Citizenship, Community

Points of Reference, mid-December 2016

Right now it seems difficult to feel sure about anything—facts, news sources, impending policies, and even the appropriateness of one’s own emotions. I know that despair and inaction are recipes for depression, however. Here are some unconnected things that are affirming my faith in each other and the power of self-organization.

Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer invites you to a community Self-Defense, Anti-Bullying, and De-Escalation Training Learn self-defense, de-escalation, and upstander tactics from the Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE) and the Center for Anti-Violence Education to protect yourself and your neighbors. Wednesday, December 14, 6pm-8pm Sunnyside Community Services 43-31 39th Street, Sunnyside RSVP: 718-383-9566 or eehrenberg@council.nyc.gov Free and open to all. Reserve your spot today!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 6:00pm
Fight Back Workshop: Secure Your Movement
Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 112 W 27th Street, NYC

AAWW’s responsive call for the Open City Muslim Communities Fellowship 2017, “a unique six-month opportunity for emerging writers of color from communities under attack from Islamophobia to publish narrative nonfiction about Muslim communities in New York City.” The program offers a “$2,500 stipend, skill-building workshops, and publishing opportunities to up to five writers.”

W.A.G.E.‘s responsive statement about the continued relevance of its advocacy for paying artists within the context of fighting for all workers:

Here is what we must do: we must put our exceptionality to work. Putting our exceptionality to work means claiming the privilege of having it both ways. It means dissenting from the industry that we serve by demanding to be paid for the content we provide. And this demand can no longer be made on the basis of being an impoverished, marginalized, and exploited constituency. …the demand for compensation must be made on behalf of a broader class struggle that extends well beyond the field’s impossibly high barriers to entry.

I’m excited about their teasing announcement of WAGENCY,

a broad-based coalition and artist certification program intended to provide working artists with the necessary agency to negotiate compensation or withhold content and services from institutions that refuse to pay them fees according to W.A.G.E. standards—a new form of labor organizing for an unpaid and atomized work force.

It’s time, artists. UNITE.

Southern Exposure’s goals of Abundance, Collaboration, Equity, and Agency—principles that I’ve written about in Art Practical, and explored in recent projects over the past two years…

soex-goals

Support SoEx.

Words matter. Why equity? Why not diversity? Diversity is “a much lower standard than equity” (Jeff Chang).

Jeff Chang‘s perceptive writing on race and protest in We Gon’ Be Alright:

But even for those who say they don’t like the bullying and don’t like the bully, the culture wars allow them cover to do nothing. Demagogues evoke restorationist dreaming, a deeply imagined past of order and tranquility. Reactionaries do not even need to sustain the belief or the anger of the fearful; they need only the silence and the complicity of the masses. In this way, from Wallace and Nixon to Palin and Trump, the energies of anxious whites have been diverted from class uprisings to racial division.

And this:

Protest of moral and historic force begins with people facing extreme vulnerability. For those who have been silenced, rising to the act of speaking is a perilously high climb indeed. For them, protest is not an expression of fear and doubt, but an overcoming of fear and doubt. And when it comes from those at the bottom, it can often be a profound proposition about how to make the world better for all. That’s the difference between the mob whipped into a frenzy by a demagogue and the protestors demanding that the institutions address harmful conditions that negate their very existence. One excludes, the other raises up.

The #NODAPL win at Standing Rock. Mobilizations work! Now let’s continue the pressure to permanently stop the pipeline. There are still #NODAPL actions scheduled throughout December, and you are still urged to divest from the banks funding the pipeline, such as TD and Citibank.

Thinking about:

  • Self care” versus sticking your head in the sand.
  • Sticking your head in the sand versus mindfully withdrawing from the 24-hour news cycle. Being as careful about the media you consume as you are with the foods you eat (Thích Nhất Hạnh).
  • That 1980’s/1990’s slogan, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” The way it affirms our negative moods, but can whisper guilt and fear into our positive experiences.
  • The facts that working out helps relieve stress, and emotional stress is tied to medical illness. Knowing that this is going to be a long haul, and we must sustain ourselves with care for ourselves and each other.

