Tag Archives: art history

It’s always that time, isn’t it?

Allat and her Bone Saw.jpg

When everything is falling apart, just draw, make art, do something. A sad life is great art fuel. Depression makes for wonderful imagery. Just look at some of the artists we study in art history, the ones that have shaped most of what we call “art” these days. Most of them were deeply morose at the very least. The less said about some of their actions in their personal lives, the better. It is very rare to hear about a happy, caring, content, well-adjusted artist. Make art when you’re sad. You’ll be in the company of great artists some of whom are probably malevolent ghosts at the moment.

And when things have improved (I’m hoping), maybe someone someday will show you a bit of generosity and want the product of the rapidly collapsing shack you call you call your “life” to tastefully adorn the wall of their guest bedroom.

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Get Over Yourself

Loie

Look, America doesn’t have a monopoly on being the light of democracy, the beacon of hope, the shining city on a hill. Actually, it’s far from it. Since they elected their current president, with one tragedy after another, I keep hearing “we are better than this,” “this is not us,” and “not all Americans.” Now I do agree that Trump and his supporters are not ALL Americans, but I disagree with everything else. Particularly with what’s happening right now at the American borders, the separation of immigrant children and their internment in abandoned Walmarts, this is exactly what America is.

People often say that America’s original sin is slavery and white supremacy. But even that statement ignores a much earlier sin, the displacement and genocide of Native Americans. But just looking at the Trump presidency as a microcosm, there is a pattern which is very similar to the rest of America as a whole. The vilification of Mexicans, the Muslim ban, the attack on NFL players, the blatant disregard to the crisis in Puerto Rico, the splitting and internment of immigrant families… one key they have in common is the absolute vile treatment of people of color. If you’re not white, there’s a great chance you might have a shittier American experience. And again, not all of America is to blame for what is happening. But it is very telling that despite the crisis on the border being the top news item for a couple of days now, instead of Trump losing popularity, he actually gains favorability. Not only that, he appears to have more power among his political party. Being disgusting towards young, immigrant children and putting them in internment camps is proving to be quite good for Trump. Americans might like telling themselves that they are the land of the free and the home of brave, but those same free and brave people often allow awful things to happen right in their own backyard. This is not the first time Americans kept an internment camp. They did so just a few decades ago.

After the Muslim ban was announced last year, there were lots of protests. It was great to see people standing up for their Muslim brothers and sisters. Eventually, the courts ruled that the Muslim ban was unconstitutional, and the president’s own words betrayed the hateful intent of his policy. But since then, there hasn’t been much collective outrage and action over the many injustices which Trump has orchestrated. Why didn’t Americans march for Puerto Rico? Aren’t Americans marching every day for Flint, police shootings, school shootings, or any other issues? Heck, even when the Muslim ban was finally partially enacted, there was nary a protest. Did people just get tired? Were people distracted? Did the free and brave people have other plans that day?

Unless Americans can exorcise their demons, they really shouldn’t be allowed to wax poetic indulgently about being American. Americans can’t say, “this is not who we are. This is not what we do.” No, this is exactly what you do. America is the one person in the room with the most guns who regularly lets bad things happen to minorities. That’s just how it is. And I don’t want to sound too high and mighty, but as a Canadian, we have a long history of sins against our Native populations as well, but you will never hear me say that that is not what we are, that “we are better than this.” Canadians are vile towards their Native populations. That’s what we are, and we should be better than this.

I love Americans. I have friend and family in the US. My nieces are Americans. I really hope that their future America would be better than this. The America I see in the news is the ugliest I’ve seen in years. It can be ugly for people like me and my nieces. As a person of color, I’ve seen racism rear its ugly head in Canada and even here in Seoul. But as Americans, I worry about my nieces. I can handle racism. I’m old and I’ve seen it enough times to know how to roll with it. But they are still far too young. And judging by how the US government and Trump supporters are being vile towards child immigrants, it is apparent that not even children are spared from the dark ugliness of the American experience. In truth, my nieces are raised in a fairly privileged lifestyle. I like to think that they’re growing up in an environment where deplorables have very little chance to make contact with them.  But despite all of that, I fear that it only takes one ugly accident to ruin a person’s day if not a person’s life.

In any case, Americans really do need to get it together. This has gone on far too long. People used to joke that “Trump is bad, but at least he’s not building internment camps.” Well, the camps are now here. What do you do? Where are the free and brave people?

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Perils of French Realism

nude

After years of holding on to my old iPhone 4, I finally upgraded to an iPhone 6. I had the option to get the iPhone 6S but found it a little too big to be called a phone. It seemed more like a tablet and I feel like the bigger a phone gets, the more unwieldy it is, and the likelier I am to drop it.

I’m quite happy with the upgrade. It’s big enough to be able to read pdfs of magazines and comic books. I was quite an avid comic reader when I was younger, and this might get me back to reading graphic novels again. The screen is gorgeous, and pictures and artwork look great on it.

Unfortunately, last Friday, I was admiring the phone and testing it out on the bus. I happen to be looking at some historic paintings to set as my wallpaper, browsing through masterpieces with heavy contrasts, works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, then BOOM!… Gustave Courbet. For the uninitiated, Courbet was a French realist, most known for a particularly unorthodox and intimate portrait of Joanna Hifferman entitled, L’Origine du Monde. I will let you find that painting yourself.

Now stumbling on the masterpiece wouldn’t be so bad in itself. Unfortunately, a lady standing next to me saw the image as quickly as it appeared on my phone. Our eyes met for a moment by the reflection on the window. And as innocent an accident as it was, I felt as if I was caught committing a crime. She looked away, and I quickly put the phone in my coat pocket. That’s enough art browsing for now. What am I to do? I can’t explain myself to a stranger. That would make me appear more guilty. Of course, quickly hiding my phone makes me look guilty as well.

Two stops later, she gets off. I just gave that woman a story to tell her friends.

 

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