Real art versus copy

I really like Nick Bantock’s art in the “Griffin and Sabine” series. Something I like about it is it seems so dreamy and ethereal. He uses bits of photographs and stamps and other ephemera in order to create his art. There is acrylic paint, certainly, and tissue paper as well. But the most important part to me is that he uses objects.

I read his book on how to create his style of art and he says to make color photocopies of everything you use. I felt cheated when I read that. I thought that everything he was using in his artwork was real. It gave it all a magical, totemic quality. Now, not so much. Sure, it is beautiful, but it isn’t the same.

I’ve been making collage art, inspired by him and others, and I’m torn as to whether to use copies or originals. I can see the points for both sides.

It might be easier to not use the real thing because then there’s not so much pressure. If I make a mistake with the real thing, I’m in trouble. There is no going back like with beads or with digital manipulation. Paint is permanent, and so are scissors. One wrong blob or cut and I’ll have to figure out a way around it or scrap the whole thing.

I could certainly play around with the fake version first before I get it figured out. Then I could make the final version with the real stuff. But I don’t really have time to make multiple versions of the same things, and I know from all my other forays into creating art that whatever I think it is going to be, it never is. So even if I get it “perfect” with the copied bits, it will look different when I use the real bits.

Plus, half of the reason I create is the discovery. It is nice to get what I see in my head, but it is also nice to be surprised when something works out better than I planned.

Well, I’ll be honest. It wasn’t nice at first. But I’ve learned to like it. At first I was pretty upset that what I was aiming for just wouldn’t materialize. I mean I had all the pieces – how come they won’t go together like I think they should? But they never do. And sometimes what results is far more interesting. Sometimes it isn’t, but then I just don’t tell people what I was aiming for. I act like I meant it to look like that. Even if it does look like what I was planning for, they don’t care anyway.

Using the real thing could certainly be really scary and it might make me not even start working on the piece at all. Sometimes when creating art you have to think about what will make the art happen. Sometimes having limits helps, and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes having limits on what tools or techniques you can use will actually make you more creative. Sometimes it might stop you before you even begin.

For now, I’m using the real thing, but doing it carefully. I’ll try out something with a real piece (like a stamp, or a foreign bank note, or a fortune from a cookie) but maybe it isn’t “the” piece. I’m learning how that kind of paper works with the glue and the paint I’m using. Then I can use that knowledge for when I make a “real” piece. I’m not making the same work of art, I’m just not making ones with the same focus.

I can see another advantage to using copies – the paper is always the same. So there is no adjustment to be made for different textures or absorption rates. If the materials are all the same, it frees you up to work on composition and style.

But I still feel like that is cheating the audience. I like the idea that what they are looking at can’t be replicated. If there are copies of the ephemera being used, then another copy of the artwork can be made. Sure, it won’t look the same – that is part of the nature of art in general and painting in specific, but it will be close. Part of what I like about creating artwork is that each piece is special and unique.

And a painting that has real things in it has an energy to it, like a shaman’s necklace. Each item has a story, a background, a history. Each piece adds to the song. They aren’t just images, but the actual thing. A picture of a shell isn’t the same as a shell itself. And just any old shell isn’t the same as a special one – say the one you found on your anniversary trip. It is that kind of energy that I’m talking about. You just can’t get that from a copy.

These are some examples of what I’m making.
collage2

collage1

side view –
collage3

Illustrated books – or Comics aren’t just for kids.

Here’s a short list of some illustrated books that I’ve enjoyed, that you might too. Many of them explain or discuss something very deep in a very good way.

The arrival Tan, Shaun.

What it is like to be a foreigner. This deeply moving, beautiful book tells a story without words, illustrating how hard it is to fit in if you don’t speak the language. This applies even to those situations where people do speak the language, but just don’t fit in.

How to understand Israel in 60 days or less Glidden, Sarah.

Follows a young Jewish woman who goes to Israel on her birthright trip. She thinks about the problems in Israel from many sides, and like in reality, comes to no resolution.

Marbles : mania, depression, Michelangelo, & me : a graphic memoir Forney, Ellen.

Mental health from the side of a mental health consumer. Raw and honest.

Harvey : how I became invisible Bouchard, Hervé, 1963-

A young boy experiences the grief of his father’s death.

Kampung boy: Lat.

A story about a young Islamic Malaysian boy as he grows up in a village.

Star Wars : Tag & Bink were here Rubio, Kevin.

This one is just funny. It is about two storm troopers who always seem to be in the wrong place at the right time.

When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put by Vivian Swift
ISBN-13: 978-1596914612

Gorgeous watercolor illustrations of a year in a small town. A feast for the soul.

The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman ISBN-13: 978-0143116462

An illustrated journal of sorts by one of my favorite minimalist artists. Beautiful and sad and wonderful.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll 978-1-4424-65954

Young-adult graphic novel featuring 5 short illustrated stories – all a little odd and creepy, but in a good way.

Saga – -series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Cosmos-spanning adventure mixing cultures and races.

Circle reading list

Interested in the Circle process for conflict resolution? Here’s a list of books that are helpful.

