Wednesday, September 17, 2014

keeping the threads together

as i continue to take a photo every day, i've had cause to ponder why i continue. haven't i taken photos of everything in my surroundings? is there ever anything new? why do i do it? the community that was there in the beginning has dissolved, so that's no longer why i do it. is it just a habit at this point? do i move my photography towards a better place with these daily photos? or is it just a mundane plodding along that i do out of habit?

very early on in my first official, declared 365 project (2010), i realized that the project wasn't about taking an awesome photo every day, it was about memory and about finding something every day that i wanted to remember, a kind of visual documentation of my life. that was back in 2010. here i am, still going strong with my daily photo and when i look through my various iPhoto libraries (yes, i have multiple libraries, because once they reach a certain size, they make my now elderly iMac a bit unhappy and sluggish, so i have to start a new one), i realize that i pretty much began taking a photo every day when i bought my first DSLR in may 2008. i may have missed a few days there in that first year, but from 2009, i have one or other photo from every single day. even husband relies on this, sometimes asking me, "when was it we got the first chickens?" or "what was the date we picked up the pigs?" - because he knows that i'll have a photo of it that will help us remember.

my 365 project hasn't had a specific theme, other than the odd assignment i've given myself from time to time. it's been documentary, most of all. but nonetheless, you can trace my various interests and obsessions and yes, even my travels, throughout. not every photo is brilliant, in fact, probably only a very few of them are, but it does somehow contain throughout the threads of a life. and for me, that's reason enough to keep doing it.

you can see much of it (from 2011 onwards) here, if you're interested.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

rethinking things

husband has an uncanny ability to rethink things and decide to go in a completely different direction, not being stuck to an idea just because it's what he originally thought and just because steps were taken towards realizing it. he's very open to change and new ideas. and i feel like it's very good for me.  two summers ago, he built a rather significant building to house his sawmill. he now has outfitted a rather nice workshop for himself out there and we were even able to hold sabin's confirmation party in the building. it's a pretty great space.

we're getting ready to buy a barn and a little bit of property for a paddock for the horses from our neighbors. we first broached the subject four+ years ago when we moved in and now they're mentally ready to consider it. we already rent part of that barn from the neighbors, and have two stalls there, as well as our bunnies, hay, straw and a stash of building supplies in the building. it's not really much of a barn, more of a machine shed, really, but it has potential and with a new roof on it (paid for by the insurance after a storm last december), it would be good for us to have it.

and husband is already planning on moving his sawmill and workshop over there, which would leave the lovely sawmill building for another purpose. perhaps a party space to rent out? a bed & breakfast? a space where i could begin to have blog camps at my house again? or maybe we could move into it? the possibilities are endless. and it's so much fun talking all of the ideas over with husband. he just makes it seem like anything is possible. being so open to new ideas and rethinking old ones is really a gift. just another way in which that boy is a keeper.

Friday, September 12, 2014

glorious, healing autumn light

these glorious mornings of spectacular light are precisely what i need to fortify me for the day. breathing in the cool, crisp autumn air, walking through the dew-laden grass, past sparkling spider webs, surrounded by the golden, warm light is the very best start to the day. i'm so happy to have animals to feed so that i get out there and savor these moments every day. some mornings, it's like the golden light flows into my very veins.

some days, i'm more grateful than others for the fortification of the soul that these mornings provide. there are days when it seems like the little things (colleagues who don't return your good morning, loud phone conversations that make it impossible to concentrate, displays of lack of respect for people's depth of knowledge and passion for their work) chip away at your energy, draining it away. but then, i think back to the light and the play of the fog and the cool, crispness of the air, and breathe on through it...letting the memory of the light once again deliver the healing energy and return me to center.

happy weekend, one and all.

artist Wes Lang at ARoS

tattoo artist turned regular artist wes lang's studio exhibition was closing when we were at ARoS and so we were fortunate enough to see the man himself, since he was there to see it one last time. he was super gracious and talked to people and was totally willing to pose for pictures with all sorts of random strangers.

here, i caught a shot of him as he chatted with some visitors.

his art retains that tattoo feel and is infused with various american icons...native americans, motorcycles, flags, skulls (not that skulls are uniquely american). the exhibition was an ambitious rendering of his studio, so there were paints littered here and there on the floor and many large canvases that were works in progress. with him there, it definitely lent the feel of really being in lang's studio.

and although the teenagers didn't really want to admit it and they were quite embarrassed to ask, we did get a photo with him as he stood outside and had a smoke. he was super gracious about it and the kids were thrilled and excited. it was a very nice end to our visit to the museum. tho' i do hope that they won't all be inspired to get a tattoo...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

visiting ARoS - the care and feeding of the teenage soul

we took five teenagers to modern art museum ARoS in århus on sunday. it was, in some ways, a long day, but it was also a fun day. they have so much energy and so much to talk about, it is both refreshing and exhausting.

ARoS is a relatively new modern art museum, sort of jylland's answer to the fabulous and much more well-established louisiana near copenhagen. but because it lacks the history of that wonderful place, it struck me as trying too hard in some ways. that doesn't mean i didn't enjoy it, but it most definitely wasn't louisiana.

ron meuck's boy is probably the most striking and significant piece in their permanent collection. it truly is enormous and yet so detailed and oddly lifelike. quite disruptive to the senses, actually. but then most art that's worthwhile is.

there was a special exhibition featuring the work of video artist jesper just. i liked this projection onto the floor, enabling you to walk directly on the exhibit. it was wet pavement without getting wet.

this crazy eyeball lampshade was part of the 9 rooms exhibit. you could sit down in a kind of living room and watch an ever-changing screen. the colors changed around you and it was somehow oddly surreal. i imagine if you were tripping, it would have been, well, pretty trippy.

