[jot this down]

A BLOG [et al.] BY SARAH ANN ADAMS

bloodshed

I have not written for 10 months here. This past week I have very much wanted to do so, to be more assertive about writing other than emphatically scribbling on pads of paper while on public transit or in the corner of Flloyd’s Coffee Shop during lunch. On Tuesday, there was a shooting at the Clackamas Town Center mall here in Portland, not even a 15 minute Max ride away for me. As I was at work at Geo S. Bush – more than 6 weeks I’ve been here, but more on that later – a coworker announced the news of the shootings and there were ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and ‘oh no’s’ and the first thing I thought was that it didn’t  surprise me. The ‘why?’ is no longer a thought that comes to my mind – killings, shootings, people lashing out in this manner… it is no longer astonishing or surprising. That is not to say that I am not troubled.

Picture 10

And today, another shooting, in Newtown, Connecticut of twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary school. And then comes the steady stream of social media commentary. The posting of prayers, calls for stricter gun control, and discussion of the role of mental illness in the issue. But what struck me the most was this statement by forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz, calling to cut short the sensationalizing of massacre coverage starting at 1:40 of this video clip :: <<… localize the story to the affected community and make it as boring as possible in every other market, because whenever we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or more within a week.>> Is that not what has just happened? Shooting in Oregon… shooting in Connecticut less than a week later, and a stabbing of 22 children and one adult in China as well?

I am not saying that these three events are directly related, that one happened, and it was the singular domino that tapped the next and the next. But, we must see that the US’ addiction to manufacturing emotionally quenching news is doing the human community a disservice by commemorating the actions of assailants. This commemoration and immortalization thereby grants future aggressors the confidence that they, too, will finally be recognized and remembered – even [or especially] alongside the imagery of bloodshed – and that future conductors of massacres have also been granted courage-by-example to go through with the retaliatory plans that might have otherwise remained latent in their minds.

I can not speak to the specificity of tightening gun control laws, or the logistics of testing for mental illness before distributing firearms to an individual – both of which I support – but what I can speak to is the necessity of pulling back from adding to the social hysteria surrounding events like these, on both the personal and national level, in order to be good stewards of the power of communication that we possess. The music, tone, and editing of news stories perpetually overindulges the viewers’ drama threshold, and this is especially highlighted in events such as these, where we are inundated with every detail of an event.

In The Educated Imagination – given to me for my birthday this year – Northrup Frye astonishingly defends the necessity of studying literature outside the context of the classroom. With equal emphasis, I would extend that argument to include the visual arts, performing arts, and music. Although the conduits differ, each is an avenue for an artist to explore, build up, or tear down themes, ideas, manifestos, modes, etc. With this in mind, news broadcasting and mass media are the sophomorically cocky classmates whose only references for speaking about art are depleted clichés and one-dimensional observations, focused more on quelling bystanders’ emotional neediness than being truthful about all aspects of the creation of, in this case, the news story.  A good artist knows his communicative power, and withholds it appropriately.

That is not to say that the news can’t stir people to good thoughts and actions. What I mean to emphasize is that the manner in which news is broadcast in this country creates the notion of an ‘expected’ or ‘correct’ reaction to horrific events that errs on the side of generalization, aggrandizement, and, at points, crippling fear. I do not believe this reactionary hysteria is healthy. It is respectful to mourn, with quiet hearts, the lives lost and the hearts wrenched open, and to take action where you see necessary and feel led. I simply wish the communication of news of shootings, and acts of terrorism for that matter, wasn’t so heavy handed on making the viewers feel scared. It feels counterproductive. Yes let’s be aware and take action, but let’s not get crazy about expressing our fear, anger, and frustration so much so that we can’t move forward or stop asking the sentimental rhetorical questions of why why why why why why why

