Citizenship, Sights

See: Processions (UK)

This checks all boxes that make me happy: DIY flags. Processions. Participatory art. Empowering women, especially right now. Check, check, check!

Join us on 10th June for PROCESSIONS, a mass artwork celebrating 100 years of women voting, in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.

On Sunday 10th June, women* (*those who identify as women or non-binary) and girls from across the UK will come together to create a vast participatory artwork taking place simultaneously for one day. PROCESSIONS will be a living portrait of UK women in the 21st century.

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Flags made by Helen De Main and participants at the Glasgow Women’s Library. // HT: Rosie O’Grady (@OGradyRosie) // What’s not to love about this? You’ve got Helen De Main’s gorgeous design sensibility [Helen was a contributing artist to my make things (happen) project in 2014] and with participants at the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to women’s history.

Check out Processions’ Make Your Own Banner guides for extensive downloadable PDF toolkits and school resource kits.

My only wish is that I could be there in one of those four amazing cities this Sunday.

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Sights

See: Mel Chin @ Queens Museum / Read: On Chin’s Prefigurative Politics

Rainwear garments made of recycled bottles, designed by Tracy Reese and sewed by a women's empowerment organization in Detroit. Mel Chin, “Flint Fit,” (2018-ongoing). // Photo: CWY.

Rainwear garments made of recycled water bottles, designed by Tracy Reese and sewed by a women’s empowerment organization in Flint. Mel Chin, “Flint Fit,” (2018-ongoing). // Photo: CWY.

I’ve been a fan of Mel Chin’s art since I learned of the Fundred dollar bill project (inviting students to color in bills, collecting them, and presenting them to Congress to request funds to fix local environmental injustices). And I’ve been a fan of the idiosyncratic artist since hearing him speak at the College Art Association conference in 2011. Chin’s a smart, collaborative, humble social practitioner and an unpretentious famous artist. He’s Chinese American and a through-and-through, singing, guitar-strumming Texan. He’s obsessed with the flawed human condition and environmental injustice, and makes art that earnestly and optimistically seeks change.

See Mel Chin: All Over the Place at the Queens Museum through August 12 (with auxilliary public artworks in Manhattan). I especially love the Flint FIT project.

Read an astute review, “Mel Chin’s Tongue-in-Cheek Encyclopedia of the World,” by Ryan Wong in Hyperallergic. This passage sums up some of the contradictions and poetics of working in social practice:

“Revival Field” and “Flint Fit” fill a unique role in the spectrum between art, social practice, and activism. In political terms, they might be called prefigurative — gestures that are both effective in themselves and utopian, albeit on a small scale. While Chin acknowledges that there is more work to be done in Flint, the project both embodies a new politics and gestures towards more. As he puts it, “You gotta show it can be done.”

The term “prefigurative” is intriguing. Here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

Prefigurative politics are the modes of organization and social relationships that strive to reflect the future society being sought by the group. According to Carl Boggs, who coined the term, the desire is to embody “within the ongoing political practice of a movement […] those forms of social relations, decision-making, culture, and human experience that are the ultimate goal”.[1] Prefigurativism is the attempt to enact prefigurative politics.

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Ryan Pierce, The Seal of Confluence, Flashe and ink on paper, 2017. 30 x 22.25 inches.

 

I love Ryan Pierce’s paintings. I’ve been a fan of the techniques, narrative coherence, Charles Burchfield-esque pulsing life, and the tension between hope and hopelessness in his paintings since we went to grad school together.

Ryan’s newest project, The River in the Cellar, sounds amazing. I love this combination of fiction, paintings, books, and geo-cached participation. It’s such a brilliant combination of Ryan’s interests in ecology and wilderness (as seen in his work co-founding Signal Fire, which helps artists and creative agitators engage with our remaining wildlands).

Ryan describes the project this way:

The River in the Cellar is a short fiction set in my painted world: a future of accelerated climate change and new forms of governance. The book includes eleven full-color archival inkjet prints corresponding to the storyline, and—here’s the participatory part—the prints will be cached throughout the Portland and Mt. Hood area, and it will be up to the reader to locate and assemble the illustrations while reading the book. The project is offered in a signed edition of 200.

There are a few ways to play: you can come to the reading event and buy the book and see the original paintings that comprise the color prints. You can order one from my website and assemble it another time. Lastly, you can skip the scavenger hunt and order the book with the complete accompanying print set for $50 here.

