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Brianna Harden

To bloom and to flower


The Valley


Strangers / Neighbors Gouache on paper 11 x 14

Tell me where you keep all your secrets upstairs, night after night you sleep while

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they’re setting off flares. I walked into shed after all was finished, returning a screw driver that I’d earlier pilfered from some box. (It’s hard to say what belongs to the landlady and her son, and what could belong to the guys). Dustin was there, standing over what I’d discovered to be an old-fashioned library card-catalog box. It was a beautiful thing, a relic­—taken from an elementary school or something, he said they were about to throw the thing out. He salvaged it instead, in hopes of turning it into a tool organizer or something... but he just couldn’t figure out what to do with the cards! I couldn’t blame him. I said, “I’m no pack rat but this thing is a dinosaur, the last of its kind.“ We flipped through the cards. “It has to be from an elementary school,” he said, as Riley poked her head in. “There’s nothing with any bad words. No mention of homosexuals or anything like that. Riley likes to pull the ones that say pig or pony”, he said as she selected “The Pig War” from the open drawer. “You can take what you like,” he said with a smile, as the little girl dragged him out by the hand.


Lago di PietĂ  Gouache on paper 8 x 10

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Plan Graphics Vol. 4 Ink on paper 8½ x 11 Proceeding: Palms & Streetlights White gouache on Nepal paper 11 x 17

On teenage driving I’m in the dressing room in a Gap that I’ve never been to and I’m sitting with a cell phone in my hands. In front of me, a thin wiry girl is spinning around in her underwear, tossing clothes at the floor. I’m staring at the floor not out of abashedness or modesty, but because I have the phone in my ear and on the other end my mother is screaming at me calling me a liar. Liar, liar. I look up to the girl, I don’t bother to mute the line. “Gorgeous, it looks gorgeous on you. Amazing fit, like it was made for you,” I pause. “Really. I think you should get it.” Liar, liar.

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The view from a east-Valley home, a nice sky, a nice skyline from Van Nuys Boulevard, heading south, talking about sky lines and vantage points. In the car with you, now, and you’re still biting your nails as you hit the brake a little too fast, and for all the fun you make of me you’re no better yourself. And I find my own thumb between my teeth as I gaze out the passenger window and realize, I’m no better myself, either.


Ingredients Gouache on paper 30 x 40 Preceding: Victory & Burbank Acrylic ink & gesso on paper 16 x 20

I called my sister in Reseda, and left a message at the tone

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The slowly setting sun cast a golden glow and repaved the road I drove upon - a road I’ve lived off of for all my life, yet not once have cared to take as far north as it leads. The view around me stunned me - half for the fact that I’d never quite imagined what lies beyond, half for the fact that I’d simply never bothered to see. And the houses there! First came the shock of the sheer volume of them nestled in the hills, tucked above ravines and between tall trees, and then came the understanding of inherent value, the beauty in defiance of them sitting there so pompous against the rolling hills. The road I drove on - wide, winding, gilded - was completely empty. For all I knew this was a set, a facade, a dreamscape where these were boxes not homes, where no people trod. But then it became quite clear this notion was to the contrary. It took quite a bit of driving to find potential for a view unobstructed by these houses. And when I did finally find it - the winding trails up onto the hills, a green stretch of land not confined by private property, there were gates and fences, posts with “No Tresspassing” signs and Neighborhood Watch warnings. Upset, I drove on, certain that I’d find somewhere leading out, someplace I could stretch my legs without fear of reprimand and worse. Some ground I could stand on and admire from above what I claim to be my home. Some view that hasn’t already been purchased and protected.


Victory Red Gouache on Yupo 12 x 19

But there were none and I drove and drove until gates stopped me, “End of Road� signs pushed aside for gates expanded, a few thousand feet more, and the finally the pavement completely ended. Across was an expanse of hillside, golden still beneath the cascade of sundown, blocked up from exploration by a chain link fence. Just beyond lay barrels lined in an orderly fashion, waiting patiently, and I knew next time I would come up there, there would be more houses, more obstructions to the view, more multi-million dollar facades. An unsettled mind raced as I followed the path of the gate back down to the confines of the Valley below. Do I really desire freedom? In spontaneity, in adventure? Or is this all vanity? Am I truly looking for a cage just for the sake of saying there was one from which I broke free?


