everything. Sometimes I would get so overwhelmed that my senses would shut down. My eyes would go blind, and my ears deaf just to shut things out for a little while.

And then in secondary school I rediscovered books. I’d found them before in primary, but things were stricter then. The adults had certain ideas about what I could achieve as a ‘disabled child,’ and I was discouraged from reading anything above my perceived reading level. I read every single picture book they had, and let me tell you, those things are boring. Sometimes when feeling brave I’d sneak chapter books and hope to get them in my bag before anyone saw, but I was not by nature a brave child. Once I saw a book with such a colorful cover I couldn’t resist. It was a Roald Dahl book, one of the larger ones, and well above my reading level. It was my first chapter book, and it took my eyes a couple of seconds to get used to all the words on the page, and then I was reading. It was like stepping into a circus, all smells, colors, sounds, but exciting and not overwhelming like I was used to. By the time I got back to my classroom I’d read the first ten pages.

I still remember stepping into the classroom, engrossed, and the horrible jolt of the adult’s voices when they realized what I was reading. They sent me back to the library to give back my book. I got a picture book instead. Since then I’ve read every single Roald Dahl book, except that one. I’ve tried, but even as an adult I keep feeling like I’m going to get told off.

Secondary school had no such restrictions. We were allowed two books out a day. Every day I’d go in, read a book at lunch, get out two more for the afternoon and finish them a few hours after getting home. I’d go back in the next day, rinse and repeat. Eventually the librarian started letting me take three out. By the time I’d finished school I must have read thousands.

I penned my first story at five (ironically – before I could really read), but I think reading all those books at secondary school was when I decided to be an author. I started my first novel at thirteen. Since then my life has been words. That’s another reason why I think Autism and creativity go well together: once you find your focus you become obsessed by it. The professionals even have a word for it: ‘subject of interest.’

My subject of interest is writing. I write short, long, and everything in between. My sloooowww reaction and processing times make me a slow writer. Often I only average 500 words an hour, but when it’s something you love, you do it anyway. My current monthly record is 72 thousand words, and I’m still hoping to beat that someday.

Best of all things, Autism gives me imagination. Yup, you read that right, Autism and imagination go together. I’m guessing the thousands of books help too, but when you get down to it Autism is just a way of thinking differently. I don’t have to dig for plot ideas, I have a file of hundreds on my computer. They come to me from dreams, and random questions I ask about the world that few seem to question. ‘What would happen if…?’ ‘Would the world be better if…?’ ‘What would really mess things up…?’

Autism has its disadvantages. I hate surprises, even slight ones. I plan out my day, sometimes to the minute. I like to know what I’m going to be doing a day from now, a week, a month, a year. Yeah, sometimes I over plan. I’ve lost count of how many five year plans I made last year.

I’m in the curious state of being very able in some areas, and very disabled in others. This puts my future in a precarious situation. My years of words and people watching have taught me well. Short term and with the right conditions you’d probably just think I was shy, but every social exchange costs me. I put on a good face, and then I go home and stim, and hum and rock my way back to normal. Once when I was unemployed my job counselor insisted I go to a job fair. Turns out job fairs and Autism don’t mix. I had a meltdown of the likes I have not had since my school years. I shut down, and still don’t remember the next two days.

I have a driving license, but when I started getting so overstimulated driving that I couldn’t stop stimming behind the wheel, and couldn’t function for days after and before a driving trip, I stopped. I have a tablet I take everywhere that has gps (as I get lost even on familiar walking routes), my calender, and other coping applications. This paradox of appearing able and being disabled means I receive no help outside family for my condition. It also means my potential work environments are limited.

Where I work now is pretty much perfect for my needs, but it’s a unique job, and I know from my forward thinking mindset that one day it might change. That’s my last reason why Autism and creativity go together. There are few jobs that would suit me more, or that I love more than being a writer. I keep hoping that if I work my socks off, one day if it comes down to it I won’t have to worry about fitting into a new job, I can just wrap myself in words.

Every week in 2014 I’m putting up a new short story on my website: http://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/ . At the end of the week it gets taken down, published, and replaced with a new one. I’m also editing a novel, writing another novel, and planning a third. I write horror, fantasy, and science fiction. There’s also a zombie novella I hope to finish edits on when I get ahead of the short stories. So have a peek at my short stories, and feel free to ask me any questions over at my website.

