Tuesday, August 7, 2018

ARTUAL with Anita Hill: Making a Better World with Courage to Speak Out

Anita Hill Photo by Victoria Will/Invasion/AP See Victoria's art
"Most of us have everything we need to get through a crisis; we just have to tap into it." ~ Anita Hill

"Women who accuse men, particularly powerful men, of harassment are often confronted with the reality of the men's sense that they are more important than women, as a group." ~ Anita Hill, Speaking Truth to Power

"The real problem is that the way that power is given out in our society pits us against each other." ~ Anita Hill

Nine to Five: Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin (1980)
My local park shows movies on the big screen.  T, Z, and I joined friends to watch “9 to 5, (1980).” For those unfamiliar with the movie, the plot uses humor to expose how sexual harassment is played out at the office.   Lily Tomlin’s character had her work stolen by her boss; Jane Fonda’s character was mocked at the Xerox by the same boss; and Dolly Parton’s character, the boss looks at her as sexual candy rather than his secretary.  The three women are thrown together and plot to get even with “the boss.” The film is the 20th highest-gross paying films for comedy.

After watching the 9 to 5, I began reflecting on Tarana Burke, #metoo, and other movies during my young adult life that satirized sexual harassment:  Grease, Toosie, Sixteen Candles…. It became an enlightening moment for me; I couldn’t name any films that showed women of color experiencing sexual harassment.   I began to wonder where were the mainstream films about women of color experiencing sexual harassment?

It is 1991, ten years after the film came out, and Anita Hill becomes a national figure.  Hill accuses US Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, her boss of sexually harassing her. Most of the public criticized her behavior rather than Thomas’ behavior.  What I found most disturbing, the public stating Hill liked his behavior otherwise she would have spoken out sooner.  The public labeled her either as a liar or truth teller. 
Anita Hill Photo by Lyne Lucien/Daily Beast  See Lyne's art 

I think back to the movies.  The dominant narrative (or plot line) showed repetitively white women experiencing sexual harassment at work or at school.  Hill was a black woman presenting the public another story about sexual harassment. A story many weren’t familiar with: a black woman being sexually harassed.  Unlike the movies, fictional accounts most likely based on real life, Hill’s story was real. I continue to wonder why most of the public resisted her story.   I wonder how I, a white woman, continue to perpetuate and resist this narrative for women of color?  


Calling on All Silent Minorities
June Jordan, 1936 - 2002


Directed by Desire: The Complete Poems of June Jordan (2005). Copper Canyon Press.  Learn more about this poet click here or purchase her book at IndiBound


Artist Mark Bradford and Brandeis Professor Anita Hill pose in front of Bradford's painting, "Sea Monster."
Photo from  Rose Art Museum
Anita Hill rises and continues to rise.  Since 1991, Anita Hill has become a spokeswoman and champion against sexual harassment and advocating for women’s equality.  She also sits on the Rose Art Museum, MA. Hill has been having an ongoing conversation with painter Mark Bradford about race and politics and how this is related to content and form.  He is looks at the world through a micro lens and paints them onto canvas whereas she looks at world on a macro lens helps change policy at state and national levels. Each are using their own art form (painting and policy writing) to bring about awareness for reform and healing around oppression in society.

Artual Action: 

This resource can be implemented or adapted for a staff meeting or used for individual self-reflection. 

1.    Name and reflect on the movies you have seen that uses humor/satire reveal sexual harassment or sexual violence.  
2.    Are you aware of any films depicting sexual violence happening to women of color?  How is sexual violence depicted?    
3.    View Anita, the documentary or Anita Hill Testimony: Clarence Thomas Second Hearing Day 1 (1991).  Do you believe the dominate narrative at that time had an effect on the reception of Anita Hill’s testimony?  What about if it were to happen today?
4.   What are the challenges, risks and opportunities associated with using humor to shed light on oppression issues?  Is/what are the difference(s) if it is happening to a person of color?

