Essay to my High School // Early College
Today I am feeling on top of the world and am reflecting on how I got here, this sweet spot in the world. I didn’t go through the proper hoops of college, the proper transition between models of home (family to new family), heck, I didn’t even pursue a profession. How have I made it this far? The answer: By being true to me.
I feel this is the perfect time to share an essay I wrote for my former High School//College some months ago, as part of an alumni (alumnae) survey. For those of you who do not know about Bard’s Early College model, you can read about it here. I hear this model might be coming to a city near you, nationally, and so all the more critical I publish my call for change. This essay cites names and places that are individual to my experiences, and it certainly has a romantic theme, but I believe it can offer some inspiration to those struggling in a system that isn’t offering them much, and that it speaks some solidarity to those who need words of encouragement. It’s a hard world to get by in, let alone thrive in, so I am grateful for every opportunity, big and small, that got me to where I am now. But opportunity isn’t everything. We all have agency, moving Voices, that can carry us far if recognized and harnessed. Survivors of all oppression: This one’s for you.
Be blessed! All is Love.
(This is a letter from Keith Haring to an aspiring artist.)
There is a lot to reclaim from life’s mundanity. Luck is what the World gives us in return for our actions; be it good, bad or indifferent, Fortuna is self-made. Practice. Diligence. Perseverance. When things get rough and tough, those words are my mantras. Though often the goals we set out with are not the descriptors of our accomplishments, good, productive energy we put into things we are passionate about is always an effort rewarded.
If we all treated life as Artists do, recognizing the things we create every day, big and small, we would not only find it easier to build forward momentum out of routines (for greater goals, new projects, self-discovery), but we would also see more of our talents. A great meal made, a song sung well, doors held neighborly—and yet with professional flair—etc, etc… Visible talent is all in what we recognize ourselves practicing. We become what we think, as Buddha is quoted.
Link leads to a Friends of Earth article about the 70% of US Americans who do.
(Just think, the price tag on inaction//extreme weather last year was $126 Billion US dollars.)
For beer, the biggest ingredient is water. When you drink an 8 percent alcohol beer, 92 percent of what you drink is water. For Ommegang, that means water from the ground beneath our brewery in Cooperstown.
Brilliant! So brilliant! If local food producers (agricultural and commercial) really joined forces on this, we could finally have a visible movement. But are these brewers going to, say, put an anti-fracking logo on their bottles? Are they going to pay independent geologists to publish their reports? How far are outraged businesses really willing to go?
I am having such a great time working on a color wheel project!!! I am learning so much about the nature of hues, about sacred geometry, about painting techniques; art is such a productive pursuit! I only wish I could learn it all faster so that when it gets down to mixing, I can reign in my instincts and focus more on my subjects (imagined and otherwise).
And to be duly productive, I thought I’d share with you all the difference between Blue and Indigo (I know I’m not the only one who’s ever wondered):
NEWTON’S Indigo is “Scientist’s Blue,” aka Blue.
CYAN (aka, Robin’s Egg blue, Turquoise, Peacock blue) is the real Primary Blue. (Important for color wheels and beyond—like digital photography, for example.)
TRUE Blue is half-way between “Azure” and “Cerulean” blues. In other words: HOW DO I PAINT THAT????
In the past month I have mixed over 60 blues. Lest this turn into an obsession, I am slowly settling my eyes and resolving to give some hues some titles, but I don’t really think I’ll stop til after maybe 60 more tries. My acrylics are as exciting as ever, but I wonder if my keen-ness on scientific colors would be better used in digital design.
I am curious to know how color theory students are getting by, and if there are any suggestions for achieving acrylic balance. (Oils are a whole other ball-game, I know.) I’ve enabled photo replies if any one wants to use this post as a forum for experiment or discovery shares (&c.). I have new-found appreciation for Picasso’s Blue Period, and am feeling more amateurish by the minute, maybe some posts will help me feel not so lost at seeeeea… (What is sea-green? Is it achievable‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽. (The answer is no.))
The author of the linked website is really adamant about color theory education and culling respect for Newton’s Primaries, etc. but I’m not so sure. When I see a color, I can make it. Regardless if they are a little yellow or a little magenta, my grey’s are grey. At heart, at the end of the day, I care about making a vision physical, not much else. That can only be so literal. Do you think theory is worth all the hoopla? Peruse the page anyway— you’re sure to learn something new. I know I did! ;)
In honor of a water rights//anti-fracking position I was offered last night, I am reposting something from Tar Sands Blockade's facebook stream—in true solidarity, earnest world citizenship, and general activist fervor. (Bold text in quote, my emphasis.) I highly recommend viewing the series of photos linked at the end.
Indigenous leaders and activists are some of the most loyal and inspiring stewards of our planet. It’s stewardship that makes good environmentalism—real resistance—happen. We all know the Amazon is the planet’s pulmonary system, but are we all dying to breathe easy? Maybe not, but MANY ARE, and they deserve our support. Spreading awareness of the Amazon land-grab, of Keystone XL, of fierce resistors, is one of those turning point actions you can take—for the sake of your own country, and the extractions that endanger you locally and abroad. Following any link in this post can lead to serious citizenship, so why not share?
Recommended reading: Our Food, Our Right: Recipes for food justice (2nd ed), by the Community Alliance for Global Justice. It critiques the middle-class “Good Food” movement in favor of ground-up community stewardship and revitalization, and discusses the importance and effectiveness of indigenous activism—empoweringly so.
