Tag Archives: Art

So What, Now What?: Creating Wildly in Wild Times

Wildly Creative co-founder Shanta Lee reflects on the presidential elections in the United States through the lens of art and creativity.  Featured image is Truth to Power by Bill Dunlap.

 

It is difficult to turn in any direction in American life and not see any mass shock or despair over the outcomes of the recent presidential elections. While it is key to continue to move through the stages of grief and be where we are, yet there is another alternative as we try to understand what this all means as offered through art as a vehicle for our release.

“In dark times will there be singing?” Bertolt Brecht

The Vietnam War was a dark time that birthed a number of visual, written, and lyrical reactions from many artists. One of the most well known among these responses was John Lennon’s Imagine infused with the famous lines,

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…”

A 2011 piece titled Kite by Abdul Rahman Katanani made a visual statement about the realities of the lives of children impacted by the turmoil in Gaza.

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Kite by Abdul Rahman Katanani

 

In 2015, Kyle Abraham, a choreographer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, debuted the first part of Untitled America (a 3-part movement piece developed over a period of two years). Abraham’s work was a direct response to the prison system’s impact on black families in America.

 

Let me clarify my main point of using these examples. I am not saying that it must be the composers or songwriters, choreographers, poets, or any of the other shades of artistic witnesses among us who have the only license or skill to respond to the grief, dishevelement, and unrest within and around us. In fact, these are all sign posts (along with many others not mentioned here) and a more elaborate way of speaking to the famous lines offered by German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht,

“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”

These current times, like many other passing moments in history, often stir the creative spirits of a sleeping populace.

And sometimes, the creativity and art that is awakened is in service to teaching us how to become better architects of our mundane lives.  When I woke up the morning after the election results after a few hours of sleep, I remembered Brecth’s poetic lines while thinking about a way to move forward with the rest of my week given the emotional pulse in the United States.

I was also reminded of an intersecting moment between national wounds, darkness, and art-making from this summer. On a Sunday afternoon, my partner and I journeyed to his family cabin in the woods with the hope of making art.  It was not unusual except on this particular day, we were stuck inside due to the rain while our ears were held hostage by the latest news commentary about yet another black life taken by a police officer. This time, the brutal act was captured on video for all to witness.  My partner was crafting a piece in response to all of this, I don’t know how to make art today” while I shifted uncomfortably in my skin and chair pondering about how these dark times would impact all of us.

Historically speaking, tragedy is not a new phenomenon. However, the moments of human trauma around the world seems to be accessible in such a way that we can all instantly witness the things that we may feel too powerless to control or address.  During that moment within that rainy summer day and in the middle of the shock I was witnessing the day after the presidential elections, I wrote. By that Friday, my partner and I decided that we needed to purchase watercolor paints and brushes. We stood hand in hand as he gave me a crash course in painting with watercolors.   The rest of the day was spent painting, writing, and putting the finishing touches on a dinner party we were planning with a few friends.

In reflecting on our post-election response, the words of Pablo Picasso and Elliot Eisner seemed to provide some additional wisdom:

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” ~Pablo Picasso

“Art is literacy of the heart” ~Elliot Eisner

Perhaps what we will be doing is transforming this dark spot into words, movement, living and our being with each other as we move through the pain of it all.

Maybe this darkness will be the canvas that we have all needed to become the catalyst for unzipping our creative souls.

And if we allow art to soothe what is hurting right now, we might just become literate and fluent in ways of loving, living, creating, and being.

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Feminism, Creativity, and Breaking Boundaries: A Conversation with Anna Fishbeyn

“I only got onto the stage after I had my children. When I became a mom, it gave me an enormous freedom in thinking about myself.”

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Recently we got a chance to talk with Anna Fishbeyn who is a creative in many areas. The conversation with Anna covers the interesections between parenthood, unzipping the layers of definitions as an individual and as a creative. Anna shares that creativity is “something that is constantly moving and evolving” much like our lives from moment to moment.  Anna shares, “I find it very strange that society has defined titles for us like writer, actress or filmmaker. I actually find that they are all intertwined.”

Find out how her creative life began on stage in 2010 with an array of vignettes including The Nuts and Bolts of Espionage i.e. Sex I n Mommyville to some advice she has for swimming in your own creative waters.

You can see more of Anna Fishbeyn’s work including her winning episodes of Happy Hour Feminism on VimeoOnDemand ($1.99/video). If you are interested in also helping to support Anna’s projects, you can also visit www.patreon.com/xofeminist.

