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…

My Old Kentucky Home…

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Over the weekend was my favorite Saturday of the year- the Kentucky Derby. There’s nothing better than a reason to drink Mint Juleps, put together an over-the-top hat that goes with your outfit just for the day, and place a lot of $2 bets that you’ll most likely never see again. It’s a special thing seeing the rest of the country celebrate your home state in just that special way once a year. Like five of the running horses on Saturday, I was born and bred in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and this great showing of my home I decided called for a party. This was my fifth Derby watching from Atlanta, and instead of sitting back and letting the feelings of home wash over me, I brought a little bit of Kentucky here. My wonderful friends indulged with me, dressing the part and even participating in the essential “best hat” contest. Determined to give them an authentic taste of Kentucky, I happily turned to Pinterest. There was beer cheese, hot browns and Bourbon a plenty. I even took on burgoo. My mother told me not too- that’s too difficult!- but I wasn’t going to give my guest anything short of Kentucky’s best. The burgoo (which by the point of the party my mom had me terrified to serve) turned out to be the biggest hit! I couldn’t help but be rather proud of myself when everyone was going back for seconds and asking me to give them the recipe. That, on another note, was my own creation (I couldn’t find a recipe that was close enough to the burgoo I remember growing up with at the track) so, I am planning to make that my very own pin! More on that to come, but for the rest of the wonderful recipes I used to make Atlanta feel like a genuine Kentucky Derby experience, visit my board Derby Party (and enjoy the next time you need a little taste of Kentucky wherever you may be!)

As One Ends, Another Begins…

I find myself at a very long week’s end. My fourth course (each is divided into eight week sessions, so this is the end of a second semester) in grad school just finished. The course, Globalization, Art and Education, brought up a lot of topics of interest to me, though it also kept me so busy I haven’t had much time to process everything. I know it led me to research that I’m calling “Art and Artists That Exemplify the South” (check out here: http://www.scoop.it/t/made-southern-art), and that’s something I’d like to explore further. Will keep y’all posted. As for tonight, I’m taking a deep breath, enjoying a glass of wine, and starting a mini-marathon of Mad Men… all before I have to go to work tomorrow morning, and begin a new course for the first summer session. Yay!

A Drive to Watkinsville

Our Lovely Bed & Breakfast’s Porch

I spent this past weekend at a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Watkinsville, Georgia. It was about an hour and half drive from our home in north Atlanta, and on a perfectly sunny Saturday, I could not have asked for a better drive to the country. Well, about as country as it gets around Atlanta that is. Our windows were down, I could smell air that’s a fresh you don’t get in the city, and we actually passed fields with cattle. I hadn’t realized until that point how much I missed the country. Not that the past four and a half years in the city (and I’m just talking Atlanta, I’m aware it’s about the least urban “big” city in America) has citified me, but somewhere along the way I missed when a drive out in the country became foreign to me. However, our drive to Watkinsville was actually a good reminder of the research I’d been doing for class: artists or art exemplifying the South. Check out the ten artists I found here. As for the project that’s to come of this, it’s still a work in progress, but I am feeling inspiration that was much needed!

Where’s the Time?

My lesson for this week has me researching ten artists inspired by a topic that I’d like to investigate further. As I’ve sat for, oh, four-ish hours just this evening (and it’s only day three of this lesson), I truly am inspired. But to do what? I am completely enveloped by this online world that feeds me endless knowledge. Yes, it is a wonderful tool, but I’m also not jumping off the couch to make art (that’ll come with next week’s lesson), I just keep clicking. Where is the time for both? Or, more importantly, where is the balance? Hopefully, that’s something that I’ll learn, and in the mean time, if anyone has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear. On the note of my research however, I’ve found some artists that I really love! I am investigating art influenced by your environment, and particularly that of the South. This guy has been my absolute favorite so far: Hollis Bennett. His compositions are great, some of his little details (things I didn’t even notice until the second time I went through his portfolio) really make his photographs, and his subjects, it’s like I know them. Seriously, I think I’ve met over half of them. It’s awesome art that you should check out.