01 What I Learned from Google Alerts

Have you ever used Google Alerts? No? Well, If you haven't, you should take a moment to get acquainted with it.  It is a Google service (obviously) where you can pick topics or subjects, and Google will compile articles, blogs and other research on your subjects and sent the list and links directly to your email. The internet is vast, and this has made it a little easier to navigate and learn things. I enjoy the alerts so much; I thought it would be interesting to share some of the things I learn from my Google alerts every week here on my blog. Below are a few from January 11 – 18, 2019.


WOMEN IN THE ARTS

Camille Morineau, a curator of the prestigious Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, put together an all-women exhibition of artists from the museum's collection in 2009. Guess what she learned? That it was almost impossible for her to find information on these artists, even though they were part of the Centre's collection. She couldn't believe this, being a student of 20th-century art how was this possible? Why could she not find more documented information on these women artists? The same reason we have challenges researching women artist today –  women's place in the arts was underestimated then and now and because of that less was written and archived about them in a way that is accessible.  That realization put Morineau into action along with others to create a fantastic tool —AWARE. https://www.dw.com/en/uncovering-forgotten-female-artists-french-archive-aims-to-rewrite-art-history/a-47117618

Talking about researching artists, here is an artist that I am loving. Shilpa Gupta created a piece called "For, In Your Tounge, I cannot Fit, 100 Poets". Yes, the title is a mouth full, but the artwork is emotion on top of activism on top of visual and audio stimulation at the highest level of stimulation. This multi-media installation includes 100 poems written by artist imprisoned for their political views. The poems are written on strips of paper stuck on the tips of bars that similar to those used in prisons along with 100 microphones hanging from the ceiling where the same poems are repeated in different languages. https://english.manoramaonline.com/women/on-a-roll/2019/01/15/shilpa-gupta-works-biennale-silenced-poets.html


COMMUNITY

My library background would not let me pass this one up.  A collection of African American books will be on display at the Center for Community Arts in Cape May, New Jersey. This collection came from those who live in the community, a community that almost lost archives of the history of Cape May's African Americans during a renovation of a building that used to be a segregated school. https://www.capemaycountyherald.com/community/culture/article_a3977388-1a64-11e9-b34c-bf7ac0e9c3f4.html


ART COLLECTING

Art brings us a quality of life, through culture, beauty and opening us up to different ways of life. But recently what many artists know has been true, that art investment is the best financial investment. https://www.internationalinvestment.net/news/4000495/investments-art-report


DETROIT ART

Corset-inspired artwork and in my hometown? You've caught my interest. Artist Annica Cuppelellis new works at K.Oss Contemporary Art Gallery. https://www.metrotimes.com/the-scene/archives/2019/01/09/how-the-corset-inspired-detroit-artist-annica-cuppetellis-new-show


POLITICS AND ART

Politics today go us all a little nutty and some of us angry and mad.  We are all affected, including artists. Many exhibitions, even my own, focus on politics, so the question is political art the only art that matters? I'm gonna say no, but you can read this article and tell me what you think. https://www.vulture.com/2017/04/is-political-art-the-only-art-that-matters-now.html


AFRICAN AMERICAN ART

10 Black visual artists who broke barriers. Jean Michel Basquiat is, of course on this list (and is actually in the title of the article) but there are probably a few more names you haven't heard that you must know. https://www.biography.com/news/jean-michael-basquiat-black-artists

Karice Mitchel created a photography installation focusing on black women and how they are sexualized in our society. This one hit home, especially at the moment when we are hearing the stories of R Kelly and the abuse accusations against him as and this being the week that millions of women are marching in their cities for women's rights. Mitchell's work focused on how black women are "essentialized for their bodies." We see it in movies, in music, everywhere. Her installation covers the history of this phenomenon that exists today and helps viewers experience it through a different lens.  https://excal.on.ca/black-female-sexuality-through-a-new-lens/

 

Sunshine

My posts have been so bleak lately. The world can be that sometimes. But there is more. I went to bed rather late last night. I decided to sleep in. When I did awake, it was not my phone or clock that made me open my eyes, but the sun was coming through the window. I turned to it and smiled. Its been days of snow and rain and dreary skies and to wake to a sun beaming so brightly.  I walked to the window. You can feel the heat from the glass. My body reacted, stretching and making plans to walk, to wear a lighter weight coat, to wash my car and drive absolutely nowhere. Just as bad and dreary and gray and sad is part of life so is laughter and happiness and peace and joy. We have to remind ourselves daily to enjoy life even in the midst of tragedy. Sunshine is inevitable. Sunshine will come, and it will feel positively incredible. 