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Check out more of Anna Fishbeyn’s work and websites:

xofeminist.com

AnnaFishbeynFANPAGE

SexinMommyville FANPAGE

MyStubbornTongue FANPAGE

HappyHourFeminism FANPAGE

Anna’s twitter handle is  twitter/annafishbeyn and her instagram is Annafishbeyn.

Is Creativity for Its Own Sake Dead?

Wildly Creative co-founder Shanta Lee poses the question of whether or not our creativity for its own sake is dead in the digital age.

emily-dickinsonDid Emily Dickenson do it? Did Van Gogh care enough about it, did it drive him? Would we accuse Jean-Michel Basquiat of it had he existed today?

The “it” that I am referring to is the popularity contest that everyone has entered into in the age of social media all in an effort to be seen or heard.   Have we left the age of creativity for its own sake? Are people now creating in an effort to be seen and heard at all times paying the price of quality in exchange for tons of anonymous views?

BasquiatCould any of the artists I mentioned be guilty of entering into or engaging in what seems to be a contest of attempting to gain 15 minutes of fame through a vehicle that allows anyone at any time to push their creativity out at any time?   We don’t know because let’s face it, they are not here now for us to test this theory (and that is pretty obvious). However, it is easy to draw the conclusion that creativity and art seemed to exist for its own sake prior to all of the technology that allows anyone to post anything at any time.

It is refreshing to see Emily Dickenson’s poetry or look at anything birthed out of anyone’s truth or creative vision pre-Facebook and see a level of sincerity in it that we may have lost. At the same time that I make this statement, one could argue that it is a bit unfair to compare intention of creativity pre-and post internet and social media. After all, how would I truly know what I am seeing pressed out in mass posts from various creatives (be it images, words, or a video someone is making to share their latest creative moment) isn’t coming from a sincere want of sharing for creativity’s own sake?

buy-facebook-likesWhile it could be argued that anyone I mentioned before all of the online hoopla was aiming for some fame and recognition (some monetary compensation does not hurt as well), my main point is that it just felt different. Recently, I was talking with a musician about this very thing as we talked about some of the work he was putting on Sound Cloud. We chattered in a crowded coffee shop about our disbelief and disdain over how everyone putting out their creative work seemed to be reduced to monitoring the number of “likes” or “views” they were going to get for music, visual work, or even mere words crafted into poetry, prose, or something else.  We pondered things such as: What does it communicate when you put something out that you have created and no one responds? OR Does that dictate that value of the creative product?

Buy-Facebook-FansTowards the end of that conversation, my friend used the term “digital shenanigans” to encompass what we were talking about. Digital shenanigans seemed to summarize the hamster wheel that we all seemed to be running on these days. Weeks later, the digital shenanigans entered my mind while I shared and re-shared some of my written work and thought about another recent conversation in which a friend asked me why I did not yet have a Facebook page for my photography website. My answer to her included the fact that I was afraid of not reaching the same popularity or “likes” that I’d seen for other similar types of pages.     “Oh “likes”? You can buy likes!” she said with ease and yet that didn’t feel right to me either though I knew she was sincere in her suggestion.

In the age of our ability to buy likes and appear popular to gain an audience for our creations….is it all worth it if creating for the pure sake of creating is not at the very center of it all?

And of course, I still wonder what Emily Dickenson, Van Gogh, or Jean-Michel Basquiat would do in this technological age.

Wild Musings: What is the Cost of Free Access to Creativity & Art?

An essay  by Joshua Cohen “What the Internet’s free culture has cost us in art” originally aired on the PBS News Hour.

“The cost of a thing is the care you give it. Fact is, you could rip off a million books, but they’re not truly yours if you’re not going to read them. Songs aren’t songs if they’re never heard. Films aren’t films if they’re never watched. Canons can’t survive, they can’t evolve if the memory they animate is your computers, and not your own.  Culture must be lived. It must be active. It can’t just be in a folder on your desktop or a bundle of bytes on your hard drive.” 

Does the atmosphere and sharing or access pose a potential danger to creative endeavor?  The internet and specifically social media has created an environment that allows for us to become witness and co-creators for wild imaginings, creativity, and inspiration while connecting with each other.  In other ways, as we have previously discussed there is a simultaneous threat of perceived value (or in what is presented by Joshua Cohen) lack of value.   We share this short video leaving you with some wild thoughts around creativity, the creation of art, and access online.