In the last five years we have found ourselves in a cultural moment of reckoning, in which survivors are being listened to and supported and perpetrators are being held accountable more than before. However, what emerged is also a culture in which any infraction results in the call-out and cancellation of the individual in question. I believe that this kind of tipping of the scales in the opposite direction serves as an usher of transformation, but that it is not a sustainable or regenerative space to remain in. To create a culture that embodies values of cooperation, pluralism, and collective and democratic stewardship (like a Solidarity Economy(1)), we must be able to acknowledge the histories and experiences we come from in a generative way. And yet, we find ourselves in this moment where people are afraid to learn because the fear of getting it “wrong” is more powerful than the fear of their own ignorance.
Informed by my experiences as a biracial Mexican American woman, bodyworker/somatic educator, dancer, and cultural organizer working within the Solidarity Economy, I am observing a need to cultivate the skills to navigate conversations around topics and realities like race, white supremacy, gender, money, and any and all subjects that surface discomfort. I am engaged in an effort to use my personal forms of knowledge as strategies to help develop this as a cultural practice. It is a series of intimate meetings I’m calling, Uncomfortable Conversations.
Uncomfortable Conversations explores discomfort as a place of discourse and connection. Both verbal and non-verbal dialogue serves as the medium that traces back pathways to locate the roots and home of discomfort that reside within us as individuals, and form our social and cultural sinew. And then there are the bodies— our bodies— that have navigated these systems of oppression and have both delivered and endured violence across generations. Bodies that are doing the work of abolition and liberation. How do we bring them into all that we do in a way that acknowledges their labor, and understands them as places of discourse?
In Uncomfortable Conversations, we are invited to observe what our bodies are telling us. In this conversation, artist and cultural organizer, Caroline Woolard, who I met through our work together for Art.Coop’s Study-into-Action(2), beautifully mapped her somatic responses (see diagram below) as memories surfaced. Her sensations served as a dialogical partner as we explored the stories and lineage around the word ‘money.’
Uncomfortable Conversations places equal value on the topics and words we discuss, the somatic responses that emerge, and the skills that we cultivate to navigate discomfort with curiosity and resiliency. It is my hope that as these conversations continue to happen, that instead of the isolation that is felt from exiling discomfort from our ‘selves’ and society, we can embrace and understand that discomfort as a place of shared belonging.
Caroline is an artist, organizer, and thinker whose work offers a reframing around economies and exchange that is collaborative and disrupts the status quo of who defines ‘economy’ and how we participate in economic exchange. I want to acknowledge and honor the trust that Caroline placed in me by agreeing to have this conversation together and share it with each of you.
*Caroline and I have never met in person as she is currently in Berlin, Germany and I am in Northern California, U.S. Our conversation was conducted over zoom.
Marina Lopez, Cartography of Discomfort (Caroline and Marina), 2021
Drawing from moments and sensations in our conversation, these images begin the process of mapping the somatics of our dialogical exploration around money. The images function as a way to create a visible bridge between the intellectual experiences and how those surface in our bodies.
Marina Lopez: So I’ll share with you some of the guiding questions because they’ve been helping me ground a little bit in this work:
How can we learn to become better stewards of vulnerability?
When, in the history of humankind, did emotional vulnerability begin to register in our brains as a threat and therefore our bodies?
What does it feel like to listen/hear, and to guide/follow with curiosity?
Caroline Woolard: Yeah. Cool.
Marina: Do you have any questions or comments?
Caroline: Yeah. Thank you! It’s so beautiful to hear this other side of you. It’s vulnerable for both of us to be and share this creative side and practice. So that’s nice. Yeah, it’s really exciting!
Marina: Yeah, thank you [giggles]. It feels special and sweet to share this first conversation in the project with you.