Violence is Violence

Here I am talking about violence again. America's built on violence. It shows daily in what we read, our language, and in the violence we endure in our lives. Again this week another mass shooting. This time at a school. In Florida. 17 dead and 14 injured. People are outraged. They want laws changed. They want guns removed. They want better security in schools like metal detectors, more police. They want the government to react. All this is needed. I think about schools in my community that, even when I was a kid in the 90s, dealt with gun violence in and around our schools. From 8th grade to 12th grade I lost friends to gun violence. Guns in schools were my and my classmate's reality. We had security guards, coaches that protected us, metal detectors, limited access to entrances and exits, random locker searches and more. That was happening at my school in the 90s. What's happening now that has happened for decades in the urban communities is the streets are coming into those schools that never had the title of dangerous. The violence of the world is penetrating the scholarly walls of affluent areas. That scares more people. It scares mainstream America. Now, something must be done. Part of me hurts that the reaction to this shooting is somehow different to those that happened in urban schools and the violence we lived under was less valued. We were less valued. As much opportunity as my parents, church and schools provided me, as a teen, I wondered daily if I would live to see 17. The violence was real. Part of me hurts to think another generation is living through violence and nothing is changing. I write this to say that those things that people felt were the problems of the poor, the colored, the uneducated, never is confined to those urban blocks, those ghettos, those people for long. It will permeate and move into the whole society because we are all connected. So when people in the ghettos are dying from guns, drugs; when opportunity decreases in these communities, stop, care and do something. Demand change because your life will indeed depend on it. 

Drugs: Crime and Addiction

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I was born in the mid to late 70s and went to school during the 80s and 90s.  There were campaigns all over the place to keep kids like me from taking drugs, selling drugs or getting addicted to them. Drugs were plenty and diverse, but the most prevalent were marijuana, heroin and crack. Heard about cocaine, but that wasn't in my neighborhood. There were those derogatory terms that no kid wanted to be called, like crack baby or crackhead.  American was "cracking" down on drug users and dealers. I saw friends losing their dads to prison and too many moms to the addictions. There wasn't a lot of help to get off drugs other than church. It wiped-out some neighborhoods. 

Now here we are in 2017. In some states, like mine, marijuana is damned near legal. People are still dying in my neighborhood over things like crack and heroin, and people are doing long sentences in jail for having these drugs on their person or in their system.  But there is a new twist; opioids. Opioids are drugs prescribed by doctors to help ease the pains from surgeries and similar health issues. In the course of becoming well, some become addicted and too many are dying from something they thought was there to help. In the last decade or so we have seen an increase in doctors prescribing opioids to more patients. Doctors blame pharmaceutical companies for falsely marketing opioids as non-addictive. Regardless of whose fault, the facts are nearly 100 deaths a day occur because of overdose on opioids. Opioids is a drug problem, like crack, cocaine, heroine, and marijuana before it. It is an epidemic and crisis that needs to be solved with health and behavioral strategies and with the support of our government. What the opioid crisis has not been is criminalized like the use and selling of drugs before it. Why? Because of who it is affecting.  According to this study, most opioid addictions and overdoses are occurring to white Americans between the ages of 24 – 45. 

When heroin, crack and marijuana was decimating neighborhoods of the poor inner city, communities of color, the solution was war and the results were kids losing parents to overdose, death and long sentences in prison.  Why are these problems treated differently?  It goes back to the same sin that America repeats over and over again. Seeing the poor and people of color, especially black people, as less; not important. Seeing us as the creator of problems that are only solvable through jail, punishments, and death. Because these drugs have gone across the borders of specific communities and into homes of the rich, white and important, it must be contained. We see the unfairness in this. What I hope is that America wakes up and see that anyone dealing with drug addiction needs help and deserve support if we as a country are giving it. America, if we are going to punish the drug dealer on the street for distributing drugs in the neighborhood, let's punish the doctors for distributing to their patients. Lastly, if we are going to make drugs legal, then we need to free those who sit in jails for decades for something that is no longer a crime. 

