Cold Days in the South…

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     I think it is clear from my hibernation-like absence that this winter has done one thing for me: laziness. There are few things I have wanted to do besides curl up on the couch and avoid the extra harsh winter that has been upon us for far too long. One of the main reasons I so dearly love living in the South is a mild winter season. A couple of good snow showers, fine. But this year, we’ve had over a solid month of days that it has snowed- that adds up to more days than I can count of actual snow covered ground. So, have I done anything besides get myself hooked on the shows Parenthood, Girls or Pretty Little Liars? Well, not really. (And no, I do not feel like the time I took getting to know those shows was a waste.) However, this was a brief half- semester off and I am now staring down what will be the most intense semester of grad school that I’ll know: Independent Study, in which I will be creating my final, capstone project. The research I did last semester has been leading up to this, and truly, between understanding the dynamic of the Braverman family and taking guesses at who A is, I have been researching here and there. It has been a mix of frustrating and confusing though, I will admit. The basis for my project is to understand the media driven imagery that surrounds us, and specifically, how women are portrayed. I am a feminist at heart; there has never been any doubt of that, but what type of feminist? I had no idea I needed to define a type in this day and age. I feel I have to be careful not to be the bantering feminist, or the “we’re all victims (still)” feminist, and being still somewhat young, should I just be the newest type, the third wave feminist (I don’t think there’s a fourth wave feminist- yet)? It’s been a lot to take in, and that’s without even touching on what you come across when Googling “feminist art”. So, the latest feminist debacle I’ve come across? Barbie. And Sports Illustrated.

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     Empowerment or objectification? Much like defining what type of feminist that I am, I’m torn about my thoughts on this merger. Barbie’s “Unapologetic” campaign as the face for the Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary initially came off to me as one thing: sexist. One of these companies is known for exploiting women’s bodies, wearing next to nothing in their photo shoots, and the other makes a doll who’s actual body measurements are nearly impossible for any real woman to obtain. The two of them together- how could it be anything less than great? Well, I particularly appreciate fbomb’s blog on the topic and Julie Z for pointing out that the almost un-touchable body type that SI already presents yearly as the standard for “beauty” was replaced by nothing less than, what I’ve already mentioned to be, a doll with unnatural measurements. So on top of giving us a body type that is nearly impossible to reach, being replaced by a doll solidifies that in the view of many people behind this project, a woman’s body is merely an object. That’s one take on it. It’s also a hard one to deny. The surprising flip side to this argument, mentioned by SI’s creative director (a male, none the less) is that Barbie has always been about the empowerment of women. Barbie has held over 150 jobs. She’s an entrepreneur, just as many former SI models are. It is tempting to let myself fall into the trap of believing it’s ok to use a woman’s body when there are people (male and female alike) behind the cause saying it’s for “women’s power”! But on second thought, in this situation, I really do believe it’s exploiting the age-old sex sells campaign, and this power play is nothing more than a bunch of chauvinist pigs knowing exactly where they can capitalize.      

48 in Atl

As I continue to settle in Louisville, I am feeling more comfortable, yet between school and not many consecutive days off from work (oh the life of retail), to say I was in dire need of a break is an understatement. So after coordinating some dates with my friends, I took off two days from work and booked a flight to Atlanta! Exactly 48 hours in the Atl, and exactly what I needed. I made a mini-documentary of it; partly to see what all I got done in 48 hrs, and partly out of sentiment. The combination of efforts follow…

