Friday, March 1, 2024
HomeNewsletterEmbracing Fear

Embracing Fear

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” -Pema Chodron

We struggle. Our lives are punctuated with moments of joy embedded within a landscape of uncertainty. We have nothing except the present moment to truly call our own. The past has slipped away and the future is perennially cloaked. We are taught from a very young age to reject feelings of fear and uncertainty, to mask them, make them go away. Distract, distract, distract. But what if we were to look them in the eye? What if, rather than running from the things that make us uneasy, we learned to sit with them, to know their every nuance? In moments where we glance at the truth we often feel a deep pit, as though the very ground beneath us has been removed. Pema Chodron, and many others who choose the warrior’s path encourage us to give in to these moments. To allow ourselves to experience groundlessness and fear no matter how counter-intuitive it may seem.

Jessica Baran works as poet, curator, and critic. Recently, she has been curating shows for Barrett Barrera Projects as well as other shows through local and national galleries. She credits writer Kathy Acker with much of her inspiration for some of these exhibitions. Baran says she has never found that her three roles happen simultaneously. Now that the exhibitions are complete she is hoping to slip back toward writing. Baran says that since the 2016 presidential election she has been trying to “reassemble her relationship to language.” Rather than finding inspiration in that moment, she felt shut down by the election results. Baran’s most recent book of poetry is titled Common Sense. She describes it as a collection of lyrical incidents. Much of the book came out of the dissolution of her marriage as well as social unrest around her. Baran’s work touches on difficult issues such as the Title IX assault of an artist. Diving deep in this way puts her close to the suffering of human life. Her writing serves as a release from this. Some of Baran’s poems are created using the erasure style which involves removing words from an extant text. To hear more from Jessica including readings of some of her powerful poems and some of the stories behind them, listen to the full interview.

Annie Lapin is presently working on a body of mixed media paintings. She says the work is a continuation and outgrowth of her past work. Since graduating from grad school in 2008, her work has evolved over time. Initially she found that energetic narrative and impulsive mark making defined her work, over time she began removing figures from her work instead creating almost romanticized landscape style work. Another evolution brought her to seek subconscious practice. This transition has been a letting go of over thinking. As she has “grown up” and moved further from grad school she has discovered that her favorite artists have always been those who follow some strange calling down a rabbit hole. Art that comes from the incomprehensible and yet reaches the viewer. In her work, Lapin accesses the weirdest parts of herself. She majored in art at Yale as an undergrad before receiving her Masters Degree from University of California, Los Angeles. Following grad school, Lapin was supporting herself with her art. Eventually though, she felt she needed to pull back and attempt to quell her over-thinking tendencies. Lapin’s present “idiosyncratic rabbit hole” involves creating a space with a certain credible logic that also crumbles and changes depending on the viewer. To do this, she has created a system where she finds images in a mess. From what she describes as mechanically created accidents on the canvas, she corrals images for her paintings. The show she is presently working on will open in New York in October, 2018. To hear Annie discuss her smaller, multi-plane works, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Approaching uncertainty with an open-hearted curiosity allows us the opportunity to expand our consciousness beyond the narrow bounds in which it daily dwells.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Jessica Baran draws inspiration from the writing of Kathy Acker. Annie Lapin recently finished The Future is History by Masha Gessen.

Opportunities / Open Calls

ArtAscent invites artists to submit work that contemplates the theme of the color black. Those selected will receive publication and promotion through ArtAscent’s many print and digital outlets. There is a $10 fee for entry and the deadline for submissions is April 30.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here