i probably enjoyed the out of the darkness exhibition on the 6th floor best. mostly because i separated from the kids and went through it on my own. tho' there were others, i somehow had it mostly to myself as i walked through and i'll admit i like it best like that. this photo doesn't do it justice, but there was something quite powerful about walking down this darkened hallway with big fans turning slowly above. it felt dramatic and like i was contributing to the art itself through the act of walking down the hallway.

out of the darkness played with the notions of traditional ways of exhibiting art, even while it also engaged them by having a strict entrance and exit and only one way through, forcing you to follow a particular, pre-determined path. at one point, you come to a room that seems a bit like a warehouse for storing art, but instead it was exhibition space, featuring multiple andy warhols and bjørn nørgaard's jars of chopped up horse, among many other pieces, rather casually displayed and labeled with a dyno labler. (this may be one of the spaces that struck me as trying too hard.)

i would like to have studied this piece by danish artist tal r for much longer. layers upon layers of thoughts and sketches and inspiration.

surely the best part of ARoS is olafur eliasson's rainbow panorama on the roof - you look out upon the city of århus through literally (in some spots) rose-colored glasses.

i don't know what the kids will remember. they were quite engaged and excited to see contemporary american artist wes lang (more about that in another post), who was there in person, as it was the closing day of his show. they may have been chatting about all of their ordinary things like schools and friends and dramas, but doing so in the presence of art must surely be good for them on some deeper level.

there were a couple of floors that we didn't even get to, so we'll have to go back again. even tho' it's no lousiana, it's still definitely worth another visit and making sure they experience art is surely an essential ingredient in the care and feeding of the teenage soul.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

what is to be done?

somehow, reading this piece on incorporating the maker movement into schools, as a learning/problem-solving tool, makes me wonder if we should have tried harder to make it work with our local school. but we had tried for a whole year and it felt like time was running out. with unresponsive, slippery (i honestly wonder if they're part eel) leadership, that smiles and nods to your face and fills the air with fluffy spindoctor speak and then goes away and does nothing, it felt like such a daunting task, so we gave up and moved sabin to a new school. we are blown away at the difference already and it's only been a little over a week - she's motivated, she sits down and diligently does her homework every evening (and she actually HAS homework every evening) and she comes home talking about what she learned (even stuff about hitler!). she never did that at the old school, not once. getting her to tell something about school was like pulling teeth.

but some part of me thinks that the old school should have had to get their ducks in a row and shape up. they should have been required to perform and even excel. and we should have been proud and happy to be there. they owe it to the community, because little communities like this depend on having smart, motivated people to keep them going. we pay a lot of tax (don't get me started) and i wouldn't mind it if i saw results here within my community. and with a grade point average of 4.7 as opposed to the 7.1 of the school we moved to, it wasn't even a contest. and apparently the local superintendent insists that the school is ambitious and that the scores are exactly where they should be. which is the whole problem. how can, what is arguably a D+ average on a comparable american scale, possibly be deemed ambitious? even the schools which are full of the purportably problem immigrants have much higher scores than that. and these are normal, bright, middle class kids with danish parents (hmm, i wonder if the immigrants are really so bad?) so there's honestly no excuse.

but i still feel very sad about the whole thing, even while i'm sure we made the right decision. the class itself was great - socially, they functioned just fine, everyone had someone to be friends with and there was no serious bullying. the problem was the teachers and even more so leadership that tries again and again to cover up problems and doesn't welcome conversation and dialogue which could lead to solving them. frankly, our little town deserves better. it's too bad that so many of us (as of tuesday this week, 9 will have moved from the class of 26) had to choose to leave instead of continuing the dialogue. our kids deserve better and we simply couldn't wait any longer.

* * *

stupid things hard-core christians say.
hilarious, but also really, really sad.
and possibly more than a little disturbing.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

the maker movement comes to denmark

last week, i went to the made celebration, a maker exhibition put on by roskilde festival in a cool old warehouse building in roskilde. it's pretty cool that the maker movement has come to denmark and tho' it's a bit more techy in its danish incarnation than i had thought about it before, it was very interesting.

3D printers were a big part of it and there were several stands where people were printing all sorts of things. this little 3D printer was in the maker spirit itself, as it was in a kind of handmade box set-up. it seems the price of these things is coming down. i suppose soon we'll all have one.

this maker fest had a very wide conception of the maker movement. this booth was promoting some really creative uses of minecraft, the computer game. some danish municipalities have even been using it for involving citizens in the planning of new housing developments and such. building various suggestions and ideas in minecraft before building them in reality. pretty cool thinking.

this was more my conception of the maker movement...a station where people could use sewing machines to repair or sew something new.

the same area included tools and soldering irons, so people could also repair electronics and such.

and here was a traveling bike repair shop, where you could use the tools to repair your bicycle.

this workshop area gave me the idea that husband should have a day or two each week where people could come and share his workshop. he'd get so much of talking with them about what they were working on and they'd get a space in which to make or fix things, which they might not otherwise have.

at this stand, you could make a transfer for a t-shirt or bag. it was kind of a plastic material that you could melt onto the fabric. it was so busy, we didn't try it, but i'll admit this was more along the lines of the maker movement as i saw it before i attended the event.

i think because it's denmark and because there were municipalities involved, there were a lot of community-minded stands - shared workspaces, places where you could use tools and spent time in a public space with other makers. pretty cool and i got lots of inspiration for our local kulturhus.

it was a rainy day outside, but someone had even tried to come up with a concept for a kind of modern sweat lodge, so many ideas were being tried out at the event.

we didn't go to the workshop part of it, but there were workshops and someone made this table. with husband's perfectionist eye, i think it's a good thing he wasn't with me. but it would be a perfectly good table in the garden, don't you think?