Tuesday, January 17, 2017

This Arm

This picture looks a little creepy, doesn't it?
That's my lap with a woman's arm resting on it. It's realistic, until you get to the elbow. 

There's a small story about this arm and it's a lovely story to know. It's a story about Pragmatic Acceptance, which is a very good thing but not always easy to obtain. It's a trait of very strong people.

This imposter arm was introduced to me in September. It belongs to an older woman. She's a pretty woman who still retains the charming smile of a younger woman. She was in an automobile accident a few years ago and it cost her an arm. 

Many people would moan and complain. Try to change the reality or refuse to accept it. Or maybe become a perpetual victim. 

But this woman handled it as simply as making a substitution in a recipe. She carried on just as if everything would work out. It might not be as moist and fluffy but, by God, it's still a Fine Cake.

There was a sense of determination. As if she had firmly explained to herself that, "Yes, there would still be cake and it still was up her to mix the batter."

As she told the story of losing her arm, she whipped off the prosthetic and handed it around so the other women could see how real it looked. 

It does look amazingly real. She had ornamented it with rings and jewelry. Of course, it wasn't perfect and it can't replace the original arm. It didn't move and the fingers don't flex. And it was cold. 

The important thing, though, was her attitude. Even missing a favorite appendage that had been taken away abruptly and without warning, she was accepting and grateful for what she DID have.

She was still smiling. I found her amazing and wanted to tell you about it. 


Monday, December 5, 2016

What’s wrong with the art world?

ArtNews recently presented a series on how to fix the art world. 

My response:
Dear ArtNews,
You asked 50 individuals—artists and curators, critics and historians, art dealers and an art fair director—to gather a range of perspectives. As I read the offerings you shared, I was struck by the limits in what I saw.

It was interesting that you asked only people in the art world but one of the largest contributors to the arts is NOT in the art world.
The consumers, clients, and collectors. Overlooking these "outsiders" points to an art world that behaves with a "diversity" that is most true only to the original meaning of the word. The word "diversity" isn’t a word based solely upon race or origin, though many have forgotten. It comes from the Latin word “divertere” and it means to “turn aside.”

In its positive quest for diversity, however, the art world has managed to simply turn aside. The word we really want  to employ is “inclusion.” Right now, the art world is not an inclusive world. It has no real language outside of itself and it speaks to few people outside of its protective walls. It is careful about what sorts of people it lets in those walls. Some people simply are not welcome. In fact, the art world has waged a cultural war on those “types” of people.

To test if this is true, help me to understand where you support Republican artists. Or the artists that voted for Donald J. Trump. I know some of those artists. They are artists who must maintain their silence lest they be demonized and cast aside by the art world. The art world is harsh with those that do not conform. Think about that.

Klaus Biesenbach, affiliated with MoMA, said in your article, “I am looking to the artists I know and the artists I work with to offer different ways of looking at a very challenging national and international political, economic, ecological, and societal situation.” 

I hope he means with a hearty welcome and an open door policy but I fear this is not the case. As for me, I'm tired of watching people be insulted or revolted by art but I'm not sure the practice will cease anytime soon. 

For another example, we talk about women in the arts, yet the rules by which we assess art are based in the patriarchy’s history. It started in 1568 with Giorgio Vasari. He’s the accepted father of art history who first began making distinctions between artists and their work. In his book, Lives of the Most Eminent Italian Painters, Sculptors, & Architects, he listed 160 artists but he gave a passing nod to only 4 women. It was these 160 artists and their eminence that started the standards that brought us to the present day world of art.

Why haven’t the rules of what defines art been expanded to address the way a woman’s mind works? We’ve learned a lot since 1568 and science proves that a female brain is different than a male’s. Physically, men lead with the left hemisphere of the brain, while, typically, women use both sides with reliance on the right side. The left side controls logic, structure, spatial relationships, and objective thinking while the right side is more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. Accordingly, a woman’s art is being asked to fit itself into the narrower box influenced by the classic patriarchy that founded the art world. 

