Thursday, March 31, 2011

Don't Tell Me This is Easy

When I inform people that I am studying art, I typically receive one of two reactions. Either they form a mild look of pity on their faces and say "That explains the circles under your eyes" or conversely, they smile, laugh in a somewhat dismissive manner and say "Well, that sounds pretty fun and not too stressful".

Not too stressful.

This completely ignorant phrase is often uttered by those that have clearly never known an art student. Otherwise, they would know better. This phrase also irritates me to no end and I find myself restraining my tongue from lashing the offender to pieces.

Not too stressful.

Granted, I realize that most non-art majors are really only acquainted with the art classes they took their K-12 years. And yes, art class was, for many, a wondrously fun and thrilling  part of the day during those years in which you were allowed to be messy and create and the art teacher was typically some fun form of insane. Art wasn't stressful then. It was all fun and laughs and hanging your latest creation on the fridge and looking forward eagerly to the next class.

I also realize that combined with that generalized background with art classes is a depressing memory by these people of long, sleepless nights at their desk or in a library, writing, studying, cramming, and drinking way too much coffee and smoking way too many cigarettes in an attempt to keep going. I get it, because I've had those nights too. I once had to go 72 straight hours without so much as a cat nap in order to get a 10 page research paper and accompanying 20 minute presentation finished. I was mildly hallucinating by the end of it. I get it. The papers, the exams, the projects, the presentations are all very stressful and require a lot of mental power. And how, from afar, those art majors with their weird clothes, weird hair, cheap smokes, and I-Don't-Give-A-Shit attitudes seem to have it so easy. Three weeks to complete a drawing- no big deal.

No. Wrong. False. Nope.

Being an art student is hard. I have friends who have had friends previously who also studied art and they look at my constantly frazzled state and say "I am so glad I am not you". They get why art students always look like shit. Because, you see, we also have those exams, those projects, those papers and those presentations to do. But we also have our pieces that we have to complete with very tight deadlines. It takes a lot of time and physical effort into creating even a simple pencil drawing; much less an oil painting, a sculpture of any kind, a print, or a constructed piece. I also have a job. I also live in an apartment with chores that need doing. I also have friends, family, and Significant Other who wish to physically see me every once in a while in order to ascertain I'm not dead.

I recently told a friend of mine a rough run-down of my day-to-day schedule. I am in class from approximately Noon to about 9 o'clock at night. Three nights of the week, I also have lab hours in the print studio from 9pm until 2:30/3 in the morning. I also work about 16 hours a week, at night (my job hours are from 8pm to 4am, and I work typically work on the nights I am not in the studio). I also have other homework, like drawings for my figure class, papers, projects (I am currently creating a children's book for a children's literature class), novels to read for multiple classes, and exams to study for. And errands. And chores at home. And I am expected to attend museum exhibits and gallery openings and artist talks in the area. At the end of the run-down, my friend asked "When do you sleep?" The answer: I don't.

Being an art student is incredibly stressful. It is very physically demanding. There is a lot of physical work involved in printmaking, sculpture, painting, and even drawing. Drawing for two and a half hours straight (the standard length of my art classes) is a physically exhausting task. Your body hurts afterward. And that is just for the art classes. That doesn't include the general classes we also have to take.

Am I memorizing formulas or researching Chaucer or running experiments with cells in a lab? No. But the fact that "all you do is draw" as an art student does not make it an easy or joke of a major. My roommates often go days without seeing me. I am nearly constantly working on something.

I say this because it needs to be said. I had a coworker try to tell me how fun/easy my major must be, after I hadn't slept in nearly 3 days, hadn't showered for a week, and was running on only 2 small meals a day. I don't need pity or sympathy; I love what I do. I wouldn't do it otherwise. It wouldn't be worth the aches, the pains, the lack of sleep, the terrible hygiene at times if I didn't love art and didn't love what I do. I wouldn't be willing to work around highly toxic chemicals and solvents, nearly guaranteeing I get cancer later in life.

Last night was the first full night of sleep I have had in a week. My body is a mess right now and everything hurts. I physically could not get up for my first class this morning- my arms and legs just would not support my weight. Significant Other has been looking at me like I could keel over at any second. I live with the exhaustion because art is my passion in life and it is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I truly believe that a world without art is not a world I would want to live in.

