Sunday, November 12, 2017

ON GRATITUDE

In the past six years or so, I came to meet a group of people, of White race, that demonstrate difficulties in saying "thank you". I have pondered about this topic since then and wondered if their inability? unwillingness? to say thank you to me when I extend myself to them in kindness, is because I am immigrant (micro-aggression perhaps...?) or because their monetary wealth makes them believe that they are above others, or just because they feel entitled to receive gratitude but not to give it, fostering the illusion of being some sort of king or queen of an unknown kingdom ...

Some of them seem to have a "chip upon their shoulders" or, like we say in Spanish "caminan como oliendo mierda" (walk like smelling shit). These people are the same that are quick to point out if you don't thank them... hmmm....


So I wonder... where and how do they get this kind of "ego disease"?...


Then, there are the others that on top of never expressing gratitude to me (micro-agrression perhaps...?), they never seem to be curious about the other/me, only if the other happens to be a man, a friend of long time, or be white... hmmm.... I am an immigrant from the South of the American continent.

So I also wonder... where their curiosity of the other is?... could it be that they do not know how to inquiry on the life of an immigrant? or simply is related to be so self-absorbed that having to extend themselves to the other is too much trouble?...


I mostly feel pity for them. I wonder on what negative web of life they got caught?...

Contributing negativity to the world in this way... hmm....don't we have enough of it already?...

With the eye of a clinician, I am able to see beyond the appearance of "ego strength", and I read the behavior as a sign of emotional immaturity, insecurity, low self esteem, low self confidence; and with that, entitlement and narcissism unfold too.


But what is gratitude after all?... I read in the online dictionary that gratitude is "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness"


The Positive Psychology Program website opens its article on gratitude with words from USA essayist, lecturer, poet, and leader of the transcendentalist movement of the 19th century Ralph Waldo Emerson:



"Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good think that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude"

The Harvard Medical School defines gratitude this way:
"a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives... As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals -whether to other people, nature, or a higher power"
https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-appreciation/

And this topic of gratitude also is bubbling in the veins of USA lately, specially since the 45th took the Oval Office... The USA negative, ungrateful stand against immigrants does not contribute to make this country "great" or even "America first" but discloses a layer of spiritual ugliness that, in my opinion, does not allow a person or a country to be "first or great". USA, a country built upon the labor of immigrants! must being grateful to immigrants indeed!

Expressing gratitude is not only for the other but for oneself. It comes from the recognition of the goodness in our lives and the impact that others have had upon our lives. "...By this process, we recognize everything and everyone that makes us who we are..."

So... NorthAmerica first?.... Of course! Let's begin by expressing gratitude, daily, to the immigrant for what we contribute to this society, and to express gratitude to those around us daily for their kindness, even when that is only a smile or a Hello!

Your contribution in the way of comment/feedback on this topic will be much appreciated. 
Thank you for reading.






Sunday, October 29, 2017

THE PAINTINGS OF M.F.HUSAIN

The exhibition Indian Modern: The Paintings of M. F. Husain has been in view at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago since July 2017; and it will continue till March 2017. This is the first time these last works of Husain have been on view in the United States.

The exhibition presents eight large triptychs from the Indian's Civilization series, created by Husain. The work was commissioned in 2008 to celebrate the diverse and rich history of India. Husain intended to created 32 triptychs, but he only completed eight at the time of his death in 2011.

 The exhibit's catalogue informs us that M.F.Husain "was Indian's most important 20th century artist as well as an important figure in the development of modern Indian art".
He was caught between being faithful to traditional Indian art and moving into modern art. The use of strong, vibrant, and bold colors are a sign of modernism, and for that he was criticized.

The exhibit it worth to view. It will at the Museum till March 8th, 2018.


Monday, October 23, 2017

CAPTURING THE DEPRESSION ERA IN BLACK & WHITE

Transportation for Hepcats. 1940

Two of Unemployed Migrant Pickers' Children...1940
Look at this photos! This is the work of Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990). She was a NorthAmerican photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. She documented the poverty and deprivation people experienced during those days.

I guess to look at these photos help me to focus on the potential of human existence and the potential to overcome adversity.

In the current toxic and unprecedented social and political environment we live in, it is important to remember how resilient our human spirit is and how strong we, as a whole are, to bring positive change in the face of adversity.

Question to you: what keeps you going these days?....

Monday, October 16, 2017

Star Collision

I read this morning on CNN that two neutron stars "in a nearby galaxy have been observed engaging in a spiral death dance..." According to the video this is an "unprecedented discovery" that will take us into a "new era of astronomy" (http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/16/world/neutron-star-collision-gravitational-waves-light/index.html)




I don't know if I really grasp the idea of a "new era" in the astronomy field, but reading about it and seeing the image of these two stars' collision brought to mind a mandala drawing I made back in the early 90s, that I titled:
"Strong Energies Coming Together"

The similarities between the star collision and my mandala are in that, both are expression of intense, strong energies forming a mandala shape.