Caroline: I’m excited. So tell me, where do we go? [Both laugh]
Marina: So I’d love to start with this experience we had while we were co-organizing Art.Coop’s Study-into-Action. We were wrapping the seven-week series and making sure all of the artists and facilitators had been paid or knew how to submit an invoice. One of the artists invoiced for a lot higher than what we had thought we were paying them. We went back into our correspondence to check in about what the agreement had been. You, me, and Nati had this exchange internally about how to proceed because the invoiced amount was actually higher than what we had agreed to. I thought it was interesting how we all had different inclinations for how to handle the experience. What stuck out to me about it was that you had said something like, I don’t like having conversations around money. Or, I don’t want to have that conversation. So I became really curious about that. One, because I’m still getting to know you as a person so it was interesting for me to learn that about you. And also I found it interesting because your work has been so much about exchange and economics. And then Study-into-Action specifically was bringing together this money world and creative world so I was really like, Huh, I want to explore that a little more with you. Like, what’s that about? So do you want to share anything about that experience?
Caroline: Yeah. The part I’m remembering is that the artist thought she was getting paid $500 per session and we had thought it was $500 for the whole thing, four sessions. We thought it was $100 a session rather than $500 a session, so it was so much less. So maybe what I meant to say is, I’m uncomfortable talking about money and paying people less. And the convo around, we actually want to pay you $500 rather than $2000— it’s that gap that makes me so uncomfortable: it’s the conversation around someone’s value with dollars. That’s the part that triggers so much rage and a sense of being controlled. Speaking of the body, this somatic feeling, like a tightness; feeling like I’m trapped. The way exploitation feels. I feel like it’s deep in my eye sockets. A feeling of hot tears welling up. [Hands are scrunched together beneath eyes] Or in my throat or in my chest. A tightness. [Hands in loose fists at center of sternum]. It just feels SO wrong that people can’t have what they need in order to survive. And so a lot of the work that I’ve done is not about money, it’s like, how do we not use money, even though of course we have to. So it’s about, how do we engage in exchange or barter or mutual aid or gift giving, or share our resources abundantly. Like I have a place in Berlin where people can come and stay here. I can help with this, I can help with that. But when it comes down to, maybe she [the artist] thought that she was going to pay rent with that, I just go into fear. Total fear. Like what you were saying about, when did vulnerability make us as a human species feel that we were being threatened and go into a space of fear, or fight or flight?
Caroline: Yeah, it feels like that. I guess there’s also this feeling about feeling let down around it [money] in particular. Like expecting something and not receiving it and having a sense of unclarity. And yeah it just brings up a whole family history going back for so long, where you thought you were going to have whatever. Like my grandfather thought he was going to have a job on this tobacco farm but he didn’t get it. That’s why he tried to rob a bank. That’s why he failed and changed his last name. And why my dad was born with a fake last name and didn’t know that he had family. And then came back to the farm when he was 10 and was raised in this very abusive family. And then my dad fled, and managed to go to college and make money, randomly, which is a long story, which we could get into. But he wanted to be a philosopher. He was drafted into Vietnam, all these things happened. He eventually became a doctor and actually made money and then raised me in this world that he didn’t feel comfortable in.
But then also my parents got divorced when I was 18, and they were so emotionally devastated with each other that they basically abandoned me. So then when I was in college, I had an expectation that I would be taken care of, like also financially, because I was raised totally owning class. [I] had money growing up from my dad and he wanted me to be comfortable in this world of owning class people. He put me in private school and was like, you’re gonna learn this world that I didn’t learn. But then when I was 18— he supported me a little bit and also I went to Cooper Union, which was free— but then once I was 22, he was like, No you’re done, which I had not expected at all. And emotionally he was also like, I can’t even think about you, because I’m so depressed. And so it brings up all this feeling of expectation and love and care. Like I just feel it in my throat [brings hands to throat]. It’s like [snaps fingers quickly across face] and then the rug gets ripped out from you. And so [these kinds of conversations about money as it relates to someone’s value] has this feeling that triggers all of that in me.
And I think that’s generational too. Like, Oh, you thought you’d have a family and a farm and help your mom on the farm. But no. And then my dad was, I don’t know what he thought. I think he just wanted to get out from the youngest age, and that sentiment echoed from his dad.
And then for me, I thought everything was amazing. I’m just living this fancy life. Everything’s going to be easy. And I kind of knew it was a fancy life ‘cause my dad had always told me how he hadn’t had running water. And reminded me that, You’ve got this fancy thing, or, I’m going to give you everything.