 

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Community, News

7/14: Opening @ Kala Art Institute, Berkeley

After five weeks of intensive printmaking and sewing, I’m happily exhausted and happy to share Ways and Means, a new body of letterpress-printed activity kits, collaborative games, and custom garments exploring interdependence and resourcefulness. The project includes collaborations with Leah RosenbergElizabeth Travelslight, and Sarrita Hunn (Institute for Autonomous Practices). Ways and Means is participatory—come, interact, bring a buddy, and make new buddies.

Details from Ways and Means: letterpress printed cut-and-assemble activity on interdependence (two-color linoleum and polymer printed and bound at the Center for Book Arts) and apron (two-color screenprint on canvas, sewn with Sophia Wong).

Details from Ways and Means: letterpress printed cut-and-assemble activity on interdependence (two-color linoleum and polymer printed and bound at the Center for Book Arts, NYC) and apron (two-color screenprint on canvas, sewn with Sophia Wong).

July 14 – October 15, 2016
Appro-propagation
Residency Projects: New Work by 2015-2016 Kala Fellows

Opening Reception: Thursday, July 14, 6-8pm

Kala Art Institute
Gallery: 2990 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702
Gallery Hours: Tue-Fri, 12-5:00pm; Sat, 12-4:30pm

Takuji Hamanaka
Jamil Hellu
Lucy Puls
Ronny Quevedo
Neil Rivas
Leah Rosenberg
James Voller
Christine Wong Yap


This experience has been so positive in bountiful ways. I’ll elaborate more later, but at this moment I am moved to share my gratitude for the organizations and so many individuals who have made this possible: Kala Art Institute; the Kala Fellows Program; Kala staff (particularly Carrie Hott, Paper Buck, Ben EngleAndrea Voinot, and Mayumi Hamanaka for their help and trust, and Archana Horsting and Yuzo Nakano for having the vision to create and maintain such a special place); Kala fellow Fellows, Honorary Fellows, AIRs, and interns for contributing to the spirit of welcoming community and knowledge-and-resource-sharing; the Center for Book Arts’ AIR Workspace Grant program; Val Imus and Southern Exposure for non-profits’ mutual aid; Kevin B. Chen and Genevieve Quick for believing in me; collaborators Sarrita Hunn, Leah Rosenberg, Elizabeth Travelslight; installer Gary and interns Katrina and Sean; Sophia Wong for sewing assistance; and Michael Yap for unending support. I am also grateful for Susan O’Malley, to have shared in her life, work, and wisdom, and—I believe—a feeling that interdependent entanglements such as these swell our hearts and lives… Thank you.

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Community

Art Moves 2015 billboard festival will be dedicated to Susan O’Malley.

“Susan took part in the Art Moves Festival in 2012 and was twice a juror of the Art on Billboards competition. She always brought her wonderful mixture of optimism, energy and professionalism.”

This year’s theme is “What has real value? Can money buy everything?” The deadline for submissions is July 22, 2015.

Art Moves 2015

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Community

Susan O’Malley and Tiny Beautiful Things

In advance of Sunday’s public celebration of the life of Susan O’Malley, I offer those who are reeling from loss a book recommendation, which Susan presciently shared with me.  

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed. // Source: CherylStrayed.com

Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.

—Cheryl Strayed

 

Susan was reading Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar when we roomed together on an art trip to Poland. She spoke glowingly about it, and highly recommended it to me. This was in early September 2012. Later that month, one of the worst things that have happened in my life, one which I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, happened.

In grief, my heart felt beaten and bloodied, like it was cleaving itself from my chest. My universe had been permanently re-arranged, and I walked around in a state of shock for months. I wasn’t sure of anything: why I do anything, what the point was. I wondered how to avoid subjecting loved ones to what I’d been through when my own time came. The hurt of life—and death—seemed inescapable.

Strayed is no stranger to the loss of a parent, and those indescribable, intensely personal, most idiosyncratic emotional experiences categorized as grief. She wrote candidly and forcefully about it in Tiny Beautiful Things and Wild. Strayed somehow found the words and the strength to acknowledge the brutality of such loss. Her honesty also lets in cracks of light: unfathomably, imperfectly, we go on. We might be total fucking messes, but we also have to try, even if we fail, to forgive and love ourselves.

