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Rhythm / Devotion of Katie Addada Shlon

Rhythm / Devotion is a series of interviews intended to illuminate the connection to ritual & rhythm in our daily lives. This series explores the intimacy of routine, the magic of the ordinary, & how these small acts of devotion set the stage for larger workings in the world ~





What is your name & where are you in the world?

I'm Katie Shlon and I'm currently based in Durham, NC. This is a city settled on the ancestral lands of the Occaneechi, Eno, Tuscarora and Shakori people. This sentence should not just be words--as all of us in Levantine diasporas see our lands devastated daily by imperial violence and colonization from Lebanon to Palestine, it's important to stand in solidarity with native peoples everywhere and recognize and honor those whose land we are on currently, support the land back movement, and stay humble in our shortcomings. I want to treat this land and its peoples with respect, honor, and dignity, until we return...



How do you define yourself & your work?

I think my work is changing everyday. In the past I would have said I am an Arab-American conceptual artist working with sculpture, performance, and sound on our intimate and complex relationships with architectures and land.  I will always work with a public and a community--bringing people into my work is an integral part, but I'm in a moment of pivot.



Will you walk us through what a day in your life looks like? Begin with how you greet the morning & guide us until you close off the day in the eve ~

I need every day to be different. I thrive off of reveling in the abundance that life has to offer. My life has been uprooted & in flux & precarious for the past two or three years. I spent 7 years farming but quit in 2021--and every day now I feel a little more disconnected from the earth when I'm not waking up with the sun & heading out to listen to birds & pollinators and tend to soil!


I just got my first full-time salaried job a few weeks ago and moved yet again to an even sleepier city, so my daily life/routine is freshly changing. I don't really have a morning routine but everyday I try to wake up and have coffee, breakfast, and read a bit before leaving the house. If it's nice outside, I'll do those things on the porch and chat with my neighbors. After my work day I try to be outside in some way or spend some time with friends, making dinner together or going for a walk or a swim. I try to stay involved with my community and support whatever is organized. I would be lying if I didn't say I've been spending more time than normal on my phone, and checking social media for the news has book-ended each day. That being said, I love an end of the day shower & cup of tea.



You are an interdisciplinary artist & musician ~ how do you prepare yourself &/or your space to enter into these practices? What is your process?

If I wake up feeling like I have some artwork to make, I almost always go for a hike or walk in nature first--it's like the perfect pre-psychedelic experience for creation.


My studio process is extremely frenetic. In my last house, the downstairs was just my studio and kitchen and I would bounce between the two, cooking something wild and walking over to the studio room to do some fine detail work in what felt like thirty minute increments. I have to be working on a few different pieces and oscillating between them when I'm fully active in the studio- building something, walking away, making a few marks on paper for drawings, cutting some fabric, sewing a section...


I think a lot of people would be surprised to hear this is my studio process, because my work is very quiet and requires the viewer's ability to be introspective and give their full attention. Life is kind of funny like that. Every art work is a prayer; is an opening; is an offering.



What do you do/not do if you are feeling stuck around your work?

I'm a strong believer in the idea that you can't force the creative process. I take a break when it's not coming naturally. I do some other things I love. I spend time with creative people and get inspired by their energy and work. I listen to what's happening around me. I spend time outside. I make things just for fun. I start something and pass it on to someone else to collaborate. This work takes time and intention. It's best to just be patient. Last year on my birthday you gave me a Star Magnolia essence and wrote: "everything is happening at exactly the right time." I've been trying to take that to heart this year.



Do you have a movement practice?

Other than daily hikes/walks--no. I could benefit from one!



What does structure mean to you, or what is your philosophy around ritual/routine?

I find it hard to establish routines, and to be honest I don't really like them. This world is so wide and vast I would hate to think that I have something figured out enough to do the same thing every day. Life has so much to offer! I want to always be open to change and growth.


We talk a lot about establishing our own rituals, but I wish I had the relationship with and access to my family and ancestors that others are granted in this life, in order to continue on what has always held our communities in care and times of abundance, joy, and crisis.



What are you listening to, reading, or watching these days?

I'm always reading too many books! Right now I'm in the middle of In Sensorium: Notes for my People by Tanaïs, The Crusades through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf & I JUST received my pre-order of Layla Feghali's The Land in Our Bones (One of the subtitles here is "Plancestral Herbalism and Healing Cultures from Syria to the Sinai"... much needed right now), so I'm cracking that open this week.


Two of the best books I've read in the past few years have been Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water by Kazim Ali and Inter/Nationalism Decolonizing Native America & Palestine by Dr. Steven Salaita and I'd recommend them to anyone.


I'm not a huge tv watcher but I recently got into The Bear... as someone who worked at some ridiculous farm-to-table spots for too long, I finally have some distance to enjoy it.

I'm in a time when I'm not listening to much music but when I am I've been oscillating between Rovo Monty's Water Sign, some random tracks by Ahmed Eid, and the newest record by Ami Dang.

I really love podcasts and my favorite is afikra (عفكرة).



Any last words of wisdom?

Do everything with love and nothing will be a burden.



How can we find your work?

I'm so bad at keeping my online presence updated by you can find me here:

on instagram> @katieshlon




Thank you so much, Katie, for your inspiring work in this world & for sharing your rhythm devotion with us ~


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I connect the essence of Wisteria as a companion to Katie Shlon, her rhythm/devotion, & her work in the world.


I made my wisteria flower (Wisteria sp.) essence during the afternoon of 02 April 2016 in Savannah, Georgia with two clusters of wisteria growing wild in the alleyway behind the sunny house I shared with two friends.


A beautiful essence for release, wisteria is like getting caught in a spring rain. Do you know that feeling of being caught unexpectedly in a rain shower & you hunch up your shoulders & try to run for shelter? That is the same tension that wisteria allows us to drop. Wisteria teaches us to let ourselves get rained on, it relaxes our shoulders & the muscles, sinew, & synovial fluid of the back down to the sacrum.


Wisteria is a wonderful guide for letting go of the past, for letting go of things when we are holding on too much, & for letting go of the "idea" of something, so that we can experience the reality of it instead.


Wisteria is ephemeral, here one minute & then gone the next, thus it reminds us of this quality within our own lives, deepening our appreciation for even the smallest of moments. Wisteria’s wisdom provides serene perspective. It reminds us of the strength in our fragility, that release is a product of timing, & that we can live in a delicate decadence that is all our own.


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