I was worried about writing this article, but in the end it was surprisingly cathartic. Hope you enjoyed reading it and learned something about the world of Autism.

by Sam Austin

Interview with Universial Yoga :)

ImageHi Charlotta! Thank you so much for answering questions for us – we’re all deeply impressed and inspired by your work so it means a lot that you’re working with us on this!

So you run a center called Universal Yoga in Camerton outside of Bath  – can you explain a bit more about how you got started up?

Yes, of course, it was that wonderful thing of being completely supported.. My teacher told me unequivocally that I was going to open a yoga centre and that it would be very successful. That gave me all the confidence I needed to get going. I had got divorced so was lonely and needing a project, which helped and I totally believed in the healing power of yoga for myself and my students.

And what kind of projects stemmed from there?

All kinds….TeenYoga, working with kids in schools, teaching them how t o relax and focus using these techniques that I teach and more importantly, I teach kids how to respect and love themselves completely.

Better World Training – a training programme for people at work, in how to work more efficiently and change their attitude towards themselves and their work, using NLP techniques as well as yoga and visualization.

 Yoga Teacher Training – training students to become yoga teachers and updating teachers training.

Retreats – I run monthly retreats on special topics such as positive thinking, or detoxing.. over the weekend, which are open to anyone, even those who have never done yoga.

 Sierra Leone – I also have started working with young people in Sierra Leone, helping them resolve trauma with yoga, a very exciting and rewarding project.

 Yoga Therapy – last year I trained to become a yoga therapist, involving working with specific issues such as bi-polar, PTSD,  stress and anxiety disorders as well as purely physical issues. I work as a yoga therapist for the NHS at Callington Road hospital with those who have been sectioned for suicidal tendencies.


Obviously it was a lot of work and no doubt you faced conflict – what did you struggle with the most?

 My biggest struggle has been to believe that I can carry on, despite very severe difficulties with the council. I always believed in what I was doing and knew it was right and was benefiting so many people on so many levels, not least creating a healthy community for people to rest and recuperate.

Were you ever left feeling totally lost?

Yes ,when the first enforcement officer came and told me to stop all yoga classes, I felt completely lost. I had also broken up with my partner who was helping me and I felt like the walls of my house had tumbled down and I was completely exposed to the elements as I lay in my bed. It was horrendous. I would sit on my sofa and just stare into middle space until the day my son told me he couldn’t bare to see me like that any longer.

Yoga is an incredibly important skill for dealing with anxiety; to what extent would you recommend it for young people dealing with such great change in their lives?

 I think it is a life skill and it is our duty to teach it to our children just as we teach them to wash and eat well.

How can they get involved?

If anyone wants yoga, they can just contact me and I will either try and make it happen in their school or they can come to classes at the centre in Camerton.


Can you talk about a time where you truly felt “found?”

The day my teacher told me he believed in me and when my partner looked me in the eyes and tells me what I am doing is right and good and when I meditate and I see the extent of the work we are doing and the good it is bringing to people.

What advice or encouragement would you give to young people who are currently struggling?

 Find a mentor, someone who will support you all the way and remind you of your strengths and support you in your weaknesses, don’t do it alone.. You are never alone!

 What is an important skill you’ve learned that keeps you going?


Any last words?

Thank you so much for asking me these questions – they have really helped me crystallise things for myself. I wish you all the very best and hope you find your true purpose and that you have the support and resilience to carry it through without selling yourself short!

Thank you so much!!

 Thank you beautiful! :)


Milly Monday


Now before I start writing this and get into my ridiculous life, I should probably follow suit and introduce myself! My name is Milly Cleal and I’ve failed at pretty much everything I’ve ever done educational wise.  I don’t mean “fail” in the sense I have literally failed, but I have let myself down at every hurdle, starting from GCSE’s and following the whole way up. I always had something much better to do than try, whether it be get so drunk I can’t say my own name or spend so much time asleep that I woke up wondering who I was. When I look back a firm pattern of my failure has probably been somewhat related to the various name forgetting situations I have found myself in. My failing trend came to its height when I discovered I hadn’t been accepted back into University to complete my degree. I had told myself that I would try really hard and for the first time I would pass something to the ability I know I have in me but if I’m truly honest, I’m almost certain that this year would have had the exact same ending as every other exam I’ve taken!

