The Mint Museum Permanent Collection (Charlotte, NC)

As promised, a review of the permanent collection at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC:

I would describe the permanent collection that was on display as carefully procured, eclectic, Surreal, and inclusive.

I went to the modern and contemporary art side first, as I was under a time constraint, and where they had a sculpture in deep purple (Night Wing, c. 1972-78) from Anne Truitt, whose Daybook I would strongly recommend. I’ve read her Daybook, but had never seen her work in person, so catching it at the Mint was a surprise treasure. :)

Cristina Toro, who was also featured in the collage exhibition, had a painting, Without Exception Everything is Reflected in this Mirror, 2015-2016, which is the coolest self portrait I have ever seen, and she is definitely someone to follow, as her work is a visual delight, overflowing with detail, texture, color, and life.

There were also works from Andy Warhol: one of his diamond dust silkscreen portraits, which is one of my favorite bodies of work of his, and of which I took a Boomerang of and will be posting in my Instagram stories tomorrow. There was also Ed Ruscha, Norman Rockwell, and Ansel Adams, as well as funky surreal works by Harold Lehman and James Guy, a quaint landscape by Constance Richardson, American art from the 30s-50s featuring factory towns and leisure activities, and a through-three-different-doorways portrait of studio and family life by John Wilde, an influencer on American Surrealism.

A favorite subject matter of mine in the work of female artists is that of the transcendent, mysterious, and surreal. Surrealism is one of my favorite genres anyway, but the quiet, spiritual, and enigmatic scenes in work like Gertrude Abercrombie’s Deportation (1948) is as special a find as Anne Truitt’s Night Wing (c. 1972-78). There were also works by Post-Surrealist painter Helen Lundeberg, Poetic Justice (1945), and Surrealist painter Kay Sage’s Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool (1947), all beautiful, dreamy, haunting, and treasures to behold. The work of the 1930s-1940s are way underrated in my opinion, so to see it collected so carefully and lovingly by museums like the Mint is refreshing. I should really go on a personal quest to find as much art from the 1930s and 40s that I can. The 30s gave us Surrealism, factories, daily life, and an explosion of female artists, so it should definitely get more attention. Now on to Romare Bearden.

Romare Bearden’s watercolor work is deeply saturated with color and features city scenes from his life. Screenprints like Salome (1974) depict Biblical scenes with rich texture and pattern. The coolest works by Bearden were his collagraphs of city life featuring buildings, musicians, and other life. Now that I’m looking at them again, I need to do some collagraphs, stat. So freaking cool. Definitely unique and worth checking out.

So to wrap things up, the Mint Museum’s permanent collection is thoughtful, unusual, and worth the trip. I also saw a bathing suit from the early 20th century, which would apparently be worn with full-length dark cotton stockings. What a bummer to have to wear! So thankful society has changed for the better in what qualifies as swimwear, and so thankful to see so many unique pieces in the Mint’s collection. It was refreshing and rejuvenating, and I strongly recommend a visit. :)

Art Potpourri: New Things I'm Workin' On

Dear Readers:

Thank you for hanging in there and being patient with me as I learn and grow. It means a lot.

Art Updates: I added a new collage that I made for a show and did not get into. That’s cool. I love the collage, plus I have a small series that I’m planning based on dreaming. Dream in Technicolor was my first dream one, Butterflies Save the Day was the second, Brother Bear is the third, and now there will be more, so stayed tuned. :)

Another update was to my Sketches and Fun Stuff, with drawings that I made by scribbling lightly on the paper first and drawing the pictures that I saw within. I realized after doing the one with the two guys in shades, that I am creating a new visual language for myself through these drawings. So, I’m excited to be developing a new way to create that’s just fun to do because each one is a pleasant surprise. :)

I am also continuing to work on my coloring book. I just drew a warthog wearing a Marie Antoinette-inspired wig, and it has definitely taken 1st place in my funnest things I’ve drawn. :)

That’s all for now, folks. See you next time.

Under Construction: Collage from the Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC)

Ahoy, mateys!