Art is stressful. Art is hard. Art is demanding and unforgiving. It is not easy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

For the Curious

For those out there saying "Kay, you say you are an art student, but where is your work?!" fear not. My work is available to view online (for the most part). I am terrible at keeping up with documenting my work, and tend to do so in batches that take the majority of my day to process (not including the actual photographing of the work). As a result, most of my work is not available to view online.

My online work can be seen at the following places:

My newly created Flickr account. This contains mostly college work and photography.

My DeviantArt account that I've had for years. Contains most of my documented work, and a lot of stuff from High School.

There is quite a bit of overlap between the two, and I think I may soon convert all of my work from dA over to Flickr, and use that account solely to follow artists on that site that I admire.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mental Health Awareness

I am finally back at home from my gallivanting about the state for the past week. Significant Other's meeting with my parents went smashingly. I also made my way into the Columbus area to visit some family and friends in the area, including JT Eberhard. He's been involved with Skepticon and currently is the High School organizer for the Secular Student Alliance, and is an all around lovely person.

However, JT has has recently been struggling with Mental Illness, and as an attempt to come to terms with his illness, as well as raise aware for mental health issues, he has been blogging about his struggles with trying to live with atypical way in which his mind functions. JT and I spoke extensively about mental illness in general as well as our own struggles.

I have been living with chronic depression for most of my life, having been diagnosed at the age of 10. Mental Illness runs on both sides of my family, in addition to handling my own illness. It took a long time for both myself and my family to come to terms with my depression and learn how to handle it appropriately. JT is very brave in making his battle public, and I admire him greatly for his passion to raise awareness.

Mental Illness is something that is still a very taboo topic. People don't talk about when someone is sick. Those that are legitimately ill are often handled as though they are attention seekers, even though more often than not, they do everything in their power to hide the fact they are ill and resist seeking treatment. This combination of willful ignorance and deliberate masquerading has the potential to end with the person who is ill not receiving the help they need, until something drastic happens, or it is too late. What's worse, this happens more often than we like to admit.

Please, if you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, seek help. Talk to someone. If it is you that is ill, tell someone. Even if they initially brush you off, insist, tell them, get it out. Keeping it locked away from the world does not make it go away and will not get you the help you need.

There are mental health hotlines in most areas and services in most cities. Get help. Raise awareness. Do not suffer in silence.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Truth Saves

The Truth Saves site and campaign has some awesome new images out that I think are rocking and are exactly what I think people need to see to believe that the godless are where you least expect them.




I love the banners, and I agree with Hemant Mehta when he says that these should be part of the next atheist/agnostic billboard campaign. Because they're awesome images and awesome quotes.

Family and Fromness

In the morning, Significant Other and I are going on the road to visit my parents for the first time. It has been several months since I've seen them and I'm looking forward to romping with my dogs and younger sister. I even baked some Irish Cream brownies for the occasion. This is Significant Other's first time meeting any members of my family, so I'm hoping it goes well. I'm fairly close with my rather sizable family, so it is important to me that he at least meet them. Plus, I meet his family when he graduates, so it's only fair right? :p.

When Significant Other and I first began dating, a family member picked up on his non-white sounding name, and immediately honed in on the question of 'fromness': Where is he from?

I said his family used to live in a town in the general area of our university, but now live elsewhere. No no no, that's not what my family member meant. What country is he from? While I was tempted to be snarky, I was not in the mood to fight and told them the country of his birth. The "Oh...ok," came with a tone of apprehension and perhaps even suspicion. This irritated me, as while I acknowledge that the family member was raised in a very different time and place (and thus, mentality) than myself and my generation, I find the inadvertent racism frustrating.

Chally over at Feministe has been doing a series titled Where Are You From? in which she examines fromness and how it relates specifically to non-whites (in the cultural as well as racial sense). I find it almost amusing that people will ask me where Significant Other is from when they can't place his accent. They tell me they don't feel comfortable asking him, so they ask me instead. Which is peculiar. As though asking me, because I'm 'White Like You' it somehow makes your discomfort with 'otherness' okay? Why do I have to be the go-between? Because I'm more like you and thus less threatening?

