We had the good fortune of connecting with Desma and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Desma, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
“Everything lives by eating something else.” It may sound morbid or strange but I come back to these words often when I lack perspective and take things a little too seriously (or not seriously enough!). I think I might have first heard it from an Alan Watts lecture in my late teens when I was lost on how I wanted to experience my newfound adulthood. I can’t remember the purpose of these words in his lecture, and overtime my enthusiasm for listening to Watts has faded, but the axiom aroused and continues to arouse a powerful sense of curiosity within me. Its matter-of-fact wisdom states how our material reality operates; life must feed on other life to advance. To me, this means that everything we have labeled as separate has been arbitrarily done so. Life is an interconnected process that is always subject to change. I love this axiom because it frames my existence of being human as fundamentally a part of nature itself, not something opposed to it, which is common belief in a society that feels it should dominate the natural world. Human beings are nature coming to a particular culmination in its development where it can observe and reflect on itself, then decide how they want to best make pancakes. I think that’s pretty special. Live consciously!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Creatives generate from a specific perspective that is cultivated by a combination of innate and learned judgements of the world around them. I firmly believe we are all artists when we actively engage with responsibility and purpose to our present moment. And of course, I started creating work as a form of escapism, yet as I matured as a maker I found that I was inescapably making work about the economy of seduction of consumer society; how it led to feeling even more empty while in pursuit of filling a void left by capitalism and how this would inevitably lead us to a irreparably devastating future. We, a culture of chasing death. I took this as a sign that I needed to focus on solutions, i.e. healing. Healing physically, psychically, psychologically, and spiritually. Healing the relationship to ourselves which ultimately leads us to healing and strengthening our relationships and bonds to the ones we love and perhaps one day will love. I eventually started leading guided meditations in Los Angeles and collaborated with a fellow practitioner and Intuitive Design Consultant, Tracy McDowell on the founding of the virtual postmodern temple, Tea.n.Tarot. I offer distance reiki energy services and tarot readings through the temple. I am also still painting, illustrating, designing, and creating photographic works that continue to address our need for solutions to a healthier future while exploring the themes of fame, beauty, and identity in our contemporary cosmos.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First, we’re starting this adventure by giving reverence the Tongva land we’re standing on. I would explore Temescal Canyon in the Pacific Palisades and hike to a spot where we can see the ocean to receive some gentle grounding and inspiration. There’s also the Lake Shrine Temple in the Palisades, home to a spring-fed lake surrounded by beautiful green covered hillsides and flowers. I enjoy watching the swans wade gracefully and the koi fish dance around the lotus flowers. If we’re headed back to Melrose and Fairfax for a casual stroll through trendy shops and ostentatious walls of street art for a photo op, then we need to stop at either Summer Buffalo on Melrose or Pho Saigon Pearl on Fairfax. Summer Buffalo offers street style Thai food in an approachable modern space. Pho Saigon Pearl serves Vietnamese and hosts large windows that adorably frame tables-for-2. Also on the menu are unparalleled gluten free fried chicken wings. I’m a flamboyant night owl so after getting sharp I like to go to multiple spots for nightlife. I start off at the dime- it’s a small cozy dive bar on Fairfax with strong drinks and sick DJs who play fun hip-hop. It’s kind of a luck-accruing checkpoint for me. Tuesday nights they have free comedy shows and sometimes well known comics try their new material here. After the dime we can stroll into Employee’s Only for gastronome Americana with slick cocktails and bask in the art deco ambiance. If it’s a Saturday we may have to stop at The Echo’s Funky Sole for a night of screaming and shaking off any melancholia left to vintage records!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My grandmother, Renata, beheld and affirmed me as I was. I suppose grandmothers may have this innate predisposition to treasure their grandchildren, but everyone in her presence could feel her warmth as if it were palpable. I lived with her in my youth, and she, being a devoted Italian Catholic, took me to mass every Sunday; this is when I first sang hymns and developed a fascination with ritual practice. She made clothes with a vintage sewing machine in the basement and had an effortless gamine style that I continuously seek to actualize. She hosted dinner parties often on the weekends and sometimes she’d pour me wine. Often, I would walk by her room and catch her in a deep prayer, fascinated by her enduring focus. While I watched how she lived, I conceived how I would envision my own life as an adult: surrounding myself with nourishing food, beautiful companions, and clear intention. She loved my art and was one of the first people who proudly displayed my early work. Rest in power, Nonna Rena.
The portrait in the crystal necklace is by photographer Rachel Berkowitz @rachelberkowitzart