When I returned to Nairobi after 20 years, I no longer recognized the city I once knew, and loved. I charted my experience of being lost, riding around on matatus, looking for long-gone friends and old haunts.
My Seismographic Drawings are the bumpy record of being lost on various forms of public transportation.
For a while I was too lost and shy to get off the bus. I remember this drawing because it is the day, when armed with two photographs, I finally got off the matatu and began talking to people. I was on the phone with my long-lost friend Mekdes within 24 hours.
Going full spiral, I made this drawing on a 5 hour train ride from Bergen to Oslo in 2018 after re-uniting with Mekdes in Norway.
Despite their topographical appearance these tricky maps are impossible to navigate, instead they simply capture physical vibrations on paper, and chart time more than place, as they go no further than a specific moment.
I moved to Louisiana the Friday before Katrina. Lost again, this time in hurricane rubble, I began Street Car drawing with ink on scrolls of rice paper, in 2005 as soon as the Canal and Saint Charles lines resumed service.
They began on my lap while traveling Nairobi’s matatus. When I returned to Louisiana I turned them in to large scale digital prints. (I prefer the originals.)
5 hour TRAIN DRAWING, from Bergen to Oslo, pencil in accordion book.
8x12 ink on paper
The drawings have since expanded to other locales. Their tricky map-like configurations chart the subtle vibrations of movement captured while lost. From a seat on a Kenyan Matatu and a New Orleans Streetcar, to camel-back and dog-sled, this seismographic-drawing process has found its way into my fiction writing, as a vehicle for my protagonist to explore the world.
IOWA STARR MY FICTIONAL PROTAGONIST WILL USE MY SEISMOGRAPHIC DRAWING PROCESS ON HER QUEST JOURNEY THAT TAKES HER FROM THE INDIAN OCEAN ON THE SOMALI COAST ALL THE WAY TO THE SVALBARD SEED VAULT IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
From a camel-back to dog-sled, and dhow to barquentine my seismographic-drawing process has found its way into my fiction writing, as a vehicle for my protagonist to explore the world.
Patching Up workshop & exhibition
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - January 2019
Patching-UP was a collaborative art project organized by Mekdes Shebeta that included field-research, workshops, dialog-meetings and an art exhibition. Artists from Ethiopia, Europe and the US participated in Patching Up and the exhibition, On Movement.