I receive similar reactions when I'm out on occasion with my maternal grandmother when she visits. She is German, and has a noticeable accent. When she wanders away to look at a sweater or blouse or a lamp or painting, whomever we were previously speaking with will sometimes lean in and whisper "Where is she from?" like it's some big secret or taboo thing. It only shows the person's discomfort with not being able to categorize the other person. If you are truly curious as to a person's origins, as them yourself. Do not try and find some sort of "translator" (which is what I feel like sometimes) that you can somehow relate to and use them as a proxy for identifying with the other person. Even my grandmother, white as I am, is viewed as being of not the same cultural whiteness as I, because her country of origin is so far removed from the U.S. while still maintaining an acceptable 'whiteness'.

If you are truly curious as to where someone hails from, just fucking ask. If it makes you uncomfortable to ask, perhaps there is reflecting you need to do. This country is too big and too much of a salad bowl (a term I prefer to 'mixing pot') for us to continue to be stuck in this uncomfortable rut of being timid when dealing with people different from ourselves.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

International Women's Day

International Women's Day was March 8th, and I neglected to do a post on it due to school and work obligations. As a belated post, and an acknowledgement of Women's History Month, I leave you with this video:


Figure Drawing

The university which I attend has a very odd system for their drawing department. In order me to have a degree in a certain concentration (drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture), I need 12 upper division credits in one area. Since I am a drawing major, that area would be drawing. But! there are only 2 upper division courses in the drawing department, worth 3 credit hours a piece. This mean that the courses have to be repeated in order to accumulate credit. I have to do this with Drawing 5 and Figure Drawing.

I am currently taking Figure Drawing for the second time. And it is tortuous. I took this class last semester, and by the end of it I was starting to burn out. I though that winter break would help me regain my drive and this semester wouldn't be so bad. I was so wrong. It's terrible. You see, we only use two models in this class: one man, one woman. They are professional models, and are very good at what they do. But drawing the same people every single class is boring as all hell. Plus, as wonderful a model as the female model is, she has this tendency to wear long, flouncy skirts. Which makes drawing her legs (one of the most interesting parts of the figure) a pain in the ass. It also makes screwing up the proportions incredibly easy if you don't really pay attention to what you're doing.

So the combination of feeling slightly burnt out and very bored with the class has me turning out, for the most part, mediocre work. It is very frustrating. Every once in a while I'll get results that I'm happy with, but I mainly just feel like I can not fucking draw. It's very frustrating, especially when I know I can do better than what I'm turning out.

So I'm taking a new approach. I'm trying to force myself to play and be playful. I love how charcoal, graphite, and ink looks, but I'm very comfortable with them. They don't challenge me. Color, on the other hand, is terrifying to me. Even in my wardrobe, I tend to wear a lot of neutrals simply because color scares me. I like black and white and neutrals because they're comfortable. A while back my mother bought me a set of Prismacolor pastels that have been sitting neglected on my shelf for ages. So I broke them out the other day for class.

Wow.

They're fun. I can layer and smear and smudge and layer and mark and blend and get these results that I'm very pleased with. I just did the drawing on standard white drawing paper, since I had neither the time nor the finances to buy pastel paper. But wow. I didn't finish the drawing, but I did get most of the torso and right arm completed. It almost is reminiscent of an oil painting. But there is this other quality that only the soft pastels have. I might upload an image once the drawing is sprayed with a fixative (to prevent smudging) so those unfamiliar with what I'm talking about can get a sense of the pastel quality. I think I'm going to work with these for the rest of the semester, to try and hone my abilities with them. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

This class may have just gotten bearable.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Things that make me sick.

Possible Trigger Warning

Unless you live under a rock, you've most likely heard about the horrific gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas.

That NY Times article received quite a bit of backlash due to an implied blaming of the victim in this tragedy. But in the weeks since then, the responses have only seemed to become more disgusting.

It was also revealed that poor child was assaulted several times prior to the incident that was filmed and is receiving the most attention.

Then there was a town hall meeting in which there was blatant victim blaming going on. They cite things such as wearing more mature make-up, clothes, hanging out with older kids, the girl's mother, and being in a neighborhood where she did not live as reasons why the as many as 28 young men involved should not be held accountable for their terrible actions. Some even go so far as to say the boys were unaware of her age, and that she "wanted this to happen".

I'm sorry, but who the fuck WANTS to be gang raped?! Are you fucking kidding me? That is ridiculous. This is a horrific atrocity that was committed against a child. She's a little kid. 11-year-olds shouldn't have to worry about being raped, much less gang raped; especially multiple times. They should be playing with toys and worrying about how to con their parents into giving them one more cupcake before bed.

