Friday, January 29, 2010

More Found Art Friday

More supreme moments sent in the to the DHI yummy neon by a Matt and special nature by a Jodi, thanks folks!

Found by family members, Jeff above
and Ellis:This image is only a Found Art Moment due to its context - which is chicken crap. Our very first dafodil blossom of the year (poignant to us) out of the bed we thought we'd cleared of bulbs in order to put the chicken coop in. The secret is out about compost!

And submitted by my bravest follower/participant in Homeland Inspiration, trusty AnonY Mouse:

caption reads: Improvised Sunglasses

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"He who wears the shoe knows best where it pinches."

With all these images from the devastation in Haiti, Random Mother has been rereading parts of Maya Deren's "Divine Horsemen: the living gods of Haiti" first published in 1953. For those of you unfamiliar with her work, Deren was an amazing film maker, dancer, and author: one of the first American experimental film artists in a time dominated by grandiose Hollywood Studios or boxed-in documentary forms. She created a sort of visual poetry that was a precursor to the video art movement that began in the 1970's. Her friendships with accomplished modern composers gave their music an unusualy equal footing in her films. Her travels to Haiti were initiated by a MaCarthur fellowship to go make a film featuring the dances. She instead made many trips there and returned with a life-changing immersion in the Haitian rituals and religious mythologies, documented in both book and film form.

As an artist, rather than the usual anthropologist studying such cultural phenomena, she experiences subjectively, beginning with the raw visual impact of the dances. In so doing, she sensitively uncovers the context of the Haitian "voodoo" or voudoun, as no one outside the culture had ever done before. In fact, they thought she had once lived among them, gone through an initiation and was returning to do them this favor. "Each one serves in his way" said the priest who accepted her into his realm. The book contains photos of raw pigment drawings, sacred objects, and verbal visual accounts of an amazingly hybrid religious cosmos incorporating numerous African, Caribbean, Native American, Christian and even Aztec threads of influence.

Though Deren had been in one sense defeated in her original quest to make an artistic film with Haitian dance, she emerged victorious in other ways. "Divine Horsemen: the living gods of Haiti" is an extensive and respectful portrait of a cosmology and an example of art so vitally engaged in a village context that it need not be called "art". In fact her work is a fabulous study of CONTEXT period. Con = with , text= stories and this is why i love art so much.

From her forward to the book: "I've come to believe that if history were recorded by the vanquished rather than by the victors, it would illuminate the real, rather than the theoretical, means to power; for it is the defeated who know best which of the opposing tactics were irresistible. The Russian peasant has another way of saying this: He who wears the shoe knows best where it pinches." (Deren was also a Russian immigrant, which further informed her work). She died an untimely death at 44.

"But death itself we recognize not so much by what it is as by the fact that it is not life. As the land and the sea define each other at the shore, so life and death define each other by exclusion", said Deren.

My favorite chapter of the book's interior concerns itself with the drums (naturally). Evidently, the drummers, are mere technicians, replaceable competent carriers of the songs. It is the drum objects themselves who are holy and blessed and fed offerings and passed along carefully through village generations like children and old men. "It is as if the drums were understood as the moral organism, whereas the drummer was a necessary material accessory to their activity.
The drums are able to travel between worlds of living and dead and are a tool of invocation.

The reason I am sharing this with you is: after reading "Divine Horsemen" for twenty minutes a day (Random Mother's limit) and even taking into consideration that the the book was written more than half a century ago, I am struck by the supreme care and honor taken in their relationships between the living and the dead. A normal constant, intertwined presence of "les invisibles". Each one nourishing the other. I want to pass that thought around like a warm washcloth to the head as I contemplate what these people are going through today.

On behalf of the DHI, we hope THAT WHOMEVER IN HAITI NEEDS TO DO THESE RITUALS RIGHT NOW, that you can and that you will and that you must and that it will help you. Even though SHE'S A LITTLE WHITE LADY sitting AT A COMPUTER IN CALIFORNIA this is
ART RANGER's solemn PRAYER of the day."Big gods don't ride small horses" Haitian proverb

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just in: Pants in the Air

One more for Found Art Friday
posted by Anon y Mouse to Art Ranger's blog

Found aRt Friday 2

Admired by Art Ranger

Pictures found in vicinity of
Nature doing its thing
Adapting to adjusting
Being limber enough to be in limbo
Wished for as a state of being today

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random Mother Reframes ADD

Attention Deficit Disorder becomes Additional Asset Determination

Posting this longer essay written in 2009, was inspired by my youngest son coming home one afternoon last week saying, "Mom, I'm kind of "screwed" in school. I just can't pay attention during certain things. In fact I'll probably stare off into space and climb into a raindrop and pretend I'm driving it". (So I write that on a postit note, of course).

