January 16: Art As Activism
The social justice topic/issue I chose to create an art piece about is the negative affects of consumerism on the environment. The constant capitalist necessity of “development” and “growth”, which directly translates to MORE: more money for investors, more market gained, more products sold, it is ruining the environment. There are movements towards sustainability, but it is said that switching over to 100% renewable energy would be impossible considering global trade, air travel, and some markets of scale. We would need a global revolution. The diverse needs and desires of the world would have to change drastically in order to switch over to complete renewable energy. The conflation of need and desire is at the core of consumerism and advertising, as I see it. In my picture, I included some positive imagery from advertisements from around the world, with Tide detergent and Coca Cola. The constant barrage of images like these have worked their way into our psyche, and what we think we need and what we actually need have become two different things. The picture of Santa Claus on the right and the swatches of wallpaper samples at the bottom right are included to contextualize the consumer aspect of the advertisements. The woman hugging the penguin symbolizes a favorable view of nature albeit an ignorance (willing or otherwise) towards what must be done to actually protect it. The poem I created with the poetic inquiry process follows the picture, and this format will continue throughout the entry.
PACIFIER by Matt Carr
The factories with their disheveled chimneys
A luxurious lay-z-boy evening
If you’re cold, they’re cold
Bring them inside tonight
Mom can we have McDonalds?
We have McDonalds at home
We have General Electric at home
We have Samsung at home
We have Shell
We have JP Morgan
We have the China Bank at home
Where can I get some feathers for a pillow
January 23: The ADDRESSING Model
Above, we see one of the ADDRESSING Model charts supplied through the course. I decided to quickly circle where I fit onto this spectrum and upload it. As you can see, I am firmly on the side of power/privilege. I would even contest the relation between christianity/non-christianity and power/less power. Though this dynamic continues to exist, it is becoming less of a dichotomy in post-colonial contexts. Below, I have placed my art response, which is followed by my accompanying poem.
The piece that constitutes the artistic response is another visual art exploration. I found this picture while looking through magazines for my collage from the previous week, and I liked the image. To me, it encapsulated a childhood ignorance, which is occasionally lost far too early with kids who experience adverse trauma or other aspects of difficult childhoods. Far too often children are forced to grow up too fast. This doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. For instance, when I was growing up, I experienced a broken home riddled with addiction, abuse, and a general lack of structure. I found my fun, as a boy, but it was unconventional and often looked like the type of fun an older kid might find. I would get into trouble, in and out of school, but I would also partake in strange, solitary projects such as cassette tape manipulation, sculpture, and social experimentation, all at the ripe age of 8! These activities helped me grow into the person I am today. Another aspect of this picture is the fact that the boy is dressed up as a cowboy. Who is on the other end of the see-saw? Is it his friend dressed up as an “Indian”? There is a loose interplay with power structures and childhood play in North America. I chose to paint over the picture in hopes of emulating a sort of pop-art aesthetic. Although this didn’t end up the way I had hoped, I still enjoy the way it looks. My poem follows the picture.
WALK ME HOME by Matt Carr
Around the corner a rustling surprise
A stray cat runs across the aisle
A car slows down to look me in the eye
I cross the street, they cross the street, I turn right
Beating heart, step by step
Don’t look back don’t look back
Im almost home, just two more blocks
An eternity within this walk
January 30: My Trauma-Informed Classroom
I had decided to draw a classroom with grouped desks, and there is unassigned seating. This can be freeing for some students who need to be able to change their scenery. They can also be assigned (or “reserved”), in case any students need more routine. There is also a table in the corner of the room that one or several students can work at instead of the desks. The couch and bean bag with the rug is a “calm-down” area where students can relax and take a break in case they feel trapped or on edge. In this area there are fidget spinners and silly putty to help relieve stress. In the top left corner there are some swirls; these are yoga mats that are currently being stored. They can be rolled out and used in any part of the room for students who need that type of freedom. The lights are on a dimmer switch so that they can be adjusted to the level that best accommodates the students, and there is a white noise machine, as well as optional music to be played. There are selections of nature sounds and other soothing recordings that can be played throughout the day.