Shorn


Incision Ink on Yupo 8 x 10

Out on the two-lane highway, an engine screamed as it sped across the farmland I stepped out into the orchard; the sun was violent in the sky. It was high noon and the light reflected brightly off the high rises in the distance. But here in the valley, all was still. At my feet, dozens of the fallen lay motionless. I paced the grounds, surveying the scene, admiring my good fortune. I knelt down next to one. I grasped it, felt the weight of it in my hand. The flesh was still taut, the smell was ripe and sweet. I drew a small folding knife from its permanent place in my pocket and made a careful incision, deliberate yet forceful, piercing the top layer. Bright bloody juices gushed out, dripping down all sides, staining my fingers a darker shade. The sun blazed against the back of my neck, sweat formed thick on my brow. In the distance I could hear the sharp whine of a car speeding down the highway, the sound compressing and then stretching low. Once again I was alone with my spoils. I dropped the knife, blade sticky, into the dry grass beneath me. I dug my thumbs in. I could feel the pressure build, I could feel the flesh ooze and catch under my nails. I stripped the top layer impatiently away, anticipation mounting as the tart smell arrested my senses. There was only one thing left to do. Skin removed, I held the meaty orange thing in my sticky hands, admiring my hard work. With an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction, I took a bite.

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Two Decades Ink & graphite on paper 9 x 12 Proceeding: Elevate / Rapunzel Graphite on paper 9 x 12

She reached over brushed a stray strand from her shoulder Delayed. A euphemism for stuck. Hour number fifteen. Airport languages fill my ears in waves, international words jar me from a daydream. I pull my hair out of its ponytail in effort to muffle the sounds, and a curly brown lock falls on my shoulder. I direct my gaze to it, to a single split strand. With sudden new resolve, I pinch the tuft of hair between my thumb and forefinger. I engage: combing, foraging, selecting, and then carefully plucking the offending split like an unsightly weed in an overgrown garden. Sooner than the dead piece hits the floor, my fingers are moving, hunting for another. The world around me has temporarily suspended – no more scraping of luggage against tiled floor, no more intermittent automated security announcements. Just one hair, and the next. Soon there grows a pile, soon there grows a crowd. After each one I pluck, I find five more splits. Yet my own hair, the unruly frizzy mop that it is, is no thinner for it. It piles; I pluck; it does not disperse. Security arrives, puzzlement veiled by authoritative tones. You are posing a security threat, they say, we demand to see your passport. Before I can answer, the mound of splits, the pile of reject hairs, grabs me and shoots upwards. Through the ceiling, above the terminals, dwarfing the men in security jackets, dwarfing the buildings, turning the ground into a patchwork. I am Rapunzel and I am the Prince. Below me, cars turn into a parade of ants. Attention passengers, at this time we have reached cruising altitude, feel free to unbuckle your seat belts and walk around the cabin‌


Chicken Hairs & Peach Fuzz Ink on paper 9 x 12

Trich, or the last nine months Before I started eating them, I would pull them. It didn’t matter where I was, stealth was only part of the equation. If my hand would somehow find my scalp, my fingers would go into action. I would pinch thumb and forefinger, combing, parting, anticipation mounting, searching, scavenging, selecting, then finally plucking the victim strand. I would pause for a moment, relieved, renewed, practically post-coital, and let out a soundless sigh. It started off occasionally. The more I came to love the release, the less the side effects would bother me. Having long hair only did so much good, and eventually bald patches surfaced. The school nurse had me stay home for a week with imaginary head lice. I started wearing hats – a knitted beanie in winter, and a lacey doily with elastic, a glorified hair-net, in the summer. My eyebrows fell victim one week, so I arrived at school with a perturbed expression heavily penciled on. The girls called me names in a language I didn’t understand. My classmates had long since acknowledged the incongruity. They responded as teenagers do, with suspicious looks and disgust that was poorly veiled - I was a social pariah with no hope of redemption. I couldn’t care less for their taunts, and it wasn’t until my mother withdrew from her denial of it that I, too, was shaken from my stupor. For so long, like the nurse she told herself it was head lice. When it wasn’t head lice she figured it was a poor diet, and after my mother banned