On my way home from three of the worst weeks of my life, I sent Susan a message from the airport. I had to thank her for her recommendation. My mourning felt isolating, but Strayed’s words offered moments of familiarity and acceptance. Maybe it can do the same for you, and thereby join the multitude of ways in which Susan’s wisdom lives on.

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Community, Make Things (Happen)

In Remembrance: Susan O’Malley

It is with immense sadness that I share that Susan O’Malley suddenly passed away.

Susan was an artist, curator, and member of the tight-knit San Francisco Bay Area art community. She was my friend and collaborator. She recently contributed to Make Things (Happen), and I last saw her at the opening reception on February 6. She was pregnant with twin girls, and almost due. Susan was radiant, and as characteristically good-humored as ever.

Susan’s positivity in person and via her artworks left countless people with brighter days. I aspired to be more like her: to embody more compassion, forgiveness, and kindness; to be magnanimous in my relationships and outlook; and to let go of what I can’t control.

I have always admired her work—an enthusiastic blend of relational and text-based practices—for its elegant simplicity, humor, and unabashed enthusiasm. It was borne out of her unshakable faith in optimism. She embraced the risk of being sentimental, trusting that sincerity is a virtue that redeems feeling self-conscious or ridiculous. All of us, Susan insisted, are capable of wisdom and love. She asked us to open our hearts to possibilities.

Many of us defend ourselves from the slings and arrows of everyday life with cynicism. Susan remained unapologetically affirmative, even in sustained grief as her mother endured a lengthy terminal illness. That fact speaks to the courage of her humanity.

I saw this in her work, One Minute Smile, when I was still fresh in the clutch of bereavement of my dad. Exemplifying her generosity of spirit, Susan shared an intensely personal, vulnerable moment with a room full of strangers and friends. As she made eye contact with us, we became more present and mindful. Together, Susan helped us acknowledge: Yes, we are fragile… and yes, we have yet-undiscovered reserves of resilience within us, too.

I’m grateful for Susan for sharing her light with me, and helping me and many others find more of our own. She will be dearly missed.

Susan O'Malley with her mobile billboard stating "You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be" in the Art Moves Festival in Torun, Poland, September 2012.

Susan O’Malley with her mobile billboard stating, “You are exactly where you need to be.” Art Moves Festival, Torun, Poland, September 2012.

Romer Young Gallery annoucement
Artforum
Christian L. Frock, “Celebrating the Life of Artist and Curator Susan O’Malley (1976–2015),” KQED

Learn more about public memorials and a memorial fund for the arts: morebeautifulthanyoucouldeverimagine.com

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Not because it’s easy, but because it often isn’t:

Susan O'Malley, One Minute Smile (participatory performance documentation), 2013

Susan O’Malley, One Minute Smile (participatory performance documentation), 2013 // Source: SusanOMalley.com

It’s an invitation to us, really. To try to smile every day, even on the days when we least want to.

—Susan O’Malley
Community, Works

Susan O’Malley, One Minute Smile

Image
Community

Congrats Art Moves Festival Artists

Galeria Rusz has announced this year’s artists to be included in the Art Moves Billboard Competition in Poland. Congrats to all the artists!

Special congrats to Justin A. Langlois, who also contributed to Make Things (Happen) (Check out his five provocations). (Full disclosure: I was on the jury for Art Moves. Note that the jurying was blind—I had no inkling who the artists were.)

P.S. Last month, I mouthed off about how the People’s Climate March Design Competition asked for free speculative work for their marketing campaign, and I linked to NO SPEC! Then I agreed to jury Art Moves. Why would I object to one and support another? Both call for print-ready images for reproduction in advertising spaces, and offer slim chances of remuneration. I tried to write a compare-and-contrast, but it’s probably rationalization: I’m just biased against advertising and for small artist-run organizations. That’s my nineties values for you. So NO SPEC! if you want, and decide what art competitions are right for you. (Not sure where to start? Try here.)

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