a blog about poetic creativity*******************all images © Stephanie Reid for HaikuFlash

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Why I rarely socialize December-March

seikô udoku; kakô tôdoku (In summer, cultivate the fields; in winter, cultivate the mind.)

smell, taste, and hear snow

winter’s blood, water’s sleep dance

fragility’s breath

temperature drop

Warm windy sidewalk

Winter suddenly burst through

As I crossed the street

 

Green parrots sitting

Two by two four love birds kiss

Beak to beak on wire

naughty green fairy

hid the way back home from me

how sweet to be lost

Bon Courage

French flag towers

Bon Courage

As shock, grief, and anger worked its way through me over this event I took my time to write out my thoughts and feelings over it before really discussing it publicly.

Friday, November 13th, 2015: Attacks in Paris. Over 300 deaths and injuries, such as possibly debilitating ones like bullets in the legs. Many people, including those who have bad mouthed France, and especially Paris, to me colorize their Facebook pages in the colors of the French flag or the peace symbol with Eiffel Tower graphic in support. I refrain because I don’t want to be misunderstood as simply jumping on the bandwagon or not caring about attacks elsewhere in the world. I hope those who though ill of Paris before have had a change of heart after seeing how well they stuck together. My thoughts below are in my constant defense of the City of Light. Have you seen a sunset there or on a train from Paris to the SE coast? It is indescribably lovely. The pink light on centuries old carved stone, the river, the twinkling tower on the hour, the fairy tale chateaus and hills dotted with sheep. Then there is the food! Don’t get me started. Paris & France are not better than anywhere else, but unique in a marvelous way.

Saturday, November 14th, 2015: I’m not going to hide the fact that I resent people trying to make us feel guilty for our grief over Friday’s attacks in Paris or worse yet acting like the people who were killed had it coming to them because their governments are corrupt. I had seen it mentioned in the news just as I had seen the attacks in the Kenyan university in April and the almost constant attacks in the Middle East. I read all of them and cried but know not what to do, so have to quickly separate myself from it. What would you have us do, stare into the face of terrorism every day? Have it effect our entire life when we have no control over it? I’m not going to apologize for not wanting to be in pain every day. So, if two other people hadn’t brought it up that night in more detail I probably would have moved on with my life and not given it more of my energy, despite the fact that I have been to Paris several times, spent enough time there to feel I know it well, and spent a lot of time practicing speaking French.

However, as details were revealed, on top of feeling like a dear friend has been hurt and a large number of people injured or killed while they were in her arms, I am seeing the effect of this on music. I spend a great deal of time in concert halls and venues. Not only has the entire city been shut down for days, but many musicians have lost their livelihood by having their shows canceled there. If you know nothing about Paris, you should at least know that creativity has thrived there for decades. A vast list of talented people flock to, are accepted, and thrive there…Nina Simone, Salvador Dali, Coco Chanel, Albert Camus, Brassaï, Marcel Duchamp, Josephine Baker, Vincent Van Gogh, Daguerre, The Lumière Brothers, Les Nubians, Birdy Nam Nam…If these names mean nothing to you perhaps this is why you can’t understand how tragic this feels. I am an artist, so it hits me hard.

A man made a song as an emotional response and way to cope with this situation and people are commenting on his Soundcloud page that he is trying to cash in and/or get attention in the wake of this tragedy (despite him not selling the song). Seriously?! If you have no understanding of the need to express yourself artistically, please find an outlet. Art is not a crime and neither is a party or being fabulous. This sound artist was trying to heal himself with his artform and thankfully many responses were positive, including from a 10th arrondisement resident who said it was therapeutic while dealing with the aftermath. Others angrily wanted to know why he didn’t write a song for the people who died in Beirut or Baghdad…

Have you ever been to Paris? Yes, many of us in the west know a great deal more about it than those two cities because we have been there. I have been welcomed there on several occasions and had an amazing time. No, I don’t buy into the, “Everyone is rude in Paris,” line because I have never had anyone be rude to me there. It’s a big city. Just because you spent a lot of money on your vacation to get there, doesn’t mean everyone is going to want to be your best friend once you arrive. If someone bumps into you in the sidewalk because you were standing in the middle of foot traffic looking at your map expecting them to say, “excuse me” is ridiculous (True story). Trust me, if someone in Paris, New York, or Miami wants to get rude with you, it will be blatantly clear.

