Last week’s Image of Interest opened my month’s Image theme of volunteering in our community as a way of making the world a better place. That photo showed kids working in a food pantry. This week it’s a photo from 2011, of the results from a cleanup effort along the Huron River.
It reminds me of the sequence in the movie Spirited Away, when the Stink Spirit comes to the bath house for a much-needed cleansing . . . and of the aftermath left behind.
Water quality matters–just ask Flint, Michigan. Does your calling lead you to aid efforts that promote water conservation and anti-pollution efforts?
IMAGES: Many thanks to The Ann Arbor News, for the Huron River cleanup photo. I am grateful to Ouno Design for the image from the 2001 movie Spirited Away, from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.
There are many reasons why it all came together so well for me, but here are a few highlights from the “Art Part.” Always first and last, for me, there is the ConQuesT Art Show.
Literally first, because I was once again the “shipping address” for the show. A few years ago I was the Art Show Director, and although I’ve now gratefully handed that job over to a talented and responsible young man named Mikah McCullough, his apartment is a tad on the “small side” for a large pile of incoming boxes of art. Thus, on the first day of the convention I haul not only my own artwork, but also all the mailed-in work from all of the wonderful artists who participate from afar.
My “White Clematis” variations available so far.
I’m showing a collection of new multiple-original artworks at sf conventions this year, the “Guardians” series (four separate designs) and the “Clematis Collection,” which so far consists of three Artist’s Proofs of White Clematis Panel with Golden Dragons, (honored with a rosette as Art Director’s Choice at DemiCon 28 earlier this month), and an edition limited to six smaller pieces titled White Clematis with Dragons. A one-of-a-kind original from this collection, featuring purple clematis flowers and titled Gold and Purple, should be ready to debut at SoonerCon 26 in late June.
I also had a new, one-of-a-kind original to debut at ConQuesT 48, Nose for a Rose. Here’s a glimpse, along with a look at my display at the convention. This is all you’ll see of it, however–it was purchased by a collector on its “maiden voyage.”
IMAGES: Most of the photos on this post are mine. Since I’m the Communications Officer of KaCSFFS, I’m the one who put together the ConQuesT 48 banner. It features a logo design by Keri O’Brien and a photo of the lobby of our convention hotel, the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, which provided the photo. All the other photos were taken by me, of my artwork (and other personal effects). The cat is my daughter’s. Her name is Sora and she is Queen of the Universe (just ask her). All of the photos are available for re-posting, as long as you attribute them and provide a link back to this post or to ConQuesT, as appropriate.
I was raised on classical music. When everyone else my age was arguing Beatlesv. Stones, Jan and I were discussing Bernstein v. Ormandy. So, when I reached the fifth grade and my teachers asked if I was interested in joining the band, taking up the clarinet seemed like the obvious thing to do.
I loved it. Learning new skills kept me from getting bored in our rural school, and gave me the chance to learn one of the main themes from my favorite symphony, Tchaikovsky’s 4th. I took group lessons on Saturdays, and later private lessons with my band director after school. And I began to dream. Maybe, some day, I would become a professional musician, and get to play with the New York Philharmonic!
I shared my dream with my band director. He shot it down. “Girls don’t play in professional orchestras,” he told me.
This was 1969, and the women’s movement hadn’t made it to small town Missouri. I was still young enough to believe things would always be the way they were at that moment. My interest in band began to decline. Why should I work all those extra hours, if the boys were the only ones who could make a career of it? By eighth grade, when they told me my final grade depended on getting up very early every morning, all summer long, and marching, I was done. I dropped out of band and switched my allegiance back the theatre, where night owls who can’t tell left from right were more appreciated.
In the decades since, strong, wonderful women with more pioneering spirit than I, have broken the gender barrier in professional orchestras. Blind auditions became the standard, concealing any gender cues and placing the auditioner behind a screen, so all the conductor could evaluate was the musician’s tone, musicality, and playing ability. A whole generation of rigidly sexist artistic directors has died off, and about half the musicians in today’s New York Philharmonic are female.
But the hurt, and outrage I felt back in 1969 lingers.It flares up again every time I hear a teacher shoot down a young person’s dream. And I say, no matter what your creative field, feed the flame.
If someone comes to you with an impossible dream, remind yourself that it may simply not be possible yet.
The child with the shining face, who stands before you alight with the glory of her dream, may be the one who makes it possible, sometime in the future.
Nurture those dreams. We need them. They are the agents of change.
ABOUT GIGI: In addition to being my much-admired sister, Gigi Sherrell Norwood is the Director of Education and Concert Operations for the Dallas Winds (formerly the Dallas Wind Symphony), having used her BFA in Directing, her prodigious writing skills, and her lifelong love of music to become involved with a highly-esteemed professional musical group after all. Widow of the science fiction writer Warren C. Norwood, with whom she sometimes collaborated on projects under his byline, Gigi is also a talented writer herself. She is currently working on several urban fantasy stories set in the historic Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, TX.