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the National Collage Society for a tour of Under Construction: Collage from the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was an absolute delight to see the variety of methods used by artists who collage. I enjoyed works by Tim Rollins and KOS, Robert A. Nelson, Man Ray, Cristina Toro, Shepard Fairey, Kristina Rogers, and Mark Wagner. The collages featured were irreverent and funny, dark and mysterious, narrative or abstract, or everything all at once and in between. There were collages made of trash and there were collages made of cash. The exhibition did an excellent job of showcasing how versatile and relevant collage is to the last century and beyond. It was exciting to see the potential of collage in the form of an exhibition, and I hope to see more of its kind in the future.

Speaking of relevant, the Mint Museum has quite a collection of Romare Bearden’s work, as they should! Romare Bearden grew up in Charlotte and became the 20th century’s most important collage artist. His work depicts memories and rituals from his childhood, with baptismal ceremonies being a particular focus of several pieces, as well as musical performances. The coolest part about his work, besides the symbolism and moods he created, is the variety of materials and methods he used to create his collages, mixing photos from magazines with colored papers with watercolored paper with wallpaper and drawing and so on. I don’t have the guts yet to use such a variety of materials in my own collage work, but I will get there. My favorite pieces by Bearden in the show were the ones featuring musicians, especially Guitar Magic (1986). He used photo, construction paper, watercolored paper, and drawing. The joy and energy of their performance were captured so well in his use of color, line, and shape! He also captured the soft, pale, quiet light of dawn in his Morning By Candelight (c. 1968-1972). If you venture into the Mint Museum’s permanent collection, you’ll find more of Bearden’s work, especially his forays into print making. You’ll have to hurry to see the collage show, though. It comes down on August 18, 2019.

I’ll do another blog post about other works in the Mint Museum’s permanent collection; it deserves a post of its own!

After touring the exhibition, the president of the National Collage Society, Gretchen Bierbaum, led a collage workshop in the atrium for all ages. We started with a postage stamp, and used sewing patterns, stained envelopes, credit card envelopes, old calendars, slide frames, etc. to ignite our creative fires and, for me, make something that I wouldn’t normally make on my own. For starters, I mostly use images from National Geographic, and I definitely do not just rip the paper by hand. I like to precisely cut around the edges of things in a meditative state. This workshop was about action and intuition, and it was just what I needed to loosen up and branch out into something new. Many thanks to the National Collage Society and the Mint Museum for these wonderful experiences and fresh eyes. :)

World Collage Day!

Hi, all!

I’ve been a bit on a hiatus while creating illustrations for a psychology book and working hard for the money, but on Saturday, May 11, I’m putting everything on hold for World Collage Day. I’ll be spending the whole day cutting and pasting, and thank goodness! I’ve missed it so! Join me on Saturday while we cut and paste the day away! Tag me @jenisforlove on Instagram and Twitter with your creations, and I’ll show off my progress throughout the day! If you aren’t into collage, I hope you do you in some way, whether artistically or otherwise. Shine on, lovers!

Oh, Lawd, Another Holiday!/Little Things to Celebrate You! (Self-Love Day)

Happy Valentine’s Day to my Lovelies!

If you are like me and are perpetually single on Valentine’s Day, or just in general feeling unloved and especially miserable today, do something to treat yourself!

I was incredibly down about Valentine’s Day around the beginning of February because it occurred to me that the holiday approacheth and I still had not found my True Love. This hurts my feelings and triggers some things in me mentally due to my previous psychotic experiences (which I’ll talk about later in a YouTube series). So when I talked to my therapist about my feelings and triggers, she suggested that I make it a Self-Love Day and do something that would bring me joy. So, I decided to make February Self-Love Month, and I’ve been doing a few things here and there that make me feel good, like applying a milky facial sheet mask or reading the Cosmo with Gina Rodriguez on it, having a bath or baking brownies (which are super easy to make from scratch and my mom’s recipe is magical.)

I did go hard the day of Valentine’s Day, though. I had brunch with a friend, got myself flowers, a llama stick balloon, and heart-shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. I got a steak for me and for my wee doggie, and my plan is to either roast some Brussels sprouts or sautee some green beans with mushrooms and onions…I have about 30 minutes to decide. Oh, and I also sent about 20 Valentines to family and friends, which I thoroughly enjoyed putting together using stuff from Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart, and the William and Mary Gift Shoppe, Inc., a local shop with neat little things in it. That was me spreading love to others, yet also taking care of myself.

