Thursday, February 28, 2008


baltimore is challenging me in ways i could never have imagined.

yesterday i saw a shooting. no shit. it totally shook me up. and i wasn't sure how to even process it all. i needed to debrief myself. i just started writing down the reasons why it bothered me:

-it shattered a false sense of faith (it took me awhile to find that word... but i think that describes it) in the city around me.
-it reinforced fear mentality that my parents were so adamant about when they visited
-my lack of control. i saw something happen right in front of my eyes and within a matter of seconds. and there was nothing i could do about it.
-it was where i walk everyday. completely unexpected.
-two people died. totally puts a new perspective on that number.
-i don't know what is happening now. kind of a hopeless/clueless feeling.
-i didn't know what to do in the situation. i've never been in that place before. do i run? walk the other way? stay and gather details? call 911?
-the sound of gun shots. the scariest thing.
-i'm scared to walk back that way again. because i'm worried it will all come back to me. (which might need to happen...)
-and on top of that... today there were at least two times as many sirens as usual. i was so on edge and uneasy. i couldn't focus in any of my classes. i felt like i was just drifting through with this major burden.

i was able to talk to stephanie about it tonight, which really helped. her persepctive is that mankind will always let you down. her hope is in christ. that view helped clarified my own. my hope is in mankind. i refuse to accept being let down. that's where my problem lies. i have nothing higher to place that faith in. and that's exactly where i'm stuck. placing blind hope in a hopeless situation around me. and i'm ok with that. someone has to do it.

"to be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. it is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. what we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. if we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. if we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. and if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. the future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." - howard zinn

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

the thing about cities

"we need to invest in the cities of america. if we can spend
[billions of dollars] in iraq, we can spend some of that money
right here in baltimore."
- barack obama
from his stand up for change rally in baltimore

just some city snippits...

Monday, February 25, 2008

connect in context

"there he stood, coordinating all of these thoughts with the intensity of one who knew that if he did not, all would fall apart."

words from james barth, an artist featured in mica's "dark poets" exhibition.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

the good life

by the time friday rolls around, the whole week is basically a blur. good things from this past week:

making hundreds of quarter cards to advertise my trip to the craft fair. & then going to look at the sign up sheet & realizing it was already full. after only one day.

going to the foundry to see some guy liquify granite as part of his senior thesis. seriously the coolest thing.

talking to mike patterson about mica and baltimore and orientation. and higher expectations (for all of the above.)

bringing paula out of hiding and arranging to work at mica's cap convening during spring break.

reaching a new level of my sleepless life.

finishing the a neighborhood called baltimore summary. (it was like project planning all over again... and i loved every minute of it.)

meeting jackie (in her mica shirt) at the airport.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

raw art sale

my first event at mica as the arts & education program manager in student activities. not that i had to do much... the raw art sale is something that pretty much runs itself. it's a really cool opportunity for students to get rid of art & make money. a lot of students took advantage of it this time around. there was so much art to display this morning! & not just prints, which typically dominate, but jewelery, embroidered purses, screenprinted shirts, hand made journals and zines, photography, and some drawings. i found a sweet letterpress orange alphabet for $1 (what a steal!) & set it aside in the back room for when the parents dropped by. which was a good idea. as soon as 10 am rolled around the parents swooped in, grabbing whatever they could find and making off like bandits with stacks and stacks of art. it should be interesting to see what's left for tomorrow!

Friday, February 15, 2008

find the art in the everyday

color spectrum for elements made from found flyers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


mica gd majors and closet typography enthusiasts from the community gathered tonight to, in the words of ellen lupton, "celebrate and worship our favorite typeface." helvetica. this was my first time seeing the documentary. i've been waiting. (all i wanted for christmas was the helvetica gift set... but unfortunately the helvetica coffee cup was sold out. caffeine and typography... i really cannot think of any better combination.) and waiting. (i had to live vicariously through tara when she watched it in her first intro to gd class.) & i've been told by so many other graphic designers that it will explain "why you are the way you are." (so true...) the documentary thoughtfully covers both sides of the helvetica debate. & it is as much of an investigation/appreciation of visual society as it is an investigation/appreciation of one swiss typeface that has rocked the world of graphic design for fifty years. such a fun night.