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obscure

<< because we are t[o] many>>

↓ still shots from JUDE, directed by michael waterbottom ↓

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when the sky is ungreyed & i am unfettered with briskly walking back to work from lunch and i am not crouched underneath an umbrella of “should have’s,” i swear my eyes dilate to a notably wide diameter, drinking in the colors and shapes i pass. it becomes a time  i am a human, and not a female calculating eyes’ length of stay. it takes discipline to operate upon, rather than resigning to trudging and muddling through, life’s momentum. so frequently, when temporal happiness irritatingly yelps for attention and i resign to shutting out wisdom’s silence, discipline is a weak muscle and it takes inspiration – of an ungreyed day – to alert me that i don’t have to rake the ground behind me with my fingernails each step forward i take, the mulch and dirty particles gathering and pressing against the tender skin of my nailbeds. boulders of burdens rattle against one another behind me. i bring my hands out from behind myself and show them to any audience who might wait and watch.

“look! look at my hard work!”

but sympathy extends an exponentially degrading friendship. tallying complaints comes too easily – and many of those complaints are ignorantly and hurriedly mistaken to be opinions. tallying complaints is far easier than letting the ribbons fall where they may, than suspending incriminating judgments of others, of oneself. continue the tally if relations with the leeching sympathy are trusted, but my bet is entitlement and fear act as both dirt and undertakers of that withering spirit.

run with

last evening, yesterday evening, i rode the d train in from the reservoir to fenway to attend an art opening at the fourth wall project. I finished up my morning reading on the train. and the next article pulled my mouth open, and i sat in horror :: tortured afghan girl wants in-laws jailed. an afghani woman was part of an arranged marriage, and when she refused to agree to be used for prostitution, her in-laws tortured her. using electric shock, breaking her fingers, and removing her fingernails. i really could not believe it. or i suppose i could, but recently, in hearing atrocious goings-on amongst humans, my mind more quickly attempts to place those happenings on my own body to feel more effected, rather than just feeling bad for some non-identifiable person in some distant country. so this night, last night, i allowed continual cringes at the thought of the physical pain described in the article. my mind turned even more dutifully, thought, to the disgusted knowledge of cruel human capabilities against one another.

i’ve abandoned sleeping in my bed with my head at the head and my feet following. my bed is in the corner of the room, but the “bottom” half lies under the window that looks out onto the courtyard of our feinberg-managed building. i sleep with my head at the foot, my body at an angle to the bed, under that window. my brother spencer sleeps with loads of blankets, even in the summer, to feel as warm as possible. i, however, crack the window to get the cool breeze consistently back-and-forthing into my room.

around 3 am an alarm goes off. with the window open, i think it is an alarm to a neighboring building until i realize it is most likely much closer, and that it is, in fact our building. throughout college, a fire alarm was never really an alarm, but rather a hugely irritating inconvenience when some student had burnt their popcorn. i realized this was the first time i was, truly, alarmed. i realized i might have been overzealous when i saw i was the only person with a backpack (including my laptop, phone, hardrive, and their chargers)…. but at the silly hours of the morning a few things were floating through my mind :: 1] tales of fires in cities when one building catches on fire, and then the next and then the next and then the next…., 2] 1984, with the fab actor john hurt (and now that i think of it on my walk i saw a lady on a terrace that looked like ‘julia’) but all throughout that movie… “announcement” etc and loud blaring horns and alert. i think i half-pretended that’s what was happening, just to see if i could feel a little terror of living in a restrictive society. i like to do experiments with my hypothetical reactions, in hopes of understanding myself more.

an older john hurt, chaneling some degree of bob dylan

an older john hurt, chaneling some degree of bob dylan

and 3] three friends of mine had their apartment burn down in allston a few years ago, and as our consistent letters from the maintenance company reiterate and reiterate, “it doesn’t just happen to someone else.”

the alarm was nothing, again, although it did continue repetitively sounding for i’m not sure how long until it was deactivated. finally fell asleep again, and woke for a good breakfast-time conversation with my roomate ali and her visiting friend, nina.

