Recently, I’ve been focusing on health and the capacity to give. I applied to graduate programs this past fall and glued myself to the computer during those months. Bodily neglect and anxiety led to distraction while spending time with friends. In moments when mental, physical needs are met, I’m released to engage the needs of others. During the national election, we witnessed waves of fear replace compassion for our neighboring communities. I believe internal balance can make way for generosity in interacting with strangers, or allocate one’s attention toward supporting the natural environment, the effects of which ripple back to individual wellbeing.
The process of painting, when I enter those elusive periods of fluid image-making, is an activity that takes my mind away from concerns of the self. A fleeting sense of lightness that I equate with optimal health. Many of my illustrations depict destinations based on conceptions of personal peace. These spaces tend to be vacant of others, animated by collections of physical artifacts and surface textures. I often push flamboyant pigments in high contrast combinations to celebrate unity among different rather than similar traits. Viewing other artists’ works, I linger on pieces that build intimacy with subjects initially presented as foreign to our individual experiences. By practicing art, I strive to foster empathy between disparate parties, and similarly approach health as a means to strengthen connections between people.
Livien Yin is an artist and illustrator living in Oakland, CA, and this issue of Nightingale’s featured artist. She is the Co-founder and illustrator of Civic Quarterly.
I can’t even begin to count how many ear infections I had as a kid. I could do the three block walk down Park Avenue to Dr. Grunfeld’s office with my eyes closed. With his puffy hair circling the bald spot on the top of his head, glasses tilted down to his nose, and thick Austrian accent, “Vell Lee-lee, vat have vee here”, he’d stick his otoscope into each ear. Nine times out ten the right one was the problem.
Southeast Morrison Street has always been one of the more characteristic drags of Portland, Oregon. Along it, you will find the city’s favorite strip club, a field that used to be managed by working goats, and a large pink house in the middle of an empty lot across from a gay bar. The street is changing, however, and its evolution is emblematic of a bigger transformation of my city. When the housing market began on an upward trend in 2014, change was inevitable. The tech industry took up a burgeoning presence, coveted dives were demolished left and right, and even our beloved goats were relocated, a moment in which our community reacted with a level of mourning reserved for local celebrities. I now drive east and I can’t remember what the goats looked like, or how many of them there were. The metaphor here writes itself: the once idyllic is now industrialized and the cherished monuments of the city are not as immortal as we thought.