Friday, November 27, 2009

The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away

Perhaps it was due to my mood, depressed beyond belief due to the Concepts of Calculus for Middle School Teachers class I am trying to survive which is sucking all the life out of me, or perhaps it was just the content of the story. Whichever, I found The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away utterly depressing. He says his life has been reduced to garbage. Everywhere he has neatly stacked and cataloged all the scraps and papers from his life. It is so odd that he considers his life garbage yet treats these artifacts with such care. Does he really believe what he says? If so, why does he make the effort to preserve every piece in this way? His writing is eloquent, not what I would expect from a crackpot or deeply disturbed person, the sort one might associate with this compulsion. His observations about the building across the street probably parallel his thoughts about or destruction? I hate to part with certain papers or bits and pieces from my life. I can understand relating them to preserving my existence. I felt a twinge yesterday as I recycled a card from a neighbor that had on it a photograph she had taken of a street in Europe. It was pretty and it had a nice note in it. Somehow, the thought that the paper would be recycled into something new made it just a bit easier to part with. Perhaps the Plumber did not have a recycling program where he lived. Would he have been able to part with even a few scraps if he had? Sometimes I wonder what people would think if I were to drop dead and they went through my things. I do save more than I ought, photos, books, my kid's grammar school drawings, art supplies for projects I may or may not ever get to or back to, even the dress I wore to my high school graduation. Perhaps I should start cataloging stuff.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My "exhibit in a box"

As I am not sure if I will be able to attend class tomorrow due to illness, I will say a bit about my idea for my exhibit here.

I have decided to do an exhibit on Rachel Carson, marine biologist turned environmental activist, most notably known for her book Silent Spring.
I have long been concerned with the destruction of the environment wrought by people and Ms. Carson's tireless work did much to bring about a new awareness of the devastating results of human actions. My love of nature and interest in birds contribute to my interest in her a a subject. Additionally, my Senior Capstone class, which I am currently taking, is called Global Healing, so I've been doing a lot of thinking on the subject lately. I have several objects that I am considering using including a nest that is nestled in the fork of branches, an ostrich egg, beautiful feathers, a miniature piece I recently created featuring birds and eggs, photos of Rachel Carson and of eggs damaged by DDT. I have considered and rejected numerous container ideas and think I will use an antique Chinese medicine hamper because it has the feel of an old ornithology collection container. As I ride my bike, transportation will be an issue. I may need to be driven to school that day in the interest of preserving such delicate cargo(so knowing which day I will present will be helpful)


The Marcel Duchamp "Boite-en-valise" film clip from the Portland Art Museum was an interesting inside view of the piece. Duchamp created the first of these "exhibits in a box" with the notion of preserving his work so it did not become lost to history. In all, there were 100 such kits made in the "Red Version" alone. (Other versions included the green, tan, and leather versions. Duchamp selected several pieces of work for these mini exhibits. The works were mechanically reproduced in miniature, and included a reproduction of Nude Descending Staircase and the infamous urinal. The valise reminds me of a picture postcard that shows several views of the tourist destination. I found it charming, if a bit egotistic, but as a result, we have a fascinating little collection that would otherwise not be accessible to us. It makes sense that the PAM opted to locate it in the 1960's era, the era in which many of them were packaged up from Duchamp's stockpile of reproductions, rather than in the time frame of when the originals were created. One phrase that sticks with me from the clip is that the valise is a "surrogate for the experience." Indeed, we know we are not viewing the original works but the offspring which came about from his own thoughts.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oregon Arts Education Congress

Oregon Arts Education Congress

On the second of November, I attended the second annual Oregon Arts Education Congress at the World Forestry Center, sponsored by the Right Brain Initiative. Approximately 160 artists, educators, and advocates participated. Guests from around the area were presented with a wide range of topics on the Arts in education in our state. Speakers included state representatives Jefferson Smith and Chris Harker, Ron Paul the chair of the Oregon Arts Commission, Deb Vaughn the coordinator for Arts Education at the Oregon Arts Commission, and others.

Several workshops were held throughout the day including a Hot Topics opener, where each table gathered to discuss an issue on a particular area of arts education. My group was pre-service art educators discussing how we can increase the perceived value of arts in the curriculum. Much of the conversation centered around integrating the arts into other core curriculum areas, which is great on one hand but made many of us nervous that that will be all there is for art. We concluded we needed two main focuses: getting the parents to recognize the value and thus demanding more art, and getting the people in charge of the money and decisions to see that a strong arts education builds a strong student. This was prefaced with the understanding that, while there are many studies that reflect the positive impact art can have on other academic areas; art for art’s sake should be the battle call.

Another focus was on building a statewide online learning community. Our task here was to discuss what features we wanted to see in the website/interactive e-community. We were encouraged to visit and contribute to the site. Much of what was being discussed in the small groups in the room through out the day was being rapidly put on the site by a core of grad student from (I think) OSU. This gave an immediate infusion of the content of the congress to the site making it possible for those who were not present to get a sense of the issues being discussed. If I have my notes correct, this is

We had a percussion workshop that was extremely effective. Guests had been asked to bring in a found object to create percussion and something to strike it with. Under the tutelage of Brett Paschal, Instructor of Percussion at Lewis and Clark College, we performed, among other things, a collaborative Junkanoo which raised the roof and sounded amazing. I was quite impressed with his ability to transform us into a musical ensemble in 20 minutes.

