I have gotten to see Sierra twice. She is an artist. The kind that inspires and amazes. I've only seen her twice and she has made a huge impact on my life. Savor this interview like I did. I wish you could hear it, as I did, but I hope my transcript gives you at least a flavor of this remarkably talented and beautiful human.
(Transcribed from audio. There are two links at the bottom to things Sierra references in her interview because I got really excited to find out about them. Enjoy Sierra’s words)
Let’s see where’s the beginnings… Ah,ok where are you from?
I was born in Bedford, Virginia and I was told I was the only baby born that night in that hospital. And the doctor wanted us to hurry up cuz he didn’t want to miss MASH. So I was born at 7:02 pm. So he missed the intro, I apologize. But my parents got a steak dinner afterwards so that’s pretty cool. And it was snowing and, yeah, my dad was a geologist, my mom was an artist, they moved to Midland, Texas. I lived there til I was thirteen, it was not great, it’s where Friday Night Lights was based on. Then I lived in Fort Worth, Texas in my teen years, it was a little better... and then I moved to Chicago and I… still live in Chicago. I moved there in 2006 and still here because I really liked it. I went to art school, I did improv for a bit, I’ve worked at Metropolis, I’ve worked at Threadless, I’ve worked at Pick Me Up Cafe and I’m part of The Inconvenience* and it feels like home. If I was rich I’d live in Texas during the winter and I’d probably live here during the summer cuz its the best city in the world.
Let me go back to your questions…
Where do you live?
Right now I live in Evanston. Which is funny to live in evanston. I feel kind of seclude but my dad transferred to the Great Lakes Naval base to help me out while I’m going through some problems with my health so I’m very grateful for that but I live in Evanston now (laugh.)
So life story in half a page go...
Well I kind of started with the beginning of my life. I was named Sierra because there was a fire in the Sierra Nevadas the night I was born and they saw it on the news and they thought “sierra’ and I got hippy parents, so Sierra Dufalt is my name. I grew up in Midland and, I mean, everyone has hard times growing up, I felt very alienated, secluded when I started having to go to school but before that my mom had a vintage clothing store, and this is in the 80s in Midland Texas, so my first friends were gay teen club kids and hairdressers that would come to her clothing store to get dressed up for the weekend to go to Dallas and go clubbing.
And then my other friends were, my mom she taught ceramics at an old folks home called Casa De Amigos and there were three women Inez, Pinky and Panolia and they were elderly African American women and they taught me how to play dominos and they called me Seacakes and they were my best friends when I was a kid. So then when I started school it was kind of a rude awakening. No one really liked me. I had that Vidal Sassoon asymetrical haircut and I wore vintage clothing and they all thought I was weird. And I had moments in my life where it feels like it was a movie, where all the kids they’re just the worst. I was very Lucas, just in my mind. That’s why I feel like art kind of saved my life. I could ignore all that bullshit and just be in my mind. It was the way I escaped and I don’t think it was until middle school that I actually gained a sense of humor and then that’s what saved me was being able to make people laugh cuz then they didn’t want to be mean to me anymore. So that was cool(laugh)
Let me go back to these questions. That was like my life or whatever, that one. Oh I’m so bad at this. . . ok. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment I think is . . . this sounds so stupid but my greatest accomplishment is my Awareness. I think I’m always trying to work on that. I know that some days are easier than others. But to be oblivious is just the worst thing I think you can be in this world. And I think that the day I realized that if I just try to be aware of what’s around me and what’s going on and I allow myself to everyday learn from that, or at least try, that I’m doing pretty good. I really respect that aspect of people and I want to try and do that too.
My biggest failure?
There was this one time in 2nd grade where my mom and I went to the thrift store, and in the front of the thrift store there was this glass case of all these things they had that were like I guess better than the other things in the salvation army. And one of them was this plastic toy called fashion plates and you just could put these puzzle piece plates together that were embossed and they were New Kids on the Block so you would put a piece of paper and you would take a crayon and you would rub it and make them outfits and stuff. And I kind of wanted it but I didn’t really really care too much about it but then there was this young girl and she really wanted it and because she really wanted it: all of a sudden I really wanted it. And she asked her mom to ask for it and her mom was kind of like, I don’t know, rude and didn’t really seem to care about her daughter and so she didn’t ask and I was just like “haha i’m gonna get my mom to ask really fast and I’m gonna get it.” For some reason my brain was just like “I need this” and so I got it and then I played with it in the store and I remember in my peripheral seeing her and her sister watch me play with it and to this day I’m just so disappointed in myself. If I had a time machine I’d go back, I’d buy it, I’d give it her, man, and I’d tell her I like her outfit or something. It was really stupid and I don’t like it, that I did that... I hope I learned from it though.
The next question is “did you learn from it.” I hope I did.
Describe my perfect day...