The point is, make today an occasion that brings you joy, that you would want to repeat and build on in subsequent years. Make it something that might start a tradition where you can celebrate you and anyone who needs love.

Here are some ideas of my own to help you celebrate Self-Love Day, plus some that my best friend gave to me when I talked to her about it:

0. Walk dogs at a local animal shelter

1. Spread a blanket on the floor of the living room and have a PB&J sandwich cut into the shape of a heart.

2. Get dressed up and sing your favorite song in the bathroom mirror.

3. Make Valentine’s Day cards for a local nursing home.

4. Take yourself to a movie and get the little snack pack with the popcorn AND the candy.

5. Cook an elaborate meal that you wouldn’t normally cook for yourself, but that you enjoy immensely.

6. Buy or pick yourself flowers.

7. Get some form of chocolate or other sweet goodness for dessert.

8. Go to a museum! I know some that have later hours on Thursdays.

9. Go for a drive and sing a long to the radio.

10. Curl up with hot chocolate and a book you’ve been wanting to read.

I would love to hear some of your ideas in the comments. :) Enjoy your Day of YOU!

Oh Lawd, the holidays comin’

Hi, friends! I hope everyone had wonderful Thanksgivings! I had a Friendsgiving with two of my close friends and it was a blast. Cooking was no prob because it was my second Friendsgiving rodeo and my friend Jess helped. Plus, I didn’t try to roast a whole chicken like I did last year. Thank you, Butterball, for roasted turkey breast!

After we ate I spent the rest of the day playing Punch Out on my Nintendo Classic with my friend Bobby. It’s all about the opponents’ tells and timing. He would demonstrate how to beat them, then let me try and offered tips while I was playing until I could beat them myself.

Now for the rest of the holidays!

I know that for some, this time of year can be difficult, and I would just like to remind you to take care of and be kind to yourself. Self-care is incredibly important for recharging your well-being battery, so however you can squeeze it in—a longer shower, a singalong to a favorite song, a night of watching your favorite movie—please do. You’re worth it. <3

Things Worth Your Attention, vol. 2

Dear readers, here is a list of things that I have been consuming lately that deserve more attention:

BOOKS
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent
These books actually have a few things in common. But first, Rachel Hollis is a mother of four, an author, event planner, a lifestyle blogger/influencer, a long distance runner, and a Christian. Robert Greene is the author of The 48 Laws of Power, which chronicles how historical figures used their gifts to rise to power. He also uses historical examples in his book with 50 Cent, who is a hustler cum rapper cum media mogul. I listened to book of these books via Audible and thoroughly enjoyed reading two books while driving. Audible is awesome!
So, what Rachel Hollis and 50 Cent have in common are the abilities to see opportunity in crisis and to imagine in concrete, specific detail big goals broken down into actionable steps.

Body Positive Power: Because Life Is Already Happening and You Don’t Need Flat Abs to Live It by Megan Jayne Crabbe
This is a must-read for anyone who has ever hated their body. Megan Jayne Crabbe exposes the diet and anti-aging industries lies about our bodies and our health. She promotes intuitive eating, Health At Every Size, self-love and kindness. I am currently reading this via my Kindle app on my iPad, so I’m not finished yet, but it has been mind blowing. Everyone deserves love and respect no matter what body they exist in.

TV
Queer Eye on Netflix
Jane the Virgin, also on Netflix
Queer Eye is the most uplifting, positive show I have ever seen. The Fab Five change lives so that whoever is nominated gets a fresh, fabulous start. The first two episodes were my favorite, but the goodness keeps coming in subsequent episodes as well. I haven’t made it through the first season yet, but I definitely will!
Jane the Virgin is an Americanized telenovela centered around Jane, who is saving herself for marriage, but gets accidentally artificially inseminated. It’s hilarious, heartwarming, romantic, and relatable. I am currently on season four and the show still delivers delight and surprise. Be warned, though: almost every episode ends on a cliffhanger!

MUSIC
Pray for the Wicked, Panic at the Disco
This album delivers both celebratory and sardonic vibes. On the one hand, the band made it, becoming a success after a lot of hard work and believing in a dream despite the world telling them to quit. On the other hand, you can’t trust anyone and the lifestyle can be full of empty pleasures. The literary and pop culture references are on point, and High Hopes is definitely a song to put on your playlist when you get down about not achieving your goals.