Amanda Marcotte has a piece over at Alternet that expresses my sentiments exactly. This incident, and the fallout from it, is just one more on a list that proves the existence of a rape culture here in the States. Another major headliner example can be found over at Yes Means Yes blog, on the Ben Roethlisburger case.

The blame here lies not with the 11-year-old that will most likely require years, if not a lifetime of therapy to recover from this; but with the environment in which the young men who thought this was acceptable behavior (to the point they were dumb enough to film it) were raised. This article articulates that best. We need to address rape. Seriously.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sluthood

Disclaimer: This article vaguely addresses my own sexuality. So if you are a family member or friend that does not want to read that stuff, do not read this article.


My Sluthood, Myself at Feministe.

The article that changed everything.

Seriously.

I now quote and refer to that article on a near routine basis. I find myself defending a lifestyle I once looked down on. I changed my entire outlook on sex, sexuality, and relationships.

In that article, I found myself. Near every word Jaclyn wrote at the start, I found myself in. As she worked through her tale of heartbreak, exploration, and eventual salvation, I realized many things about myself.

I had never really seen sex itself as a bad thing, but specifically lots of sex with lots of people. I had grown up in the mindset that sex was something you reserved for people you were only really super-serious about. Sex outside of marriage was too dangerous to mess around with. Even though my family was always fairly candid about sex, the community around us was not. My school only taught abstinence. Or you would get the Clap and die (vis-a-vis, Mean Girls). Nice girls didn't have sex until marriage. Okay girls only had sex in long term relationships. Bad or dirty girls slept around.

This led to some twisted connections in my head that Jaclyn points out. I had related sex with affection with something more. Even though the connection isn't really necessarily there, I had always just assumed the connection.


On Domestication

I am such a feminist. My roommates and Significant Other hear me use 'patriarchy' and 'white male privilege' on a regular basis. I am all about being loud, and opinionated, and driven, and bitchy, and definitely not that "nice sweet girl that mom wants to meet". I am all about operating beyond gender roles and black and white definitions of sex and sexuality.

So it amuses said roommates and Significant Other when I find incredible stress relief in cooking and cleaning. I love it. Cooking and cleaning are, to me, totally mindless mundane tasks that allow me to go into this odd Zen state where I don't think about anything else, besides precisely what I am doing at that moment in time. They all laughed at me around New Year's because I was wearing ratty jeans that were rolled up to my knees and running around our pathetic kitchen (seriously, it is as wide as my own arm span) barefoot making chicken flautas and various sides all day. And I was ecstatic. I loved it. I occasionally go on a tirade and clean the entire apartment while wearing heels. And it rocks.


This is why I have no issue whatsoever with women who choose to be domestic Goddesses. I am in awe of these women. They choose, and are truly happy, to be married to a bread-winning husband, have 2-3 kids, a dog or two, and stay home cooking, cleaning, and carting around the munchkins. My own stepmother is a case in point. She has two degrees. Traveled the world. Owned her own business. Has worldly interests. But once she married my father, she changed roles. And while I will occasionally get the stressed phone call about how nothing is going right, and she's losing her mind, and can't the damn dogs just stay out of the clean folded laundry?, she also glows when things go right. She is thrilled by teaching my sister's Girlscout troop (of which she is co-head) about nature and being good citizens. My sister is the most active child I know, and my stepmom has "Parent Friends" at every activity. She is the ultimate satellite mom.

The woman is a marvel. I don't know how she does it. Because she also did it when I was still at home. The women who choose that life do not, in my opinion, fall into the "Not True Feminists" bin. You ask my stepmom about the glass ceiling, and she will rail on for hours about all the bullshit that goes on in the corporate world when it comes to female career progression. She remembers being allowed to only wear dresses to school. She remembers the time of being a Home-Ec major in college. When the accepted degrees for women were Nursing, Education, and Home Economics. She remembers the sex revolution. The "Power Suit" of the 80s. The AIDS outbreaks that devastated the gay community. She has seen women progress immensely in the private and public spheres. She is a walking example of it.

 
The driving idea behind feminism was the idea that no one should be able to tell a woman what she can or can't do with her life. If she wanted to take a man's role, so be it. If she wanted to be an astrophysicist or a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, it should be well within her grasp. Conversely, who are we, fellow women, fellow activists; to tell a woman that she should not pursue a domestic life? If that is the life she truly chooses and makes her the most fulfilled, no one should have the power to tell her 'no'.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Link Dump

Because My brain is too frazzled for a real post:

- Skepchick addresses Feminism, Labels, and Coming Out

- Fox News might cut Glenn Beck due to his loss of revenue for the news syndicate. Because he's, ya know, insane.