·         Anita. (2014) Director Freida Lee Mock.  Documentary.
·         Anita Hill on the Thomas hearings, 25 years later: ‘I would do it again’(7 Apr. 2016) PBS News Hour.
·         Conversations between Mark Bradford and Anita Hill. (14 Apr, 2018) Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA  
·         The Woman Who Created #MeToo Long Before Hashtags. (17 Oct. 2017) Sandra E. Garcia. New York Times.
·         When Black Women's Stories Of Sexual Abuse Are Excluded From The National Narrative. (3 Dec. 2017) Lulu Garcia Navarro. National Public Radio
·         The #MeToo Movement Looks Different For Women Of Color. Here Are 10 Stories. (2, Jan. 2018) Jessica Prois and Carolina Moreno. Huffington Post
·         Why few women of color in wave of accusers? ‘Stakes higher’. (18 Nov., 2017) Errin Haines Whack. AP News.
·         For African American rape victims, a culture of silence. (20 July, 2004) Gayle Pollard-Terry. Los Angeles Times.
·         Using Humor to Expose the Ridiculous. New Tactics in Human Rights
·         Sample Learning Tool on Dominant Narratives (Self Reflective or Small Group Questions) University of Michigan.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

ARTUAL with Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon and her cat Beau, 
photograph by Candice DiCarlo  (See her work click here)
When anyone is creating anything, it has no choice but to be in that stream. The art I create and the art my colleagues create is part of it. But the question is: how long will it last in the stream? I think of it really as an enormous river, with its shores very distant from each other, and only time will tell what's going to last in the end. It seems to me that all music of our time is connected, but I never think about where I am in the river or how I would be placed by others inside of it.”  ~ Jennifer Higdon.  

Most Classical “top 50 music lists” are made up of male composers who are of European descent. Dead, they still have must have great agents working for them.  These guys continue to get the majority of air time.  In the US 2016-2017 concert season, male composers of European descent made up ~ 98% of the work played in symphony halls.  It is a continued struggle for women and people of color to get their works heard.  

T and I will be heading to Cleveland in April 2019.  Jennifer Higdon’s work Blue Cathedral will be performed by the Cleveland Orchestra.  I’ve heard her piece played on the radio several time, but not live.  I want to do my part for supporting women artists by showing up.

Blue Cathedral is a work written in memory of Higdon’s brother who died of cancer.  In it you hear a dialogue between flute and clarinet. The instruments are the ones she and her brother played.  Listening to the two instruments go back and forth, reminds me of the dialogues I’ve had with siblings both real and imagined.  When I listen to this piece, I am reminded of Copland's Appalachian Spring and Bernstein's “Make Our Gardens’ Grow” Candide -- uplifting melodies that are fresh and full of hope.  In the space of 10 minutes, Higdon takes us to a place of refuge, a sacred thin place to commune with our ancestors and the divine.  

O'Bannon, Ricky. (31, Oct. 2016). Data Behind the 2016-2017 Orchestra Season. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. retrieved 31, July, 2018. http://www.bsomusic.org/stories/the-data-behind-the-2016-2017-orchestra-season/ 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Artual (Art + ritual) for living Wendy Hollender

Wendy Hollender Drawing
“A weed is but an unloved flower.” 

― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” 
― Kate MortonThe Forgotten Garden

“Gardening is akin to writing stories. No experience could have taught me more about grief or flowers, about achieving survival by going, your fingers in the ground, the limit of physical exhaustion.” 
― Eudora Welty

Acorn by Wendy Hollender
A month ago, while I was at my writing conference, T planted tomatoes and peppers. T had grown them from our southern window over the last two months. Saddly my worries came true. I was afraid they wouldn't make it out in the community garden. I wasn't concerned about the last frost date in Ohio (Mother’s Day Weekend), but the heavy rains or lack of rain. Baby plants are fragile. The poor things were taken out by a hail storm.

