Tuesday, November 30, 2010

advent begins

for the past two years, Seth has emailed these great Advent reflections, and since the season started on saturday, I felt like I should dig up some of these reflections, as well as, post some of my favorite season appropriate songs and poems. So today, with the time I have, I have been listening, over and over, to this song. It's just a lovely song but then the second verse....there! that is the Christian narrative. Is there anything else more vital to know about the nature of our God? I find the story to be really simply inspiring to my life--and this season is a really good time to reflect on how our lives should look as we wait upon the coming of our Lord.

Once in royal David's city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall;
with the poor, the scorned, the lowly,
lived on earth our Savior holy.

And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming love;
for that Child who seemed so helpless
is our Lord in heaven above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.

[I have to admit that the only Christmas albums I ever listen to are the Hark! It's Christmas! or whatever they're called by Sufjan Stevens. But Seth just dug up the Bright Eyes and Low Christmas albums! YES! totally indie!]

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I blame college.

I was reminded this morning that some of my closest friends/family are not around. And that I miss them. I couldn't name everyone, but if you are not inside our little home across from the park, I miss you. My friend Sarah Evelyn made Seth and I a collection of cds to play on our honeymoon as we drove across the different states we were visiting. Not only are these some of my favorite musics, but they are also potently transportable--I am transported to certain ideas, memories, and hopes whenever i hear them..again. Maybe that's just music's nature--to inspire something.

There is this song that gets me everytime. Not only does it practically speak for how I want to conduct our home, but specifically, right now, for missing and longing after friends and family, "there will always be room at my table for you."

"And if the lights that lead you
lead you to my door
it will always be open
there will always be lights on
there will always be room at my table for you."

I feel very blessed. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

and I thought i didn't like modern art

I didn't intend for this blog to turn into some big discussion (albeit, with myself) but I guess since this was created for the purpose of recording current issues, occurances, etc etc in my life that I feel okay writing about something so self indulgent, as a way to better remember and make sense of the things I am learning. To make them appropriate to my life.

So. I love Jackson Pollock's work. I was initially enchanted I suppose back in 2005 when I took Art Appreciation at University of Nebraska and we watched the movie Pollock. Yeah, it's embellished, liberally, and might not be exactly representative of his process or what have you, but nevertheless, the struggle, the pyschology, the pain felt his his work and life was something perhaps I could sympathize with and could identify with. Maybe I saw his work (as Kahlo's) as opportunities for me--I didn't know at the time what those opportunities were but now I'm starting to see, through knowing the contexts and backgrounds of these artists, that these opportunities translate to understanding and being better able to be a contributing member of humanity. By seeing pain and having the courage to show it, in whatever form, might be a way for us to have those opportunities to help.

This semester, I've been a little bummed about the art we've learned about. Last semester I was positively moved by the work of Byzantine art and Renaissance work. Maybe because it was largely Christian which was congruently inhancing my growing involvement back into a church. So, as art moved away from worship to more a worship of man and vanity, I felt the stories behind the works to be...dull. I briefly was excited by the ideas that propelled certain modern movements (the focus on formal elements of a painting rather than the content--but I feel this can be taken too far), but nothing seemed that ground-breaking, meaningful, and substantial--maybe i feel this is what art should strive to be. Reaching towards some type of truth (maybe the truth that there are nontruths--is there such a thing? you know, like rejecting truth--which is a very real thing in the world. because in rejecting truth, i feel experience follows that shows the effects of feeling that there is no truth) Surprisingly to myself, I started to enjoy discussions about surrealism. I hate Dali's work--maybe just his painting technique and style but I find the reasons behind surrealism to be real, important, and something crucial for human experience. (Besides, before Seth and I were dating (way before) he would ask me to write dream poetry--that is, write as I was just drifting into sleep--this I have learned in Art History III is a type of Automatism!)