 

On the Davison Bridge

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I saw this man twice today on Woodward, walking on the Davison bridge. He is kind of a large man maybe in his late 20s or 30s. He caught my eye because he had on a jacket. It was 70 degrees, way too hot for the varsity jacket he adorned.  He was dragging a full suitcase behind him, looking down at the traffic on the freeway under him.  The first time I saw him, I wondered where he was going. Maybe he is waiting on the Woodward bus. The second time I saw him, 5 hours later, I realized he wasn't going anywhere because there is nowhere to go. The jacket on his back, the full suitcase is all his. All he got. This is where life has sat him, looking at the busy freeway on the Davison bridge. 

Fears

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This week has been a doozy. Many people have gone through so many different emotions after hearing Donald Trump will be our next president. Some people are ecstatic, but most that I have spoken to are depressed, angry, confused and really scared. I've haven't heard the word fear so much since 9/11.  I took a moment internally and thought about what really scares me and what fears I have. Just to name a few:  

  • Death of loved ones (my parents, siblings and the like)
  • Guns 
  • Our environment being too far gone to fix
  • Being homeless
  • Not telling a person my true feelings about them before it's too late
  • Becoming deathly ill
  • Not having the ability to think clearly
  • Not being able to create art

These are real fears that I face every day and try to alleviate by enjoying my family and friends, creating art as much as possible, using my mind to its fullest capacity and working hard to stay healthy and happy. There is one thing on this list that I have not been able to move forward with and that is telling that special someone I care.  One day, I will get over that fear and scratch it off of my list. One day. 

Fear is an emotional mechanism that is supposed to keep us from doing dangerous things or to alert us of danger. It is a good thing in its place, but sometimes the fears we have are based on the unreal. That is when fear itself becomes dangerous and harmful.Some people have let the fear of Trump create an unreal world in their heads and that can develop into more bad decisions. Let's work for the best and prepare for the worse. 

With the Trump election, my first reaction was not fear at all, just disappointment. I felt it on several levels starting with the politics that lead us to having such poor choices in our presidential candidates, to the horrible language and media frenzy we had to live through for the last year. In hindsight, maybe this is the only way such an election could have ended.  But, for just a moment, I did think, even in the brokenness that we are facing as people in this country, that we would pick what would be best for the majority of us. Again, maybe we did.

The hopes and optimism I held for America were unwarranted and I knew better. My soul knew better. She was talking to me and getting me ready for what she saw was coming and what I was scared to admit.  When it happened, disappointment hit and then the next thing I felt was, time to get back to work. Keep creating art that young children see in their neighborhoods. Keep writing about humanity, spiritual understanding, my Black-ness and womanhood. Keep transforming public spaces and keep loving family, friends, and neighbors and beyond. Be ready to move when my inner spirit tells me to. Be ready to work when I am called.  That is it. We have fears to get over in this country. Fears about race and the guilt of it. Fears about this changing country.  There is a government system with outdated laws, processes,and policies that need to change. Until then, I've decided that Donald Trump is not something I need to fear just another person to love, pray for, and tell the truth to.

The Airport

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My plane got in rather late tonight. We landed about 12:04 AM. I knew it would be another hour or more before I could lay down in my bed. This trip was only a few days but I felt like I hadn't slept for weeks.  I use to call someone to pick me up but that has become more challenging as my family has gotten older and friend's lives are fuller.  Now, I save money for a taxi-ride. Yes, uber is cheaper, but a taxi driver doesn't feel the need to engage and entertain you the whole trip. At one in the morning, the last thing I want is a purposeful conversation.  It was 12:37 when my bag finally fell from the carousel.

I noticed as others grabbed their luggage, they headed for the door looking for the car of their loved ones or even were met by a love one in baggage claim. Smiles, hugs, handshakes and screams. I saw a little boy run up to what I assumed was his grandma.  It gave me such a warm feeling and an empty one at the same time.

Ten minutes later I was in the taxi. The driver asked where I was going. When I told him Detroit, I saw a little hesitation.  I understood it, but also was a little angry about it. I haven't been back home for 15 minutes and already facing Detroit stereotypes and prejudice. Yet I understood. The world in not safe. Detroit is not always save.  The taxi driver dropped me off  at my parent's house, I got my keys from the hiding place and dragged myself to the car. 

