Live Work Create

image-createAfter two weeks of being away from my normal day to day, I am very relaxed and very clear. I know the next things that I want to do and enjoy. Before I left, I was tense. Very tense. I was losing things, forgetting things more than usual and just not enjoying life. I do not think we should let “life” do that to us, yet we do.

When I got back a friend of mine sent me this wonderful photo from Brooklyn and it says “Live, Work, Create. I obviously was doing more of the work part than the Live and Create part prior to my leave from life. Now, I know to make this thing really work I need to do all three. LIVE, WORK, CREATE.

I am heading to my studio now to paint.

Divided We Fall

black-and-white-shake-handsI was reading a paper today. It was a few days old. I picked it up while I was waiting for something to load onto my computer. There were three stories I read. One was about the civil war in the Congo. The other was about the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt and the last was on Syria and the mounting violence and troubles in that part of the world.

The first thing that all of these stories remind me of is the peace that I have in my home today. I am glad that I have peace and that I can, in most cases, come out of my home and feel relatively safe. The second thing that hit me is how division and the focus on our differences is the cause of so much of this violence in these parts of the world or others.

The article about the Coptic Christians being persecuted in Egypt called out to Christians around the world to stand up and demand the safety and security of one of the oldest group of Christians in the world. Yet, the article stated that because there are so many different denominations in Christianity that voice of unity in the Christian world does not really exist and so, there isn’t a solid voice to help this group in their dire time of need.  The war in the Congo has been going on for over 20 years and it continues because there are so many different groups fighting in this war on top of there being over 200 ethnic groups in this area. How can you stop fighting and come to a consensus when you are so divided?

The last story was about Syria. Over 1,000 innocents died and the question in the air was how. It looked like the Syrian government used chemicals to kill; which is against the International Laws of War. This act is causing division in all parts of the world. These three stories could be enough to make anyone think that this world will always be in chaos. But we cannot believe that. Divided this world will fall. It will and there is no doubt about it.  BUT there is so much about us that we can unify over – things that make most of us the same.

  1. Children
  2. Love of friends and family
  3. A good meal
  4. Laughter
  5. The desire to be happy
  6. Helping someone
  7. Creating a good life
  8. Wanting peace when we leave our homes and in our homes
  9. Great health
  10. We have faith (no matter what it is in)
  11. There is beauty in us all
  12. We all experience birth and death

There are more – but with these sameness – these things that could unify us – we must also look at those things that make us different from one another and respect them. Not hate over them, or degrade folks over them or give people entitlements because of them.  A world where we can see and enjoy our uniqueness while we see those things that are the same will be a wondrous world and it is one we can make.

 

Love II

I think love is the answer to everything that is wrong in the world.  Love, the feeling, the thing that makes us want to be good and do good, is not the thing that a lot of us experience in relationships. That thing that usually leaves us sitting by ourselves and hurt is a sliver of real love warped through the vessel that we are having that experience with. Real love doesn’t hurt. It heals.

I recognized true love for the first time with the births and friendships of my nieces and nephews.  Those kids made it easier for me to see love in other people. I could see that my mother really loved me. I could see that my father struggled with the concept of love, but loved in the way he understood. I recognized that my siblings actually loved the hell out of me and I them.  When it came to romantic relationships, I became aware of loving experiences and those that were warped perceptions of love. I learned where I was not being loving and creating some of the experiences that I was happening. I also learned that real love never goes away even if the people do..

The most enlighten thing that came out of experiencing true love was acknowledging that I did not truly love myself the way I should. If I did, there are some choices I would never have made; things that I would have never done.  Without true love of myself how could I love others?  It has been a long road, but everyday in the past 10 years, I’ve learned how to love myself more and more and more. I can tell by the way others react to me that I am going in the right direction. I still have work to do, but I am so much closer.

I guess that I am writing this to say that we all want this world to change. We hear things about killings in our neighborhoods, to riots in Egypt, folks going hungry and others dying because of lack of medical care. We want to change that and we can by taking a first step of being honest about the love we have for ourselves. Self love = World Love.

