Able in This Diverse Universe writing competition – Call for Creative Writers

Able in This Diverse Universe writing competition

ASLI Managing Director Charlotte Farhan has been selected as one of the Judges for the Able in This Diverse Universe writing competition alongside Karrie Higgins, Professor Dr. Kwame Brown and Jacqueline Cioffa.

Winning essays will be featured in ASLI magazine following first prize winner’s publication on A True Testimony and 2nd and 3rd prize winners will be featured too, alongside over a 100 of our ASLI artists from around the world.

 

Find out about the other judges of this very important competition by clicking the link: Meet the Judges for Able in This Diverse Universe

Able in This Diverse Universe Essay Competition

So how and what is this all about?

“Established essayist and word-mage Karrie Higgins invites you to participate in a nonfiction writing competition on the themes of ableism, disability, access and overcoming. All submissions fees benefit the training and care of Noah Ainslie’s future Autism service dog, Appa. This competition will also serve to raise awareness of invisible illness and ableist bias.

Noah’s neurodiversity often manifests as sensory overwhelm. He has been learning coping mechanisms for six years, but still visibly struggles when it comes to conforming to neurotypical standards. He is high function on the spectrum which means he doesn’t “look like” he’s disabled. He is subjected to ableist expectations, often very aggressively and in public.

With Appa’s help, Noah will have access to the public spaces his anxiety prevents him from entering. More importantly, Noah will have a companion who loves him for who he is and does not judge his inability to conform to ableist public standards. To learn more about Noah, visit his GoFundMe page.”

Thank you from Appa and Noah.
Thank you from Appa and Noah.

Follow this link to enter the competition:

https://honeyquill.submittable.com/submit/50077

To enter this competition, please use the following guidelines for all submissions.Your work should be:

  • nonfiction
  • no more than 2,000 words
  • in PDF or docx format
  • without identifying information in your document as judging will be blind 

This competition is open worldwide!

All entries are require a $15 submission fee which will directly benefit Noah and Appa. You are welcome to enter as many times as you want.

This competition will run from December , 2015 – February 29, 2016. Winners will be notified March 31, 2016.

The winning essayists will receive $250 cash, and publication on Karrie’s website, A True Testimony. Winning essays will also be featured in ASLI magazine following first prize winner’s publication on A True Testimony and 2nd and 3rd prize winners will have a full featured articles.

Four Paws for Noah
Four Paws for Noah

We at ASLI urge you all to get involved, in whatever way you can.

You can:

enter the competition

donate to the GoFundMe page

share this post with friends and family via social media or email

This is such an important cause and the issues we are asking you to address, affect so many, including Charlotte Farhan.

Who is also in the process of getting a service dog for her agoraphobia and PTSD.

Charlotte Farhan says

“I live in an able world where I too have been rejected and expected to “fit in” or expected to accept defeat, so please for people such as myself and Noah, support this with an open heart and mind.”

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NEW ASLI CAMPAIGN – CAPITALISM, POVERTY AND WAR – CALL FOR ARTISTS

NEW CALL FOR ARTISTS!!

NEW CAMPAIGN!

ASLI INFOGRAPHIC ART BY CHARLOTTE FARHAN

 

Here at Art Saves Lives International we are now launching our 3rd campaign and call for artists. With or first “celebration of women” and second “mental illness, health and recovery” we have created an exciting collaborative space to share art and create change.

So what is our next topic?

THE NEW CAMPAIGN:

CAPITALISM, POVERTY AND WAR.

Misused and Abused - By Charlotte Farhan
Misused and Abused – By Charlotte Farhan

 

Our world is in turmoil and it seems everyday we wake up and hear of more people being killed by war and poverty, either directly or indirectly. Poverty is known everywhere around the world, even the most “developed” countries have excessive poverty rates.

War and conflicts are happening in most corners of the world.

Capitalism is at the heart of these issues in many ways.

So we at ASLI wanted to shed light on these ever increasing problems and discuss them using artistic expression and creativity, allowing for a conversation to be had, from and by the unheard. So if you are interested in the CALL FOR ARTISTS click here.

ASLI INFOGRAPHIC

However please read on to find out why these issues are so important.

 

 

 

Here are some facts:

  • Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.

  • 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

  • 805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. Food banks are especially important in providing food for people that can’t afford it themselves. Run a food drive outside your local grocery store so people in your community have enough to eat. Sign up for Supermarket Stakeout.

  • More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day.

  • In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.

  • Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.

  • As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

  • 1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.

  • 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.

  • Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.

  • The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

There are 42 ACTIVE CONFLICTS worldwide today!

Civil war has been identified as one of the main causes for the persistence of poverty in many regions of the world: war damages infrastructure, institutions and production, destroys assets, breaks up communities and networks and kills and injures people.

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
― John Steinbeck

We at ASLI are committed to being against war and we aim to highlight the struggles war creates and the impact it has around the world.

CAPITALISM! 

CONSEQUENCES TO CAPITALISM ARE:

INEQUALITY – The top 1% of the world’s population are the elites, the bourgeoisie those who have capitalised on the system of “top down politics” and fill the population’s minds with the idea “anyone can be rich if they work hard enough” which is a fallacy designed to get more people working and making money for the people at the top, remember there’s only so much room at the top. Making money by effectively taking it from others through the consumer market, taxation, debt, interest, insurance and many more…

WASTE and POLLUTION – The top percent of people have resources in abundance and an excess of “things” and necessities, with all of this being with the minority at the top, it is no surprise there is so much waste. Even the middle classes in developed countries waste so much of what many do not have. Food is wasted the most and often simply because food distributors and stores are afraid of profit margins reducing. Pollution is excessively caused by overproduction of goods and companies refusing to responsible for their impact on the environment in general. It doesn’t matter to them that, in the long term, we’ll all be dead, as long as in the short term they’ll have the most money.

HUNGER – When there is such an unfair distribution of wealth there is a majority around the world who have less and not enough resources to survive. This world houses the excessively over fed and the excessively malnourished, the minority is in between. We know that there is more than enough food for everyone to be fed adequately, but the capitalist nature of the world only wants those who can afford food to eat, inturn wasting more food which could be given to those starving. 

UNCHARITABLE SOCIETY – When capitalism rules, making money and keeping money for profit is a greater need to individuals and companies than being altruistic. This leads to less charitable societies and is due to a forced need to put oneself first above all else. This is fueled by governments cutting benefits and scapegoating the poor. 

LESS CONCERN FOR PUBLIC SAFETY – When a world is more concerned with profit and looking after themselves over others, big companies will often cut corners in health and safety requirements due to cost. Many injuries and fatalities happen due to this and could be simply avoided. 

UNDEMOCRATIC POLITICS – The wealthy and powerful will always have more monopoly in a capitalist society and this in turn creates undemocratic practices. Governments will put big business and banks before the public. Also money within politics means candidates who do not have financial backing will be disadvantaged in elections and against lobbyists.

WAR – Most conflicts around the world in recent years have been for profit. War is big business, funded by big companies, oil and arms dealers. Even private military and special forces are now used in conflict zones. Many interventions from developed countries are due to a particular interest of theirs is in danger of losing them money or there is money to be made from an opportunity. 

TOTALITARIANISM – Forms of dictatorships are seen not only in corrupt governments but also within big business and organizations. With huge bonuses being given to those at the top, those who do less work are rewarded whilst their staff is paid minimum wage. The media industry is also run like a totalitarian state, with normally one organisation monopolising the majority of media outlets within capitalist countries. 

PROPAGANDA – Capitalism would not be able to exist if it weren’t for advertising. With the power of suggestion, psychology and “brain washing” media can reach and influence you in so many ways throughout the day. Making you want to buy those “things” you do not need or even want. It is also used as propaganda and allows ideologies to be pumped out of your media outlets and devices telling you, if you have more money you are a success, telling you to blame the poor, the disabled and migrants for all that is wrong, leaving you guilt free to buy more “things”!

 

SO GET INVOLVED

WITH OUR CALL FOR ARTISTS

CLICK HERE!

 

ASLI INFOGRAPHIC

 

REMEMBER our call for artists are open to all who create:

visual artists, photographers, musicians, singers, dancers, performance artists, creative writers, poets, spoken word artists, journalists, film and documentary makers, actors, fashion designers, crafters, artisans, tattooists, textile artists, street performers, cartoonists and animators, graphic designers, bloggers, vloggers….

basically if you are using your art and creativity to communicate to the world WE WANT YOU!

ASLI INFOGRAPHIC

 

If you feel you have something to say or create which will comment on our campaign “capitalism, poverty and war” then click here to see what you have to do to get involved.

 

“A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.”
― Fidel Castro

ASLI’s Mental Health Awareness Fair and Event – The low-down

 

ASLI’s Mental Health Awareness Fair and Event 

The low-down

 

ASLI Info graphic

On Saturday the 30th of May ASLI had a fabulous day of engaging with our local community and our event was a great success. The whole premiss of our day was to raise awareness about our campaign MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALTH AND RECOVERY, to showcase some local artists who use their art to deal with their own mental health struggles, to give back to the community by having a FREE table-top sale and swap shop and by inviting local crafters and artisans to sell their beautiful creations along side us in solidarity. Oh and how could we forget CAKE, there was lots of cake!

The ASLI team and our ASLI volunteers pulled together so that our guests as well as ourselves, enjoyed a day of positive engagement and community.

See our Gallery of all the event photos – Click Here!!

 

We would like to thank:

The Oasis Centre – Not only was the centre and amazing venue, the staff were so accommodating and supportive. They gave us the entire venue for free, we asked if we could donate to their chosen charity and they chose a local animal sanctuary.

The Exhibiting Artists – Louise Tomkinson, Michelle Morgan, Chris WebbPhilippa Newman , Andreea Stan, Lisa Reeve and Charlotte Farhan

Our Stall Holders – Lisa TaylorJames WaterfieldPaul Brian, Philippa Newman, Debra Carter and Emily Murphy

We will be featuring all these amazing people and their talents in separate blog posts so keep an eye out!

PhototasticCollage-2015-05-29-12-14-07

We made lots of amazing connections with our local community, including mental health charities and art projects and communities! We will be building on these connection in the coming month, more details to follow…

Plus we had lots of local artists sign up to get involved as well as local residents signing up to our blog and newsletter.

All in all a very happy event! And to top it off we raised just under £200 for ASLI to continue to do what it does best, using art as a tool to create change and save lives.

Be sure to check out:

  • our Gallery of event photos taken by our two ASLI photographers Lisa Reeve,  Charlotte Farhan and Iain Turrell
  • our gallery of our exhibition on mental health and artists in Portsmouth at the event
  • our shout outs to our craft and art stall holders

Thank you xxx

ASLI INFO GRAPHIC By Charlotte Farhan

 

 

 

Artist Rocio De Alba “My one and only goal is as long as I can stand, breath, see and hold a camera I want to create photographs that people are drawn to”

Rocio De Alba
Rocio De Alba

 

Artist Rocio De Alba “My one and only goal is as long as I can stand, breath, see and hold a camera I want to create photographs that people are drawn to”

My name is Rocio De Alba (translation: dew of the dawn). I currently live and work in Queens, New York with my wonderful partner, Glen. We share four children between the two of us. It’s our own chaotic version of the Brady Bunch, lol. I was born in El Salvador. My family moved to the USA illegally in the early 80s escaping the civil unrest. Under the Regan administration, we were granted amnesty a few years later.  My father was a well-known artist in our country so I was surrounded by art a lot. But I didn’t realize I wanted to be an artist until my late twenties. I was working as an administrative assistant in Los Angeles and simply quit one day to pursue my BFA in photography. I completed my degree in 2007 after I moved to New York at the School of Visual arts.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of mental illness and the stereo type of mothers in your art?

I’ve always been intrigued by artist who document their lives. And I suppose this topic is apropos considering I am a mother of four with limited time. But I didn’t want to focus on a subject purely on the merits of accessibility. So even though I didn’t have a sophisticated concept or narrative, I documented my family and took self-portraits. It wasn’t until I studied Claude Cahun and Nan Goldin’s work that I realized I could use art as a way to overcome personal difficulties. In 2012 after a long battle with alcoholism, depression and suicidal thoughts, I was diagnosed with a severe case anxiety and panic disorders. Finding out you suffer from mental ailments feels like you’re walking around with your skin inside out. You feel fragile and exposed yet ironically ashamed. It was a dark period. One day while going through my archives, however, I began to dichotomize my self-portraits from narcissistic and vain portraits to cathartic rituals that subconsciously were saving my life. As an artist I could finally see the cohesive thread that lead me to create more intentional images with regards to context and theme; but as a patient, I found the photographic discipline itself cathardic and therapeutic. When I launched my site two years ago with these new images, several friends (and strangers) confided in me that they too shared the same struggles. It was then I knew I was on to something meaningful.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

Society tells us that we must be perfect at a glance and what people see on the outside should reflect the inside.  Yet I remember being on the subway or a bus with my make-up done, perfectly dressed, a big smile on my face, a diaper bag on one shoulder and two kids on the other hand; from the outside all appeared “normal” but inside I was screaming for help yet no one ever asked how I was feeling, not even friends. We’re also taught that talking about suicide and addiction is taboo, especially for women. This submission is my way of hopefully inspiring women to know that there is no shame is asking for help and there is no obstacle you currently face that is worth ending your life over. Seeking help to quit drugs or alcohol doesn’t make you week or brave; it merely signifies a desire for something different maybe even better? Although better isn’t promised either. But most importantly all the horrible shit you to your loved one that you think can’t be forgiven and there is no fresh start for you is wrong; it IS possible to change. We are all capable of change not matter your age the depths you’ve sunken down. I have learned however, that It may be too late to fix certain relationships but it’s never too late to forgive yourself and accept responsibility for your wrong doings and try to be as good a person as you can be today and right now.


