Sometimes life throws a lot of stuff at us all at once. It is fine to remember that we have been working hard our whole lives and that work is not the end all and be all even though personally... Yes I love work. So speaking from the mouth of a workaholic who wishes she never had to sleep because there are just so many things to get done, fine, yes, breaks are important, and sometimes sleep and food and exercise need to take precedence, in fact that should probably be the case always. So I took a break for a few weeks from updating this blog because so many other things have had to fit in. And writing is not just a five minute exercise although this one is close. And that's ok. I am not going to blame myself for taking a break. Actually I stopped doing that last year finally. But the guilty part still resides, although it is fading.
Last week our cohort (MA and MFA students of Transdisciplinary New Media at the Paris College of Art) were with one of our faculty professors and mentors in her city of Porto, Portugal. We spent the week eating, resting, visiting the university of fine arts and meeting other MFA students for collaboration. And it was great. One of the largest highlights of the week included a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Serralves, to see the show “I’m Your Mirror” by Portuguese contemporary artist Joanna Vasconcelos. Also at the museum were shows of works by Joan Miro, Tacita Dean, and Susan Hiller. Basically it was awesome!! Plus the museum and its grounds are all spectacular so I think I want to live at this museum.
The buildings of the museum are spacious, with large windows framed like paintings and allowing in a lot of greenery and sunshine. The architect, Alvaro Siza Vieira, did a brilliant job, and won many awards for the design.
The exhibits were not too full or empty and most pieces were well spaced out and well lit.
I especially enjoyed the pieces integrated into the gardens because it is always wonderful to see art and nature come together. Most of those pieces were from the show of Joanna Vasconcelos.
Side note - I don’t know what it is about big rings and especially wedding ring sculptures, there seem to be a lot of those around these days.
I thoroughly enjoyed most of the works in the shows, however the piece that stood out for me most, which ended up being the work I sat in for over an hour was the one room installation work of Susan Hiller, Thoughts Are Free. 2012. Interactive installation. Upon entry to the room, it felt a little banal and basic. Lyrics in black covering white walls. A juke box down the stairs into the second crescent of a round room. Near the juke box, two benches on either side arranged with headphones and the same book over and over, spaced out. Seems basic right.
And then I read about the piece and began to actually look at the lyrics. The lyrics all came from protest songs around the world, in the standing up for rights and against wars and violence and inequality. Though languages and words differed song to song and era to era, from whichever country each song came from, the messages remained essentially the same, loud and clear and calling for peace, and equality. The jukebox played the songs into the headphones so that one could sit and listen to the songs. And the books, all had the lyrics of all the songs from the walls, and almost each song had below its lyrics, a short history of the song, its writer, and the songs origin. I must have sat there reading the book cover to cover and listening to twenty plus songs for over an hour. Together the lyrics and stories are overwhelming and thought provoking. Provoking because when one comes to understand that the majority of humanity from all over the world just want peace and freedom, at any given time generally; why so many songs? Why so many eras? Why so many countries? And especially what can be done? Can we do anything? And what more can we learn about humanity from this particular assemblage of information?
I wrote to graduate school at the end of 2017 knowing, at that time, that I wanted to merge digital technologies with art, and create new ways for museums and galleries to interact with viewers. I was still in counselling, and I was finally dealing with things I had boxed away. I met a girl from Lima who is also an artist, and together we began discussing the plight of women and minorities today. We conceived of, created, and curated a show called eNOugh. Basically I was getting to know myself again, and what I stood for; what I am passionate about. I came to know that I have a lot of energy, that I am willing to play long games, that I really should care more about money but care more about people and life, and art, and that I do not really care to much to get married, or have children. For me it is important that I help good stories emerge in the world, that I help women and minorities to help increase, overall, their opportunities, and that I write children's books that help children to think about certain things from an early age to help them in their lives. I believe that children are smarter than we generally give them credit for, and that by getting them to think more critically from an earlier age, that we can better aid them for the future.
