Thursday, August 30, 2012

Come See Me in "Swarm: A Collaborative Performance"

I'm totally stoked to take part in Swarm, a installation/performance art piece/collaboration by Angelica Sandoval and Betsy Barratt with myself, Annie Thrax and Meggan Owen as special guests. This is happening tomorrow, Friday, August 31, 6:30-8:30 at the Fishtank Theater (1715 Wyandotte) as part of a larger event called The League of Makers: It's a Gem! According to the FB event page:
THE LEAGUE OF MAKERS is: Charlene Hillebrand, Tom Kessler with LSR, Hunter Long (Black House Collective), Jeni Mc, Xochitl Rodriguez, Angelica Sandoval, and Nihan Yesil. ... Water, light, and illusion guide the creative contemporaries, as they offer the public a unique opportunity to witness site specific, engaging and challenging work. With explorations in varied areas from music, through installation, to performance and improvisational comedy that strives to convey humanity, these artists hope to offer you a changing and evolving thing. They hope to offer you an event that will allow you the opportunity to witness transformation and engage in art work that touches dimensions far beyond the third. They offer you… a gem!
The dance part of the performance I'm part of will take place between 7 and 7:30 so be there if you want to see it! Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Baby Babbles

Henry gets cuter every single day. He's started babbling, shouting, and working on standing up (always on his tiptoes). He's such a silly monkey. I love watching him grow and learn.

Took these videos of him tonight making noises and generally being adorable.

You can see more of Henry and I by clicking through to my 365 Days with Henry photo project.

Related posts:
Yours, Mine and Ours
Henry's Busy Weekend
Henry Is 1 Month Old

Thursday, August 23, 2012

'Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry' Is a Must-See

Image via Birds Eye View

Ai Weiwei (pronounced 'eye way-way') is a Chinese artist who stepped onto the world stage during the DATE Olympics in Beijing. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is a documentary about the art and protest work Weiwei has done since the Olympics, when he protested the Chinese Government's treatment of civilians in Beijing before the games began. In a country where speaking out against the government is against the law, Weiwei chooses to be a daring voice for change, governmental transparency, free speech, and personal liberties.

One of the most ambitious projects/protests began for Weiwei after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. He led and coordinated an effort to discover the names and ages of all the school children that were casualties of the earthquake and shoddy "tofu" construction of the government schools. The government would not release that information, so Weiwei and volunteers interviewed parents in each community that had been affected. The result was a list of all the school children who died, published online on the 1 year anniversary of the quake.

Continuing to keep these casualties in the public eye, Weiwei designed an installation piece for a show in Germany that covered one side of a building's facade with 9,000 backpacks, spelling out a "she lived on this earth happily 7 years," a phrase a mother had written about her dead child, in Chinese characters. Additionally, Weiwei collected recordings of Chinese citizens reading the names of the school children, and released that audio file for the second anniversary of the earthquake.

These are just some of the incredible things that Ai Weiwei has accomplished, inspiring the help of other Chinese citizens in many different ways in his own provocative, subversive way. An avid user of social media, especially Twitter, until his abduction and eventual release on bail by the Chinese government. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry tells the story of Weiwei's accomplishments up until now so that neither his voice nor his inspiration and achievements will be forgotten.

 I highly recommend this documentary to anyone interested in protests, social change, the provocative power of art, or Chinese culture. I was riveted throughout by the bold and courageous Weiwei. I can't wait to see what he does in the future. Find out more about this award-winning documentary on the official website.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The House That Grandpa Built

Yesterday was emotionally trying for me. We went to visit my grandmother in Chillicothe, MO, stopping on the way to her house at my grandfather's grave, still a large pile of dirt beneath his tombstone that does not yet to have his date of death carved into it. My grandma is going to sell the house that my grandpa built when my father was a child, and move into a duplex. I kept walking around the house, remembering all the many overnight visits and day trips we took to visit them, the movies we watched, the games we played and the stories they told of their adventures around the world. Knowing I'll never go there again makes my heart hurt.