 

 

“FACES OF LOVE”

In my early twenties my pious “old fashion” Hispanic parents divorced. Years later they confessed their most devoted accomplishment was “sparing us (as children) the unpleasantries associated with step-parents.” Yet almost immediately my mother began a successful relationship with a man nine years her junior, whom shared custody of two sons with his ex-wife, while my father courted many women simultaneously. Baffled, I witnessed my strict marital ethics unravel through the adults that enforced them and seamlessly integrated into what is commonly referred as a “modern family.” Suddenly my mother was a stepmother and we often met dad’s female companions with the imminent question: “will he marry her?” Using heaps of props, make-up, minimal post-production to alter my bone structure, eyes and skin color, I produce these satirical and humorous self-portraits to explore the “modern family” concept, focusing on the gamut of the contemporary mother archetype.  For the purpose of visual reference and to accurately reconstruct the physical attributes of these personas, I scrutinized hours of affiliated reality TV shows, primetime family programs and “telenovelas.”

The 21st century features great diversity in family structures. Research reveals fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, sixteen states legalized same sex and transgendered marriages, two million adopted children live in the United States alone, while interracial unions remain legal since 1967. These statistic endorse the evolution of the mother prototype, from that of the 1950s for instance, exemplified by fictitious characters like June Cleaver. Today mothers derive from biological roots, adoption, single parenthood, stepmothers, same sex unions, foster custodians or all the above. And due to new age media, feminist movements, and plastic surgery these women may look younger, live longer and remarry multiple times, as in mine case. Currently, I hold custody of my three children. The two eldest are from a broken engagement (he married a woman with two kids) and share the third child with my current husband, whom has full custody of a son from a previous relationship. As the evolution to a progressive family dynamic occurred, it seemed to revolutionize societal doctrines that enforced what mothers should look like and instead beckoned she reinvent herself unconventionally and without conceding to social biases.

“If I photograph [a] generalized human being, everybody will recognize it. The more specific you are the more general it [the subject] will be.”
-Diane Arbus

“GIRL ANACHRONISM”

Experts say by the time we reach age three hippocampus, a portion of the brain used to store memories, has adequately matured to handle our first palpable recollections. It so happens that is the age I learned about death. Inadvertently, this provoked the initial stages of a series of panic and anxiety attacks that would haunt me through adulthood. By age ten, I experienced more ruthless traumatic incidences that intensified the disorder and consumed me. I was unreasonably needy, continuously felt a pending doom, and was certain I was born in the wrong century.  At fourteen, a friend unveiled a magical potion that relieved all distress: alcohol! I self medicated for decades before finding sobriety, therapy, and a healthy lifestyle demanding I deal with the underlining cause of my psychological malady: my fear of dying.
In 2006 I began an extensive research study of Claude Cahun for an essay. Cahun was a 19th century surrealist photographer, writer, and feminist whom experimented with self-portraiture as a way to inwardly escape the oppressions of Nazi regime. Using Cahun’s concept of photography as escapism, I began this series of self-portraits to illustrate extravagant fragments of the mental and physical agony I endure at the peak of a severe and intolerable episode. Although doctors have diagnosed my prognosis as promising, I continue to incorporate abstract fantasy tableaux of neurosis and emotions of angst as they shed light on my disease and create a cathartic and therapeutic neurological relief stimulated by the photographic discipline itself.

“Photography saved my life. Every time I go through something scary…I survive by taking pictures.” –Nan Goldin


 

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I secretly think that (like my father) I’m a painter at heart, but lack the patience. My point is I could have painted my concept, made a collage, written a song or poem. I mean let’s be honest, I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Mental illness has been a theme in art for decades Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” quickly comes to mind. Photography is simply my art tool of choice. There’s a definite immediacy about photography, but none of my images are spontaneous. There’s an intense amount of meticulous calculations that has occurred before the shutter is pressed that, believe it or not, is still “awing” to me.

What is your process when creating?

I tend to sketch a new vision on paper or write the idea for it on my smart phone first. It may sit there for moths or I may execute it within a week or two, provided I bought or have the materials needed.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

Well I’ve already mentioned my father, Claude Cahun and Nan Goldin. Jessica Woodman is another influence, but not just because her images have a volume that screams in my ears, but also because of their beauty.  The rich vibrant color pallets of Cig Harvey’s work are also inspiring to me. Or the soft, warm, and mysterious spaces of Utah Barth. Lately I’ve been seriously obsessed with Cristina De Middle’s work, who happens to be a friend that motivates me and believes in my work. But mostly I’m inspired by my amazing network of talented female friends and colleagues who bust their assess in this highly competitive field yet won’t take “no” for an answer.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?.

When you’re an immigrant, in any country I suppose, you don’t have to concern yourself with labels because others are doing it for you: government officials, bullies, employers and other women. SO I’m very caution is placing labels on myself. That being said however, I believe in the equal treatment and rights of all peoples. Especially those who cannot or don’t know how to defend or speak-up for themselves, or are denied that basic right. So under those beliefs, yes I would consider myself a feminist.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

I am extremely impressed with your dedication to give a voice to the muted and the forum to showcase issues that others hide from by using art as your weapon.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously?

Do you have any experiences of this? Although we have made great achievements from the days of a young Gloria Steinem let’s say, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Personally I’ve either had to “dumb-down, dress-up, talk-down in order to not just be taken serious by men, but also (and this one hurts the most) to not seem a threat to other women.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
Around the world? My goodness no! All you have to do is turn on the BBC and within ten minutes you can personally witness the exponential inequality worldwide. It’s really terrifying what some women must make acceptable in order to simply stay alive. You get a sense of hopelessness followed by a strong sense of power to know that you live in a country where you can still speak out and try to make changes.

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?  

I  have a tremendous passion to help children that are in and out of foster care. My step-son, who believes is my biological son, was kept from his father (my husband, Glen) for many years due to his mother’s resentment over Glen and their volatile relationship. And even though Glen was fighting for custody, she was an active addict and my son was being tossed from one foster care to another, even though we were fighting to gain custody. I find they ethics of child protective services repulsive. One day I’d like to begin a photographic project about children in the system. I know exactly how I’ll go about it, I  just need the funds and the permission from the state, which is the hardest thing to clear.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

To me “Art Saves Lives” is simply a literal term that is exemplified in my life. Many times during a panic attack, state of deep depression or a moment of anxiety, I can simply pick up my camera begin photographing and it’s almost as if I am transported into a mental state of mind that soothing and authentic to my inner self. Art Saves Life is a lifestyle for me.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

When I was an undergrad student I never thought of art as a way to make a change in the world. I was a narcissistic, self absorb twenty something kid with one goal in mind: to become a rich and famous artist. It’s funny to think back now because nothing could be further from the truth. To choose a career as an artist means you are willing to let go of all those fantasies and work from the heart to create work you are proud of and hope that it somehow connects to an audience and maybe even touches someone. Ideally I’d like to live off my art one day and I still believe this will happen for me but I more than anything, I want my art to speak to someone and touch them deeply. But I’ll admit I didn’t begin with this objective in mind, and sometimes I still don’t. But it is certainly something I’ve been told my art is doing. And to me that is motivational and inspiring.

What are your goals as with your art?

My one and only goal is as long as I can stand, breath, see and hold a camera I want to create photographs that people are drawn to for their aesthetics, but might return to see them one more time for its merit. I want to see my images exposed to a large audience and one day have gallery representation. I also see myself teaching photography as a therapeutic release in rehabs or foster care facilities

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

Right now I am working intensely on editing a large series about my seven-year-old step-on and converting it into a multimedia book. I would like to complete the series “Faces of Love”, which you ( at Art Saves Lives) selected to showcase along with my series “Girl Anachronism.” I was also chosen to participate in the Annual New York Times FREE Portfolio Review (chosen from over 3500 entries!!) and am preparing a meticulous portfolio for this occasion. By the end of the year, I have plans to begin a new project regarding my father’s death from alcoholism two years ago. I have the images in my head but I need to finalize my four current projects before starting this one.

And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?

More than anything I want to thank you for selecting and believing in my work. It’s truly an honor to be one of your featured artists. I also want to thank my loving family for pushing me to not give up when times get tough and for their unconditional love.

If you would like to know more about ROCIO DE ALBA please follow the link:

Website

 

Writer and Poet Lilly Garwood-Lloyd “I wanted to make a point about how much we associate the vagina with politics or ‘angry’ feminism because in truth it has become a political battleground”

Writer and Poet Lilly Garwood-Lloyd “I wanted to make a point about how much we associate the vagina with politics or ‘angry’ feminism because in truth it has become a political battleground”.

 

Lilly Garwood-Lloyd / Lisa Lawrence
Lilly Garwood-Lloyd / Lisa Lawrence

 

 

Lisa Lawrence, 23, London, England.

Lisa also writes under the name Lilly Garwood-Lloyd and describes herself as a vegetarian, atheist and feminist. Having successfully studied Drama, Applied Theatre and Education and graduated  two years ago from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Lisa discovered feminism and this sparked her creativity to begin writing plays and what she calls “stand-up poetry”. With a background in all manner of creative expression including visual arts, graphic design and millinery Lisa is using her artistry to challenge feminist issues and engage with her audience.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of vaginas in your art?

As someone who has always been very unapologetic and outspoken on the topic of bodies and sex I suppose the ability to discuss the vagina came naturally to me, which it doesn’t for everyone. I felt a bit concerned that the only words many women feel comfortable using for their vagina are sexy or cutesy words, so I started trying to write poems about vaginas.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

 I think humour has the ability to deliver a message in a way which helps you reach people who might otherwise not be willing to listen. I wanted to diffuse a lot of the fear people have about feminism and to show that feminists have a sense of humour and aren’t all angry!

 

The poems I chose to submit are ones which feature something which makes lots of people uncomfortable; vaginas. It seems alien to me that so many people can barely say the word ‘vagina’ when they came out of one. I wanted to make a point about how much we associate the vagina with politics or ‘angry’ feminism…because in truth it has become a political battleground, from contraceptives, to abortion, to rape the vagina features in each and every one. I wanted to lighten the tone, so every day people could feel able to discuss vaginas, take ownership of their vagina and see it as part of who they are (rather than a dusty storage cupboard for entertaining guests or a hallway for babies).

 


 

 

Naming your ninny

by Lisa Lawrence

I find I often envy men

cos they get to have a willy

not in a weird Freudian sense

but cos the word is cute and silly

Men get to have a todger

They get to have a winkie

even words like cock and dick

at least make it sound kinky

 

me, I’ve got a vag

an axe-wound or a gash

I dare you to find a word for it

Which isn’t gross or brash

 

Men can have meat and two veg

Something edible at least

Like a salami or a sausage

upon which one could feast

I don’t want to have a beaver

I want something which sounds nice

Fuck having a ‘Lady Garden’

I want something to entice

Words like dong or prick

aren’t such a terrible thing

and even the term bell end

has got a certain ring

 

See men have got a pork sword

A sort of weapon you could say

Even plain old penis

is nice in it’s own way

 

Not me, I’ve got a vagina

A cunt or maybe twat

where the only nice variant

is another word for cat

 

Who wants to sip from a furry cup

or plow a phoof or slit?

what’s sexy about a slut-hole

or just calling it a ‘clit’

 

I want a revolution

You see enough is quite enough

It’s not a fucking ninny

and it’s not a fucking muff

 

It may seem insignificant

and I really hate to whinge

but I swear to God I’ll kill someone

If they tell me it’s a minge!


My Vagina isn’t political

By Lisa Lawrence

My vagina isn’t political

My vagina doesn’t care

about all those deep philosophical things

like what to do with pubic hair

 

Why must my vagina be radical?

Politics isn’t her thing

she’d much rather talk about French lace

than cotton torpedoes with string

 

My vagina wants a quiet life

not too quiet, if you know what I mean

but she doesn’t want to talk about women’s rights

She’d much rather flick the bean

 

See my vagina, she’s too often distracted

by all the good looking men-folk

to be thinking about labour or childbirth

she just wants a damn good stroke

 

My vagina, she’s satirical

She doesn’t intend to be blunt

She doesn’t see why ‘pussy’ can’t be playful

or why we’re so afraid of ‘cunt’

 

Perhaps my vagina is lazy

but the truth is it’s all too complex

and like most other vaginas

she only really cares about sex!


Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I’ve always been incredibly drawn to rhyming poetry, it’s easy to be drawn into the rhythm and I think it is one of the best written forms of comedy. Also because poems can be any length, about any topic I find them incredibly enjoyable as a written medium. Whilst I also write plays I find poems pack a punch when they have a message in a much more direct way.

What is your process when creating?

The beauty of writing is you can do it anywhere, so a lot of my work is written into the notes on my iphone whilst undertaking journeys to and from work. Sometimes I also go low-tech with a good old fashioned paper and pen! In terms of contemplating a theme for a poem I’ll often start with a topic my friends and I have discussed, or something that frustrates me – my poem ‘Naming your ninny’ is really all based on my hatred of the word ‘minge’.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

As a poet I’m incredibly inspired by Dr Seuss. His writing sucks me in every time, even now! As a playwright I’m influenced by the work of Harold Pinter and Sarah Kane. As an individual I’m inspired by my late Grandmother Sheila Cullen, who to me was the very definition of success, and the person I always aspired to be.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

I think the word feminist is hugely misunderstood. To me feminism today is about equality for both genders, that does mean equal pay for women but it also means equal rights to paternity leave for fathers. For me feminism is about no one being prejudged based on their genitalia, a persons gender is far more complex than what is between their legs. I also think trans* issues like provisions of unisex bathrooms should be really high on our list of priorities as feminists. In many ways I don’t feel the word feminist is the best word to use to cover what I feel feminism is…but since gender equalist doesn’t have the same ring then I am very proud to call myself a feminist.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

Having trained in Applied Theatre I’ve always been passionate about the role the arts plays in positive social change. I feel that all artists and creatives should be behind the ASLI philosophy. We all have a duty and a responsibility to use the incredible tools and skills we have for the betterment of others.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

As a woman I have been shocked to realise how much my body apparently belongs to the public domain. People are happy to comment on what I need to do to make it look better and having moved to London I couldn’t believe how many strangers felt completely comfortable making sexualised comments about my body on the street. I do worry that women therefore feel a greater pressure for their bodies to meet certain standards than they do for their minds.

Do you think that women and men are equal in todays societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

I am very privileged to have been born at a time and in a place where women enjoy more rights and freedoms freedoms than at any other time in history. However we are still so far from real equality for both sexes. A world where a woman can earn less than a man for the same job is not an equal world.

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc..?

The more I learn about the world the more causes I find I am drawn to. I am passionate about feminism, gay rights/equal marriage, animal rights and anything which helps people steer away from consumerism.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway savedyour life in any way?

Through those turbulent teenage years where I’m sure everyone everyone questions their existence and feels worthless the arts were the place where I found a community of like-minded people. It was in my drama classes that I first felt what it was like to belong and in my graphic design classes where I first learned to be comfortable with my own presence in silence.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I think art has an incredibly transformative power. If my work makes one person more comfortable talking about their genitalia, or changes the way they perceive feminism then I’m honestly delighted.

What are your goals as with your art?

My goal is to create poems that are provocative, entertaining and then make you think when you least expect it.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

My next big goal with my feminist work is to promote an international community art project called the satirical vaginas which encourages participants from all walks of life to submit satirical doodles of vaginas as a way of encouraging discussion about the many different forms vaginas take. You can follow the project on twitter @SatiricalVagina

I’m also working on creating some performance films of my stand-up poetry and on a new play named ‘Made Glorious Summer

 

If you would like to know more about Lilly Garwood-Lloyd  follow these links:

Website 

Twitter

 

 

Durinda Montoya-Cearley has written an empowering children’s book which tells little girls they can be anything they wish to be.

Durinda Montoya-Cearley has written an empowering children’s book which tells little girls they can be anything they wish to be.

 

Durinda Montoya-Cearley
Durinda Montoya-Cearley

 

Durinda Montoya-Cearley, 54, Fresno, CA, U.S. talks to ASLI about her children’s book which has a powerful message; that girls can grow up to be anything they wish to be. Addressing the issue of stereotyping girls at a young age and how important it is to educate boys and girls that gender is not limiting nor exclusive. .

Throughout my childhood, like gypsies, my family moved frequently.  After high school, I joined the Air Force. Four years later, I then served in the DIA, which allowed me to travel & live overseas. Finally, I moved and settled down in San Luis Obispo, where I pursued a career in law enforcement and acquired a 2 year degree in Special Education and a B.S. degree in Anthropology/Sociology and Writing. I now call Fresno home and actively pursue numerous forms of artistic expression, from poetry to visual art and music.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of breaking free of female stereotypes in your art?

I was looking for a children’s book for a little girl that communicated that girls can be whatever they want to be when they grow up.  Being unsuccessful in finding such a book, I decided to create a picture book that expressed to little girls that they “can be anything they want to be, just wait and see.”

Tell us why you chose this submission?

“What In This Big World Can You Be?” breaks female stereotypes by letting little girls know that they can choose a career that would not be considered a typical career for a female.

 

What in this Big World Can You Be? By Durinda Montoya-Cearley
What in this Big World Can You Be?
By Durinda Montoya-Cearley

 

 

In days of yore, long before, a princess you would surely be, but times have changed and for you there are many more opportunities and much to see. For your dreams can take you and your adventurous bear  here, there and everywhere!
In days of yore, long before, a princess you would surely be, but times have changed and for you there are many more opportunities and much to see.
For your dreams can take you and your adventurous bear here, there and everywhere!

 

As a veterinarian, you could help giraffes, monkeys and elephants who may feel a little blue,  because animals need doctors too!
As a veterinarian, you could help giraffes, monkeys and elephants who may feel a little blue,
because animals need doctors too!

 

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I choose a picture book format to express a positive message in hopes it would be an easy and short book for parents to share before bedtime.  I hope the rhythmic rhyming storytelling style and simple artwork will attract young readers and help them to remember the message.

What is your process when creating?

For writing, the creative process comes in bits and pieces.  I always keep a pad and pen with me, because I never know when the fire of inspiration will spark the creation of the next verse or picture idea.  Then, I look at all my notes and organize them, then re-organize them until the story flows.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

I am and was influenced by numerous experiences in life and by strong female role-models in history and those involved in current events.  Such women as Condoleezza Rice, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Katharine Hepburn, Ellen DeGeneres, Queen Elizabeth I.  Inspiration to create a painting, a musical composition, poetry, and writing comes from an active imagination that has remained with me since childhood.  For me, I must create, as it is who I am.  I have to have and thrive on artistic expression.  My current job and past positions do not define who I am, my art does.  I work a 9 to 5 job in order to create art.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

For me, feminism means being strong and confident and to venture off what is considered by society to be the normal path (for a woman).  And, balancing that independence and strength with a gentler side that does like doors opened for me, despite the fact I can open the doors myself.  Knowing I have a voice, I have an opinion, and knowing that voice and opinion is important and is not something to be ignored or silenced.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

There are so many countries even in today’s world where women struggle to have a voice, and where that voice is silenced by inherent beliefs or cultural influences, which are imposed by male governed societies.  These women are denied a voice.  Also, there are too many animals harmed and destroyed throughout the world.  These animals have no voice.

 

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

I feel women do have to struggle to break from social norms and stereotypes, and in some countries, this struggle is tremendous.   I have been fortunate, although I have entered careers that years ago were considered predominantly careers for men, my abilities and knowledge were not questioned and if they were, I was unaware.  But, I know I am an exception.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

No, I do not think women and men are equal in a number of societies around the world. My degree in Anthropology/Sociology and Writing taught that there are a number of countries where women struggle for not only equal rights, but fundamental rights as a human being.

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc …..?

Issues I am passionate about are environmental issues, as these issues affect everyone worldwide. I am also passionate about children who live in impoverished communities, as their struggle to break free of that environment is great, and children who live in abusive family situations.  I graduated high school at the age of 16 and signed up for the Air Force immediately.  I did this to escape from the instability of a home environment of living with my mother, who was neglectful and abusive or living with my father, where I struggled to fit into a Hispanic community I knew nothing of and avoid the gang influences.  Additionally, I am concerned about saving wildlife and affects devastating ecosystems have on indigenous species.  I believe there exists a false impression that it does not matter to humans if ecosystems and the creatures that those systems sustain are destroyed.  We, earth, cannot lose more species than what we already have.  Even within this last decade, animals have gone the way of the Dodo bird, including the Baiji Dolphin, an intelligent mammal.  It makes you wonder, what did that last dolphin think while it swam alone in the Yangtze River looking for a mate.  Did it die a natural death or from loneliness.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

Art has always been part of me.  As a young child my imagination and art allowed me to escape the abusive and harsh world around me.  I spent most of my childhood and teen years secluded in my room, a safe haven, where I would draw or write about imagined places and secret worlds.  It saved me from the reality that existed beyond the bedroom door.

Art Saves Lives also means artist can convey important messages to those who may be unaware of certain situations or give encouragement to others to act to change a negative situation they know exists, but have ignored.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I hope my art, whether it is a song or poem I wrote, a picture I painted or a picture book I wrote for little girls can have some positive change or touch someone; to whatever small degree.  Some songs/poems I have written have deep, personal messages about life struggles and overcoming those, maybe someone will look at a painting I created and feel the depth of emotion expressed on the canvas, or a little girl somewhere reads a short picture book entitled “What In This Big World Can You Be” and be inspired to pursue her dream of becoming a marine biologist.

What are your goals as with your art?

Regarding creating on canvas, my goal is to one day have a small studio, where not only my work can be displayed but that of other artist who also create to express emotions that  communicate to others.  One series of paintings I am working on centres on Breaking Free; Breaking Free can have many meanings – for one person it can mean breaking free from society norms, for someone else it can be breaking free from his or her past, it can be whatever someone wants the meaning to be.   Concerning writing, I hope to continue to create songs and poetry that conveys a message.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I would like to start working on writing and the artwork for another children’s book that expresses everyone is different and that’s okay.  I also have a concept to write a picture book about feelings and everything, every creature feels, no animal wants to be hurt or experience pain.

And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?

I hope, my creations, whether read (such as a picture book), seen (something created on canvas) or heard (a song or poem), can bring about some positive change, which is what ASLI is all about.  Thank you.

If you would like to know more about Durinda Montoya-Cearley please follow these links:

Website

Facebook Page 

Facebook Profile 

 

 

Photographer Beta Bajgartova “I want to keep capturing emotions and creating short stories in one frame”

Photographer Beta Bajgartova “I want to keep capturing emotions and creating short stories in one frame”.

 

Photographer Beta Bajgartova
Photographer Beta Bajgartova

 

Beta Bajgartova, 39, Dublin, Beta is originally from the Czech Republic and has been living in Ireland for ten years. Woking as a journalist for local newspapers in her home town of Uherske Hradiste and then worked as a reporter for the Czech Radio in Brno, Zlin and Prague and also for China Radio International in Beijing. After seven years in journalism Beta changed her career and started working as a commercial photographer in Dublin in 2004.

I liked being journalist but photography was always a much bigger passion and love of mine. My father is an artist – ceramist and sculptor so naturally my home environment was my art background.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of women and their emotions in your art?

Initially I wanted to create a collection of strong portraits in this stunning location I found in Dublin. But as the idea developed I decided I was going to create not only portraits but also a whole story in one picture. I used long exposures to achieve the ‘ghost effect’ and reveal what people are dreaming about and longing for. The whole collection of eighteen photographs is called Dreams and although it’s not exclusively women matter there is dominance of female models and stories.

 

These are part of the collection “Dreams” that was created in Dublin in April and May 2012. “Dreams” is a series of eighteen photographs about the wishes, hopes and secret desires that we all might have but are too embarrassed to share with our closest friends. I’m trying to tell a full story about the subject of each photograph. The ghost effect, which is achieved by getting the object off the frame in the middle of exposure, evokes something hidden and too personal to share. I would like the viewer to feel that the subject of each photograph has confided in them.

 

 

Tell us why you chose this submission?

The pictures I have submitted relate to women universally. Women in each part of the world dream of love, having a baby, being able to run away from a place that they are not happy in, they dream about having a different body, about a closer relationship with their daughters and about their departed husbands. All of the pictures have potential to communicate with women on a personal level as well as with the audience.

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

Photography is my livelihood. I take pictures for clients almost every day. But I don’t want to burn out so I’m trying to challenge myself with new non-commercial projects all the time. It keeps me warm and loving and appreciating all the commercial jobs I do. Photography to me is an amazingly versatile medium. All the aspects from working with the light and technique through the post-production process to the final print are very exciting to me.

 

Photography by - Beta Bajgartova
Photography by – Beta Bajgartova

 

What is your process when creating?