My perfect day would probably be waking up whenever my body wants me to wake up and then having a handful of my friends come pick me up in their care and we’d go and we’d get fried chicken and then we’d go to the museum and see a really awesome exhibit we didn’t even know was there but it really makes us feel happy about life then we’d go home and smoke a bunch of weed…(laughs)... legally or whatever(whoever’s reading this) and we’d watch like Wayne’s World or something and then at the end of it... I fall asleep without any problems. Like my body’s just like “Hey, guess what? We’re going to sleep and it’s going to be really easy and you don’t even have to think about it.” (haha) That’s, that’s my perfect day.
How did you get where you are?
Life brought me here I guess is the short answer. I don’t really know how to answer that, I don’t know what that pertains to.
What are you most proud of. Did I already answer that? I don’t remember. I’m proud of my mom and my dad and my family and
What is one of your fears?
Aw man. So recently, because of my health problems, I’ve been having anxiety and like panic attacks and its kind of new. I guess I always had anxiety, I just didn’t realize it.
But it’s just been getting worse and... I really don’t like that about myself.
I kinda had a breakdown recently and I started like not really believing in things I used to believe in and those things I feel like defined who I was and I liked that part of myself and so I lost that for a bit and I didnt’ really like it. (laugh)
And so that was .. it’s real. If you feel it, it’s really happening. So. Idunno, you gotta feel it and own it and then fucking figure it out or something.
What keeps you going everyday?
Um FOOD. If I just think about food, I just think about “Oh man, what am I gonna have for breakfast, What am I gonna have for lunch, What’s for dinner?” (laugh) And also my family and like, you know, when it’s over: it’s over-why not just try to experience everything while you can? And then be open for whatever’s next, if there is something next. But I kind of feel like … at least when this is over it’s over, so fuck it just do it as long as possible because why not? (laugh)
I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts because I don’t know how to do anything but there is this one podcast I found on spotify called Crybabies and it’s these two women and they have people on and they talk about movies or quotes and they talk about books, just anything that makes them cry and I feel like if I was on it I would probably talk about that scene in Color Purple when Shug sings to her dad and he hugs her back. Uuuuuh. And then the end of(what is it?) My Girl when she’s like “Where the fuck are his glasses?!” I cry all the time.
Last piece of art that spoke to you?
So There’s this Edwardian Castle that this dude built and I forgot his name and i feel like the castle’s called “Las Pasos” or “Los Pesos”** I forget (I’m a horrible person) but it’s this castle that is crazy surrealistic, it’s not really a place to live in but he built it in the middle of the Mexican Rainforest. It’s super rad. You can walk around in it and I was just like “Man, that’s cool. I wanna see that.”
Pump up song?
There’s this song called Un dia, Juana Molina and every morning I listen to it and I flail my limbs around. It helps me move my body around and wake my body up and I love it, it’s a great song.
What advice would you give someone who is lost?
Um. Sleep on it.(laugh) Cuz everyone feels lost, dude, and then there’s this moment where all of a sudden you don’t. You know. And if you feel lost: own it and say “I feel fucking lost”. And then think about things that made you feel like you were found and bring those back in to your life as soon as possible.
What gives you meaning?
I feel like making art I really enjoy taking what’s in my brain and releasing it. I don’t want to keep it in there too long and it feels like that’s what I’m supposed to do in this life. So I like doing it. And I was very lucky at the beginning of my life, my mom said there was no mistakes in art. I don’t think a lot of people hear that, so I don’t mind messing up because then it just becomes something else and it’s so much fun to figure it out, you know?
What do you struggle with?
I struggle with my anxiety and self worth, the most. All the time, forever.
What is success to you?
Well, l for me, I feel like for my success I really want to just be healthy so I can actually do things I miss. I miss performing. I miss singing. I miss painting live. I miss doing murals. I think the day I can be independant and do that, i’ll feel really successful. It’ll feel really good.
What are you working on that you’re geeked out about?
Myself. I’ve never worked on myself before. I’ve always been so scared and I’ve never really known how to do it and it’s kind of now or never right now. And so that’s been really an interesting adventure. That sounds so stupid but it’s true. And I’m really excited about it.
Ok what are some self care activities that you do?
In the morning, like I said I dance and flail my limbs and do stretches and try to wake my body up. I drink hot water and lemon with ginger and herbal tea. I allow myself to have a burger or a slice of pizza or something or a taco. I try to be spontaneous. If all of a sudden I crave something I try to let myself have a little bit of it. A little bit goes a long way, 3 bites: that’s all you need but at least you can experience it.
From Rachael Mason: what teacher changed your life?
Oh man. I guess the teacher that changed my life would probably be... I really loved my kindergarTen teacher. She knew I was so weird and she’d call me a social butterfly but she loved it. She allowed me to feel like it was ok to be .. weird. But then my first grade teacher was not like that at all.
I hope this was helpful, I guess if I had a question it’d be: if you could have your favorite meal made of whatever what would it be made of?