I love spring in Ohio. The trees are white and purple with blossoms and last week some trees glowed with a green mist: buds about to burst into leaves. In April, T and I had planted potatoes, onions, salad food, and peas. T finds the gradual covering over of potato shoots meditative. I’m in the garden experience for the eating of beans and peas off the vine. The garden is thriving in June and unusually un-weedly for us. 
Several weeks ago, I watched an interview with Wendy Hollender, a botanical artist, teacher, and author of Foraging & Feasting; A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook. Her medium of choice is coloured pencils and uses watercolour as an underpainting. See above is one of her drawings -- very realistic. She is a teacher who puts her students at easy, because she taught viewers her method to draw an acorn. However, what really interested me was her dedication to a plant per year.

Wendy described how she chooses a plant or tree to study for the year. She introduces herself in the fall and gives a gratitude offering to the plant. This is a plant she will visit daily on her walk. Wendy next showed the viewers several pages of her oak tree study that moved through the seasons. The fall showed a branch with leaves in various stages of drying out and nutmeg and cinnamon colors. There were several acorns and around the drawings questions: How do the leaves change and why? How many oak trees are there in the world? How old to they get? She treats these as interview questions to get to know the plant better.


Get outside and adopt a plant or tree for the season. Provide an offering to it and say hi. If you are bold sketch the plant and ask questions. On the red line, share the name of the plant or tree you have adopted.


See Wendy in action in a One Minute Video “How to Draw a Cherry Tomato.”

“How to draw an acorn”

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Soulandalas: Coursera Final Project

This is my artwork I created for Healing in the Arts offered by Coursera.  Following my soulandalas you will find a narrative of how I created these pictures. 

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
Shauna Niequist

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Herman Melville
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Brené Brown
“When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.”  Karen E. Quinones Mille
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
Lao Tzu
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit”
E.E. Cummings
“Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others ... Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth." (Journal entry, 14 October 1922)”
Katherine Mansfield, Journal of Katherine Mansfield    

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
Langston Hughes

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson

Divine Mystery

“Because you’re a creation of God, you reflect the Divine qualities of creativity, wisdom, and love.”
Doreen Virtue

“We can see the Divine in each speck of dust, but that doesn't stop us from wiping it away with a wet sponge. The Divine doesn't disappear; it's transformed into the clean surface.”
Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello    


“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person.”
Audrey Hepburn

“I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh.”
Maya Angelou

“Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables    

Self Compassion

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life    

“Talk to yourself like a cherished friend. Treat yourself with love and care. You are perfect, just as you are.”
Amy Leigh Mercree, The Compassion Revolution: 30 Days of Living from the Heart    


“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
Maya Angelou

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations    

Worthy of Love

“Life is too short to waste any amount of time on wondering what other people think about you. In the first place, if they had better things going on in their lives, they wouldn't have the time to sit around and talk about you. What's important to me is not others' opinions of me, but what's important to me is my opinion of myself.”
C. JoyBell C.

“When you're different, sometimes you don't see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn't.”
Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart    

What did I do for my project?
I have been contemplating my next career journey.  My path will come to a fork in the road within seventeen months.  During this time, I’ve been exploring “What’s next?”  There are many possibilities to choose from that weren’t available when I was twenty.  In January, I began a year-long class: Come to the Fire (Heidi Sequoia Moondancer).  It is an on-line intentional creativity class to discover our sacred self.  Each week, I’m given a creative journal/art prompt.
Back in January, this month was devoted to my intentions for the New Year.  I wrote in my journal about where I was and what I wanted to bring into the different aspects of my life (e.g., spiritually, family, career).  To develop affirmations was an output of this exercise.  Since January, I have continued to explore these affirmations including what my life would be like if I embraced them fully.
You might say, this class fell into my lap.  Again being open to Spirit, I signed up.  I saw it as another way to explore my “words” by using different forms of art (i.e., music and dance).