And then it was like, just kidding, good luck. You’re in the arts now, there’s no money. And you live in a warehouse that’s dangerous with rats [laughs] and drugs. There were so many things that were just very unsafe and I was very unsafe. So yeah, it brings up all of that. Like how to survive and not knowing. Also, because it brings in so much around class, race, and coming from a background that was so comfortable being white, and being so much more likely to be able to access resources.
So that’s all also coming up. And also that we’re doing a Solidarity Economy program, but then being like, Actually there’s no abundance. And so I feel like I can learn so much from you. Like, yes, all of these things are true and we can hold that emotionally in an embodied way [brings palms to chest] and talk about what’s possible on the material plane in this moment.
I just don’t know. How do you stay in the material? Or hold all of them: the emotional, material, and the vulnerability that you’re talking about? And especially at that moment, I felt so maxed out with all the other things we were doing. That was a lesson in expecting that there will be a need for spaciousness. And I didn’t feel emotionally, or even just literally, schedule-wise, like, how would we hold a good conversation with the artist? And you did some amount of that, absolutely. How did it feel for you?
Marina: Thank you so much for sharing all that. I mean that’s deep. That’s deep lineage, generational wounding. And it’s really fascinating to me how each of us responds and holds that differently. Like I have my own experiences around money and class and race that are different and have made me uncomfortable talking about money, having money, not having money. So it’s interesting to think about how my own experiences influenced my desire to have that conversation with the artist, and then how we had that conversation. I was definitely aware of the dynamics of race within that conversation, for sure. And that’s something that I’ve struggled with in myself as well, being biracial and growing up in an upper middle class white environment where I was like the most diverse person in the room, which says a lot.
Like my mom telling me, I didn’t even think about you as being Mexican. So it was like this weird space where I was both fetishized and shunned for being other, for being Mexican and living in these two worlds. So I was definitely cognizant of my position within the conversation with the artist in regards to race. And then also in regards to the power dynamics of who’s holding the money and who needs the money.
[Pausing to think] I don’t think I went into the conversation with an expectation of, she’s going to say this, or I need her to say this. I think I wanted to know what her needs were. I wanted the opportunity to express what Art.Coop’s needs were and to find a way to advocate for both. And that’s how I approach conversations in my own bodywork practice with clients around money. Asking, what are your needs in terms of your body? What are your economic needs? Is receiving this work going to threaten your ability to survive? And if it is, then I don’t want to participate in that, so how can we figure out what works for both of us? And that’s, I think, the place where I always come to in that conversation, is this question of, what works for both of us? Because I think I’ve had experiences where people take advantage of or exploit that generosity. Because there’s this scarcity and fear around there not being enough, and money being a big trigger for scarcity. So if someone gives them the opportunity to like, not have to pay for something, it’s like, you’re getting a deal. And because there’s a scarcity, everybody wants a deal. And that has felt really yucky to me because then I don’t feel valued.
Caroline: Yeah. That’s so interesting. I recently was on this call with someone who said, I run this print shop and I no longer do sliding scale because the only people who ask for the low end of the sliding scale are people who don’t need it. Mainly white people. And he also said that for a lot of people, there’s a dignity in paying the full price. So how do you navigate that in the conversation? Like who also is comfortable being real with you? How do you do that?
Marina: Yeah. Well, when I came back to work in late 2020 after things were locked down because of COVID-19, I did away with my sliding scale for the first time since I’d started my practice in 2010. I just stopped offering it from the get-go. Because that is also what I found: I would have clients who would tell me about how, oh, they used to own a private plane and they’d fly to LA or Europe for weekend trips. And I was baffled. Why are you paying me at the lowest end of the scale then? It felt gross and weird. And it bred a lot of resentment toward them that I didn’t want present in the treatment room. So what I do now is I offer a really gentle invitation into the conversation about payment by saying, I don’t want this to compromise your ability to provide for yourself or your family. I also offer that at this point in my life, I’m financially stable enough where offering you a session at a price that works for you isn’t going to threaten my safety or security. And I also have clients who pay me more than my rate, so that allows me to be able to offer sessions like this. So I think that when people know that your wellbeing isn’t going to be threatened, it makes them feel a little bit safer to consider their actual needs.