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sodas and candy she then amounted it to stress. I would often find her desk littered with pamphlets from the drug store, from the holistic health pharmacy, and once or twice from her friend’s church. The word “obsessive” appeared, the word “chronic” embellished, but I was sure that neither referred to me. But one day Mom came home with a single word on her tongue, and I knew she finally had me figured out. When Mom said it, when she finally told me to stop, the word had gravity. When Mom said it I knew what she was really saying. When she said “Stop pulling your hairs,” she meant “Stop being imperfect”. When she said “You’ll make yourself go bald”, she meant “You’ll never be as beautiful as Mandy was.” It’s hard to live up to the standards of a four year old. She’ll be immortal in that cornflower blue paisley dress that brought out the crystalline shine in her two big eyes. She’ll live forever with the sun cascading warm through glowing golden hair. She’ll bless us all with a cotton candy scepter held tightly in her tiny fists, printed in duplicate and framed front-and-center on the mantelpiece. When I wake up in the morning I walk out of my bedroom and through the living room, past the mantelpiece where she lives, down the hall and into the bathroom. The first image in my mind every morning is her face as I stare down my own face in the dusty bathroom mirror. Her hair is golden and glowing, mine is mousey and greasy. Her skin is porcelain, mine is pitted. I would brush my ratty hair and try to convince myself, perhaps through repetition, that we are all equal in the eyes of God. Eating it became the logical progression. If my hair was kept long, people wouldn’t notice the shorter strands. I didn’t

need to pluck them anymore. A sweeping gesture of the hand could accidentally brush a few strands by my waiting lips, a dart of the tongue would wrap one in. The hairs were tasteless but for the faint smell of shampoo, the fragile ends would break under my teeth and tongue. Food became less appetizing, yet I gained weight. The new word whispered in the hallways was now something I could understand. “Pregnant”. And they were right – whatever it was didn’t sit like a gut earned from one too many Happy Meals. The rest of my figure stayed thin as it had been; whatever it was that I carried seemed to occupy a space just for itself. In spite of the mockery and the confusion that had started to buzz around me, I began to feel a sense of pride. In the mirror where there once was a skinny ribcage resting atop boyish hips was now a beautiful swell, pushing out my pale stomach and giving a curve to my lanky form. And it was of not food or sex or any other material vice – this was something of my own doing, of my own creation, from myself and back to myself. So with a newfound voracity the chewing persisted. As the thing in my gut grew, so my appetite began to shrink. First breakfast was skipped, then lunch was barely necessary, and the only reason dinner held out so long was so Mom wouldn’t worry. My hair itself looked burnt, as if every morning I styled it by ritualistically jamming a wet thumb into the bathroom electrical socket. And my stomach grew by the day. I accommodated it. I acknowledged the responsibility that comes with a change like this. Puberty had felt contradictory to me, like a flower blossoming from a weed; the swell in my stomach gave me some other cause to invoke beauty. So

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Proceeding: 9519 Whitaker Graphite & hair on paper 9 x 12

I abandoned my grungy t-shirts for flowing summer dresses. I threw out my sneakers and bought ladies’ shoes. I bought a woven basket and covered it in the softest of pink blankets. One morning I couldn’t get out of bed. The dead-weight heaviness in my gut allowed me no movement. I had no appetite – it churned and sloshed and took up what little space I had left for food. I laid there acknowledging the maturing thing inside of me and let it acknowledge me. You are of me, I repeated as it stirred. I am of you, it said back, and the pulsing pain transformed into a wave of warmth. We came to peace.

