Katherine Kwong's Reflection on the Project

Katherine Kwong was a brilliant intern on our project this last year.  She is a senior at Westmont College and has contributed Lesson Plans for K-12, using our Portraits of the Central Coast content.

 Read her thoughts below:

Coyote Cowboy Monoprint

We cannot live only for ourselves.  

A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men;

and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, 

our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.

- Herman Melville

This is the epigraph that greeted me when I turned the glossy pages of Holli Harmon’s first exhibition catalog. It was her art project’s first debut as a solo show and it was my job to read through the catalog by way of introduction to the project. It was the first thread I would follow into this multi-faceted project. The more I read about the project, the more I realized how unique it was. That word is frighteningly cliché, but Holli was mixing history and art, sociology and videography, story and sound bite in a way I had not experienced before.  The people she had chosen to paint were ordinary, the kind of people I might see at a farmer’s market or local theater or cycling down a main bike path. Yet, there was something in all of them: they were all curious. They were curious about their place in the world, their place in and among their chose craft and their place as world-changers. Not world-changers in the glossy, globalized commercial way, but world-changers who saw the real problems and acted on finding positive solutions. All of the portrait subjects are invested in curiosity in different ways. I was hooked.

Holli Harmon’s studio is a webbed landscape in itself. It has been both artist workshop and gallery space and somewhere in between. On a bulletin board tacked up paper memories from magazines and artist meet ups is child-like picture of a square man, stick arms spread wide:

“I have no idea what is going to happen and I love it!”


an enthusiastic declarations that became my mantra. Sure, there are naysayers who will say it’s is impractical, but what it taught me about the realm of the possible makes its inherent uncertainty a possibility. Internships can give you hard practical skills sure. But, internships also teach you how to deal with other slices of life you haven’t had yet: uncertainty, unstructured environments, artists and independent work. Those are forming habits that will last me a lifetime. I am by no means an expert in any of those states of being. But, I’ve done them enough to know which ones I like, which ones need growth and which ones I love. Unorthodox takeaways for a different kind of project.

Portraits of the Central Coast has shown me the delight of a community collage.

Art captures reality well and we would do well to pay attention to art more.

I have always loved art thanks to two wonderful parents, but art’s ability to partner with other mediums showed me that the possibilities for storytelling via art are really endless. So many threads, a lovely yarn of a project and story to be a part of. It doesn’t end here. Check our Portraits for yourself and share them with a person in your life. You’re bound to find connections from common interest to needing teacher resources – that’s how we get to know each other right? The effects of the project have been good. I am grateful and inspired to have helped make them better.

-Katherine Kwong