Embracing Change

ImageEmbrace change. This lovely little coaster sits next to me nightly as a reminder for me to do just that. It has been exactly three months since I uprooted my life in Atlanta and  moved back to the wonderful state that I have always called home, Kentucky. I moved to Louisville, a city I haven’t ever lived, so it’s a little taste of the familiar mixed with a lot of new. Why the change you may ask? I know I don’t get very personal on here, but it had to do with a boy who broke my heart. I simply felt I had to literally get away, and that being closer to home would help. So, three months in… and I’m unsure. Unsure about a number of things, and that’s a feeling I hate. I also hate feeling uprooted and like a nomad- both of which I currently feel. I miss my Atlanta friends and the lifestyle I had there a great deal. I also miss my stuff, which for the most part is in storage, and why I feel nomad-ish. However, I have to give much thanks for a wonderful friend that was here in Louisville and willing to take me in and let me share her lovely, fully furnished home. There are positives here, and they are the change I am now trying to embrace. I know that change is up to me ultimately, the change to move was mine and I wouldn’t take it back if I could. The change here is what I need to find to not be unsure, but I just don’t know where to look.

Impressions

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My final (take home) assignment for printmaking was to make an impression on the world. Hmm… That’s not vague at all. But really, I understood the assignment: don’t be literal about it, and honestly, do what you want- everything we do is leaving an impression on our surroundings, people, our world. So the question became, what medium or in what way did I want to relay my work and idea? I wanted to continue with what I’d been doing in studio- layering things, using water color, keeping true to my aesthetic: a soft pallet and organic feel to the work. That is me. Now what about the impression I’ve made on the world? This, to me, could best be relayed through the words of others. I’m just me, it’s what I do every day. But I don’t know what I’m really projecting onto the world, so I asked. Via Facebook, I sent out a mass message (I did select through my friends, I will admit, there were some I thought it best not to include in the experiment- and I was also compelled to later weed through my “friends”, anyhow-) I did want a variety of opinions, so I included a large variety of people. Again, I admit, it was kind of scary putting out there, “what kind of impression have I left with you?” and simply wait for the responses to come in. I knew not everyone would, I’ll be the first to say I hate large Facebook group messages and I always ignore them, but it was actually a little hurtful to see “so and so left the conversation”; however, the responses I did receive, definitely made it worth the while. I had no idea what to expect, and who to expect anything from. I ended up with a little over a dozen responses out of about 90 in the “group conversation”. Most of which made me cry- I’m such a sap- but I had no idea of the genuine emotion I’d get with the feedback, or that I’d even evoked such by knowing these individuals. From their emails, I copied and pasted the replies in a number of ways, and collaged them together creating one piece made cohesive through watercolor. I feel very good about the work, and it was really rather therapeutic in some ways- by letting go of control, having people tell me quite honestly how they feel from knowing me, and then creating something from their words. It was an experiment, and a risk, and one that I’m glad I took.

Get Out of Your Own Way

DSC_0029These last two weeks have felt like a different world- another life. The end of my studio time is nearing, and I’m already looking back in aw. It has been more than a learning experience, yes, I have learned new techniques, but I have never in my life been reminded so well as to why I’m an artist. My printmaking professor told us today that he had an epiphany about his work just over a year and a half ago (in a field that he’s been creating with for over twenty-five), when he realized all he needed to answer were two questions: what do I want from my art and how do I get there? He has had the resources, there is no doubt and he freely admits that, but he recognizes he wasn’t being honest with himself as to what he hopes that his art achieves, and more importantly, he wasn’t using his resources to get him there- other artists! Don’t be afraid to ask someone about their methods and techniques if it’s something you admire. Don’t be afraid. That’s an important lesson I believe I’ve learned in my time spent here. Last week, as I mentioned, I was in a sketchbook class that truly pushed me for the first time in years. It was exhilarating. A few of the mottos in the class were, “get out of your own way”, “draw more, think less”, and “nothing is precious”. This last one was really key for me. I may be a bit of a perfectionist… and I probably spend a bit more time on things than I should… My sketchbook professor was, I’m pretty certain, constantly shaking his head at me (or at least at my back- but I mean that with love). He just wanted to push me, and if that meant subtly poking fun at my attention to detail, then so be it- it needed to be done! And it worked (it’s true Patrick, probably more than you know). So, after a week of pulling and prodding at my inner artist who can just let go and create, I am now in a week of intense printmaking. I almost burst into tears this evening because my press was running too slow. All I could do was repeat to myself, “there’s no crying in printmaking, there’s no crying in printmaking…” and I pushed through. The results, I can’t help but boast, were amazing. I avoided printmaking the entirety of my underclass study. It was, in my eyes, too rough, harsh with color, and in general, abstract, to please me as a medium that would accurately portray my art. My work is every bit the opposite of those qualities- I like a soft pallet, organic shapes, and generally there is even the slightest bit of realism in what I do. Printmaking also seemed like it would take all of the control away from me. When I approach a work, I generally have a distinct view in mind, and I was not ok with giving that up for the potentiality of unknown-ness through printmaking. Well, I can assure you, that way of thinking has quickly flown out the door. As Patrick so implemented in me the first week, you have to get out of your own way, and you can not let something be so precious that you stop it from being the unique, beautiful, one of a kind work that it’s meant to be. What has blown my mind is that somehow, in this crazy printmaking process- creating a plate that I didn’t even understand how it was going to relate once “inked” and “pressed”- my prints turned out to be me. I stuck to my aesthetic- I did subtlety in my work, I did organic and sometimes detailed shapes, and I used color like I didn’t think I was “suppose to”. My plates weren’t like anyone else’s in class, and honestly, I was scared. The pay off? I can’t even express how much of “me” came through- so much so that I wasn’t even realizing it, but my classmates were pointing it out to me! It was an incredibly satisfying experience, motivation, and a real life lesson, sometimes we just have to get out of our own way.