here's some hard core helvetica links if you want to turn up the typographic heat...
helvetica, the film
the history of helvetica
happy birthday, helvetica!
helvetica: homage to a typeface
quiz: helvetica or arial? (very tricky. thanks for showing me this one, dan.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

you can leave the ship but the ship won't leave you

i had my first real college leadership conference yesterday. it was a collaboration between mica and the university of baltimore. it was pretty basic. but it felt so good to just be in that kind of environment again. i missed it.

one of the sessions was called "true colors." we took one of those classic leadership styles quizes & identified ourselves with a color. i've done many a personality quiz in my day. but for some reason it was good to take one apart from high school leadership activities & apply it to my college leadership experiences. especially recently with all this program manager stuff kicking in to high gear, i've been trying to see how my leadership style from avondale will fit in with the student activities office at mica.

i was green. it was nice find my truth in the typically generic generalizations. the facilitators described greens as sponges. they talked about greens just soaking everything in, and needing to stop and squeeze it all out and process it on their own. which is very true. one kid (who was obviously green) asked with all seriousness where the water went when it got squeezed out of the sponge. (ummm... so he missed the boat with the metaphor.) but i thought about it, and realized this blog is totally where i squeeze out my sponge. (speaking of blogging & sponges... my friend stephanie started her own blog! she's been talking about it for awhile & finally went for it. so glad i was able to convince someone to try the whole blog thing out. it really is such a good outlet.) here's more about green...


expects intelligence and competence
seeks for ways to improve systems
standard setter
perfectionist and quality conscious
theoretical and conceptual
seeks "big" picture
looks at the world and sees possibilities, meanings and relationships
architects of change
sets high standards
can see the core of complex issues or problems
can never know enough
appears cool, calm, collected
needs independence and private time
encourages change for improvement
constantly in process of change
are challenged most when someone says it can't be done

and that's me in a nut shell.

at the end of the day i basically wrote an essay on the back of my evaluation form. don't get me wrong, it was a good conference. the idea was to put leaders from mica and university of baltimore together. and it's important to put the idea out there and in motion for a few years before you build on it. but i think it can be bigger. the good old leadership conference planner in me had a strong urge the whole day to start project planning for a leadership conference that would involve all of the schools in the baltimore collegetown network. if the idea is connecting (key word!) & really mingling with other students, that there needs to be more that just familiar mica faces and a smattering of kids. i see mega mixers, lots of networking & idea swapping, and allowing the experienced leaders to plan and facilitate their own sessions and pass on advice to emerging leaders. that's my vision. we'll see what happens...

Friday, February 8, 2008

hooray! you get to paint today!

this is a painting i've been wanting to do for awhile. on the plane ride home for winter break i spent a lot of time in transit focusing on the colors around me, seeing how well i could remember them for a possible painting. i grabbed a canvas the first weekend i was back. but this was also back when acrylics (argh!) was the only option. so the canvas just sat there the whole break. i stuck some letters on it before i left. and put it in my purse to take on the flight back to baltimore.

enter: oils. yes, they're toxic. and yes, i'm pretty sure i'm already addicted to their smell. one of our projects for painting is to keep a swatchbook (aka: a chance for some scrapbook action.) we have to collect "50 color studies from life and memory," making "a mental note about the specific colors/values that are evident in a small slice of life." a very cool project. and actually what i was trying to get at with my plane observations. so a month later it finally makes sense to go for it and just swipe some paint down on that blank canvas. i started my first color observations with the green leather seats on the collegetown shuttle and the creamy cool interior of that plane.

painting has been such a pleasant suprise so far. i am so lucky to have just the right teacher. she seems like she will demand a lot, but take you through each part of the process step by step.

last week she made a presentation about her own artist influence (something that each person in the class will be doing throughout the semester.) she shared with us squeak carnwath. squeak is someone who's artwork shows a vested interest in what it means to be alive. and as if that isn't enough to hold my attention, her paintings include handmade grids and handwritten lists of text that seems to rise and disappear just like thoughts. anyone with an shared obsession with square grids and lists (although she appears to be a little less ocd with it...) is kin in my book. she also created "a simple list" for painting. and simple is good.