Now that I am in graduate school, I am looking at the senses in depth and figuring out how art can utilize all 5 senses in a way that could truly grow and expand the perspectives of others. I am still interested in and creating books for children, and I still at the end of it all want to have helped women, children, and other minorities to have better chances in the world, through empathic and expanded perspectives for everyone. Slowly it feels like what seemed a jumble of experiences and educational pursuits (animation, media arts, education, aromatherapy, fashion, and history) are all coming together to make something happen.
I am currently researching in four areas; the senses in regard to neurology and psychology, the senses in regard to the art world, curation, and women's issues. I will post about certain things; books I am reading, things I am thinking, galleries I have visited, people I have spoken with, and experiments I am doing. I hope that you find it interesting, but I also hope that it helps me to figure things out, so that I help things to keep moving, and aid in the pursuit of a better world.
So the last two years have seen a lot happen. To put it briefly, I will simply list the great, the good, and the ugly.
knock knock... oh hey. Yeah it's me again - can you turn it down please... my floor is shaking. Yeah it's uh 10 am on Sunday. Un huh... thanks.
Hey. So it's been a time. Right now I am sitting in a lovely apartment in Paris, and realizing that comfort is relative, for example I love my apartment, my area, my street, but my neigh-boor is an inconsiderate fool who plays terrible music at all hours. I don't know what it is about people that listen to loud music but a lot of them just don't seem to care that other people might hate their taste in music and we.... (shaking my head no)... We don't want to listen to it. I may love wild blue colours but I am not going to shove blinding blue into my neighbour's eyes at 10 am on a Sunday morning, or really anytime. I enjoy curry but the smell can be offensive so I don't cook it that strongly that it would penetrate the hallways of the building or affect my neighbours. So because I am a good neighbour and expect courtesy back I really don't want them, my terrible neighbour, putting on floor shaking electro-rap base and old school beats anytime. It's called manners and consideration. Obviously this fool has none - I've spoken to her at least 10 times since September. And it's not just the terrible music, it's the fights with her girlfriend, the loud s#x noises, the banging doors. So yes I am adjusting to life in Paris and also life above a horrible neighbour. The worst part is that she is neither interesting nor eccentric so I can't even use her in the future for a book character or project. Anyhow....
Apart from the noise pollution I'm back, and I am actually going to start using this space to record my processes, thoughts, and investigations about my art and practice. I love the idea of an online blog that can be accessed by anyone, because who knows who it may inspire or hopefully affect for good. That thought brings me a little more feeling of usefulness in this world, because I am struggling with that right now.
I've been in France for the last week - it's been beautiful, joyful, tearful, educational, and full of past, present, and future. I've visited the towns of Montaigu and Clisson, and the city of Nantes. I've spent time with wonderful people, and sketched in the amazing galleries. I've visited the beautiful palace grounds and eaten incredible crepes, tarts, croissants, and ice creams. I've also walked a ton and drunk a lot of coffee. The cherry on top of it all is that I visited the Paris College of Art and realized that this is definitely one of the places I want to go for my graduate degree. And now I head back to Paris to visit more museums, more churches, and become even more inspired to create beautiful work.
Rooted on the coast between the cities of Naples and Rome lies a holiday town of 50 000 people. Currently the town has bloomed to hold about a quarter million people. Terracina is a lovely place full of gelaterias cafes and a myriad of restaurants. Of course the highlights are the historic town centre on the hill close to the ancient temple of Jupiter, and, the boardwalk along the sea. The star of the town, however, is the sea - the Mediterranean Sea. Warm with nice gentle waves that can be played in and incredibly salty, it reminds me of Mombasa in the 90's. The sand is soft and hot, the air, hot and humid. People everywhere. And the sea - Warm, gentle, rolling, wavy - I could quite literally spend all day in it. It's really really lovely. Feeling blessed.