Being Inspired

Hello world. I apologize for the long absence, as soon as my Spring semester ended, my first Summer course began, as did the butt- kicking. On top of the usual full work and school schedule, I’ve had an unexpected move sprung on me. To say things are a little crazy is an understatement, however, I am finding much needed peace and focus currently back in the art studio. For this (the second portion of my Summer courses) I’m required to be on campus for two weeks of intense studio work- it is amazing, and long over due. I haven’t really been in the studio for over five years now, and I know this is what I need to be doing. This first week I’m in sketch-booking, and it has been a great re-intro to looking at the world as an artist and practicing that fact. Truly, wonderful.
On another, yet still art related note, I have been holding on to share this project with y’all- One Million Bones. I was blown away with the profound ability in which this group, The Art of Revolution, executed a project that addressed humanitarianism with so much love and compassion. I shed tears with the stories from mothers, fathers, even the children. The project exists to bring awareness to crimes against humanity, around the world. I felt bad and upset with myself for my own ignorance on many of the situations from countries included in the project. Everyone should hear the stories of the countries and people from Burma to Sudan, because we are all human. It is as simple as that, and no one deserves to be treated as though they are anything but another human being.

Holidays in the Art Classroom, and Happy Memorial Day

The lesson for this week in my History of Art Education course was about holidays’ place in the art class, from where it started to where it is, and if indeed it is still needed today. I was blown away at hearing the position of people saying there is no need to “celebrate” holidays in the art classroom. While I understand it can be tricky to not just be the decorators for your school around every holiday seeing that the early roots of holiday art in the art class was almost purely for beautification, I think it’s important for us to use that time as a means to explore culture. I also understand the fear of excluding some groups or students around particular holidays, but we shouldn’t feel that we are having to celebrate a particular holiday, or worry about creating politically correct lessons around Christian based holidays. Art educators in this day and age should feel free to explore a plethora of holidays and use it as a tool for teaching our youth about cultural practices, beliefs, and even how many of them have deep roots in art history.
On another note, I hope everyone enjoys this holiday, Memorial Day, that is upon us. Whether you have family that has served our military or not, I hope that you use this holiday to be thankful for your loved ones and the freedom of your country, America. This weekend was always used as a time to spend with family for me growing up, and going to visit the graves of family deceased and taking them flowers. While I am now 400 miles away from one very important grave, this weekend is always sentimental to me, and though I can’t place a flower on my dad’s gravestone this weekend, I will be doing so in spirit.