Storyteller: Angela Simione aka Blackland

photo(17)I started blogging in 2007 during my last year of art school. I didn’t really use my blog as much more than a place to post pictures of paintings, and thought of it more as a stand-in for a “real website.” But as I began to think more and more deeply about the actual source of my work, I couldn’t avoid the fact that every single image I made was, to one degree or another, a self-portrait. I was drawing from my own history and daily life in such a huge way in my visual practice that it started to seem strange not to speak about my own life when asked where a particular image came from or what my inspirations were as a visual artist. I started using the blog as a way to flesh those ideas out and to get comfortable talking about my personal experiences.

After graduating in 2008, I moved to the tiny northern Californian town of Calistoga. There is one stop light and one stop sign in Calistoga. It was a huge change and I was very isolated. I began leaning on the blog to an ever-increasing degree to simply maintain artistic, thoughtful, poetic connections to other people. I felt so removed from the art community I had only begun to explore in San Francisco. Attempting to nurture that connection over the internet was kind of my only option and one which I clung to as tightly as I could. I began to see the blog as a facet of my art practice in its own right, a place where I could experiment and test the boundaries of what I thought my work was all about. The things I wrote on my blog became more and more personal, more and more an act of exposure. And I was fulfilled by this. Even if no one was reading it, it felt good to put my words out in to the world. It felt good (and necessary) not to live in silence, to choose to tell the story of my own life in my own way. It felt good to know that, even if the blog was basically invisible to the world, it nevertheless existed. My words existed. I existed. And in the isolation of a tiny town, that feeling was so important to hold on to. The blog became a place of catharsis and connection, and it remains so.

I moved back to Oakland in 2012 and returned to the true profession of the artist: waiting tables. 😉 I work nights which is fantastic. Great money, a flexible schedule that allows for travel, and lots of time for art and writing. I wake up every day, write in my diary for an hour or two while I drink coffee, and then get a bit of art work done before shuffling off to the restaurant. Sometimes, I drop a yarnbomb on my way to work. It’s a very good life. I spend my days doing exactly what I want to do, and my nights learning about fine wine.

If I won a million dollars, I definitely wouldn’t wait tables anymore but the ins and outs of my daily routine would largely stay the same. I’d get to spend more time writing and more time making art and I would buy plane tickets left and right. I’d probably live out of hotel rooms for a while and just see the world. I’d throw my diary in my backpack and just go.

A secret? There’s a jacket hanging in my closet that I haven’t worn in years. My longest friend, Daniela, and I went in on it together when we were 14. It couldn’t have cost much. We bought it from a thrift store called Ralph’s Bargain Spot where we would spend tons of time when we skipped school. The jacket isn’t an attractive fit and the burgundy lining is almost completely shredded. It’s a spectacular pea-green plaid, with burgundy, orange, and black throughout. Most people would call it ugly but Daniela and I thought it was amazing. We would share the jacket, alternating weeks with it, and it was always such a painful moment to give it up or, conversely, such a hugely joyful moment to receive it again. It’s one of the few remaining items I have from my childhood. I have it and a teddy bear and that’s really all. I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll have it tailored so that I can wear it again. If I ever win that million dollars, I definitely will, and I’ll take it on the road with me and show it this wide world.

Read Angela’s stories at Blackland. Find all the Storytellers here.

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