Have You Been to Iceland? 🇮🇸

Life has been busy.

music, beautiful, Icelandic

Ásgeir

A sharp left life turn and here I am.  Will explain more at a later time…

So, last week was Iceland week.

Why, you ask, was it Iceland week?

Well, because I attended two Iceland produced art events and they were both stellar.

I would like to recommend them to you now.

1) Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson, known professionally as, Ásgeir, the fabulous former child musical prodigy. He has the voice of an angel and his music relaxes and inspires me. Here is a dose for you. Warning, it’s pure Icelandic bliss sadness. And here’s another. Enjoy your Ásgeir Youtube hole you will inevitably circle down. Please let me know your thoughts.

environment, immigrant, adoption, country

Woman At War

2) Woman At War, the Icelandic entry for the 2018 foreign film Oscar. This is one of the most creative, unpredictable, funny and prescient films I’ve seen in a long time (well, except for Us, but I will wait to dig into that gem). A strong woman lead who is a cross between an environmental superhero and proponent for the arts. The film lightly, but seriously, deals with issues of environmental destruction and immigrant persecution but truly shows itself to be about love and sacrifice. Go see it, you won’t be sorry.

Thank you Iceland! You made my week.

 

You Do Realize We Live in the White Matrix, Don’t You?

color bias, people of color, prejudice

Portrait by Raphael Mengs, after 1755

Johann Winckelmann, an 18th century German art historian, is considered the “father of art history”. He said, “The whiter the body is, the more beautiful it is.” and “Color contributes to beauty but it is not beauty.”

Is this not the perfect argument to rethink everything we’ve been taught about art, equality, fairness, truth and anything else?

Ok, if that isn’t enough, here’s another one.

writer, racist, racism, white priviledge

Goethe in 1828

Johann (can someone come up with a different first name, please?) Wolfgang von Goethe, also an 18th century German writer (he is considered the German Shakespeare), said, “That I am the only person in this century who has the right insight into the difficult science of colors, that is what I am rather proud of and that is what gives me the feeling that I have outstripped many.” As Seth Godin says, “If he were living today, he would have invented Facebook.” Ha!

One more by Goethe….”Savage nations, uneducated people and children have a great predilection for vivid colors. People of refinement avoid vivid colors in their dress and the objects that are about them.”

This one was in response to the quandary about whether white marble Greek and Roman statues should be returned back to their original states of being painted. They truly were painted and they most likely were painted with whatever skin color closely resembled the persons likeness. The white marble suited the white Europeans just fine and they were contented to leave them in their unrestored state as this way, they looked as the Europeans preferred them to look.

Just one example here. There are oh so many out there.

Time to question everything. Thoughts? Comments?

Are You On the Hierarchy of Incompetence?

I have been surprised to learn over the past few years that the idea of the Peter Principle has slipped from society’s social consciousness.

equality, wisdom, experience, unqualified

Promoted to the level of incompetency?

There’s nothing else quite like it so I feel we should retain this thought and its implications, otherwise, as they say, we’re doomed to repeat history (and it would be really nice if we could stop doing that).

The Peter Principal, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is an observation from the author Laurence J. Peter who wrote the book of the same name which came out in 1967. Merriam-Webster describes it thus:

“An observation: in a hierarchy, employees tend to rise to the level of their incompetence.”

Can I say that this is happening everywhere I can see, including my peripheral vision?

I am currently job hunting and, not only is ageism the most prevalent “ism” in the workplace (because, I think, no one is talking about it in the same way as the other “isms”) but we, as a country, are giving up and away our collective wisdom for a few less dollars pay. If this is happening nearly as universally as it’s happening here in Boston, then we are in big trouble my friends.

A podcast I was listening to the other day about creatives at work was begging bosses not to promote creatives to management positions only to justify giving them a raise. Why would you do that?

artist, talent, boss, supervisor, loner, oversee

Creative vs Management

Ok, if the creative is interested in management, yes, but why can’t you just give them a raise without promoting them to their level of incompetence? Many, many creatives are not management material nor would they want that in any way. The skill sets are SO different. There are creatives who can do both well (not impossible mind you, just unusual) but just not common.

My point is that promoting a creative to the management level, when they have no interest in management, means that the next step will most likely be that the creative will go elsewhere. This was the opposite of the goal, right?

If this is our new modus operondi, how are we going to truly move forward in this country?