a handful of my friends have passed around the list of ‘30 things to stop doing to yourself‘…. number one? stop spending time with people you do not want to spend time with. and the reverse, of course, spend time with people you do want to spend time with. this makes such obvious sense, but made me wonder why this is an issue in the first place. i’ve found, for myself, to quote henrik ibsen from his play A Doll’s House, it stems from ” a woman’s overstrained sense of generosity.” not focusing on the gender generalization of the statement – for the true power is found in conjunction with the statement’s surrounding dialogue – i must say this feels a little true :: making sure everyone feels comfortable and happy, but oftentimes at the expense of the freedom to follow my own social impulses.

this is the dover edition that i have - thank you jenny r!

yet next it lead to confronting the unavoidable issue that i fear deep-seated connection. and the reasons for fearing? the never-ending tackling of confidence, as well as being overly mindful that connections come, and then they go. i feel a lot of connections, and potential connections, drifted away after graduation, which discouraged me greatly. i felt lonely, and that even my utmost attempts left me with hollowed conversations at the end of an evening. but just now, within the past month, have i actually felt a weight begin to remove itself from my eyes and my shoulders – re-finding my ability to latch on to big dreams and hope-thinking, rather than resigning to being interchangeable shells of a worker, a daughter, a sister, a “friend” (having a hard time knowing what that means at the moment.)

at a tom fuchs-hosted party last night, i saw adam sultan, who was in my contemporary art history course at BU with professor williams. turns out he’s headed out of the boston area soon, applying for grad programs in painting. i’ll miss running into him like clockwork around coolidge corner. but he suggested to find something, anything, and then run with it, even just for now, at the very least. because trying to do everything at once leaves one burnt out and scattered, and i-you-we are simply not superhumans. honestly this is just now becoming a reality to me, i thought i was much more capable to do so much more. but “artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything” (eugene delacroix). so, without forcing it into being, i am striving to find one thing i may run with just for now.

very dangerous things.

when  life become reality rather than being conceptual themes discussed in high school english class, common phrases and words of wisdom are so clean and fresh to the ear that they are like a new creation in themselves, seemingly never before actualized or organized into thought.

do not judge.

which person in the world has the infinite knowledge of all mankind and subsequent wisdom to be able to place every action, thought, and intention into a hierarchical ladder from which an absolute judgment call may be made? no one. why, therefore, do i puff myself up with removed yet critical eyes toward others? because i do believe i want to feel intelligent, respected, well thought of. but at what expense do i seek these supposed opinions? at the expense of discounting another’s mode of operation? at the expense of stopping short of understanding another individual? at the expense of being humbled? surely there is a way to seek higher thoughts while not discounting the variegated texture of everyday life.

be yourself.

my body my mind, these are my tools. what is the purpose of life if beings reject themselves? if a deer decided it wanted wings and strove its whole life to fly. on the one hand, yes, we want to dream in these terms. but dreams like these lighten hearts for the moment but injects reality with so much more dead weight when the time for conceptual thinking is over. how much more beautiful is it to know yourself. to know your physical capabilities. to gather inventory of your personality’s components, and to capitalize and work through what is already available to you, rather than reaching so far and so wide for characteristics not yet yours, negating all captured potential in the meantime. to gather joy in existing rather than only the highlights of time.

be present.

everything is maneagable one piece at a time. lists forever unending to complete remain incomplete. and should we thus be discouraged? angry at inability to gain ground  in a discrete way at the end of the day? or shall we take one piece at a time, happy in the knowledge of moving forward.  happy in the satisfaction of focused work.

i write in order to make known to myself what i want and need to reenact as priorities in my life – in order to allow life to flourish again with freedom and compassion.

odd bout

work was quiet today at the gallery – thank goodness. this week was a bit of a whirlwind, but we’re nearing the end of it now. after work finished i took dartmouth south past the library, grabbed a drink and walked along tremont street to the piano factory. alexa guariglia is an artist from the smfa who i’ve been so happy to meet. her show “works on paper” opened this evening and runs until july 31st. i’ve adored her black ink on paper work, but i had never seen her works with color, and i was blown away. it is so refreshing to not be able to predict every one of your own opinions. there was one piece i stood so long studying – to look at the color patterns, and variants of texture. it felt intelligently created – complex without the usual hint of cynicism so frequent in young twenty-something’s art. intricate without being predictable. visit her website www.alexa-guariglia.com. visit the show itself if you have the opportunity.