Swimming, Mac Miller
This recent album of the late rapper is a dreamscape of beats and poetry. You’ll want to listen to it while you’re creating artwork, driving, or staring out of a window at the rain. It’s chill, but jamming enough to make it hard to keep from nodding your head. Self Care is a favorite jam of mine. Speaking of Mac Miller, his previous album, The Divine Feminine, is not to be missed. It’s sexy, nasty, romantic, and features guest spots by Kendrick Lamar, Njomza, and CeeLo Green.

While I’ve been consuming all of these things, I have also been working on my coloring book. I have three pages left to illustrate before I send it off to get published. Stay tuned for the release date! :)


Yinz Bopo Swim Meetup!

You may be wondering what in the world Yinz Bopo is. 

It is a body positive group based in Pittsburgh created by artist and plus-size style blogger Jamie JeTaime @jamie_jetaime (http://jamiejetaime.com/).  "Yinz" is what Pittsburghers say instead of "Y'all."

Body positivity is loving the body that you are in, right now.  It means telling yourself that you deserve love and respect, no matter what your body happens to look like.  Abled, disabled, or otherwise.  We are human beings and none of us are perfect.  AND THAT'S OKAY!  Why spend your life criticizing yourself so harshly?  Why continue the hateful narrative that we learned through societal contact?

The first time I was made fun of for being overweight was in kindergarten.  A boy said that I looked pregnant.  I was thankfully not bullied to the point of depression, but I did learn as I grew up that my body was something to be ashamed of.  Thankfully, my mom didn't want me to hate my body like she hated hers, so she never criticized or commented on my weight.  I wasn't hearing it through her.  Just everywhere else.  Magazines, TV, movies, classmates, etc. 

I learned about body positivity after following @gabifresh (https://gabifresh.com/) on Instagram.  Then I found out about Jamie, Tess Holiday, @glitterandlazers (http://www.glitterandlazers.com/Blog/), Megan Jayne Crabbe @bodyposipanda (http://www.bodyposipanda.com/) and others.  The imagery these women create are a powerful refusal to fit into an impossible mold.  These women are living life on their own terms, blazing a trail, and lighting the way for all of us to accept ourselves and live to the fullest. 

The Yinz Bopo meetup on Sunday was a day full of love and positive vibes.  I came away rejuvenated and fired up about being myself, building a community, and having fun while wearing a bathing suit in public.  In the words of the badass Yesenia Guadalupe @myxxfly (http://www.myxxfly.com/), appearing in public, in bathing suits, and loving ourselves while doing it, is an act of rebellion.

I hope that a group like ours encourages other body positive people to get together and just bask in all the love and support!  It feels good!  

(Big ups to ModCloth for supporting Yinz Bopo and sponsoring our suits for the event!)

Updates: Mindfulness Matters and Zines!

Dear Readers, I have added new things! 

Thank you for waiting patiently for pictures from my thesis show.  I hope you enjoy taking a tour of how everything was installed in the space, from hallway to first to second to third room.  I mention the performance video I did meditating on the beach wearing my Priscilla Panda head, but it didn't document well so I didn't include it.  Priscilla Panda is my original character that I become when I put on the papier mache pink and purple panda head that I made when I was teaching high school art about four years ago.  You can see more of my performances as her on my Instagram @jenisforlove.  She is my avatar for doing positive things for myself and, by ripple effect (in the words of @myxxfly), for the world.  

I also added photos of my zines.  Everything is not posted, but you can see everything if I get into the Pittsburgh Zine Fair this year on Sunday, October 14.  I applied on Friday, so I will let you know if I get in!  I will have all of the zines from my thesis show, plus some older ones that I love, and some new ones that I've been incubating cognitively.  :)  

Enjoy your Sunday!  

This month's recommendations

Hi, all!

This month, I would like to share some of the things that I have been enjoying so that you can check them out and add them to your entertainment repertoire.

1. Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast (http://www.batb.thecomicseries.com/)
If you love all things Beauty and the Beast, you will love this webcomic.  It takes all versions of the fairy tale and weaves its own mystery and character into it.  The language of plants and flowers begins each chapter, with Greco-Roman mythology and literature references sprinkled in throughout.  The chemistry between Beauty and Beast is palpable.  