What do you think?

Which Leader Would You Follow?

So, with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this week, I’ve been thinking about leadership, and the lack there of, in the world. Not just now, but always.

Strong, brave, principled, respectable

Follow the Leader

It’s so interesting to me how the truly amazing and follow-worthy leaders usually never set out to be leaders at all. They are mostly reluctant leaders but end up being the most positive, note-worthy and iconic personalities as opposed to those who seek the limelight and often end up going down in infamy.

I was listening to the On Being podcast last week which re-aired an interview with Mary Oliver, Listening to the World, a world renowned poet who also died the same week. She had never intended to share her poetry with the world, originally. She grew up in a toxic household where putting pen to paper provided the only safe place to get her thoughts out of her head. The paper was her best friend, therapist and sounding board.

MLK Jr.’s father beat him terribly and regularly and in addition his entire family suffered humiliating mistreatment by white residents of Atlanta on a regular basis (not surprising). He had trauma and pain to spare and put it out into the world through his work trying to heal the country’s social ills.

pain, abuse, sadness, healing, repair, fuse, success

Therapy Anyone…er…Everyone?

Maybe a version of therapy is all we really need?

We all need healing of one sort or another. Maybe some of us feel we need it in a quiet, private and internal way which appears to the world as approachable, trustworthy and stable while others are trying to fill the need with public approval in a loud, controlling and even manipulative way. In my opinion (did anyone even ask?) the former works better but clearly, it sets the person up as something that they might not want to be.

But really, in the end, do we even have a choice as to which direction we go? Do you think we do? Thoughts in the comment section?

Do You Choose the Blue Pill or the Red Pill?

The argument for seeing whiteness.

greed, money, racism, white, black, color, prejudice

whiteness

America, possibly more than any country in the world (though many others closely follow), worships the dollar and will do almost anything for it. Our country was founded on this idea and it is how slavery became such a big part of our history, purchasing human beings as free labor to build our country and build it up quickly. It is really what our country was founded on and we can’t change that.

Once a group of people have been collectively labeled in a certain way (1 black person = 3/5 of a person), even though most of these dehumanizing declarations were made only to create more profit for themselves and less (or no) opportunity for the oppressed, it is extremely hard to reverse the public’s view of these oppressed people. The prejudices have been institutionally ingrained into the psyche and programs of the government, the laws, business decisions, etc.

Example, after World War II, programs were set up to help white soldiers adjust back to life in the US. A New Deal program through the Federal Housing Administration helped white families become home owners but tied mortgage eligibility to race through a system known today as “redlining” and the Social Security Act of 1935 was set up as a safety net for retired Americans but specifically excluded agricultural workers and domestic servants who were predominantly African American, Mexican and Asian. There are many more examples but these types of policies made sure that no wealth was gained by these populations. I’m sure you get the picture…do you?

So the question in my mind is from the opposite perspective. White people have been living a very privileged life without thinking much about it for a very long time. On the whole, most of the white population has been content to think that anyone of color must not be as smart or chooses to only live in segregated areas of many segregated cities or any of a variety of other racist ideas that have been floated institutionally into the air we breathe and fed to us in any direction we might choose to look.

seeing, see, clearly, truth, unveil, pure, no lies

Take the red pill

I’m thinking that it’s time (way past time, in fact) to take the red pill and see the world as it really is.

As I have mentioned before, I’m working on a public art piece to help white people see the White Matrix. It’s the false world we’ve all been living in and seeing around us. It’s just a start, but, I believe a move in the right direction as no one can heal and move forward to true social and economic equity (which is the democracy we tell ourselves we are living in) without taking the red pill (The Matrix allusion – if you’ve never seen it, it’s a MUST).

What do you choose?

Happy New Year! Can You Do One Kindness A Day?

Happy New Year everyone!

resolution, kindness, peace, fairness, slow down

Happy New Year!

Nothing’s really changed, but the calendar says it’s a new year with a new chance to try things again and be better going forward.

I’m ready for that. You?

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media, our humanness and our tolerance for others and how they’re all related.

Here’s a quote from one of Seth Godin’s daily blogs which I read, mostly daily.

“For millions of years, we’ve evolved to live in community.

Our brains, which are hugely expensive to maintain, got bigger and bigger, primarily to support our ability to engage with others. It’s not simply a useful way to pass the time–it’s a survival tool like no other.