- In New Hampshire, they are looking to restrict voting for college students, simply because they don't like how they vote. I didn't realize that in America, if we don't like how someone votes, that we're allowed to restrict/remove their constitutional right to vote in the first place.

- In case you missed it, March 8th was International Women's Day. I was not able to do anything extraordinary to celebrate, but my friend's and I wished each other well for the holiday regardless.

- Check out S.W.A.N., the Service Women's Action Network. As the daughter of a servicewoman (and serviceman), I personally find their cause to be truly noble. Support them. They do awesome work.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Art of the Art Critique

The art world is run by the critic. The ability to strip away the personal aspect of art and analyze the piece on its own merit is skill both feared and prized. A review by a professional critic can make or break a show or opening. What may be unknown to those outside of the art world is that the ability to provide a useful critique is learned; and like any other skill, must be honed and fine-tuned over time and practice.

I am taking an intaglio print class this semester with Eccentric Print Professor. He is amazing. He is truly an invaluable resource to his students (when they take advantage of his vast repertoire of art world knowledge). On Thursday we discussed the art world and what it means to have competition. Competition has become global in the art world (much like any other market). Unlike many schooling areas, Art School actually does prepare you for the real art world: you have to constantly be working your ass off if you want to make it anywhere. Life after school does not get any easier. There is not the magical addition of an extra hour in the day. You have to work incredibly hard to succeed. If you don't, you won't be going anywhere. Everyone else, the best artists in the world are working just as hard, if not harder: "Why should [those people] not succeed, when you're not?"

The reality is, most fine arts students do not continue to make art once they are out of school. It is rare that they go into a field that is even related to art. Very few go on to do art, and even fewer go on to be working artists that make a living on just making and showing their art. That is why the critique in school (and in the world beyond) is so important.

Westboro Baptist Church Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Westboro Baptist Church and their inflammatory protests are protected under the First Amendment.

Honestly, I agree with the decision. Since the Phelps crew do not actually trespass or interfere with the ceremonial proceedings, their protests are on public land (typically), and they are nonviolent, they have every right to hold their (in my opinion) insanely grotesque public displays of bigotry. As much as I absolutely abhor the WBC and all they stand for, they have just as much of a right in this country to say what they say, as I do. I love how Greta Christina put it: as vile of speech these people spout, the protection of their rights ensures that unpopular or inflammatory rhetoric of any kind remains unhindered in the States.

I'm glad to see justice at work in these sometimes worrying times.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Stand with Planned Parenthood

If you haven't heard (because you live under a rock or something) that the Congressional House of Representatives has voted to completely ban all funding for Planned Parenthood (led by John Boehner, from my lovely state), then you are missing a lot. This bill is awful and a major attack on the health of women and families in this country.

Proponents of this bill claim that the reasoning behind the removal of funding is due to Planned Parenthood's provision of abortions. They claim that tax payer's and federal funds should not go toward funding abortions. In total, nearly $400 million would be cut from the federal budget if Planned Parenthood were to stop receiving funds. The attempt is to try and balance the budget by cutting unnecessary or frivolous expenses.

Opponents of the bill cry that this would cripple many American women's ability to access health care (particularly women in low income brackets), and would increase the number of unwanted pregnancies, thereby leading to "back-alley" abortions (home abortions) and the death of women seeking those abortions. They are claiming that the preventative measures provided by Planned Parenthood are far more cost-effective than the cost of care for unwanted children in adoption and foster systems, and the health costs of those women being pregnant to begin with.

First, a couple charts to give you a sense of what funds PP receives and what services are provided from those funds:



Planned Parenthood's Fund Sources:


Services Provided:
Now, here's the deal:

Amanda Marcotte being Awesome

This is just quick post while I work on something a bit more meaty (and procrastinate on doing real work and dread going in to the studio tonight).

In November myself and several members of Kent State Freethinkers journeyed to Springfield, Missouri to attend Skepticon 3. There, I met many amazing people and got to visit with many people I befriended over the summer.

While there, I was able to see this talk by Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon on the role of irrationality in sexism. Enjoy.