She’s Traveling the World for a Year to Make Art

“Just go around us!” I motioned to the driver of the Hyundai Sonata who was visibly pissed as Caroline leaned against her car, and my camera hung from my neck. Reluctantly he squeezed by so we could resume our 9 a.m. impromptu photo shoot in the alleyway next to my parking garage, just to the right of the dumpster.

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Perhaps I should have been on my way to work instead of blocking traffic. Maybe Caroline’s hair should have had time to dry. And possibly we should have planned the photos better. However, taking them felt as urgent and necessary as morning coffee after too much wine.

Only an hour earlier I had woken on my sectional sofa. I looked over to find Caroline buried under the comforter drunkenly dragged from my room before glancing down at the boots I was still wearing from last night.

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Before I could check the time, Caroline was pulling a French press and carton of eggs from her overnight bag like a gypsy Mary Poppins.

“Would you like some coffee and eggs?!” she asked. Despite being the host, I gladly agreed to coffee while I fixed my face and quietly considered whether eggs can safely be consumed after being unrefrigerated for 12 hours.

Tour De Friends

The LA city lights stretched out before us as we perched at the top of Griffith Observatory. I set my backpack down on the ledge and retrieved two miniature boxes of wine. We stuck our straws in them like juice packs and toasted. To LA tonight. To seeing each other for the first time in 8 years. And to Tour De Friends for making it possible.

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Social media stalking has been my primary means of communication with Caroline since discovering her art post-college and blogging about it a couple years ago.

“Happy birthday, Caroline! There are some people who could produce anything and you would always love it because it’s by them.. Like you. Keep making awesome things!”

I wrote this on Caroline’s Facebook wall in June, and it’s the closest I can come to describing why I found myself sipping her French pressed coffee that morning.

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When I saw that she was in LA for a personal art tour around the world I knew not even an hour-long Uber ride would stand in the way of face time with my favorite artist. And with plans to sleep in her car that evening, I insisted she come to my place – where her work hangs on the walls.

Tour De Friends is her year-long journey of collaborating with artists from Los Angeles to Uganda to France. The trunk of her car houses art materials and life essentials and is considered home until the end of October, 2017.

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Following our wine-filled night and early morning photos, I interviewed Caroline on her inspiration behind the tour that is taking her around the world: SF, LA, Mexico, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Puerto Rico, Portland, Vancouver, Uganda, Sweden, Portugal, France and New York.

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1. Why you decide to do the tour?

While in college I was part of an amazing creative community and thrived in an environment of hardworking dedicated artists that I able to get feedback from. We supported and challenged each other. Since graduating I’ve moved around to a few different places and have been missing that energy. I see people I admire and love on Instagram doing really cool things, projects/art/etc and I wanted to be apart of it, but we all live in different places. This project is a way for me to not let distance or barriers limit me anymore. I was tired of being frustrated and isolated, Tour de Friends is a result of that.

2. How did you pick the artists?

I picked people that I’m interested in working with. People that seem motivated and are doing cool things with their lives. Some are old friends, acquaintances, or friends of friends.  

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3. How would you describe the artistic process with each artist?

The point of the tour is to be inspired by the people and places I’m visiting. To collaborate or work side by side for 3-7 days. Every person lives in a bubble with a unique world view, I’m coming into their world and creating what I experience with them. Each person is different; therefore the medium I use varies from location to location. Thus far I’ve worked with paint, collage, sculpture, found objects, textile, and recycled material. I will work with metal, found material from nature, video, photography, and ceramics in the future.

4. You’re only two cities in, but what have you realized so far?

I’ve learned so much already!! The biggest lesson has been time management and teamwork. My time is very limited at each location so I have to come up with a concept, gather materials, make the work, and do a portrait all within 3-7 days. Thus far I’ve only done 3 days, and it has been chaotic! Patience and adaptability are important as well. I’m out of my comfort zone and relying on others to help me. I need to keep in mind their schedule as well as my own. Eating well and sleeping are what will keep me going. I was partying too much at the beginning, and it really affected the quality of my work in a negative way.

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5. What you hope to gain from it?

I hope to gain an open heart and courage from this. I’ve struggled with social anxiety my whole life and feeling like an outsider. I grew up in a small mountain town isolated from people so it’s been hard to find my place with society but this has pushed me to face every fear I’ve ever had. I hope to gain connections with others that transmute distance and time. Also to grow my art practice through better technique and skill.

6. What are your favorite collaborations so far?

I’ve loved all of them and will continue to love them but my most recent one with Tara Deaton really pushed the limits as to what can be done in three days. She is the first person I’ve actually worked on the same project with and we came out with something I didn’t know I was capable of. I’m hoping to get the person I’m visiting more involved so that we can elevate the quality of work.

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7. What you plan to do with them?  

I am having an exhibition in Palm Springs at Eight4Nine, November 23 where the works I’ve done so far will be shown. However, I still have about 10 months of working to go so I’m now sure what the end result will be. I leave some of the pieces behind, but I’d like the end result to be a coffee table book full of stories, art, and images of what goes on outside of the art making.

8. What do you have packed in your car?

Ha! This has been one of the biggest struggles, packing and unpacking for each location is a bitch. I have clothing and art supplies but a lot of supplies in a huge trunk. I’d like less stuff but the supplies are necessary. I hope to get a better handle on this by the end of the trip. I’m currently in Mexico and forgot all kinds of things because of rushing to finish the previous project and catch my flight. I don’t even have a bathing suit or my camera charger.

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9. We briefly talked about perfectionism when it comes to our work – how we feel uncomfortable releasing pieces until they feel right. When do you consider a piece “complete”?

My perfectionism doesn’t always translate to sharing a piece. I definitely feel anxious at times while making a piece, wondering if it will turn out or not. But that often fades when I simply enjoy the process, I have to talk myself down a lot of the time. A work is complete when it’s complete haha that’s a tough one to explain. I never feel confused or second guess when to stop, I always know the exact moment it’s finished but can’t explain how, intuition I guess.

For me perfectionism is more about holding yourself to a high standard, I have trouble sharing work that doesn’t feel genuine or well made. I want the passion and depth of what I’m feeling to translate to the audience.

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Tour de Caroline

Typically it takes me a couple hours to capture the photos I need for a blog post, and generally I’m less than excited to start them due to location scouting and perfect lighting.

But sometimes, like in the apartment alleyway with Caroline in my makeup from last night, the shots come together in a matter of minutes.

Maybe it was the French press. Or maybe it’s simply the way she inspires people to produce authentically awesome things.


 

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