Like most major cities, Paris is very multicultural, meaning it welcomes people around the world to represent it. Pulling out the, “You’re only upset about this because white people got hurt,” card is extremely insensitive, two-dimensional, and well, I hate to say it, but racist. The musician I wrote about in the previous paragraph is black. I implore people with this sentiment to check the list they have made so far of people who died in that concert hall and soccer arena, then think a little harder before jumping to spread more hatred in this world. Unless one has personally found a remedy to the situation in Syria, or anywhere else there is bloodshed, they are not morally superior to those who feel more personal grief for a place they are familiar with than a place they are not. If someone has a peaceful solution, I wish they would share it with us. I am sure there are millions of people who would join to enact it. Many of us pray for peace in this world and act as consciously as we can to be sensitive to other people’s plights. We wait for our current leaders try to undo the mess the ones before them have made. We wait for them to make the best decisions and when it’s not working, we must wait some more until they try something different. We must voice our opinions and hope they listen to reason. We must keep peace and tolerance on an individual and local level. It has a domino effect. We must find assertive ways to try to change the minds of people who are racist and aggressive.

In the meanwhile, please don’t tell others they shouldn’t be upset or supportive of the people, in a place we feel an affinity for, after vicious bloodshed. How would it feel if my friend’s home and your family’s home were bombed and I told you that people shouldn’t be upset about your home because that would mean they don’t care about my friend’s home being bombed? That doesn’t even make sense! Peaceful people don’t want anyone in the world to suffer and there are many of us out there. I daresay we are the majority, despite what fear mongerers would like to believe and have you do the same. The anti-muslim sentiments need to stop as well. No one wants to feel like an outsider or be harassed because of their upbringing. I can’t believe that on this day someone smeared pages torn from the Koran with feces on the walls of a mosque in a suburb of my city. The interview on the radio was with a Muslim man who is American born and a member of that house of worship. He was beside himself with trying to figure out how to explain this obscenity to his children.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015: Oh and here’s a good one…victim blaming. I read someone post about how the empires have colonized the rest of the world for centuries and now the European colonizers are “getting theirs”. Then as an after thought, a statement of sympathy for the people of Paris and those who died. Pardon me? How is it that any of the people who were harmed responsible for history? Talk about opportunism! Then there are politicians saying they brought it on themselves because they were listening to death metal. Apparently they have never heard of primal scream therapy or had a healthy thrashing about to release anger without hurting anyone.

Here’s the thing that needs to be said over and over, whoever is responsible for these atrocities can not be allowed to make us live in fear or turn against each other. United we stand, divided we fall. This is a fact, not a nationalistic cliché.

Monday, November 23rd, 2015: I think I can finally put this to rest after watching this Parisian man discuss the attacks with his young son in such a brave and kind way. Bon courage mes amis. Je t’aime toujours, peu importe ce que quelqu’un dit ou fait.

https://www.facebook.com/Upworthy/videos/1134197836621073/?fref=nf

87.4° F but Feels like 94 (34.4ºC)

I’m glad it’s not cold, but we wish it would rain already. This heat and humidity is making it like the tropics. Not very autumn-like…

dragonfly bouncing

off hot shiny car rooftop

mirage of water

The Tenuous Fate of National Geographic

Nat Geo

 Since I was a little girl my family always had a subscription to National Geographic. They still do. When I visit I read a few issues from front to back and marvel at the photography in them. I still buy individual issues that peak my interest. There is often an angle or history of a topic, that I have never heard before. This one from May 2015 comes to mind:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/05/building-bees/mann-text

I did notice at one point that began putting more ads in the magazine, which kind of bothered me, but I also understand that their readership probably went down, so they had to compensate. Still some of the ads running seemed counter to their mission. Automobile, oil, and pharmaceutical companies with large budgets now fill the spaces in between articles and their content still maintained its integrity. I still drive a car that uses gasoline. I don’t make the income to afford a hybrid, but still I can’t judge.