We have seen this circular shape (mandala) in art and religion since ancient times to the present. Mandala has been a symbol of wholeness, integration of energies, and meditation.
In Sanskrit, mandala means circle and center. Traditionally, the circle has been a symbol of the cosmos.

So, when reading about this collision of the stars, I do think of two strong energies becoming integrated into one and in doing so, it seems they create a new cosmos.

Isn't that what happens in our own process of growth, development, and self-knowledge?...


Monday, September 25, 2017

BACKSTROKE OF THE WEST

Over the weekend, I went to the Museum of Contemporary art. I've wanted to view Murakami's exhibit, since its opening a month ago, but I did not make it my priority so I did not have any other opportunity to view but this past weekend, as the show came down of Sunday. Well... I waited too long. By the time I got to the MCA register, tickets were sold out for Saturday and Sunday. Really really disappointed! I made a donation of $1 and went in to see what's new.

Almost immediately I encountered Michael Rabowitz's exhibit "Backstroke of the West" (https://mcachicago.org/Exhibitions/2017/Michael-Rakowitz). I read that Rabowitz is a Chicago-based artist and that this is his "...first even museum survey..." who makes work "...that explores recent contested social, political, and cultural histories..." I learned that he grew up with an Iraqi-Jewish mother and a NorthAmerican father.


I entered the large room and immediately I found myself immersed in the land of current conflicts and clash of cultures. The exhibit is vast and delivers what the statement explains in a clear and bold, confronting the viewer with history of our times which all of us are part of.
And he explains that how the exhibit at large "...collectively address how art can be a space of reconstruction...    

With the many paper cache sculptures he revives "destroyed and looted objects"and post the question of how art can heal bleeding wounds.

As an artist and art psychotherapist, I can see how the work exhibited could have been a healing space for the artist. I do question though, viewers participation in the artist's healing space .... I left the exhibit wondering about the impact of the show on the viewers ...

If you are around... this is a show to see over and over ... much to see... a lot to process ...


Sunday, September 17, 2017

BROKEN BORDERS


847.922.5736
I want to invite you to the opening
of this show, where Mirtes (Brazil), Sharon (Canada), and myself (Argentina) will exhibit work based on the topic of displaced population. It opens on Friday October 6th in a new gallery located in Logan Square, in Chicago.

My work is symbolic in that uses shoes, birds, floating paper to challenge the viewer to connect these object metaphorically with the idea of displacement.

The bird indicative of freedom, forces us to question the meaning of freedom for those displaced from their homeland... Where freedom locates in populations
hit by war, poverty, hunger, despair,
fear, anxiety ...?....

The shoes as symbol of movement, walking toward what?... where?... when?... The shoes are almost reminders of dancer shoes ... why?...

And then the papers ... so much talking these days about legality and paper... papers... papers... all floating in warm air. Would it be hope some place?....

Monday, September 11, 2017

WELCOME BLANKET

Few weeks back my friend Virginie told me about the Welcome Blanket project, a participatory project organized by the Smart Museum, Chicago with the goal of distributing the blankets to refugees.

In response to the 45th president of USA regarding the building of a wall at the border with Mexico, Jayna Zweiman, Los Angeles-based designer and artist, "... developed Welcome Blanket to inspire creative and critical responses to current issues around immigration, cultural displacement, and geographic relocation... Representing the distance of the wall in lengths of yarn, participants across the United States will create lap blankets and accompanying notes of welcome for new immigrants as well as for refugees seeking resettlement, a craft based response to the current administration's policies..." The galleries at the Smart Museum serve "as a receiving station where blankets are sorted, and exhibited..." until they are given away.
Over the weekend I dropped my blanket and I also worked for two hours entering the immigration stories and messages people sent with their blankets. Arduous work, tiring on my eyes but very rewarding to read the stories of immigrants from all over the country.

I truly love this kind of participatory communal artistic activism- it speaks of me as an artist and it also reflects my Mennonite background (my parents were Mennonites). Participating in the project was a total enjoyment. Here is my blanket. A 40"x40" crocheted yarn that I called "Mandala Blanket"





I chose strong, bold, vibrant colors (characteristic of my paintings in general) as to represent the vibrant, powerful energy of the Latino culture. If you look closely, you will notice that the entire blanket is made of circular (mandala) shapes- symbol of wholeness, unity, and completeness. I also incorporated triangles shapes symbolizing the body-mind-spirit connection.

The "Welcome Blanket" will feature a series of public programs bringing together artists, activists, and academics to discuss the important issues embedded in this project and "... and explore opportunities for response and action."

You can find a"Welcome Blanket" FB page, and also in Instagram to get updated information.


                                                       

Monday, September 4, 2017

WHAT ABOUT CROCHET?...



In my early teens I took upon crocheting. It brought me certain comfort and mental relaxation. So much that I used to crochet  in class during the long high school lectures that I totally despised such as math!. The result of many years of crocheting squares was a very nice -king sides wool blanket, that I am still using.

But ... really, my crochet enjoyment began at the edge of elementary school, when I decided to work on a series of "escarpines" (bootees) for my  father to sell in my behalf so I could have my own money!

