23 Mar I am Enough from Katherine Center
I’m not exactly sure exactly how I got the idea to paint words on people. It just kind of came to me—in that mysterious way that ideas do.
What I am sure of is: There are words I really should say to myself.
And I know that I do not always listen and pay attention the way I should. Especially when I am saying something kind.
And so I try to write them down. Just to make them that much more solid.
And words on a piece of paper in Times New Roman can work just fine, but sometimes there are words I need to write big and loud. The way we see a word can impact how we hear it—what it sounds like in the head.
And so sometimes I paint the words on canvases. Or stamp them on metal. Or put them on cupcakes.
But there’s always a distance between the eyes and what they’re looking at. That’s how seeing works. And you have to see words before you can read them. And you have to read them before you can feel them.
Unless I could close the gap.
I wanted to make words of kindness into things we could literally feel on our bodies: feel the wet brush move across our skin, and then feel the words’ tiny, almost imperceptible presence when it was dry.
I wanted to find a way for words to touch not just the mind, but the body. To make them real.
First I asked a friend if she’d let me paint the last paragraph of one of my novels all over her, and she said yes. And what she said afterward about how it felt confirmed just what I had hoped: that it was powerful stuff.
So I painted more words on more people.
And one lucky afternoon, I painted the words on Tracey’s body that led to this collaborative. I am enough. And she felt them, and she heard them, and even though the paint itself washed off the next day, the words stayed with her. They lingered: just exactly—beautifully—the way I had hoped.
About Katherine Center
Katherine Center is the author of three comic novels about love and family. Her third, Get Lucky is due out in April and her fourth is coming in 2012. BookPage named Katherine one of seven new writers to watch. She also makes video essays. Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children.