Sunday, October 2, 2011

Killing Justice

I haven't blogged in awhile, partly because I'm lazy and writing is not something I particularly enjoy (yes, I know..why have a blog?) and partly I was just busy with life. However, sometimes I just can't continue on with my life activities and truly be present to enjoy them when there are so many injustices. I need to get it out somehow. My job has been especially taxing on me this year (emotionally and physically), so I have been somewhat emotional lately, but the execution of Troy Davis really got to me. The prison/justice system is not an area in which I work but it is an issue I really care about. Two documentaries really opened my eyes to the injustices and backward thinking of our supposed justice system: Books Not Bars about youth in the juvenile justice system and The Exonerated which follows the work of lawyers at the Innocence Project who work tirelessly to use DNA evidence to finally prove the innocence of people who have been locked up for years, sometimes more than 20 years. I've known that our justice system is far from perfect and have been very interested in restorative justice practices for about 6 years.

"LADIES - IN - WAITING" by Rita Fuchsberg

The execution of Troy Davis really struck a nerve with me...maybe because I was watching the news live and could see all the supporters and people hoping for a stay of execution. The lack of hard, physical evidence and the recantation of most of the eyewitnesses means that there was WAY beyond a reasonable doubt. I started thinking about my own husband or father or sister in his place. They could be sentenced to life or death just by a few people believing they committed a murder!?! That's extremely scary to me, especially because I know how unreliable eyewitness testimony is (The Innocence Project reports that eyewitness testimony is responsible for 75% of wrongful convictions). See video...

The one thing that gives me hope is seeing how many people were protesting the execution and hoping that more people now see how messed up our justice system is. Many people were affected by this execution, not only Troy Davis. Every person that is put to death has family - their kids, husbands/wives are affected, the executioners and prison wardens who participate are affected (executioners have said how haunting it is when someone like Troy Davis is maintaining their innocence to the end), and the victims' family is affected (I can't imagine the family in this case has no doubts). In the end, the execution probably brings more pain to everyone else who is touched by it...I can only imagine the trauma to family and executioners.

"The Anomie" by Misty Morris

One of the best art exhibits I have ever seen was about death row inmates. You could see the jumpsuits, toothbrushes, head covering, and even the catalog that items are ordered from. There were photographs made to look like posters that tested the viewer's biases towards someone in a jumpsuit. There were art works created by death row inmates. And one piece that really struck me was a small TV quietly playing tracks of inmates eating their last meals. On the wall behind, you could see a list of every person executed in the U.S. and what they requested for their last meal. It is a way to identify with the person, allow you to stop and reflect, and remember that they are human too. And we are not God.

"Finalmeal" by Barbara Caveng

"No II" by Peter Wortel

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Flowers In The Winter...

Even guys like receiving bouquets of flowers...especially handmade, paper carnation bouquets! :)

When my husband returned from working on the East coast for 2 months, I greeted him with flowers at the train station. I'm thinking to do a little demo at my next jewelry/art party. In the meantime, you can check out this tutorial at Folding Trees.

"Flowers are the sweetest thing that God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into." - Henry Beecher

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gender Stereotypes Make Me Want to SCREAM!

Ok, I have to vent for a minute. I have heard so many gender stereotypes in the last month I am ready to scream. Here are 5 gender stereotypes that I never want to hear again:

1) Pink is for girls and blue is for boys: Recently, someone was telling me about a time when her little boy was mistaken for a girl. She was flabbergasted at this mistake and wondered why they thought she would dress her little girl up in blue. I will tell you all now - if I ever have a little girl, please don’t bring any pink frilly dresses to the baby shower…you would be wasting your money.

("Self-Portrait" by John Kirby)

2) Boys shouldn’t cry: A couple of nights ago I was at the laundromat, which was overtaken by small children who were running around the machines like it was a race course and randomly hitting other unsuspecting children. When one boy (maybe 3 years?) got hit back in the eye he went to his mom and started crying. She made some comment about how he should have hit him back then (great…don’t even get me started on this subject) and then she told him to stop crying like a “sissy @ss girl.” ☹ The child was obviously offended by this comment and said that he wasn’t a girl, to which the mother replied that he was sure acting like one and “only little girls cry.” I CAN’T STAND THIS.