The beginning is simply an idea, which is settling. During these times, which can last months, I wouldn’t do much, just dream and think of the pictures I would like to see. I would also talk to close people about the idea. It helps me establish details of the theme and the style. The next step is production – organizing the shoot, getting models, getting props, finding location, sorting out timings and logistics etc. Once the production is done and days are set I work efficiently and rationally. I shoot with digital camera and I tend to treat it like the analogue camera. I have the picture in my mind and I know how to get it. The Photoshop post-production is usually quite simple – colour corrections, levels adjustments, white balance correction etc.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

My visual icon is Paolo Roversi. I love and study the work of a Czech photographer Josef Sudek. And I’m a huge admirer of Annie Leibowitz.

 

Photography by - Beta Bajgartova
Photography by – Beta Bajgartova

 

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Feminism to me me means respect to women. Respect in the whole important meaning of this word. Respect, protection, and of course equal rights – these aspects should be part of our lives no matter what age, sex or education we are and in this sense I consider myself a feminist. Women are amazing and I’m convinced it’s women who really rule the world. Unfortunately men get most of the credits.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

I love art and I think art is important; I try to enrich my world and my children’s world with art because I do believe they can learn from art and they can express their feelings through art when words are hard to find.

 

Photography by - Beta Bajgartova
Photography by – Beta Bajgartova

 

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

Sadly yes in many parts of the world. But I think it’s common in all societies – if you don’t conform to social norms and want to be taken seriously you have to work a lot harder to prove yourself. And women have to work double harder.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

Men and women are not equal anywhere in the world. I was lucky I was born in a place where women in the past have fought for our rights and as a result I can vote, I can go to work and nobody has any reservations to me wearing trousers and cutting my hair short. I can choose my life partner; I can choose when I would like to have kids, I can go to college, I can make money and I can be opened about my sex orientation. However I also still live in a society, that doesn’t help me bring up kids and doesn’t appreciate managing, logistic and organizing skills that I have developed as a caring parent, in society that doesn’t support my creativity where women make less money than men for the same work, in a society that is characterised by gender imbalance and in a society that can be very sexist. I am personally always attacked when I come back home to Czech republic and get surrounded by billboards and advertisements with teasing pictures of young women selling tyres, building equipment or stationery. If you really start thinking about it the list of personal experiences of all women would be quite long even if in our relatively comfortable western world, many of us fail to see it.

 

Photography by - Beta Bajgartova
Photography by – Beta Bajgartova

 

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

I am passionate about women’s body perception, about bringing up girls in western societies and about any form of physical or psychological violence against women. I would volunteer for any cause that would make women’s livelihood better in any part of the world.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

Yes, I think art can save lives because art can heal our minds or provoke us, art can get people to  talk, get people together, art can motivate us and make our lives better, art can be created for philanthropy causes and art can educate. A planet without art would be a completely different place.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

Yes, of course! My submitted photographs can be used as a strong communicator between audience and for example charity organization. I believe they can appeal to audience and get people talk and think.

What are your goals as with your art?

I want to keep trying capturing emotions and creating short stories in one frame. In the Dream collection I wanted to make my audience to get the sense that they are not alone. That there is someone who understands how they feel and someone they can share stories with without talking.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I’m travelling back home to Czech republic and I’m going to be working on a collection called Memories From the Childhood. I don’t know much about other art than photography but I would like to try and create mixed media images. My aim is to create a series of abstract, visually beautiful and emotional pictures which will hopefully make people think about their own childhood emotions, colours and glimpses and which will remind to parents that it probably won’t be the amount of toys or sweets or trips to fun parks and playgrounds that children will remember when they’re grown up.

If you would like to know more about Beta Bajgartova please follow these links:

Website 

Twitter

Facebook

 

The band Brittle Sun discuss violence against women in their song Last One Standing and use their music to challenge the status quo: ASLI speak to lead vocalist Viki Mealings

The band Brittle Sun discuss violence against women in their song Last One Standing and use their music to challenge the status quo: ASLI speak to lead vocalist Viki Mealings.

Viki Mealings lead vocalist from Brittle Sun
Viki Mealings lead vocalist from Brittle Sun

 

Vicki Mealings is the lead vocalist from the trio band Brittle Sun who are Melbourne based. With a vivid personality as a band and enigmatic live performances Brittle Sun are more than musicians they are artists who use inspiration from spoken word and collaborate with local poets.

The song ‘Last One Standing’ was co-written with my friend Megan, who’s a writer and editor. We’re a small but diverse bunch in terms of age and background. I’ve always loved music. The first song I loved was ‘Alexander Beetle’ by Melanie. I started out drawing and making little storybooks when I was tiny. It didn’t occur to me to play music until much later. I grew up in Melbourne, which is a great place to be if you like poetry and music.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of Violence Against Women in your art? Tell us why you chose this submission?

The song is very loosely autobiographical, but also inspired by the experiences of women we knew. The song was written a while ago, and it will mean different things to different people. We saw the call out, and we thought the song might be what Art Saves Lives were looking for in terms of the subject matter.


 

Submission Song: Last One Standing 

Lyrics by Megan Green and Viki Mealings. Music by Brittle Sun.

Our song ‘Last One Standing’ is very loosely autobiographical, but also inspired by the experiences of women we knew. The lyrics took a long time to get right, as there are a lot of stories in there and we wanted something a bit universal. The final edit of the lyrics is a long way from what we started with, but we kept the basic hook that makes the chorus.

We wanted to keep the music really simple so as to keep the main focus on the words and the voice. So we just laid down three tracks-acoustic guitar, keys, and astbory bass. That’s all.

David Jetson played the bass on the track and Stewart Garrett played keys. The song was recorded and produced by Kim Lajoie at Obsessive Music in Melbourne, Australia.



Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I used to do visual art, but I couldn’t really say what I wanted through it. So I started writing poems and songs. Writing is the most satisfying part of the process. Performing is also a necessary part of the process, but writing is what gives the joy.  

What is your process when creating?

Sometimes ideas will materialise out of nowhere-just snippets. The process is all about having the discipline to write them down and then build on them. It takes work.

 

 

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

There are so many influences-family, friends, enemies, other artists, and well-known artists. Of the well-known artists, Lou Reed was a pretty big influence as is Patti Smith.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

It’s going to mean different things to different people. Enabling equal opportunity is the tenet everyone’s familiar with, but for me it goes further than that. It’s about recognising and addressing the injustices of the past and present and taking responsibility for the future.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

ASLI is inclusive. It provides a voice to the voiceless.

 

 

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

In general, I think women are taken less seriously, whether they conform or not.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s  societies  around the world? Have you any experience of this?

No. The average woman in global terms works as an unpaid farmhand and does most of the work. We’re a lot better off here in the West but there are still issues for example difficulties with balancing home and family life and unrealistic societal expectations in terms of work, parenting and physical appearance.

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

It concerns me that children from low income families don’t have the same educational opportunities as those from higher income families. I’m also concerned about Indigenous health, in terms of the scandalously high infant mortality rates, higher rates of poverty, and a greatly reduced life expectancy.

 

 

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and  has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

I once witnessed a music therapist working with a young person who had a suffered a traumatic brain injury. That person was agitated, confused, and restless most of the time. Except when the music therapist was singing and playing guitar. The music definitely had a calming effect. Every time the music played, it was as though the former, uninjured personality resurfaced; something that was thought to be irretrievably lost. It was quite a thing to witness.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

Art can create change in a number of ways. It can help people to think in different ways about a given situation and it can challenge the status quo. Sometimes it’s a conscious thing, sometimes it isn’t. We want people to enjoy what we do and to feel proud of who they are. I think it’s really important to celebrate diversity and to promote solidarity.

What are your goals as with your art?

To keep on improving and to leave behind a body of work we can be proud of.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

We’re currently recording some new songs for our next EP. I also want to get my poems into print.

 

Viki Mealings - Brittle Sun
Viki Mealings – Brittle Sun

 

If you would like to know more about Brittle Sun follow these links:

Website

Facebook Page

YouTube 

 

 

Malaysian Artist Nell-Lynn Perera “Art has saved my life, it has given me a means to express myself quietly without the need for words”

Malaysian Artist Nell-Lynn Perera “Art has saved my life, it has given me a means to express myself quietly without the need for words”.

 

Self Portrait | 03 - by Nell-Lynn Perera acrylic, charcoal on canvas 100 x 100 cm
Self Portrait | 03 – by Nell-Lynn Perera
acrylic, charcoal on canvas
100 x 100 cm

 

Nell-Lynn Perera, 43, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a self taught artist who started 3 years ago.

I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) and I always go within when I paint. Often times I paint in a trance like state. Hence, the Universe is a theme that I often paint. I am not a student of astronomy so this particular fascination of painting the Universe is really me painting Consciousness, something that I have come to know.

 

What motivated you to deal with the subject of beauty and stereotypes in your art?

The motivation mostly came from real life experiences.

 

Tell us why you chose these submissions?

I wanted to reach more people through my painting and writing. I wanted my voice to be heard. I wanted others to know that they are not alone should they feel the same way as I do. I wanted my paintings to speak of words that I am incapable of expressing.

 

Blog posts:

Voices of Nin: Beauty 1

Voices of Nin: Beauty 2

Voices of Nin: real Women

 

 

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I mostly paint without knowing what I am about to paint so acrylics work best for me as it’s quick drying and allows me to paint as quickly as there is an energy flowing within me when I paint. There is a calling to paint without knowing what I am painting. I paint from all directions of my canvas/paper until I see something form. Once this is revealed to me, I continue painting in one direction. I take breaks if it is a big piece but not for long as the calling to paint is too great.

 

What is your process when creating?

I spend a lot of time not painting. Unlike most artists who produce on a daily or weekly basis, I don’t.  I rely heavily on how I feel, and this feeling, this urge to paint only arises when I have been still for some time. I don’t paint because I want to. I paint because I need to.

 

 

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

I am influenced by what lives in me; all that I have lived through. Consciousness, love and  following my higher self’s inner guidance is what inspires and beckons me to paint.

 

 

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Feminism to me means equality and freedom to express and be without judgement or any preconceived ideas from years of stereotyping women.  I don’t consider myself a feminist as I don’t believe in stereotyping myself and try my best at not stereotyping others. I simply am a woman.

 

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

I got involved because I believe in the mission of ART SAVES LIVES. I didn’t paint nor write anything new specifically for this project which reflects that I too share and have been involved in wanting to bring light to ART SAVES LIVES mission.

Blossom - by Nell-Lynn Perera acrylic, chinese ink
Blossom – by Nell-Lynn Perera
acrylic, chinese ink

 

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

Yes, women mostly have to. We mostly have to live up to how we should dress in accordance to the different stereotypes of what is out there. Even our behaviours are judged.

As a model with tattoos who listens to Trance music (even when I paint), I’m aware that people who think they know me, have perceived me wrongly. They join the dots because of years of conditioned stereotyping and they fail miserably at their perception of who I really am.

 

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

No, we are not equals in most societies. The fact that the word feminism is still being used reflects this clearly; we are not equals. We do not have to go far to realise this. Just look at how a couple differentiate their ‘duties’ at home.

When women are assertive, they’re seen as less feminine.

When women show anger, they’re seen as less feminine.

When women don’t wear makeup, they’re seen as less feminine.

I speak from experience about all the above.

 

by - Nell-Lynn Perera
by – Nell-Lynn Perera

 

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

The abolishment of the Death Penalty and all forms of torture, homelessness, the closure of Guantanamo Bay, human rights and prisoners on death row.

 

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

I simply can’t imagine a world without art, music and nature.

People don’t take art or artists seriously as they are millions of us and art is all around their surroundings. But imagine a world where there is no art. The world appears a lot less alive. Architecture though is a form of art, remains cold, concrete and lacking of emotion.

Art has saved my life. It has given me a means to express myself quietly without the need for words. My inner world is reflected in my art. I am able to catapult myself to a better place where stillness is alive rather than chaos. I believe the buyers of my art feel the same way.

 

by - Nell-Lynn Perera
by – Nell-Lynn Perera

 

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

Street art and graffiti for instance have a huge voice because it is out there. Their impact to create change and a different way of looking at things, is massive.  For this reason, street artist, Bansky is someone I regard highly. He does not seek fame or riches. His main objective is to wake people up from the daily conditioning that people have been misled into believing is the truth through main stream media.

My art hasn’t reached that volume of audience yet in order for me to achieve change. But yes, there is a message if you look closely.

 

What are your goals as with your art?

My goals are simple. I would like to be able to live off sales of my paintings in order for me to continue painting. In order for me to be able to achieve this, I need a wider audience who not only appreciate my paintings but who would purchase them.

Fame is not something I seek. The gift of knowing I could paint came late to me. I only want to honour this gift by sharing it with others and to be in a position where I can live a decent confortable life by staying true to this gift.

 

 

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

My second book “The Rugged Sea” which I have completed writing but which I need to source for funding in order to see it published. Trying to secure a second solo show in a reputable gallery which isn’t easy as most reputable galleries here are only interested at featuring work of famous artists.

 

And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?

Each and everyone of us has the gift of being able to paint.