“Any drilling activities on our lands will be met with fierce resistance. We’ve seen the impact of oil extraction in Ecuador and the world and we know that it only brings contamination, poverty, and cultural destruction. We will defend our sacred lands and culture as we have for millennia.” - Jaime Vargas, President of the Achuar Nationality
A coalition of allies including Tar Sands Blockade, Idle No More - Gulf Coast, and Amazon Watch united in solidarity with indigenous leaders of the Achuar and Shuar tribes who have traveled to Houston to confront the Ecuadorian government who are selling their sacred ancestral lands to the highest bidder for oil exploration and industrial development.
[Re’blog] to spread awareness about the Amazon land grab. Click here for more information, and photos: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/amazon-oil-auction/
Rosa Parks was an active player in the NAACP. The sit-in that rattles our history books was supposed to be a group demonstration, on many busses, but she wouldn’t wait. She helped organize many a protest (in the courts and otherwise), but this one was about enough-is-enough. Rosa was fierce and powerful against racialized rapes in Alabama, in this country, and went on to be NAACP secretary of that state. She wasn’t tired when she said “No” to the infamous bus driver: Rosa didn’t give up her seat because she was a fighter and an activist, a womon exercising her agency.
Give our foremothers their voices and credit. Of all herstories, African-American heritage in this country is some of the most important and inspiring; these are fiery womyn we talk about! People who deserve our respect. Happy birthday Rosa! You would have been 100 years old today. May your memory be kept alive for many generations to come, generations of activists learning to trust their instincts, generations of citizens learning that in community we find the best support. Make a wish…
(Photo via Facing History and Ourselves, a project that combats ignorance with history lessons. Take media literacy to the next level, and learn your roots—and your neighbors’!)
The man of our time is losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating, he seeks to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.
Abraham Joshua Heschel from “Who Is Man?”
via the On Being blog
((More on the meaning of our actions in a bit; and in the meantime, Happy Solstice!))
I am seeing more and more Kabyle-esque fashion and beauty photography out here in the blogosphere. I needn’t rant on Orientalisms, exoticizing/Othering, or the false amalgamation of indigenous cultures with modern post-colonial societies, but I will. This photo reignited a struggle in me to find a connection with my Amizighen past, the quieted herstory in my family.
The more Tuareg, Kabyle, and Shawia life become synonymous with the blanket labels “Tribal,” “Nomad,” and “Middle Eastern, the more I want to reclaim identity within those traditions. But how? How can I not be interpreted as another exploiter when the only presence of Amazighen-anything is in this fashion context? This is a line of questions that should follow discussion of the "We’re a Culture, not a Costume" S*T*A*R*S campaign, and how similar racisms are not isolated to Halloween events (see: Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters).
It might be one of the cruelest functions of cultural imperialism to appropriate native arts (including fashions) and give no credit where it is due. It was five years ago when I first understood this, tracking the appropriation of (mythology, symbology and traditions around) the god Bes via Nubian enslavement; still I am no wiser as to why this phenomenon exists, worldwide. Why bother taking from the arts, when you, colonizer, destroy social mores and constructions, intellectual and technological advancements, etc, etc? I can only imagine it as a torture of sorts. Why be so evocative and also so exploitative, if not to pay tribute? To say, “I Own You.” When I look at this photo, I see a chain that says “You Are Conquered,” a great compliment to the 21st Century bangles & rings that have all but buried the proud henna on the model’s hands. The kohl is so thick, the outfit so black, all attention is drawn to the jewelry, perhaps later to the eyes; I have no reason to believe this designer (or this model) know what diversity of facial tattoos/henna exists in Amazigh traditions, or that there is inspiration being expressed here. Anthropology, a colonialist pursuit of sorts, for sure, seems to be the only place I can look to for insight. (Do you see a face-covering veil? Fun fact: Many Amazighen are of faiths other than Islam.) Why, why, why express your authority over my culture this way??
If anyone (who has studied more psychology than I) could offer some insight, I would be so grateful! Is this process of appropriation an expression of fascination? Are there corollaries of rape culture here? Is this really a racism or another breed of cultural ignorance? Submit!
I made an Amazing Meal and nobody knows it but me. (I mean, now you guys technically do, but you haven’t eaten any of it.)
Is this what being single feels like?
The trill at 1:24 had me hooked. My love introduced me to Abdullah Ibrahim, and I was intrigued by the title. Turns out, this is just the thing right now. Such a great fragment.
"Water from an Ancient World," by Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya.
Because androgyny is more than just a pixie cut and a buttoned up shirt
Oh, because the gender-queer fashion revolution is being exploited without much ado. (Bois//womyn//how-they-identify) like these are powerful role models, not the new sex object. Who says they identify as “girls”??? And why is it okay to say they “look like boys”? Androgyny is a lived experience and a real expression. For queers, this is not a fad, this righteous beauty—as awesome as it is to be featured in the New York Magazine—is life. Gender-non-conformity is something that many have died over—and continue to. Trans* Day of Remembrance is this month, and the back-side of a gender-bender//blender is colorfully (no, racial exploitation is not beyond Vee, or any trend-setting magazine) photographed for glossy print? I’m not okay with this.
(And to the gay undertones: Studs//butches//androgynous/genderqueer/masculine-of-center people are not expressing sexuality, they are expressing gender. Gender expression can be a niche of your erotic expression, but it is not equivocal. That this photoset not only brings queerness into the realm of fetish but also simplifies it as a part of gay subculture, then fetishises that subculture… Gah! These models seem so incredible, but I can’t stand what mainstream fashion culture is doing with androgyny!!!)
For some feel-good Stud life yes-ness, check out Stud Magazine, where you can read things like:
Our gender is ours and only ours to define. Non gender conforming persons power is in ones ability to not be blinded by what the world views as masculine and continue to define ourselves and change the world’s view of masculinity.
Source: New York Magazine