("Self-Portrait With Cropped Hair" by Frida Kahlo)

3) Females are teachers, librarians, day care providers, nurses, etc. - if they are not staying home with the kids: My 7th graders have definitely learned and internalized the gender-stereotyped jobs, but even my 1st and 2nd graders have too. Many would laugh at the idea of a male nurse or elementary school teacher and I would have to work hard to convince them that women can be mechanics or construction workers. (If you want a children’s book that breaks down these kinds of stereotypes, check out How We Are Smart by W. Nikola-Lisa.)

("The Dinner Party" by Judy Chicago)

4) When it comes to gift-giving, women like jewelry, chocolates, flowers or a romantic dinner and men like beer, whiskey, tickets to a sports game, a day golfing, and a calendar of half-naked women: Puh-lease. My sisters and I sent my dad flowers at work for his birthday and he LOVED them! I gave him a Vivian Green CD for Christmas and he likes that too. I’m about to break this stereotype again in 2 days when my husband comes home. Check back for pictures.

(Artist: Cindy Sherman)

5) Girls should be thin with big boobs and wear tight clothes – and they spend hours at the gym fretting about what they look like. Guys don’t care at all how their bodies look: Females AND males care about what they look like and do feel self-conscious when they don’t match up with the image of what society says we should look like. I heard a conversation the other day (again with 3 year olds) about how boys have short hair and girls have long hair. When we accept such narrow views about what is beautiful (or what males and females should look like) it has detrimental effects on people’s self-image, self-esteem, how they are treated, etc.

("Your Body Is a Battleground" by Barbara Kruger)

So, my question to you ---> Am I alone here? Or what gender stereotypes do you all hate??

Put This On the {Map} is touring around the nation, showing a 34 minutes documentary that reteaches gender and sexuality:

PUT THIS ON THE {MAP} trailer from PUT THIS ON THE MAP on Vimeo.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Your Chicago Weekend...

Hey Chicagoans - We survived the Blizzaster of 2011! WOO! Give yourself a pat on the back and take a shower (I know you have all been just lounging around in PJ's all day!) because it's time to get out of the house and DO SOMETHING. So here is a list of some really cool, artsy things to do this weekend or the next....

1. First, check out this video on PBS about an unknown artist who was recently discovered when her storage space was auctioned off and someone discovered 1000's of pictures that had never even been developed. It is an amazing story...

Watch the full episode. See more Chicago Tonight.

2. Aren't you interested in seeing some of Vivian Maier's photos now? You can check out about 80 of her photos at the Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago until April 3rd. For the address, hours, and other info, click here.

3. After you check out the Vivian Maier exhibit, head over to the Gene Siskel Film Center, also downtown, to see Louder Than a Bomb, a documentary that follows some Chicago-area high school poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in the largest youth poetry slam competition. The documentary will be shown through February 10th, 2011. To see the schedule, click here. Click here to hear some of the youth's poems being performed on WBEZ.

4. Warm up with some coffee or tea and check out the gallery at Three Peas Art Lounge.

5. Get on Pandora Radio, Reverbnation, or Youtube and search for some new music to get you inspired, like Melodic Yoza:

6. If you truly consider yourself a Chicagoan and you have never seen Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, then go NOW. It's creative, different, and you are sure to have a rowdy good time.

7. If you are more in a jazzy or poetry mood or if you have never been to the Green Mill, then you must go this weekend or you will be deleted from my "followers list." JK. But seriously, you need to check out the Green Mill. They have jazz every night and Mark Smith has been hosting the Uptown Poetry Slam for the last 25 years. AMAZING.

8. By Sunday, you should be tired and can relax in bed and watch an artsy movie (maybe I suggest 2 of my favorites?...Frida and Rivers and Tides) and be rested enough to go back to a full work week!

(I got the wall hanging in Pakistan and the bedspread was handmade by my father-in-laws mother)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tips From National Geographic

I was in Washington DC last weekend and managed to see and do quite a bit in just a few days. My husband and I visited the beautiful Saint Mathews Church (said to be one of the most beautiful in the country), took a walk through the outdoor sculpture park on the Mall, stopped by a neat bead store, and fit in a lunch at Ben's Chili, where Obama is a customer! However, I think my favorite outing, was a trip to the National Geographic Museum. It's pretty small and doable if you have 1 or 2 hours, but well worth it! They currently have a collection of some of their favorite unpublished photos of 2010, as well as small hall of presidential photos. If you have ever seen a National Geographic magazine then I'm sure you know that they have amazing photographers - so, even though these photos didn't make it to print, you can be rest assured that they are beautiful, interesting, and thought-provoking. I highly recommend a visit!

