Category Archives: inspiration

Marking the days…

As I had hoped in my last post, I did complete Grad School. I submitted all my papers and finished all projects assigned. It was a significant marker in my life, but not as big as the one that is about to unfold.

My mother-in-law has been the closest (geographic) relative, aside from my husband, since I moved to NYC. In fact, the act of moving to NY nearly a decade ago placed me roughly three thousand miles away from my entire immediate family.

In a few short weeks, I will start living just a short drive up the road from my mother-in-law. This act marks a significant shift in my adult experience of familial proximity and relational intentionality.

I don’t know what the future holds for me without a school year cycle to order the days, with this new experience of community, and an open ended moment of my career. What I do know is that I’m trying to carve out a space where things move slower, where my impact is deeper, and my dreams can shape reality.

Is it asking too much of life to hope for something different, more than what I’ve found so far? I hope not. Still, my nerves are on alert.

In this new space I will be taking risks, but betting on myself; I will be focusing on small things, but hoping for many ripples; and I will be a part of a team, rather than an individual.

Here’s to it.

When it’s cold outside

During my Christmas holiday, I went on a brief journey to Yosemite. I hadn’t been since I was a kid, and my husband hadn’t gone, ever! We trekked up into the glacial phenomenon that has graced many family photo albums, distinguished the portfolio of Ansel Adams, and has simply put many travelers in awe. 

Imagine being one of those few natives to this area, living in the fortress that these mountains naturally offered. For these rocks to be your walls, and the sky serving as a canopy. Though I am sure millions of people visit each year, it still felt untouched, perhaps truly unreachable by human hands. 

I am so thankful for our National Parks.

SftPwr project/not alone!


Yesterday I told my little brother in an all-too-rare phone call of sisterly wisdom how I’ve seen that there are just so many different ways to live life in this world. That there are so many different ways to employ one’s self. I noted also that if you can imagine something – there has probably been someone who has also imagined it, and more! …Maybe in a different way than you imaged, but there are kindred spirits out there, you just have to find them.

 

Today, I saw an article about some women who call themselves the East London Fawcett (ELF) Group, or Art Audit.

The mission of the Great East London Art Audit is to provide a platform for celebrating women in the arts. The projects and events we conceive, and are involved in, encourage a wider examination of the position of women within today’s art world, and address contemporary issues surrounding gender inequality within London.”

Something tells me that we are on to something if women in different countries are investigating these issues. (Yay – I found some more of my “people”!)

Incase you had not heard, I am working on a new website that is less of a personal blog (like bonniekate.com) and more of a resource and digest for women in the arts (globally). I’ve started by launching a facebook page and twitter account for the namesake project “SftPwr” and the primary web site is under development now.

SftPwr will include a bunch of things:
We hope to inspire younger women with original content (such as professional interviews), educate ourselves about the past with information on historical role models, and highlight contemporary cultural issues and events (primarily in New York City where we are based, but we are expanding this).

I hope that YOU can continue to be involved in this new phase as a reader, and hopefully on a level of interactivity where your voice can be heard, and your projects can get seen, and maybe we will even get some people jobs, grants, and the honor they deserve!

Because we’ve gotta have each other’s backs…


Related Links:
Huff Post article
See the results of their report

Young Art Admin: Daonne Huff, Podcast on Mentorship

Happy Monday! And a happy back-to-school to many of you.
Speaking of academics – I’d like you to meet my fellow student, Ms. Daonne Huff…

[powerpress]

A graduate of Vassar College and now a Masters Candidate at NYU for Visual Art Administration, Ms. Huff is in the process of redefining (for herself) the boundaries of contemporary art – more inclusive of new media, social practice, and alternative space exhibitions. Isolde Brielmaier played a key role in forming Ms. Huff’s path – by illustrating the contemporary application of an art historical education, and embodying all that a dynamic curator and administrator could be. This relationship grew from what began as student-teacher dynamic into the chance for Daonne to assist on many projects including the Elizabeth Catlett exhibition at the Bronx Museum of Art.

Daonne has a passion to bring out beauty from the fringes – learning from the work of artists who come from and/or work with the sociologically disenfranchised. During our time together we touch on the importance of mentorship, the sharing of knowledge and experience in order to inspire future generations, as well as acknowledging our own (very real) need for mentors within the trajectory of our careers. As the competition for work in the arts is as thick as ever, so is the need for training and vetting of strong female leaders.

