An artist statement for a grant submission.
Facing the complex uncertainty in the world requires facing the complexity and uncertainty within ourselves.
We have misunderstood nature and our place within it. We have confused conditioned limitations and traits for natural ones. Evolution does not have an objective to create the fittest organisms. Survival is merely a constraint in the search space. Global competition converges, it creates monopolies and kills creativity. Local competition diverges. It nudges species into new niches - the same way artists create new techniques, scientists create new disciplines and methods, and entrepreneurs create new markets. Niches increase complexity and diversity. Nature comes from creativity, not competition.
There is nothing more natural than constant change. Our imagination and the methods we use to share it is our unique strength as a species. We are constantly predicting our future based on collected sets of external + internal sensations, memories kept in our mind and body. We make and test our predictions to meet needs that keep each of our systems within homeostasis, our natural pre-set limitations. Each of us have unique natural and dynamic strengths and limitations underneath our socially conditioned ones. Our limitations make space for the strengths of others. We have our own niches to fill.
The current evolution of humanity is in our ideas and networks, not our bodies. We have adapted our environment to us. We can modify our bodies internally through medications and surgery. We can supplement them with mobility aids and wearable tech. We have created unlimited connection and information.
We have expanded our search space for diversity by defying the constraints of survival. Yet we still decided to create our own conditioned constraints.
Only cis people are meant to have gender affirming surgery. Only glasses are acceptable, not crutches or wheelchairs, unless they are temporary. Masks are an unacceptable change from "normal", despite the millions of lives we could save from death, disability, and isolation. Only white men are meant to lead while also suppressing their full emotional range and ability to authentically connect with others. We constrained our true potential in order to provide false comfort and engineered certainty for a rapidly shrinking set of humans.
We set such narrow limits on identity and behavior that humanity's homeostasis, existing within our species pre-set limits, relies on oppression of practically everyone. We are living in the imagination of the richest and most powerful humans, to the detriment of our survival as a species. A fog of ambiguous responsibility and individualism is obscuring the relationship between our choices and the vast harm we are doing to this planet and each other. We tied the survival of individuals to selling our time, tourniquetting much of our collective creativity which relies on rest, exploration, and connection.
Equality requires entropy.
We must let go of internal and external order. Equality releases all people from fear. It allows our energy to flow together towards shared pursuits instead of being trapped in a power struggle. It lets people express full emotional range, so we can regulate our own energy and co-regulate each other’s emotions. We can trade control and domination for vulnerability and accountability. Facing reality and its uncertainty together creates shared safety. We can set intentions instead of chasing expectations and outcomes and objectives. We can surrender.
“Objectives are a favorite tool of society’s gatekeepers—the people in power who decide where to invest resources and what to ignore.” -Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective
Artists understand the myth of the objective. We follow what is most interesting to us. Art defies quantification and embraces uncertainty. To be an artist is to tread through doubt and wonder. I believe art can reintroduce awe and symbiosis to the dark spots in our species, as it has for the darkness within me. As an immunocompromised person, I have been indefinitely excluded and isolated from most of the world. Yet my art can safely exist in spaces where I cannot.
I am a culmination of curated influences across many sectors, disciplines, and identities. This gives me a unique strength to search the space of creative exploration. I can find new stepping stones and niches that others are welcome to explore or exploit. I am committed to justice in all of my pursuits and connections.
Nucleation Invitation is my first art collection. Nucleation is the beginning of changing disorder into self-organization. Invitation is about setting intentions and letting go of control over outcomes. How can we welcome, witness, and accept the shifting internal disorder of ourselves and others?
@thecakelin My 2022 Nucleation Invitation collection so far! Piled it all together so I could stare at it last night 😅 #artistsoftiktok #disabledartist #transartist #queerartist #immunocompromised #lightart #magical #magicalart #fantasyart #adhd #autistic #chronicillness #disabled ♬ original sound - Dakota Leda Art
I appreciate the time, energy, and perspective you have given to reading my words and experiencing my art. There is nothing more precious than an invitation to express yourself to others. Thank you.
Our species is facing complex uncertainty. We need collective healing so we can bring our fully integrated intuitive selves to co-creation, action, and rest. We can welcome external friction and uncertainty by creating ease within ourselves through embodiment and integration of all our parts. By accepting our darkest aspects and traumas within our psyches and bodies, we can see others as more than a reflection of our own perceptions and needs.
I am drawn to and embody the delightful friction of the unexpected. As a trans and disabled scientist, engineer, and artist my body and identities do not fit anyone’s expectations.
I have discovered the delight in my friction and experienced the darkest aspects of others because of it.
I ask questions of the unexpected so we can practice gently discovering our inner parts in anyone’s stories and experiences. My work is an invitation that others are welcome to accept or decline.
For many years, I lived in a dissociated state and abandoned my true self. So I do not abandon old art or non-typical materials, anything is welcome in my creative practice. My art style relies on patterns, repetition, complexity, bright colors, and coordinated chaos. I bring a stronger sense of embodiment to my work through erotic and sensual photography with my pieces.
If we want to create truly collective and dynamic answers in a chaotic world, we will each need to practice asking questions of our inner selves and others. Can we surrender our control, comfort, and certainty in order to ask and listen?