a simple list:

1. it's simple really, to paint is to trust. to believe in our instincts; to become.
2. painting is an investigation of being.
3. it is not the job or art to mirror, images reflected in the mirror appear to us in reverse. an artist's responsibility is to reveal consciousness; to produce a human document.
4. painting is an act of devotion. a practiced witnessing of the human spirit.
5. painting are about: paint, observation, & thought.
6. art is not about facts but about what is; the am-ness of things.
7. all paintings share a connection with all other paintings.
8. art is evidence. evidence of breathing in and breathing out; proof of human majesty.
9. painting places us. painting puts us in real time. the time in which we inhabit our bodies.
10. light is the true home of painting.
11. the visible is how we orient us. it remains our principal source of inspiration about the world. painting reminds us of what is absent. what we don't see anymore.
12. painting is not only a mnemonic device employed to remember events in our lifetime. paintings address a greater memory. a memory less topical, one less provincial than the geography of our current occupied body. painting reminds us of what we don't know but what we recognize as familiar.
13. painting, like water, takes any form. painting is a film of pigment of a plane. it is not real in the way that gravity-bound sculpture is real. it is however, real. painting comes to reality through illusion. an illusion that allows us to make a leap of faith; to believe. to believe in a blue that can be the wing of a bug or a thought. it makes our invisible visible.

-squeak carnwath, from "lists, observations, and counting"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

defining community arts

i was asked a few days ago by a france merrick scholar to answer questions for a cap profile of sorts. the france merrick scholarship is a chance for juniors & seniors in cap who apply and receive funding and support to create their own community arts program. this student decided to create a cap awareness exhibition, featuring student work and profiles to increase cap exposure on campus. it was good timing. since being introduced to the whole community arts concept when i came to mica, i've been working on hatching out my own standards and meaning as it relates to the concept of community arts. i use the word community art, but that is just a term. there is too much there for that label to ever be adequate. it was something that was starting to become a disappointment to me. like i remember getting so frustrated at workshops with other cap interns because they couldn't see. they were all still just wrapped up in writing lesson plans. they didn't recognize the potential the program has for greatness. but i know it's there. and when i listen to paula and fletcher talk, or see it in action with projects like ancb (a neighborhood called baltimore), i am certain of its power.

here were the questions and my answers:

Do you do CAP? Where is your site?

last semester i worked with ms. pan's second grade class at mount royal elementary school. my partner and i worked really closely with the teacher to think of projects that would apply art to their curriculum, things like a fall pigments book made with leaf rubbings or a paper mache globe for their mapping unit. this semester i hope to be working with hannah baker, a france merrick scholar, on her pen pal project connecting a baltimore classroom with a classroom in her home state of connecticut.

What is CAP to you? Or why do CAP?

cap to me is so much more that the term "community arts" could ever describe. it just doesn't do it justice. it's bigger than lesson planning and painting murals. there is so much potential in this movement towards making art with a purpose. art that inspires, provides an outlet for creativity, prompts social change, solves problems. the possibilities are endless. i do cap because i could never be satisfied as a mica student separate from the community around me. or as an artist not using this medium and creative energy as a method of making a difference.

What is community to you?

community starts with mica. but it doesn't stop there. we are part of a bigger equation that we are responsible for. i believe that baltimore is one of mica's biggest assets, and vice versa. community is recognizing that connection and then beginning to blur the boundaries between people and place.

What are the rewards in your participation?

the rewards is walking though mount royal elementary and knowing that i have a personal stake in the school. it really is a two-way street. you set out to bring something to a community or classroom, but end up leaving with so much yourself.

What are the challenges?

seeing students who are perfectly contempt with staying in this mica bubble and making art all the time. it's sad. there is more to this college experience than assignments and critiques. (shock!) i wish students would realize that and begin to stretch themselves even further.