 

Nell-Lynn Perera

 

If you would like to know more about Nell-Lynn Perera follow these links:

Website

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Insights of Nin Facebook Page

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Facebook Profile

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Writer Cath Bore “In my writing I create female characters who meet the world on their own terms”

Writer Cath Bore “In my writing I create female characters who meet the world on their own terms”.

 

Cath Bore
Cath Bore

 

Cath Bore, Liverpool, UK, started as a music writer in her early 20’s then went on to write creatively. Cath has an MA in Creative Writing, and lots of her flash fiction and feminist essays / creative non fiction is published in the UK and the US.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of domestic violence in your art?

Domestic violence is a cause very close to my heart. I find it odd domestic violence victims and survivors are put in boxes labelled “it was their own fault”. The more we talk about DV in its different guises, the better.

 

Tell us why you chose this submission?

I wrote FRIDAY ROSES after I saw a Facebook meme about a woman who received flowers every birthday from her husband even though he died – he’s set up an on going order every year until she herself passed away. Many people thought it a romantic gesture; I looked at it from a different angle, what if he was abusive? What is really she wanted free of him? What if he was controlling her from the grave? What if the flowers every year were another way of belittling her, so she is never free? I think as writers and artists it is our duty to question everything.


 

FRIDAY ROSES

The red roses Brian sends on Fridays are delivered to the house, bound in a tight bundle. The taut rubber band pinks my fingers and thorny stems long and tentacular splice my skin as I unpick the stubborn brown rubber. My fingers cut and bleed but push the flowers into a vase.

‘Have they arrived, the flowers?’ Brian rings up and asks, as always.

‘Yes, they’ve arrived. Thank you.’

‘And do you like them?’ He says this each time too.

‘I love them.’

He makes me say it every week, forces me to lie. Sometimes I think I hate the roses more than I despise Brian. They offer up no scent, shiny plastic petals scratch the end of my nose as he forces me to sniff them and inhale plain air that smells of tap water.

Flowers every week, how romantic, everyone says.  You’re so lucky.

‘Yes,’ I smile. ‘I’m lucky.’

My cracked ribs creak as I force uncomfortable words out from lips stiff and awkward with lies.

In the end, all it takes is a little push. I watch Brian fall down the stairs, arms in frantic circles, hands grabbing air, gob flapping silently. He breaks. I taste copper in my mouth and smell its perfume, realise I’ve bitten my tongue and hold it between my teeth as I watched him windmill downwards. Relief washes through me like a flood but the police believe my tears.

The following Friday roses arrive as usual, red like blood.


Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I love writing and I always have, ever since  I was a little girl.

What is your process when creating?

I write, leave it for a while then redraft, redraft, redraft. I always leave work for at least a week after that and give it another polish before I submit it anywhere.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

I love good writing, my favourite author is Marian Keyes, although we write in different genres. Her dialogue sparkles, every word a diamond. I carry a notebook around with me at all times and scribble words and phrases down, making note of what intrigues me. I use them for inspiration; I am never short of something to write about. At the moment I am getting lots of ideas from songs and song lyrics.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Feminism is true equality of the genders. Men and women are different but not the same and I believe we should celebrate our differences, and include men and self-defining women in those celebrations. Get everyone on board!

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

I love the message you’re putting out, using art of all kinds to educate, engage and express. It is something creatives do naturally, it’s great we get to do it en masse like this.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

Of course we do. We have to look a certain way, not be too loud or be funny – funny women scare people. I’m still trying to work that one out.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

Until women and men share things like childcare and housework equally in the home, equality is still a long way off. It’s great that men now do so much more than their fathers did, and they’ve done it without anyone telling them to – worked out themselves that spending time with their children and so forth makes for a happier family life. A 50/50 housework split in most households is still a long way off, though.

I’m disturbed by the new trend to put down men, as if they are imbeciles and can’t cope with domestic tasks on their own. I did a reading away from home recently so had to stay overnight; someone seriously asked me “how will your husband cope?”. I replied, “he is not a child”. We need to give good men more credit.


What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

Domestic violence, women’s Refuges.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

If I didn’t write I’d go bonkers. End of.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

In my writing I create female characters who meet the world on their own terms. I believe that creativity can be used as an amazing and effective tool to promote empowerment.

What are your goals as with your art?

I’d like even more people to read my work and to have my novel published and for it to be successful and critically acclaimed.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I am working on a crime novel which I’m madly in love with, and lots of flash fiction. I’m increasingly writing feminist creative non-fiction, which I enjoy so much.

And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?

I’d like to thank you for publishing my short story and for all the fabulous work you do. You’re ace.

If you would like to know more about Cath Bore follow these links or email:

Website  

Twitter

email cathbore@gmail.com

 

asli quote

 

 

Poet Laura Taylor “If I can use my own hard times to make art, and share that widely, then that multiplies the cohesion, makes us all stronger”

Poet Laura Taylor “If I can use my own hard times to make art, and share that widely, then that multiplies the cohesion, makes us all stronger”.

 

Laura Taylor
Laura Taylor

 

Laura Taylor, 47, St Helens, Merseyside, UK.

Laura is from a village called Rainhill, which is located in between St Helens and Liverpool. Having been born into a working-class family Laura has retained the values of that upbringing. Material gain is not a high priority – happiness, harmony, love and equality are.  Laura identifies herself as a Socialist, a feminist, and says she has challenged arbitrary forms of authority all her life.  

I do not believe in hierarchies. I have no ‘art background’ as such, I’ve never studied creative writing.  I just started writing poetry in 2010 for the first time.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of writing for revolution/unsolicited advice in your art?

Write for Revolution’ was about seeing a female poet perform, and being so emotionally overwhelmed by her words that I went away from that experience thinking that I had things to say, too.

The poem starts with dancing alone, and ends with ‘and now there’s more of us’, writing our lives for whoever is reading/listening, and connecting with them.  When I get up on a stage to share my experiences in the form of poetry, I know from experience that there will be other women who will identify with it, and they will feel less isolated as a result.   

‘Unsolicited’ is based on all the unwanted and unasked-for ‘advice’ that I’ve received over the years on what it is to be a woman – or rather, a ‘lady’.  It basically amounts to a list of things you can and cannot do – mainly the latter. Everything in that poem is based on true events in my life.  I have spent long periods as a single parent, and know what it is to be demonised by the media and the government.

I am acutely aware that as women age, opportunities close down. In my life, there are jobs I’ve not been allowed to do, behaviour that I have been strongly discouraged from; I’ve felt the weight of societal disapproval for just being me and it’s suffocating.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

I have performed both poems many times, and without fail, I have had women laughing, nodding their heads in recognition, and thanking me for articulating their own experiences.  If I can use my own hard times to make art, and share that widely, then that multiplies the cohesion, makes us all stronger.


 

Write for Revolution  

We danced alone on wooden floors.

Volunteers making noise.

In later days, I heard that you had

swallowed lumps for breakfast.

 

I sat in darkness, closing throat.

Felt my own lumps swimming up.

Listening and wondering

of spun-out olive branches.

 

I went away and thought about

all the sorrow, all the fear,

all the tears we’d shed so far

and wondered,

could I help?

 

Could I stand up to make a change?

To help one woman in the world

feel less alone, less isolated.

Could I?

Well…

 

I tried.

I wrote.

I told about

 

little girls

and bruises,

loneliness and solitude,

rapture and revulsion,

teenage isolation.

Violence, injustice;

politricks, hypocrisy.

Endless fights

for equal rights;

kissing girls and

loving christ.

 

And now there’s more of us.

Northern girls with tales to tell.

We reap and sow the seeds of change

and write our lives for you.

 

We write

for revolution.


Unsolicited (1968 – 2015)

 

You’re Not Allowed

 

to cry,

in here,

this room, this bar,

a pint, on deck,

to fight or sulk,

or answer back,

to join the local snooker team,

to bare your legs

or armpit hair,

express yourself

or sleep around,

to shout or swear,

to wear short skirts,

to wear short hair

 

Grow it, tie it, perm it, dye it, never cut it short

 

to be the boss,

come more than once,

to suit yourself,

to wank, to sweat,

to smell, or fart,

to bleed,

release a stream of pee

outside of

chambered secrecy,

be clever, proud,

sarcastic, loud,

tell dirty jokes or pick your nose

 

That’s not very ladylike

 

to flirt, to age,

to speak your mind,

to even show your knicker line,

bring up a child

all on your own,

expose your breasts,

express your milk

so publicly,

to smoke, get drunk,

get up the duff

without a band of gold.

 

Single mothers are to blame for all the world’s depravity

 

UNSOLICITED!

 


Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

Purely by accident. As mentioned, it was the experience of another woman’s poetry that spurred me to write my own.  I’d never really read any before, and thought I didn’t like it. Thought it was elitist, and ‘not for the likes of me’. It’s hugely addictive though! And I’ve discovered that it’s the perfect art form for me.

What is your process when creating?

I’ll start with a word, a phrase, a memory or a feeling that sparks in my mind. Sometimes that can be just out of the blue, sometimes I’ll deliberately set out to write about something that I feel strongly about, or wish to express.  I will then just sit and type out as many associations with that as possible.  Just let it flow, don’t even think about shaping it. It’s important to squeeze every last drop of what you think, how you think, how you feel, and how you can possibly express that.

Sometimes I’ll do a little research about ideas or words in the poem, which can then sometimes completely change the course of it!  Then I read through the notes and associations, mull it all over, leave for a few days.  Then and only then do I start to structure the poem.  The title is almost always the last thing to be written.  

I will work on the poem a little bit each day, working towards that sweet moment when it just ‘feels right’. When I get a feeling inside that this is the most perfect way to express how I feel.

I can spend ridiculous amounts of time worrying about punctuation too! Because it matters. Every single thing in there – each word, line break, spelling, grammar, punctuation, flow – everything counts in a poem. It’s a condensed piece of writing, a means of communication, so it all matters.  I will spend a lot of time editing, and be quite severe with myself. Then I show my poems to my partner, who is a wonderfully supportive constructive critic and will, without fail, pick up on any tiny thing that I think may need changing.

This is the usual process. Every now and again though, a rare delight will happen and a poem will plop onto the page almost perfectly formed!

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

I can honestly say that I have not been influenced by any poet or poem, as such. I don’t write like anyone else or attempt to emulate styles. I didn’t read poetry, didn’t think I would like it, thought it was not for me. As for inspiration – that initial time seeing the female poet perform. That’s what kicked all this off.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Feminism is really quite simple – it is just about being fair, and everyone being treated equally, regardless of sex or gender. There are lots of strands of feminism, with differing ideas about the roots of female oppression and various resolutions to that, but ultimately it’s about fairness and equality. Yes indeed, I do consider myself a feminist. I am not a separatist, I simply want to be treated as an equal. Whilst I recognise that men too are manipulated and shaped by our culture, still to this day women are not treated equally, and so I will continue calling myself a feminist until we are.  It would be lovely not to have to, not to have the same arguments, the same struggles, over and over and over again, but the plain truth is that we do.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

I was intrigued by the theme of your call-out for art in celebration of women, and identify strongly with the emphasis on giving voice to the silenced.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

I don’t think women can win either way to be honest! You can conform, you may gain approval, but will that mean you are taken seriously? No, not in my experience.  It just allows for more opportunities for continued oppression. Conform and you will be treated as the type of person society thinks you should be, ie, passive, submissive, and second-class; more concerned with minutiae than the state of the world. Rebel and you’ll be a ‘troublemaker’, or worse. All you can ever do is keep yourself strong inside and out, and stay true to yourself and your beliefs. Educate yourself, keep your own counsel, and connect with others. Strive for equality.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

No. 

Yes, I realised very early on that men and women were absolutely not treated equally. I was constantly reminded that my behaviour and clothing were ‘unladylike’, that there were a whole raft of petty rules that only applied to me and not the boys around me.  

When I was growing up, I was told in no uncertain terms that I should not try to get the job I wanted, as a long-distance lorry driver, because I would be ostracised and given a hard time by the male truckers. I wanted to join the Royal Navy to travel the world like my Dad had done, but was told that women were not allowed on board ships – I could have a ‘nice office job’ in Germany if I wanted to travel. Constantly asked who I was going to marry when I grew up – not ‘was I interested in the idea of marriage’, just presented with that assumption, aged 5!  I was not allowed to join the local pool team because I was female, despite being as good as the other players. I was refused drinks served in a pint glass and given two half glasses instead. I have been asked if I was pregnant in job interviews and whether I planned to get married.  

I have been physically intimidated in working situations, disregarded in others in favour of a male colleague, and inappropriate and offensive suggestions made to me by male colleagues and bosses. I have been inappropriately touched on countless occasions – this is still considered ‘normal’ behaviour by many in our society.  

I have been told how to dress, what to wear, how to wear my hair, what to put on my face, how to sit, walk, speak, and what to say/not to say.  I am often referred to as ‘feisty’ – a term only applied to women with strong beliefs, never men.

