Tessa Hulls is an artist/writer/adventurer illuminating the connections between the present and the past. As the mixed race daughter of two first generation immigrants who landed in a tiny town of 350 people, she grew up with no models of how she fit within American culture. Her family didn't have TV and the internet didn't yet exist, so she spent her formative years reading her way through the public library and roaming alone through the hills with a backpack full of books (she still does this). This fusion of solitude, research, and forward motion remains the bedrock of her extremely multidisciplinary creative practice.
Tessa went quietly and happily feral in 2011 after a 5,000 mile solo bike ride from southern California to Maine, and her restlessness has joyously dragged her across all seven continents. Her travels have led to everything from bartending in Antarctica to painting murals in Ghana to hosting book clubs in Denali National Park, but these days she is staying still and saying no to pretty much everything in order to focus on her nonfiction graphic novel, Feeding Ghosts (forthcoming in 2023 from MCD at Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux)
Tessa is a compulsive genre hopper who has worked in various capacities as an illustrator, lecturer, cartoonist, editor, interviewer, historian, writer, performer, chef, muralist, conductor of social experiments, painter, bicycle mechanic, teacher, and researcher for organizations including The Washington Post, The Henry Art Gallery, The Rumpus, On the Boards, The Seattle Art Museum, Atlas Obscura, Microsoft Research, and others. She is the recipient of grants from The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and 4Culture, and a fellowship from The Robert B. McMillen Foundation. She received the 2021 Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award, and has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, Hedgebrook, Ucross, and others. As the 2019 awardee of the PEN Northwest Margery Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, she spent 6.5 months living alone in a remote off grid cabin with no cell service or internet while writing the outline of Feeding Ghosts. She never fully left the woods and has no plans--or desire, or ability-- to truly re-domesticate.
Tessa used to write narrative vignettes about the hopes, dreams, longings and fears of Honeybucket portable toilets and might get back into that someday, and when not in Washington state, she can often be found (or deliberately not found) in Alaska.
Interviews and Press:
Hyperallergic: An Illustrated Timeline of Chinese Immigration to the US Illuminates a History of Xenophobia
KQED: 'Guided by Ghosts' Tells of Chinatowns Born of Racism, Then Lost to History
Folk Stories Podcast: Feeding Ghosts with Tessa Hulls
Rage, Liberation, and the Adventurous Life: Podcast interview with Lucy Bellwood
F*ck Impossible Podcast Interview with Mary Ann Thomas
Healing the Past: The Persecuted Journalist Who Fled Mao's China and the Granddaughter Out to Tell Family's Story
The Port Townsend Compass Podcast Interview
Tessa Hulls' Journey into Family's Past Uncovers the Life of an Extraordinary Woman
Artist/Writer Meets Performance Puppeteer
Interview with The Artist Rolls podcast
Art Nerd Seattle—Boylan Bingo
The Stranger Suggests
City Arts: And Other Lovers' Quarrels
Ca, J'aime Bien
Squidface and the Meddler
Artists Who Interview: A Roundtable Discussion