2. R&Bieber playlist on Spotify
If you are a fan of good vocals, great lyrics, and guest spots, you will enjoy this playlist.   A while ago, I saw someone say something on Twitter about Justin Bieber's R&B album Journals being underrated. I finally looked up this playlist and was not disappointed.  With lyrics like "What's a king, babe, without a queen?" and "You don't have to make your mind up now/No rush/No pressure" you will be mid-swoon in no time.  Some of the songs are from earlier in his career and some more recent, but most are great.

3. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truths Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
This book describes how to develop mastery in whatever field you're in by focusing on ONE Thing first, then allowing the rest of your day to fall into place.  Many of the authors' points are illustrated with bare bones illustrations that hit home.  They recommend planning your breaks first, then the ONE Thing, then the rest of your day.  Taking care of yourself first leads to more productivity.  The main takeaways: One step at a time, build good habits into your lifestyle, and mastery will follow from concentrated effort.  Great for creatives or anyone who wants to be successful in their field.

That's it for today!  As I've been reading and listening to these things, I've also been working on my alphabet coloring book.  I was on the letter N, but skipped ahead to V because I needed to draw some violets while they were in their prime.  Now I am working my way backwards to N before I jump forwards to WXYZ.  I've been thoroughly enjoying illustrating each page, and I can't wait to show you when I'm done.  You can see some of the pages on my Instagram @jenisforlove.  

Tips for Nervous Flyers

Hello, all!  Summer 'tis upon us and with summer comes air travel for many people.  With the people I've talked to on flights, typically everyone is hoping we stay safely in the air.  So, you're not alone if you're a nervous flyer!  It's totally normal to be anxious!  I've only met one or two people in my lifetime who think absolutely nothing about sitting in a chair 37,000 feet above the ground.  I myself stay on high alert the whole time I am in flight, so that I can keep the plane in the air with my thoughts!  On my recent flights this summer, however, I flew armed with a "Relaxation for Panic Attacks when Flying" script from my therapist (http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/panic-attacks-when-flying.html), and it gave me some tools to cope with my anxiety and the confidence to finally say that I might be able to relax more on many flights to come.

Here are 10 tips from the script and from me (towards the end):

1. Focus on relaxing your whole body with focused attention on each part of it, especially the movement of your stomach as you inhale and exhale.

2. Acknowledge all the scary thoughts you have about flying and how they make you feel, then wave them goodbye as you focus on more positive and constructive thoughts.

3.  Repeat to yourself that you are safe and that you are A-OK.  Everything is copacetic.

4. Imagine a happy place down to the very last detail.

5. Imagine yourself arriving at your destination.  How happy, relaxed, and victorious you are: you faced your fears and did the scary thing!

6. Activate the right side of your brain through drawing every detail you see or coloring in a coloring book.

7. Read a book that you've been excited about reading.

8. Talk to your neighbors.

9. Meditate on the wonder that is your hand.  Really think about and appreciate every detail.

10. Listen to music that makes you laugh with happiness, sing along (silently), or dance in your seat.  Here are a few songs on my playlist that invoke positive vibes for me:

Na-NaNa-Na--Nelly
As Long As You Love Me--Justin Bieber
If I Ain't Got You--Alicia Keys
Move Along--The All-American Rejects
Rockin' the Suburbs--Ben Folds
Work It Out (Radio Edit)--Beyonce'
Gotta Have You--The Weepies (helps me picture a happy place where I'm lying on my back in a blue boat, humming a tune. :) )

So there you have it, Nervous Flyers!  Take the scary thing by the horns and remember, if you hit rough air or turbulence, know that it is a natural result of flying through the sky!  Everything is okay!

 

Thank you!

Thank you so much to everyone who came to my thesis exhibition.  I will post images for those who were unable to make it once I document everything.  

Finishing my thesis has been a huge relief, yet I feel like Forrest Gump when he encountered his first coast after deciding to run.  He reached that destination, looked around, then decided to continue running until he reached the other coast. 

To begin my run to the opposite coast, I will be working on the things that continue to interest me: collage, zines, and intuitive drawing.  I'm not sure what part of the world I will end up in, but as Lewis Carroll said, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."