There are lots of (derogatory) words for women that have no male equivalent.  I see double standards and inequality etched into the very core of our society.

I continue to experience casual sexism on a depressingly regular basis, with the odd high-impact encounter.  And that’s the tip of the iceberg, in the Western world only.  I am painfully aware that for women in other parts of the world, life is so very much more unequal, difficult,  oppressive, and in many cases physically dangerous and life-threatening.  

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

Domestic violence, Socialism, political apathy, social inequality.  I have recently joined the Green Party, as their policies are people-centred, striving for equality.  I’m committed to standing as a candidate for them in the upcoming local elections.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

It means connecting – people, thoughts, ideas. It means strength in unity. Art can do this and you don’t even have to be in the same room, never mind the same country. Once it is documented in some way it can then be shared.  As a deeply unhappy teenager, I found solace in the words and music of Janis Joplin. It felt like she was singing directly to me, for me, and expressing how I felt. In the pits of depression, I felt that I was not alone. And that’s a really common experience, in all art forms. That moment when the light-bulb flashes and we think “Oh! It’s not just me!”.  Humans are sociable beings – even when we’re introverted, we still thrive on a certain amount of contact, of identification with others. Art is a way of doing that.  

Music is invaluable in the care of people diagnosed with dementia. Research shows that the experience of listening to music stimulates all areas of the brain simultaneously. People who no longer communicate will smile, stand up, waltz around the room, loving the music, remembering words and melodies. It’s quite astonishing the impact this art form has on people’s lives.  

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I perform my poems regularly, at various venues and locations, and I’ve been widely published – see my earlier comment about documenting art, so that it can be accessed by all. I write about a number of issues, and know from the reception of my performances that my words have touched people, made them think, feel, cry, laugh, get angry.  They have CONNECTED with them. I also know that I have inspired other people to start writing, or start writing AGAIN after a long break, raising their own issues, and sharing them with others to identify with.  Art creates unity, solidarity.  One of my poems about the effects of Thatcherism on our household was published in a magazine, the proceeds of which go to the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, which is working to get justice for miners who were the victims of police brutality, lies, and cover ups at Orgreave in 1984.  

Do I want art (mine or others’) to create change? Yes, absolutely I do.  It’s one of the best forms of awareness-raising that I know of – it creates change via this process. I believe the arts to be as essential to our understanding of the world as the history books, politics, and the media. Let BOTH sides speak, not just the side with power.

What are your goals as with your art?

To keep writing, keep performing, keep reaching out. To keep enjoying what I do, and to give pleasure and comfort to others. Simple as that.  It would be nice to scratch a living from it, but extremely unlikely!

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I’m in touch with a publisher who is interested in publishing a collection of my poems next year, which is very exciting. I’m also working on publishing a book of ekphrastic poems with some friends.  One of them is a talented photographer, and 3 of us poets have been so inspired by his images we have been writing poems based on them. We’re hoping to bring out a quality ‘coffee table’ book of the poems and images, as well as an exhibition of them. We’re all from working-class communities – poetry wasn’t ‘for the likes of us’.  Except that it is, and more people like us need to know that.  

And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?

I believe that engaging with the creative outlet/s of your choice brings a wealth of benefits – mental stimulation and stability, pure joy in the incomparable experience of the creative process, the connection to other human beings.   

Art doesn’t ‘just’ save the lives of others, it can save your own too. The often-cathartic processes involved make it your very own personal therapy, and one which I wish everyone would try at least once.  

Bang a drum, pluck a string, sing a song, have a dance, write a verse, paint a picture, and enjoy.  And when you find something you love doing, that stokes your soul and makes you smile, just keep doing it.

 

If you would like to know more about Laura Taylor follow these links:

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Facebook Page 

 

 

Slavka Jovanović “my art creates change by connecting people with their own difficult thoughts and experiences”

Slavka Jovanović “my art creates change by connecting people with their own difficult thoughts and experiences”.

Slavka Jovanović
Slavka Jovanović

 

Slavka Jovanović, 50, London. Born in Shipley, West Yorkshire, to Serbian parents,  art has always featured strongly in Slavka’s life in a variety of ways with the support from her incredibly creative family. With her father a poet in his spare time who she remembers would sit at his typewriter tapping away into the night. A mother who was a craftswoman who was always working on a new project – whether it was dress-designing, embroidery, cake decorating. Slavka and her two siblings inherited a talent for art, however as children of immigrants it was not seen as a serious life choice so were all discouraged from pursuing their dreams as artists and designers. After training to be a teacher (at her parent’s request), Slavka ran away to London to join the theatre and has been working in theatre and arts education for much of her life, her career as a visual artist took off about 12 years ago.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of women’s issues and identity in your art?

I see that there is a tremendous pressure for people to conform to society’s norm, whether male or female. As a woman, I have observed this on many occasions.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

“Falling Apart And Keeping It Together At The Same Time” is a 1 minute stop-frame animation which succinctly demonstrates the monotony of being a house wife and the desperate need to keep up appearances as her world falls apart. On first viewing it’s a humorous piece but the more you watch it the more poignant it is.  I chose this film because I am fascinated by the compulsion many of us have to hide our feelings, to tell everyone that we are “fine”, when, in fact, our world might be falling apart.  We are terrified of letting the outside world glimpse any aspect of our interior selves. This film  has moved people who have watched it in the past and opened up discussion around themes of isolation, well-being and expectations.

 

 

“Her Story” is a 5-minute stop-frame animation telling the story of a young girl who has trouble sleeping and has to get to the root of the problem.  On the surface it’s a simple story and it’s narrated in a story-book style, however there are powerful themes within the tale that have resonated strongly with people.  On the surface themes of insomnia and hyper-sensitivity, moving to isolation/loneliness, and even more deeply to depression and schizophrenia.  I like this film for the very reason that it has the power to connect with the viewer in different ways and is entertaining as well as thought-provoking.

 

 

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I have chosen the medium of filmed animation for these two pieces of art because it helps to portray the message in a clear and effective way.

What is your process when creating?

My process involves collect thoughts, experiences and feelings from a number of sources over many many months.  I tend to work on several projects at one time, exploring themes connected to each project in different ways/media.  For example, “Falling apart and Keeping it together at the same time” is a theme that I had explored through collage and through sculpture in the 3 years leading up to making the animation film.  I keep returning to the theme of façades and keeping up appearances/wearing masks/adopting persona’s/containing oneself.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

I love the work of Louise Bourgeois, Annette Messager, Tracy Emin, Hannah Hoch and Frida Kahlo.  I also like the animation work of Lotte Reiniger and Jan Svankmajer.  I like live animation presented by Nic Rawling from The Paper Cinema, and Matthew Robbins.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Feminism is about choice.  As a woman it is the right to choose one’s own way in life and being respected by those around you for that choice.  It is also about education and awareness.  It’s about you, as a woman, having the knowledge and learning from which to be able to make choices. It’s also about choices being made available to you.

By Slavka Jovanović
By Slavka Jovanović

 

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

Art is a powerful medium and a perfect way to put across a message or express deep emotions.  I admire the ethos of Art Saves Lives International in supporting the artists voice and sharing important work.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

I feel it’s a tough world all round – whether you’re a man, woman or child.  I feel that society places extraordinary demands on the individual to conform to the norm.  I also think that the so-called norm is becoming more extreme, whether it’s in politics, religion or advertising.  We are all being controlled and told what to think, what to wear, how to look, how to behave. Social media and the media at large don’t help the situation as both are tools that are used to indoctrinate us, formally or informally.

Personally, I haven’t been overtly affected and am able to live my life in the way that I wish, making the choices that I want to make but I am very aware that many women do have a much harder time than me.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

No women and men are not equal in today’s societies around the world. There are inequalities in every country – of pay, of opportunities, of status (both within relationships and at work)

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

I am passionate about disability issues, especially around autism.  Much of my time is spent campaigning about this and making positive creative opportunities for people on the autistic spectrum.

I am also passionate about mental health and well-being.  I campaign against stigma relating to mental health.

Finally I campaign for equality, especially around opportunities for women.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

Art Saves lives means that art is a lifeline.  It can connect you to others who have similar experiences, it can give a strong message easily, it can allow you to express your self (either as an artist or as a viewer).  Art allows me to explore difficult thoughts and feelings.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

My art creates change by connecting people with their own difficult thoughts and experiences.  It also puts women at the centre of the narrative and gives them a voice.  I didn’t set out overtly to create change on an international level but I do know that my work has affected people on a very personal level and has opened up channels of discussion.

By Slavka Jovanović
By Slavka Jovanović

 

What are your goals as with your art?

My goal is to share stories that will resonate with others and make them feel less lonely and isolated.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I am continuing to explore women’s roles (through collage and paint) by creating religious icons and “beatifying” women that I admire or archetypes that I feel deserve to be elevated to a higher status through representation in art.  I am currently working in collage, found objects and paint.

In another project I am working with puppeteers, musicians, storytellers, and dancers to animate a sculptural piece of work that consists of a dining table with cracked and broken crockery. We will explore the story within the story.  What would it say if the table could talk?

 

If you would like to know more about Slavka Jovanović:

Email:  Slavka.j@googlemail.com

Click here for Slavka’s Facebook page

Laura Ann Brady creates the song “Perform Your Rights” in response to abortion law in Ireland and the death of Savita Halappanavar

Laura Ann Brady creates the song “Perform Your Rights” in response to abortion law in Ireland and the death of Savita Halappanavar

Laura Ann Brady
Laura Ann Brady

 

Laura Ann Brady, 30, Dublin, Ireland. Laura’s main area of interest was initially theatre and acting, having studied Drama and Spanish at degree level as well as working for a number of years in stage management. Playing live music is something Laura has been involved in for the past three years, although her love of music has always been a huge part of her life.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of women’s rights in your art?

At the time when the whole Savita Halappanavar case happened, there was a huge emotional response from people in Ireland to it, and I wanted to try and capture that mood in a song as best I could, and maybe make people think a bit more about the subject.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

I felt that it was suitable in terms of the fact that it deals with issues surrounding a woman’s personal experience of herself and her world, and how women are very often sidelined in society, even a supposedly forward thinking country such as Ireland.

Listen To Perform Your Rights

 

Perform your Rights

Lyrics:

The bus will often pass

The place where she was born

But she won’t often think back

To that early afternoon

When she was coaxed and warmed into the world

Well when did words finally become words?

 

Lost evenings home from music school

and I remember the cold metallic steel of the spool of your thread

The way you emboss me on your jacket

You emblazon you perform your right

Well you were always at it

And it was just a habit

But you were always at it

 

You force her hand

You lead the way

Because she wouldn’t know

Where to go without you

 

She’ll trickle in

She’ll apologise

For everything she says

Was she always that way?

 

It’s not the way we do things here

It’s not the way we do things here

It’s not the way we do things here

 

She’ll trickle in

She’ll apologise

For everything she says

Was she always that way?

 

She’ll weigh it up

How much is it worth?

To be broken, to be bruised, to be her.

 

She’ll perform her right

She’ll perform you’re right

She’ll reform your rights

We’ll reform you’re right

Don’t conform you’re right, don’t conform your rights, we’ll reform our rights.

 

This is a song I wrote in response to the current laws pertaining to abortion in Ireland and the issues that correlate directly with these laws, such as having a child and giving that child up for adoption, travelling overseas for a termination, and teenage pregnancy.  Abortion is illegal in Ireland where a pregnancy has occurred by means of rape, incest or foetal abnormalities. The Catholic Church’s dwindling but continuing influence on Irish culture has a huge part to play in this. There are organisations in Ireland that actively campaign against safe and legal abortion for women in Ireland, something that is a basic human right,that is for a woman to have control over her own body and for her womb not to be seen as an incubator.

The song also touches on a woman’s perception of herself and the relationships she has with the people around her. The idea of ownership is also explored within the lyrics, the suggestion of men laying claim to a woman in a relationship, “the way you emboss me on your jacket.” and also the feeling that the woman’s voice isn’t being heard effectively;

“When did words finally become words?”

“She’ll trickle in, she’ll apologise for everything she says, was she always that way?”

The line “It’s not the way we do things here” is related to the response Savita Halappanavar

received when she requested a termination in Ireland in 2012.

http://www.rte.ie/news/health/2013/0410/380613-savita-halappanavar-inquest/

The song ends with a refrain asking women not to conform, and to keep on the campaign to try and reform the situation in Ireland.

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

This is the medium that I use to voice myself on any issues affecting me. My music is a form of therapy if you will! Writing a song about something helps me figure out my thoughts on an issue.

Laura Ann Brady
Laura Ann Brady

 

What is your process when creating?

It depends but when something strikes me I will try and work on it straight away  if I can before it gets lost . The song usually comes first, with the lyrics taking longer for me, I find lyrics a challenge and there are usually many drafts of songs.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

I am influenced by the people, places and events that I encounter everyday. Everything inspires me, subconsciously and consciously.

