As I redesign my website, I have decided to get rid of the "Must Read" section on my homepage and add it back to the blog section. With my thesis and knitting schedule, I wasn't keeping up with it as well as I had unrealistically hoped (as you may have noticed since I haven't touched it since November!! I blame Trump). The plan now is to write a post about reads, blogs and/or listens every so often on here. ( I would say monthly but I am trying to take off the rose tinted glasses)
1. How to teach children to care about Art:
After a summer of teaching children about art as a world class museum, I found this an interesting article with tips and tricks for parents that could have been written by any museum educator.
2. Google Arts and Culture
This is probably one of the best tools Google has done for the arts. Ever.
3.Can we get over ourselves?
This is a tough question in any circumstance especially now and especially when asked of "The Big C Church"
4.. MoMA hangs a doozy
Sometimes museums get it right and hang the art that society needs to see. Check out this powerful Faith Ringgold.
5. 10 types of feminist men to avoid
You know who I am talking about. Beware of the facades, the hypocrites and the sneaky. Also Everydayfeminism posts great things always.
6.God Needs Women
You may have noticed the feminist lence that most of my posts have taken lately. Rachel Held Evans explains it all with bluntness, and poise.
7. Object Lesson
I wish I could make it to New York to see this show, exploring the meaning and worth of objects through collections.
8. How do Working Artists stay creative?
This article serves as both an informative interview and a book review, that is sure to be on my Christmas wish list.
9. Black Lives Matter syllabi
This course outline that has been opened to the public is full of quality reads, videos and sources of learning about systemic, societal structures.
10. Never Give Up
Beautiful and inspiring article from Sojourners!
I may be the only person who cried through the entire College Game day show this past Saturday. As the camera zoomed out over Bowman field, my heart longed for the Blue Ridges. When "Sloppy Body" made another iconic appearance, I was not crying from laughing (though that was happening mentally), I was full on ugly crying because "those are my people!" I missed the solid orange, crazy fans that for most of my life had been my Saturday tailgating companions.
Saturday evening I continued my mission of converting everyone to Clemson fans one friend at a time, by bringing my brave grad school friend to the Chicago Clemson Club viewing party. As the pre-show scrolled through Clemson staples, I tried to explain running down the hill, Howard's rock and the Esso club but words failed me.
As I have been planning my future (post grad school life), I have an obvious criteria: proximity to Clemson. I realize, something that honestly did not occur to me until my homesick laden Saturdays, that my Clemson experience is still valid. I had always felt like it was not exciting enough or not a true Clemson story because I had refused to go greek, I did not enjoy painting myself for games and I spent a whole lot of time in studio. But really guys, is there really one exemplar Clemson experience?
Advice that I wish I had known as a freshman- every college experience is in fact a college experience. It will be memorable, individual and important. It does not have to be the most popular path or the most Instagram worthy event-filled experience. It just has to be yours. The mold, that everyone tries to fit, is a mythos.
Lets throw some color theory into this already cheesy post. Orange straight out of the tube does not naturally exist nor is it Clemson Orange. There are infinite shades of orange and I believe that Solid Orange includes all of them. Mix and find your perfect level of hue, tone, and saturation so one day you can also miss and relive your Clemson experience each game day.
This weekend, I went gallery hopping to enjoy the new fall breeze and the enormous quantity of quality work coming to the city for the season and EXPO (which I will explain more about).
I spent Friday night in River North for their many, many openings. Sadly I was only able to make it to a hand-full in the couple hour window that is the event. Personally, it was highlighted by the Benjamin Cook show at Zg gallery. Cook has a colorful fun assortment of paintings and some fibers installations, each category exploring materiality, mass produced color and graphic qualities that can be both found in street art and now the mass market- mass produced fashion for the street. To top it off, the gallery had some temporary tattoo reproductions to take, which I am now strongly boasting. Friday, on an entirely different spectrum of the art market/ cannon, I enjoyed the Tetsuya Noda retrospective at Andrew Bae gallery. While looking at beautifully rendered prints from 50 years of Noda's life, there was a little nod to engagement with diary entries posted by each piece that gave additional insight into the artists life and thoughts, and added an extra layer of power and meaning. Diary entries are personal and often kept secret or prized, yet these feelings of change, humor, uncertainty and growth can be understood on a basic human level, bringing the contemporary Chicagoan viewer to Noda's context.
