I lived on a farm in the late 80’s. Skamokawa Washington population 250. I have an entire art project devoted to this – my feelings at the time – the family dynamic that existed, and how certain secrets shaped me. The project is a short film trilogy with installations recreating aspects of the farm, and holograms reconstructing conversations. There are many things about that time that I have tucked away and happily forgotten about, though the oddest things can trigger my memories.
Our landlord was an older white man who housed dozens of his cows on our farm, because we did not own the land, we were only renting. We were sort of like sharecroppers. We had our own animals – pigs, chickens, ducks, two cows and a goat, and we lived off the land. We raised up our own green beans, corn, potatoes, and blackberries grew deep in the pastures. My mom made jams from those berries as well as our own tomatoes. It was seemingly a wholesome life.
But our environment was very hostile, we endured a lot of racism and discrimination. Our landlord would often turn off our water to be spiteful. We would go for days without any running water and my Dad would have to drive in to the nearest town – about a half hour away to pick up 5 gallon jugs of water that we could heat to bathe with and flush the toilets with. We would go an entire day of filling the toilet until we gave it the one flush at night with a bucket of water near the door.
This was disgusting and humiliating and I was so ashamed of this. An out house in our house. I buried this memory. It’s not exactly the thing you discuss when people ask you where you’re from.
But I remembered it all when thinking about House of Numa. Recently I started imagining House of Numa as an actual House- a hotel – a luxury boutique hotel catering to the needs of creatives. Maybe it will be a resort that’s precisely built for that. A place where beauty surrounds you in every aspect and detail. House of Numa. Luxury, creativity, home away from home. Great food, peaceful, like an artist studio space that you never have to leave. With a library and built in car service from the local airport… I could go on. I see it taking shape and my business and creative minds are merging as I begin to carve it out.
My desire and love for luxury and beauty comes from the stark contrast of the days where the toilet was flushed once a day. Where cow pies were something I really would throw around, and plucking chicken feathers before my Dad boiled one for dinner was normal. I love the farm girl part of me. Though many of those memories are haunting ones, that background has served me well. It fueled my imagination, gave me a love for books, and a closeness to nature. All things that will be part of the future House of Numa.
Self Portrait, September 2015. The Standard Hotel, East Village, NYC.