And so we got very good at reading body language. At detecting threats. At finding friends and avoiding strangers. We can spot a liar from across the room (or so we think) and we become despondent when we’re alone for too long.”

So, the blog goes on to explain that our brains haven’t had time to adjust to the onslaught of social media information that not only inundates our minds but comes at us in a way where we often don’t have the skills to make heads or tails of what we’re learning about people….yet.

give, love, thoughtfulness, good will

Kindness Is Contagious – Come On, You Know You Want To….

I also think we are all happier in a peaceful world where kindness is the rule of the day but we feel so defensive and critical most of the time, from the above mentioned deluge that we don’t know how to get there.

I do believe that Seth is onto something here and, I do not claim to have the answers, but I do believe that in time we will figure this out. In the meantime, if we try to slow things down a bit and take one moment at a time – one kindness a day – it will make us feel better and if we feel better, it will encourage others to try a kindness (smiling at a random stranger counts). I’m sure you’ve heard of “pay it forward”.

Kindness is contagious.

Someone print the bumper stickers.

So, Things Don’t Always Work Out the Way We Plan. You Know That, Right?….Part II

kindness, app, risk, art, help, support

After last week’s post, I got a few 😢 emoji responses from people on social media, regarding All The Pardons app.

This, honestly, surprised me (although it shouldn’t have) and made me realize that, though it would have been nice if things had gone more my way, I am not sad.

I still love the project and what it attempted to say to people and feel that, though it can’t be used as an actual app, it still exists virtually.

It’s a VIRTUAL APP!

I almost love this idea more than the original. For one thing, it’s cheaper. 😁 For another, it can be whatever it wants to be in this form. In other words, it can reach its fullest potential and continue to adapt, in whatever terms that defines. How exciting that sounds to me!

So that was one of the things that made me feel an urgency to follow up the last posting with a Part II.

The other was that I truly wanted to thank everyone who supported me on this journey. This means those of you who asked how things were going on a regular basis (and still do), those of you who offered services or provided services, and those of you who donated toward making it happen (I am going to make every effort to reimburse you guys).

It’s important to me that you all know how valued you are in my eyes. As an artist, it makes all of the difference in the world to know people support you in any, even small, way when you are putting yourself out there in a risky and vulnerable situation.

My love to you for any and everything you did to help.

Be kind to each other.

So, Things Don’t Always End Up the Way We Plan. You Know That, Right?

This post was a long time in the works.

App, All The Pardons, kindness, be present

All The Pardons App

It’s not that I didn’t want to send something similar a while ago, but I’ve been waiting for some resolution. I suppose I was hoping that I would have a better or finite answer to pass on to all of ya. Maybe even a happily ever after.

But life doesn’t always work that way, does it (my inner rationalization wants to argue – “Yes it does!”)?

So, this is all in regard to my last installation project, the All The Pardons app.

I put so much time and effort into it, but in the end hired a less than honest, capable nor ethical programmer. “What did I know?” says my defensive brain. I dove head first into the world of technology – a world that I knew little about. I mean, I was more tech savvy than half of the population, but not in the ways of app development and tech product design.

In my mind, this was an art installation, pure and simple. There was a bit of naivité on my part as well as some unwarranted urgency, in retrospect. I did search for a programmer for a while and felt frustrated at the lack of resources I was finding. A lot of my leads were hitting dead ends and people at universities weren’t calling me back or just weren’t putting much energy into helping me out with information. This frustrated me, as it would anyone, and so, enter the false sense of urgency.

risk, live, excitement, uncertainty, vulnerability

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

At this point, I have a lawyer from Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) who is slowly working through this and trying to get me, at least, some of my money back. It’s not ideal and I’m not sure I can get any of it back, but we’re trying. My ideal situation would be to get a substantial amount of it back and return all of the money that I got through my Indiegogo campaign to the donors. At this point I am onto new projects and the momentum on this one has been lost. I may still be able to find a way to return the money but I’ll have to see how this goes.

In the end, I am an artist and wouldn’t be much of one if I wasn’t willing to take risks and make myself vulnerable. This is part of the deal and when a risk is taken, no outcome is guaranteed. I’m ok with that. This is who I am, and to be honest, I’ve got a pretty good track record of positive outcomes on my projects. This is the only one I haven’t been able to see through to fruition at all and that’s not bad. I just wish it hadn’t cost me so much.

