Friday, March 28, 2008

YES HE CAN


*Published in the London Progressive Journal, Issue 12.


As another thunderous U.S. election year rotates on its axis towards us, it appears that innovation and inspiration are key ingredients this time around. This is certainly required for convincing the traditional and wounded American people. Weathered from a war of our own creation and a fizzling economy, we are ready for our Hero. The saga of chewing up assets to spit out zero jobs must come to a close and our salvation must descend from the staircase. With contenders from the left fashioning and grasping tightly to their pulpits, America projects the crowning of our country’s representative as a black man in, Barack Obama from Illinois. If we are speaking of reparations, then his election is a little less than probable, but if we are discussing leadership and a spring-cleaning of damage done by the current administration, then the outlook is alarmingly positive. Or will a Senator Hilary Clinton emerge with clenched teeth, stalwart maternal courage and abound from a controversy laden past to victory?

Traditionalists are not only voting within stereotypical aesthetics, but also from discriminatory ideals based upon background and learned social distinctions. Fearfully I examine the threatening competitor marching in from the right—Senator John McCain--presenting just enough charm and gumption coupled with cowboy arrogance reminiscent of our founding fathers to win the powerful shaken not stirred red states. Disheartened, we maintain our stance and scamper away to our high school marching band sidelines within the left Obama’s crowd-pleasing early campaign trail. However, tradition will not be able to mend out layered issues. Obama is drill captain and his latest strategy has been timely and simplistic—honesty. He is asking what great leaders of the past have been asking us to do for years—to think differently. In his recent speech, “A More Perfect Union”, he addressed this as “the contradictions of community” specifically referencing his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., who’d “God damned” America a few days prior. Wright’s comment forced Obama to defend himself to the American people, yet again. A triumphant leader, he used this as an opportunity to empower. His words delved into America’s unspoken dark truth—the foundations of race and accepting that it is still an issue. Knowing this, Obama is asking us to utilize the same ambition that he is putting forth as he campaigns for presidency. A black man pursuing the highest position in a land that is still dealing with issues involving youngsters hanging ropes from trees in an attempt to threaten their black counterparts.

Therefore, how prepared are we to combat such intrinsic and possessive identities?

We must throw out our old, tired plans and step forward with a fresh new vision requesting less practicality and more ambition and magic. To begin to work together as a country is to determine a collective worth. First, we must understand that we all have a history coupled with persecution and tribulation thus giving us our unique coloring amidst equal footing. And, for the traditionalist, this will coincide with the “we the people” and “land of the free, home of the brave” ideals our country was founded on. Delivering us from our eight years maintaining a fractured everyman stasis to more hopeful citizens of the world.

“We may have different stories, but we hold common hopes.”

With a recent death count of 4000 American soldiers in Iraq, hope is declining and information such as this unfortunately becomes lumped in with the status quo. Recently, I spoke to an injured soldier preparing to return to Iraq on his third term. The soldier’s remarks were sardonic and biting, “I hate Bush-- but the money is good.” We’ve exchanged paltry paychecks for our self-worth, ushering in less than the best for our families, our communities, and ourselves. I refuse to accept this. Neither our country nor its citizens are helpless, but somehow our disappearing morale has made this so. Our problems can be fixed and everyone should have the opportunity to dream. It is passed time for a leader.

"We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

As a black woman, bouts of fear have distracted me from history in the making—the possibility of a black man in office. America has a reputation for welcoming nuance with violence and a conspiratorial stab in the back. The most recent example of this would be this month’s recent resignation of Eliot Spitzer, former governor of New York. The ferocious, yet effective governor was bugged, ousted, and booted on charges of prostitution all within the same week, ending his career. It is clear that if someone wants you out-- you’re gone.

Nonetheless, we are rotating heavily on a brittle axis. The wheel has been invented, broken, and re-invented and has now become irrelevant as we examine America’s political and socially incredulous desired future. Let’s get reacquainted and realize that this is a time to look around and assess the damage-- a time to turn off the television and decide to believe.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A More Perfect Union



"We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

Monday, March 24, 2008

what I'm listening to


Lately, my fave new song on repeat is "Sure Thing" by new artist, Miguel.

It's an R&B pop diddy, but I don't want to get in trouble with labeling music. The song has fun loving lyrics and a smooth, secretive beat. I'm down, minus lines like "Between you and I, simple as pie, baby." I first got wind of little Miguel when I was perusing the Myspace page of a fave artist, Esthero. She'd posted a song, featuring him called "The Many Times I Feel Lonely" that was gorgeous, provoking dirty lonesome thoughts. I did a little searching to find his page to delve deeper into his sound and discovered "Sure Thing", and another entitled, "Dig".