Save the Date!

My thesis show will be Saturday, March 31, 2018 in the University Museum in Sutton Hall on Indiana University of Pennsylvania's lovely campus.  :)

I've been holding back pictures of work that will be in my show so that everyone who visits will be seeing the work for the first time.  

The nearest airport is Pittsburgh.  

Travel safe, and see you at the show! 

Fall in NYC

Last weekend my three friends and I took a lil road trip to NYC.  It is impossible to put NYC into words.  There is so much to see and do.  So much culture!  So much humanity and time spent on the subway!  So many personalities weaving in and around each other every day!  In other words, New York City is special.

We were trying to go to the galleries in Chelsea and got off on the 23rd St stop, but it ended up being in Long Island City next to the MoMA PS1.  So we went there.  Carolee Schneemann was one of the artists featured, as well as video from the underground art scene of the 60s and 70s.  Cathy Wilkes  was also on view, but her work didn't resonate with me the way Carolee Schneemann's did.  Schneemann began as a painter in an Abstract Expressionist, male-dominated field.  Apparently it was suggested to her that she become a nude model instead of a painter.  Thankfully she rejected that notion, but did use her body to express the power of a free woman.  I saw work that I had only read about: photo documentation of The Interior Scroll,, a performance in which Schneemann pulls a scroll from her vagina and reads it aloud as she unrolls it. Meat Joy, in which scantily clad men and women sensually play with each other's bodies and a variety of raw meat.  I could not hear the Motown soundtrack that was supposed to be playing during the performance, so I was disappointed that I did not get the full effect of the piece.  But Schneemann was a pioneer of performance art, of feminist art, and of the requirement of artists to break down social taboos.  She worked with a variety of processes, from performance to collage to video.  It's definitely worth a trip to see her work before it comes down March 11, 2018.  

At the original MoMA, Louise Bourgeois's prints were on display, along with a few of her sculptures.  As I had only seen her spiders in Washington, D.C. and Bentonville, AR, I did not realize that she had worked in prints and art books.  Or that she was the one responsible for drawing a woman as half a house.  Her interest and application of architecture to her prints were so unique, and I also did not know that she was into feminist art and what it means to have a female body, from daughter to mother and back again.  Her screenprints were the most exciting to me, especially in the fabric artist books that were on display.

For our evening entertainment, we went to the comedy clubs The Grisly Pear and The Comedy Cellar, both great fun!  If you don't have tickets for the Comedy Cellar and show up around show time, you might still get in if you're lucky!  It's worth a try!  If you check out their website, they save a few seats for showtime in order to not oversell the seats.  We were able to get in to the 12:15 show.  So if you're in NYC and looking for a good laugh, it's worth it to check out the Comedy Cellar and The Grisly Pear.  :)

Butterflies Save the Day in SoCal

Hello to my friends in Southern California!  My collage, Butterflies Save the Day, will be featured at Las Laguna Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA this week in their Collage and Digital Madness show!  Please follow them and like their page on Facebook or Google +.  :)  The opening reception is this Thursday, September 7 from 6:30-9:30 pm.  It will be on view throughout September from 11am-5pm daily.  Las Laguna Gallery has a restaurant and full bar on site, so you will be sure to have a great time!  Enjoy the collages and digital madness of my colleagues!

Greetings from Summertime: Road trips and Crystal Bridges

Hallo, friends!  It has been a while and I do apologize for lack of blog updates, but this one will be a twofer: a rocking road trip playlist and a review of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Chihuly exhibit.  

This summer I have driven back and forth between Pennsylvania and North Carolina five times, between North Carolina and Arkansas twice, and between Arkansas and Kansas City, MO twice.  So you can imagine all the tunes I have listened to while enjoying all that open road and drive time.  When driving by yourself for several hours at a time, jams are of the utmost importance, in addition to podcasts and audiobooks.  When my mom and I travel together, we listen to the series of books by the veterinarian James Herriot.  He was a vet during the 1930s and beyond in the UK, and his word selection, heart, and humor are a delight to listen to.  If you like animals and laughing out loud, try All Creatures Great and Small, his first book.