So Jackson Pollack, who is an abstract expressionist who was influenced by surrealism (psychology), is all the more important to me. I feel it's kind of a cop out for me to say that I love his work, because as someone who cannot render well, I feel its self indulgent of me to justify my work by respecting someone who had, for the most part, nothing figurative about his works. They were, in a way, just about the formal aspects of PAINT. BUT there is the other side of it. I learned today that his therapist suggested that he paint as a way to heal. And I feel its evident that there is struggle in his work. That's why I immediately feel uncomfortable or sad or overwhelmed by looking at his mural sized works. I'm not saying that pain is beautiful, but that a person is willing to share that pain into something that transcends words and pictures to something that is a guttural feeling of shared deep experience is something crucial to living. To healing. To being able to heal ourselves so we can in turn help others. Professor Fenton mentioned Pollock's footprints on the canvas, his temporary house paints used, and the fact that he wasn't interested in making lasting art (say, like the Greeks) but I take this as knowing our place as dust. The struggle that comes with that realization and what the hell to make of ourselves after that discovery. (that's my own take...maybe too much) Lastly, Fenton pointed out that being from Wyoming, Pollock was exposed to Navajo Sand Paintings. The nature of these paintings were temporary, being that the art was in the making of the painting, that the wind would blow it away after completion, or it would be deliberately destroyed. These paintings were for healing. The sick would sit in the middle while the "healer" created the art around the sick. Pollock, it can be inferred, was acting as both the sick and the healer. I think that's so profound. That's what I'm trying to do. Maybe that's why I get choked up by Gary's photo slide presentations, or when Dave says artists are the most normal humans on the planet.

We're struggling to understand and while trying to understand (this existence) we are able to make the decision as to how to live (good or bad). Art of all types, I hope, records these experiences of growth, discovery, and experience itself. Or not, because that is a valid option, too. (i say valid, not right or good).

Maybe this makes no sense. Sometimes it's really hard for me to know what art is for, but I am suddenly inspired and needed to write it down. Messy and maybe incoherent, but maybe there's some truth in here.

Anyways, it's time to go to photo (last class before break, thank God!). I am working on my final, and speaking of self indulgence, we are assigned to have a self portrait and supporting works to tell something about ourselves. Here's what I'm working on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Over a Month

It's the middle of November. Nothing significant has changed, really. School is going swimmingly--photography (though I'm going through a inspiration block currently) is surprising me more and more as the weeks go on. I can't believe I love it so much. Seth and I are great and living and thriving.

The holidays are coming up though and I find myself wondering how to celebrate them. It's this balance or something that I want to retain the things I've grown up knowing and doing while interjecting with some "new traditions." But can new traditions be called "traditions" like which I'm trying to do? I don't think they can be. Life needs to pass and patterns will surface--i suppose.

One of the newest things for us--something that's going to be radically different for me, is going to a new church for Christmas. I'm really blessed to be a part of a community who celebrate the Advent season, and I am excited to see how this period of waiting and expectancy will put us in a state of reverence and understanding. This way we are able to celebrate Christmas in a way that is not tinted by nationalistic ritual (buying!). Celebration during this time will rather be seen through the reflection and anticipation that Christ will come again.

On Saturday, I went with some friends up to the Abbey of St. Walburga since, as a church, we had been learning about various ways to worship (through our work/bodies/health/family/money/church). Seth has developed a relationship with the nuns over a couple years and so we got to have a nice introduction to the Benedictine abbey. "Prayer is our work, AND our work is our prayer." This way of living seems to embody what it is to Worship in our daily lives. Sister Walburga pointed out that they try to live moderately--that is, virtue starts with moderation, which is so beautifully stated since we as outsiders, might see an abbey or monestary as extreme versions of life--but their work is to be representatives of non Christians and Christians alike--their prayer is their work, and their work is their prayer. They live simply--they spend all day working (they run and maintain a grass-fed beef farm) only to be interrupted by the sound of bells to be called to the various times of prayer throughout the day. It is a true inspiration as to how to live our lives--simply, treating our work as our prayer, to pray, to welcome the stranger, to commit our lives to a group of people, and to live in Peace.

Now, it's time to go back to school.: to watch the film Tough Guise, to finish up my first abstract painting of the semester (yes! pictured: end of day 2), to take a test, and to work on my Self Portrait final photo project.

Happy Monday