Monday, May 15, 2006

So this is it, the infamous backpack. It is to be shipped out today arriving to me possibly by the end of the week. I think I will silk screen a dove to the front pocket, maybe in white... or pink. Any suggestions?

I am in the process of cleaning all of my stuff out of the bowels of the SAIC performance space. This all includes 96 feet of lumber, 110 pounds of rice, 5 yards of clear vinyl, 1 huge paper mache funnel, 2 urban rolly grocery carts, 2 blue buckets (in which to hold some of the rice), and 4 paper mache vases..... this was all for one piece (recently titled "Now-Then in Rice"). All that is left is the lumber. I put an add on Craigslist offering free dirty rice. Tomorrow a sculptor is going to come and pick it up... rice is her main medium. yeah!

Friday, May 12, 2006

So in response to my brother's last comment I will write a post...
In preparation for my future departure, I have been searching for a cheap hiking backpack on ebay. My last ebay purchase was two years ago when I bought a "micro-cube" (a miniature amp). This purchase was brilliantly successful as it has been used to accompany my tap dancing feet on the streets of Chicago and earn back much more than I paid for it. Before that I bought a M*A*S*H themed ski hat, which became my father's Xmas present...another success, he wears it on Thanksgiving, when we cut down our Xmas tree. My first ebay purchase ever was in high school... 3 MxPx vinyls. This was very silly for many obvious reasons, but even more so because I didn't even have a record player. I believe for my birthday, brother dave gave me permission to use his record player, so I could finally hear my pathetic winnings.

Now, I have been unusually nervous about this backpack purchase. I wanted to get something as cheap as possible...but something somewhat attractive. Brother andrew advised me to stay away from the "buy it now" items. So I switched my browser from "ending times" to "least expensive." The cheapest items all seemed to be camouflage colored (for obvious reasons... camouflage is hideous). But against my better judgment and because I wanted to get the best deal, I bid on one. I had nightmares that I won it. I kept thinking about methods I could use to make the camo more attractive... patches? silk screen? just sew all new fabric over the outside? I was really nervous that I might have to carry out a make-over on my new-to-me backpack.

Luckily, I didn't get it. And so I looked at the solid-colored backpacks I bid on. One in particular looked really nice. It was new, black, with bungee cords, 2 water bottle holders, and sleeping bag straps on the top and bottom. Slick... really slick. Two days ago I won it for $20! Sweet! I emailed my brothers and father to brag about my winning. Awesome!

Yesterday I received an email from the seller.... evidently he had plenty of black backpacks when he placed the item for sale, but now he only has camo back backpacks left. Would I still want a camo one? He is sorry for the complication... The relief I had felt after losing the camo backpack was false. Now I had won a camo, yet slick, backpack.... what to do?
I emailed him back asking for a picture and asking him if he is absolutely sure that he doesn't have any other solid-colored backpacks. I also bid on another backpack, but only up to $20... because my winning set a standard for me.
I will find out about this new backpack in two days.. if I don't win it, then I take the camo backpack from the liar. Maybe I can ask for free shipping or something.

**added at 2pm** I have just been notified that I have been out-bid on the solid colored backpack. A picture of the camo is being emailed to me. I don't think I can escape a camouflage backpack, it seems like it was meant to be.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I recently received the Meredith F. Russell Fellowship which allows me to return to the Czech Republic this summer to study "the relationship between sustainability and art." While I proposed this topic and have an outlined the activities I will engage in, I feel like I am not really sure how to study it. I also feel a sense of mandate (the chosen one), which makes me both confident and intimidated. I mean.... What is sustainability? Does sustainability only refer to concrete "green technology"? Does sustainability differ from sustainable development? How does sustainability relate to a community? What about art in a community? How can art create community? How can art teach a community about sustainability? How can art appreciate the earth? What is art? Is art product or process? Is sustainability product or process?

If you have any answers, comments, or additional questions, please comment or email me... this summer is going to be intense.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The prodigal son (daughter) returned home (SLC) this week and was warmly welcomed with tons of hugs, plenty of couches, and one brunch at Bates... it felt good.

My homecoming began the night before I left Chicago. Wednesday night a friend of a SLC-friend came to town and joined me at the Regina Spektor concert. -- Regina Spektor played at SLC during my first year of studies. My peers and I fell in love with the music, bought cds, burned copies. Soon after there wasn't an hour in which Ms. Spektor played somewhere in the house of 26 girls. -- The show was pretty great! She is one of the most talented musicians I have ever seen live. The way that she uses rhythm and manipulates her voice is awe-inspiring. Plus she is adorable, clever, and silly.

