雜七雜八 This n that, Sketches, Process Notes.

on courage

“There is a point where caution ends and cowardice begins.”

A Song For Us

Alabama / Coltrane (detail)A new collection of collaborative work
by Joy Liu and Robert Trujillo

On view September 2013
Addison Street Windows Gallery
2018 Addison Street between Shattuck and Milvia
Berkeley, CA 94704

A Song For Us is a collection of papercut art inspired by six wistful songs: Miles Davis’ “Blue In Green”, Ali Akbar Khan’s “Two Lovers”, Lhasa de Sela’s “El Desierto”, Nina Simone’s “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”, John Coltrane’s “Alabama”, and Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”. Incorporating illustration and traditional papercutting, the two Oakland artists explore loneliness, loss, struggle; and our capacity for love, forgiveness and renewal.

Each of the six musical compositions have been translated into delicately layered landscape portraits, vignettes of sounds, sentiment and space which have stayed with the artists through the years. Like the songs themselves, the pieces weave together line, pattern, space and form the way a musician combines melody, timing, phrase, and rhythm.

Sometimes we play music to forget; sometimes to remember. It is often in empathizing with others’ experience of pain that we allow our own selves to feel pain, and in doing so open our souls for healing and forgiveness. Art can serve as a mirror to society, reflecting our pain and revealing our blind spots. It gives us a landscape in which to experience, express and make sense of our world. So while injustice and destruction continue to shape our lives and histories, constantly imploring us to give up, to be inured to suffering, and disillusioned by power, art can keep our eyes open and hearts softened. The artists are both driven by love — and the insistence that we need to address the anger, disappointment and frustration, but also create and celebrate our own stories of uplift. To conjure creative solutions. To reflect the beauty, resilience, and ingenuity of our people in addition to the struggle. These pieces, like the powerful songs and musicians that inspire them, motivate the artists to keep going, to love, reflect, praise, forgive, and to dream. They encourage us to listen for the bent notes and melodies in our own lives, to pause, to feel, to imagine with renewed hope, and to stay open, curious and inspired.


If my words don’t come together
Listen to the melody
Because my love is in there hiding…

— From Leon Russell’s “A Song For You” (as sung by Donny Hathaway)


This exhibition is sponsored by the Civic Arts Program of the City of Berkeley in cooperation with the Civic Arts Commission. For more information, including exhibitions and purchases, contact:

Greg Morozumi, curator
Robert Trujillo, artist
Joy Liu, artist

Civic Arts Commission, City of Berkeley

Song For Us (in progress)

Love of my life and I are creatively collaborating officially for the first time as a duo. Show goes up this week in Berkeley. More details to come…

A couple snapshots of the work in progress:

2013-09-02 15.09.04

detail of “Alabama / Coltrane”

2013-09-02 15.08.47

detail of “Two Lovers / Khan”

2013-09-02 15.08.09

detail of “Blue in Green / Davis”

2013-09-02 11.12.23

detail of “Alabama / Coltrane”


2013-08-30 14.17.09

workin it.

We’re definitely getting a ginormous work desk for three when we move.

2013-08-21 00.37.19

ripe mangoes…


2013-08-30 02.47.31

kali durga

“Don’t worry about throwing things away. In fact, you’re ultimately going to have to throw all of them away except for one.  Designers recognize this as the destructive aspect of the creative process; it’s a good thing.”

– Nancy Duarte, on sketching

Create, destroy, create, destroy.

By the end of it, what we get seems more like an echo or evaporating respiration than any sure or concrete expression. Maybe like if you’re lucky, you can look up at the night sky and see the milky way and marvel wordlessly knowing that what you’re seeing is the visual echo of what a star thousands and thousands of years ago looked like.  Or maybe it’s just that when I think of the creative process that way, with a romanticized macro lens, it alleviates the pressure I put on myself to come up with a brilliant idea or concept. Knowing that, light years later, you and your work are probably not going to be anything like it is now. One TA at Mills used to say, “sometimes, it’s your favorite part that you have to let go”. In the attempts to create there’s so much synthesis to sift through, a sometimes turbulent leaving behind of borrowed ideas, inherited biases, old tricks and habits, all kinds of letting go. In the midst of it, especially when your ego is all in the driver’s seat, it can be so frustrating.  When you’re able to reach this alchemical balance of clarity and get out of your way… that’s some good shit.

Kartika Review!

what a hectic entry into 2012. i forgot to note that my artwork was selected to be in the current issue of kartika review!

Kartika Review #11 (Cover Art)

Kartika Review #11 | Winter 2011


I’ve figured that I need at least 36 hours to plow through the self-doubt and walls of hater before I can even start to get at anything sincere in the studio.  A week without the interwebs, phone, clients, and deadlines does wonders.  In the first full day, I produce a mountain of bullshit weighed down with stupid self-absorbed “is it meaningful” questions, and then by day three some tiny spark-le emerges from the flotsam that I can work with.  When people look at a “simple” work of art, they usually think “I could have done that” or “i could make that in 10 minutes” — what they don’t account for are the hours of thought, emotion, doubt, courage, funk, creation, erasure, destruction and regeneration that never make it to the canvas or what have you.

Anyway.  In 2012 I’m going to try to figure out how to wing the 3-week work month.

Femme cARTel x Art Murmur

FemmeCartel: GirlyUrban

FemmeCartel: GirlyUrban