Table:  Concepts to bring into my life:

Words                      Ideas Holding me back
Divine Mystery      Disappearance of Spirit
Laughter                      Sadness
Confidence              Distrust, Doubt and Uncertainties
Hope                      Pessimism
Joy                              Depression, Unhappy, Serious
Worthy of Love      Unloved
Strength                      Weakness
Self-Love              Self-hating and Indifferent

Why I chose my project?
My project is a combination of journaling and drawing mandalas or Soulandalas.  Soulandals is a concept that Jackie DeBlasio coined.  Mandalas are drawn over journal entry.  The design is a way for the soul to express visually what is written.  She writes drawing the repetitive designs often reveal messages that one might not recognize through word.  This art form, she believes allows one to look at the messages of the inner critic and identify if stories are align with what one wants in life.  Creating a mandala can change the story and provide a visual of what is possible.

I took my words (see table above) and began creating soulandalas for each of them.  My journal entry discussed what was holding me back, but I also wrote what my life would be like if I had this in it.  I would start the “word” off by reading quotes from Goodreads.  For example within my journal entry for self-confidence is a quote from Karen E. Quinones Mille: “When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.”  I would also look up symbolism and colors associated with the words.  Again, referring to my “confidence” soulandalas, I used gold and blue associated with confidence and a peacock feather design that symbolizes: vision, awaking and (inner) guidance.
An outcome of the project is twofold.  One, I have beautiful representations of my intentions.  Secondly, as a writer I have discovered that my writing is dark and lacks in joy.  Additionally, it has identified places that need healing and a new story needing told.  The drawings have moved me to bring color into my life and to try write on different subjects.     

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Devotions: Mary Olivers Artual for living

Photo by Rachel Giese Brown
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” Mary Oliver

“Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” Mary Oliver

Artual (Art + Ritual) for living

The following phrase is coined by Whitney Freya, spiritual artist and healer. Whitney believes that using the medium of art is a portal to merge healing, energy, and awareness thru the practice, ritual, and play of intentional creativity. We all are creative and ultimately artists.

Before you state, “I’m not creative nor an artist,” I argue that you are. Any time you put your heart and soul into any activity or a cause you are creating art. Art can take its form as: completing a data program for quality assurance, teaching a class, showing up at a demonstration, writing an article for our newsletter, singing in the car, gardening, making colorful cupcakes for a meal train… It is a piece of yourself that you share with the world.

Think about it this way. What do you like to make? And, if you could make it all day long.... that is your art.

April is national poetry month. One of my favorite Ohio born, Pulitzer Prize winning poets is Mary Oliver. She recently published a collection of her favorites spanning over her more than fifty-year career: Devotions. What I like about Mary’s poems is her ability to make them accessible to all audiences. Her poems are powerful observations that bridge the natural world with everyday emotions—some tender and some full of joy. When I read one of her poems, I feel like I'm there with her walking in the woods or looking across the lake and can hear her inner dialogue.

Since her partner of forty years died ( photographer Molly Malone Cook, 2005), Mary has become more open by sharing herself with the public. During lectures and interviews, she talks about her writing process: walking in the woods with little hand-sewn notebooks, scribbling thoughts which come to her, then turning these thoughts into poems. She states repeatedly, “the woods saved her life.” Mary talks about how nature gave her insight and strength and wisdom. Nature gave her strength to publish.

I hold the same thoughts about creativity as Mary: “It’s a gift to yourself but it’s a gift to anybody who has a hunger for it.”

Below is one of my favorite “Mary poems” found in Devotions and originally published in From White Pine, 1994. 
Blackberry Picking by Queena Stovall (1887-1980)

by Mary Oliver

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the branches
nobody owns, I spend
all day among the high

branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking
of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body
accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among
the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

Artual Activity:
Take a walk in the woods with a scribbling pad. Jot down your thoughts.

At home, review your notes and write a haiku.   Be bold and share it below.

Here is one for the season from me.

Flurried gusts
Saplings revel in the snow
Elders twist and groan

Quick review: a haiku is an unrhymed three-lined poem based on a Japanese poetic form. The first line and last line has five syllables each, and the middle line has seven.

Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables
Updated 4/16/2018