And then Thursday morning I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to complete several sudoku puzzles in the terminal. At one point a woman sat behind me and started talking on the phone. I wasn't paying attention until I heard her say, "I can't believe that I just met Angela Davis!" At that moment I turned around and looked at her with shock and awe. After she got off the phone I asked her what happened. Turns out, Angela Y. Davis was at O'Hare at that same moment, eating a salad, and this woman, Teresa (I think), happened to recognize the revolutionary and happened to have her book on her at the time. So Teresa got her book signed (I saw it, I can attest) and her card (I saw that, too) and was asked to send Ms. Davis some of the Spanish speaking political hip hop music she's been writing. Ms. Davis's seeds have been sown and are blooming into the immigrant rights movement happening now. I was happy to share Teresa's excitement.

Then in NYC I met up with my former roommate, Nicole, and we walked around the east village and ate falafel and cake. We discussed our lives and our experiences abroad and our potential futures and feminism. During this last topic, I turned to Nicole and said, "You are so smart!" And she laughed and thanked me and then acknowledged that I have been devoid of SLC-thought for a year now and so I am just not used to conversing with such a cosmopolitan, interdisciplinary thinker.... this is true. While I knew that I had been craving intellectual dialogue, I didn't really realize exactly what was lacking.

I didn't get on to campus until around 11pm. Silly as it may seem, my first stop was the library, where I was faced with the aftermath of a new SLC controversy. I was greeted by a security guard who asked me to sign in and deposit any food or beverage I had. It seems that after several loud and annoying mobile phone conversations, some litter, and a rowdy game of "strip study," Michelle punished with excessive security. This was the first day of the crackdown, and in proper SLC fashion, by the time I left the library, 45mins later, I was able to participate in a petition and letter writing campaign. You will be glad to know that our protests were not in vain, by Monday afternoon, the food and beverage bans had been lifted, allowing students to study 24 hours per day with the comfort of a granola bar and water bottle.

SLC is a campus which changes significantly annually because the student body. Most Juniors study abroad, first years are new, and seniors return from abroad. So stepping on campus, there were many, many unfamiliar faces, everything seemed a little bit strange. I guess this made it more exciting, warm, and surprising everytime I ran into a familiar face. I exchanged a lot of "You?!" "You!!"
I don't think I engaged in so much dialogue this weekend, but tons of hugs. After the initial period of looking at each other's face, and scanning the brain to place the familiar features into context, we would say each other's name, hug, look at each other, hug, talk about life, hug, kiss, hug. It is as if we needed to physically feel each other in order to believe that we were there. Our brains had filed this relationship away as recent history, but now that I returned to that space and we physically interacted, the relationship is reawakened.

I chose this weekend so that I could attend the Spring Dance Concert. And so I went Friday and Saturday nights. Everything was really great and well choreographed, but I have realized how much this semester of studying performance art has changed my perspective. I constantly thought about the audience's experience, my experience, and how I wanted to engage more with it. I wanted to feel the dance with the dancers, creating a mix of anxiety and excitement. One dance placed the audience on the floor, in a circle, surrounding the dance. While I am sure the choreographers thought about the symbolic representation and the multitude of perspectives, I was most attracted to the sensation given by the sprung floors. During that piece I could see, hear, and feel the dancers and their bodies. I am excited to return to this dance department and I feel more confident in my opinions, desires, and work. I am now an artist more than ever.

I also saw so much natural beauty this weekend. Chicago is really devoid of nature. Sure there are several parks and the entire lakefront, but everything is well furnished and within the sights and sounds of rushing cars. SLC has such a beautiful campus. Almost every building was built to preserve as much of the natural rock and tree arrangements as possible. I took midnight strolls and early morning walks, just to gaze upon the SLC treasures. I also joined a dear friend in Brooklyn where we ate a picnic in Prospect Park and then strolled through the cherry blossom festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The weather was absolutely perfect this weekend.

It was a great homecoming and a good time for reflection. Going back helps me see what I've gained and what I've missed while away. I think I will be able to return without getting too caught up in the bubble and be more thoughtful and wise when I fight for change.

Yesterday, May First, was International Worker's Day, and thus a time for protests and celebration. Many classes were canceled in solidarity of the immigrant workers strike and several professors spent their day marching. The Red Room is now running as a public space, meeting place, and infoshop. Progressive Produce organized a weekly farmers market on campus. Empty Bellies continues to run car-loads of leftover food to a food shelter in the Bronx daily. I am excited to return to such an energized, self-reflective, critical, and active state of being and environment. The prodigal son will return again.