Episode 58: In Conversation with Faythe Levine
Faythe Levine’s main objective is to promote creativity and the empowerment in which that can behold. She is foremost interested in connecting people; in people’s ability to create, and the healing and political powers that art and making hold. In constant motion in adulthood, Faythe grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the 90’s where Riot Grrrl and Punk were the culture, and finding zine-making at an early age opened her practice up to practically anything. Marlee prompts Faythe to tell the winding story of how she came to make the documentary film and accompanying book, Handmade Nation: The Rise of D.I.Y. Art, Craft and Design (this book launched Marlee into the headspace that birthed Have Company). Faythe tells the story of how being a vendor at the early Chicago Renegade changed her trajectory- inspiring her to start theArt Vs. Craft fair in Milwaukee, quickly becoming immersed in a community of bad-ass powerful makers, who were mostly women. She saw the D.I.Y. craft community as more than making cute objects, the practice had culminated deep rooted bonds between the people in these inter-connected communities. She wanted to document and capture the essence of that community before it shifted into something else.
With photography, video, curation, writing, and publishing, Faythe is paying homage to her community and her creative output continues to connect people who need to know each other. Her most recent project, Bar Dykes, is a collaboration based in cultural preservation. In getting to know her amazing friend Merril Mushroom during her recent time in a rural mid-tennesse queer community, Faythe learned that Merril had written an unpublished play called Bar Dykes in the 80's. They both knew Caroline Paquita of Pegacorn Press, and drew her in to publish it, along with Faythe's interview with Merril about her life.
Faythe discusses self care and maintaining friendships, the importance of being held by her community, and the difficulty of asking for help. At the time of this recording, Faythe was preparing to be a resident artist at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; a space for her to work out her visual art practice, as well as meet with students and talk about what it means to be a permission-giver, and to be your most authentic self.
Words of wisdom:
“I wanna have an event in the city where I live where people can sell things, and engage with the public, and generate this sense of community. I’m really interested in creating programming and filling in these gaps where that programming doesn’t exist, which is why I’ve always ended up living in mid-sized cities.”
“I really had to learn how to hold my own space in rooms full of academics and people who had a lot of feelings about a lot of things. But what I learned out of that … is: If you are speaking about something that is your own personal experience, not based in an academia or the history of something, and you’re just speaking truly about your own personal experience and the things in your life- people can't actually argue with that experience.”
“It's a radical action to give permission. And it's really empowering to empower people. That makes me feel like a better person if I can make you feel more confident in what you already have within you. And that for me transcends into things like, the way we feed ourselves; the way we express our sexuality and gender; the way that we engage on tiny little actions throughout the day.”
Things to be excited about:
- Making the effort to make new friends, hang out with people she doesn’t know.
- Queerness and the way that people perform their lives. Faythe is deeply inspired by the people around her, and her greater community- the critical thinking and the continuing room for growth and compassion. A mindful and productive self-awareness.
- Being in California with all of the flowers blooming.
- And really taking the time to check our assumptions about people when we meet them.