This piece is about how our love and passion and true, yearning hearts are indelible, unsurrendered.
I had no idea when I started it how it would be transformed by fire. I was already so desperately, wildly grateful to be here, to have escaped the unbearable precarity and pressure of Bay Area living.
“I feel like we were pulled from a burning building”, I wrote in my journal just two weeks before the Ghost Ship fire.
There has been a terrible tragedy in the artist community in Oakland. We lived there for years, and it could have been any of us, or any of our friends, any time.
The situation is devastating and unbearable. We could barely save ourselves from it; we needed every ounce of help our community could give to get to a far safer home in Germany. And yet all the strength, all the great love in my heart, is bound up with our loved ones there, and I yearn to see them safe too.
I made this heart and frame and framed two others while I was thinking about that fierce love we have for each other and our work.
It is a prayer that we can fight to keep doing what we must, despite the election results, despite everything. A prayer for our community to find the strength to keep going in the new USA.
The Oakland Ghost Ship Fire is a synecdoche. It is what it is, and it is everything about the life of artists in the United States.
The older generation of artists and musicians is dying at a shocking, anguishing rate this year.
We must save every single one we can of the new generations. All I can do is help you with bureaucracy if you move to Berlin- but I will help with that! Come to our house for a moving-to-Berlin workshop on New Year’s Day, if you’re in Germany for CCC.
People are creating fantastic tools to help people take action to become safer in DIY spaces. These tools are priceless.
Please remember, though, that the disabled, the disenfranchised, the traumatized, the depressed, the sick, are limited in how much they can use tools.
We do our very best, always; we’re exhausted, not lazy.
Those who are feeling stronger can help by setting up support teams and buddy sessions to facilitate making spaces safer.
It’s always easier to deal with someone else’s problems; make a commitment to help a friend go over their space for risk factors. Ask a friend to role-play negotiating with a scary landlord with you. Form a triad of mutual support and meet weekly with two friends to work on your safety action list.
Understand that those who are fighting daily to survive need help to do anything more than they’re already doing.
“People will always seek what spaces like Ghost Ship offer,” Aaron Muszalski, an artist who has spent the past two decades living and working in warehouses across the Bay Area. “What we need are solutions that don’t seek to eradicate these spaces, but which allow them to come safely into the light and support them economically in becoming safer and more accountable — something that is impossible so long as we pretend they don’t exist.”
-Aaron Muszalski interviewed in The New York Times.
The YouCaring fund for the survivors and families of the fire victims.
Ian Baker’s fire and emergency safety for warehomes post.
Gui Cavalcanti’s guide to fire safety in industrial spaces.
Gabe Meline on KQED, It Could Have Been Any One of Us.
About the human beings lost, and why they chose to be there at that moment.
I copied the idea of making a frame from a candy-box heart lined with velvet from my beloved friend-muse-Patron Monique Motil. She does it with far more richness, beauty and mystery than my little attempts; you can see her mandala-form meditations on love and death in heart-shaped boxes here. I find them deeply consoling and spiritual.