NOTE: for a similar post about a young woman’s creativity shot down, you might be interested in my post Death of a Purple Elephant, from 2011.
IMAGES: Many thanks to Lark in the Morning’s “Clarinets” page for the photo of the clarinet. Many thanks to Amazon, for the photo of the vintage NY Philharmonic album cover, featuring the all-male-except-the-harpist photo of the orchestra’s musicians. I am indebted to the Madison.com website for the image of the MSO blind audition. The photo is by Amber Arnold of the State Journal. Many thanks to Bidding for Good, for the photo of a more recent New York Philharmonic, complete with roughly half female musicians. Gigi provided the photo of herself. It is used with her permission.
This has been my week to just miss anniversaries. Earlier this week I missed K9 Veterans Day. This time it’s the anniversary of my subject’s birth: Rosa Bonheur (born Marie-Rosalie Bonheur) was born March 16, 1822.
She was literally born a rule-breaker. Her family, inspired by her father, were Saint-Simonians, followers of a radical-for-that-period socialist political philosophy that held, among other things, that men and women should be considered equals, and all class distinctions should be abolished (of coursethe group soon split, with one faction unable to accept the idea of female equality).
I’m celebrating “Women’s ART History Month” this March, with a new “Image of Interest” post each week that features a small collection of images and a few biographical snippets about some of my favorite women artists.
These women made their mark in what has been for centuries a world that belonged mostly to men. Some are better known than others, but I hope you’ll enjoy the work of all.
Where else could I start, but with Artemesia Gentileschi?
Artemesia Gentilesci’s Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, 1638-39.
Artemesia included a glimpse of old Holofernes’s head and a rather badass-looking sword, when she accessorized Judith and her Maidservant, 1613-14.
Even before the sordid rape episode, her Susanna and the Elders(a masterwork produced when she was 17) makes it clear she already knew all too well what it felt like to be objectified.
Anyone who doesn’t cringe in empathy with poor Susanna in Artemesia’s Susanna and the Elders, 1610,has only ever been on the oglers’ side of the interaction.
A true survey of her artwork reveals, of course, that she panted a far greater range of subjects than the battle of the sexes. Most of her subjects, indeed, were dictated by her patrons, but they still mostly feature rather-more-bold-than-usual women. The art critic Roberto Longhi wrote, “There are about fifty-seven works by Artemisia Gentileschi and 94% (forty-nine works) feature women as protagonists or equal to men.” Here are a few more wonderful pieces, to give you a glimpse of her range.
Artemesia’s The Penitent Magdalene, 1617-20, looks to me as if she might be having second thoughts. The color of her dress, by the way, is sometimes called “Gentileschi Gold.” Artemesia signed the painting on the back of Mary’s chair; as she often did during this period, she chose to use her uncle’s surname, rather than that of her father or her husband.
Did Artemesia play the lute? Maybe. She appears to have a clue about fingering in this Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, 1615-17.
Let’s wrap with another later work, Clio, the Muse of History, 1632. As well she should, Clio appears undaunted by the weight of history (“muse of,” after all). So too, Artemesia’s work has stood up quite well to the test of time.
It means people make crude jokes about it, even while acknowledging “yeah, it’s bad to do that.” The asymmetrical balance of power and the pain inherent in the situation can also result in more “sane” humorous takes–with the emphasis on the pain.
Donald Glover offers humor for a moment when “If I can’t find a way to laugh I might go crazy.”
Normalization places the onus on the victim to avoid the danger: “She shouldn’t have been drinking.” “She was asking for it.” “She shouldn’t dress like that,” or “She wore that short skirt.” The logical extension of “she should have dressed more modestly” is that we end up in a niqab. (Oh, but those eyes–so provocative! Surely she must be asking for it!) My point? You can never win that argument by giving in to the (il)logic.
Modesty, cultural norms, and a long history result in some women feeling much more comfortable when they are as hiddenfrom others’ view as possible.
Another classic line: “She shouldn’t have been walking there.” Is it really acceptable for there to be some parts of one’s own hometown were one feels unsafe? More: is it acceptable for some to feel even more unsafe than others?
Would you be afraid to walk down this alley by yourself? Or would you walk a much-farther distance to avoid it, even if you were in spike heels? Risk-evaluation is an everyday calculation for many of us.
After one of the all-too-frequent mass shootings in recent years, I remember reading a letter to the editor of my local paper. The author, a man, wrote about how terrible he thought it would be if (from fear of terrorists) he were afraid to go certain places or wear certain types of clothing (to avoid making himself a target).
“Ha!” I thought. “Welcome to every woman’s world!”
Both Margaret Atwood and Gavin deBecker have been credited with an observation that could be used as a chilling summation of how things work, in a rape culture. Certainly it echoes Donald Glover’s theme above. They said:
Rape culture: is it really acceptable to live like this?