However, now the sad news has been revealed that Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, the sensationalist station which thrives on getting people addicted to the rush of getting all up in arms by rumors, twisting of information, and flat out lies, has purchased National Geographic. This only serves to further cement their lack of critical thinking skills and prejudices. Below is a nice little page giving a run down of multiple discrepancies with truth given by that station. Note that this site, Politifact, won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for its work in the 2008 presidential campaign to verify statements reported in the media and sort fact from fiction.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2015/feb/26/fact-checks-behind-daily-shows-50-fox-news-lies/

I didn’t want to believe that Murdoch really bought NG, so I fact checked and read in this article from The Washington Post that among the 180 of 2,000 employees at NG, the NG Channel had several fact checkers laid off. I haven’t owned a TV in ages, so am not familiar with the National Geographic Channel and have heard that some of their programming is “dumbed down fluff”. After perusing their schedule, I question the purpose of their shows like “Cops” inspired “Alaska State Troopers”, and “Border Wars”. I would have to watch some episodes to make an assessment as to whether their stance is classist, racist, and nationalist, but at face value they seem to be. If that is the case, I would not be interested in supporting their channel even if there are still shows, which from their descriptions are clearly educational, such as “Breakthrough” and “Grand Canyon Skywalk”. I wonder which types of shows the dismissed fact checkers were assigned to.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/national-geographic-society-sets-biggest-layoff-in-its-history/2015/11/03/2966e1b4-8252-11e5-a7ca-6ab6ec20f839_story.html

I find it really upsetting that the #1 inspiration for my life as a photographer specializing in art, nature, travel, and photojournalism, has been taken over by people who feed into the fears and neurosis of the populous. That is my goal here today. To make sure that the readership of National Geographic are aware of this story SHOULD they find a strange shift that doesn’t match what they have come to trust in before. I wish strength to the staff who are made it through this transition and hope they are able to keep their positions without too much compromise. Well wishes to the ones who were laid off, too.

It reminds me of the time I turned on KUT, a local station that reports from BBC and NPR to hear a man ranting about Obama, talking about how he planned to disarm the nation so that Islamic extremists could take over America. There were sound bites that were shoddily edited together to “prove” his point. I was seriously bummed out that my station allowed this program to air with them. The same guy was on the next day. Then I realized that after getting my battery changed, my station presets had cancelled out. I was listening to Alex Jones on some station I’d never listened to prior. WHEW! The world hasn’t been overrun entirely by the crackpots, but keep ever vigilant about what is being said between the lines. A healthy amount of skepticism is wise.

A dia de los muertos dedicated to artists who couldn’t take it anymore

Rothko altar piece

For Mary Quite Contrary, a beautiful woman, who during the brief encounters I had with her offered genuine kindness and the artistry of being true to herself. We were born within a week of each other in the same month (not same year though), so I understand the stubbornness everyone said she had about not wanting help or letting anyone know she needed it. Her ashes were scattered in the ocean. At her memorial yesterday, I filled a half shell collected on the shore of the creek at the Enchanted Forest with its water and gave it to her spirit to drink from. I found some potentially lovely rocks to play with there too and this haiku came to me:

Taurean hardness

My colors dull til river

Rain people cleanse me

…We’ve lost another beautiful soul. It’s way too many now who have taken their own life or accidentally OD’d or been in fatal / severe wrecks on drugs and alcohol. It’s possible that what the Tibetans think is true, people are born with a certain amount of breaths alotted to them. Maybe their time was up. Still, to know that people I respected as an acquaintance of my best friends or loved as a person close to me has been suffering so badly in their last breath is heartache. I have been knocked to my knees by the heavy blow of finding out my best friend was killed in his own drunk driving accident. My eyes surrounded by broken blood vessels from crying so hard, so long. I have seen men comatose while awake over the shock of losing their sons. I have experienced even more that I don’t wish on anyone.