Viewed in a certain light, pharmaceutical companies have successfully defined new and costly self esteem problems and brought them to the attention of America, drastically increasing the use of medications for learning issues among school children and making themselves billions of dollars. We have taken their pamphlets home from the Doctor's office. Evidently the medicines do "work". A certain kind of work.

I believe the ADD style brain to be optimal for engaging in twenty-first century life. More than ever (to rebuild and revive this country in a shrunken budget era) our children are going to benefit from having their creativity embraced and drawn forth, not only during art lessons. We will all need to be more resourceful with and aware of the resources that we already have (For example, our children)! Improvisation and invention in the realm of clean green survival.

The collective attention span of our culture is an organic web bulging and bursting with shorter and more frequent fragments of information. Digits and digits pushing buttons on multitudes of handheld devices. The downloaded copied pasted diffused dispersed hardwared softwared broadband ethernet bits bytes networks twittering texty ipod ithis ithat swirling amongst us can easily amount to over-exposure fallout in both our individual and communal orbits. This mediated environment is affecting the way people think, how our human brains are “wired” and evolving. Even scholars at the top of the academic food chain report having an affection for googling, and a tendency to shift from link to link in processing information rather than following one long article to completion. These new realities affect what will be expected and demanded of our children in the future “marketplace” and lifetime of experience. Isn't it part of school’s job, to prepare them for a future

By the age of twelve, the average American child has already watched 70,000 advertisements. Our kids are spawned in the language of images, and remember? pictures are worth a thousand words. Pictures can compress and activate multi-layers of information and offer insights into another person's point of view. We educators and parents must work through all this entertainment-bloated static and make use of the interactive prowess (and potential attentiveness) of our youth. The “ADD” brain may easily develop an expertise in the non-linear communication fostered by images. Images that can connect, solve, discover, exalt, intertwine. We need to enrich that matrix of knowledge in the quick thinking language of images, and help kids shape their own narratives in positive ways.

The “ADD” brain has already gone to great lengths to make sense of the world, to get through the day. In spite of school rules, procedures, huge stacks of information lined up in books, chapters and tests that is supposed to get stuffed in them, the ADD brain has already, in its own best guessing way, had to sift, sort, synthesize, wonder and wrestle over vast arrays of unlike information (including our own distracted and dispersed thoughts) in order to arrive at say, a coherent paragraph. Since the “ADD” brain has so often had to forge a new structure or make their own trail, there can arise a certain tenacity and ability to leap over barriers, an appreciation for struggle. This asset should be sought out and valued in our children so we as a human species can continue with the healthy cross-pollination and experimentation (often a failure collection) needed for us to progress as a species.

During the education process, what slips off and what sticks? It is still guesswork, but we know a lot about what might help. An elaborate patchwork of environment meeting up with individuated raw brain matter makes up a person. It is the structure of the learning, and a yearning (even in math) to care about the steps and their order, all the way through to a solution. All the way up the stairs and back down to get the right tool. Or the practice of prioritizing and merging three thoughts into one. It is the making of connections and synaptic bridges that grow of doing it by yourself that will be lasting for the child, not the stacks of information.

Education with no love is like toast with no butter. Won’t go in - will get spit out and thrown away, not put to any use. Education with no discipline is spilled milk. And education without expertise is an unhealthy snack.

Although "ADD/HD?” can be a vexing muddle of being, it means bumping up against what you are not in order to find out what you are. A form of identity formation that is less about choosing a path, more about what you came with and how to recognize and gather your strengths. (Likely sooner and with more intensity than for regulars). Winnowing and shaping your own brain coping methods because no one else can.

The ADD style mind often fuses more completely with technology, fitting like chain to sprocket or reciprocal puzzle piece
sometimes allowing our youth to be doused in media gluttony. Liberated from the drudgery of physical piles/files, the ADD brain in tandem with technology (such as a Smartphone or Itouch), can switch between tasks with lightening speed, later to multi-manage with confidence and acumen. AAD brains are more like beehives collecting nectar from a variety of flowers for proper nutritional balance. An array of energy, a World Wide Web of hyperlinks. By keeping kids engaged during their schooling, and encouraging them to create, not only consume media, we have a chance to capture this talent and use it wisely. Our society will benefit from developing rather than misfitting these potentially optimal and fulfilled humans.

Drawing is one of the most under-utilized tools that the educator could “draw” from to increase comprehension and retention of various subjects. Drawing is a tool for thinking: bringing a subject toward the self so it can be ingested. The tactile, kinesthetic and image-based reasoning involved in drawing can give memory a handhewn handle that may be able to reach many of the lost customers in the education system. Literally, a way to re-member, to stick information on to something. Even drawing as doodling which can promote attentiveness. Or diagrams. Or recording story images or processing flare-ups of emotion. All of this can be put to use, to scoop up and organize the distracted energies of growing minds.
For example: did you know that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was generated from, and fertilized by an image in his mind, an image of what it would be like to ride along with a ray of light. Before getting even close to the mathematical reasoning, Einstein drew a picture of what he saw inside his mind.

