Join us for an evening of storytelling and unearthing as artist and writer Tessa Hulls shares the remarkable narrative that is both a personal history and the subject of her forthcoming graphic memoir Feeding Ghosts. Through emotive drawings and insightful prose, Tessa tells the story of her grandmother, Sun Yi, a persecuted Shanghai journalist turned single mother, who fled China shortly after the Communist takeover. The story chronicles the reversal of mother-daughter roles due to mental illness, and Tessa’s subsequent experience of growing up in a multi-generational home fraught with unacknowledged trauma. Although Tessa ran away from her family’s darkness at the first moment she could, she is returning as a prodigal daughter through telling this story. While Feeding Ghosts explores loss of culture, mixed race identity, mental illness, loss of language, immigration, and generational inheritance of trauma, it is ultimately about the ways in which mothers and daughters both damage and save each other.
Tessa Hulls is an artist/writer/adventurer illuminating the connections between the present and the past. As the mixed-race daughter of two first generation immigrants who landed in a tiny town of 350 people, she grew up with no models of how she fit within American culture. Her family didn't have TV and the internet didn't yet exist, so she spent her formative years reading her way through the public library and roaming alone through the hills with a backpack full of books (she still does this). This fusion of solitude, research, and forward motion remains the bedrock of her extremely multidisciplinary creative practice.
Tessa went quietly and happily feral in 2011 after a 5,000-mile solo bike ride from southern California to Maine, and her restlessness has joyously dragged her across all seven continents. She is a compulsive genre hopper who has worked in various capacities as an illustrator, lecturer, cartoonist, editor, interviewer, historian, writer, performer, chef, muralist, conductor of social experiments, painter, bicycle mechanic, teacher, and researcher for organizations including The Washington Post, The Henry Art Gallery, The Rumpus, On the Boards, The Seattle Art Museum, Atlas Obscura, Microsoft Research, and others.
She is the recipient of grants from The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and 4Culture, and a fellowship from The Robert B. McMillen Foundation. She received the 2021 Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award, and has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, Hedgebrook, Ucross, and others. As the 2019 awardee of the PEN Northwest Margery Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, she spent 6.5 months living alone in a remote off grid cabin with no cell service or internet while writing the outline of Feeding Ghosts. She never fully left the woods and has no plans—or desire, or ability—to truly re-domesticate.
Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout Jefferson County, this program will be offered virtually via livestream only – there will be no in-person attendance. A recording of the livestream will be sent to all registered participants.
The 2022 Spring First Friday Speaker Series is generously supported by the Northwest Maritime Center.
Date & Time
Fri, Feb 4, 2022 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM