I just got the news on the first National juried art show I entered-it was entitled "Footlong" and took place in Portales, New Mexico-and it turns out I got fourth...almost third. hehe. I'm happy. My work is featured in the magazine they printed for the show and there's a little blurb about me and my thoughts and work and yeah...I can handle Honorable Mention for a first attempt. :D
Now I just have to get my butt in gear and get some more notes and reference photos...oh how I love thee...done so when I hit the states at some point again or the next artist residence, or both, I can figure out what I am going to do. I have some cool ideas but we'll see what pans out to be any good.
It is amazing to me how creating visual art and written work are so tightly linked. I know, I know, before I get blasted for making it sound like I don't consider writing art, I do. Of course I do. But they are different mediums and yet so completely alike. Reference photos are the notes, spots of color, interesting shadows, shapes, textures are the characters that we exploit, drag out of their shells, push until they no longer resemble what we thought they were about. Simplify and tweak until they start to talk about something that really matters to us....etc. etc. I could digress.
It's all a matter of perspective...which sounds like the perfect intro into a blog that I've been meaning to get down since I read Lisa's blog a bit ago about her perspective on Russia, Russians, the Cold War and the such.
So-here's my perspective on this and what it feels like for me to be a 20 something caught in this centuries angsty gray area.
I have been traveling since October 30th, 2007. I packed my bags, sold my car, dumped my things at friend's houses, my dad's, drove my car to Colorado for a final time to leave things with my mom....came back to a townhouse that I really liked, a relationship, my favorite jazz club, my friends, my martial arts class that I am addicted to...and then I got on a plane and flew to Adana, Turkey. I started in Turkey because I wanted to spend some time living with my dad's side of the family. I also wanted to improve my Turkish-which has a long ways to go-I got what I wanted. I had a great two months. I had some time to gain some interesting perspective.
I am an animated talker. I am a big talker. I have lots of opinions on everything that occasionally should just be kept to myself...knowing this, I threw myself into a culture and situation where I wouldn't be able to say much of anything. I got a taste of what it's like to learn to listen. I got a taste of what it's like to really have to actually THINK before I say something. Not that I really changed all that much truth be told...but it did change my perspective on things and myself how I perceive things and how we communicate. I also got a hard dose of perspective on American culture.
I am not, in general, an advocate of the way we handle most things in America. But, I can now say that after being in other countries, experiencing their medical systems, their economical systems, getting to know business owners and families and artists, I get what the draw to America is all about. I also feel a sense of gratitude I didn't have before for where I was born. Not that I'm going to go patriotic, agree with the ridiculous mess we've created in Iraq, vote Republican and march around singing the praises of my country. I still think there's a load of bullshit. I just have a better appreciation for what else is there.
Ok, this being said...my travels took me from Turkey to Budapest to Germany. I have had the wonderful experience living with a German family for some time. The man of family is a very intelligent former home designer and construction company owner who happens to know a lot...and I mean a LOT about history. I love history. This leads to some great conversations. He gives me a hard time because I really make him work through any language barrier that may exist because I ask hard questions.
For example...I asked him why he thought, as my link to Germany, Germany's response to something like 9/11 would have been, why it happened and what he thinks America should have done about it.
There was a pause. We got up and started more hot water for coffee. I put my hair in a pony tail and readjusted myself in my chair and we both settled in for a long talk. Luckily for me, he seems to enjoy talking and arguing about this stuff and I love to learn about it so...yeah....
Lisa's post-to jump back to the wavering thread that is tenuously this post together-was discussing the Gulf War a bit, the Berlin wall...things that happened when I was at the youngest 7 and the oldest...well...present day- if you consider the Iraq War is just a big, nasty extension of the Gulf War (in some perspectives at least)...
This is a really weird realization for me. I remember hearing about the Berlin wall in November of 1989. I remember hearing about Sadaam Hussein Thwackers from Ed Sardella on 9 news in Colorado during the Gulf War. Names like Schwarzkopf, Powell, etc. all ring bells in my head. I can tell you what they did...I remember the colors of the camouflage jackets I would see on TV as a kid when they would interview soldiers.
Through all of this, however, I don't ever remember feeling anything. Not that I was or am emotionally insensitive, I just didn't care at the time. I was a kid. I had no real grasp on what the impact or the history was behind what was going on in front of me. I didn't really get a sense for that until recently, to be honest. Part of it is because America has a really bad habit of not teaching its kids about what it's done wrong in the past. I've never once been offered a class that discusses the finer points of the Gulf War and the socio, economic and cultural impact it had or would lead to in regards to America and the Muslim and Middle Eastern faith.
I'd heard the name Ayatollah Comini...spelling...but I couldn't have told you who he was until last week when my resident Germany born, history buff friend sat down and explained all of it to me. Who he was, what he had to do with Sadaam Hussein, etc. etc.
