🌱 ADiEAN Dae Neòn 🌱
Sproutin' Between the Cracks
Visual Arts @ Color Bloq
Growing up queer within the hyper conservative structrues of the suburbs of a place commonly referred to as “Military City USA” provided distinctive challenges in figuring out who they are and how to navigate the facet of society they’d been planted into. Having left their childhood home and now existing in the ~real world~ has placed ADiEAN🌱 into unique situations of feeling as though everything they learned about how to function in society was wrong; or rather, simply one-sided/close-minded. This is a big part of what influences their current sprout persona which focuses on exploring the world with the energy of childhood naiveté. ADiEAN🌱’s work primarily involves exploration of self love, inner child healing, and working through past traumas with imagery inspired by themes present in contemporary pop/internet culture.
Primarily self-taught, ADiEAN🌱’s works use a myriad of mediums such as photography, fashion design, soft sculpture, music and performance with an emphasis on using recycled/repurposed materials.
In 2015, they were awarded a national gold medal from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Recently, they were featured in All Shades Considered: Group Exhibition at the Austin Central Library gallery. ADiEAN🌱 is also a resident DJ and performer for CUT UP! every Tuesday night at Elysium in Austin, TX.
Color Bloq Visual Arts: Tell us about you and your background. How do you identify?
ADiEAN🌱: Well, first and foremost, I identify as a sprout. I am new beginnings, the sowing of seeds. I'm not sure yet what I am as most sprouts look the same at this point; but I don't think I'm a tree or shrub of some kind — I think I'm a wildflower actually. And soon I'll flower and then make new seeds. Then, I'll die and sprout again. I am forever: rebirth, the cycle of life.
I also will say that I identify as an american. I'm not proud of this country. I'm not proud of all the genocide and slavery it was built or any of the countless other horrible injustices this country has added to the world throughout its history, including everything that's still happening. But what it all comes down to, it's what I am. I am an american. Born into a line of immigrants from around the world who came here for a better life. I, like so many other mixed individuals, feel somewhat of a disconnect from my roots; often not knowing where to fit in, but this is where we fit in. The united states of america — the land of opportunity. Really, I think it's quite an interesting moment in human history. Good or bad, it's what we've created and now we are something new...we are americans.
My mom is from the Philippines. She moved to Guam in the middle of her childhood and later in early adulthood, she met my dad who was stationed there in the Navy. He grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where that side of my family has been from for a while. That's where I was born: Mcallen, TX, a little city right up against the border. We moved to Guam shortly after, but came back to the states because opportunities were better. That's how we ended up in the suburbs of San Antonio. I moved into my childhood home at about age four, I think? And I lived there until just about 8 months ago!
I used to wake up every morning and look out my window to the endless rows of cookie cutter houses. I’d get in the minivan and get dropped off at school, or go to one of the multiple shopping centers in the area with big box stores and chain restaurants which, in more recent years, were places I'd go to work. The american dream. It was a very safe upbringing. Safe and shielded.
Thankfully, throughout my childhood I was always encouraged to be creative. In school I got super lucky to have had an art teacher that really welcomed open-ended creativity and exploration. I did a lot of that after school every day in the green spaces between housing complexes. That was my studio, my sanctuary. I found whatever cracks in the sidewalk I could to sprout in, but there weren't many as everything was so new and clean. Towards the end, I was long overdue for repotting.
It was the summer of 2017 that I began my journey into my new life. I spent a few months with my grandparents in a town called Richmond, way out in the suburbs of the Houston metropolitan area. It took almost an hour each way to drive into the museum district deeper in the city. That's where I did most of my intense healing and growth, and received all the concepts for everything I'm doing now. I saw myself as a being in a cocoon transitioning into a new era; though now I see the cocoon was a seed pod that was planted on August 21st, the day of the solstice that year. I recognize this as my new birthday, or rather, a rebirthday.
In my seed pod is where I discovered that I was created by this interdimensional art collective called x0pn0tla, and they are all from or around earth, yet none are humans. Though one of them used to be. They are a group of seven beings that come together in the fifth dimension to collaborate and explore where they decided to take on exploring one of the strangest and most complex walks of life on earth: to be human. So they created me! They came together with pieces of themselves and created a new soul: ADiEAN🌱. They sent me down to earth into a physical body to grow up from birth to adulthood (age 20) to take in information. Now that phase is over and they have revealed themselves to me. The second stage in the project of being human is just to live out the rest of life on earth exploring and collaborating with the different beings here. It's all still pretty fresh and I'm still figuring it all out, but that's part of the project in itself. Then, one day I'll die and join x0pn0tla in the higher planes of existence. For now, I'm just meant to live on earth and experience what it's like to be human.