Saturday afternoon, I went over to the west loop to Woman Made gallery for the closing of their internationally juried show. What a gem! I wish I was telling you about an opening rather than a closing because it feels like such a taunt and lost opportunity (It is well documented on their website though). This was a well curated show of a variety of artists in a variety of mediums, so I did not know what to expect form the artists' talks, happening with the closing. I was pleasantly surprised about the multi generational aspect of the artists involved. As they spoke about their work, informally for about ten minutes each I was struck by the artist community that was in the room, rooted in a shared identity and practice. Occasionally an audience member would spout out a feeling or reading that would fill in the gaps of the artist's preceding explanation.
For me there were two highlights of this show that I just want to mention. The first, the ceramic piece by Cathy Schwalbe that she described as a retrospective of sorts because she has gathered images and stories over the years that are referenced in the various tiles. The piece asks the audience to touch and take, to interact with these historic traditions of the Midwest. The fun alliteration title, "sewing, sowing" brings the content and the relationship between the male and female work to the fore front. The second piece, by Angela Swan "listen", is beautiful in its simplicity. Is is a large printed photography of a sculpture project of two phones connected. The audience decided on a variety of symbols: sex, integration, dialogue of past times, race relations, a stand off, marriage, etc. all pointing to the power in a message that can be understood in a variety and on multiple levels.
I can not wait fro Chicago Expo and especially the After Hours event, featuring more alternative spaces and works. If you are in the Chicago area you should mark your calendar!
The ol' leather skins is back and I may be one of the most excited orange-blooded fans in this city. For me, football has remained a family tradition, even when distance separates us. Today, as the Tigers take on the war-eagle-igers, with my parents and brother there cheering them on, I begin a new tradition: The Chicago Clemson Club viewing party at the Full Shilling Public House. They will have all the necessary tailgating equipment to make this night hyped and Solid Orange- obviously sweet potato fries and Tiger Tea. So here is a throwback to my freshman year to kick off the best season. GO TIGERS! Beat Auburn!
There are too many good places to eat in Chicago, burgers to try, wine to pair, and bake shops to peruse with a kid in a candy shop fascination, and honestly just not enough meals in the day! To remedy this predicament I find myself day dreaming about occasions far in advance that I can use as an excuse to try every food venue in a ten block radius. Ten blocks? you may be thinking. Isn't that quite a lot of walking? Well, think, you can eat a course, walk a bit, eat, a course, walk a bit, repeat... until you have simultaneously filled a day with food, enjoyment and exercise, the two extremes balancing each other out perfectly. This is a common dream of mine, which so far has not become a reality. Instead, I have combined this list of the top ten places I want to try next. This was pretty difficult so to compromise I will have to follow up with a list of just pizza.
If I have realized one thing about myself this summer, it is that I often shrink. Not always physically but often mentally and emotionally. I take the back seat when I really crave the driver's. I have always considered myself fairly confident, so I came to this conclusion with a bit of surprise and regret. My recent reflections come from transitioning to a new sphere, the working world, and I see that my past confidence was only in academia in my role as student. Now, in many new situations, such as teaching or a different type of social environment, I shrink back hoping to be as small as possible. If I do in fact share my opinion(s) at all, it is with meek hesitation. Perhaps this is another aspect of a quiet observant personality or my Southern upbringing. But what if it is bigger than that?
Ladies do you hear me? Is it just me or do you automatically remain quiet around positions of perceived authority, often male, or sugar coat your helpful critique so much so that you would be better just handing out actual cupcakes? Do you stay quiet unless asked, a dutiful follower of the societal structure?
