Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: cultural diversity

The Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery Alabama creates a much-needed space to think about and remember a profoundly formative period in U.S. history, a period whose echoes remain strong today. The emotional power of a memorial is hard to quantify, but it fills an essential human need. Photo by Audra Melton/New York Times/Redux.

Remembering matters

All Souls Day, because remembering matters

The words "All Souls Day" and "Los Días de los Muertos" float above a fabric pattern of dog "muertos," skeletons of dogs in the style of Mexican Day of the Dead skeletons.

Yesterday’s post questioned who “the saints” in All Saints Day are. And we found the answer varies.  Today, however, the festival is “for the rest of us.” This is because, no matter who we are or who we love, remembering matters.

Some traditions roll All Souls up with All Saints. Some particularly focus on the “innocent souls” of deceased babies or (a more recent take, which informed my choice of a background design for the header) animals.

Many Christian traditions see All Souls as the day to commemorate the “Faithful Departed.” In other practices, and in non-Christian traditions, we generally commemorate ancestors, departed friends and honored family members whom we personally remember during this season. In other words, All Souls is for “the rest of us.

Rontisha Brown holds a memorial candle and wears a memorial t-shirt for her brother Rahkeem at a New Year's memorial vigil for murder victims in Liberty City, FL in 2019. Photo by Maria Alejandra Cardona.
Rontisha Brown holds a memorial candle and wears a memorial t-shirt for her brother Rahkeem at a New Year’s memorial vigil for murder victims in Liberty City, FL in 2019. Photo by Maria Alejandra Cardona.

How do we commemorate a deceased person?

One way is with an album or display of photos or videos, or small items the person used or liked. I’ve seen many commemorative albums or slideshows at funerals or memorial services that would be equally appropriate for today

One of my most enduringly popular blog posts described the idea of creating a virtual ofrenda, patterned on the memorial displays set up for the Day(s) of the Dead ceremonies.

Some families create a memorial wall inside their home, where photos of deceased relatives or friends are displayed. There’s also a brisk trade done in memorial items, such as statues, candles, jewelry, Christmas tree ornaments, or other items. 

Some people create memorial T-shirts, especially the families of those who have died by violence. I’ve seen memorial statements placed on cars, too. Another way is to create a landmark. You could plant a tree or donate a memorial bench or other feature to a public area. Many create memorial websites.

Archaeologists excavated the bones of two women, along with shells, necklaces, and antlers, in a Middle Stone-Age grave in Téviec, Brittany.
Archaeologists excavated the bones of two women, along with shells, necklaces, and antlers, in a Middle Stone-Age grave in Téviec, Brittany.

Why create a memorial?

The need to create memorials for deceased family or group members is one of the oldest human impulses we know about. And that’s precisely because archaeological excavations of ancient graves imply so many memorial practices. The contents of ceremonial burials, have yielded many clues about early cultures. 

Throughout time, humans have had to grapple with the reality of death, since eventually it comes to us all. We deal with grief and loss in part by creating memorials. The creative and restorative process of a healthy grieving cycle is a painful, essential reality of our existence

The memorials may be different. The lengths and intensities of grief may vary. But the basic human need remains the same. It is embedded in the idea that to be forgotten is to truly be annihilated

Whether it be collective memory or individual memory, remembering matters. This is why we have funerals, create grave markers, hold vigils, and create public spaces such as the Holocaust Museum or The National Memorial for Peace and Justice

No matter how we remember, and no matter who . . . very simply, remembering matters.

The Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery Alabama creates a much-needed space to think about and remember a profoundly formative period in U.S. history, a period whose echoes remain strong today. The emotional power of a memorial is hard to quantify, but it fills an essential human need. Photo by Audra Melton/New York Times/Redux
The Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery Alabama creates a much-needed space to think about and remember a profoundly formative period in U.S. history, a period whose echoes remain strong today. The emotional power of a memorial is hard to quantify, but it fills an essential human need. Photo by Audra Melton/New York Times/Redux.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Fabric.com’s “Timeless Treasures Day of the Dead” fabric design collection, which I used for the background of my header image for today. This one is called “Pups Black.” Many thanks to PressFrom and Maria Alejandra Cardona for the photo of Rontisha Brown memorializing her murdered brother Rahkeem Brown. The image of the ancient burial is courtesy of Red Ice. The Audra Melton photo from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is from The New Yorker. I deeply appreciate you all!

Reading outside the Western World

How “worldly” is your reading?

This post started as a panel at Westercon 71/ Myths and Legends Con 6. It was presented on Saturday, July 7, 2018, by panelists Olivia WylieStant Litore, and Amalie Howard.

From L-R: Amalie HowardStant Litore, and Olivia Wylie at their Saturday Westercon/MALCon panel.

They discussed the lively and fascinating world literary scene, and the diverse literary works that are becoming more and more widely available in English. During the panel, Wylie announced that she was compiling a list of the books, stories, and resources mentioned during the panel discussion.