His is a fresh sound that will hopefully transfer live, and his style is sleek and sassy with old and new funk. I will admit that there is some original attempts (bitch!) with the rhyming but the vibe is what gets me. You will catch me snapping my fingers to it. It's the kind of song that will make you want to ride through town with the windows down and the bass up high. As a city dweller, I do crave a slice of suburban excitement. Play it loud to get the full effect.

You can hear it on his myspace page,

www.myspace.com/miguel

And, of course on my page,

www.myspace.com/acirericacardwell

But, I think you have to be my friend to view my profile.

Friend me.

www.miguelsmusic.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WAXED POETICS


The palpable quality of living angels is difficult to miss.

The eyes of encaustic painter Bridget Busutil are more translucent than one’s reflection in a pool of water. Her tool’s fire has impressed its memory onto their surface leaving your gaze lost, yet engaged within introductory conversation. Naturally, she is the living embodiment of her work.

Encaustic painting, a 3,000-year-old Egyptian form, consists of heated beeswax and damar crystals coupled with pigments. This formula is melted layer upon layer onto canvas and completed with a polishing. The combination allows for a unique aesthetic, providing a reminder of cultural expressive origins utilizing natural resources, exhausted patience, and boundless detail. Therefore encaustic painting requires nothing less than the basics--discipline, vision, and faith. The medium is extensive and possibly tedious (considering one’s finite mind), yet the results are true magic--exemplary of the artist’s journey.

“We are constantly going back and forth between the past and the future diminishing the value of the unique reality to live, the present.”

This organic and cultural alchemy is metaphorical to a pregnancy or a lifetime mirroring the excessive routine of discomfort and temporal behaviors. For artists, encaustic painting epitomizes “the work” having a weightier impact than the finished masterpiece; the vision propelling the art into that forceful connection-- the artistic psychosis. Or comparable to the film photographer developing negatives in a dark room, only to have an initial ideal shattered, released, or propelled simply by a blinking subject or unforeseen background “debris”. This is the ultimate spark within abstraction-- an unconventional medium demanding an enlightened scope-- allowing for a completed work to become a new and separate creation living within an unimagined vision. Inevitably, the observer is a part of this process.

“Through my work I am offering the discovery of several worlds packed up in layers as in my encaustic, a sort of journey of self-discovery, as well as discovery of 'the other' with the respect for cultural differences. The necessity is to succeed in viewing these differences as contributions to our own cultures and understand the wealth they have to offer.”

The alchemist was born in Vietnam to French and English parents and raised in Madagascar, where she received her early education. She traveled onward to the US to receive her BA in Studio Art, MA in French, and PhD in Comparative Literature and Art at the University of Rochester, in New York. Her first major exhibition was in Paris beginning her encaustic career’s over ten-year journey, exhibiting in Spain, the UK, and returning to the US, to display her work in Charleston, South Carolina and New York through the New York Foundation for the Arts and various other organizations and galleries. Her culturally eclectic background has directly influenced her chosen method. She has returned to Europe with her encaustics for recent exhibitions at Gallery Gaudi (2006) in Madrid, Spain; Trevisian Art (2006) in Florence Italy; and Gallery GORA (2003) in Montreal, Canada. Along with her exhibitions, she is currently a professor of art at Bilkent University in Turkey. Her life has been a legacy and an example to those preparing to embark on any journey.


“My place is as distant as the moon, and a long time ago I walked out of my heart.”


I met Bridget while in residence as a writer at Cat’Art in Ste. Colombe sur L’Hers in the summer of 2007. Her energy was curious to me; I was left somewhat speechless despite my usually excitable fa├žade, emblazoned by her presence. She engages you effortlessly and you feel it is your responsibility as a projected creator of things to know her. Bridget welcomed me into her studio and allowed me to salivate over her creations. Her workspace was spacious with pans filled with caked-in wax on cold burners and her original colors spilling over onto two or three tables formed into a “U” shape, beholden to three windows that welcomed the light and dark of the Pyrenees. Fingertips felt like magnets against her paintings despite their fragile surface, presenting a soul. Several of her encaustics and acrylics lined the far wall, and others were hung on the make shift walls that protected her encaustic kitchen.







Upon viewing, it became clear that her paintings allow nature to speak from its own voice-- urgent and mystical-- along with statements against the depletion of solitude. A Buddhist, Bridget is a believer in peace and the nurturing of art and the artist. Shrouds and secrets are also a distinct pattern—multiple lean and engaged stems and silhouettes.