I do have a few clients who are like, well, I could pay $50. Or I can pay $25, but I also made some sauerkraut and some ghee this week for you. And I also love opportunities to barter or trade. Like I trade with my mechanic, and our contractor and I trade with other bodyworkers. I’m very curious about what that barter system could look like if more of us participated in it.
Caroline: Wow. Yeah. I have so much to learn from the way you approach it. I think also energetically.
Marina: That’s where I think the discomfort piece has come in for me. There’s so many pieces to that: there’s discomfort around my own self worth and value and not feeling like I belonged in any world, which resulted in me not feeling like I had value in a space. So working through that deep shit and finding and recognizing my own value has helped give me confidence navigating discomfort around conversations about money and payment. Because when I believe in my own worth and then others try to question it, I know that their behavior is not a reflection of my value, but rather has more to do with their own experiences. And I think that realization was a big one in regards to my relationship to discomfort around money.
Caroline: Yes. Yeah that’s amazing!
Marina: I love thinking about these things and how other people think about them. I really appreciated the way that you mapped what you were experiencing in your body. Because that’s also part of what I want to create with this work is our cartography of discomfort. To create this body map to physically/materially visualize it. Because I think that that’s a really interesting piece to this. Like when I used to be stressed about money, it always presented in the same place in my upper shoulders [brings hand to upper shoulder and neck]. I came to know what it felt like in my body, even before I was conscious of it in my mind.
So I really appreciated that you were naming those places as you were also naming the experiences and emotions that correlated with them. It’s a really beautiful quality and awareness to have.
The word ‘expectation’ came up a lot in what you said, and I’m just curious about your relationship with expectation. You shared a little bit about your childhood and your father, and you having this expectation of being cared for and loved and then feeling abandoned. Would you talk a little bit about expectation and abandonment?
Caroline: Uggh. Marina. Ooof.
Yeah I have to think about it. I’m like, oh, it’s such a season of unmet expectations and unmet needs, like in a familial way. Like ugh! Leigh Claire [Caroline’s Wife] and I were just crying about that last night. So, in a way I’ve cried it out. So maybe I can share and it’s less welled up. ‘Cause it definitely was coming out all yesterday. Also in terms of you doing this work, and the dialogical versus the safety of not sharing, it’s very interesting. This is a whole world that I also am curious about.
Marina: Oh, that’s so hard. The holidays bring up so much too, because there’s so much expectation. And then all those dynamics that are present, but never really talked about or reconciled. They don’t just go away. You just have to step back into them.
Marina: Yeah. I’m so curious. This is like a very personal question. You don’t have to answer, but I’m curious too, because of my own experiences of expectation, caretaking, and abandonment, for so many years I never wanted to be a mother or a parent. I was like, nope, not interested in taking care of anybody else. Like I have been there, done it. Don’t want to do it again. I’m curious if you had any of that come up for you?
Caroline: I just need to breathe and probably cry, but okay. [inhales deeply and brings the tops of hands across her face to cover eyes] I think, like normally I [voice starts to quiver]… Well, maybe I will do the somatic. As if I were working with Alta Starr from generative somatics(3), which is where I learned the talking and the somatic at the same time— which is amazing. You talk and you have space and you like, feel it.
I feel this welling up in my chest [brings finger tips to chest] and I don’t know, in my jaw. Just like a quivering. I think it’s also, the season is so sensitive. I feel so much expectation or hope, ridiculously, to be cared for. And it became very important to me, somatically. Especially when I had this revelation that it’s been three generations of running. Of cutting off. Of canceling. Not reconciling. No transformative justice. No healing.
And it was just normal to me. I thought, that’s just what parents do. And so when I decided to become a parent and I was pregnant, I prepared. I had a whole somatic centering that I would do every day that was welcoming Lion to come through me. I would say, “I can love my messy self, my needy self, and also that we can transform the pain in community. And we can ask for our needs with love, through love.” I had a whole thing that I would say every single day.
It’s so intense. And to me, this cutting off [that my family has enacted] is how you keep it raw. But it also is hard for me because I really want to shift somatically and go toward the conflict. So that’s why I’m also very interested in your invitation or request to go into the money story and do it with all of this reality.