She has kept her word. Better yet, she has agreed to let me share her list on here on my blog. Links within the list are those provided by Olivia Wylie. Cover artwork and other imagery chosen to illustrate the list on this post, as well as links embedded outside the list, have been my choices.

Resources

Here’s a second collection of reading opportunities, from among the marvelous options on this list. They are, L-R: Dream Keeper, by Morrie RuvinskyLabyrinth Lost, by Zoraida CórdovaMulengro, by Charles de LintThe Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker; and The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline.
Yet a fourth collection of covers, and we still haven’t exhausted the list! L-R: Arresting God in Kathmandu, by Samrat UpadhyayMemories of Sun, ed. by Jane Kurtz; Wavemen, by Robin and Cory Childs & associatesThe Roads of the Roma, ed. by Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, and Rajko Djurićand Nyota’s Tyrannosaur, by Stant Litore.

For The Kiddos

The Desert Is My Mother/El Desierto Es Mi Madre-Pat Mora

Yes, I did have a hard time narrowing it down. Here are young peoples’ book covers for: All the Colors of the Earth, by Sheila HamanakaMing Lo Moves the Mountain, by Arnold Lobel (bilingual English and Hmong); The Story of Noodles, by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by YongSheng XuanAru Shah and the End of Time, by Roshani Chokshi; The Desert is my Mother, by Pat Mora, illustrated by Daniel Lechon (bilingual English and Spanish)and The Serpent’s Secret, by Sayantani DasGupta

As panelist Amalie Howard put it, “Diversity isn’t a ‘trend.’ It’s a reflection of the world as it is.” This list is truly a trove of wonders that traverse the world as it is–and as it might be, given a rich imagination and a world of fantastic possibilities.

I hope you’ll explore it for untold riches! And if you have additional suggestions, please offer them in the Comments section! We’ll all be the richer for it!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS and IMAGES: First of all, MANY, many, many thanks to Olivia Wylie, for compiling this list, and also to Stant Litore and Amalie Howard, for their suggestions for it and participation in a fascinating panel discussion.

The photograph of the panelists at Westercon 71/MALCon 6 was taken by Jan S. Gephardt, with permission. If you wish to reblog or repost it, please credit Jan as the photographer, and identify (ideally with hyperlinks to their websites!) AmalieStant, and Olivia, plus please include a link back to this post, as well. Thanks!

The logos representing some of the websites in the “Resources” list are those of Escape PodPodCastleNative Realities Press, and Singing Bones, for all of which, I thank them!

For the five covers in Book Collection One, I owe many thanks to Amazon: Lagoon, by Nnedi OkoraforAmericanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieIs’Nana The Were-Spider, by Greg Anderson Elysee, illustrations by Walter Ostlie; and Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi; and to  Marcellus Jackson, via Djele’s DeviantART page, for the Steamfunk! cover.

For the five covers in Book Collection Two, I once again owe thanks to Amazon, for Dream Keeper, by Morrie RuvinskyLabyrinth Lost, by Zoraida CórdovaMulengro, by Charles de LintThe Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Weckerand The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline.

For the third set of book covers I’d like to thank Penguin/Random House, for the cover for Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed, as well as Amazon for these covers: Want, by Cindy PonThe Sea is Ours, ed. by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng The Mistress of Spices, by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni; and  The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson.

For the fourth set of book covers, I’d like to thank Moko Press for the cover of Wavemen, by Robin and Cory Childs & associates; and Stant Litore for the cover art for Nyota’s TyrannosaurMany thanks to Amazon, for these covers: Arresting God in Kathmandu, by Samrat UpadhyayMemories of Sun, ed. by Jane Kurtz; and The Roads of the Roma, ed. by Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, and Rajko Djurić

Certainly not least, I am grateful to Amazon, once again, for all the covers in the Youth Collection: All the Colors of the Earth, by Sheila HamanakaMing Lo Moves the Mountain, by Arnold LobelThe Story of Noodles, by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by YongSheng XuanAru Shah and the End of Timeby Roshani ChokshiThe Desert is my Mother, by Pat Mora, illustrated by Daniel Lechonand The Serpent’s Secret, by Sayantani DasGupta

My deepest gratitude goes out to all resources named!

Unique manifestations

Artdog Quote of the Week

“Other cultures are not failed attempts at being like you.”

There are people in this world who don’t see it that way. They can’t look beyond their own frame of reference, and they resist seeing their own privilege, which simultaneously insulates them and quarantines them from full participation with the rest of the world.

Sadly, they miss more than they know.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Quote Addicts for this image and quote.

I hope you’ll also check out Wade Davis’s website. Davis is an anthropologist and author who works with National Geographic, so he really knows what he’s talking about in this quote.

Piecing it together

Artdog Quote of the Week

IMAGES: Many thanks to Immigrant Times for the puzzle-pieces photo, and to Quote Addicts for the Felix Adler quote. 

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