When I started University, I started it for the completely wrong reasons! My best friend was attending the same institution, I was bored of my 9-5 job in an underwear shop and most importantly every single “adult” in my life was telling me that was what I should be doing, that university was the only way to get anywhere in life and well, I believed them! So I packed my bags and trotted off to Southampton where I have spent the last 3 years ruining what brain cells I have and making friends with people that realistically I never would have liked in your normal day to day situation. Now it isn’t all doom and gloom, because of this I have made some fantastic friends, managed to find a bloody brilliant boyfriend who has supported me whatever I chose to do and have had what can only be described as some pretty fantastic times, or times I struggle to remember which makes me think they were even more enjoyable.

However, this came to an abrupt end when I got the dreaded “unfortunately you cannot continue with your studies” email around 3 months ago. I have to say that I was slightly arrogant, I truly believed that because I do actually possess some intelligence Southampton Solent would just be happy to have me, despite the fact I have not really put a single bit of effort into anything I have done whilst studying there. I was very very wrong, and they got rid of me as easily as they accepted my mediocre A Level results.

When I got the news I sunk into a sort of job hunting depression, bound to the fact that if I wanted to continue my Southampton life I was going to have to join the real “9-5” world and get a job! After 2 years of drifting and not really caring about what I was doing, I had lost any ambition inside of myself and the drive I had at 19, well that was pretty blurred. I wasn’t fussy and all I could think was “well done Milly, something else you’ve failed at”. So I uploaded my CV to pretty much every jobsite I could think of and applied for every Christmas retail job going. I had no real response and decided to go home and resign myself to the fact that no matter how much I didn’t want too, I would in fact be leaving Southampton. However, once I got home I received a phone call from my now boss who had seen my CV and thought I had “potential”. Now I’ve heard that from teachers/friends/parents, but to hear it from a complete stranger who doesn’t even know you and still wants to invite you in for an interview; well that’s bloody fantastic!

2 months on I am now a recruitment consultant for one of the most reputable companies in the country! I have already had a promotion and am on course for becoming one of those dreadful trainer wearing commuters in the city and you know what? I am so excited about that. I always knew I was good with people and that I wasn’t good at education. I always knew that I liked the idea of money but I didn’t want to waste 3 years of my life studying in order to gain it. I know some people would perceive this as lazy but I just think it’s being honest with myself and it’s something I should have done a long time ago.

If I had listened to myself rather than everybody else then I’d already be 100 times closer to where I now see myself heading! I’m not saying that when I was 6 I dreamt of finding other people jobs in the hope that I would be earning 20% commission on them, I certainly wasn’t dreaming of knocking on companies doors with boxes of chocolates asking if I could pop in for a minute to discuss their recruitment process.  However, I am bloody good at what I do and that’s all I ever wanted. To do something I was good at it whilst making a substantial amount of money!

I know my career doesn’t follow the same artistic path as many people who follow this blog, and many would see my financially driven ambitions as a sell out or a result of our materialistic generation but its’ what I want and as far as I’m aware trying to find out what you want is the whole aim of this site!

My story isn’t particularly moving or even that interesting but I am trying to get across a moral for anyone who actually took the time to read this (and if you’ve made it this far, thank you).

I spent a long time doing what other people wanted because I was under the impression they knew best, when actually what they wanted was the best for me! You must be aware just because someone wants the best for you, it doesn’t mean they know what that is! Looking back, I always knew best and I just wasn’t strong enough to force my convictions onto anybody else; I took a step back from my own life and let other people direct it for me. Which, including the failed exams, the nights I’m glad I don’t remember and the people I wish I’d never met, has ultimately been my biggest mistake. If I had had the courage when I was 19 to say “I don’t actually want to go to university, I am doing this for all the wrong reasons” then maybe I’d of discovered what I was good at a long time ago! I can assure you the feeling of “floating” through life might sound like a dream but in reality it becomes a bit of a nightmare. Losing your direction because you’re too busy trying to force yourself down another route is not only being unfair to yourself, but the mood it puts you in and the way it changes your attitude makes it unfair to other people too! I am lucky I have such a fantastic group of friends, because this time last year I didn’t really deserve any of them!

I think what I’m trying to say is I have learnt  no matter how old you are or what it is that you want, whether that be money or love or acceptance of your art, don’t ever let anybody tell you that it’s not the best thing for you! It took me 3 years, an expulsion from university and £12,000 worth of debt to finally have the guts to say “this is actually never what I wanted, I wasn’t sure what I did want but I always knew it wasn’t this”.

