This months Instacurrate is brought to you by the letter "C".
C is for Cup.
I love cups and cups love you.
Here are of my favorites for you to peruse.
Hey you! If you usually skip everything except the blog, please take a moment to browse through the new spring additions. Over the past two weeks I have updated the Must Read List, changed some formatting such is the nifty slide show on the home page and added some of my research. The research section has some of the projects I have worked on since coming to graduate school and my goal is to continually publish my writings here for easy access. I am really excited about these changes, spurred by a need to procrastinate on my thesis research but also a desire to continually improve my online presence and representation. Please let me know what you think!
On another spring cleaning note, I painted a wall in my apartment! Partly on a whim, but also because I had been considering how to make my little space more "me". It is just acrylic paint and I made up the pattern as I went. I highly recommend this little DIY to any one in need of a change inside to mirror the weather outside.
1. Discernment- AKA Life is hard.
This is my daily struggle. But is it really so unclear? An interesting read for the spiritual, or not.
2. Need some inspiration: Find it HERE
The semester has started but maybe you are uninspired. Here you go.
3. Get a Jump Start to Spring Cleaning with Spark Joy
Man, two of my favorite things: spring and cleaning! This is a free pdf that is worth the read. I managed to clean out 6 garbage bags worth of clothes and shoes out of my closet and hopefully they have now found a new home.
4. When Change is Scary
A beautiful post by Without Borders. It may give you chill bumps.
5. Need a good cry?
I understand, we all have those days.
6. Louis Bourgeois sketchbooks
insight about the sketch book practice from a prolific artist.
7. Sketchbook Look- John Hendrix
Hendrix sketches at church, creating a dialogue between the verses and his interpretation as an artist
8. The Outsider Art Fair
I was not aware that this existed but it's great. Adding to my bucket list stat, plus they have an informative list of artists online.
9. Renovation of the CAA
Great writeup and pictures the really capture the retained character of a Chicago landmark
Today I spent 3 hours working on the phrasing of one question. Writing and rewriting. re-phrasing.
and again. write. rewrite.
The question is the first step to the thesis research project. What am I studying? More broadly, what am I doing here?
I understand why this is a regularly heard phrase in the graduate student lounge.
It is interesting to put a mover on a slow path. At times I feel like Brer Fox hitting the tar baby. Do you know what I mean?
By the end of the semester will I be covered in tar, startled and dumbfounded by my own stupidity and the pickle I have put my self in? Or am I in fact, Brer Rabbit who will look back on this struggle, even if my own struggle, with humor as I skip down with gregarious laughter.
Ironically this person who hates change has just learned that she is now in a self imposed process of continuous change.
I will end right here with this here quote:
"A research problem is motivated not be palpable unhappiness, but by incomplete knowledge or flawed understanding. You solve it not by changing the world but by understanding it better."
Instagram is by far my favorite form of social media. I follow mainly artists, museums and other creative individuals that I would not have otherwise known about and they offer me constant inspiration and heightened dream goals. I have decided to start a new project series on the blog and curate some of my favorites, thinking of technology as the new gallery space and how one can present groupings to a different viewership than a traditional gallery.
This past summer I added a "Must Read" feature to my home page because I am constantly told about or stumble upon interesting websites (wow. Isn't technology astounding?) and wanted a place to share them, even if I did not have time to write an entire post about it. But recently, I realized that I have no documentation of these recommendations, and once I update it is lost forever. So... I am starting an archive! When I am done with links on the front page, I will move them here to the blog. This also means I will not hesitate from updating it more often. Win, win.
October - January List
1. An Amsterdam Museum Asks Visitors to Pick up Pencil and Paper
This article is a new interesting take on smart phones in the museums. As a hopeful-future-museum-educator I fully advocate for this move.
2. Current Train Ride Read: The Devil in the White City
Man this book is a goodie! It is full of facts figures and a little bit of suspense. Pick one up at your local library!
3. Known As A Collector, Gustave Caillebotte Gets His Due As A Painter
It is about time! Thanks NPR and the National gallery.
4. What I Wish I Could Tell Them About Teaching in a Title I School
from Love, Teach blog.
A great reality check for myself and others interested in working in the Title 1 system, and for those in decision making roles in our school systems.
5. Salmela Architect.
I can not get enough of this firms work.
6. Art Palooza! Engaging High School Students in Art History through Fashion Design
This is what I am excited about, with the countless productive ways art can be used in the classroom.
7. 11 Contemporary Authors Every Christian Should Read
You know I love lists, so I thought I would share my next reading one with you.
8. Need new Music? Why not check the Runway.
9. This is my city on the news
A different outlook on the news of the Charleston shooting, one that hits close to home.
Last year left me worn and tired. So when it came time for me to think and reflect on a New Year word (something I always do, read about it here and here), I was overwhelmed. It did not seem like I was done with 2015 much less ready to start 2016 head on.
I spent my Christmas break in Augusta, GA. It was a much needed reprieve from the fast-paced, crazy city life. Since I was not working or schooling, I had plenty of quiet time for thinking.
But still no light bulb moment.
My three weeks at home were full of rest and self-reflection but still no insight.
But you, Lord, are my shield! You are my glory! You are the one who restores me. I cry out to the Lord and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down, sleep, and wake up because the Lord helps me.
It was not until I was driving through the desert on the way to the CFB National Championship (Go TIGERS!) did I feel that still calm voice. Ironic, since I was about to enter one of the loudest stadiums I have ever experienced and over all the weekend adventure was quite hectic.