If you or someone you know is in anguish, seek professional help. Even for unresolved PTSD or other issues that are not causing suicidal thoughts a good counselor can really assist. If you don’t think your first, or second counselor is guiding you well, find another or seek out other resources within your reach to help you heal. It really is within your power. You have to decide to change the way you’ve been taught to think and act. Often prescriptions are given and believed to be a cure of sorts. Luckily, when I was given them, I was told that they were only meant to be temporary help while I sorted out my head. I stopped taking them many years ago. I definitely recognize there are people that need to stay on them, but many don’t. Too often I have seen them being used as crutches, with no effective work by the psychiatrist or patient to improve mental health. I am very certain many high paying doctors and pharmaceutical companies line each others’ pockets in this way. In this interview with Alt-J musician, Thom Green he says, “drumming found me” vs. “they put me on ritalin”. Listen to the first part of this video to find out how that happened:

https://vimeo.com/109426545

The more you realize you have control over your own life, the less you will feel compelled to control others in codependent or other draining types of relationships. You don’t have to be disabled by your labels: bipolar disorder, ADHD, etc. I love this PSA :

https://www.facebook.com/CCHRInternational/videos/1085977368086270/?pnref=story

Okay, but where to start. The following list contains some things that have helped me in the past when I was severely broken. Keep in mind, healing, forgiveness, and undoing years of damage takes time. Be patient with yourself. It can take years and years to finish pulling invasives from your garden. I’m certainly still trying to work out some things, but am in a much better place that I have been. It’s really hard work, so when you recognize you have made even a little progress, it is something to be pleased with yourself over. Have faith that although the nagging thoughts might return, you will continue to progress, because you want to and love yourself. Keep going when you have the energy, but be sure to make the time, as it is not only important for you, but the rest of us too.

1) Watch “What the Bleep do we Know!?” It’s a narrative wrapped around theories that show if we were raised in a setting (home, school, or social) that was unhealthy, we probably became addicted to our own chemical reactions to harmful emotions and therefore find ourselves looping in scenarios which activate those chemicals. We must consciously reset ourselves to not be constantly seeking a rush…or burn out. It also discusses the studies of Masaru Emoto, who discovered that our words and thoughts can send energy to water and effect it according to their intent. If we are 55-60% water, then those actions will effect us too. There’s a bit more, but these are the most down-to-earth ideas in the film.

2) Dance…even if you think you aren’t that good at it. You can get better at it by practicing and watching others who are graceful or cool at it. They will most likely appreciate your effort and show you some moves. Or just do it at home when your jam comes on the stereo. For me it is the single most expressive way to lose the shame we have been taught to have over our bodies. Get inside the music. If you are self conscious about it because you don’t want people to laugh at you for wiling out, remember those people are probably really insecure. That’s sad. Make friends with the music. It’s my best friend. I didn’t have siblings and I was often home alone, but music kept me company all the time. The person who made it would probably love seeing you dance to it. Some girls in their spiked heels and hindered moves were sniggering about me the other night but I just ignored them and a few minutes later a super styley badass friend of the DJs told me I was the cutest dancer in the club. No, he was not trying to pick me up.

3) There are many excellent books. Here are four amazing ones with poetic wisdom, simple but powerful meditation exercises and rituals to make your own.

Women Who Run With Wolves – I did my own version of her descansos ritual as part of an art film I made last year. It was very effective for me.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Even if you’re not Buddhist, the text is framed to be all inclusive.

Trickster Makes This World – By the advice of my grad school advisor, I have skipped ahead to the chapter titled “Speechless Shame and Shameless Speech”.

Awakened Mind – This book is chock full of meditation sequences on how to control your mind by controlling your brainwave frequencies (beta, alpha, theta, delta). Record the ones you want to do on your device of choice and play it back to lead yourself into the programs.

4) Do something creative. Many people are afraid of failing so don’t start. That’s not a cliché, it’s true. They think it has to be perfect or not worth doing. Don’t fall into that trap. There is plenty of art and music out there that could be improved upon, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile of attention or our time making it. I like process based art. The philosophy is that the experience takes importance over the outcome. You can hone your technique as you go should you want a better outcome, but just PLAYING :) is key.