My museum visit prompted me to check out National Geographic's website upon my return home (surprisingly, I had never done this before). Well, a "quick look" quickly turned into an hour...and then I stumbled upon their photo tips!!! - Brilliant! Check out this slideshow for a few tips on capturing "moments".... :)

Simply Beautiful Photographs, Tips on Capturing a Moment, Gallery – National Geographic

Here are a few pictures from my trip:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pakistani Art

I just returned from my first trip to Islamabad, Pakistan. It was such a wonderful trip, visiting with my husband's parents and sister, and getting to know them better. I learned a lot through our conversations and outings. One of my favorite things, of course, was seeing all the beautiful arts, crafts, and architecture!! I couldn't help but buy some of beautiful textiles, necklaces, or carvings I saw....just doing my part to help the economy in Pakistan! ;) And now I will do my part to share a LITTLE bit of the beauty of Pakistani art with you, friends!....keep in mind that Pakistan is surrounded by other countries (India, China, Iran, Afghanistan) who have influenced the arts and architecture of the country.

Said Pur Village: This is a very old village in Islamabad, but it is being renovated in order to bring more tourists in.

Faisal Mosque: One of the largest mosques in the world, designed by a Turkish architect.

Carved door at Heritage Museum: There are many wood carvings that you can see in the architecture, as well as in handicrafts, such as the beautiful plates and boxes in the last picture below.

Wooden, painted chairs: These are from a small village in Rawalpindi. The old style of bed, found more in small villages, can also still be seen. The legs are carved and painted colorfully, but the "mattress" is woven like a hammock (similar to the seat of these chairs).

Textiles: This artist is weaving on an old style loom. I learned to do this in college but I don't remember - It's very complicated.

Mosaics and tiles: Many buildings and walls are intricately decorated with colorful, complex mosaic designs. This is just the washing area at Faisal Mosque. I only have a drawing in my journal to show the beautiful walls inside the mosque.

A gift for Dad: A wooden bowl that has been painted and carved.

A gift for Mom: Turquoise earrings, a paper mache bird egg, and a ceramic pitcher from the in-laws.

Carvings, and textiles, and jewelry, oh my! There are just so many beautiful textiles and handicrafts in Pakistan that it is hard to pack lightly!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Progress

I thought I would review my New Years list from last year and see how I did on my goals. I had so many plans but then life happened and I traveled to Kansas City and NYC where my husband was working plays, then I spent the summer relaxing, then work started in September and I became very busy, etc etc. I know, they are excuses. So here is my progress and new goals for 2011!

1. Sign up for a Spanish course
Sad, I did not do this and this is a BIG goal of mine. This goal stays for 2011.
2. Practice Urdu
Uhhh, Ap ka kya hal hai!? Teek hai? yeah, I practiced a little during my 10 days in Pakistan, but this is also a goal that needs to stay.
3. Stretch for at least 10 minutes every day
Nope..this only happened when I went to the gym (so 3-4x/wk). The goal was really to stretch at home, but it is highly unlikely that it will happen in 2011 .
4. Drink more water
Check! (yes, i know I didn't write the goal so it is measurable, but trust me...I am drinking more water!)
5. Eat more greens and less chocolate (I'm anticipating this will be the hardest for me!)
Um, I'm doing the first part for sure! (smile)
6. Sell at least 35 pieces on Etsy in 2010 (I sold 18 necklaces/bracelets in 1009)
I sold about 21...still working!
7. Read at least 25 books (I know this is low number, but still higher than my 12 books this year!)
Sigh. I failed miserably. I didn't even make it halfway. Maybe my goal for 2011 will be to read 15. :/
8. Take (and pass) the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) exam
Nope...I finished the hours but really need to sign up for and take the exam.
9. Meet my parents-in-law
YES!!! - Met this goal twice!!! :)
10. Paint
Yes! Started painting and need to do more!
11. Pay off my grad school loans (this will also be a BIG task but I think we can do it!)
Didn't reach this goal, only because of a special circumstance, but my goal now is to have it paid off by the end of March.

Well, I still have quite a bit to work on for 2011. I might also add a goal of more travel....either to South Africa or to Turkey. hmmm....

What goals do you have?