Happening (noun): An Improvised Artistic Performance

One of the most fascinating periods of art history I have studied is the Avant Garde movement of the 1950's, during which Allan Kaprow coined the term "happening" to describe an event or occurrence meant to be considered art (or meant to be considered whether it was not art, more like). Happenings were an unplanned form of performance art that pushed further the ideas from Dadaism a few decades prior. Perhaps the most recognizable work from the Dada movement today is Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain," an upside-down urinal with the signature "R. Mutt" scrawled across its base. The "Fountain" was an exploration of the boundaries between the artistic object and the everyday object. In the fifties and sixties, Kaprow and his kin created art, or "happenings," that explored the boundaries between art and life itself, in which audience members were often organic features of the "performance."

With that, I have some updates for you on the happenings (lower case) at the Studio as of late. Depending on how you got here, you may already know that I officially launched my website yesterday. It feels good! This is hours of work in the making. While there are a few things I'd like to improve over time, I feel confident about what I have here as the skeleton of a great website.

The Photography Display is Live Now at Philz Coffee in Cupertino


This is the happening that started it all. I was back in the country after a working holiday in Galway, Ireland, where I worked (briefly) as a cashier at TK Maxx before breaking my ankle and, err, changing course. TK Maxx is- not a typo, and also- the European division of TJX Companies, the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and others. Since I couldn't remember ever having shopped at a TJ Maxx in the United States, hitting one up during my stint in unemployment seemed like a good time, for comparison's sake. I brought with me my partner, Nick, who is moving to California with me and getting the grand tour of all things Bay Area.

Nick is from Seattle, so he knows a thing or two about coffee (stay with me here). I'd been meaning to take him to Philz since we got off the plane, but it hadn't been in the cards until the day we went to TJ Maxx. Walking out to my car I saw it there on the other side of the parking lot and took the opportunity to show off what I deem to be the quintessential Bay Area coffee spot. We stashed our TJ Maxx finds in the car and spent the rest of the morning re-imagining the Philz logo on our napkins with the pens Nick is always carrying around. I don't recall how we got started in that head space, but there it was.


So I was thinking about coffee and art and my job search, and there I created an opportunity for myself. I got the attention of the Philz employee I'd been talking to earlier and commented on the new art displays they were setting up. I asked if they were taking new artists and he gave me the contact info of Angelina, the worker in charge of coordinating the art at that location. People ask how I manage these sorts of things, but that's all there is to it. I just ask and the opportunity is delivered. Anyone can do it, truly. There is no certification!

I Revived My Jewelry Business

Bone + Lava was once Stuffbyemily, a teenager's Etsy store that grew into craft fairs, flea markets, and retail consignment over the course of two years. I was capitalizing on the ear cuff fad of 2012, making wire wrapped earrings and ear cuffs that looked like this:


I had put the project down for awhile, partly to focus on school, and partly because I got to a point where I had been doing it long enough that the weak points of my business model were obvious to me but I didn't have the time to do an overhaul that would make the work feel worthwhile again. I may speak more on this later, but lets just say the time I was spending in certain areas was inefficient in terms of the customer experience and profit margins.

Finding myself unemployed, savings drained from injury and travel, this winter I finally had the creative energy to give my small business another go. I did not expect to find employment so quickly, but at that point I was already in motion, ideas flowing faster than I could enact them. I gave the brand a proper name this time, Bone + Lava, which stems from the natural materials that inspire my work, from carved bones and lava beads to dried seeds and freshwater pearls. I built my website around my vision for the brand of timeless simplicity and the marriage of inter-connectivity and individuality.

I could do a whole post about the photo shoot for my first collection. We had a great time:



You can tell which photo was taken after a dance sesh by the off-kilter jewelry.

Bringing It All Together

My deadline for the website launch was the Philz display because I wanted Philz customers to like my work, read the blurb that sends them to my site, and then access both the virtual gallery and the jewelry collection, thus bringing attention to both projects at once. After scrambling to finish up the details of it all, I was able to hang my photos a few days early today in order to avoid taking time off work.

That brings us to the present. I've got a few thoughts about where I want to go from here, but I'll leave you with that for now. In my video I spoke about helping out other young entrepreneurs like myself, so stick around for more on that to come. Other than that, I want to thank my friends for modeling for me, Philz for the exposure, and everyone else who is supporting me. Cheers to that!