I may be late to the game but I am currently reading milk and honey by rupi kaur (yes it should be lower case), a small book of poetry full of hurt, honesty and triumph but most importantly strength. rupi gives us her beautiful words, pouring out so that we may be filled. Sometimes, as the reader, I am overcome with anger at how the world works, and then turn to a sweet restful place, a happy happening. Each page is my new favorite but this poem struck out to me:
you tell me to quiet down
This little piece, full of intensity, a call out, was in the section titled "the hurting" but at first, all I could see was triumph, because as a writer who was so open to these hurts, rupi was not put out. These hurts, the societal repression of strong women, is not just a reflection on hardships but also a call out to all women to not stand to be silenced, put out, light or fluffy. It is a calling to walk with strength, dignity and confidence. Speak out when something makes you angry. Point out inequality. Do not settle. I, We, You should feel important enough, confident enough, pretty enough to let your voice fill a room.
This past year I have been struck by an unshakable artist's block. Unlike previous unproductive phases stemming from lack of creativity, I find myself asking "how does an artist make art today when the world is so broken?" "how can there be art after Ferguson?"
This past week these question become more concerning as the news again is plastered with broken bodies. My question is not one out of neutrality ( as a white, straight, female I feel the need to clarify and acknowledge my privilege), but one coming out of hurt and anger at the system that I live in and perhaps sometimes unconsciously enabled. I feel helpless and tired that the communities that I am a part of, and friends I respect continue to see the issues in black and white rather than through a lens of humanity, where reconciliation could bring about change.
We live in the era of the hashtag, constantly updating to reflect the next tragedy, yet not full encompassing the entirety of the issue. But perhaps these quick snippets is all we can handle because if we go too deep, release ourselves to the progression of paint on canvas, shout out our cries to the Lord through music, or go to the streets in dance, we may drown in the darkness that is our reality.
The World Wars drastically changed the trajectory for the arts. The Dada's explored meaninglessness after there months dug into the trenches. The Surrealists no longer trusted the conscious on its own, realizing that the subconscious could pull and sway, coming out into unexplainable art. The poet Theodor Adorn blatantly wrote that there could be no art after Auschwitz. I am also reminded of the Chicago based Monster Roster, who distorted the figure and expressed pain while much of the US art world had reverted to abstract expressionism. These movement all have in common there lack of concern or perhaps more offensive breakdown of beauty.
The cannon of art history leads me to believe that art will continue to happen even while black men must fear for their lives but it must take on a new form. What that may look like, I, with regrettable curiosity,look forward to finding out. Jackson Pollock once said: “It seems to me that the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique.” (interview with William Wright, 1950)
I would like to end with a beautiful piece by Amena Brown, which I came across on a Liturgist podcast a while back but I find new power and relevance in after recent events.
This year has brought us tears and sorrow
I am a bad listener.
I am not sure if this is a recent development or if I have always been this way due to a combo of a roaming imagination, a partly deaf left ear, and a resilient hard-head. Often I find myself in my own head planning my next step as a conversation rolls on in front of my nose. Listening is something I can turn on or off depending on my setting, but now it seems to be set to off more and more often. Perhaps this is a sign of the times or my own generation, as if I am pre-disposed to be a self-centered stereotype of a millinnial. I apologize, but I find even this admittance hypocritical without breaking it down to the root and stimulating change.
A moment of spring semester comes back to me to exemplify the problem I do not want to admit. One of my professors I deeply respect was giving me some pointers for my thesis, a touchy subject. I automatically became defensive and the listening side of my brain went to Hawaii. He knows me well and before I could make my compelling argument of my own perfection, he stops me. "Becca, let me finish." And you know, he was right. My role should be the listener more often than not.
I was on the opposite end of the tug-o-war this week at clay camp. I had one little girl who would not listen even though, I as the teacher, was telling her things that would help her little creation survive the kiln. By the end of the week she was giving me the silent treatment and I was fed up. It was infuriating! I had ten other students to help and could not let one student capitalize my attention, yet even though I was spent, I still wanted her to have a good time and to go home with a pice she was proud of.
In the week following the mass shooting in Orlando and the terrible loss stemming from inconceivable hate, I am struck by the two sides of experience, patiently listening and the desire to be right. As blame is passed and political discussions fire, what if we step back and simply listen? What would the conversations sound like if they were balanced between truly listening and calmly discussing? Gun violence and LGBTQI equality are hot button topics, so it is very easy to switch the listening side of our brains to off and shout out opinions, escalating to be heard over the roar. We sit back in a stubborn silent treatment while our project becomes a smushed pancake of mud.
What if millinnials were known as listeners?