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On day three I woke up in a field of white. Bright halos of light rung round my eyes. Faint beeps and chimes floated around my head as indiscernible shapes shuffled across my peripheral vision. The weight in my gut seized up and rebelled. A wall of pain struck me and I fell back under. I woke again and I was empty. The lights were off but I could feel profoundly. I could feel absence. I could feel an emptiness where once there hard been such an overwhelming presence. I could feel pain, I could feel the bandages across my waist. I felt the void in my gut. I arched my body up and let my lungs fill with air; I let it out soundlessly and then found voice. The white room resonated with a horrible scream. I came to for a third time and this time I was not alone. I was flanked by blurry visions of nurses. New tubes drip-fed into both arms.

“Your mother is in the next room, is that who you were calling for?” one of them inquired. No, no it wasn’t. “Where is it,” I whispered, hoarse. “Are you sure?” The world, this narrow white world, was rushing at me at a hundred miles per second. I jolted to sit up but a hand firmly forced me back. My heart kept accelerating as another nurse walked into an adjacent partition and returned with a cart. For the first time I saw it. It sat in a bed of linen - dark, matted, shining wet. There was no longer any individual hair, every brown strand was now woven and tangled to something far more incredible than the sum of its parts. “How big is she,” I asked, incredulous. The nurse raised an eyebrow before responding, “Just over seven pounds.” On the drive home I sat in the back seat with her sitting next to me, resting in the wicker basket with a pink blanket for cushion, strapped securely in by a seatbelt. My mother sat up front. For the first time since I could remember, her hair was drawn into a tight bun, high up on her head, every strand pulled tautly and wrapped. My mother didn’t speak and I couldn’t tell if she was crying, but I could see her lip tremble every time she turned her head to check for traffic. I fell asleep that night staring at the bassinet, looking forward to a new day for the first time since I could remember.


Dear Livejournal,


Identity Ink on paper 24 x 36 Proceeding: The Orange Sea Gouache on paper 10 x 17

Left for the fieldmice and the sparrows

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I got pushed ahead in preschool, so I was used to being last. Last in line, last on the roll-sheet, last to have a birthday. But in fifth grade, things were a bit different. When I came to armpit hair, I was first. For a little while I was more confused by it than I was scared of it, so I let it grow until it was a full tuft. Then I was terrified. Sleeveless shirts migrated to the back of my dresser drawers and oversized t-shirts became part of daily attire. That summer I went to sleep-away camp. I packed my bags anticipating two weeks of horse-back riding and roasting marshmallows. I arrived to pine trees that towered over small clearings designating sleeping places and group fire pits. The largest clearing was for the stables where we would stand under a merciless sun and sweat through white screenprinted camp shirts while horses impatiently whinnied and stamped away the flies. At the pool, I couldn’t hide it - I’d almost forgotten it was there, that greybrown matted patch, symmetrical on either side of my body, speckled white with flecks of antiperspirant. One girl let out a squeal as I raised my arms to hoist myself out of the water. As I pulled myself onto the pavement, another ran up to me and tugged at a clump, eyes wide in horror when it did not in fact peel off like an unfortunately placed toupee. I stole a pair of scissors from the counselors’ lodge and trimmed it that night under the moonlight, leaving my shame for the field mice and the sparrows.


“You dress very dark�, she spat with a half-scowl, not looking at my black cardigan and grey jeans but instead staring transfixed at the two-dozen or so white cat hairs woven quite permanently into my sweater. I smiled and she turned to walk away. Bright red strands of ear hair rocketed out from the inside of her lobes and began braiding themselves together as they cascaded down her mannish shoulders.


