Art As A Weapon

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I was browsing a site that sells art this evening.  At the top of a page, there was a description of modern art’s color blocking that emerged in the mid-twentieth century.  I remember wanting to spend significant time discussing and attempting to understand modern art during my art history class in college.  I found the subject frustrating—starting with Duchamp’s Fountain.  Now, when I see images from that era, or artists attempting to continue the genre, I sit back, annoyed that I ever gave it the time of day.

You see, earlier this summer, my husband and I watched a four-part documentary series filmed in the 90s.  One of the segments shared that the modern art movement was really a CIA propaganda move to combat the rise of the Soviet Union.  Essentially, it was a war of the arts to prove who could produce higher culture.

Tonight I watched the movie Florence Foster Jenkins.  I won’t bother with the synopsis (because you should go watch it), but she is a well to-do woman who can afford to sponsor her own music career—while funding the career of her own pianist.  Her husband protects her from negative criticism because…well, you’ll just have to watch the movie.  But, while watching it, I realized how the arts can be a healing force.

I’m married to a musician, but I am not one.  I love music—certain kinds of music.  It makes me feel so many emotions.  I rise and fall with it.  Art does not only belong to the rich.  It belongs to all of us.  In our home we are so fortunate to be surrounded by art almost entirely created by people we know.  None of them paint or draw for a living.  For most, it’s a hobby.  Different techniques.  All bring me pleasure.

I suppose I’m trying to explain that I feel cheated by the government for manipulating the world with art.  Would Pollock be famous without the CIA?  I know the great artists were funded by patrons—often the Catholic church.  I’m struggling with the idea that what I’ve grown up admiring is not pure, but rather is tainted by the souls of those who sold themselves out to governments that do not work for the good of the people, but for their own self-interests.

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Meditating on the Eclipse

Before much more time passes, I want to reflect on the eclipse a bit more.

We started popping outside at 1:13PM to see the eclipse. I remember putting on my glasses and looking up for the first time—it was like photos I’d seen, except it was real. 

Over the next 1.5 hours, I noticed new and different things. A bird squealing strangely and flying away. Shadows through the tree leaves making crescent shapes on the ground in kaleidoscope fashion. The eerie light as the moon covered more and more of the sun—it wasn’t like dusk…it was like a simulated effect for a film. 

Then, as it reached totality, the temperature dropped and the crickets began chirping loudly. We stood and stared (safely) in wonder. Around us, we heard fireworks exploding and people whooping. It was as if the entire neighborhood and beyond had stopped to behold the phenomenon of nature. In that moment, we were all humans, smaller than the greatness on which we gazed.  

Afterwards, my friends slowly went back inside. I stayed out, standing still, soaking in the environment and all that had happened. Goosebumps were on my arms. I acknowledged the glorious display of God and nature we had seen. 

Then, turning, I walked back inside. The event over, but the memory still bright in my mind.

Eclipse Trip

Columbia, SC is a place I never wanted to live long-term, then I didn’t want to leave (but had to), and whenever I go back it is refreshing to my soul to visit friends and remember aspects of myself I’ve forgotten.

I left before 7AM Sunday morning to drive down to arrive in time for church (where I attended in college).  It’s the most special church I’ve ever encountered, with people who are loving, caring, intellectual, fun, deep, and from many walks of life.  The children have all grown up and my college acquaintances have children—life moves forward.

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I got to see two of my best friends from college…and we laughed so much.  Those friends are the best kind.  And we drank margaritas and had the best homemade, personal pizzas EVER.

On the day of the eclipse, I had tea, cheese, and strawberries with friends, chatted about trips to England, and had the best time getting to know my friend’s son—he’s darling.  Once the eclipse began, we’d pop outside every few minutes to check on its progress.  The first moment I put on those glasses and looked up—it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.  Perfection.  I started noticing the other ways nature was interacting with the phenomenon: shadows from the leaves, the crispness of my own shadow, and the increasing brightness and then darkness as it got closer to totality.  Also, a flying bird making a strange noise.  After totality, I stood and soaked in the beauty of what we’d experienced.  The lining up of two, huge orbs.  The impact it had on the earth.  The way it instilled a sense of awe in millions.  *goose bumps*

 

At the last minute, I learned a sweet friend was also in town with her roommate…and hedgehog.  Awesome conversations about feminism, social justice, racism, belief systems, and interacting with people you love but who just aren’t on the same page.  And, I got to hold her hedgehog!

Tuesday morning, I had breakfast with my brother at my alma mater.  The caf is still the same—even down to my half a grapefruit (yum!).  But, they’ve added a great little coffee shop downstairs (why couldn’t that have been there when I was a student?).

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Till the next solar eclipse!  2024!

Weekends: Work and Play

(Throwback picture from last year’s trip…hiking in the mountains!)

It’s FriYay!  Unlike some, the weekends around here are not always relaxing.  This weekend is going to be a fun blend of play and work.  We are planning to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Boone, enjoy bagels at my favorite bagel place, Boone Bagelry, wander around, and enjoy lunch wherever A chooses (it’s his hometown).  Then, it’s off to perform with a quartet for a wedding at Grandfather Golf and Country Club.

Do you have any Boone recommendations?  We haven’t been in over a year, so if anything good has popped up, we’d love to know!

Next week is going to kick off in a historical way: the Solar Eclipse!  Are you traveling to get in the direct line of it?  Or, are you satisfied with a partial view?  I’m driving to South Carolina to see friends and the whole eclipse.  I think A and one of his friends are going camping somewhere between Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC to see the eclipse as fully as possible.  I don’t have glasses, though.  Maybe I’ll just do it the vintage way—with a box.

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope it is fulfilling and fun!  Be safe watching the eclipse (it’s only a moment, and you need your eyes forever).

Welcome!

Welcome to The Teapot Journalist!

Five years (and three months ago) I lay on a pool chair in Daytona Beach Shores reading my first copy of Vogue.

It contained a life changing article that inspired my pursuit of journalism as a career.  The article was about a journalist who traveled to Morocco to teach impoverished teenagers the skills of journalism, and then enabled them to go into their communities and practice what they learned.

Fast forward to now; I fondly reminisce the year and a half I spent as a rural newspaper journalist in western Virginia, continue to gobble up news from a plethora of sites, participate in social justice activism, am learning to be a better vegetarian, research ethical and sustainable fashion, notice the beauty around me, and care for myself, as a spiritual being…all while enjoying ‘newlywed’ status in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

You might be asking: why this blog?  Why now?

The name came to me over a year ago; the content has continued to steep for the past ten months.  People frequently ask me if there are others who think like me?  I tell them YES!  Are we identical?  Absolutely not.  But, our ideas and philosophies are similar—therefore, let’s share them and live them together.

How many people do you know who are intelligent, caring, and keep talking about wanting to do something to make something, somewhere, better, but they don’t know where to begin?

This blog is for those people.  This blog is for you.  This blog is for me.

I love discussion, so please feel at home to comment, email, etc.

Here is to many more posts, good conversation, and encouraging each other in this big world as we all pursue our unknown.

Sincerely,

The Teapot Journalist