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What does it mean to Live BIG.

Creative Statement

As we age, we learn to put on masks of identity. These masks help others to understand who we are: mother or accountant, teacher or student. In a basic way, these masks help to make it easier for other people to understand us, themselves and the world. Yet, these masks are an oversimplification‚— and like all oversimplifications they can harm more than help. 


When we begin to identify ourselves by the masks we have put on for others, we limit the full expression of our beings. We see ourselves as only mother or accountant, only teacher or student, only corporate worker, or artist. This limits further our ability to contribute to society and to build around ourselves a life that is dynamic and full of meaning. 


The Chunkos are a universe of animals who serve as a metaphorical representation for the struggle between the mask we wear and the vibrant dynamic personalities that we hide away. In both sculptural public art pieces and other forms of narrative media, the Chunkos engage in adventures where they struggle with being who the world expects them to be, or to be brave in their efforts to LIVE BIG and be full expressions of themselves. 


Ultimately, the Chunkos champion the idea of LIVING BIG i.e. to live a life without a mask. They encourage audiences to be both mother and accountant, student and teacher, corporate employee and artist, because when we are fully expressing part of ourselves, we can make the world a better and more engaging place. 


It is natural for the Chunkos to carry this message. Chunkos are all keystone animals. Keystone animals are those who by their very existence create complex worlds around them: whales, sea lions, rhinos, sea turtles, etc. Through what they eat, how they poop, and their general activities, they create ecosystems where other animals live and thrive—including humans. As the Chunkos realize this about themselves, they are able to shed their masks and teach others how to live big with them. 


From a design perspective:

  • They have white faces that represent the mask we put on for the world. 

  • They have white lines along their bodies to represent how we people cage our inner complexity,

  •  And, they have vibrant color washes on their bodies to represent our complex internal lives. 


From a storytelling perspective:

  • Each Chunko includes a connected audio and visual experiences that help to bring the Chunkoverse to life. 

  • These stories help to show how our masks and simplified identities hurt our ability to build a thriving world. 

Grimo Chunko

This message is deeply personal to me. In August 2019, I suffered a traumatic brain injury and found that painting (an activity I had never previously tried) was the only solace during a year in which my brain struggled to function. That painting practice led to a public art practice which ultimately led to the most valuable contribution I've ever given society—the visuals necessary to help push legislation to create a National COVID Memorial Day. By embracing all the parts of me (especially the artsy side), I began to make a better world. I think we need more people doing this same thing.


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