Related posts:
May Deals with Death
Photo Essay: May's Minutia

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free Pussy Riot

Today I want to talk about an ongoing international human rights/freedom of speech incident involving an anonymous feminist Russian political performance group, Pussy Riot. Several members of this group were arrested because of a protest/performance lasting only a minute. They are threatened with up to 7 years in prison for this, with the trial being handled in ways that blatantly disfavor the Pussy Riot members.

Several ambassadors from countries including the USA, human rights organizations, musicians, and individuals across the world have protested the treatment these women are receiving. So far to no avail. The ruling is expected to be handed down tomorrow, and many are planning protests with the expectation that it will be against the performers. I greatly respect the women of Pussy Riot for putting their lives on the line to act against the human rights violations they see happening around them. I hope that they will be freed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Save the Dates for My Upcoming Show - 'Meditations Manifested'

I'm excited to announce my upcoming show, 'Meditations Manifested: Assemblages from Found and Donated Objects.' It will be at the Alcott Arts Center at 180 South 18th Street, Kansas City KS 66102 from September 9 to October 6, 2012. You can catch me there opening night as well as September 14-15 during the Second Fridays/Saturdays fun. That's also my birthday weekend so you should come out and celebrate with me!

More on the show as it approaches.....

Related posts:
The Alcott Arts Center Needs You
Breast Cancer Awareness Art Festival

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" Left Much to Be Desired

Beasts of the Southern Wild should've been right up my alley. Indie movie with an adorable tomboy heroine, magical realism, themes of the inter-connectivity of everything and climate change... BUT I hated it.

The most particularly off-putting aspects were:
The endlessly shaking shaky cam. When the first 10 minutes or so of the film started with shaky cam insanity coupled with randomly moving in and out of focus, I assumed it was some whimsical mood setting device. But when the shaky cam/focus crap kept going on and on and on, I had to get up and go to the bathroom because my stomach was heaving and I was so nauseated. I don't understand why close-ups of caterpillers crawling on a leaf, a puddle in a rainstorm or a swarming pile of crawdads require epilleptic-level shaky cam. And it was horrific to watch. This was the first thing that made me want to leave the theater. (An hour into the film I did, because I once more felt an overwhelming desire to vomit.)

The terrible parenting. Every parent depicted is an alcoholic, somewhat abusive "for your own good," emotionally unavailable mess who doesn't care about the filth they or their children live in. Despite living off the land where there's water all around them, they don't seem to have any desire to wash themselves, their clothes or their living places. Everything is encased in grime and the way that the adults treat the heroine was horrifying. I hated seeing it. I kept hoping for some redeeming qualities to emerge, but none ever did.

The strange interludes with the aurochs. The aurochs - ancient cattle-like beasts  (as seen on the poster above) that used to roam the Earth - are first introduced by a woman telling stories about them eating caveman babies. After that, images of the aurochs encased in ice, then in melting water, then rushing across the desert, are randomly interspersed with the ongoing action, with the heroine's narration as the only thing attempting to tie these interludes in with the rest of the story.

No sense of story. Despite including a major storm and subsequent flood, a terrorist attack on a levy, and a Viking-esque funeral, Beasts of the Southern Wild managed to have no interesting story or any likeable characters. I wanted to like the heroine, but I could only pity her.

Overwhelming reliance on voice-over narration. The heroine, known only as "Hushpuppy" barely speaks to any person or creature around her, but her narration goes on nearly endlessly. The film relies on this narration to introduce and carry the inter-connectivity and climate change themes - a technique I found failed. Eventually I started to hate how much narration was happening compared to just how little conversation went on. The effect for me was simply to demonstrate that the film couldn't hold it's own.

I know that many critics loved this film. I just didn't. Have you seen it? If so, what did you think?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What I've Been Up To

I'm excited to announce that my MIL has gifted me with a new laptop for an early birthday surprise! It's shiny and red! Just like my favorite tricycle as a child. And, of course, now I can blog again! w00t :)

Since I've been away, I took a bunch of pictures of Henry. See them on my Flickr account, starting here. Also, my pro account, which was a gift, will be expiring in 2 days, so the last 100 pics I posted will be all that's available to view. Unless someone wanted to buy me another one, I suppose.

Anyhoo, I also went to a dance party dressed as a robot:

Finished two new mixed media pieces:

And live painted at a friend's birthday party:

It's great to be back! I'll see you Thursday :)