The oil painting "Escarpines" from the series "Memories on Canvas", speaks about that moment in my life, as a slice of time frozen in that little bootee, that held the promise of having my own money to spend.

"Escarpines"-detail. BL 2015 (c)
Since those days, the crochet skill was dormant until this past January 2017, when the 45th took the oval office.

Listening to the news has been a source of extreme distress, some times more and some time less, emotional and intellectual distress. I began wearing earplugs to avoid listening to USA political news, covered my ears with my hands, or left the room where the TV or radio was on. None of it brings a sense of living in a rational/logical/normal space!... (topic for another discussion...)

It was then that I brought out of the closet my crochet needles .... I thought about the knitting my mother used to do every year, with two long needles... She used to knit us sweaters and scarfs mostly. Her image, the sound of the needles hitting each other while she knit, the silence surrounding the space she sat ... all that resonated in my mind as a single musical note... meditative note... focus and concentration.



It was then that the "beanie hat project" began. I embarked in the "beanie hat project" with my dear friends in mind. Each of them were going to receive a beanie hat crocheted by me!.

I began by asking my closest friends about the colors they liked the most, and then slow I began working on it- one beanie hat at the time. I noticed how relaxing my mind became; how comforting it was to have the news in the background but not being taken by them.

Since then, many of my dear friends, based in USA and South America, have received one of crochet beanie hat. And for their pets, there were also crochet treats - small scarf.

This "beanie hat project" is an ongoing project for me. It comes and goes like waves. Out of the blue, in conversation with a friend, I may ask the question "what color do you love?...", and their responses bring a smile to my heart. I know then that, if my heart is smiling, a beanie hat will be on its way to her/him.

But there are other project with crochet that I am involved with now ...


Next time, I will tell you what I am working on right now. For now.
I leave you with some images for you to guess...



Monday, August 28, 2017

BUCKIE & ME

Me & Buckie
For my first birthday of life, my parents gave me Buckie, a hairy dog, a little ball also one year old. His hair was mostly white with some black spots. It was my dog! I could have not received a better gift! My father made a large house for Buckie that was placed on the right side of our house yard. I was totally in love with Buckie. 
He was my dear companion with whom I walked almost naked around the large yard my childhood house had, and with whom I napped  in the dog house when getting tired. When I was sick, and I did not go out to play, Buckie sat outside of the kitchen door waiting for me; and if I did not go out at all, he went to his house and spent the day inside as well. 
At night, he went for long walks with my father. Both of them enjoyed those walks.
There were times when Buckie disappeared for one or two night and then he returned to the house with the tale between his legs and his head down as if apologizing for his "andanzas". My father used to asked him "where have you been "atorrante"?..."

Crossed the street from our house, there was a large piece of land, empty land, filled with tall green grass and small white daisies. Buckie used to go there at least once a day, just to run on the open field and many times to make me company as I used to like to gather those small daisies to bring to my mom as a gift (then I will ended up with my hands and part of my arms full of red small spots that were a allergic reaction to direct contact with those small daisies!). 

When I was 11 years old, we moved to a smaller house and my father told me that Buckie could not come with us. My heart plummeted as I heard the words, and even though Buckie was going to stay with the neighbor next door and "you always can come to visit with him", I knew deep down in me that it was not going to be the case. I was right. After we moved, I never saw Buckie again. I heard on and off that he was doing well in his new dwellings. I was not happy. I missed him very much and I continue missing him. But I found a new way to have Buckie in my life- Buckie has become my angel and spiritual guide , so now,  he is always with me.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Celestial Brushwork






"Transient Effects: The Solar Eclipses and Celestial Landscapes of Howard Russell Butler" is a show at the Princeton University Art Museum- nice video and write up can be found here: http://artmuseum.princeton.edu/transient-effects/painter-sun/eclipse-paintings-howard-russell-butler
The New York Times from Friday August 18th did a nice write up about this exhibit. It is very timely as we are approaching the eclipse of the sun on Monday 21st. Unfortunately I am out of the country so I will be unable to view it. But there is a lot,of talk and excitement about mother's nature performance that, somehow makes me feel disappointed not to be in USA to be part of the celestial party.
The article above mentioned, introduces me to the work of Howard Russell Butler (1856-1934) who, besides being a scientist, he was also a painter. In researching his work I learned that he was a NorthAmerican painter who founded the American Fine Arts Society. He seemed to have been interested in astronomy and painted several nature events as the eclipses.

For more details on the exhibit, go here: http://artmuseum.princeton.edu/art/exhibitions/3044




Monday, August 14, 2017

The 1930s Film Parodies Starring Only Dogs

It seems that the "Barkies" were popular in the early era of sound film. Between 1929 and 1931 a series of experimental series of short films with an all dog cast was produced.
Check this video:

https://youtu.be/K7w25SK0gRU

Atlas Obscura gives a detailed history of how these films came about. Follow this link:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/dogville-comedies-1930s-hollywood-filmmaking?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=eeb0bfdbad-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_10&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-eeb0bfdbad-66410861&ct=t(Newsletter_8_10_2017)&mc_cid=eeb0bfdbad&mc_eid=7c3a5a6b6a