Love I

 

20130818_113144

I was aware of the one in Philadelphia, but not the one in New York, so you know it was a pleasant surprise to walk into it yesterday. There was a small line of folks standing in front of it, waiting for their turn to take a photo with the iconic statue and their loved ones.

I do wish that every city in the world could have something like this, a physical reminder of love and to love. A place to go with your loved ones and sit close together with love surrounding them.  Can we start a petition? Can we make this happen and call it love around the world? Robert Indiana, can you bring your iconic piece to the world?  I know it is a big request, but I think it would create an amazing energy that this world needs right now.

So, on my last day in Brooklyn before I go back home to Detroit, I want to say Brooklyn, I love you. You have truly become a place that I can call home AND most importantly, knowing you has made me LOVE my city of Detroit more deeply.  I will see you again next year, hopefully with family. Until then…

Guy in the Pink Shirt

eastbay-performance-t-shirt-s-with-evapor-mens-pink-1dToday, I did not feel like walking several blocks to the grocery store, so I got on the subway, went pass two stops and got off the train.  I smiled at the fact that I just saved myself a 30 minute walk.  Heading up up up the stairs, a guy was heading down to get on the train. I did not really see his face, but I saw his outline, his complexion, his tattoo on the left arm, his hat and his pink t-shirt.    For some reason, passing that man as he came down the stairs, the biggest emotional wave of memories came over me. I hadn’t felt that in a long time. The moment was mere seconds but it seem to cover several years of my life with my ex. My ex use to wear bright colors even before wearing bright colors was deemed cool. They fit his personality you know and he looked pretty good in them.

When I reach the top of the steps, I looked back. I know that guy was not my ex, but the memories that guy in the pink shirt triggered made it feel like my ex was on those steps with me.  I re-lived years in that short time and recalled that it was a good time in my life. I shook it off and headed to the store.

Lynn Herhman Leeson

Lynn Hershman Leeson

The first time I learned of this artist was with her documentary, !Women Art Revolution, a film about the influential women in contemporary art and some of the challenges that were faced. It includes interviews, footage of rare film and images of art by these iconic women.  I am the Google Queen, so after seeing the documentary, I looked her up and this particular work stood out. It is part of a series she calls Roberta Britmore. Roberta is a character that Lynn became and documented through art  such as the one above. If I am correct Leeson went as far as getting this character a drivers license, credit cards and  a therapist (I saw some letters or something from a therapist in the exhibit); making her as real as you or I. This piece is  “the Construction Chart #2” – listing either the alterations to make to her face to become this character or the alteration Roberta, the character, wants done to her face.

The mixed media and color were the first things that I saw and right away. I saved the research because I wanted to mimic the color use. Now, that I was standing in front of it, I looked  closer and that is when the words and the fact that these were physical alterations struck me in two ways. It struck me as a woman who creates female characters and as a woman who deals with just beauty standards.  I wonder if these are the notes of an artist making a piece perfect or a woman wanting to be perfect.

To see more of Lynn’s work, visit her website at www.lynnhershman.com. If you are in the NY area, visit MOMA and see the piece live and in person.

Käthe Kollwitz Embraces Death

Brooklyn is the place where I finally got to see Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party”. It was was a pinnacle moment in my visit last year. This year, I went back to see it again and on my to the  exhibit space I came across Käthe Kollwitz work and stopped. I didn’t see her work at first I felt it. She is an amazing artist that was in a lot of pain from losing her son in war and seeing others suffer during War The death, struggles and pain was interpreted beautifully in her drawing and prints. Simple black and white on simple paper, so that the message is clear and serious.

44.201.6_Kollwitz_sig_image_428W kollwitz_death Kathe-Kollwitz-drawing-on-violence kollwitzcrop kollwitzhunger kollwi02 Käthe Kollwitz; Städtisches Obdach; Steindruck, 42 x 56 cm; 1926

There was one drawing where there seem to be a glimmer of happiness on the subject’s face and it was entitled “Death recognized as a Friend.”  I stared at this for a while not knowing if Kollwitz’s life was so sad she would greet and end of it with open arms or if, when she died – when we all die, that dark coated person that comes to take us home is actually a friend disguised.