So bless all those ADD brains all over the world right now - off subject and yet maybe actually thinking, tuning in the static and perhaps listening to all that and more while they sort it all out (while also doodling, chewing gum, and listening to music, of course). Wouldn't it be great to be able to say that Additional Asset Determination rocks!

The job of educators and parents is to keep these brains alive and nourished whatever format they are in. Fresh organs in flight, on their way out of the kitchen – always on their way to becoming. In careful handling, we will be doing our utmost to ensure that this Additional Asset Determination is in fact allowed to develop into a strength rather than a deficit or disorder.

By the way, Random Mother wrote this essay in the waiting area of a rollerskating rink replete with flashing lights, music, random shrieks, laughter, thuds etc. that miraculously kept her focused.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome to the Department of

Welcome to week 2 with ArtRanger and Bloggerlady, her technologist. Last week we learned to eliiminate "cruft" and about burning feeds which gives the possibility of "publishing a chicklet" Whodathunkit! And somewhere in the HTML gunk was "ImageGracefully, onblur, floatright" which pushes her poetry buttons. She's probably hooked on this blogging thing for a while even though it makes her skull wobble on its axis, OMG you got your FTP paths and your SEOs and your RSSss ... and don't forget to clear your cache.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The earth quakes - A great way to donate.

ArtRanger figures if she can spend $30 on a chickencoop expansion, she must be able to send money to help the folks in Haiti right now.

Husband and I met on a fundraising bicycle trip across the country in 1984 that benefitted Oxfam America. Then for three years, Melissa worked for the non-profit as an administrative assistant. I highly recommend this NGO.

Photo from Melissa's trip to Africa with Oxfam in 1987 (Another Story)

Found Art Friday

The Department of Homeland Inpisration Welcomes you to Found Art Friday
Rather than go out to some dang artwalk in some town and park your car in the dark and drink some bad wine and see some maybe art and have maybe one good conversation, if you're lucky, you can join Art Ranger in identifying some art in your immediate environment. Here is some that we have collected in photo form. Feel free to contribute yourself as images may arise:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big Useful Birds

Many of you also care deeply about where your food comes from. Our family commitment to such as led us to the journey of suburban chicken farming. Almost a naive and pastoral vision we are trying to muster from our .78 of an acre sized property, yet one we could realize. The artist acquired the job of chicken artitexture, as a typo that was savored while needing to wrangle together some poultry housing for three quickly-growing-out-of cardboard-box chickens who would be teenagers in about a week. Artranger had to dig deep and get hands-on about this. Luckily, her first survival job out of college was as an apprentice carpenter in the winter in Maine, which caused a lot of those smashed fingernails with blood blisters under them.(Another story). Anyhow, for quite a few weeks, she used all her previous sculpture building experience and husband/wife tool collection in order to secure the domain.

Why chickens are my best clients ever:

no meetings
no architectural review board
no engineers
not even any plans
scraps welcome
old windows, used hinges
miscellaneous hardware, use it please
Color is fine, not color is fine
dollhouse cuteness matching main house unnecessary
yet people do
discerning yet accepting creatures
whose eyes don’t really blink
just poke through you
These big useful birds use all the stuff
you built to shit on
In fact sit and shit are one and the same for them
anywhere anytime any surface
Baked on with feathers, a custom patina
And the oil in the skin of their feet
smooths all the wood
Their rototiller legs provide free gardening service
Self sharpening claws do their own pedicures
And Chickens as the ideal clients
devour bugs dead or alive in one clear swift
motion worthy of a martial arts swordmaster
by living to eat and eating to live
They know exactly what they want
Always with reasonable expectations
And all they need for a bathtub is a self-dug bowl of dirt

new nest boxes built during bloggerlady's moments of technological snafu

Monday, January 11, 2010


Welcome to the Department of Homeland Inspiration!
This is the inauguration of Art Ranger sharing her findings, situated on the edge of a lettuce bowl seriously surrounded by salad here in Salinas, California. Over time, a series of slow-baked essays have been accumulating on postit notes and the backs of envelopes amidst the swirl of Mother Artist sensations.  Much like the dog worries a bone, she has carefully unraveled and digested her various subjects.  Fittingly, the word essay comes from the French essai, or “to try" and she is now ready to serve you up some of these rantings/ writings in the form of "posts". You are encouraged to tune in, feedback, pass it on, etc.

Some of Art Ranger's pet subjects are:
Accidental Art
Brain Theory
Treehugger , of course
and other Elephants in the Room 
Cheers! to you and your own Homeland Inspirations
Melissa Smedley - Artist At Large

One minute video