Laura Ann Brady
Laura Ann Brady

 

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

For me, yes of course I am a feminist as I believe in equality for women in every sense of the word. Feminism simply means to me the championing for a world where women have exactly the same rights to be entirely themselves in a society where very often we are unfortunately still expected to conform.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

A friend sent me on the link to your call for submissions and I wanted to get involved as I feel that art can help spread a positive message, in terms of opening up new ideas to people and giving a perspective on something that might not have been explored before.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

I think people generally feel pressure to conform to social norms and stereotypes and I think it’s something that is difficult to avoid in modern society, where we are constantly barraged with other people’s lives, be it on the internet or TV. We all want to be accepted and loved. In certain countries I think women have to conform to social norms or they risk being shunned by their families and communities. This is something that is unfortunately prevalent in many parts of the world. It is a difficult topic to discuss in such a broad sense and the cultural context has a huge amount to do with it also.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

Women and men are not equal in all societies unfortunately. The fact that in Ireland in 2015 women still don’t have autonomous control over their own bodies is an example of how inequality is still something that women have to campaign against, even in supposed modern “forward thinking” countries.

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

I am passionate about freedom of speech, campaigning for positive body image and body acceptance, equality for all, equal marriage rights for all.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

Art Saves Lives is a positive affirmation in the fact that art really does save lives in my opinion. Art helps those who create it and those who experience it to deal with and work out issues in their lives, and is a hugely healthy way of releasing and unburdening yourself from an experience that you have had and may have affected you without even knowing it.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I would love for my songs to inspire positive change in the world. Who doesn’t want that! I will keep writing songs and hopefully they will touch the lives of the people that hear them. We are all writing our stories together and helping each other.

Laura Ann Brady
Laura Ann Brady

 

What are your goals as with your art?

My main goal with my music would be to touch the minds of the people that hear my songs and make a connection with them. If I can make one person feel less alone when they listen to my music I feel like I will have achieved my goal.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I am currently in the process of recording my debut album which will be released in the autumn.

And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?

Just that I hope to keep making art,keep talking, keep trying, keep going!!!

If you would like to know more about Laura Ann Brady follow these links:

Facebook

Twitter

SoundCloud

 

Brazilian performance artist Agatha Brum tells us how art helps her understand her place in the world.

Brazilian performance artist Agatha Brum tells us how art helps her understand her place in the world.

 

Agatha Brum

Agatha Brum, 22, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

Você pode nos contar um pouco sobre você? De onde você é, seu fundo de arte?

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from, your art background?

Eu sou o que chamamos aqui no Brasil de “mineiroca”, nasci no Rio mas fui criada em uma cidade muito pequena no interior de Minas Gerais. Em 2009, com dezesseis anos fui morar sozinha, nesses seis anos vivi em varias cidades, algumas extremamente artísticas… Por exemplo: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro e Ouro Preto, maior acervo barroco do mundo. Nessas idas e vindas, estudei Teatro e Dança Contemporânea por um curto período.

Atuei como atriz por um ano em uma Cia de teatro carioca, também trabalhei com produção cultural e fiz parte de dois Coletivos de artes integradas que me fizeram vivenciar muitas manifestações artísticas.  Após, contínuas crises com as linguagens do espetáculo, me aproximei como autodidata da performance art. Depois de cinco anos flertando com as ações do Palco,  em Junho de 2014 nasce o meu primeiro videoperformance “Explode Coração”, ação performática para vídeo, na obra abordo a fragilidade dos laços afetivos e seus conflitos.

Nesse experimento, a partir do momento que ele sai do meu imaginário e ganha vida própria  deixa de ser uma obra. Explode Coracão, é ritual, declaracão de amor, a bilie do meu amor romântico. Seguindo essa linha de arte/vida, sigo produzindo meus outros trabalhos. Todos são retratos  das minhas questões pessoais. Uma tentativa de me libertar do que me atravessa e sufoca.  Minhas ferramentas são meu engajamento, minha subjetividade orgânica e as forças inconscientes. Sigo em busca das emoções da vida, do inesperado, de expressar a minha interioridade e acima de tudo: transformação.

 

I am what we call here in Brazil “mineiroca”, was born in Rio but I was raised in a very small town in Minas Gerais. In 2009, at sixteen I went to live alone and in those six years I lived in various cities, some extremely artistic … For example: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Ouro Preto, with the largest baroque collection in the world. In these comings and goings, I studied Theatre and Contemporary Dance for a short period. I worked as an actress for a year in a Cia de Rio theater and also worked with a cultural production and I was part of two integrated arts collectives that made me experience many artistic events. After, continuous issues with the languages of the show, I approached as an autodidact of performance art.

After five years of flirting with the idea of acting, in January 2014, I did my first video performance « Explode Coracao », (Heart Explosion). This work is about emotional ties and how hard and complicated they are. In this experiment, from the moment it comes out of my imagination and builds on itself ceases to be a work.

Exploding heart, is the ritual, a declaration of love, the antithesis of my romantic love.

Ensuing this line between art and life, by producing my other works, which are all portraits of my personal issues. An attempt to free myself from chocking was made. My tools are my engagement, my organic subjectivity and the unconscious forces which drive me. In search of the emotions of life, the unexpected, to express my inner self and above all: transformation.

O que o motivou a lidar com o assunto da Santa Ágata em sua arte?

What motivated you to deal with the subject of Santa Ágata in your art?

A convite do Coletivo Ágata, composto por três mulheres artistas, Luciana Dal Ri, Juliana Biscalquin e Camila Martins.  O videoperformance Santá Ágata é uma reflexão pinçada sobre a historia de Ágata, a Santa protetora dos seios. Essa mulher, hoje santificada pela igreja católica, após recusar um pedido de casamento, foi perseguida, torturada, acusada de pertencer a seitas fora da lei da época . Esticada na roda, marcada com ferros em brasa e finalmente seus seios arrancados.

“Eu sinto que em meu gesto existe o teu gesto e em minha voz a tua voz”.

Essa frase do poeta Fernando Pessoa me ajuda a explicar o meu mergulho no universo da Santa Ágata. Uma tentativa de se fazer ouvir a voz que foi calada, a voz da mulher que carrego o nome, a voz de todas  as mulheres que foram caladas.

 

The collective of Agata is composed of three women artists : Luciana Dal Ri, Juliana Biscalquin e Camila Martins. The video performance Agatha is a small reflection on the history of Agatha, the saint of breasts. This woman, now sanctified by the Catholic Church, after refusing a marriage proposal, was persecuted, tortured, accused of belonging to sects outlawed at the time. Stretched on the wheel, marked with red-hot irons and finally having her breasts cut off.

“I think that in my gesture there is your gesture, and that in my voice there is your voice.”

This phrase from the poet Fernando Pessoa helps me explain why I have plunged myself into the world of Agatha. An attempt to make the voice that was quiet, the woman’s voice that carries the name, the voice of all women who were silent.

 

Performance Santa Ágata.
Performance Santa Ágata.

 

Conte-nos por que você escolheu esta submissão?

Tell us why you chose this submission?

É minha forma de tentar entender meu lugar no mundo e o significado da minha existência. Procuro achar respostas no âmago do meu universo pessoal.

 

It is my way of trying to understand my place in the world and the meaning of my existence. Seeking to find answers at the heart of my personal universe.

Por que você escolheu o meio que você usa para a sua arte?

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

Me identifico com a performance art por ser a arte viva, do agora. Utilizar o vídeo como forma de registro e objeto artístico me interessa por da autonomia ao trabalho. Digitalmente consigo ser onipresente.

 

I identify with performance art by becoming the living art in the now. Using video as a way to record an artistic object interests me and the autonomy to work. Digitally it can be omnipresent.

Qual é o seu processo ao criar?

What is your process when creating?

É importante para mim expressar a minha identidade através do trabalho. Essa expressão pode ser conseguida de muitas maneiras, que ainda não consigo verbalizar. Ainda estou experimentando métodos de processos criativos.

 

It is important for me to express my identity through my work. This expression can be achieved in many ways, it still can not be verbalized. I’m still experimenting with methods of creative processes.

Quem você está influenciado por? O que você e sua arte inspirada?

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

Eu sou influenciada e inspirada por pequenos ou grandes acontecimentos, por tudo que leio, escuto, assisto. Minha arte é inspirada no espetáculo da humanidade;

 

I am influenced and inspired by small and large events, everything I read, listen, watch. My art is inspired by the spectacle that is humanity;

O que o feminismo significa para você e você se considera ser uma feminista?

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Hoje, no meu país e em todo o mundo existem várias formas de militância dentro do feminismo, com posicionamentos diferentes. Me considero feminista  por acreditar e buscar  direitos iguais independente de gênero. Eu sou a favor da mulher, do empoderamento feminino, da libertação dos padrões. Sou contra  generalização e qualquer tipo de opressão.

 

Today, in my country and around the world there are various forms of militancy within feminism, with different positions. I consider myself a feminist because I believe and seek equal rights regardless of gender. I am in favour of women, women’s empowerment, the liberation of current standards. I am against any kind of generalization and oppression.

 

O que fez você querer se envolver com a nossa arte sem fins lucrativos ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL 

Vou parafrasear Mario Quintana para responder essa pergunta.

 

I am going to use something Mario Quintana said to answer that question :

Emergência
Mário Quintana

Quem faz um poema abre uma janela.
Respira, tu que estás numa cela
abafada,
esse ar que entra por ela.
Por isso é que os poemas têm ritmo —
para que possas profundamente respirar.
Quem faz um poema salva um afogado.

Emergency
Mário Quintana

He who writes a poem opens a window.
Breathe, you there in a cell
sweltering,
this air entering through it.
This is why poems have rhythm —
so you can breathe deeply.
He who writes a poem saves a drowning man.

Você sente as mulheres têm de estar em conformidade com as normas sociais e estereótipos para ser levado a sério? Você tem experiências dessa?

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

Claro que não, o certo seria que nenhuma pessoa independente de gênero ou sexualidade sofresse discriminação ou impacto na vida profissional/ pessoal …

Se eu já passei por isso? Quem não?!

 

Of course not, the right thing would be that no independent person gender or sexuality suffer discrimination or impact on their professional / personal life …

Have I experienced this? Who hasn’t ?!

Você acha que as mulheres e os homens são iguais nas sociedades de hoje em todo o mundo? Você tem alguma experiência?

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

Homens e mulheres nunca serão iguais. Mas sim, devem ter direitos iguais. Nós mulheres ganhamos algumas batalhas mas o caminho para a igualdade de direitos, o fim do sexismo, entre outros direitos como a escolha de ser mãe ainda caminha a passos lentos.

 

Men and women will never be equal. But, should have equal rights. We women have won some battles but the path to equal rights, the end of sexism, among other rights as the choice of being a mother still has far to go…

Quais as causas e as questões do mundo que você está apaixonado, a campanha para, voluntário para etc …..?

What causes and world issues are you passionate about,campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

Tudo que me desassossega.

 

All causes that trouble me.

Quais são seus objetivos como com a sua arte?

What are your goals as with your art?

Acho que no momento eu tenho o objetivo de trazer boas reflexões.

 

I think at the moment I have the objective to bring about good reflections.

Agatha Brum
Agatha Brum

 

Qual é o seu próximo projeto ou peça que você está trabalhando?

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

Atualmente estou engajada na questão da gordofobia. Já passou da hora de  abordar esse tema. A forma cruel e preconceituosa que  a sociedade enxerga e trata quem não é magro, está  causando efeitos crueis na vida dessas pessoas. Minha pesquisa especificamente fala da questão corpo feminino, um assunto delicado pois até mesmo as feministas possui dificuldade para compreender…

 

I am currently engaged in the issue of gordofobia (fear of fat women). It is high time to address this issue. The cruel and judgmental way that society views and treats those who are not thin, is causing cruel effects in their lives. My research specifically speaks of the female body issue, a sensitive issue for even feminists who too have difficulty in understanding this issue …

ASLI QUOTE

Se você gostariam de saber mais sobre Agatha Brum, siga estes links:

If you would like to know more about Agatha Brum follow these links:

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Colleen Thomas “Dance is the most communicative art form that I know”

I have been dancing for 42 years, it is the most communicative art form that I know.

 

Colleen Thomas
Colleen Thomas

Colleen Thomas, 46, New York City.

Colleen Thomas is a New York based choreographer and performing artist. She began her professional career with the Miami Ballet and went on to work with renowned contemporary choreographers such as Nina Wiener Dance Company, Donald Byrd/The Group, Bebe Miller Dance Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and The Kevin Wynn Collection among others. In 1997 a creative collaboration with Bill Young evolved into a company focused on rigorous physicality and dynamic partnering. Their work has been seen throughout the U.S, Europe, Asia, and South America. Now interested in focusing on illuminating her vision of contemporary work, Thomas has formed ColleenThomasDance.  Thomas has presented her work in Hong Kong, Brazil, and Paris and in New York at Joyce Soho, Danspace Project, Dance New Amsterdam, Dance Theater Workshop, The Miller Theater, Danny K. Playhouse, and The Kumble Arts Center, as well as at Cal State Long Beach, University of Maryland, Connecticut College, Ursinus College, East Carolina University, and Minneapolis at the Ritz Theater, Southern Theater, and The New Guthrie.

