Becca Peterson

Becca Peterson is in her final semester majoring in Media, Culture, and the Arts at The King's College, a Christian liberal arts college. She is originally from Chesapeake, Virginia. She loves hiking mountains, beautiful poetry, watercolor paintings, hot cups of coffee and the Brooklyn Bridge. After she graduates, she will be doing an internship in Manila, the Philippines incorporating art and faith in the fight against injustice.

A Renaissance of Local Goods

Instead of mass produced cotton t-shirts from Wal-Mart, this Christmas many folks are supporting local artisans. They want hand hand made knit sweaters and they’d rather pick up organic basil plants at a nearby farmer’s market than packaged herbs at Costco. Over at GOOD,  there was a great article discussing the cultural shift in the way products are being produced and consumed.  From the article:

It’s knowing where the food you feed your family comes from, how the fabric you clothe them with is made, and the materials and processes that go into each piece. It’s striking up a conversation with your local artisan and sharing interest in his or her process. At the end of the day, it’s all about re-instilling an element of community and uniting people through an alternative approach to commerce.

The article references a retail co-op called the Utilitarian Workshop, a place that sells “uniquely hand-crafted goods for the modern environment.”  Their goal as a business is to become a collaborative environment that

aims to build and educate our community through the thoughtful curation of artisan goods, collaborative events, and educational workshops. Once completed, our space will be a meeting place for like-minded, free-thinking individuals to eat, drink, create, discuss, discover and celebrate.

Why is there a shift from mass production to local trade and a focus on community?  Is there any loneliness weaved into our consumerism? In buying local, are we seeking to  feel connected to those around us?  Dorothy Day, the American journalist and social activist said that: “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

The Art of Balance

“What I dream of is an art of balance” -Henri Matisse

Colossal featured these photographs by Colorado-based artist, Michael Grab.  More photos and videos can be found in his portfolio.

These structures are made solely from gravity–no adhesives or other types of helpers are used! The precarious-looking arrangements take patience and practice to create.  From the artist:

“Over the past few years of practicing rock balance, simple curiosity has evolved into therapeutic ritual, ultimately nurturing meditative presence, mental well-being, and artistry of design. Alongside the art, setting rocks into balance has also become a way of showing appreciation, offering thanksgiving, and inducing meditation. Through manipulation of gravitational threads, the ancient stones become a poetic dance of form and energy, birth and death, perfection and imperfection.”

It is difficult to achieve balance when placing rocks on top of each other, just like it is difficult to achieve balance in daily living.  Euripides, the ancient Greek playwright, said that

“The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.”

Living a balanced life is a challenge.  But it can be absolutely breathtaking.

Moving Nudes

It’s been exactly one hundred years since Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 caused an upheaval in the art world because it combined Cubism with movement, resulting in what was later termed Surrealism. Duchamp was inspired by recent photographic developments of the time, and wanted to capture them through painting.

There is still a fascination with capturing the naked body in action.  From our friends over at Boing Boing, we found these beautiful images by Japanese artist Shinichi Maruyama.  These images are created by taking a string of images that were consecutively taken, creating a film-like illusion of nudes dancing.

 

 

The Shadow of God in Poland and the Czech Republic

Gabriela Mistral, a Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet, said “beauty…is the shadow of God on the universe.”

We found these pictures from our friends over at Colossal.  The Polish photographer, Boguslaw Strempel, climbs mountains in Poland and the Czech Republic and captures the moment when the rising sun hits the fog.

You can find more pictures from Boguslaw Strempel here.

Henry David Thorea said that “I believe there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”  There is something inside of us that resonates with beauty in nature-could it be the magnificent display of the holiness of God that we are drawn to?

Do you agree? What strikes you most about photos like these?

“Great Art For Cheap”

As compares to other cultures, Americans are individualistic and egalitarian. This dualistic philosophy is seen in their attitude towards art. Over at GOOD, we saw this article showcasing “great art for cheap” from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design .  MCAD defines art as something that can be created and appreciated by everyone, and many Americans agree with this egalitarian approach, as the sale is lucrative and popular.

“The MCAD Art Sale features hundreds of pieces by students and recent graduates of the school. When the opening bell rings, the mad rush begins and people literally grab the art right off the walls….For years, the annual MCAD Art Sale has been a magnet for collectors and art lovers from around the country seeking killer deals on work by emerging artists.”

You can find detailed description of the sale, along with some of the images being sold here.  The goal for the sale is to completely sell out of all the artwork, which boils down to selling 6,000 student and alumni pieces in a short 14 hours.   You can find more description of MCAD’s goals and details about the artists here.

 

What do you think?

Christmas Consumerism Meets Resistance

Every year the Christmas decorations come out earlier and earlier. Countless stories about moms fighting each other for the last special edition barbie doll at Toys-R-Us or teens racing to get the last pair blue jeggings from Old Navy-starting at midnight on Thanksgiving day swirl around.  From our friends over at GOOD, we found this article about consumerism during the holiday season.  It describes the crazed shopping starting even earlier this year:

“Walmart recently announced its deals and schedule for Black Friday this year—which actually begins at a record-early 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving day…Last year, Walmart began their Black Friday sales at 10 p.m. the night before. The year before that, they opened at midnight. Will every year continue to get earlier and earlier until Thanksgiving is inherently combined with Christmas shopping?”