Today I visited Pompeii. I was warned by my lovely friend to wear sunscreen, to wear a hat, and "are you sure you want to go today?". I did of course. And wow that heat is killer, but I just had to see the famed city frozen in time. Armed with a sketchbook, my purse, and a skimpy tank top and short shorts I was already dripping sweat by the time I got to the Garabaldi station. From there I took the circumvisuviana train to Pompeii Scavi. The train was incredibly packed and I was glad to have my water with me. Arriving a half hour later at Pompeii I was excited. I passed a myriad of people selling tours from 12-150 euros. These tours do not include the entrance fee. Of course me being me and thinking well I've studied this quite a lot - I should be fine - decided no tour - just get in, wander, figure it out. After entering the park I was sooo lost, the only drawbacks of Pompeii the site is that there is only one cafeteria selling food and water, line ups are an hour long, and that the signage within the site is the poorest I've ever witnessed. So I followed the tour groups which low and behold led me out of the site only to have to explain to security that I'd been in the site for only 10 minutes and after taking pity on this "stupid" girl - they let me back in. So finally I am within Pompeii walls and I begin to wander - the site is massive - a full city, it goes on for winding stretches, thankfully there are water fountains about and I keep having to refill my bottle. As I weave in and out of streets and buildings I am even more fascinated and lost. It's a completely different society frozen in time - even children and pets have been frozen in time in otherworldly casts. The disturbing natural casts show people in their final moments - there is a man in prayer, a child laying down looking helpless, also a dog. There are bits of murals and colours decorating certain walls within some buildings, and mosaics on the floor. With mountains surrounding Pompeii,as well as the volcano, one begins to understand how the people must have just thought the Vesuvius was an angry god or mountain and carried on with their lives while smoke rose out the top of the volcano. What is fascinating is that Vesuvius is still active, in fact it's closed today because of fires on its sides. And that considered one would think that there would be no one now living close to the volcano but many small towns and cities have popped up along its base, and like long ago, people go about their daily lives. As archeologists continue to excavate the site they find even more ancient ruins under the city frozen in time. They begin to learn even more about the peoples of long ago in Italy. An amazing place to visit, take heed for the heat which is very strong, but enjoy and make a day of it. At the end of my day I am exhausted but happy, feet filled with blisters and skin sore, but also filled with a new understanding and a new wonder of this incredible place.
I am back in Naples for the first time in almost 10 years. It has become a safe city. And so for the first time I feel as though I am truly experiencing all its wonders. The day was gorgeous. The sun high, zero clouds, extreme heat and humidity and I am thrilled. I walk through the narrow winding roads, sampling grantias - Italian slurpees or snow cones that are quite delicious and gelatos - Italian ice cream. I take in sites of the sea with Mount Vesuvius in the backdrop people out sailing and swimming and a lot of people tanning on the rocks along the boardwalk tracing the seaside. I take in the opulent architecture of the city seeing some splendid churches and statues amongst the tall closely knit buildings in an array of Mediterranean colours. It is lunch time an I can choose between fresh pasta, mozzarella sandwiches, or pizza, I choose pasta. After lunch I take a coffee in a cafeteria. I walk more, I rest, I walk more. People are friendly - they smile and start conversations. Naples is a great place to visit!
So today was fantastic! Met up with an old friend from junior high whose currently finishing up her Masters degree in London and got lots of tips! We also went out for an amazing cafe! Later I headed back to Goldsmiths to find out more about the Masters of Children's Literature and Illustration. The administration there is really lovely! They graciously led me to both the education department and media department where the double degree takes place, and at which time I met some more wonderful people who were more than willing to answer questions and the likes. I got a peak at the illustration and animation departments and chilled in the new media building which overlooks the green and the old reception building of old weathered but pristinely maintained brick covered in ivy. Chilling meant sketching away and then running into another children's book illustrator and chatting away 😊! Now I am getting ready to meet another wonderful person before jetting of to Italy where I am so fortunate to be able to stay with even more wonderful people!! Feeling very grateful!