Tag Archives: Art

On this day, and all the days to come

Some images, sounds, and words to lift darkened spirits and bolster the courage we’ll all need in the days and years ahead. There may be occasional updates. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.

“We the People” Protest Art
By Shepard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena, for the Amplifier Foundation. Download hi-res versions and find out more here.

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Thea Gilmore, “Start As We Mean to Go On”
A song of joyful resistance.

Beyoncé, “Superpower”

Staceyann Chin, “Racism”
The spoken-word artist delivers a blistering call to arms.

Ursula K. Le Guin, always necessary, offers a meditation:

A Meditation

The river that runs in the valley

makes the valley that holds it.

This is the doorway:

the valley of the river.

~

What wears away the hard stone,

the high mountain?

The wind. The dust on the wind.

The rain. The rain on the wind.

What wears the hardness of hate away?

Breath, tears.

~

Courage, compassion, patience

holding to their way:

the path to the doorway.

And from her famed National Book Awards speech:

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries — realists of a larger reality.

We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable — but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.

Rebecca Solnit, from “Hope in the Dark”

Anything could happen, and whether we act or not has everything to do with it. Though there is no lottery ticket for the lazy and the detached, for the engaged there is a tremendous gamble for the highest stakes right now. I say this to you not because I haven’t noticed that this country has strayed close to destroying itself and everything it once stood for in pursuit of empire in the world and the eradication of democracy at home, that our civilization is close to destroying the very nature on which we depend — the oceans, the atmosphere, the uncounted species of plant and insect and bird. I say it because I have noticed: wars will break out, the planet will heat up, species will die out, but how many, how hot, and what survives depends on whether we act. The future is dark, with a darkness as much of the womb as of the grave.

Turn your head. Learn to see in the dark. Pay attention to the inventive arenas that exert political power outside that stage or change the contents of the drama onstage. From the places that you have been instructed to ignore or rendered unable to see come the stories that change the world, and it is here that culture has the power to change the world. Often it appears as theater, and you can see the baffled, upset faces of the actors onstage when the streets become a stage or the unofficial appear among them to disrupt the planned program.

Stories move from the shadows to the limelight. And though the stage too often presents the drama of our powerlessness, the shadows offer the secret of our power.

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“Here we go and on we go”: Maira Kalman’s loopy optimism

Maira Kalman makes the case for optimism and expresses what I love most about her work:

The sense that people get from reading my work is that I don’t have antipathy to people. I really care about the people that I’m writing about. And I have a humanistic attitude and a kind of loopy optimism — because I’m acknowledging all the sadness and all the heartache and all the trouble, but I usually come out on the side of: Well, despite that, here we go and on we go, and things can also be fantastic at the same time as they are horrible.

Yes. We can’t choose the facts of the world, but we can choose how to respond to them.

Maria Popova at Brain Pickings teases out more of the themes from the video, including the nature of identity and the meaning of life. My previous thoughts on Kalman here.

(via Brain Pickings; image via Kalman’s blog at The NY Times)

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Reimagining The Starry Night

Digital artist Alex Ruiz imagines what the actual night sky that inspired Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic painting might have looked like:

Very nice. This might be an intriguing idea to apply to other works as well; how about reverse-engineering some of Picasso’s work to reveal, say, what the women who inspired Les Demoiselles d’Avignon might have looked like? Not that it’s real reverse-engineering, of course; it’s another filter, another artist’s imagination, another act of creation. But a fascinating exercise nonetheless.

Prints of Ruiz’s Starry Night are available for purchase here.

(via io9)

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Books are made of win, cont’d: Chip Kidd gets skanky

…and gives a hilarious and enlightening talk on the creation of some of his iconic book covers:

My job was to ask this question: “What do the stories look like?” […] We bring stories to the public. The stories can be anything, and some of them are actually true. But they all have one thing in common: They all need to look like something. They all need a face. Why? To give you a first impression of what you are about to get into. […]

The book designer’s responsibility is threefold: to the reader, to the publisher and, most of all, to the author. I want you to look at the author’s book and say, “Wow! I need to read that.”

And just as I’m watching this and thinking “That’s another thing that’s lost in an e-book,” Kidd agrees: “Try experiencing that on a Kindle!”

