Saturday, September 25, 2010

5 Reasons to LOVE Street Art

1. It's often uncommissioned = most interesting/unconventional
2. It's often politically or socially conscious
3. It beautifies public spaces and makes them more interesting
4. You don't have to pay to enjoy it (and many street artists actually have the art school training)
5. It's more available to the public than art in a gallery or museum (anyone can enjoy)
6. p.s. WHY NOT?

Sometimes street art is left alone by the city, or actually protected, as is the famous "Crack is Wack" mural, which I visited in NYC a few months ago. Other times, it is covered up.

Here are some great blogs and sites if you want to see some street art, stencils, stickers, etc. I really love the "Eco" street art!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Turning Hate into LOVE

In my last blog post, I was hoping and praying that people were marking 9/11 with love, instead of harboring hate and anger in their hearts. Holding onto hate is not only unhealthy and dangerous (for the individual and society), but it's also not very useful (usually). Perseverating on that hate/anger just makes one even more angry, stressed, raises blood pressure, etc, not to mention, possibly leading to violence.

However, take a look at these two women, who co-founded Beyond the 11th, after losing their husbands on 9/11 while 7 and 8 months pregnant - they surely had cause to be angry. Yet, they have turned their losses into love and global citizenship, reaching out to Afghani women who have also been widowed by war. Instead of viewing the situation as "us versus them," they saw the interrelatedness of their lives to these women in Afghanistan. These are the kind of actions that will "fight" the "war on terror" and make the world a more peaceful place.

Read or listen to their story here: Beyond the 11th

p.s. They also have a documentary, Beyond Belief, that is available on Netflix!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I Think About on 9/11

Like most people I'm hearing from today, I also remember the events of my day on September 11, 2001. It was a sad, terrible, and scary day and I needed something to make me feel safe and assure me that everything would be alright. I remember putting up the American flag with my dad at his office. On the roof of the complex we saw a green praying mantis and I quickly took it as a good omen. Then, I began to see everyone coming together, people helping each other, caring about each other. It gave me some hope that overshadowed the fear.

However, 9/11 also sparked a lot of hate that was wrongly targeted at regular people and U.S. citizens. I didn't see this at the time in my small, white farming town. However, only 30 minutes away, my husband (whom I hadn't met yet) was becoming the target of hate crimes because of his religion and the color of his skin. Psychologically, I understand that people feel the need to blame something/someone in situations like this - you try to put information and people into boxes to categorize and understand the situation. But fear, ignorance, and hate, as we have seen throughout history, can trigger people to do terrible things.

Today, I feel like that same fear and hate have been exacerbated after years of war, children left motherless or fatherless, inaccurate media coverage, more security in airports, The Patriot Act, and political and community "leaders" that promote hate and segregation, etc. NPR has been reporting on the increased Islamaphobia and hate crimes towards Muslims and I have seen this as well - on NYC streets towards my husband, vandalism to our car, at my work, comments at the end of news articles I read... There is less tolerance, it seems, when what we really need is a cultural center that would bring people together, to learn about each other and care about each other.

Today, when I woke up and realized what day it was and that my husband was currently on the bus and train to work, I cried. Many people are marking this day with sadness and remembrances, but many are also marking it with hate. Today I am marking with love and I hope that people realize that these tragedies and events affect everyone, whether it's directly or indirectly. This morning I cried, praying that everyone who sees my husband today - on the bus, the train, the streets of Chicago - will be marking the day with love and acceptance, so that my jaanu comes home safely.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Homeless Art Museum

I can't believe I forgot to share this! It was one of the most interesting experiences I had in New York and one of the best "exhibits" I have seen in awhile (and I did go to the MOMA while I was in NYC). I was touring the Skyline with a friend in NYC and when we came down from the elevated park we found this man sitting at a table, claiming to be the Museum Director of the Homeless Museum of Art (a homeless museum).
He claimed that the stuffed coyote next to him as the Director of Public Relations and was his listener and she was telling him things. He asked about my friend and I, and when he found out that we were social workers he asked if we were just analyzing him and if our radar was going off, saying "cuckoo!" I have to admit though, we did discuss after we walked away whether (1) he did have some kind of disorder; or (2) if he was doing some kind of social experiment; or (3) he was just an eccentric artist. He was clearly an artist and gave us free entrance tickets into the museum (as shown in the picture) and told us that the ticket was good everywhere we went that day and was good until midnight - we would be in the museum for the entire day. LOVE it! Needless to say, I looked him up when I got home and the artist (Filip Noterdaeme), and ideas are fascinating! Check it out: Homeless Museum of Art.