Friday Interview With Eric Yevak


Eric Yevak is a Southern born multi-media artist who currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Yevak’s paintings, films, and sound performances have been exhibited in galleries, museums and institutions across North America

Yevak’s atmospheric works evoke meditative qualities that war between logical systematic progression and rebellion. His work is a belief in struggle as a form of enlightenment. His multi-faceted practice cultivates a sense of surface, texture and tone. Yevak’s pieces act as visual solutions to his own curiosities and meditations on the concept of purity in conflict.

Hey Eric! So nice to have you involved!

Looking at your work has provoked the usual ‘modern art’ discussion here at the Club House. It’s easy to get lost in the ‘What does it mean?’ ‘What’s the artist’s intention?’ ‘Does the artist’s use of blue adequately demonstrate the plight of refugees in modern America?’ kind of thing. Where do you stand on this with the arts? Is it about what it means, is it about what you think it means, or is it about what you like?

The visual arts are much like all the other arts (music, literature, dance.. etc) they all have their own vocabulary and rhythms. And like most things in life it takes time and some effort. When we are young we like a certain kind of music. It’s easy. It’s very appalling. As we grow and mature we often start to like or be attracted to different kinds of music. Music that challenges us, that speaks to our own reality. We may still like the music of our youth, but now we like it for different reasons, or for simply reminding us of the past. Contemporary visual arts are the same way. Its OK to just like something. A piece that speaks to you on a deeper personal level. Someone should never be afraid of that. But as intelligent beings it should be our normal standard to try and figure out why we like or hate certain things. As to the artist intentions. Well I don’t really care. The work I like the most is when the artist is lost, trying to figure out and deal with their own story/struggle. Sometimes the artist doesn’t know what their work really means for years, if they ever do. That being said there are pieces that I really enjoy, that when I find out what the artist intentions are I love even more. There are also pieces where I find out what the artist was going for and I am embarrassed for them. Disgusted. I wish I could unlearn it; it completely ruins the work for me. There is a mystical quality to a lot of art. Where the artist seems to be a conduit to something bigger, something more. Something that seems to touch upon our collective unconscious. This is the work I’m drawn to. There is a lot of contemporary work that is very Meta, which you have to be inside the art world to truly get to really understand the work. Some of that really appeals to me. But a lot of it is rubbish. The best art works on multiple levels and that can take time and effort.


Based on the above, what’s the intention behind your work? Is it tangible, fixed, developing, or private? Is it the intention your work has always had, or have you found it more recently?

My intentions have always been the same. But after years of working and constantly trying to understand my drive to do this I’m just barely starting to understand my relationship with the work. I don’t really believe in tangible, fixed or private. If work isn’t developing it’s dieing. My work is alive and violent. It is hungry and is not my friend, because that is the way I am. Nothing is truly tangible. Nothing can be really held on to, everything eventually slips away or crumbles. This is the root of my work. Finding peace or even losing myself inside the conflict. It is the balance of tension before one side starts to win. It’s enjoying the fight not the result.

 Where did you get the influence for your style?

No one source. I’ve always loved the color field artists, and 60’s American post minimalism.  Islamic calligraphy and South American graffiti hand styles. Religion. Violence and the profane. Peter Saville and joy division. Are all the easy answers. But the truth is all those things mixed with growing up in the southern United States and studying and doing design for years.

Have you ever felt just so completely lost?

If you don’t care where you end up can you ever be lost? Or is that just something I tell myself? I feel lost all the time. But I feel that being able to feel lost is a luxury or even a privilege. There is a freedom in that state. As my friends often joke with me about, I have a hard time with agreeing to a reality. Not I hope in a hippie lazy way, because I do believe in work and struggle. Just the right kind work and struggle. For yourself, not for some controlling power.  I don’t seem to believe what everybody else seems to believe. I need reasons and logic. But my biggest issue is that most people’s logic is built on preconceived ideas, some weird cultural ideology that doesn’t really make sense. I feel like we are trapped in a stupid loop.   I guess I’m not really as lost as I want to be, or I’m so completely lost that I’ve now made it my home.


What did/do you do to overcome it? 

I haven’t

What does the concept of being found mean to you?

Being known completely. Truly inside and out.  Which I believe is impossible barring some kind of a transcendental phenomena.

 How would your best friends describe your work?

My best friends seem to hate my work, or they think I’m pulling off a long con.


How did your beard get so full?