62_Kn271_Kl261__TI paint and draw well. I am a very good graphic designer, but I want to go deeper like Käthe. I want people to wonder about the moments I am portraying and to stop in their tracts by the energy of my creations. To do that, I have to embrace my true self, my pains, my beliefs, my happiness too. I don’t think we have to struggle to be great artist, we just have to be truthful.  I have not yet reached that, but I am close and seeing Käthe Kollwitz work showed me what is missing in mine…the deeper truer me.

If you are in the Brooklyn area stop by the museum. If not, Google it.

Time Square Impressed Me

20130814_123600I didn’t want to come to NY and be a tourist. I wanted to live like everyone else and learn about the city…organically. That has been fun, but something happened yesterday. I planned a day at the New York Public Library (I always go to the library regardless of what city I go to). I got on the subway, came out of the subway on 42nd street and found myself smack dab in the middle of Times Square. OMG my eyes got so big. I could not believe the bigness and the energy.

20130814_124300 20130814_123138I made up my mind right then that I am going to take one whole day and spend it in the Time Square area. I am going to be a tourist and love every minute of it. I might even get on one of those tour buses.

Be Thankful

20130810_183256Since my last trip to NY I made a decision that I was going to buy at least one item from Moshood Creations. It is a clothing store that takes African style and add a Western twist to them. Even though the clothes are AMAZING, Moshood is a good guy and so funny.  The conversation was worth going to the store.

I found three pieces at a very reasonable price; a skirt a tank and a t-shirt. The t-shirt had a wonderful message, “BE THANKFUL” and I am thankful today.  Focusing on the good things in life puts me in a better mood and place in life.  It ain’t easy to stay cheery and I don’t think you are suppose to. I think you are suppose to acknowledge when your life seems to suck or when there is just sadness and terrible things going on. But thankfulness, even in those times, can help bring you out of those sad places. My list of things that I am thankful for can go on and on and on. For most of us, we could list 100 things that we are grateful for, but we have been taught to focus on the things that are wrong. Let’s purposely change the way we think and be thankful.

Today I am thankful for a beautiful sunny and cool day. I am thankful for my family and knowing my purpose. I am thankful that I am becoming brave enough to live more purposefully. I am thankful for the kids in my life and for the art that I see and create. I am thankful for clean water, good food, and a roof over my head every night. I am thankful for my $10 sneakers. I am thankful, thankful, thankful and can will wear it proudly on my shirt.

 

Gentrification and Detroit

I am in Brooklyn for the next couple of weeks; in an area called Bed-Stuy. This is my second time staying in this area. It is interesting because I see that it is in the middle phase of gentrification.  I know that some who probably saw this area before 2010 may not agree with the statement that I am about to write, but this is my opinion.  I think that right now Bed-Stuy has a good balance and if it could just stop here and everyone in this neighborhood band together and cultivate it, this place could stay beautiful.  Most likely that isn’t going to be the case. Here are some of the flyers I saw for new homes and rentals in Bed-Stuy.

own

rent

This is where Detroit is heading.  Rent that a large portion of the current Detroit population cannot afford.  We tend to connect not having the ability to pay for things with class of people. Economic class does not and should not be a criteria of the quality of the person. But, that is what gentrification can do; dismiss our qualities and look only at our economic value and tell us that we can no longer be a part of this city of Detroit. What makes a society great; a city an utopia, is the coming together of different people and the ideas, thoughts and needs of those people. It’s hard to keep that balance, but it is not impossible if we care for our fellow man.

There is something about Bed-Stuy, Detroit and other cities and neighborhoods around the states that attracts people.  That “something” was created by the people pre-gentrification. That must be understood. So, if those people and their experiences, cultures, thoughts, families are no longer part of the city or specific neighborhood, that removes the thing that attracted people to that place.  That place then seems to become something that, in most cases is bland. Economically it may be stronger, but the human experience is larger than money.

Detroit needs change. I agree, agree, agree. This whole country needs it, but we can no longer throw away a group of peoples experiences and dreams away for someone elses. This country was built on that kind of thinking and it has created a toxic thread in our society. We need to help others while we help ourselves.