Calling the Circle: The First and Future Culture. Christine Baldwin.

The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair. Christine Baldwin & Ann Linnea.

Doing Democracy with Circles: Engaging Communities in Public Planning. Jennifer Ball, Wayne Caldwell & Kay Pranis.

The Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and the World. Jean Shinoda Bolen.

Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth: Bringing Justice Home. Carolyn Boyes-Watson.

Heart of Hope: A Guide for Using Peacemaking Circles to Develop Emotional Literacy, Promote Healing & Build Healthy Relationships. Carolyn Boyes-Watson & Kay Pranis.

Wisdom Circle: A Guide to Self-Discovery and Community Building in Small Groups. Charles Garfield, Cindy Spring & Sedonia Cahill.

The Little Book of Circle Processes. Kay Pranis.

Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community. Kay Pranis, Barry Stuart & Mark Wedge.

Circle in the Square: Building Community and Repairing Harm in School. Nancy Riestenberg.

Building a Home for the Heart: Using Metaphors in Value-Centered Circles. Patricia Thalhuber, B.V.M. & Susan Thompson

The Way of the Council. Jack Zimmerman, in collaboration with Virginia Coyle.

List gotten with permission from Tracy Roberts at http://www.TheCircleCenter.com

Bird shot dating

A lot of guys seem to look for women the same way they go hunting. They shoot with bird shot. They aim for women just because they’re women. They don’t set their sights on a specific woman. They aim for them just because they are women. There is no aiming for a specific person at all.

All women want to be wanted for themselves, as people, and not just because they have the right plumbing.

I have thought about sharing ideas for men to know how to talk to women. But then I thought I might be doing a disservice. I thought I might be making it easier for the creepy people to not seem creepy. This would then make it harder for women to avoid the creepy people.

Putting a façade on a falling down house doesn’t fix the problem. In the same way, teaching creepy men how to interact with women might be a problem. It might make it easier for creepy men to get involved with women. But perhaps the reason they are creepy is because they don’t know how to interact with women as people. Perhaps the reason they are creepy is because they don’t know how to interact with humans at all.

Perhaps by giving them some tips it might make it easier for them and for everyone else. I’m working on this. It is hard, because I’m not a guy. So I’m not sure what kind of advice they need. It is kind of like reverse-engineering a problem, or translating into a language that is not my own. But I know what creeps me out, so perhaps it is worth a try.

Anything has to be better than nothing, right? We have too many guys who feel frustrated that they don’t know how to interact with women.

First, they have to stop thinking of them as women and start thinking of them as people.

I’ll be working on this. Feel free to offer ideas.

Cherry picking

Every now and then some stranger will disagree with one of my religious posts by saying that I’m “cherry picking” the Bible. Of course I cherry pick. The whole tree is too hard to digest. That is the silliest thing to accuse somebody of.

Perhaps I should just say what I’m going to say and not reference chapter and verse at all. Perhaps I should stop citing any references and just assume that everybody has read what I am referring to.

Jesus did that. He just said what he was going to say and assumed that his audience had read the whole Bible for themselves. He assumed that they could follow along with his logic and know that what he was saying was true.

When people accuse me of cherry picking they’re saying that I’m picking and choosing what I’m using to cite. Of course I am. Everybody does that. That is part of writing. Perhaps they want me to use an argumentative structure? Perhaps they think it would be best if I quoted all sides of the debate? That would draw away from my argument. No writer would do that.

Well, I’ll do it if Jesus’ words disagree with what I’m saying. Paul’s words don’t count. He isn’t the Messiah, and his words aren’t counted as the Gospels. Too many people think they are, but they are the ones accusing me of “cherry picking”.

How about this? I’m going to write what I write and quote what I quote and if “they” get it, then great. If “they” don’t, that is their problem. Jesus’ message wasn’t accepted by everybody either, so I’m in good company.

Women as appliances – the source of gender violence

I was walking outside at lunch last week, and a guy drove by in a car and yelled at me. It took me a bit to process it. I couldn’t believe that someone was yelling at me. What he yelled was “Your skirt is too f—–g long, b—h!”

Except he filled in the blanks. He threw his words, like trash, out of the car, and at me.

I was shocked. I felt attacked. And I was confused. My skirt is too long? That is a problem? Oh, so I should hem up all of my skirts so they show off my legs so he can see them. I get it.

Like that kind of person deserves to see any part of me.

I’m married, after all. I’m not on the market. But even before I was married I dressed modestly. It just isn’t other people’s right to treat me as an object, a thing, a body. I am a person first. By hiding my body I make people look at me instead of my body.

I’ve written quite a bit about how men objectify women who wear clothing that is revealing. I’ve written that women should think about what they wear so that they do not get unwanted attention.

But now I’m rethinking that. I was wearing an ankle-length skirt, and I got unwanted attention.

And then I remember that at work, wearing very modest clothing, I get unwanted attention. Guys hit on me and they know nothing about me. They don’t know my name other than what is on my nametag. They don’t notice that I wear a wedding band. They don’t know what I read or what my hobbies are. They know nothing about me other than I am female and they are male. They think that should be enough to ask me out.