Ha, the action of inaction. Sometimes not doing anything is the best path.  It’s really hard for me. I feel like a shark most of the time, I feel like if I stop moving I will suffocate. But Sometimes non-action or resisting the desire to move is much more strategic in the long run. In this case the desired action of shaving.

What would you tell young artists?

There is no winning. Embrace failure, embrace the fight. Your experience is real and just as important as everybody else’s. If being poor, hungry and scared doesn’t appeal to you. Fine, they don’t really appeal to me either. But where you’re a pussy, I’m not. When you’re going to give up to live a easy safe life, I haven’t. The normal day-to-day world is the enemy. Your job as an artist is to live in defiance of that.


What does the future hold for you and where can we find everything you’ve ever done?

Right now I’m working on a bunch of shows across the US till about the end of 2015. I’m looking for places to show outside the US, like Brazil, Russia and Great Britain. Every mistake I have ever made seems to be all over the internet.


What is your normal working day like?

Well I wake up late every day. Every single day. I live in Brooklyn, but I do some work in Manhattan. I take the train into the city; eat a bagel (and a Pepsi, I know I know) I do some design work for a couple hours then take the train back to Brooklyn. Most nights I train Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. I’m very lucky to be on staff at a great MMA gym. After training for a couple hours I grab some food and head to my studio. I get there around 10pm and stay until 3 or 4am. Which I guess is why I’m always late to my day job.

Any last words?

Stand your ground. Remember there is only perceived

Value. Nothing is real. Satisfaction is the death of desire (I had to do it)


– Chaos is as Chaos does


Chaos is as Chaos does

I believe in chaos; not simply things going wrong but instead things just… going and going and going, regardless. Blips of insignificance that alter between an output of ultimate fulfillment and absolute despair.
We search for ‘answers’ and find only questions.
We search for ‘progress’ with no regard of its meaning.
We search for ‘good’ and are left not with ‘bad’ but with ‘numb’.

The feeling that derives from a life that is so focused on unanswerable questions, the impossibility of progress and the shadowy numb depths of a base between two summits; one of purity and ‘good’ and one of a chewed up ‘bad’ ready to leave you dejected is what I believe causes us to feel LOST.
I feel it everyday and I honestly expect to feel it everyday for the rest of my life.
These feelings are, as I am frequently reminded by a hero of mine, an appropriate response to a fucked up world. Whether it happened in our lifetime or many generations ago… the world has gone to hell. We have confused our ideals. We have a system that can spend more money on killing people than it would take to save them. One that makes lies necessary. A system that takes world events and turns them into marketable entertainment. A world that is so full of answers and double standards that rub off on and change each one of us. I propose that if you lack in the feeling of insignificance, you don’t feel lost with the need to be found and you don’t consider yourself broken at least some of the time… you are, quite possibly, the problem.

However, hope is not lost, we have the potential to love so much…

Some of the negativity is just and I suppose it’s only fair I tar myself too. I haven’t always treated everyone with the respect I should have, I’ve judged others, I’ve objectified women and I’ve spent long periods of my life with hate in my heart, I arrogantly strive for cleverness, I’ve belittled people and I’m selfish. These are a few of the things we must absolve ourselves of. Perhaps then being lost and stuck with your own company wont be so scary and we can bathe in the positivity and self assurance that we are good.

We search for ‘answers’ and find only questions… humility in being wrong is a poison we should all taste.
We search for ‘progress’ with no regard for it’s meaning… there is no final plan or achieved goal that will satisfy you, instead you will grow old with a full list of accomplishments and an empty soul.
We search for ‘good’ and are left not with ‘bad’ but with ‘numb’… I believe that what people are looking for is peace, only then will good, bad and numb become irrelevant words to us.

Do whatever ever you want in this life as long as it isn’t forced on others.

However, much like you, I am just a monkey who learned to speak, experimented with intoxicants and explored my vices with a little too much enthusiasm… I could be completely wrong; this is fine.

– Denning

Friday Erin

01 2012 09 Only an Accident (2)

Erin M Riley is a Brooklyn, NY based artist. She received her MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA and her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her work is published in the February 2014 issue of Juxtapoz magazine, the Annual 2013 by It’s Nice That, and will be in the forthcoming #110 Northeast issue of New American Painting. Her work has been exhibited internationally and nationally, and she has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center as well Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Her work will be on view in February at Space 1026 in Philadelphia, PA, www.space1026.com, and in March at Eric Schindler Gallery in Richmond, VA, http://www.ericschindlergallery.com

2013 04 Ultra Thin

Erin! We love your work and we think you have such a unique and beautiful concept. What sparked your interest in weaving?