While some are eagerly embracing the earlier opportunities to hit the sales, others are taking a different stance.  Instead of going shopping on Black Friday like most other Americans, they are participating campaigns like in Adbuster’s Buy Nothing Day-refusing to buy anything on Black Friday, and some even refusing to purchase any extraneous items through the entire Christmas season.

There are also charities that are encouraging people to give their money to support an important cause instead of spending it on presents that will quickly be forgotten.  International Justice Mission and charity: water are examples of non-profit organizations encouraging this movement against consumerism.

These movements reveal that Americans are realizing that purchasing more “stuff” will not bring them happiness.  They challenge us to appreciate the holidays without the cheapest Nintendo Wi or the newest J Crew coat. Will you join them?

 

When in Fairyland Speak to Whales

Can people communicate with animals? J.R.R. Tolkien discussed in his essay On Fairy Stories, that in “faerie-stories” people often talk to beasts, birds, and trees and it revealed a hidden desire:

“In some part (often small) this marvel derives from one of the primal ‘desires’ that lie near the heart of Faerie: the desire of men to hold communion with other living things.”

Yesterday, our friends over at Boing Boing posted this video:

The article explains:

“A new paper published by the National Marine Mammal Foundation in the scientific journal Current Biology sheds light on the ability of marine mammals to spontaneously mimic human speech.”

“These ‘conversations’ were heard several times before the whale was eventually identified as the source. In fact, we discovered it when a diver mistook the whale for a human voice giving him underwater directions.”

Are scientists who are hearing whales “talk” actualizing the “primal desire” that Tolkien described?

The Clustering Force

Our friends over at GOOD just posted an article about entrepreneurs and self-employed proffessionals working in communal space. Richard Florida, an American urban studies theorist and author of the 2008 book Who’s Your City, wrote:

“economic growth comes from the clustering and concentrating of talented and productive people, what I call the clustering force.  New ideas are generated and our productivity increases when we locate close to one another in cities and regions.  The clustering force makes each of us more productive, which in turn makes the places we inhabit more productive.”

This “clustering force” is seen on the most basic level in cities from Denver to New York City.  However, instead of professionals just being in the same city, they are clustered together in the same building.  Because of the shared space, they are able to collaborate and create a powerful network that otherwise would not exist.  From the article:

“Some spaces are quiet and private, some are more professional, some are casual and artsy, all of them are fun. Often spaces will offer a free drop-in day pass, so check a few out and give them a try. After all, Rachel Beresh said it best: ‘Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them—so go out and start creating.'”

If all types of professionals followed this “24/7 hub” office style of creativity and collaboration, imagine the things they could create and the ideas that could spread.

Would you find this environment conducive to your creative habits?

 

 

“Time present and time past/Are both perhaps present in time future.” –T.S. Eliot

At the 50th anniversary of the New York Film Festival hosted by the Lincoln Center, the theme is unification in time.

The New York Times describes it this way:

“As the New York Film Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary, its rich, heady brew of nostalgia and anticipation evokes the opening words of T. S. Eliot’s poem “Burnt Norton”: “Time present and time past/Are both perhaps present in time future.”

“The festival’s official centerpiece, “Not Fade Away”is a vigorous rock-’n’-roll coming-of-age movie. Doug (John Magaro), its central character, is an aspiring rock star who physically resembles the young Bob Dylan but is no budding genius. This antiromantic reminiscence of a squabbling suburban New Jersey family (James Gandolfini plays Doug’s roughneck father) and a struggling band unlikely to succeed is opposite in spirit to a grandiloquent ode to the period like Julie Taymor’s“Across the Universe,”from 2007. In its scrappy fragmentary vision of 1960s America “Not Fade Away” shows accelerated cultural change leading to collective disorientation and bewilderment.”

Other films at the festival include “Something in the Air,” “Ginger & Rosa,” “Like Someone in Love,” and “The Paperboy.”
They continue to explore how time is collapsable and the effect the past has on the future.

Chicago Strike Spreads to Musicians

As mentioned yesterday at the New York Times, the Chicago Teacher’s Strike apparently struck chords in more than just the education sector. Now, Chicago musicians are going on strike as well. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra suddenly refused to play on Saturday at Carnegie Hall, giving just a few hours of notice, protesting low wages and insufficient health insurance.

“Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s executive and artistic director, said in an interview that the strike had caught him by surprise. He said he would be in daily contact with Chicago’s management before deciding what to do.”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra aren’t the only ones striking:

“The work stoppage is the most visible event in a season of discontent on the orchestra labor front. Musicians of the Atlanta Symphony have been locked out. Contracts at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra expire on Sunday, and management and musicians are far apart in both cases. The Indianapolis Symphony, where the contract expired on Sept. 3, canceled the first two weeks of its season amid a bitter dispute.

While each circumstance is different, orchestras’ managements are generally trying to reduce salaries or hold the line on raises and cut the costs of benefits, citing a dip in donations and lower yield from endowments because of the recession. They say the survival of the orchestras is on the line.”

“But Chicago teachers and musicians are some of the best paid in the country. Educators make approximately $71,000 per year, the highest average income of teachers in the nation. Similarly, Chicago musicians “make a minimum of $144,820 a year, as well as extra payments and overtime.”

 

What Makes You Happy

This new documentary attempts to explore what makes people happy–whether they be in African deserts or American suburbs. It has received multiple awards from various film festivals from around the world, and was directed by Roko Belic, whose debut “Genghis Blues” won the Sundance Audience Award and was nominated for an Academy Award.


Happy-Official Trailer

Find more information here.