Don’t get me started. Seriously. Much is to be gained by eBooks: ease, convenience, portability. But something is definitely lost: tradition, a sensual experience, the comfort of thingy-ness — a little bit of humanity.

Watch the video, though. It’s a lot funnier than the serious quotes I’ve pulled out.

More reasons why books are made of win here.

(via TED)

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Expressive hands, in paint and shadow

This seems to be my weekend to discover artists exploring fascinating ways to connect with the natural world. After stumbling onto Tsuneaki Hiramatsu’s firefly photographs, I saw some of body-painter Guido Daniele’s astonishing “handimals” in my daughter’s latest issue of National Geographic for Kids, and had to seek out more:

You can see much more of Daniele’s amazing, er, handiwork (how could I resist? come on!) on his blog. And it reminds me of some very impressive hand-shadow work I’ve seen in videos such as this tourism ad for Calcutta:

I’ve heard it said that hands can be expressive, but I don’t think I’ve realized until now just how profoundly true that is.

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A world lit by fireflies

Just a few from a fantastic series of time-lapse images by photographer Tsuneaki Hiramatsu, via io9:

More here, and on Hiramatsu’s blog.

More bioluminescent goodness here and here.

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Jenny Holzer rocks so damn hard

I’ve loved Jenny Holzer’s work ever since I discovered her “Truisms” — “Lack of charisma can be fatal,” “Confusing yourself is a way to stay honest,” “Children are the cruelest of all” (or, conversely, “Children are the hope of the future”), “Any surplus is immoral,” “Change is valuable when the oppressed become tyrants,” and so on — aphorisms designed to challenge (or reinforce) your assumptions, and spark some interesting and perhaps heated conversations.

And now she’s got a Twitter account, in which she filters her experience as a mom through some very funny riffs on her own work. Some choice tweets:

DIGNITY IS AN ABSTRACT CONCEPT BUT IT WOULD BE LESS ABSTRACT IF YOU WORE A CARDIGAN OVER THAT TOP

THE REVOLUTION WILL STILL BE HERE AFTER YOU’RE DONE STUDYING FOR YOUR GEOMETRY FINAL

A WELL-MEANING LIE IS A KIND OF TRUTH AND ON THAT NOTE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING IF YOU BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

DON’T GET CYNICAL AND DON’T LEAVE THE OVEN ON AND DON’T STAY UP LATE AND IF THERE’S AN EMERGENCY LAURIE AND LOU’S NUMBER IS ON THE FRIDGE

HISTORY TEXTBOOKS CAN TEACH YOU A LOT ABOUT THE SELECTIVE MEMORY OF IMPERIALISTS AND ALSO A LOT ABOUT WHAT’S GOING TO BE ON THE HISTORY TEST

PICKING AT SCABS CAN LEAD YOU TO TRUTH AND BY TRUTH I MEAN AN INFECTION

TRYING TO BE POPULAR IN HIGH SCHOOL IS LIKE TRYING TO BE MAYOR OF A CITY THAT WON’T EXIST IN FOUR YEARS

IT’S A COLD WORLD BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE AND THAT IS WHY I TOLD YOU TO WEAR LAYERS

MISTLETOE ONLY HAS AS MUCH POWER AS YOU GIVE IT

I SAW AN ENTIRE GENERATION OF ARTISTS LOST TO AIDS, BUT NO, PLEASE GO ON ABOUT HOW DIFFICULT YOUR LIFE IS WITHOUT AN IPAD

SUFFERING FOR YOUR IDEALS IS A PRIVILEGE, AS IS USING THE FAMILY NETFLIX ACCOUNT

IGNORING THE ADVICE OF YOUR MOTHER IS A KIND OF CONFORMITY

THERE IS NOTHING MORE TERRIFYING TO HIGH SCHOOL BOYS THAN A WOMAN WHO WON’T APOLOGIZE

And a zinger against the many shirts displaying her own “truisms”:

MASS-PRODUCED IRONIC T-SHIRTS ARE A POOR ARGUMENT FOR A REBELLIOUS SPIRIT

Absolutely brilliant. Lots more here; can’t wait to read more.

(via Adam Savage; image via Creative Time)

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