31 October 2010

The ACLU and You

I received the following by email this morning...
"Christmas card idea

What a clever idea!
Yes, Christmas cards. This is coming early so that you can get ready to include an important address to your list..

Want to have some fun this CHRISTMAS? Send the ACLU a CHRISTMAS CARD this year.

As they are working so very hard to get rid of the CHRISTMAS part of this holiday, we should all send them a nice, CHRISTIAN card to brighten up their dark, sad, little world..

Make sure it says "Merry Christmas" on it.

Here's the address, just don't be rude or crude. (It's not the Christian way, you know.)
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York , NY 10004

Two tons of Christmas cards would freeze their operations because they wouldn't know if any were regular mail containing contributions. So spend 44 cents and tell the ACLU to leave Christmas alone. Also tell them that there is no such thing as a " Holiday Tree". . . It's always been called a CHRISTMAS TREE!

And pass this on to your email lists. We really want to communicate with the ACLU! They really DESERVE us!!

For those of you who aren't aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is the one suing the U.S. Government to take God, Christmas or anything Christian away from us. They represent the atheists and others in this war. Help put Christ back in Christmas!"
Actually, for those who are uninformed - the ACLU is concerned with protecting the rights of the Individual from the encroachment of the State.

Do I like and support every cause that the ACLU takes up? Absolutely not. Do I think that we need the ACLU? Absolutely.

Without an organization guarding our constitutional rights we would soon become more powerless than we already are.

Some of the battles they fight for us:
Illegal wiretapping and spying on U.S. citizens - what if the government decided you were a suspect? Would you want to be spied upon, have cameras and microphones all over your house (your bathroom, your bedroom)?
Torture - do you think it's alright to torture people? If you do I think you've lost your soul.

Illegal internments - do you approve of locking people up without any proof they should be? without a fair trial? Think about it. What if your neighbors told the government you were a terrorist? What if you had to prove you weren't, instead of the government proving you were? How do you prove a negative? They could simply say, "well we haven't found the evidence yet, but we're keeping you locked up until we do."
Preventing government from having a say in religious worship - and you who claim Christian should realize that they also fight for you, they keep the government out of your churches, and only stipulate that your church needs to stay out of government. Would you want the government telling your priests and pastors what they could talk about?

I also feel the need to point out that decorating evergreen trees and bringing greenery into the home at or around the winter solstice did not originate with Christians and Christmas. It's a tradition much more ancient than that. In fact, the early Christian church prohibited the decoration of trees and bringing evergreen bough into the home.

And, my dear emailer, I AM one of the "atheists and others" that the ACLU represents, and so are YOU.

28 October 2010

Mosaic House Number

I'm going to wait until I get back from Sherri Warner Hunter's 5-day Sculptural Forms workshop at the Chicago Mosaic School to continue on Mme Dusa. Sherri's workshop is about making concrete forms for mosaics and I think I want to give Mme Dusa shoulders and cleavage. Doing that will also stabilize her.

In the meanwhile I've been working on a commissioned house number (sorry about the image quality - I just took a quick snapshot of the mosaic):

It measures 30" across the bottom and is 15" tall. I've got a bit more work to do filling in around the numbers and then I can grout it and seal the grout. At this rate I should be able to finish it and get it delivered before I go to Chicago.

22 October 2010

Are You Curious? Part Two

Here's the partially assembled sculpture of m'dusa.

I need to make about 8 more tendrils - she's a bit bald in back. Once I have the tendrils in the exact places they should go I'll fill in the gaps between each tendril and her scalp.

I also need to put a counter-weight in the base to make her more stand up more securely.

I bought several small sheets of pastel (peach, pink, orange, purple, green, blue-gray) stained glass for her flesh. I'm using the breakage from Sugar Tree Glass (local glassblowers) for the tendrils.

And Emerald's paintings are actually hanging quite straight on the wall behind m'dusa...

10 October 2010

Are you curious?

It's a new mosaic project - I bet you guessed that...

Thinking again about appropriation

I feel sort of guilty that I haven't been posting lately - I haven't been doing much writing at all other than for work or some of the websites I've been working on. This is a practice run at doing some writing that is more thoughtful than most of what I've been writing lately - the thoughtful part is at the end, the rest is setting the scene...

The latest website to be finished (if a website is EVER finished) is Beelandia.com, Abelisto's website. There's at least three more websites in the works, mostly waiting on people to decide if they like them or not... only one of them is a paying job though.

I hennaed my hair last week (or actually, Abelisto did) using body-art quality henna. I mixed it up using lemon juice instead of water, per the instructions that came with it. It was much, much easier to wash out than the other henna. It did stain my forehead and ears a bit, but that faded in a couple days. Next time I'll have to be more careful about cleaning it off my skin.

The henna turned my hair a bit carroty-orange at first. The instructions said not to panic, but instead to give it a few days and see how it darkened. Wow. Now it is a really rich auburn. The gray hairs, which usually are quite coppery with henna I've previously used, are very mellow and not at all what I expected after I first washed out this henna. All-in-all a vast improvement.

I'm thinking about doing henna tattoos. I've had them done on my hands before - at arts & crafts festivals. I like the way they look, and the graceful way they fade out (I love my permanent tattoo too - just so you know).

Here's the thing... I love the look of the traditional henna tattoos, but I don't want to do traditional ones on people. Or I should say, I don't want to do the traditional ones unless it is part of the person's heritage/culture.

I cannot help but think of it as an appropriation, the exoticization of a culture that has always made me a bit uneasy.  Okay, here's the issue, when I think about the idea of inspiration and the artist’s practice it seems to me that there can be sort of a reverse colonization that often happens – a backdraft of appropriation of styles and artforms, which often ends up getting rolled up into the outsider's identity – a disrespectful fascination with a culture that leads to exoticizing the “other,” trivializing and reducing individuals within those cultures to caricatures (google "Native American Princess art images" and you'll see what I mean... how many of those paintings, sculptures, drawings were done by white housewife artists? Harsh, I know, but I cannot help it).

We assume we are welcome within groups just because we like them, because we want to be like them, wear clothes like them, talk like them or eat their food...

How often is respect for the material or nonmaterial objects of a culture – often manifested as a lust to own them – mistaken by those lusting for the object as a respect for the creators of the objects? Our engineered identities are made up from so many influences, so many “I love that!” feelings, that for the most part, it seems to me that authenticity may be a chimera.

It's not exactly rational, I know. It's not like henna tattoos are part of my own culture. However, there is some historical evidence that some sort of tattooing was part of a great many ancient and not-so-ancient cultures - including most if not all of the European mishmash that I descend from. And I do think that the desire to embellish our bodies in some way is a part of every culture. 

So what it comes down to is that I'd love to do the henna tattoos with designs of my own making.