Live and learn my friend, live and learn….

 

Dig a Little Deeper. See the Gold?

Hello y’all,

This week I’m wading through sadness at reading more of the stories coming from the California fires. I’m heartbroken at what I can just

children, innocence. childhood, love, appreciation

Cutie Petutie

imagine to be a living, or dying, hell.

I feel helpless and at a loss to wrap my head around situations with which I can only do my best to empathize.

Dealing with these feelings are hard but my nephew helped me out quite a bit last week without even intending to do so.

A couple of weekends ago I had my niece and nephew over for a weekend sleepover. This was only the second time that my nephew had been over for an extended period as he is only 3 years old. My niece, on the other hand, has been doing sleepovers with me for a couple of years (she’s 5).

It’s really SO incredibly different with boys and girls and you can really see our essential differences at these ages in a more exaggerated way because they’re so pronounced, but my niece and I have a bond that goes beyond even this. Since she was born there has been a connection between us that I can’t describe and don’t feel with any other person. I wouldn’t have had any idea what that feeling was like before she was born and wouldn’t have had language for it, although I’m not sure I have much language for it now.

The amazing thing is that she feels it too (thank goodness or else I would think I’m a bit nutty, know what I mean?) and gets so excited at the prospect of us spending time together – even has learned to ask for it when she feels she especially needs it.

My nephew, on the other hand, is a guys guy. He loves his daddy and grandpa best and has just eased out of being shy around me and pulling away when I approach. Of course I am clearer on my niece’s communication style over my nephew’s style and have been more comfortable with her overall because of this.

Honesty, shy, sharing, vulnerability

So, the spelling isn’t right – he’s 3! So sweet!

Everything started to change a couple of weeks ago when my nephew decided that he wanted me to drive him home from where my mother lives, and where we meet every Saturday morning, and wouldn’t leave with my brother. “Really?” said my brother, as we were both shocked. He was making a stand.

I drove him home and we chatted along the way.

After our sleepover weekend, he went back to preschool the following week and his teacher had them all make Thanksgiving turkeys with five paper tail feathers on each of which they would assign what they were grateful for – I made it to feather number two!

This feeling is one of those you live for without previously knowing it. It put a permanent glow on my face last week and is lingering into this one. It is so significant because it was unintended. It showed me the love hiding behind the shyness, the unsure nature of a little boy which made me recognize the unsure nature of myself and the desire for closeness that we often don’t realize is right in front of us and right beneath our surface.

Look up from your phones! It’s there but you need to be present to see it!

Are We Lying To Ourselves About Race?

So, this thought came to me last week, and it looks somewhat different to me this week (or does it?), for obvious reasons.

innocent, pure, peace, equality

Not Racist

The thought was that subtle racism, like institutional racism, and even some more overt examples of racism, are coming from people who don’t seem to realize that their thoughts are racist.

Now you and I might say, no way, but it’s true. What seems obvious to one person is not obvious to another.

I was listening to an interview on NPR recently of a former white supremacist, Derek Black, who’s father was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who’s godfather was David Duke and who was being groomed to become the next grand wizard. He met an orthodox jew at college (his first time out in the world after being home schooled) who invited him repeatedly to Friday night dinners (which was exhaustingly painful for them to go through week after week) and just let Black get to know him and his friends. Over a period of time, it changed his mind and made him question all that he had been taught and all that he thought he knew.

honesty, truth, eyes open

See yourself clearly and honestly. It’s a start.

This man is profoundly changed and clearly upset by what he previously believed and how what he at one time declared in public, had manifested itself into violence executed toward others. You can hear it in his voice. He’s still working through thoughts and feelings and it must have been a radical melting away of his reality. I can’t imagine how disconcerting it must be for your world to change so dramatically.

The thing that sticks with me the most is that he says none of them thought of themselves as racist or that, in reality, they had convinced themselves of this point.

I’m guessing that most people who have strong beliefs on race (other than that all races are equal or that race is a social construct, as it is) have managed to convince themselves of this exact conclusion.

Anyone who has put some serious thought into this subject has found themselves to be suspect in one way or another regarding race as we have all grown up immersed in an institutionally racist society and can’t help our brainwashed thoughts….right? See, that’s the crux. Once we do take a look into that abyss, we can’t go back. You can’t unsee it. Seeing the disease is the cure.