After my rebirth, I started college at the Southwest School of Art in Downtown San Antonio right across the street from the Spy Kids OSS Junior Headquarters. I left before finishing the first semester because it was different from my experience with one of my favorite teachers ever in high school. There, I actually had to follow their curriculum for two years before I could get into the classes for the specific mediums I wanted to learn to have the option for self-exploration. I had to dedicate so much time on a bunch of useless projects with mediums that I had already explored on my own (and decided I didn't like), all to keep a passing grade to maintain my scholarship. It was too much to do while trying to bring all the other concepts I had to life. It was really annoying, so I left. If I was still there, I would barely be starting the year that I could fully be doing self-exploration and I'm glad I made the decision to leave. I do wish I could've had the stability and access to equipment that's harder to get access to as an independent artist, but I feel like I learned so much on my own since leaving. I think it can benefit certain people, but we are all different! I thrive in different learning environments that I luckily have found I can put myself into on my own terms...for free!
Soon after I left college, I started really getting into nightlife and I "played" keyboard for my friend Prylene in her band. I moved to Austin which I felt had more space for me and my art style whereas San Antonio tends to be more traditional and conservative. The band broke up when Prylene moved, so I started my solo career as a nightlife personality. I created the sprout persona largely because since I left suburbia and came into the rest of the world, it was quite a culture shock; it turns out there was a lot I had to learn about how the world works. I've always struggled a lot with social anxiety and I feel like I never learned how to properly interact with people. Or maybe, I just communicate in different ways. I'm often hard to understand and really shy at first. That's why I like the idea of performing a character because it gives me a guideline of how to exist in different spaces. After all, everything we do is a performance: as RuPaul says, "slay the world!" *inhales*...
Color Bloq: What's your favorite color and why?
ADiEAN🌱: My favorite color is green of course! It’s always been green, actually, for as long as I can remember. I think part of it had to do with the stuffed bunny that never left my side as a child. Also my love for plants and all things green. It has fluctuated since then, though, and I’ve decided that I don’t have a true favorite color. It depends on what wavelength I'm on for the day. I've narrowed it down to a very specific color scheme. I now exclusively shop for clothes and accessories that include those colors only (aside from neutrals). I use the RGB/CMY color model. It can actually be rare to find clothes that fit that as most rainbows include orange and purple; and those colors are great and all, but they're just not for me. Plus they don't rhyme with anything and purple is actually not real.
Overall, my favorite color is green because that's the color of most sprouts — duh!
Color Bloq: What kind of art / mediums do you practice?
ADiEAN🌱: Well, I do have some mediums I've found that I'm more interested in than others, but also I'm still somewhat exploring and eager to learn and try new processes as well. I consider myself an interdisciplinary artist since a lot of my work involves many layers. When I'm performing, for example, I'm doing the performance but also making props and costumes and stuff, or I like to utilize my photography and design skills when I'm documenting physical pieces which adds more to the whole process.
For the most part, I'm really interested in new mediums like electronic music and digital photography/design. I also really, really want to start learning 3-D rendering and animation. I have lots of concepts for interactive, digital-based projects that I will bring into existence one day. Aside from that, I love ancient art processes, like textiles especially, printmaking, and ceramics. I love craft! I'm still trying to figure out ways I can do them all together, but that's just part of the process of growing as an artist.
Color Bloq: Where do you find inspiration? What values or experiences inform your art and your presentation style?
ADiEAN🌱: I think my primary sources of inspiration are pop culture, nature, and anthropology. After all I was sent here to study human existence/the existence of other life on earth — so generally, everything I do is connected to that in some way. I've started to primarily work with themes derived from contemporary pop culture as that is what is readily available, and I have plans to explore more history in my second evolution. In my third, I will think a lot about the future of existence on earth and base my work off of that. Currently, I am focusing on the now. I've been especially drawn to internet and celebrity culture as something that is fairly recent in human history as well as iconography. Sanrio is a huge inspiration for where I want to go with ADiEAN🌱 in this evolution. My goal is to create a product empire inspired by Hello Kitty by the end of this evolution.