The Great East London Art Audit revealed that an analysis of the 100 highest grossing auctions in 2012 contained zero women. We're not inclusive. 

My conclusion is that a woman’s mind and her creativity are bigger than the scope the art world currently offers. What do we offer them? Let’s remember, 53% of Caucasian women voted for Trump. Are we planning on starting a dialogue with them? 

Right, now, the language of the art world mostly includes only those within the art world. People who study and work within its enclave. 

David Levi Strauss recognized the issue when he said, "The art market became increasingly separated from the actual making of art, to the point where artists and consumers of art are now living in two entirely different realms."

 Where is the welcoming invitation for those who don’t speak our language? We ask a veterinarian, a car mechanic, a lawyer, or a doctor to “give us the news in laymen’s terms” but when will the art world offer them the same in return? Professionals that can and would sponsor art, artists, and their work are rarely spoken to in language sets they can easily comprehend. Naima Keith also touches on this idea when she said, “[Museums] need to do the hard work of determining how they might expand their mission to truly benefit new segments of society that might, in turn, also become patrons—constituents that institutions may historically have overlooked.”

Would an invitation and a sincere welcome be a lowering of the art world’s lofty standards or would it be an expansion of those standards? If we refuse to value a differing mind than our own, how will we expect those minds to value our differences?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Love this shot

Great Blue Heron
The way the light falls and the color of the twilight, this bird almost looks purple.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Creative Quarterly Winner

I was pleased to see my work won and will appear in this edition of Creative Quarterly. http://www.cqjournal.com/gallery#ID#331

Nature's Ballet

Center Botanical

Friday, January 8, 2016

Four Corners Gallery

My original Silver Halide prints are represented by Four Corners Gallery, which is located in Bluffton, South Carolina located near Palmetto Bluff. They will ship world wide.

Palmetto Bluff is a resort and an upscale luxury residential community. In 2014 the Southern Living home was built and featured here. (the home on the right in the below) Most of my Great Egret shots were photographed in the wildlife conservation areas in Palmetto Bluff.

The Conservancy at Palmetto Bluff was founded in 2003 with a mission of protecting the lush maritime forests and winding tidal creeks that defined the spectacular geography of the land that is home to Palmetto Bluff. By maintaining the ecological and environmental integrity of the lands at the confluence of the May, Cooper and New Rivers, they ensure that the natural landscape is almost exactly as it has been for over 400 years.

Friday, September 18, 2015

While on the water

I haven't mentioned the birds lately, have I? I'll do that soon. In the meantime, while I was on the water photographing my birds, these three dolphins started playing.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Campbell Chapel, African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bluffton, South Carolina. A.M.E.

I went alone. I had no idea if I'd be the only white woman there.
But it didn't matter.

I don't often go to church. A wedding or a funeral maybe but, while I believe in God, belonging to a church has never been a big deal.

That didn't matter either. I had to go.

This was the Campbell Chapel of the A.M.E. Church in Bluffton, South Carolina. Clementa Pinckney used to be a pastor here. He was also a State Legislator in my district, although I’d never met him. He was a man of faith. He was a Democrat. He was black. He was 41 years old.

He was murdered with 8 others in a place of sanctuary. A place of hope. A place of love. A sanctuary is a place of safety, protection, shelter, immunity, and asylum. This is an understanding most cultures share across the timelines of history, of races, and of nations. It is a line that isn’t often breached. On June 17th, in Charleston, it was utterly defiled.

Two days later, at noon, the Bluffton church had black and white police officers working security together and directing traffic. Cars were parked everywhere. All kinds. From trucks, to old Junkers, to midrange SUVs, to costly sports cars, and luxury sedans. Income inequality didn’t matter.