Perhaps it was the mountains calling or a new symptom of clay withdrawal. Either way, with unyielding confidence I knew that this year would be Refresh. The thoughts behind this decision stem from the ceramic studio. One of my favorite qualities of clay is that it can be reused. You can play with it without the pressure of finality. But even clay gets exhausted, the platelets no longer line up, the strength waivers and the consistency clumps. So you take the clay and refresh it. This is just as important and strenuous as throwing or building. You reclaim it, pug it and then wedge it repeatedly until the clay is ready again. In summary, you refresh the clay.
By choosing the word Refresh as my focus and goal, I am recognizing the difficult past couple of years and my exhausted state, but most importantly that I need to work to get back to a ready point. I need to fertilize the field and get ready for rain (Thank you Facing the Giants for never ending metaphoric gems).
Jesus replied, "Now you believe? Look! A time is coming- and is here!- when each of you will be scattered to your own home and you will leave me alone. I'm not really alone for the Father is with me. I've said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world."
They weigh down my purses, they hide away in mason jars and sleep in the crevices of the couch. They are kept but found useless. I am talking of dead pens. For some reason I can not let them go as if one last drop of their ink will save me from a future pickle.
Maybe this comes from my need to fill pages, to constantly record my lists and document my dreams. If I have a paper, a napkin, a scrap; I will fill it. Lines and marks constantly flow from my sporadic yet stubborn soul.
But really my hoarding of spent pens reflects my need to hold on to past memories as if these will bring order and safeguard from change. Even after they are exhausted from laps around my head and tireless moments of reflection, I keep them to mull over yet again. The memories that bring hurt and few positives are as necessary as dead writing utensils; they can teach me no more. Yes, I have learned and grown from them, but post-humorously they must be bid farewell. The hardest step of moving past and growing from hardship is finally letting go, yet it is the most important step.
My hoarding does not guard against unwanted change, rather it prevents peace, a calmness that would nourish further flourishment. This is my little Christmas wish, no less exciting than hippopotami, I wish for you O Father to take my tough memories and fill the void with peace for the new season.
When I was little, my favorite, most ingenious prank to pull was tying my little brother's shoe laces together as he innocently watched cartoons. As the TV held his complete attention I would tighten and twist and quadruple knot his laces into an unmanageable mess. It always ended up the same when the cartoon ended: my brother cried, I was sent to my room and my mother diligently untied every knot until my brother could again use his shoes for the designed purpose. Yes, I was a little devil child.
Since the Pope's visit a couple of weeks ago (I meant to get to this earlier, alas, grad school), I have been thinking about knots physically and metaphorically. In Philadelphia, a group of artists created a community based, interactive sculpture called Knots Grotto, designed and built by Meg Saligman, Dan Ostrov, and Stephanie Cole. It is a beautiful piece that invites visitors to write down their challenges, wishes, hopes, and prayers, then tie them onto the grotto, so adding a literal knot. The artists also collected knots by mail and at local pop-up events for months in advance, making for a wide encompassing project with many participators and a large impact. The work was inspired by one of Pope Francis favorite devotional paintings Mary Undoer of Knots by Johann Georg Schmidtner.
There are many examples of prayers said by Pope Francis to Mary, the untier of knots but this one is my favorite:
Holy Mary, full of God’s presence during the day of your life, you accepted with full humility the Father’s will, and the devil was never capable of tying you up with his confusion.
Once with your Son you interceded for our difficulties, and full of kindness and patience, you gave us example of how to untie the knots in our life.
By remaining forever Our Mother, you put in order and make more clear the ties that link us to the Lord.
Holy Mother, Mother of God and our Mother, to you who intie with a motherly heart the knots of our life, we pray to you to receive in your hands (the name of the person), and to free him/her of the knots and confusion with which our enemy attacks.
Through your grace, your intercession and your example deliver us from all evil, Our Lady, and untie the knots that prevent us from being united with God, so that we, free from sin and error, may find Him in all things, may have our hearts placed in Him, and may serve Him always in our brothers and sisters.
Since, I am a protestant, I do not pray to Mary as intercessor but I still find comfort in the idea of our heavenly mother and father working to untie the many knots in each of our lives because Lord knows there are many. There are the knots, obstacles and daily happenings that keep us from really truly living to God's fullness such as maybe a tiring job or unhealthy relationship. There are the knots that keep us tied to something else, a distraction. But then there are also the positive knots that are our ties to the Lord, they show us a path and lead the way. I am reminded of a trail at camp called the Beaver Pond Trail that is marked by a rope full of knots that help visually impaired campers walk on the path. They feel the knots and know they are on a safe path and that soon they will reach a braille plaque with information just for them. These are positive and comforting knots.
I am reminded of knots as obstacles at camp as well. During staff training one summer, the Hope Females had to work as a team to go through a spiderweb made of knotted rope. It is complicated and we can only make it across if we work together as a team. After one day of knowing each other we had to be honest and physically close to work together which was at times very uncomfortable for those of us who have a large personal bubble. But we eventually made it and came out on the other side as a real team. Friends and family can act as undoer of knots as they carry, push and support you past life's obstacles.
The sculpture, Knot Grotto, asks each participant and viewer to think of the many obstacles and negative knots in their lives and release them. By tying them together into something beautiful the problems are given to the community for support, each member can work together to get the others past so in a way making a positive knot, a reassuring spot an the path. The prayer talks about Mary uniting knots which is a beautiful image, with her pristine fingers diligently untwisting our messes like my own mother did back in the day, but perhaps what is even more comforting and relevant is that God works through wondrous ways and he can use others to also untie the bad knots and point to the knots that eternally bind us to Him.