Perhaps I’ve been going at this wrong all along. Perhaps the boy who killed women simply because (other) women wouldn’t date him is part of this problem. Perhaps all gender violence and miscommunication stems from this same root.

Some guys don’t know that women are people and not objects.

Some guys don’t know that they need to make friends with women first – and as real friends, not just as an attempt to get to date them. And by “date”, I don’t mean “have sex with”. A lot of guys get that confused.

Yes, we women have been sold the idea that our looks are more important than anything. We’ve been sexualized and objectified by the media. We’ve been sold this idea that we have to have a man if we are to be anything. But men have been sold the same message along with us. It isn’t just women who have been short-changed by this message. It is men who are missing out on knowing women as individuals, as people.

For many men, women are a means to an end. Women are girlfriends and then wives and then the mothers of their children and homemakers. Women are yet another thing they have to have in their lives.

They are appliances.

They are washing machines and stoves.

You have to have a washing machine to get your clothes clean. Sure, you could wash your clothes in the sink and hang them to dry. Or you could take them to the Laundromat if you don’t have a washing machine in your house. Or you could take them to the dry-cleaners if you don’t know how to use a washing machine.

Or you could get married and let your wife do it.

The same with food. Everybody needs to eat. You can cook for yourself, or you can eat out. When you eat out, you can eat fast food or you can eat at a fancy restaurant.

Or you can get married and let your wife do it.

Men have been short-changed by our society. We have told them that women are the ones who cook and clean. Women are the ones who hold the keys to these basic needs. So they have to have a woman to fulfill these basic needs.

Sex is extra.

You have to have clean clothes and you have to eat.

If we teach men how to take care of themselves, then women won’t be a means to an end.

It is all making sense now.

If a man cannot take care of himself – cannot clean his clothes, clean his house, feed himself – he will have to have someone else do this for him. This is embarrassing, and it is a slight against his manhood. Sometimes that someone else is a stranger – the dry cleaners, the fast food worker. The prostitute.

Sometimes that someone else is his wife.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to give control back to people. It is essential to teach people how to help themselves. It is vital for their souls. We must, as a society, start teaching all people how to do all the things that they need to take care of themselves. We have to cross-train everybody.

Men must learn how to cook and clean. Women must learn how to repair cars, plumbing, electricity. We both must learn each other’s tasks, and our own. No more gender division. No more “women’s work” and “men’s work”.

For our own sanity, survival, and strength, we must do this. If we all can stand on our own, imagine how much stronger we will be together? People will marry out of strength instead of weakness.

And men won’t “have” to have a woman. They won’t see women as objects but as people. They won’t see women as appliances – washers, dryers, stoves. They will be able to take care of their own human needs, so they won’t feel the sense of empty desperation that comes from feeling helpless.

Give credit where credit is due.

Why did Moses not get to enter the Promised Land? Because he didn’t give credit to the Lord. When I first read this passage I didn’t understand why the Lord got upset and pulled away Moses’ right to lead everybody out of the desert. Moses died in the desert, within sight of the end of the journey. It seemed capricious and unfair. But then I heard a talk about it and I understood. Let’s try to work it out here.

Numbers 20:1-13

1And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. 2 Now there was no water for the congregation; and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 And the people contended with Moses, and said, “Would that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! 4 Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink.” 6 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, 7 and the LORD said to Moses, 8 “Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water; so you shall bring water out of the rock for them; so you shall give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” 9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his rod twice; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle. 12 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” 13 These are the waters of Mer′ibah, where the people of Israel contended with the LORD, and he showed himself holy among them. (RSV)

Did you see it?

The Lord commanded Moses to
8 “Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water; so you shall bring water out of the rock for them; so you shall give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” (RSV)

He was supposed to take the rod, assemble everybody together with Aaron, and tell to the rock in front of them to yield water.

What did he do instead?

9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his rod twice; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle. (RSV)

He took the rod. Check.
He and Aaron got everybody together. Check.
The rest? Fail.

He said “Shall we bring forth water for you…” We – like it is his doing, not the Lord’s. And then he struck the rock with his rod. God didn’t say to do that. He said to tell the rock to yield its water.

The way Moses did it, it looks like Moses has the power. Moses was great, but he wasn’t God. He was just a vehicle for God’s power.

Not only did he not do it the way God said to do it, he did it in such a way that makes it look like he is God.

And because of that he never left the desert. So close, and yet so far.

We have to remember this. Moses has many things to teach us about standing up to God. There were many times that God wanted to wipe out the entire family of Israel because they were not being thankful. Moses intervened. That alone is a big deal – nobody stands up to God.

But nobody stands in the place of God either.

For Moses to make it look like he was the one bringing forth water instead of God was not allowable.

I’m sure it was an accident. I’m sure he got excited in the situation. He was probably frustrated too. This wasn’t the first time that he had to deal with whiny people. But he did it wrong, and he had to pay for it. He wasn’t struck down, like many others have been in this story, but he wasn’t freed either.

This is an important lesson for us.