As for podcasts, I have enjoyed the interviews of You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes and The Moth's stories, but I have recently discovered My Dad Wrote a Porno.  It is full of funny and explicitly sexy things.  Give it a listen and let me know what you think. :)

And as for rocking out, please enjoy the following:

1. Tom Sawyer-Rush
2. My Sharona-The Knack
3. Shut Up And Dance-Walk the Moon
4. Alright-John Legend
5. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)-Eurythmics
6. Open Road Song-Eve 6
7. Bitch Better Have My Money-Rihanna
8. Sabotage-Beastie Boys
9. Seven Nation Army-The White Stripes
10. Your Love-The Outfield
11. Take Me Away-FeFe Dobson
12. Breathing-Yellowcard
13. Intergalactic-Beastie Boys
14. Take It Off-The Donnas
15. Heartbreaker-Pat Benatar
 

Sure, some of it is not technically rock, but rocking is more about attitude than genre. :)

Now on to the Crystal Bridges Chihuly Exhibit: it was awesome!  The variety of forms, the colors, the light, the organization of the show, everything was perfection.  In addition to his glasswork, there were also drawings and paintings essential to Chihuly's process.  There were also three short films on view to help the viewer gain insight into how much he pushes the material to its limits and how collaborative his studio is.  There are also installations outdoors that show how much Chihuly has extended the boundaries of glasswork.  I recommend going around sunset to see the glow of light and color in the glass.  Also, it will be somewhat cooler.  Arkansas is HOT in the summer, so wear something light and breathable.  I wasn't able to see much of the Crystal Bridges permanent collection, but what I did see was varied, contemporary, and important to the history of art.  If you are in the Mid-South or near it, Crystal Bridges is worth a trip for any art lover.  Admission to the main museum is free thanks to WalMart, and the Chihuly exhibit is about $20.

Enjoy the road, the summer, and wherever you may travel!

Mental Health Awareness Week

Hello, all!  This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and I just wanted to say hi and let everyone know that if you need it, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the USA is 1.800.273.8255.  There is help!  Things can change, and as I am slowly realizing, often for the better.  

If someone you love or know has a mental health diagnosis, let them know that you're there for them no matter what.  Emotional supports are incredibly important for recovery, and knowing that you're there means a lot.

Let's keep spreading the word that mental health is just as important as physical health!  Life is a marathon; let's support each other!  

Vanessa German Artist Talk Performance

On Thursday, February 23, Vanessa German came to IUP to give an artist talk about her life and work as an artist.  I call it a performance as well because it was: she performed a powerful, hopeful poem to begin the talk.  It included lines like, "Jesus is the Miles to the Davis," "Everyone was made to dance," and "You are infinitely more amazing than anything you could buy in a store.  You are dope."  She went on to say that she hopes for a day when people would only be killed in battle on stage.

She asked us if we believed in the power of love, and most everyone raised their hands.  A fellow artist described love as discovering something that no one else has before, to which Vanessa said that's right and "If it's regular and ordinary, leave it."  She asked more questions like, "What can I generate?  Why did my lungs take me to this place?"  She felt when she was growing up that any idea she had was sacred, and that her ideas were as close to God as she could get.  She grew up in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and believed that she would die young, so she decided that she would do whatever she wanted to do.  She said, "I knew from a very young age how to take a thing seriously," because she went to a performing arts high school with Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Pryor's children.  She saw her classmates as professionals because she could see the work they were doing on TV.  

She calls art "misery resistance" and says it is everything that we do.  She considers herself a "citizen artist" who inhabits humanity, and she asked another question: "Who would you be as a human if no one ever oppressed you?  If no one ever put the lid on you?"  She teaches the children she works with at her Art House to "Make a decision" when working on their artwork.  She has created change for the good in many lives, and she promotes love through signs that say, "Stop Shooting--We Love You."  Some people think that the signs don't make a difference. But there are many more who do.  

Vanessa shares love and the joy of creating with her community, which she believes will be the next revolutionary leader.  She is powerful as an individual, but by building a community around love and creation, her and its power are limitless.  She said that liberty is the soul's right to breathe, beauty is a force of disruption, and that there is power in joy, and everyone deserves that.  Love is her strategy, and our citizenry, including our children, need it.  One of the children she works with asked how she makes art when she is sad, and she said, "I think the sad thought and let my hand move with color."  She also said that transforming a blank thing can transform your state of mind and to trust your instinct.

