Expat Series: Hope Curran
An artist/poet in Paris
Self-proclaimed artist and poet, Hope Curran started painting and creating when she was home-schooled. She moved on to photography in High School and learned about film noir. In college, she studiedArt at UC Santa Barbara and quickly realised that she didn’t need to only study theory and added Global Studies to her curriculum. That’s when this parallel world between language and this mix with home came to play: as well as expressing worldwide issues visually. Here & There Magazine had a conversation with Hope about her expat experience in Paris, and how she kept that spark alive for the City of Light.
“My mother lived in France when she was 17 with her family, so I grew up hearing these stories about France. The first time I came to Paris was when I was 12 years old and I fell completely in love with the country so I started to take French classes. When I was 16, I came back one summer to be a nanny. I knew I wanted to move to Paris after graduating. I started to think about how I could merge the most important things in my life: my faith, my art and being in a national perspective. I sent a few emails to the family I babysat for, who worked with Agape Art and ended up doing an artist residency with the organisation.” That’s how Hope moved to Paris in January 2017 under the umbrella of coming for one year and partnering with a team of artists, working in collaboration.
“Oftentimes, the idea of an artist is that it’s someone who is isolated and not doing very well. But there’s this whole other world that I got to experience, as being a part of a team of artists in a collaborative environment: we think differently but we also have a common goal and it’s vital.”
Hope admits that when she arrived in Paris all her expectations were shattered as she only visited Paris– feeling more like a ‘tourist’– in summer. “I moved there in the middle of winter and was very humbled. Suddenly, the romance of Paris faded away and the reality of opening a bank account and all the admin hit me. But to have a dream, you have to be rooted in reality as well.” Paris had always been a dream of hers, and she was confronting the reality of it all. She also adds that she has seen a lot of expats come and go because their relationship with Paris was a little bit disillusioned. She fully experienced, studied and created in the French capital for three years before her visa expired in 2020, during a global pandemic. So, she decided to move back to California after living her Parisian dream. “My visa was expiring and I also started a relationship with someone I met in San Francisco. We were writing letters to each other and when he came to visit me, he got stuck in Europe. So, he was locked down with me for four weeks which is crazy to think about now.” All those moving pieces, plus COVID, boiled things down and Hope realised that if she didn’t go back to the US now, she would be creating an unknown future for herself. She also mentions that right after George Floyd was killed, at the end of May 2020, it felt like America was on fire. “I sensed this strong pull and shift that I needed to be there and write poetry in the context of my roots.” It was the first time, in forever, that Hope bought a one-way ticket for the US. It opened her world view and she then experienced a reverse culture shock, “I wasn’t just an American citizen anymore but a citizen of the world.” Now, Hope is working with Agape in America, it’s called CRU. She works part-time with them in the Bay Area in San Francisco, with other artists who are trying to create a similar community to the one she left back in Paris. “I also work as a barista in a coffee shop twice a week, and again the stories that come into the café are just like my home installation in Paris. This is very inspiring and I’m in a good place.”
Words by Alexa Bouhelier-Ruelle
Photos provided by Hope Curran