Vulpine Ink & graphite on paper 8 x 10 Preceding: Maturation Ink & graphite on paper 9 x 12

Treat it like an oil well, where it’s underground, out of sight You were the pastor’s daughter, the Pretty Friend, baby blue eyes big on your freckled face. Yellow cardigan with a paisley Sunday dress, white ballet flats and a see-through red thong. We accidentally had dinner together one night after we both got locked out of rehearsal and it started raining. After that you started calling me on weekends, sometimes about the theatre, and sometimes you’d cry to me about everything you couldn’t yet make sense of. I would listen and hold my breath without knowing it, head spinning and going lighter as you spoke softly across the line. One day I brushed against your arm in the dark of backstage left. I recoiled expecting smooth and soft but instead I surprised by stubble. Our eyes met, pupils wide as they could go. You blushed so bright that your cheeks glowed in the half-light and I stuttered nonsense until no more words came out. The calls stopped and then you graduated. I would see photos from mutual friends but I’d never need to ask how it all went. I was sure I already knew. They were all pretty boys and they’d say they were infatuated, but you’d have sex and never orgasm, as if daddy knew of your deeds and he knew that there was no ring. And by the time your hair would grow back on those freckled white arms, the boys would be gone and you’d be in the dark all over again.

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Chicken Sandwich Gouache on paper 8½ x 11 Preceding: Life Cycle / Tazo Bird Gouache on paper 8 x 14

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Wheat from Chaff Ink on paper 9 x 12 Facing: Rue Gouache & graphite on paper 12 x 16


Animal intersections


Mimicry It was only our first day in the new house, our first night in the new neighborhood, and the cat already came back all scratched up. It took me a while to calm down her whining and mewing, and even longer to assess the situation. Joseph applied a hot compress to her wounds and I combed the dirt from her fur while we took stock of the situation. A cat-against-cat wound means long scratches in sets of threes, and a dog-against-cat wound means stitches. This was neither. There were small peck-marks where her skin had been pinched, she was squinting in one eye as if her face had been targeted, and most noticeably of all, sizeable chunks of fur had been plucked from all over her back and tail. Bald patches of shameful pink shone through her amber fur, drops of blood matted her otherwise soft coat. We tended her wounds, brushed her out, chalked it all up to feline folly and called it a night. The next day we began unpacking boxes for the garden. I’d grown up in apartment buildings in the inner city my entire life, and this modest suburban town was the furthest I’d ever ventured away. If I’d had it my way I’d have left for a cabin in the heart of some uncharted forest, but Joseph had ties to a career in the city and this was the furthest we could get. Regardless of the compromise, the tiny house had a huge garden. For what the house’s interior lacked in upkeep, the garden completely outshone. The yard was so disproportionately vast that I could set up a picnic table at the back wall and hardly see the kitchen window.

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Urban Habitats / Woodland Homes Ink on paper Proceeding: Decal transfer on ceramic 12 x 12

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Well-kept shrubs and orange trees together formed my own southland oasis in the middle of an otherwise scorching valley. I had hardly touched my towering boxes of clothes and books and shoes before I decided the first day was to be spent making this garden my own. I myself had no gardening knowledge, but I believed in a naïve way that my own desire for the natural would guide me to its beauty. Equipped with my mom’s old gloves and my dad’s hand-me-down tools, I trekked out into the garden. There were small issues to tend to. Two lavender bushes stubbornly occupied the near corner of the garden, choking out all life around them and showering their radius with dainty purple blossoms. Nasturtium, with their orange and red petals, crept across the ground in patches. A rosemary bush sat in a clearing, draped with fuzzy cobwebs. The first real eyesore I saw was an incongruously gnarled tree at the back corner of the yard. Instead of being plump with fruit like the other trees were, this one was a tangle of huge crumpled leaves and urban detritus. A shoelace poked in and out at intervals, and a purple iridescent ribbon attached to long-deflated balloon was interwoven throughout the width of the tree. Tentatively, I jabbed my shovel into the middle of it and poked around. A tiny brown missile, a thing hardly larger than the size of my palm, rocketed out of one of the upper branches and soared up, maneuvering itself for a dive-bomb aimed straight for my face. I saw white patches on either extended wing shine bright in the noon light, like sun reflecting off an airplane. I covered

