For most people, imagining themselves in the middle of undergrad is an exercise in time travel related wanderlust or deep, searing regret. It’s about going back and changing things, in both cases. But when I spoke to Erin Wakeland, her soft, steady voice on the other line, all I felt was settledness. Even the way she spoke about having to study alone versus in groups moved me. I was speaking to a woman familiar with herself.
She lives in Michigan, in house shared with other artists and students, a hub of forward thinking and endless community. I hear a door creak open, quiet pattering of feet, and I imagine myself as one of them--dressed in vintage, tacking Sharon Olds to the wall, humming a song I started writing the night before.
Erin’s existence is pure potential energy. To be that young, to be that open to the world, to be transfixed already by a vocation--magic. She is generous, easy to talk to, and gentle in the way of the Midwest.
Her vision is uninterrupted by flights of fancy, coming from a long- before place. Her voice, soft and certain, like the lead in an indie film about an artist coming of age on the painted shores of Michigan. Her perspective on social media is thought out, convicted, certain. She and I muse on the art we create for the sole purpose of sharing, if sharing any part of the creative process is worth it, etc. I take notes in my journal, smile and nod as she pieces apart a theory on capitalism and art eloquently.
Speaking to her art is like speaking to a memory--clear but faded by time, by space. It is self preservation just in its existence. Everyday objects are holy artifacts.
Her work feels retrospective, as if looking back with the certaintude that comes only from time and trial and seasons. There is a fortitude in her vision. Seasons don’t come easily in her part of the country, lingering winds from the lakes and thick humidity long into autumn. But nestled in the endless blue skied winters of Michigan is an artist. Becoming, yes, but already.