One of the more poignant items was a reading of the Oregon Declaration of Creative Rights: The Declaration of the Myriad Oregon Friends of the Young”, written by Kim Stafford in 2009. A copy can be downloaded at I will bring in some copies to class if people would like to see it in person. One section of it reads: “We hold early Creative Experience to be indelible, and that all children need be offered, equally and abundantly, certain Rights that secure access to the formative Encounters of Art-and that among these are making original Work, savoring creative Practice, and the Pursuit of one’s own generous Vision and articulate Voice.” A second reading was done later in the day with physical interpretations by two theatre people.

Several briefings were held throughout the day. I attended one given by NASAA (Nat’l Assembly of State Art Agencies) researcher Sarah Collins. She addressed what other states are doing for art in their schools and how states and teachers can connect and share.
A second briefing I attended was presented by Michael Fridley, Arts Specialist at Oregon Department of Education. He discussed curriculum standards for art and how they are up for review and the outline of that process. He expressed how we must “not go for the maximum but for the optimum.”

Our final destination was the Children’s Museum where we were free to explore and create, have a glass of wine and appetizers, and listen to one of several presentations. I chose to attend one given by Steve, the math and science teacher at the Opal School which is housed on the Children’s Museum site. It was fascination to hear about the free and creative approach to learning at Opal. Students are allowed to use power tools (with training and supervision) to create and build. They are encouraged to learn by making their own discoveries and mistakes. There is clearly an enthusiasm about learning that is rare among students. (Two Opal students happen to live across from me and are friends of my 11 year old son) If only all schools had an Opal philosophy.

few phrases that really caught my attention were:
“Things that fire together, wire together.”
“Visual Literacy” term commonly used in Australia regarding visual arts in curriculum
“The best communicators are those who can communicate using a variety of methods.”
“Good people doing good things for no good reason”
“We want Oregon to be the Athens” (as opposed to the Sparta)
“Not “Can you follow the directions and make this” but “What can I make from these materials?””
“How do we prepare children for a future we can’t imagine?”

A few items mentioned that I want to look into include:
Book: The Whole New Mind
Book: Three Cups of Tea
“Wordle” visual mapping
HOT Schools (Higher Order of Thinking
Whole Schools

I feel that the Congress was an excellent opportunity for people concerned with the arts and art education to come together in a constructive, productive way. As a future art educator, I was keenly interested to learn what was going on in the world of arts education in Oregon and am glad I had the opportunity to attend. I encourage each of you to seek out and attend next year’s Congress.

Ida Galash

On the radio

Our radio dial is always tuned to the public radio station, kopb. This week I heard a couple of things that fit in with our text readings. As I was doing other things while listening, I did not catch every detail, but still the jist of them came through. First, I heard a piece about a musician who had written a song about a love that had slipped away. He was in love with a girl in highschool and had admired her from afar. One day he saw her wearing a button that featured the pink triangle and he was crushed to think his dream girl was "off limits" to him, so to speak. I had never been aware of the icon of the pink triangle prior to our class, so I was pleased to be able to recognize the significance of the story. As it turned out, she was straight and just wearing the button to show support. The song featured a line about wearing a pink triangle on her sleeve.
The other item I heard was on Friday. They were interviewing the author of a graphic novel about Darwin and the Origin of Species. The author commented how today we view people like Darwin as geniuses, however, we aren't seeing him through the lens of the time in which he lived, which was filled with scientific discoveries and episteme! It's nice to be able to make some connections.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Where do they go?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see some of my other postings, even one I posted earlier this weekend. It should have shown up after the movie posters and before Rethinking the tee. It wasn't monumental, but it related to our reading, which is something I understand we should be trying to do. Something so recent should show up and not be in a file of older posts. Any ideas? Perhaps it will show up randomly sometime in the future.

Rethinking the Tee

I've been going back and forth on the tee shirt design. I've had some edgy ideas, but I want to create something that reflects me and my inner thoughts, not just something that works to fulfill a homework assignment. As such, I will probably go with a pairing that is more pleasing to me and less sensational. It has been said that the Peace Symbol is back by popular demand. This is the one formed with a circle and the three prongs. Originally, the symbol represented the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It was adopted as a general sign of peace and became a mega-icon of the hippie era. I am drawn to its simplicity and the fact it is contained within a circle, which reminds me of mandalas and their powerful imagery. Once settled on the peace symbol, I continued to be of two schools of thought. I considered transforming the inner design into a skyward military aircraft, but I have decided to rotate it 180* and allow a tree to grow from it. The peace symbol has been directed at relationships between people, cultures and nations. We can learn a lot from the peaceful ways of nature (ok, excluding the predators and natural disasters). This is the way of the Tao, the natural way of harmony. A tree is a good symbol for this. Additionally, if we fail to treat our planet and all of nature with peace and respect, there won't be any people, cultures or nations left to worry about.