What would you like to see changed in the CAP program at MICA?

i would like to see things get bigger. i would like to see awareness and understanding of community arts increase without being seen as blatantly community arts. that part will come. just get out there and start doing stuff. i think it will begin to penetrate into many more areas, and become something seen less as a separate entity, and more of a mentality across campus. i would like to see increased involvement. student apathy is no longer acceptable. i believe that students want to help, they are just looking for a way to do so. more opportunities to get out and see baltimore, and start thinking of ways that we as artists can begin to contribute to a better quality of life.

and something else i've been working on for a while now. a community arts manifesto. i am a sucker for those things. it's compiled in the style of bruce mau. i've just been cutting and pasting things as i come across them or jotting them down when something suddenly makes sense. i considered doing this for my final project in my cap class, but i like that it is totally in progress. there's no way i could know everything there is to know about community arts now. it's a much longer, more organic process of discovery.

my community arts manifesto (in progress):

1. Everyone an artist. Joseph Beuys. Art is a teachable skill. And when people are given the tools for creative expression, anything can happen. We only need to gather the courage to express our creativity.
2. Art is a basic human right. Everyone should be guaranteed the ability to make art. In prison. In inner city schools.
3. Art is not a privilege. It is not something that should be reserved for the elite or for those with a visual art or art history background.
4. Culture concerns everyone. By the time of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies in 1970, cultural ministers agreed that “We must get rid of the idea that culture is a learned and refined pursuit for a hereditary moneyed or intellectual aristocracy. Culture concerns everyone and it is the most essential thing of all, as it is culture that gives us reason for living, and sometimes for dying.” (Augustin Girard, Cultural Development: Experience and Policies (Paris: UNESCO, 1972) 22.
5. Find the art in the everyday. Optimism is a premeditated mentality.
6. Rock what you got. Adequate resources have not been available to underwrite this kind of work. Don’t let lack of funding stop you.
7. Do no harm. The most fundamental rule of community arts.
8. People first. Design second. Community-based art is as much about the process of involving people in the making of the work as the finished object itself.
9. Collaborate. People are immensely important to every part of community arts.
10. Make it a two way street. Make sure each party leaves better off than before they met.
11. Don’t forget about yourself. Incorporate your passions and interests into projects. They will provide meaning and motivation to fuel your process.
12. Challenge social realities. Find what is broken and use you skills to fix it.
13. Let the message make the medium. Use whatever you need to get your purpose across.
14. Process over outcome.
15. Evolve. There is always something better. Leave the stereotypical comfort zones of murals and after school crafts behind and re-define the genre.
16. Shift the standards of success. Evaluation of community art is on a whole different sphere than critique/criticism of fine art. Recognize that and make your own measurements.
17. Solve problems. The typical art world doesn’t provide artists with enough
situations where you think of people’s needs first and foremost.
20. Serve. Look first at what a community needs. Then begin to think of what you can bring to the table.
21. Blur Boundaries. Use the medium of art to connect ideas and people that would otherwise remain detached.

and finally, some other community arts resources:
art on purpose
artist placement group
banner neighborhoods
community arts network
mica cap website
mica community arts convening

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

thoughts on days when it's 72 in baltimore

once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy. -sri nisargadatta maharaj

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

book a week (pt. two)

i'm still on a design stint in the book department. this time around i grabbed books with interesting internal organization. i'm really interested in the process of writing a book... how to make each page efficient & effective, and contribute overall to a cohesive book. & i picked "problems of design" because i'm suddenly interested in the shortcomings of this graphic design obsession. i need to be able to intelligently hold my ground when confronted with justifying art for a purpose. i need to be aware of the flaws and push myself to confront them. i don't even know if that will really be what the book addresses (especially since it is copyrighted 1957. should be interesting.) but i liked this already from it: "truth is a most important quality in design of any dimension and people tend to recognize it when they see it."

week two:

"problems of design"- george nelson
"readymade: how to make (almost) everything, a do-it-yourself primer"- shoshana berger & grace hawthorne
"designing for people"- henry dreyfus

Saturday, February 2, 2008

art as necessity

just a quick spotlight on one mica student doing something very cool.

Friday, February 1, 2008

helvetica vinyl stickers

my new moleskines for second semester. nothing like typography to bring a little familiarity to things way out of my comfort zone.