More info: RyanPierce.net

 

Works

See: Ryan Pierce: The River in the Cellar

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Works

See: Class Set by Jessalyn Aaland

Class Set, a risograph poster project initiated by Jessalyn Aaland.

Class Set, a risograph poster project initiated by Jessalyn Aaland. // Source: classset.org

 

To create Class Set, Bay Area artist Jessalyn Aaland invited artists to create posters featuring a quote by authors or activists. The artwork was reproduced via Risograph printing and offered for free to K-12 teachers, bringing art and inspiration into resource-strapped classrooms. Over 4,000 posters have been distributed so far.

Each of these artworks are also freely available for PDF download. Non-teachers can also purchase the set of 10 posters for a very affordable price of $100, which will be invested in a second round of posters.

Teachers can find more information about the authors and artists in a curriculum companion (freely available as a Word doc or PDF). It also contains activity handouts, including activities for students to make their own posters.

Sometimes I worry that being a project-based artist makes my work too ungainly to explain. Class Set is a great example of a project that is satisfyingly cohesive as a whole. The sum of its parts form compelling connections with audiences and constituents. The fact that the posters and curriculum are freely downloadable is an important part of the project—the posters gain life through their movements through the social imagination.

 

I love the inspirational messages in the posters. The following ones especially resonated with my current interests in interdependence, trusting the process, and courage in the face of vulnerability.

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“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.” Quote by César Chávez. Artwork by Yetunde Olagbaju. // Source: classset.org

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“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Quote by Ursula K. Le Guin. Art by Veronica Graham. // Source: classset.org

 

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“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Quote by Nelson Mandela. Art by Jeffrey Cheung.

Skateboarding is such a perfect metaphor for the importance of failing (and falling) in the process of invention. If you don’t know about Jeffrey Cheung and Unity Skateboards, read about them in the NY Times.

For more info, or to download posters or the curriculum, visit ClassSet.org.

Participating artists: Jeffrey Cheung, Veronica Graham, Sarah Hotchkiss, Carey Lin, Paul Morgan, Yetunde Olagbaju, Grace Rosario Perkins, Sofie Ramos, Muzae Sesay, Chelsea Ryoko Wong

Featuring quotes by:
Sherman Alexie, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Stephen Bantu Biko, César Chávez, June Jordan, Corita Kent, Ursula K. Le Guin, Wangari Maathai, Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison

HT: Susannah Magers (IG: @suzorsuziq)

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Research

Points of Reference: Revisiting Positivity

Two positive psychology concepts seemed newly relevant today.

I’d learned these ideas years ago, but re-discovered them today. They are helping me to keep perspective, and remember why I want to embrace the positive.

Shane Lopez’ Hope Maps

I like psychologist and hope researcher Shane Lopez’ exercise to envision goals, pathways, and obstacles. It’s a way to visualize your response to obstacles and help your future self stay motivated.

You can find a description of Shane Lopez’ Hope Maps exercise in this article.

(I’ve mentioned it on my blog before in “Points of Reference: Resistance Day 16: Cakes, Spells, Dance, and Multi-Centeredness.”)

Today, when I searched for the link on his website, I was saddened to learn that Lopez passed away in 2016. I feel very fortunate to have attended his session at a positive psychology conference in 2011 (thanks to the Jerome Travel and Study Grant, a great resource for NYC and MN-based artists). In Lopez’ honor, I made a hope map today.

[I also learned that Lopez published a book in 2014, called Making Hope Happen. In a little poetical reflection, that is the same year I created the make things (happen) project.]

Lopez’ understanding of hope is concrete and action-oriented. I liked his emphasis on agency, as I always feel better about a situation when I start to take action.

Christine Wong Yap, Positive Signs #43 (inspired by Shane Lopez), 2011, glitter pen on gridded vellum, 8.5 × 11 in

Christine Wong Yap, Positive Signs #43 (inspired by Shane Lopez), 2011, glitter pen on gridded vellum, 8.5 × 11 in

David J. Pollay’s Law of The Garbage Truck

I recently came across this quote:

Thinking is hard. That’s why most people judge.

It’s got a nice ring, but turns out to be a misquote of Carl Jung:

Thinking is difficult. Therefore, let the herd pronounce judgement.

