Bright Warm

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Eds. Note: We asked Jmy to respond to three earlier works in this issue: “Doing Time,” “Bulbs of Glass,” and “TO THE FLEDGLINGS.” This is the result.


These sketches and watercolors are very fanciful. I worked with the texts and images in my dance studio, getting a feel for my feelings. What struck me so deep was the image in the Alexandra Pappas essay with the condom on the ground. I was born in San Francisco and lived there till I was 19, and that image was So of the particular place where I grew up that I could feel the place in my bones when I looked at that image. The wet concrete, the eucalyptus leaf, one of the many sour grasses. Maybe it was the condom in that image that sent me back to my teenage years. In that place where I grew up I remembered being a teenager wanting to be warm and wanting bright colors — in plants, in clothing, all around me. I wanted to be wearing soft clothes that fell off of my body. I hated wool and fleece. I hated tight hats and freezing winds. I really didn’t want to be wearing clothes at all. I would turn the heat up to 90° when my mom was out cause I wanted to walk around the house in my underwear. She would get home and feel the heat and be so mad and tell me how expensive the heat was and to go put on a sweater and socks.

Outfits are very weather-related. I wish people didn’t have to wear clothing but human bodies need protection sometimes.

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The watercolors I made are from that place of just wanting to be warm in my own house. I just wanted my body to be warm and unrestricted by what I was wearing.

The drawings and sketches were made as my initial research into the provided text and images. There were many words, so I responded with words in the sketches. Though spoken and written language are not my primary modes of expression, I do like words or simple phrases as a gateway to feelings. I mostly work on an abstract level — I sense my around by touching my body to it, I express my within by dancing and making outfits for a person or a dance: I work by sensing other people’s feelings, asking them questions, and then staring at them and trying to receive a vision.

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When I was making the watercolors I put on an LA version of my San Francisco teenage outfit. LA is in the “June gloom” season now where the mornings are grey — it is a warm dry grey kind of fog that sometimes burns off in the afternoon. The LA grey is not like the strong wet rolling fog of San Francisco, but it does give me a sense of that place. So I wore a tight long sleeve shirt under a tee shirt but with shorts and all bright colors and felt the feeling of my teenage body in that cold fresh place I was in those years, wanting to be somewhere else and warm and imagining all sorts of things about the world but not really knowing anything, not knowing where to go.

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