Thomas received her BA in psychology from SUNY Empire State College and her MFA in Dance from University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. She is currently an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at Barnard College of Columbia University.

Here is our interview with Colleen:

What motivated you to deal with the subject of sexual discrimination in your art?

My recent work has taken a more political stance. It has become important for me to try to make a change in my small world through dance, rather than only communicating something personal or showing an abstract world on stage. I think it is my age and my children that make this so important to me at this point in my life.  In Her(e) Again Untitled the dancers and I were engulfed in the sexual discrimination cases that were being discussed all around the country. I usually create work in a very collaborative way with my dancers and there was no way to get around what was happening in our world at that point in time. We spoke about equality, societal pressures, fears, and other issues that relate to the female human condition. We put our voice, our experiences, and our politics on the stage in hopes of continuing the dialogue with audiences and finding some kind of justice and peace in our own world.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

I chose both my submissions because they deal with equality and the strong desire to be heard, understood, and valued as a human being.

Here is a link to the interview piece I made for Barnard/Columbia dances at NYLA. It was a work on the students that “subtly but powerfully tackled the issue of sexual assault” according to the writer of on our terms.

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I chose dance long ago or it chose me if you believe Martha Graham. I have been dancing for 42 years. It is the most communicative art form that I know.  The body is universal and how we live in it so individual and fascinating to me that I will be studying it for the rest of my time on earth.

Watching a dancer express with their body can make an audience member deeply live through a similar experience. The gift of watching someone pick up another, or hold another, or even slowly place their hand on a shoulder speaks so much more loudly than saying the words, ”I will pick you up, hold you, comfort you…” Dance is action, more than just the words. Three-dimensional and visceral, it is immediate and in the moment. There is nothing but the experience then and there. Dance can be invaluable for any issue.

What is your process when creating?

I work very collaboratively. I want the dancers to feel valued and empowered, and as invested in the work as I am. I try to remember that its not about me, but that this process is about sharing, listening and giving so that we can create something from nothing.

I often begin with improvisation and movement research.  But, from there my process varies from piece to piece. I try not to repeat the same process twice. I have employed various inspirational impulses -from literature to contemporary visual art. The dialogue of artistic permission and restraint utilized in Lars von Trier’s documentary, The Five Obstructions, inspired one piece I made in 2009. The collaboration with my composer involved an experiment with control and authorship as we place deliberate roadblocks to each other’s creative choices. This trio (called Winning You With Words- this is how we fall), was created by manipulating the process derived from Von Trier’s exploration of mentor Jorgen Leth’s film “The Perfect Human.”

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

Strong, creative and kind human beings inspire me. Bold woman artists, poets, and visual designers such as Clarice Lispector and Valie Export inspired recent works I have created.  I am moved by the human condition- everything from struggle and peace to sexuality, gender, awkwardness, race, memory, loss, greed, acceptance, youth, age, politics, discrimination, corruption, rules, breaking the rules, birth, freedom….I am interested in how we experience this time on earth and how we deal with all that comes up.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Feminism means gender equality. Human equality. Yes, I am a feminist.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

When I was introduced to Art Saves Lives International your mission moved me. I believe art can change and save lives. I have seen dance touch people’s lives through performance, therapy, and in the classroom.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

I feel lucky to be a woman and it is sometimes even empowering. But, women are easily objectified and women dancers even more so. Our culture -specifically American culture – knows so little about dance. Early on in my career I would get questions about whether I danced in a bar or on Broadway or whatever people associated with women and dance. There is such a limited knowledge and support for the art form in America that I have found I have to make a strong effort to educate and inspire a possible dance lover. Another challenge is this: It is documented widely that male dancers and choreographers in my field far more easily rise through the ranks, while woman who are often as talented get left behind. As there are more women in the field, the statistics are much better for a man working in dance. Women come up against and have to navigate through ageism, politics, and gender stereotypical prejudices that I don’t think men ever encounter. I have had to work to keep my voice strong as a choreographer. I think having children was a real wake up call for me; in particular having a girl. I want to model the feminine potential for her. That said, I still think women have to work twice as hard to accomplish what they want.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

No. Woman and men are not equal. We see horrific, unacceptable, extreme cases of this inequality all over the world.

I’m lucky to have been born into my situation. I choose to live in New York City where I believe issues of discrimination- gender, sexual, and racial are not as overt as other parts of America. But, inequality is still prevalent here. I experience it in the dance world, in academia, and in everyday life.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

Art has saved my life many times. Art makes you experience the world more fully and in multiple ways.  It can be as simple as helping someone see a different perspective or point of view or as complex as building new synapses and connections for movement in the brain.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I have only recently felt the strong desire to bring about greater change with my work.  I have always been interested in considering and connecting with my audience with my work.  But as I get older and raise my children, I feel a new motivation to speak directly and connect more deeply to the audience in the work I create, as well as through activities such as community work, post-show talks, and open workshops.

What are your goals as with your art?

I want to move – whether it is subtly or grand- the audience and I want to be moved by the experience of the collaboration with everyone involved.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

My next work is a continuation of the questions that I have only begun to address in Her(e).  I’m interested to further address how women are objectified and how we move/struggle with and through obstacles placed in our paths as well as unconscious constraints already set in place.

When I began this research, I was looking at it from a white female perspective and honestly focusing on white male privilege.  It has become important to me at this point in the work to look at the African American male and how he is similarly objectified in a much different way.

Connect with Colleen Thomas:

http://www.colleenthomasdance.com/

https://vimeo.com/colleenthomas

 

Artist Deborah Brommer “Without art our world would be a cold and silent place”

Artist Deborah Brommer “Without art our world would be a cold and silent place”

 

Artist Deborah Brommer
Artist Deborah Brommer

 

Deborah Brommer,48, from Columbus, Ohio and Phoenix, Arizona

Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Deborah has loved art since she was a child and has been involved in theatre and applied art her whole life.  Deborah went to college at Ohio University in Athens, to study acting and ended up bouncing from major to major within the art school however by her father’s urging finally graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art’s in Art History.

Here is our interview with Deborah:

What motivated you to deal with the subject of Empowerment in your art?

This piece was actually inspired by the Chelko Foundation which supports women’s freedom around the world and is on a mission to end their suffering.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

This piece is about the age old dichotomies of woman as goddess/slave, mother/whore, beauty/untouchable.  The stone age relic of the Venus of Willendorf is painted on the torso of the model representing the ancient reverence for women as creators of life, yet in our “advanced” modern times women are still expected to be the ones taking care of the home, hence the classic yellow rubber gloves.  Our society wants our women to have a lovely face and figure, to wear sexy lingerie, yet in some places they are still expected to keep their mouths shut when the men are speaking.  My piece shows our heroine wearing fishnet stockings yet her face is painted as though she’s wearing a “reverse burka”, where only her eyes are covered.  Her mouth is silenced by a bumble bee with the wings of a moth; the bee represents hard work and dedication and the moth is representative of transformation as well as the subtle meaning of always flying to the light which shows undying optimism.  Covering our model’s sex organs is a beautiful flower (an homage to feminist artist Judy Chicago) which is lovely and beckoning, yet from that same flower flows rivers of blood which shows our lunar biology which has kept women separated, and shunned, and proclaimed “dirty” in many societies, but is actually the literal life blood of our species.

Venus By Deborah Brommer This body painting shows the many dichotomies of women in the modern world and her place as goddess/slave, mother/whore, beauty/untouchable.  The Stone Age “Venus of Willendorf” is a reminder of the age old reverence of woman as creator of life, yet throughout time women have been virtually slaves to the men in their lives as is represented here by the yellow rubber gloves of housework.  We want our women to have a beautiful face, and a sexy demeanor, yet they must, in some societies cover up in public and keep quiet on matters of importance and we see that here with the strip across the eyes painted as a “reverse burka”.  Her mouth is silenced by a bumble bee with the wings of a moth; the bee represents hard work and dedication and the moth is representative of transformation as well as the subtle meaning of always flying to the light which shows undying optimism.  Covering our model’s sex organs is a beautiful flower (an homage to feminist artist Judy Chicago) which is lovely and beckoning, yet from that same flower flows rivers of blood which shows our lunar biology which has kept women separated, and shunned, and proclaimed “dirty” in many societies, but is actually the literal life blood of our species.
Venus By Deborah Brommer
This body painting shows the many dichotomies of women in the modern world and her place as goddess/slave, mother/whore, beauty/untouchable. The Stone Age “Venus of Willendorf” is a reminder of the age old reverence of woman as creator of life, yet throughout time women have been virtually slaves to the men in their lives as is represented here by the yellow rubber gloves of housework. We want our women to have a beautiful face, and a sexy demeanor, yet they must, in some societies cover up in public and keep quiet on matters of importance and we see that here with the strip across the eyes painted as a “reverse burka”. Her mouth is silenced by a bumble bee with the wings of a moth; the bee represents hard work and dedication and the moth is representative of transformation as well as the subtle meaning of always flying to the light which shows undying optimism. Covering our model’s sex organs is a beautiful flower (an homage to feminist artist Judy Chicago) which is lovely and beckoning, yet from that same flower flows rivers of blood which shows our lunar biology which has kept women separated, and shunned, and proclaimed “dirty” in many societies, but is actually the literal life blood of our species.

 

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I love the medium of body painting because the movement and emotion of a living person is added into the art, giving it a special kind of life.  I am attracted to body painting because it combines the colour and expressionism of my painting with living sculpture; it is applied art, sculpture, and theatre all in one.  I also find the impermanence of the art appealing, the fleetingness of the piece makes it more precious in a way, like a beautiful sunset, it is all the more sweet because it will soon fade away.

What is your process when creating?

I usually work with a theme of some sort, something I want to say, or a feeling I want to convey and I will research some visual ideas that I want to include, sketch out where the different elements will go on the body, and then the painting begins.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

Because I have a background in Art History, there are many artists that inspire me, I especially love expressionism and I love to incorporate a lot of colour in my work.  I am often inspired by nature, by music, by performance, and by cultures from around the world.  One of my biggest influences is the performances of Cirque Du Soleil.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

I do think that I am a feminist, but I don’t know that feminists would agree.  I am a strong minded, confident, and outspoken woman and I believe in equality for all people, but I really love the feminine side of womanhood, I like being a girly girl at times, I enjoy the trappings of being a female.  I embrace the differences between men and women, I think that makes us interesting.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

I live in such a progressive country and was raised by a family who empowered me to be who I wanted to be, that I never considered for one moment growing up that there was anything I couldn’t do, and when I am faced with the reality that that isn’t the norm for all women it is a shock and a disappointment.   I think it’s important to show the world that every woman has the right to be who she wants to be.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world and do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously?

I know for a fact that women and men are not equal in many areas around the world.  I am a prolific traveller and I have had experiences in countries where there was a severe double standard for men and women.  The experience that stands out most to me was a time in Morocco where I left a public bath and was forced to wear a scarf over my hair because it was wet, when I asked about what the reasoning was it was explained to me that wet hair means that you’ve just bathed and if men were to see my wet hair they wouldn’t be able to refrain from imagining me in the bath which would arouse them and then I wouldn’t be safe.  I have been to a few countries where if men cause harm to women it is almost always considered the woman’s fault for somehow instigating it merely by her appearance.  The beauty of women should not be hid or feared it should be adored!

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

My biggest issue is the lack of education on the importance of breastfeeding around the world.  A great disservice has been done to women and children in developing countries when they are given formula to feed their babies.  This formula has to be mixed with clean water, which is often hard to come by, and once the mother stops nursing and her milk no longer comes she has no choice but to continue giving formula, and the supply may now be getting low so it gets diluted even more with precious water and the babies suffer from malnutrition.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

Art reveals emotion and ideas and desires in a way that words cannot.  Art can communicate to your core the feelings it’s creator wants you to experience. Without Art our world would be a cold and silent place.  There are many people in the world who have no voice and Art can be a way to speak when everything else is telling you to “shut up”.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I think my art in particular can create change because it is painted on the naked body.  It forces many people out of their comfort zones yet helps to show that the human body can be admired as a work of art without being a sex object.  It allows for beauty and soulfulness without shame.  Also, because the art incorporates the human body it is much more expressive and emotional which can really speak to people in a way that other art forms may not.

What are your goals as with your art?

I want the world to fall in love with body painting and want to place it in their homes.  I want people to feel so intrigued and enamoured that they want to have themselves body painted, and then they will find the art and beauty within themselves.  It is amazing to see the transformation in people when they are painted for the first time; the timidness and discomfort are always replaced with pride and awe.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I’m currently working on some ideas for pieces inspired by the American Southwest, I have recently started to spend quite a bit of time out here and the vast landscapes and amazing colours are quite an inspiration to me!

If you would like to know more about Deborah Brommer:

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