The irony of studying positive psychology and making art about positive affect is that I often fall short in my daily life. I can feel my attention get more unfocused by digital media. Constantly making knee-jerk reactions (scroll, scroll, like, scroll, scroll) makes me more judgy, low, and complainy.

I think, in some contexts, I’ve turned into a garbage truck. I don’t want to be that person, who dumps on people’s pleasant mornings with negativity. So I’m grateful that I read David J. Pollay’s book, and am reminded of the principles in this helpful poster. (Coincidentally, I bought Pollay’s book at the same positive psychology conference in 2011.)

 

David J. Pollay, The Law of the Garbage Truck.

David J. Pollay, The Law of the Garbage Truck. // Source: davidpollay.com

 

It’s been seven years since learning of these psychologists’ work. I’ve always loved the idea that writing and art practice are forms of thinking. Today they are also forms for remembering.

 

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Ann Hamilton’s “Fly Together,” part of the Creative Time-led project, Pledge of Allegiance. // Source: creativetime.org // Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli

On June 14 (Flag Day), Creative Time launched Pledge of Allegiance, a new project commissioning 16 artists to create flags fly simultaneously at 12 art institutions around the country.

I love the project—there are flags, new artists’ commissions, opportunities for artists to make topical political statements, opportunities for art organizations to self-organize and take risks.

Caveat: NYC’s public art programs can host some of the most exciting and ambitious art here, but it’d be nice to see them take more risks with emerging, non-blue-chip artists, especially with new and auxiliary programming.

Sights

See: Pledges of Allegiance

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Research

To Bring Into Being an Optimistic Future

Recent points of reference about psychology, anxiety, and the need to be intentional about optimism and humor. Plus artworks made when I was first learned about positive psychology at the beginning of the Obama presidency.

 

Christine Wong Yap. Stars and Stripes from the Pounds of Happiness installation, 2009, mixed media.

Christine Wong Yap. Stars and Stripes from the Pounds of Happiness installation, 2009, mixed media.

We live in a world where there is a constant feed from social media, the news, etc., of things that can scare us, and we become so anxious because human beings are designed to be sensitized to dangerous stuff. You get a bad review as a writer, you remember it for 10 years. You get 100 good reviews, you forget them all. You say hello to 100 people in a city, and it doesn’t mean anything to you. One racist comment passes by, it sticks with you a decade. We keep the negative stuff because it’s the negative stuff that’s going to—potentially—kill us. That fin in the water—maybe it is a shark. That yellow thing behind a tree—maybe it is a lion. You need to be scared. But contemporary culture in Pakistan, just like in America, is continuously hitting us with scary stuff, and so we are utterly anxious.

I think that it’s very important to resist that anxiety, to think of ways of resisting the constant inflow of negative feelings—not to become depoliticized as a result, but to actually work actively to bring into being an optimistic future. For me, writing books and being someone who is politically active is part of that. I don’t want to be anxious in my day-to-day life; I want to try to imagine a future I’d like to live in and then write books and do things that, in my own small way, make it more likely that that future will come to exist.

—Author Mohsin Hamid (“Pakistani Author Mohsin Hamid And His Roving ‘Discontent’,’ Fresh Air, March 9, 2017)

 

Christine Wong Yap, Cheap and Cheerful #3, 2009, gel pen on paper, A4.

Christine Wong Yap, Cheap and Cheerful #3, 2009, gel pen on paper, A4.

…one of the offshoots of the rise of Trump has been to rob many liberals of their sense of humor. To pay close attention to the news is to trap oneself in a daily cycle of outrage, self-righteousness, a pained recognition of the inelegance of that self-righteousness, and, finally, a feeling of futility. Part of what made the Women’s March so powerful was its scenes of comedy, not simply the signs that mocked the President but those that recognized the joyousness in the very of act of protest.

…Constant vigilant outrage is not only exhausting, and eventually deflating, but it’s ill suited to liberal culture, which is suffused with a healthy dose of self-awareness, self-mockery, and even self-loathing. There’s a reason conservatives control talk radio, with all its grim certitude, and liberals run comedy, which is characterized by, among others things, ambivalence.

—Ian Crouch, “This Is The Future That Liberals Want” Is The Joke That Liberals Need, NewYorker.com, March 3, 2017

 

Christine Wong Yap, Unlimited Promise, 2009/2010, installation.

Christine Wong Yap, Unlimited Promise, 2009/2010, installation.

 

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