Marina: Yeah. Interesting. And I think that this space for me, the way I’ve come to understand it, at least for now, is that there may not be any answers. There may not be resolution. But, what if we became really literate in discomfort? What if we knew what that felt like? And like you did, really beautifully, name what you were feeling in your body, where it was, what was coming up for you and it helped you through the story and helped you through your memories. It helped you through that pain. That’s part of what I want this space to offer— awareness and skills that so many of us don’t know how to or need practice finding and being in.
I think about the brain as well and how all of these experiences that we have create these pathways in our brain that are then associated with these belief systems: I’m not worthy of love. Or, I am worthy of love, but only if I show up in this way. Only if I caretake. Only if I’m the good girl. Then I can be worthy of love. So we then seek to affirm those belief systems in our relationships, in our work environments. So how do we create new beliefs about ourselves? And then how do we practice those beliefs? It’s about practicing. It’s not necessarily about finding a definitive answer or a right way. I appreciate you sharing so openly. And there’s so many pieces there that I really resonate with as well.
Caroline: I’m so curious— I’m like, I know in 10 minutes, we’re going to end and like, I have to do other things. In generative somatic language, I’m an ‘away’. They have three types. One is a ‘toward,’ which tends to be people who do healing work [chuckles] and also domestic workers because it’s a survival strategy. So when they’re organizing with the Domestic Workers Alliance, they’re talking about these different shapes.
A ‘toward’ is like, oh, there’s a problem, let me move into that. And then there is a fight one. They’re interested in the tension, but I think they kind of clash with it, that’s their way. And then mine is [an away], I already left. Like I’m ready. I already cried, I’m ready, boop, boop, boop. That’s the Capricorn robot.
Marina: Yeah. But it’s like that kind of compartmentalization. How has it served you?
Caroline: I mean, that’s how I have a career, I think. And these are the different parts. And I think the people who really know me, who collaborate with me, they know the really introverted, vulnerable Caroline that’s like, What?! How are there all these people who know who I am, or follow me on Instagram or who want to meet with me? Or they are liking these photos or think they know me? And then there’s the compartmentalized Capricorn, that’s just like, I am very organized, efficient, and loved. I showed up in all the right ways and I did all the grants. And I wrote all the emails and I’m always on time. And in my next meeting, I won’t even seem like I cried. And they need to fuse. I think that’s my hope with you, is that we can create space for more wholeness to be held between us as humans and colleagues. So that there is more integration between our whole selves and the work we are doing together in those spaces.
And then we can make a culture like that. Like you’re talking about. That’s the work. So there doesn’t have to be this fear there, where I think I’ll only get invited or loved or whatever, if I don’t cry, have my shit together, sound smart, answer the email, do more than you thought I was going to do.
Marina: Yes, yes. All the expectations! I feel that so deeply.
So I presented on this project in class this week and a big part of that presentation was mapping all the different parts of myself and then being like, this might not seem relevant, but it’s a hundred percent relevant because I have never been allowed to show up wholly in any space. And always had to isolate and choose who I got to be. Or not choose, but have to be only one piece of myself. And so I think what you just said is so beautiful. How can we create more places where we can be authentic and show up with all the parts of ourselves? And I think that’s where I see the connection with the Solidarity Economy work.
Because in the Solidarity Economy, each piece is intrinsic to the whole. So if we don’t bring in all the pieces, it doesn’t work. I think that that’s where I’m seeing the connection here with this kind of explorative, truth-seeking wholeness and how it fits into this economy that we’re working so hard to create, visualize, and explain, teach, and learn, because we’re doing that work with the bodies and the selves and we want to invite that fullness into those spaces.
I think that’s part of why I’m so curious about choosing this one word or subject because this conversation came out of the word “money.” There’s so much there. And that’s part of it too— I’ve found in my bodywork practice with clients that, you think you have a pain in your neck [points to right side of neck where it meets the shoulder], but really there are ten stories that are your mother, that are your father, that is your childhood best friend, that’s your boss, and it’s living here. And so, let’s explore what that is, so that you can understand it and then talk to it and move through it.
