About Me

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Writing, learn-ing, jewelry, deconstructing t-shirts and reality - it's what I do. I live to be inspired, and to inspire.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sacred locks

Stand naked – no clothing, no shoes, no jewelry, no makeup, no tattoos even - naked as the day you were born. With none of these tools, these media of self-expression, you’re still wearing something. You still have one way to be your creative, expressive self – your hair. It is part of our bodies yet we manipulate it, change it, cut it off, twist, plait and weave it in all sorts of ways. Hair is our truest most basic form of self-expression and body-art. Without adding external adornment we have our built in play dough right atop our heads. It is probably for this reason throughout history hair and how it is worn has been given social, spiritual and psychological significance.

From the thin red locks of the Massai warrior to the shaved heads of Buddhist monks to the long flowing tresses of Hollywood starlets hair tells people who you are and is part of your image. And just like one’s image, it can change. It is said when a woman cuts her hair off it is a sign she’s making some major changes in her life, and to nosy inquirers she answers “it will grow back.” Sometimes we do need to cut off the baggage of our old image and start anew. Our lives, our image of ourselves, may become but a stub of what it used to be – but it will grow back. The style may not be the same but it will still be your crowning glory, your sacred, locks, and the new you will be just fine.

Picture: Portrait of Massai (1979) by Paul Collins, courtesy the James E. Lewis Museum of Art, Morgan State University.

(Photo by Kelene Blake)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blurring reality with art

A friend of mine bought this fascinating painting by Brazilian artist Lena Hali in a Sunday Market in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The painting is of a Native American woman. I am no sophisticated art critic and cannot tell you about the use of shadow or hue. What I can tell you is that this painting moved me considerably. My eyes landed on it and it stirred my soul, swirling it, mixing my emotions so that I didn’t know how I felt because I was feeling everything at once. The painting is beautiful and its beauty gave me joy. The woman’s face drew me in. I saw humility and a hint of sadness in her face that made me want to reach out to her. I connected with her as if she were there in the room with me, in the flesh.

That’s what art is about. We gloss over reality as we move through our lives, but art has the power to make us live and feel not only what is placed before is on canvas (or in stone or paper, glass, whatever the medium) but it brings us to a point where the line between our reality and the art before us becomes blurred. In the words of Doctorow, “good writing [and I think all good art] is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader; not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” I’ve encountered art from time to time that makes me feel like the art and my reality are somehow related, blurred together such that there is no clear distinction. I really “feel” it. Lena Hali achieved that with this piece. There’s no saying when you’re going to be moved and by what, but for me, now this painting brings the rain. I am right there with the woman in the painting each time I look at it, I become her and the lines are blurred. When art can blur the lines of reality, that is when it is truly “good.”

(Photo by Kelene Blake)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Karate kid, kung-fu and beauty

I saw the latest Karate Kid movie with Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith and Taraji P. Henson. It was quite a fun and inspiring re-do of a classic. I won’t call it a remake because it did not pretend to be the original movie, but it stayed true to the original themes. Being deeply interested in both physical activity and art I thoroughly enjoyed the awesome fighting, the kung-fu insights as well as the beauty and artistic subtleties of the film. When I think about it, physical activity and art are not necessarily separate realms. Grace and creativity of movement can be seen everywhere from dance to kung-fu, gymnastics to football (aka soccer).

There was certainly no lack of creative movement in Karate Kid. The choreography of the training scenes with the bamboo posts, the “wow” moves of the fight scenes, the awe-inspiring physical control of the kung-fu masters or the breathtaking unity of hundreds of students practicing a kata were all well presented. The raw beauty of China as well as the juxtaposition of the traditional and the modern, the east and the west, were elements well displayed in this film. I particularly loved the contrast of the delicately patterned traditional walls of Mr. Han’s home and the old beaten up car in his living room. The infusion of humor was also nicely achieved throughout the story. One subtle joke (intentional or not) that you should keep a keen eye out for is on Mrs. Parker’s t-shirt which says “Beware of naked Emperors.”

I am no movie critic and I have no desire to get into the nitty gritty of the film. All I do is appreciate beauty and I saw plenty of it in Karate Kid. As for how good it is – well I loved it and would definitely tell my friends to go see it. Take from that what you will young grasshopper.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stringing the moments the hard way

I tend to do things the hard way; I also tend to do things well (just go along with it). I think the reason I do things well is that I do them my own way and don’t take shortcuts. As previously mentioned, “my own way” tends to be the hard way. Take my beading method for example. As a teenager I developed my own method of weaving beads. I had no one to teach me and had to figure out for myself how to achieve certain effects. The result was my own unconventional beading method involving stringing each bead one-by-one. Yes. That’s right. I painstakingly strung each bead on that Diamondback Necklace in the picture one… by… one. That would be the hard way. The result: an intricately beaded necklace, one of a kind, that reflects just how beautiful doing things “the hard way” can be.

That may be an interesting way to live a life: each moment, a bead consciously picked and strung. Imagine if at the end you get to take a look at the pattern you created by the way you strung your moments. Wouldn’t that be something? I want my moment-beaded life-necklace to be dotted with many colorful moments. At 27 I still have a lot of living I want to do and many more moments to string. Perhaps if I live consciously I can string an elegant and colorful pattern. I imagine living consciously each moment would be “the hard way” to live since so much of what we do is intended to distract our consciousness from the harsh realities of life. But at the end if I get the chance to view my pattern I can have that joy that comes with knowing I’ve just completed an amazing work of art.

(Photo by Kelene Blake)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The bittersweet scent of art

Sitting next to my bed are two dying roses. At beauty’s end they release a scent stronger than anything they ever deigned while they lived. It is the scent of roses with a pungent hint of death. I love the smell. It is the smell of struggle, of pain, the last exultation of a life now ended. It is fitting that a final moment all energy and consciousness is used in that ultimate push to release all that is good in us into the world before we leave it. In that moment of struggle we release our sweetest scent.

It is in our struggle that our art has the greatest value, and it is our art that makes the struggle worthwhile. I can say without a doubt that poetry helped me survive adolescence. I came through that turbulent time – probably not quite sane but at least able to feign sanity well enough to get by – because I found a way to rip the turbulence from my being and entrap it on paper where it was far more manageable. Even now the release of my creativity as a poem, short story, item of jewelry or strategically chopped up article of clothing embodies the turbulence of the intense struggle that is my life right now. My creativity is my last ditch effort to release into the world all that is good in me even as my spirit complains there is no good left; I preserve my life in my art even as my life crumbles around me. But from the ruins rises a new era, from the ashes a phoenix, and from a dying flower the bittersweet scent of art.

(Photo by Kelene Blake)