If you are anywhere near Pittsburgh or beyond and have an opportunity to see Vanessa's work, go see it!  If you have a chance to see her talk, DEFINITELY go see her!  If you have an opportunity to create something, DO IT!  MAKE A DECISION!

She ended the talk with some words that I will leave you with:

us mighty

us fly

us powerful

us brave

us love

To MFA or not to MFA? (Visual Artists)

So, I was thinking about how at around this time two years ago I was preparing my materials to apply to grad schools, and I decided to write this post.  I have heard mixed reviews from people about the MFA programs they have attended, and ultimately I think that it just depends on the readiness, drive, and goals of the individual and whether one's MFA program meshes with these characteristics.  How to know if you are ready, though?  Here is a list of questions to ask yourself:

1. Do I love to learn?  If not, obviously more education is not for you.

2. Do I know who I am as a person?  Am I comfortable with that?  If you don't know thyself, you're gonna have a bad time.  

3. Am I confident in my abilities and ideas?  Critiques are an integral part of the artistic process.  You will have to present your work to your peers and professors for their feedback.  You will have to defend the choices that you've made to serve your ideas.  So be ready to advocate for yourself, but stay open to different perspectives for the next question.  

4. Can I analyze information for what is useful to me?  With critiques, you receive vital feedback.  With coursework and research, you will receive oodles of information.  The trick is to filter out what you can apply to your work and practice, and what you cannot.  

5. Am I self-disciplined enough to work diligently and independently?  Typically in MFA programs, you are allowed the freedom to pursue your own ideas.  You do not typically receive assignments for your studio practice, and no one is there to make sure you are working.

6.  Do I want to be a professional?  The MFA is the terminal degree for Visual Arts, so it qualifies you to work in a variety of institutions.  It does not, however, guarantee you a job.  There are many people with MFAs.  One of the most vital things I have learned in my program is that you must create your own opportunities to set yourself apart from the crowd.  You might just discover another career track besides teaching at a university or working in a museum.  

Other vital things I have learned are for another post.  ;)  Happy MFA program hunting!

Book Review: Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING by David Bayles & Ted Orland is for anyone who has considered making art but has been held back by insecurity, as well as anyone who has been making art for a while and needs encouragement.  The questions that guided the creation of the book:

"Do artists have anything in common with each other?  How do artists become artists?  How do artists learn to work on their work?  How can I make work that will satisfy me?  Why do so many who start, quit?" (p. 114)

My favorite thing about this book is that it releases artmakers in any media--whether visual, musical, literary, etc--from comparison with giants of the past.  Yes, Michelangelo was a freak genius, as was Mozart, the authors' favorite example.  But does that mean we mere mortals should never sing, never paint, never write?  Of course not.  We should make what we want to make using our own unique perspective.  

I have picked out five quotes from this book that spoke to me just to give you an impression of the treasures to be found inside Art & Fear:

1. "In a sense, habits are style. The unconsidered gesture, the repeated phrasing, the automatic selection, the characteristic reaction to subject matter and materials--these are the very things we refer to as style...Style is not an aspect of good work, it is an aspect of all work.  Style is the natural consequence of habit." (p.103)

2. "If you teach, you know that you gain as much from the interchange as do your students...Teaching is part of the process of being an artist." (p.83)

3. "...each link in the arts network has a vested interest in defining its own role as fundamental and necessary." (p. 70)

4. "In making art you court the unknown, and with it the paranoia of those who fear what change might bring...Each new piece of your art enlarges our reality. The world is not yet done." (p. 68-69)

5. "The hardest part of artmaking is living your life in such a way that your work gets done, over and over--and that means, among other things, finding a host of practices that are just plain useful. A piece of art is the surface expression of a life lived within productive patterns." (p. 61)

*Bonus Quote* "When Columbus returned from the New World and proclaimed the earth was round, almost everyone else went right on believing the earth was flat.  Then they died--and the next generation grew up believing the world was round.  That's how people change their minds." (p. 57)

So if you would like to read a book written by artists for artists, that provides context for how art gets made and received by the world, I strongly recommend this short, sweet gem.  Happy reading, and happy making!