1. Why Do I Make Things?
Honestly, this question has troubled me for some time. I was unsure just how to answer it. I look at my history and I see the self-reliance and creativity that my grandparents needed to survive in the deep south. But I also see their choices of careers; carpentry, construction, a home economics teacher, caterer, and scientist. I look at my parents raised in that environment and see that my mother used to make her own clothes, sew needlepoint, paint ceramics and scrap booking my father at some point had a talent for sketch art; my siblings both went to art school.
This is all evidence of the fact that I could possess some talent for making things but none of it actually gets to the ‘why.’
I think I make things because I can’t help but see what is missing in the world. As a child of a US Military member, I moved around a lot. this meant I never readily fit in, often feeling like the outsider and often left out because of it. This outsider status allowed me to see the gaps, inconsistencies, or vacancies in groups, services, workflow, behaviors, and other operations. Never fitting in meant I had to create places for myself. Inconsistent employment meant constantly creating work of myself.
I look at my job history and I’ve always gravitated to things that used my hands; food service, bartending, bench science. I have done everything from selling grills to protein purification and every job was a learning experience that I make applicable to my next.
I dream big and often times it is those dreams that keep me going. Langston Hughes pondered on the fate of dreams deferred and I find that my own ideas bubble and boil and nag me until I feel like I will burst if I don’t get them out.
When I look through my own history I didn’t make things in a traditional craft way. Yes, there were art projects growing up but my crafting often looked like entrepreneurship and ingenuity. When I couldn’t teach science in Puerto Rico I started tutoring, showing kids how ordinary household objects work together to explore scientific principles--making things trough science experiments. A few years later when I saw the need for people of color in STEM subjects I created a biotechnology program for inner-city teenagers to conduct science in working scientific spaces providing them an opportunity to obtain the skills needed to be successful in laboratories.
I’ve always known that in a perfect world I’d let my love for learning run wild; taking classes on subjects and skills I found interesting. Lately, after reflecting on my last teaching position, I realized that that desire is still very real. It’s funny because all of the jobs and adventures were perhaps just another way to do just that. Life is weird like that sometimes we take the long road to come right back to the thing or place we started from; ourselves.
So why do I make things? To express myself, to show people I care, to learn something new, to survive, because I’m out of options, and because I like custom shit. My brain and my hands have been how I’ve crafted my life and it had been an amazing journey. In a lot of ways I’ve had no other choice and honestly I‘d have it no other way.