Thank you for including my work on your site! I am excited to share it. I started weaving in undergraduate study. I was interested in painting as well as fashion design and textiles, and the weaving class seemed to provide a great knowledge into the structures and materials of fabric. I learned tapestry weaving and that was when I realized I could develop imagery with yarn and have worked in weaving ever since. 

Every single artist we’ve interviewed so far has spoken about the concept of feeling lost. Is it something you relate too and do you think it comes with the artistic territory?

Being an artist is such an abstract idea, especially in today’s world, creativity is somewhat lost, and the idea of taking the time to make things and holding value in your work is hard to support. (when so much today is made as cheaply as possible) So yes, I have felt extremely lost over the years, there have been many times in my life where I was down to pennies, driving to residencies across the country on my last tank of gas, or arriving to exhibitions with a negative balance in my bank account. Being a person who has had traditional jobs, its frustrating to know how much I can’t do simply because I can’t afford it, and if I just gave in to the “job” structure my life might be more cozy. But I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I worked for a while, 4 days a week, and in my studio 3, but I was always distracted at work, thinking about what to make next, or how to get to a residency so I could quit my job. I think being an artist is tumultuous, we have dry spells, we have times when so many ideas come and there is no time or physical ability, but we adapt, and it works for us..

What is the one thing that really gets you through that feeling?

For me is sheer stubbornness, and a slight denial. I have made it this far, and if I just gave up, I wouldn’t have much respect for myself. I don’t need a fancy lifestyle, or “things” and adjusting my expectations of life’s comforts has gotten me through the worst times. For a while I lived in my studio, showering at the gym, eating only cold food until I came by a microwave, haha. It was dark times, but it was one of my most prolific times as well, I only went to the library and read piles of books and worked in the studio. It was an interesting time, but it allowed for extreme self reflection and understanding. It made my work evolve at a rapid pace. And there are so many opportunities for artists around the world, residencies and grants that support the work of artists, my collectors are also amazing and the random emails and mailing my work all over the country gets me through it.

Erin M Riley Profile Picture

What are the frequent challenges you face as an artist and how do you overcome them?

The challenges are the fact that I am my own boss, I set my own schedule and for many years I worked way too much. My new thing is trying to take more time off, its nearly impossible for me to have a life, but I am working really hard at turning my brain off and going home for dinner. Artists are also so many things at once, we do everything from business, pr, photography, website design and maintenance, emails, applications, so having to wear so many hats is difficult sometimes. I try to stay as organized as possible and keep computer work part of a daily or weekly part of my studio practice or else it becomes too daunting.

Your pieces are so striking and reflect greatly upon modern society – what are the main messages that are important to you that you put into your work?

I am interested in reflecting the feelings, emotions and daily imagery of a young woman. I am presenting work that I relate to, and I want to allow women to feel more connected to each other, supporting each other’s sexuality rather than shaming or critiquing it.

Artistically, what does “being found” mean to you and have you experienced it?
In 2010 I was an artist in residence at The MacDowell Colony and it really was the most epic of experiences. I would walk from my studio to my room, through the woods, and lit by the stars, the residency has been around for over 100 years so it made me realize how much support there really is for artists and that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

06 2013 07 Erin M Riley Bruises (3)

We have a lot of young, lost, scared artists reading these interviews – what advice would you give to them, anything you would have wanted to hear back when you started out?

I think the best advice is to be true to yourself and make everyday. Get to know yourself and understand the schedule and environment you like making in, (at night, during the morning, after a walk, etc.) Do the work, allow your work to be seen but also don’t take in too much suggestion in the beginning, so you can allow your unique voice to develop.

Where can we find what you’re doing/ follow you/ buy your beautiful work?
You can always head over to my website www.erinmriley.com, I keep it updated and current, there is a small shop section where I might have things for sale. There is also my facebook page www.facebook.com/erinmrileyart and instagram: erinmriley.
What does the future have lined up for you?
I have quite a bit lined up, I am working on two shows in the spring of 2014, and I will have some pieces in a group show in the summer. I am also in the February 2014 issue of Juxtapoz and New American Painting Northeast issue #110. I am also working on some limited edition small tapestries which will be available through my site and some prints.

Thank you so much Erin! You’re amazing!

2013 08 Blood

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