Please, Mr. Germany-teach me about the bits of my countries history that are less palatable. And it wasn't America bashing-what he told me about had very little emotional overtone. He is a rather stoic and pragmatic/practical person...and he wasn't trying to prove anything. He was trying to factually answer my questions. He did so quite well I think.
It's not like I couldn't have Wikipedia'd...yes I made that a verb...some of this stuff prior to arriving in Germany or gone to the library and read books about it...it's just that while there is always plenty of media there is very little content and, by fault of my own lack of mental prowess occasionally, things get muddled unless I have someone there to whom I can ask questions.
I asked a lot of questions to Alex. He gave me a lot of answers. I gained a new perspective on some of the things that I already knew about America's past by hearing from the mouth and mind of someone who didn't grow up engorged and swollen on my media and my concepts of reality and I also gained a new perspective on my childhood. Of my place in my country's young history.
In today's world people everywhere are being told and taught and coerced into disliking anyone who covers their head, looks like, talks like or blinks like they might be part of the Muslim faith. This is exactly like, from what I could glean out of Lisa's post, what happened between America and Russia during the Cold War and all that yucky stuff. People were told to hate an entire race and culture of people because of the actions of a few. And...here's the real bitch about all of this....when I sat down with Alex and had him tell me the story and the backstory of the times leading up to the Gulf War I realized that we really are on a loop. History repeats itself. It's a cliche but I've never heard one truer. It is disgusting how many times people can manage to reinvent the wheels of hate and prejudice and fear.
This is not a plea for everyone to be nicer to each other. This is also not a statement on how unfair or unjust the world behaves.
It is just an observation about the realization that we are on a perpetual hamster wheel. That we will continue to do the same things over and over again. If it isn't Russia it's Persia. If it's not there, then who knows, maybe it'll be China or India only the tables will be turned and my culture may get a sense of what it has done.
America is the perfect example of Newton's Law of Inertia. I am waiting to see what will be the first thing to step in and disrupt our inertia. People can argue that 9/11 was our stop. It was a speedbump. And I'm not suggesting that we have some Big Bad Wolf waiting for us around the corner and that we should all run for cover or start saying our Hail Mary's to avoid the apocalyptic fall of the American Empire...I'm just saying that a force bigger than 9/11 is going to have to happen eventually to slow America down. This could be a positive force as easily as it could be a negative force. We'll see which cards get played first.
All of this knowledge, insight, research, realization and processing makes for a heavy handbag to carry around on a daily basis. That's the best way I can think to express what it's like to be in this middle age of things where some of the really big stuff i.e. WWI, WWII and all those other wars that don't need their full titles to be recognized is well out of my range of existence but where some of the other big stuff, or stuff that is still having it's growth spurt did happen in my lifetime. And they will all have lasting impressions on the planet. And, I'm part of an age that has easy access to knowledge, resources, data...the Internet may be a vast ocean only about an inch deep but it is a dense inch. While it's impossible for most of Americans to experience the same degree of separation that previous generations had from their "enemy" or different cultures, or whatever in this day and age it is increasingly easy for us to pull the wool over our heads. Surround ourselves with things that assuage our fear. Remind ourselves that none of what is currently going on over there has anything to do with our Raison D'etra and simply move on.
Along with this handbag comes the responsibility or sense of responsibility to do something. Anything to improve or contribute in a well-intended manner to the situations at hand. Some choose to enlist in the military. Some join Green Peace. Some think out loud on Blogger. Some go and blow up buildings or people or cars or convoys because they think that it will actually accomplish something. Misguided and motivated have become the mantras and warning signs for my culture and the unfolding time line.
I want to find my response. My reaction to all of this. I want to stop feeling guilty when I tell people I am from America because of the looks I get from others. It's not hate or fear or anger. It's the look you give a small baby when they've gone and smeared the third jar of bright orange baby food all over themselves and the wall and the dog. And then in the process of cleaning up the mess they go and smash the crystal vase over their brother's head and then sit crying in the middle of the broken glass because they know they've done something wrong.
Not that there isn't something to be said for having a rough childhood....which is how I feel about the decision making that has gone on in my governmental system recently in America. We are young in comparison to the rest of the world. There are lots of things we haven't learned and we are acting the part of the cocky teenager by thinking that we know everything. Then again, at this point, we have wedged ourselves between more rocks and hard places than I can think of lame metaphors to describe. The resounding question in my head as I listen to the news and read the papers-foreign and American alike-is "What are we supposed to do now?" Not cynically or sarcastically...but a calm desperation that makes my insides hurt when I think about the state that things are in or are working towards.
America is not very good at admitting or teaching it's people about what it doesn't know how to do. It can't admit that there are problems to begin with in a lot of ways I don't think.
That makes me angry. Ignorance is not an excuse, no matter how many different costumes you make it try on.
There are more things I could say about this...things that I would like to say but am currently not in the right mind-set to phrase coherently.
I am going to bed. To anyone I have offended or upset, please-leave me a mature comment expressing yourself. I care what your thoughts are though I can't promise I will make any amendments to the post.
Communication is all we have left. Use it.