Slowly, I drove to my home. I turned off my car and I took in my surroundings. It was very quiet and very late. For a moment I thought how I would feel safer if someone was with me. If I could have a friend to keepme company. But I had only me.  Nothing more.  I got out of the car and as I removed my bag from the trunk,  a man came from the side of my neighbor's house. It frightened me for a second and then I realized it was one of my neighbors. I smiled and said hello and wondered why he was outside at that time of night.  My mind went back to the taxi driver and I was a little less angry at his hesitation to come to the city.  My heart slowed down and I opened my house door feeling safe, secure and alone.

It was the next day, around 9 am that I called my mother. She didn't even know that I had stop by to get my car.  She told me I should have waken her, but I know if I did that, she would have yelled about me waking her. I was in a quiet place that morning, so our conversation was short.  My trip from the airport made me think about how alone I am and how uncomfortable that can be sometimes. I decided to go back to sleep hoping rest would take away the sadness and depression I was feeling. I have a good life, but that moment, for that moment, I felt miserable. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Stay Woke

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Colorful Women is not about skin color. It is about the colorful personalities and experiences of women. But, the last few months have been filled with racial and prejudice events that I must use the Colorful Women platform to speak on the subject.  Sometimes having dark skin in America can be hard. It can be the difference in living an amazing life or not. It can be the difference in life or death at times. 

I kind of tear up thinking that someone may think less of me because of my skin tone which God the Creator gave me.  It could not be wrong or bad if it came from the universe. For me, my skin has been beyond a blessing. Everyday, I live beyond the definition this world has placed on my skin. I am lucky to have family and friends and the upbringing that says be proud to be Black, be proud to be human and to be most proud that I am a child of God. We all are children of God, equal and just as important as anyone. I know there are many people of color that did not have my upbringing and have been torn down by the American narrative of the Black person. 

How can we change what is going on in the world. Easy. Love is the answer. Treat others as you will have them treat you. Be proud of who you are inside and out and live respectively and a Black person or whatever type of person you are blessed to be. We MUST – all of us, know our history and how we became the country we are so that we can fix it. We MUST share our knowledge to other generations. We MUST stay aware. I love the saying STAY WOKE. They are amazing words. It is like the Matrix. Once you take the pill there is no looking back. Your eyes are open, keep them open. My eyes are open and with each day, each book, each conversation, each newscast, my eyes are open wider. 

WOMEN: A special request for you. We have gotten to a place where we tear down each other, men, our loved ones. Let us go back to our nature and comfort our children, our men and each other. Let us TEACH love. That is our womanly power. We have given it away to show our independence and some weird type of strength that really has created a toxic space. We can be independent and nurturing at the same time.

I write this with peace and love – STAY WOKE my friends. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Colorful People

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Close your eyes and see the world differently. We have removed the brown hues, olive skin, pinks and porcelain whites and traded them for reds, greens, blues and bright yellows. Can you see me with my green skin and magenta locks walking down the street with orange men, yellow women, pink children and purple elders. How can the world not smile and love and be happy with happiness walking around saturated in beauty.  

Now open your eyes.  

Those colorful people exist. On the outside our beauty has been tainted by judgmental and prejudice stories and beliefs. On the outside we may be brown, black, beige, olive, tan, white – but truly open your eyes and you see that real US. The inside that sparkles bright like rainbow colors. Our true source of our beauty. Do you see that.  

NOW, you can enjoy the beauty of our browns, blacks, beiges, olives, tans and whites. We are colorful people inside and out. Uniquely and equally so. All we have to do is keep our eyes and hearts open. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Do You See Me?

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You read a lot. A LOT. 

I know. 

Put the books down and LIVE you say.  

Write the BOOKS – Don't read them.

You don't know. Reading helps me live. 

See, the last book I read, told me not to sweat the small stuff. 

The book before that, showed me how to think BIG. 

Two weeks ago I was reading this novel and I learned how to tell someone you love them 

AND

then how to murder who I love and get away with it.

Being shy (and sometimes shy still)

Books open me up and help me form words when nothing else would

Stories connect me to people. They have connected me to you. 

What is your favorite book?

Google.com isn't a book

What am I reading now? 

A Shakespeare play. My favorite. King Lear.

Fathers and daughters and bad relationships.

No, King Lear doesn't remind me of my father. 

You say good bye and walk away

I look beyond the pages of my book to see you get further away from me.

What would our novel be about. A girl in love and a guy with no clue. 

Oh my gosh. He looked back!

Did he see me gazing?

Does he see me at all?