Politics and the Environment: The Good, Bad, Complicated, and Promising

The Good Fact #1: The Clean Air Act was passed in 1970 with a unanimous vote from the Senate and only one nay vote from the House. This is just one example of successful environmental efforts that crossed party lines. Fact #2: The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was established during Richard Nixon’s (R) presidency. Fact #3: George H.W. …

Two worlds in tandem: moving from the past to the present

February 8, 2017, would have been my dad’s 66th birthday. He has been gone for nearly 8 years. I have been thinking a lot lately about things that come in twos. Things set in opposition that are necessary parts of a whole. Left versus right, male versus female, north versus south, conservative versus liberal. Things …

The benefits of keeping a journal: paper time machines and thoughts from the soul

I keep a hand-written journal, to log the often boring, redundant, silly, serious, terrible, hopeful, vulnerable thoughts that I have. My current journal is handmade and has a sister that I gave to one of my best friends back in 2009. Since she and I have never gotten to see each other much, I decided …

“Only a fool trips on what’s behind him”

“Only a fool trips on what’s behind him.” I had a thrilling, amazing, tumultuous, nerve-wracking, at times unpredictable, unforgettable, educational, creative, and fulfilling 2016. Full of growing pains and gains, a few ugly cries, a lot of swearing, and a lot of laughter. I celebrated two years outside of the “corporate world” and of working …

Our Relationship with Power: Why It Matters & What We Can Learn

Did you miss my show at Arts + Literature Laboratory? Here’s a recap of why I chose to focus on power and a video of the story I told at the reception. Jenie Gao | Our Relationship with Power, video by Midwest Story Lab One of the long-term themes in my artwork is relationships, between people, between nature …

Lessons of departure: the heart and mind of a rural town in a tourists’ economy

Lanesboro Arts Center is beautiful. The space is bright, open, welcoming, and full of activity. They regularly host artists and writers to use the space as a getaway to focus on projects, as well as workshops and seminars for the community. When the directors offered to show my work there, they also kindly took the time to …

Art and Leadership: the power and purpose of creativity

I recently wrote an article called “The Myth of the Starving Artist—and what it can teach us about job security.” In it, I discuss how society’s attitude towards art parallels how people feel across industries about their jobs and companies. We’re in a culture that devalues creativity and values pursuing a paycheck over the purpose …