Color Bloq: What are some of your major challenges as a visual artist?
ADiEAN🌱: Struggling with mental health issues definitely adds extra challenges to living, and that especially includes art-making. I often feel too overwhelmed to finish things and can be a pretty harsh critic on myself and the things I make. Also, I'm pretty disorganized. I have the tendency to lose things and lose time. Plus, I struggle with having to balance creating with surviving, and it's like I have to spend time sleeping every day? and eating food? and working random jobs to supplement income to pay for that food and also pay for a place to live and buy things like materials I need or also just clothes or random stuff I want. Basically I have to pay to be alive and I have to exchange parts of my life to get the money to stay alive, like that's just a lot as it is, and on top of that I gotta make art!
I'm really trying to figure out how to make more money from my art rather than the service industry or retail type stuff that I've done in the past. That's been a new challenge in itself. I've been thinking a lot about how the art industry is just as bad as all the industries, and I have to cater to rich people, institutions, contemporary culture in order to be “successful" when think I'm already successful. Like, if I'm creating and learning, then I'm succeeding. At the end of the day we just have to figure out how to navigate this life on our own because everyone exists in different ways and tons of challenges arise from that. That's why I make art in the first place — to try to study and analyze everything in order to get one step closer to making sense of all the chaos. One jar of spiders at a time.
Color Bloq: What is one of your major accomplishments or most memorable moments as a visual artist?
ADiEAN🌱: As of right now the best thing I've ever made has been Babiean🌱. They sprouted a few months ago and were actually a byproduct of a different project I made for the show at the Austin Central Library for Pride Month this past June. Babiean🌱 was the test piece to figure out the methods I would use to make the three other dolls for the project. I found an old cloth doll in the goodwill bins and I took all the features off of it and put my own and thus Babiean🌱 was born.
I immediately fell in love and started bringing them everywhere I went (and still do). And quickly, I realized Babiean🌱 is just like a new form of that green stuffed bunny named Buppy I carried everywhere as a child. A new vessel with the same soul, until I realized that soul is my soul — the soul of my inner-child now with a physical form that I can hug and care for. I can make outfits for them, take pictures of them, and annoy everyone on social media like when people have an actual child or maybe just a puppy or kitten or something. Babien🌱 ended up being a tangible representation of radical self-love and intense inner-child healing. That is my greatest accomplishment as an artist: that I learn and grow through creation.
Color Bloq: Are there any upcoming projects or shows that we should be on the lookout for?
ADiEAN🌱: Well, I'm moving into a van actually, and I'm very excited to have the opportunity to be free as a dandelion seed exploring all the different areas of this country, then eventually beyond. I feel like my stationary upbringing in suburbia is what led to this. I always felt like I wanted to get out and go somewhere else, and then I did. Yet I still just wanted to get out there and visit new places and new people. It feels perfect for this point in my life. That's not really an art project, but it'll definitely have a major influence on my work from now on! Also, one place I'm hoping to spend a lot of time in, is the SF Bay Area. I'm looking into getting a studio space once I get there in September. I have two art shows in the works for that month + there'll be some nightlife gigs and who knows what else! So stay tuned on my insta for updates on that!
Color Bloq: If there’s anything you want the world to know, what is it?
ADiEAN🌱: Keep sprouting and growing! We all came to Earth for reasons, and this is such a beautiful home that we desperately need to take care of. Always remember to enjoy the sunshine on your leaves in the moments when it's not too cloudy and the weather is nice.
Color Bloq: Where can we find you? (website, social media, etc…)
ADiEAN🌱: My main place to upload things is instagram that's @adie.an, and there’s a Facebook page that I use to keep up with events, ADiEAN. I also have had the domain ADiEAN.com for like two years but only have a half-finished, unpublished website — but I suppose now is absolutely the time to finally figure out the rest of that and go live there, so maybe check that out (soon) too! Oh, and I just remembered I started a wiki page for info about the collective, x0pn0tla, and that's at https://x0pn0tla.fandom.com/wiki/X0pn0tla_WikI. All is still in the works I guess, but that's what happens when you're just a sprout!
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