Pictured above is Isolde Brielmaier, Daonne’s Mentor w/ a photograph by Lalla Essaydi.

Related Links:
Richard Meier Building
Theaster Gates
The Heidelberg Project
Laundromat Project
Theatre of the Oppressed
Brooklyn Museum
Keith Herring at the Brooklyn Museum
Bronx Museum
Detroit Institute of Art
Studio Museum of Harlem

Artist JR tries to “change the world” into one where “Men pay tribute to Women” and waring communities stand side by side…

Possibly my new favorite artist, JR is a truly great citizen of humanity. His art provides dignity and empowers others to do the same around the world.

From TED’s website — Working anonymously, pasting his giant images on buildings, trains, bridges, the often-guerrilla artist JR forces us to see each other. Traveling to distant, often dangerous places — the slums of Kenya, the favelas of Brazil — he infiltrates communities, befriending inhabitants and recruiting them as models and collaborators. He gets in his subjects’ faces with a 28mm wide-angle lens, resulting in portraits that are unguarded, funny, soulful, real, that capture the sprits of individuals who normally go unseen. The blown-up images pasted on urban surfaces – the sides of buildings, bridges, trains, buses, on rooftops — confront and engage audiences where they least expect it. Images of Parisian thugs are pasted up in bourgeois neighborhoods; photos of Israelis and Palestinians are posted together on both sides of the walls that separate them.

JR’s most recent project, “Women Are Heroes,” depicts women “dealing with the effects of war, poverty, violence, and oppression” from Rio de Janeiro, Phnom Penh, Delhi and several African cities. And his TED Prize wish opens an even wider lens on the world — asking us all to turn the world inside out. Visit insideoutproject.net

“I would like to bring art to improbable places, create projects so huge with the community that they are forced to ask themselves questions.”

–JR, Beaux Arts Magazine

Coming to a locale near YOU:
(This one is right in my back yard!)

“The Inside Out project gets bigger in NYC, USA! Another eye from the Native American project is up on a building at the corner of Berry St and South 5. You can see it better from the bridge…” – JR’s website

JR’s update on the Inside Out project:

Prayers in Charlotte and across the World

 

For a look at the DNC’s approach to benedictions and invocations, see this link: CLICK 😀. The woman (Jenna) who gave the benediction last night works with her husband in aid of the water crisis in Africa and had me at “St. Francis“.

 

And now for the women you have been waiting for:

I encourage you to watch both Ann and Michelle’s speeches (below). They are both charged with a strange task – imploring us to love the men that they love and do their best to inspire loyalty for their candidate-husbands.

Ann Romney, in an attempt to relate to the majority of American women, gets a little stuck on our relationships to each other as wives, mothers, even little sisters – proclaiming “I love you women”. But I have to agree with her critics in that she offers listeners little more than sisterly pillow talk that is just not as relatable as Michelle Obama‘s charges (with a comforting cadence) to not only trust her husband (as they both ask) but to do our own part! Inclusion is the name of the game and M makes us all feel like we can proudly pull some of the weight. In contrast to Michelle’s rallying invitation, it is hard to forget that Ann’s broader approach is more of a “leave it to the adults” one-way, guarded conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, I found Ann much warmer than I expected, but her giggling and the repetition of her main points – that she loves Mitt, etc. just did not do it for me. I just know there was much much more to her under the surface of that speech. The woman has had breast cancer and MS, multiple miscarriages, changed her religion, and raised 5 sons! If she was going for the women of America – candor to a degree she may have just not been comfortable with, might have served her better.

Call it a matter of taste, but Michelle also seems to take the whole thing more seriously on stage, with knowing mannerisms confirming that she has seen what it takes to get things done in the white house – while Ann epitomizes a dream of wife-hood that just isn’t even a real option for most American women today. Even if Ann and Mitt were the picture of what the contemporary woman was aspiring to, it is just unfortunate for the sake of their campagne that what they symbolize is a privilege that most voters won’t enjoy. Maybe they should have changed the topic all together from their own life – to look outward on the lives of others? At one point Ann mentions the joy of helping others when you are blessed with abundance – I think she could  have drawn out this part of the speech as one of her more successful moments.

All this could be a wedge in the way of many women getting behind the Romneys as contemporary female voters (as a specific and powerful constituency) just do not identify with this Retro American Dream Team. It is great that Mitt was successful in business, and why wouldn’t Ann want to stay home with the kids? But this is not the case for the majority.