“Technically I wish to bridge the past to the present and show that there is a continuity in life experience that only artists are capable of showing.”

Her work reflects a mourning heart for purer and less regurgitated circumstances. She is the story within her work—nomadic, impish, and pure, simply. And, the vitality of her encaustics has founded an intuitive quality within her, guiding her to absorb one’s story prior to its owner. A new and lifelong friend, influence, and supporter-- the angel with burnt wings.

“…it was as if she were hovering in the air and might vanish, like a glimmering light that comes we know not whence, and goes we know not whither.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
The Scarlet Letter



I encourage you to step into her light.

*For more of her encaustics, please visit Bridget's website at www.busutil.com

Santogold's "L.E.S. Artists"

My introduction to Santogold was not as glamorous as Sasha Frere Jones' encounter as the opener to Bjork's Madison Square Garden show. While babysitting, I heard a quick loop in the opening sequence of the usually pleasing theatricality of a Grey's Anatomy episode. The show really sold the song; the actors were clearly filmed dancing in real time facing away from the camera, then converted to slo-mo in production--Fantastic juxtaposition. I was immediately obsessed and ran home to go on handy dandy ABC.com to uncover the source.

First impressions liken her sound to M.I.A., the latest rowdy female on the scene, but thankfully Santi White has managed to set herself apart--a bit. M.I.A.'s sound is slightly more retro and organic with homemade instruments and created sounds, and Santi beats are more studio produced. Nonetheless, she's hit my soft spot for eccentric AND fragile female artists.

Here's her latest vid for L.E.S. Artists.


She looks great and every frame is symmetrical with tons of funky, Sesame Street gore. I can dig it. Although, I wouldn't have minded the song's video set in a typical run-down and half empty NYC apartment on a hot summer day, leaving Santi sweating out the words from the hardwood floors. I could have waited for the sun.

Friday, March 7, 2008

2 days before 2-6

Uno otra picto of my father...he's the guy in the middle with the humble smile. This is the man that believes in me. THANK YOU.


Last year's birthday with the OG clique.



Luxembourg Park. Marina met us early that day and bought us coffees, giving us an insider's peek into the area. That morning, I lost my earring in a shower I didn't need to take.

Parks are important for me...I stare/think/blink/absorb excessively, so they're helpful when my mind's trapped in a city. This was one of my final days is Paris. Gimme a minute, I am channeling myself back to that moment. Ah, there it is. Minimal care and lots of "here and now" moments.
L-O-V-E

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

'Til Sunday



Nairoby Otero and I had all the basics down when we met-- fellow freshmen, next door neighbors, and "first friends". Almost eight years later(oy), we've remained supportive and sassy friends, not necessarily speaking often but always picking up where we left off.

I was able to catch the off-off Broadway debut of her original piece on Tuesday night. It is the story of a Cuban girl named, Claridad, and her recollection of traveling with her mother from Cuba to America, settling in New Orleans, and her struggles to define herself as "first, Cuban and second, American"--all whilst preparing for her quinceanera. It is a solo performance, with Nairoby playing a range of characters from Claridad, her mother, to her neighbor, Pepe, and many more.


It closes on Sunday (my 26th birthday!), so run to see it. It's a great piece of theater with definite potential for an off Broadway run.

DOROTHY STRELSIN THEATRE
ABINGDON THEATRE ARTS COMPLEX
312 W. 36th Street 1st Floor
(between 8th and 9th Avenues)
*visit Smarttix.com for reservations


www.nairobyotero.com

Sunday, March 2, 2008

OMNI-JAVA FEBRUARY - From Posterior to Protocol


Konstance's "Jena 6"

theOMNIVOROUSgroup's second reading was a powerful success, no pun intended. Up until a half hour prior to showtime, there was no electricity at Java Studios. Somehow, within a private corner of divinity hummed, "let there be light", and there was light. Suddenly, we were all brought back into glory, scrambling around to prep for the evening.


Installation...


and, uncorking. Tiere du bouchon!

Our four writers from left: Heather Acs, me, Allison Rhone, and Crystal Chase



Our theme for Black History month was black identity: social structure and cultural definition. Most of the work presented was original and loosely based on the theme. Topics ranged from funny valentines to booty; death and abuelas; and word responsibility. Always the eclectic palette at OMNI-JAVA!



wintry mix

Message me at omnivorous.group@gmail.com, if you'd like to present work (visual/written) for March.

*And a big THANK YOU to H-E-A-T-H-E-R for the blog title idea.