my face and screamed as I felt claws dig into my scalp. In an instant it had landed on the tree again, and through the gaps between my fingers I could see tiny beady eyes bearing down on me, and a thick tuft of my own red hair captured in its narrow beak. I ran back inside, whimpering, and dabbed haphazardly at myself with disinfectant just as I had done to the cat the night before. The cat looked up at me from her perch on the windowsill, knowing that I too had become a victim. “A scratch or a cut I wouldn’t have minded,” I said to the feline. I grabbed a thick lock of my dark red hair, which cascaded down to the small of my back. I began braiding it, almost obsessively preening the strands. The cat looked on with pity. The next day I spent inside, unpacking the books and clothes and shoes. Joseph worked outside, pulling weeds and clearing cobwebs as I watched with bitterness. He neither acknowledged the tree, nor did the fiend inside acknowledge him – his bald head reflected bright in the hot afternoon sun. I realized at once that he had nothing for the creature. “It’s just a mockingbird”, he told me over a microwaved dinner. “They’re ubiquitous around here. I guess they’re kind of territorial… looks like you and the cat just got on its bad side.” Explanation or none, kitty and I were still nursing our wounds. I slept poorly, and at four in the morning I woke to the sound of a car alarm. I sat up listening to make sure it wasn’t mine, and became bewildered as the noise transitioned into a bird’s song. It took me a while to fall asleep for the sound of the imposter’s siren.

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Proceeding: Forest Pattern Sublimation print on fabric Proceeding: Animal Intersections Printed lampshade 9 x 42

I woke again after only a few hours. Sleep-deprived and weary, I made my way to the end of the garden. I found my cat asleep, shivering under a picnic bench with goosebumps showing plain in the morning light through widening patches in her fur. I cried out and grabbed her, turning on my heels towards the culprit. He was sitting there on the far tree, which was now more bare and mottled despite the warming springtime. He was watching us shrewdly. Holding the cat in front of me as a shield with claws, I advanced on him slowly. As I got closer I realized that while the tree’s foliage seemed to have shrunk, there was a nest on the far side of the tree that seemed to be growing exponentially. I leaned as close as I could without ruffling the mockingbird, and realized to my shock that the nest was entirely comprised of hair. The bird let out a shrill cry, and I ran back towards the house with the cat cradled in my arms.

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For days I stayed inside, brooding. Every time Joseph suggested that I try again, the mockingbird would fly up and encircle the garden, as if he could sense my intentions. I busied myself with unpacking boxes and situating the furniture. “I’m sure the bird will settle down. He’s getting used to us, just like we’re settling into our new home,” Joseph said soothingly. Somehow I was still not so sure. Joseph ran his fingers through my hair as I sat sorting through a box full of photographs. One fell onto the table as I dug through a stack. Joseph picked it up, inspecting it in the afternoon light. It depicted me as a teenager, standing in front

of my childhood home. My hair, bright red at the time, fell long past my hips. Joseph let out a chuckle. “When was the last time you wore it short?” he asked. I stared back at him blankly, almost confused by the question. “You’re like Samson,” he said vaguely, and tossed the photograph back in the pile. The next morning I sat in the garden at dawn, when the mockingbird would typically rise and begin singing his imposter’s songs. I cleared weeds and dead brush from the center of the garden, working in plain view of the gnarled tree. In one hand I carried a blanket, in the other I held thin, pointed shears. I spread the blanket out and sat facing the tree. I pulled my hair down from a hefty bun. I raised the silver scissors to the light, and piece by piece I began cutting it all off. At first the bird ignored me. Soon a pile of hair grew in a circumference around where I sat, and the mockingbird could no longer feign disinterest. He puffed himself up and danced between the branches, letting out excited chirps and whistles. I breathed deeply as I felt my head grow lighter with every click of the scissors. When the last strand had fallen, I looked up at the mockingbird with resignation. He started a sweet song and then flew down to meet me.