The service was getting underway on time, but there were still a few of us in the hall. We filed in after the opening prayer and we lined the walls. Soon, a black man appeared with folding chairs and set them up for us. He smiled. I thanked him and sat. There was a heavyset older, white man dressed casually in shorts and a ball cap next to me. He removed his hat. It was a sign of a respect.

The service was a series of prayers from many pastors from the surrounding churches, both black and white. The prayers were interspersed with hymns and psalms. The Republican state legislator, a white man, spoke. The congregation clapped. The mayor of the town, a white woman spoke. She cried. The congregation clapped harder.

Psalm 121 was one of the Psalms read. Back before religion was banned from school, my 7th grade teacher, a battle-ax known as Mrs. Smith, made the entire class memorize it as part of our graduation ceremony. Or maybe it was Easter. But I knew every word thanks to her. I thought of those days as I recited it. Never in a million years would Mrs. Smith have guessed that I would have brought her with me to this Church on such a day. But I did.

Once, when I was about 7 years old, my father whipped me for playing with a little girl in a pretty, pink dress. Her family had just moved in across the street. She was black. I didn't think I deserved a whipping. I didn't think it was fair. To her or to me. That whipping didn't affect me the way it was intended. My rebellion against injustice started that day. Pink will always remain my favorite color. I never knew her name but I brought her with me to the church, too.

When I was seated, the first prayer made me cry. I had brought an old, embroidered handkerchief of my grandmother's just in case. She was born in Liberty County, near Savannah, Georgia. I brought her to church with me also.

As I tried to get myself mopped up, I thought about my friends, some on Facebook, some in my neighborhood, and some from grade school. Some of them will go to their churches. Some will emote on Facebook and Twitter. Some will ignore it because it's all so damned ugly. Except it shouldn't be ignored.

And there is no great loss without some small silver lining. We must always look for that.

So I went to church and I brought memories, friends, distant voices, hopes, and prayers with me to lay on the alter. Because, people, no matter how you identify yourself:  black, white, male, female, Democrat, Libertarian, Republican, atheist, believer, old, young, rich, or poor, you can't hijack hope. I refuse to allow mine to be taken from me. Those filled with hate or an agenda, you can't program me with your agenda and tell me whom to hate or whom to love. You won’t stop me from standing up and speaking out. You can't send me to fight in a war that exists only in your paltry mind. You will never stop me from standing up for the innocent and I should never be told that I have to agree with them on order to stand up for them. You will never stop me from being strong enough to care for those I don't understand. I refuse to hate people who are guilty of nothing except being different than me. I will not stay away just because honor, respect, and reverence have become unpopular. I will not abandon my friend in order to be true to my own creed for that would indeed falsify my creed. I cannot be made into less of a person over the acts or behavior of someone else.

I went to church to stand up for the innocent and to represent, by proxy, all those voices that share this creed but could not be there. Death, now, has silenced many wise voices. I will lift up my tear-damped face for them. And I will not be silent.

And after all, though I went to church by myself, I was never alone. Neither in place nor in determination. We sang "This little light of mine" and smiles began to appear on faces. See a local report on the service here.

And the silver lining? It surely appeared there in that sanctuary filled with brave hearts.

As the first psalm was read, a black man in the nearby pew turned to me with a Bible in his hands. He had found the right place and handed it to me.

He didn't have to do that. He had every reason to ignore me. He had every reason to pretend I wasn't there.

I looked him in the eye as I thanked him and he smiled. He didn’t have to share that Book but then again, I didn’t have to bother to show up to this church. It was one, small, perfect moment of understanding, largeness, and accords. Strangers in a moment of instant agreement, a black man and a white woman silently agreed…This will not beat us.

And now, I have a question. Will it beat you?

Having read my thoughts and identified with many of them as you read along, will it change how you feel if I were to tell you I’m a Republican? Because if it does, that, right there is the kind of thinking that created this horrible reality.

Never hate anyone like that. Not ever.
We can all choose to be better than that.