I based this classroom off of my 3rd grade classroom when I went to Wolseley Elementary in Winnipeg. My teacher was a great educator, and that year sticks with me to this day. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, she was trauma-informed and very arts-inspired. She would urge us all to bring in a CD, one CD per student per day, and we would listen to it throughout the day when we were behaving well. Another aspect that I recall was that we would all gather and sit on a carpet to draw one student when it was their birthday. If the birthday student didn’t want everyone to draw them, then we wouldn’t do it. I thought it was a fun activity, and its a nice, free gift for that student. Two things that she showed us during these drawing sessions immediately improved us as visual artists: 1) she showed us to put the ground behind the subject (instead of underneath them) which created a sense of perspective, and 2) she wouldn’t let us draw eyeglasses with just a thin drawn line; she would ask us, “are those glasses actually just a thin line of pencil in real life? They have depth. I want you to actually draw that depth”. I recall many of my classmates being amazed at how much better they drew by just implementing these two simple elements.
I was also inspired by our visit to Yoga Haven, and this is why I thought it would be good to have yoga mats in the classroom. Doing actual yoga exercises can have plenty of potential in the classroom, but they have plenty of other potential outside of yoga proper, as well.
SHE PUT HIM IN A CHAIR by Matt Carr
She put him in a chair
She said he looked good in a chair
The hardest part of healing is the waiting
The pain is waiting, not subsiding
For a moment he looked good in a chair
February 6: Self Care
I am constantly on a mission to eat healthy. I have worked in kitchens on and off for years, and the temptation to eat unhealthy food, or any food in excess, can be very strong. My partner and I really enjoy making salads, and we try to spice them up (literally and figuratively), but we often do not try very hard. Our rationale is that it doesn’t have to be fancy to be good! Just eat a salad! Oh, it’s not filling? Eat another one! Thats right, eat an entire bell pepper! Now eat two whole carrots! Maybe this next salad should have lentils?
Anyway, food is one of my main passions. In the collage below, I took two different salads that I created and turned them into a collage. I originally intended to only include the middle salad as my art piece (it is the superior salad by far), but I made another salad the next morning before class for breakfast and I got to thinking, “why not?”. The main salad has got onions, celery, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, grated carrot, chicken (baked with smoked paprika and cumin only), and a chimichurri that I made with a slightly altered recipe. Chimichurri is probably one of my favorite things ever.
COMPLETE by Matthew Carr
In the stillness of the morning
I can feel the warmth of your breath, your soft breast against my chest
Your heart beats from beyond the wall of sleep
In this moment I am complete
February 13: Visit to The Mackenzie Art Gallery
Our visit to the art gallery was a great time! I work at Craft Services (The cafe located on the main floor at the Mackenzie), so I am there on a regular basis, and I had already seen the exhibit with a friend. I have been passionate about Michif/Métis history and art for a while. From jig dances to the fiddle, artists such as David Garneau and Sherry Farrell Racette, to leaders such as Clément Chartier and Jim Sinclair, the local heritage of the Michif/Métis people is rich and storied. Me and a friend create electronic music together often, and he is rediscovering his Métis heritage, and we would like to one day create something together as a comment on our identities as they are constructed from our heritage, our communities, and our convictions. It is a long-time away, as we are still trying to figure out how to do it right, or if we should even do it at all.
The exhibit had some surprising pieces, such as “Bloodletting: Does This Make You More Comfortable with Who I Am?” (2004). As it is a mid-career retrospective, there is a strong element of her identity presented with this curation, and the themes of nature and activism are present throughout. I often find these themes are over-played or done in a way that I don’t particularly take to aesthetically, but all of Christi Belcourt’s pieces were refreshing and endearing, with several of the larger ones being rather astounding for me to experience. The protest posters and the images present on them are a nice touch, as well. Isaac Murdoch’s collaborations, and his pieces in the exhibit, are a wonderful aspect to the curation. One thing I really enjoyed was the way that the posters were not placed in the same way as the other pieces, centered perfectly with the didactic panel beside, but they were positioned in strategic areas around the gallery, bookmarking the exhibit, on the way up the stairs and into the gallery spaces, and concluding the exhibit with the posters crowding around the back door.
SOMETHING RAW by Matthew Carr
Your lipstick kiss, it marks my jaw
What is your name, I can’t recall
My tangled shirt is falling off
It is my crib, this bathroom stall
A running tap is my alarm
I’m wearing shoes but not my socks
Where is my phone, where did I park?
The walk of shame is all day long
The obelisk, it breaks my fall
The primrose path does not lead home
I fill my cup with something raw