Caroline: Yeah. Wow. Alta Starr from generative somatics said something like, “The pain will move through you if you let yourself feel it.” [laughs] I was like, Oh God. [both laugh]
Marina: But it’s true, right? Like you have real emotional releases because finally, you can’t not. It doesn’t matter how many meetings you have scheduled or work things, it comes through at some point. And you’ve just got to do it.
Caroline: Wow. Well, I’m excited to talk. I’m like, in my ‘away.’ I’m like four minutes until my next meeting… [both laugh]
Marina: Yeah. Can we do a little bit of movement?
Caroline: Yeah, that sounds great.
Marina: Okay, cool. And you’re welcome to go off camera or keep it on. It’s totally up to you. And then whatever feels good if you want to stay seated or if you want to sit down. I think I’m going to stand up.
[Both remain on camera. Both stand up and rearrange their spaces.]
If you would like to join in the movement that Caroline and Marina shared to integrate all the stories, memories, and sensations that we experienced and expressed, please follow along below.
If you have space, begin by standing up. Slowly start to rotate your torso from side to side, allow your arms to move freely as you do this.
Feel what that twisting movement feels like all along your spine. From your neck all the way down into your tailbone.
Notice how your hips respond. Are they moving? Still? Where in your body is the rotation being initiated from?
The movement of your arms across the front and back of your body, touching opposites sides of your body acts as a bridge between the left and right hemispheres of your brain.: connecting to the emotional, the intellectual, the spiritual; integrating the words and sensations with your memories and associations.
When you feel ready, bring you breath into your movement in a conscious way. Notice where your breath begins. Notice the quality and texture. Places where it feels easeful and places it sticks.
Then as you’re swinging your arms, start to bring one hand to the opposite shoulder maintaining your motion. Feeling the fullness of your palm as it makes contact across your pecs underneath your clavicle.
Start to slow down your movement, until it’s just your hips rotating. Coming to a pause.
Still standing, place one hand on your lower belly, right below your belly button. Place the other hand, right above your belly button where your rib cage meets your sternum here. And at that point where the rib cage meets the sternum, there’s this really tender spot of ligament.
Gently find a little pressure there. Then a little circular motion with the palm of your hand pressing into that area. Start to broaden that movement to cover a bigger surface. Keeping a circular massaging motion around your belly. Palpating the softness. And places where it feels a little hard and stuck.
Then letting that movement go.
With your hands still on your abdomen, slowly with soft knees, begin to bounce and let your hands move freely on your belly. Feeling the weight of your body, moving into your heels, going back down into the earth, feeling your hands across your belly, generating heat, reinvigorating your Qi, your life force, your energy, your stories, your identities.
Inhale. Exhale through your mouth with a sound.
Good and keeping that bouncing movement, taking your hands off of your belly and letting them just shake.
Breathing in and exhaling “shhh” through your mouth.
Slow your movement until you find a pause.
Clap your hands together in front of your face. Rub your palms together quickly back and forth until they are hot. Place your palms over your eyes.
Last big inhale and exhale when you’re ready.
Last brushing movements or anything you want to do before we come back.
Caroline: Wow. Mmm, thank you. Yeah, I think luckily I’ve been doing like seven years of therapy… Once you know that thing and you let it move through, it’s like you feel it, but not in the same way. It’s like, Oh, it’s that wound.
Marina: Yeah. Absolutely. Any last thoughts? Questions?
Caroline: Um, yeah. I’d love to interview you or just have these storytelling moments more in our integrated selves practice.
Marina: I love that. Let’s do it. I imagine this project as ongoing conversations.
Caroline: One thing I was thinking before I go that maybe is interesting for this is, I don’t know if I ever said to you, “I don’t want to be a tightwad bitch.” Did I ever use that term? Very specific and very somatic for me. And it’s completely related to this whole history. And when you texted me about intimacy at first, I thought, Oh God, I don’t want to talk about sexual assault.
That’s the first thing that comes up. And then I was like, Okay, what else would I want to share? And then I was like, Oh, giving birth is literally like shitting in public, which is my biggest fear. And I had to do it. And for me, in order to give birth, all the somatic people I worked with were like, it’s about opening your sphincters; your throat [moves hands to throat], your colon, everything, your body. And that is what felt like a liberation. And it also is related to being able to be more in the present and be less controlling. Which is also related to controlling money, being constipated, having a tight clenched jaw. So many things with white supremacy. So I think to me, there’s a connection between shitting and money.
