Visual Diary


Each page equals one year.

Each line equals one month.

Each little rectangle equals one day.

I began recording highlights of each day in 1995 when I entered the United States Peace Corps. I was limited to paper available on the island of St. Kitts, and ended up with an extremely non-standard piece of paper. The format was inspired by a calendar that a British friend showed me the year before, and from there, I invented my own visual language, creating symbols for various events ranging from going to the movies, out to dinner to making love.

As time went by, and I began showing the calendars to more and more people, I began to make some changes. Color was eliminated for a more black and white graphic quality. The opening monthly banners disappeared after they were negatively critiqued at Yale.  And I realized that I had started to self-censor what I recorded. What was this urge to censor? What was I censoring? I censored how often I had sex; anger and annoyance at my students, my family; fears. Some of that has changed by the addition of my own code words. Being aware of it allows me to ask myself daily if I am about to censor.  More importantly, I now use it as a discussion point with my students. I ask them to think about their own subtle self-censoring, and how that affects their work, life and living, while I ask myself the same question.

Fast-forward to 2016, and the 22nd year of creating this calendar.

I continue to document my daily activities. I discovered that when my exercise documentation increased, that I was typically suffering from mild to intense depression. I tracked my regular headaches to my menstrual cycle and I was able to answer questions like, “Do you remember what weekend we went to Nevis, California, New York or Paris?”

Sometimes I get behind, and I must rely on internet calendars and dwindling memories to fill in the days. Other times I mark each day faithfully. This piece documents HERE, where I am today, often in North Adams, Cheshire, Williamstown; sometimes on the trails, in my studio or the classroom. Always considering how I respond to this place by my daily choices.