Friday, October 23, 2009

In Pursuit of an IDEA

The other night I
It was a two part segment;
the first was on Cindy Sherman, the second on Paul McCarthy.
I enjoy hearing artists speak about their work, see their studios
and really see where they come from. For example, Cindy made
a book as an adolescent called "The Me, book" where she made a photo album filled with family snapshots and she circled herself in all the pictures. I really appreciated seeing how her work and her process evolved from this interest in self and identity. But, it was the segment about Paul McCarthy that resonated most for me. To begin with, I have come across his work on a couple of occasions in Manhattan, but never really "got it" or cared to make an effort to. What struck me after watching the interview with him is that 1) the more you learn or know about something(someone) your pre-judgements are cast aside and you can really appreciate what is not always easy or accessible. This could be said about anything- or any one. And 2) Paul talked about his interest in the pursuit of an idea. He was not so interested in his audiences response to his work, rather his commitment was to an idea and to see how far he can take it. As an artist, our commitment is to the work, the pursuit of an idea; give it weight and value and then push it to the limits- without regard to how it will be received. By thinking of the end- how will it be received seems to stifle the very flow of the idea.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Peace: Pass it On

I finally acted on a bulletin board I have seen driving down Rte. 41 in Avondale, right near my son's Middle School. It shows Desmond Tutu smiling larger than life (and isn't he?) The slogan with his shining face says "His Moral Compass Points to Equality"
"PEACE... pass it on" I finally went to the website and then sent an email to the Foundation to learn more about them.

Here are a couple of Q & A from their website:

Q: What is The Foundation for a Better Life?

A: The Foundation is a non-profit 501©(3) organization, started in 2000. We are privately funded and non-commercial. Our sole objective is to promote positive values, using print and broadcast media.

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: We want the stories we share about the actions of others to inspire someone to do one thing a little better, and then pass on that inspiration. While a few individuals living values-based lives seems small, collectively they will make the world a better place.

I appreciate the positive, inspiring messages I have come across and I am going to use their site today as I begin my new residency with Germantown High School in Philly. I am working with art teacher Alisha Hagelin and her after school art club. The theme of the mural is to be Peaceful Conflict resolution and I have also reached out to my good friend Lorenn Walker who works a lot with kids and their families in restorative justice. Lorenn has always inspired me by her passion, energy and commitment to helping others resolve their conflicts peacefully. Another person I reached out to was Jeff Clapp of Where Peace Lives. They have done incredible mural projects with kids all over the world.

These different site and resources are giving me much to bring to the first meeting today with Germantown HS Art Club Students when we begin our dialogue of what comes to mind when we think of Peaceful Conflict Resolution.

So here is a shot of Alisha and me from our preliminary planning meeting two weeks ago...
will keep you posted.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kids + Art = Empowerment

Since we moved here just over a year ago, two non profit organizations that empower children through the arts have come to my attention.

This past Friday I spent the afternoon with my new friend Kathy Hrenko, an art therapist by profession, a compassionate and tireless community worker and now the Executive Director of After the Bell - which is a supervised after school program for Kennett Middle School students that offer a wide variety of free after school activities that include art and recreational activities. On Friday, Kathy first took me to meet Barbara DesJardins this incredible visionary of what is possible for children. Barbara, an educator started Peaceworks in 1985. This is taken from their website- a colorful powerhouse of what they do:

PeaceWork provides abused, neglected, and homeless children with the tools to create art within a safe and nurturing environment. Their artistic creations are then beautifully framed and displayed in public venues.

Meeting Barbara was inspiring to begin with, but later Kathy took me an exhibition of work created from one of their workshops. The Spirit Dolls were on display at The Three Little Pigs, a cafe in West Chester, PA. The dolls and info about PeaceWork were beautifully hung throughout the restaurant. Barbara truly lives the Ghandian (?!) quote, "Be the Change You want to see in the World."