People are Creative; Art is Subjective

8 05 2017

NB Art Show generalAPRIL 30, 2017

My friend invited me to see her art piece in the Nor’easter exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art. I was happy to oblige and attended the award presentation this past Sunday afternoon. Museum Director Min Jung Kim, describing this 47th annual juried show that highlights emerging artists in all media, noted that more than a thousand artists entered and eighty-eight were chosen. What competition! I am impressed by those accepted.

Sarah Fritchey, writer and full-time curator/gallery director at Artspace New Haven, was the juror who reviewed and selected those to participate. Her approach focused on seven common themes among the artists she chose: consumerism, violence against minorities, expression of time/discipline, power/oppression, reflections of major art works, craft works, and modernity.

Both Kim and Fritchey invited prize winners to the podium to be acknowledged and receive their award. The room was filled with artists, their family, and friends and we filtered upstairs, after enjoying some refreshments. I was excited to see the results.

NB Art Show CarolMy friend’s piece, United We Stand, was in the first room of the exhibit. She explained that fiber art has only recently been accepted in this type of show. Curator Fritchey had specifically commented earlier that she encouraged quilting and ceramics (both previously considered more hobbies than art). I realized there was much more politics to this than I had ever imagined.

NB Art Show visitors

I roamed the gallery, taking in a wide array of art forms and eavesdropping on conversations with artists. It was sweet to watch connections and reactions on people’s faces as they examined the works. Here are two of my summary ideas from the afternoon.

People are Creative

The variety of art forms and the ways they were used astounded me: an old tool box, filled with cloth replicas of tools; a stunning orb of color on opaque acrylic glass; a nostalgic and poignant video; a collage of small photo scraps; digital renderings; clothing mixed with poetry; Braille letters; an old student desk; bricks and arrows, just to name a few.

 Art is Subjective

Juror Fritchey included United We Stand as a testament to craft work, but to me it’s about addressing oppression (support of the union). The juror also categorized the third prize winner, Shoe Scribe, as consumerism. But, as I heard the poem written on the soles of the shoes in the work read aloud by another viewer, it sounded so poignantly focused on loss and endings.

NB Art Show MedussaMy favorite piece (no offense to my friend) was Medusa, a collage of snippets shaped into a stunning tree (probably why I was drawn to the piece initially). Only when I looked at the label did I realize how it was produced.

Which brings me to note how subjective art (and poetry) can be. Artists have an intention (sometimes) and understanding of their piece. What we, the viewers, get from it may be something so very different. I hope there is enough space for us to maintain our views and interpretations without offending the creator and not losing what is being offered.

Just a PS: I found it an interesting piece of strategy that one must be a member of the New Britain Museum in order to enter this exhibit. A sure-fire way to increase membership!


1 04 2017

For the sixth year, I am participating in the April A to Z Blog Challenge (I encourage you to check it out, if you’ve never seen it). My overarching theme is A Good Life and this year’s focus is on Affirmations: a daily post with an affirmation to contribute towards a Good Life. Affirmations are simple messages of truth and love that provide a positive atmosphere in which to live. They describe a desired situation and, when repeated, can impact us in a positive way.

If you go to my site, you can sign up to follow this blog and get an email each day of April with an affirmation. Here’s today’s:

Source: Abundance

A Cup of Tea

24 03 2017


24 March 2017

Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself (Wikipedia).

The value of meditation has become commonly known and accepted, with centers springing up around the country. Some of these are focused on particular religious beliefs, while others are nondenominational. A meditation practice can have a number of positive physical and psychological impacts.

mediaton-centerMediation is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques. All participants in mediation are encouraged to actively participate in the process. Mediation is a “party-centered” process in that it is focused primarily upon the needs, rights, and interests of the parties. The mediator uses a wide variety of techniques to guide the process in a constructive direction and to help the parties find their optimal solution. (Wikipedia).

Mediation has been used in legal cases, particularly those involving family issues, and in business situations. Schools have trained peer mediators to help resolve conflicts between students; generally, mediation is considered a way to resolve conflict in a less adversarial manner than through litigation and the legal system.


Recently, I noticed that, although they sound quite different, the only difference between the writing of MEDITATION and MEDIATION is the letter T. T, I mused, tea. Hmm.

If you were involved in a conflict with another person, and you both were to spend some time in meditation, you would be able to clear your mind, calm your emotions, and bring some compassion and empathy to the issue. Then, if you poured yourselves a nice cup of tea to sit down for mediation, perhaps the results would come more quickly and be more equitable and amenable. Just a thought.

Family Stories

3 03 2017

March 3, 2017 I’ve been doing some family genealogy research and I enjoy the detective work, putting together pieces and tidbits into a tidy whole (at least when I can). In the process, I’ve uncove…

Source: Family Stories

Family Stories

3 03 2017

March 3, 2017

I’ve been doing some family genealogy research and I enjoy the detective work, putting together pieces and tidbits into a tidy whole (at least when I can). In the process, I’ve uncovered some information that has left me wondering about the value of this work.

Several years back, I learned that a great-grandmother from Connecticut had died in New York City in early 1929. When I received her death certificate, I was shocked to discover that she had jumped out an apartment window. She and her husband had been in NYC only a few weeks. Why were they there? Was her issue emotional? Some family lore indicated that she had cancer. Perhaps it was to escape the pain and inevitable? We may never know.


My great-grandmother who lost her infant son

Recently, I discovered that my grandmother had a younger brother who was still born. Her parents lived on a farm miles from a hospital and the cause of death was listed as “pressure effects and prolonged labor.” I hated the vision of my great-grandmother out in the country going through a long and fruitless labor. I wondered if he were buried somewhere; I’ve seen no record of it in the cemetery where this family is interred. Did they ever speak of this child? How would he have changed the family?

Then I learned that this same grandmother had a niece (half-niece actually) whom I’d not know existed. Her death certificate indicated she died from intestinal tuberculosis at the age of 24 in 1927 in my home town. Her mother, my grandmother’s half-sister, had died eight years earlier (angina pectoris) and her uncle, my grandmother’s father had passed (chronic intestinal nephritis and pulmonary edema) five years before that. Two years later my grandmother’s sister, with four young children, lost her husband in a plane crash at the Chicago World’s Fair.


These years in the early twentieth century were fraught with danger that impacted these ancestors, my people. They had left a dismal Eastern Europe and forged lives here in America that likely were immensely better than they would have had. But how do people handle these losses of family? How do they move on, under the cumulative uncertainty of who might be next? And why do I think I need to know this, to pass this on to future generations? Some of these facts were likely intentional family secrets. Couldn’t I have left them unearthed and allowed them to fade into nothingness? Or do they need to marked, noted, and honored?

Last month, I was waiting for the microfiche machine at the library to look for obituaries for some of the family mentioned above. A (handsome) young man was researching the 1938 hurricane and we started talking. He really wasn’t interested in the storm, but more how people shared information in those days. We discussed my genealogy research and he asked me, “Why are you doing this?” I managed to give him some type of an answer at the time. But since then, I’ve learned some of this other family history. And the truth of why I do this?

I really don’t know.

Milford Point and Friendly’s

25 02 2017

24 February 2017 The weather could not be any better at the end of February! In the high sixties, sunny, light breeze, wow! Cherry and I head to the shoreline to continue our hiking for Frie…

Source: Milford Point and Friendly’s

Time, Place, and Space

13 02 2017

February 13, 2017 Fellow naturalist and writer Julie Zickefoose recommended Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert as a reminder “to beat fear back in the pursuit of self-expression.” I had not…

Source: Time, Place, and Space