Particularly in light of Obama’s previous campaign, which worked tirelessly toward empowering those who were not historically taking advantage of their voice as voters, (the young, women, and minority voters) it seams that there is just no going back after that foundation was laid. Now that those constituents, who were once the minority, know what can happen when they show up to the poles – they have made even Texas into a swing state.

The more I have read about and listened to Ann Romney since her speech, the more I like her. So, no hard feelings – I just like Michelle’s husband more!

Ann – at the RNC

Michelle – last night at the DNC

Please feel free to comment, and God Bless the work of ALL government leaders who are trying their best to serve this nation!

Young Admin Profiles: Dani Scoville

This is not the first time that I have interviewed Ms. Scoville, but I thought it would be interesting to follow-up with her since one of the topics we discussed in the previous Sedentarialist interview has birthed a new path for this young San Franciscan.

At the time she had just begun volunteering for ReImagine, which she has described as “a center for the integration of the self (mind, body, and spirit) with the teachings of Jesus Christ in daily living”. The idea is to strip away the subcultural (American Church-going Christian) context that can be conducive to rote answers, and lead groups through questions of a more interior nature. With this specific approach, their workshops attempt to nurture a truthful dialogue around the implications of faith in relation to the human experience. They accomplish this goal by sharing first-person accounts and learning from one another’s successes as well as failures rather than formal ideologies. As a group they hold to 7 “vows”: love, obedience, prayer, simplicity, creativity, service, and community.

One key point of engagement for Dani has been their storytelling workshops. Although Scoville’s role with ReImagine has become more administrative, these workshops tie in her creative medium of narrative. Scoville has a degree in Literature from U.C. Santa Cruz and prior experience working for a Bay Area publishing house (where she also worked administratively). For these events ReImagine invites folks from within and outside of formal church networks.  Attendees are asked to tell their stories and listen to the stories of others, strictly without interruption. Scoville has observed surprising honesty and gender diversity to be among the trends as they discuss the complexity of topics ranging from sexuality to the management of personal finances. They have also held workshops for the purpose of Art Therapy (with clay and other media) and forums on social justice and abolition.

While they promote their program tactics to members of churches across the U.S., what drew Dani (and many others) to the program was that, while rooted in a faith in God, it did not require her to enter a traditional church landscape. For many Americans the formal structures of  church buildings and the whole sociology that goes with them are often a hurdle to spiritual investigation, having little to do with the teachings at their core.

Partly grown out of her experience volunteering for this organization, Dani is now joining the staff of ReImagine as the Program Director “Responsible for developing, organizing and promoting local/Regional ReImagine Learning Labs, Conversations and other events.” While circumstantially this position parallells her personal interests and professional qualifications, the real impetus for accepting the position was rooted a severe bike accident just months before.

The accident left her injured in the places it hurt her most –  the hand she writes with, and her jaw, broken in multiple places. Without the ability to speak or to journal her thoughts in the ways to which she was accustomed, she was left alone in an internal landscape, in which she was only able to wait. During this time she relied on the generosity of others, often other members of the ReImagine “Tribe”. This experience affirmed her appreciation for the empowering process of giving voice to the unspoken interior experiences we struggle through. With the accident, a new phase presented itself – an opportunity to take a “timely risk” by working in a dedicated ministry-type position. As it turns out, this trajectory not only blends her spiritual pursuits but also her interest in creative treatise to non-fiction writing.

As a woman on her own journey toward self awareness and realizing community, I asked her if she had anything specific to share with my readership. She mentioned the following poem and suggests we risk making beauty with our whole lives.

She who reconciles the ill-matched threads of her life,
and weaves them gratefully into a single cloth-
it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration
where the one guest is you.
In the softness of the evening
it’s you she receives.
You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.

– Rilke 1, 17 (From The Book of Hours)


You can find Dani’s own reflections posted regularly on her blog, Through the Roof Beams
…And more information about ReImagine on their Facebook page, here.

Time to come together


This Kickstarter is attempting to raise the funds to complete a very important documentary on Hip-Hop around the world in communities that are struggling to find their voice – whether in the midst of revolution or breaking away from globally propagated stereotypes.

Please donate to his fund!

Related Link: Nadia Al-Sakkaf Interview on TED
(Nadia is a totally inspiring Female Newspaper Editor from Yemen, who will also be  featured in Adam’s documentary)