Marina: I love it. I’m so here for that!
Caroline: But yeah, I was like, I need to tell you that, because it was my first thought and it’s very somatic. Yeah. We can talk about the sphincters.
(1) The New Economy Coalition defines the solidarity economy as “a global movement to build a just and sustainable economy where we prioritize people and the planet over endless profit and growth. Growing out of social movements in Latin America and the Global South, the solidarity economy provides real alternatives to capitalism, where communities govern themselves through participatory democracy, cooperative and public ownership, and a culture of solidarity and respect for the earth.” See Neweconomy.net for more information.
(2) A seven week series in the fall of 2021 that connected over 100 cultural innovators from grantmaking institutions, to artists and organizers working within the Solidarity Economy. Together we socialized, studied, and collectively dreamt so that we could build the cultural economy we want.
(3) generative somatics is an organization whose mission is to “support social and climate justice movements in achieving their visions of a radically transformed society. We do this by bringing somatic transformation to movement leaders, organizations, and alliances. Our programs engage the body (emotions, sensations, physiology), in order to align our actions with values and vision, and heal from the impacts of trauma and oppression. We aim to advance loving and rigorous movements that possess the creativity, resilience, and liberatory power needed to transform society” (“About Us,” Generative Somatics).
Marina Lopez (she/her) is a Mexican American performing artist and aspiring social practice artist, massage therapist/somatic educator, and cultural organizer. Her experience as a bodyworker is essential to her practice as an artist because we can’t separate the art from the body that makes it. Care work is culture work. As an artist, her work is an interdisciplinary weaving of many voices that links to history, social movements, and tradition. She is a co-coordinator and creative collaborator with Art.Coop and co-coordinates a national Arts, Culture, Care and Solidarity Economy working group. Marina seeks to create work that articulates and provides an embodied cognition of the ways in which art, culture, and care are foundational within a thriving society and brings these undervalued, but essential elements into relationship within a public sphere that creates access to embodiment as an experience, but also as discourse. Her work challenges the status quo of who we as a society uplift as expert voices, and inspires curiosity, collaboration, and solidarity. @connectivesomatics
Caroline Woolard (she/her) is a tall Capricorn who makes sculptures, platforms, and events to imagine and enact relationships of mutual aid. Right now, she is creating Stones that Hold Water and organizing Art.Coop with Marina Lopez and Nati Linares to grow the solidarity economy movement in the United States. She is also the Director of Research and Programs at Open Collective, a collectively-owned tech platform that enables a network of 600+ nonprofits and co-ops to support 7000+ groups to legally raise and spend $30M+ each year. While making clothing, furniture, and sculptures, Woolard has co-founded a number of initiatives, including TradeSchool.coop (barter skillshare), StudyCollaboration.com (collaborative methods), BFAMFAPhD (cultural equity in education), and MakingandBeing (collaborative pedagogy). Woolard’s art and systems-change work has been featured at MoMA, in a monograph, and on New York Close Up, a digital film series broadcast on PBS. Caroline is currently learning to use her type-A skills when asked and to slow down to be present for the pains and pleasures of interdependence. She aims to say “yes” as her 1.5 year old Lion and her wife Leigh Claire La Berge invite her to transform, daily. www.carolinewoolard.com
The Social Forms of Art (SoFA) Journal is a publication dedicated to supporting, documenting and contextualising social forms of art and its related fields and disciplines. Each issue of the Journal takes an eclectic look at the ways in which artists are engaging with communities, institutions and the public. The Journal supports and discusses projects that offer critique, commentary and context for a field that is active and expanding.
Created within the Portland State University Art & Social Practice Masters In Fine Arts. Program, SoFA Journal is now fully online.
Conversations on Everything is an expanding collection of interviews produced as part of SoFA Journal. Through the potent format of casual interviews as artistic research, insight is harvested from artists, curators, people of other fields and everyday humans. These conversations study social forms of art as a field that lives between and within both art and life.
c/o PSU Art & Social Practice
PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207
Sponsored by the Portland State University Art and Social Practice MFA Program