Xima Lee Hulings

Why the name "Walking Papers"?

People of a certain age associate walking papers with a pink slip and escort to the door, today I suppose that would be a pink text. But for me, walking papers is the perfect description for the point when life's challenges and change meets art. My past is full of references to walking and my present is enhanced by a new found sense of adventure in pattern making. Walking Papers Studio is the mergence of the physical act of walking and the art that is inspired by it.

As we all know, life has its challenges and those challenges present themselves sometimes as a trickle and sometimes with the force of a firehose. For me 2001 was a year of showers. I love to work and had dreamed as a girl of becoming an architect; I got a degree in architecture and for over 20 years I thrived in that industry. I loved the projects, the people and the purpose of my early career choice but somehow in that year of showers it no longer brought me the balance I'd felt before. At the urging of my husband I walked into the School for the Museum of Fine Art (SMFA) in Boston to take "maybe one class" and found a new career. Art has been a constant ever since and when the inevitable times of challenge arise (let's face it, it happens again and again), I have discovered that art helps me to process it all.  

As luck would have it, 2014 proved to be a year of immense change; I moved from one coast to another leaving behind friends and family. But instead of "sitting in the puddle" of discomfort, I took to the hills...literally! I began to walk and walk and walk all through the gorgeous hills in and around San Francisco where I discovered plants I'd never seen before. Soon my house became cluttered with bits of eucalyptus branches, bark and foliage I'd find along the way. Sure enough, those bits and pieces found their way into an ongoing series I'd started a few years ago that combined animals from the farm and floral elements. This series was first presented in Charlotte, NC at the Common Grounds Farm Stand...a place near and dear to my heart. Well, now I found myself in a treasure trove of animals, plants and dear old friends that now gave me new roots. This series is, therefore, dedicated to getting on with my "walking papers"; it takes me back to my family farm, back to my walks of discovery and back to the things that make me happy. 


My Family's Farm in Tennessee

Today you can visit the farm founded by my grandfather William Wirt Harlin. It is called Harlinsdale and is located in Franklin, Tennessee. Some of my earliest memories are as a toddler sitting atop the very gentle Midnight Sun, a rare and important champion in the Tennessee Walking Horse tradition. He sired many later champions and solidified Harlinsdale as a center of breeding and care for this special breed. I am tremendously proud of the leadership my grandfather and later, my uncles, and cousins demonstrated while managing this family treasure. My own father, the youngest of four brothers, was a terrific rider and when we were young would jump in the saddle occasionally to show all his skills. An iconic photo of him in the ring at the age of about 10 is a personal favorite.

In 2006 under the leadership of my uncles and cousins, the farm became a part of the park system for the town of Franklin. It is a kind of working museum used by the public as a refuge for walking, reflection and learning about the history of the Tennessee Walking Horse. I am immensely proud of the transformation of a space so central to my family that will now be preserved and enjoyed by everyone.