If you aren’t afraid of failing, but don’t know how to start, pick a medium or instrument and just go. The art will usually take on a life of its own. It wants to be born. Pretend like you’re its great parent, helping it along, but not making all the decisions for it. Have fun!

5) Find people who you feel safe and good around. Find people who you can confide it without overburdening them. If it is really serious or something you are obsessed with, talk with a professional. Here is a potent short featuring Professor Green, a British rapper who lost his father to suicide. It focuses on mental health for men. I love the bumper sticker that reads, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes,” or something to that effect. In honor of the gentlemen who so eloquently spoke theirs yesterday even though they were clearly experiencing inner turmoil over the loss of their love, their daughter, their best friend:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-IQIrAfamE&feature=youtu.be

6) Health. Try to eat healthy food as much as possible. Vitamin D and B. If you aren’t in the sun without sunscreen on a regular basis, you should consider taking supplements or making sure your diet provides it. Also, low Vitamin B levels cause stress and anxiety. Many women don’t know that their birth control pills deplete it from their system. Reduce PMS mood symptoms by adding it back in. Find the types of exercise that you enjoy and go! Listen to your body. If you need a massage or chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture just get them. Your liver can only take so many pills.

Well wishes to you all.

 

Thank you to the Enchanted Forest for opening up to us once again.

Pop Austin International 2015 – Illumination

Fair Market on E. 5th Street in Austin hosted another enjoyable Pop International art fair October 23rd – 25th. Smartly designed to be quite different from their event last year’s, the theme of Illumination featuring a  installation work which utilized wide variety of lighting techniques including neon, video, colored bulbs and LEDs, black lights, fiber optics, and holograms.

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Colour Code triptych

Variations of Hans Kotter’s color changing bar entitled Colour Code

 

Hans Kotter color changing illusion of tunnels in infinite space

Hans Kotter color changing illusion of tunnels in infinite space

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Educator and PsiPlay partner Jerome Morrison uses a Kinect motion sensor to create interactive videos. At Illumination he created a video installation room with several television monitors and headphones for an intimate viewing experience and communion with an entity from the heart and soul of the broadcast universe.

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Adela Andea installation work

Adela Andea installation detail with spinning CD drives

Illumination-11

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Lori Hersberger's Constellation

Lori Hersberger’s Constellation

Constellation-2

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Hologram (Green/Orange) by James Turrell

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Todd Sanders neon Luchadores

Illumination-17

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Nonotak art partners,  Noemi Schipfer and  Takami Nakamoto mesmerizing installation video clip:

https://vimeo.com/143813138

Nonotak (Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto) collaborative video installation work

Nonotak video installation still

Nonotak (Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto) collaborative video installation work

Nonotak (Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto) collaborative video installation work detail

Nonotak video installation still

Nonotak video installation still

 

 

 

 

 

Nonotak video installation still

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Carlo Bernardini fiber optic strand installation

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Other pieces in this section included:

Lili Lakich’s “Soul to Soul: Portrait of Stevie Ray Vaughn” wall sculpture made from cut aluminum in the shape of the guitar hero himself, holding a real guitar, and animated with neon and crackling krypton gas filled tubes, which simulates lightning.

Cut metal symbols, such as the infinity loop, inset with colored light bulbs by Alyssa Taylor Wendt.

Neon and plastics sign by Matthew Lapenta.

Backlit, mixed media acrylic painted panels, reminiscent of a landscape, by Claudia Meyer.

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Evan Voyles "White Noise"

Evan Voyles “White Noise”

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Bale Creek Allen showed cast metal tumbleweeds at the last Pop International show in Austin. This time around he made a row of right-side up and upside-down white neon crosses.

Lisa Schulte hung a massive wall with neon emoji symbols.

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Sharon Keshishian's neon landscape

Sharon Keshishian’s neon landscape

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Jeongmoon Choi's "?" from UV lights and string

Jeongmoon Choi’s “?” from UV lights and string

Illumination-52

 

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