Lost Boston Terrier Plush sculpture 24 x 36 Preceding: Les Savy Fav Poster Ink & digital 14 x 17

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Things I learned in design school


Something You Can’t Return To Gouache & cut paper 12 x 24

February 18th, 2007; March 12th, 2008 Here’s my soul poured out onto a few dozen pieces of board and canvas, a few sheets of typed printer paper, and my name a hundred times over in that unwieldy handwriting. Here’s everything I’ve dedicated myself to completely in the past year and a half. Here’s what I’ve wanted for the past four. Maybe I’m a fool, I guess that’s in your hands to decide. Do treat me kindly, though.

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Last night I met two second-term illustration majors. We were working in room 100 and they said, you guys must be first term. They were a young Asian couple and they seemed poised and confident and we were sloppy and giddy. We laughed and fessed up and asked, how blatantly obvious was it? They said, besides the projects in front of us, it’s how much we were laughing. “We used to be like that first term, too,” said the girl. “But when second term starts, you really learn how to frown.”


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I Take Copious Notes Pen on paper 8½ x 11 Proceeding: Foods for Your Beauty Gouache on paper 5x7

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Walgreens/Chignon Pen on paper 8 x 10

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Freeway Lanes Infographic Graphite on paper 8½ x 11

Excerpts from Blood Meridian, pages 140-141 and page 198 A Tennessean named Webster had been watching him and he asked the judge what he aimed to do with those notes and sketches and the judge smiled and said that it was his intention to expunge them from the memory of man. Webster smiled and the judge laughed. Webster regarded him with one eye asquint and he said: “Well you’ve been a draftsman somewheres and them pictures is like enough the things themselves. But no man can put all the world in a book. No more than everthing drawed in a book is so.” Toadvine sat watching him as he made his notations in the ledger, holding the book toward the fire for the light, and he asked him what was his purpose in all this. The judge’s quill ceased its scratching. He looked at Toadvine. Then he continued to write again. Toadvine spat into the fire. The judge wrote on and then he folded the ledger shut and laid it to one side and pressed his hands together and passed them down over his nose and mouth and placed them palm down on his knees. “Whatever exists,” he said. “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.”


Red Coat Acrylic ink on paper 18 x 24


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Op-Ed Class; Fall 2010 Pen on paper 8½ x 11 Proceeding: Constance Spry Gouache on paper 10 x 14

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“The thing that gives our every move its meaning is always totally unknown to us.” ­— Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being


References & quotations 4

Yo La Tengo. “Pablo & Andrea”. Electr-O-Pura. Matador, 1995.

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The Mountain Goats. “High Doses #2”. Come, Come to the Sunset Tree. Self-released, 2005.

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Pavement. “In the Mouth of a Desert”. Slanted & Enchanted. Matador Records, 1992.

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Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian: Or, the Evening Redness in the West. New York: Vintage, 1992.

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Milan Kundera. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.

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Acknowledgements This book was a product of: Staring at my name until the letters ceased to make sense; deciding to set it all in Beton Light and Univers 45. Four hours on the third of February (twenty-eleven) when I could not utter a single comprehensible syllable. Pulling myself together and hitting command+D a lot in InDesign CS5. Printing at Typecraft Wood & Jones in Pasadena; binding at Kater Crafts in Pico Rivera. The program “Stickies” on my iMac, to whom I tell all my secrets, and the program “Calendar” on my Google account, to whom I divulge all of my future aspirations.

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This book is dedicated to: Randy Aragon, Nick Arciaga, Tercius Bufete, Bradford Lynn, Ann Shen, Junyi Wu and Jonathan Zajdman for being friends, counselors, and cheerleaders to me all throughout the process. Brian Rea & Holly Gressley, who were kind enough to share their time and expertise to help make the book what it is. David Tillinghast & Rob Clayton, for their thorough knowledge and guidance through the graduation process. Michelle & Bill Harden, who did not disown their oldest daughter for wanting to go to art school.


Published in Los Angeles, April 2011. Copyright Š Brianna Harden, 2011.


To Bloom and To Flower