drawing by alexa guariglia

painting by alexa guariglia from 'works on paper' piano factory | july 8 - july 31

afterwards i walked on mass ave toward hynes but was stopped by the sounds coming from wally’s cafe jazz club, right near the columbia | mass ave. intersection. i blundered outside the door for a little bit, knowing i would stick out like a sore thumb, etc, and that is how it was, but i just walked right up to the bar, ordered a drink, and sat myself down near the performance space. i like listening to live music. for the purpose of listening to the music, it is nice to go on my own, that way i can indulge without feeling socially selfish. it reminds me of, i believe, it was a quote from the awakening by kate chopin, were the main character describes thinking of a narrative while listening to music verses thinking in colors and shapes and tones [at least this is what i seem to recall from this bit of the text.] taking inventory of thoughts is fascinating. while i was listening, i felt i was simultaneously watching my thoughts ebb in and out of the music – sometimes amazed at the speed of moments, actual and prospective, that passed through my mind, and then being shaken back into the space and time where i really was by some droning low note coming from the saxophone, or accented beat, wailing trumpet.

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painted last week

each moment is one in itself yet is also a step to the next. the next, be it grand or aberrant. aberrant not as a negative, but a selection of the spectrum of possibilities. the negative would be, let me readdress in my head, in words, in thought – the negative is stuckedness (stemming from fear.) stuckedness stemming from curiosity or desire to wholly observe or take inventory…. intentional stuckedness for enrichment. how to make that movement rather than lines embedded in a napkin. nonetheless i try and i learn and im on the slow starting upward after an odd bout under.

last day of work for the week tomorrow – apartment talking with ali clark – birthday party – 20 days till home!

announcement

Sarah_Dancing

click photo to access graduation announcement

uden titel

could have been productive this morning, but chose to lounge until 11.30ish. headed to the train to go to the copley society. i saw dimitri on the train. gave him a t-tap. yesterday before the gallery i saw the lovely mark cohen at bagel rising. looking forward to getting to know him better.

nicolle, the lovely nicolle richard, has gone to l.a. off to pursue her life on the west coast. my coast of origin. i got quite a wonderful text from her last evening, or rather, this morning, at 3am. very cute…. very nicolle. for me, yesterday was the first day without her. i now understand a lot more: in one day, i feel i learned lightyears worth of information. i can not begin to express how happy and how deeply thankful i am to be working full time soon, only 12 days away. i can work hard at something, and have a reason to ask questions. victor frankle, in man’s search for meaning, presents  love, sorrow, and work as the main components that make man happy/healthy/whole. i really feel these 3 components are so true.

after running to copy cop with my first fully designed brochure to be printed for tomorrow night’s opening, i waited a bit longer than necessary for the E/heath street train, and went to see the sophomore/junior fashion show at massart. my dear lovely friend nicole jimenez had all three of her pieces shown. i spied her boyfriend mike in the audience and we sat together during the show. saw gerald jimenez and mel jimenez and allison jimenez and arelis soto de jimenez afterward. i couldn’t explain the joy. not now.

got home and greeted annie and her dear mother mary. jenny is at six flags today, masha had two themepark ride themed facebook videos to prove it. got home and i was antsy. gerald and mel and i were talking about bars and drinkan and things, and i decided, the hell with it, im hankering for a pimm’s cup and i want to go to deep ellum. i sat at the corner of the bar. and i was so content. im overloaded on thinking about me [ who am i, how should i treat people, what do my actions say, how can i be truer]… and i am also overloaded on thinking about others….. it was perfect to just go, sit, drink my simple and lovely singular drink, enjoying the buzz of the bar. zoning out to the basketball game for the same reason that i zone out watching most team sports  – their movement is mesmerizing. and since they are moving according to the stipulations of a game, their movements are not premeditated or overly constructed…. and therefore create the most odd and intriguing shapes of space between bodies.

graduation on sunday. mom, dad, spencer, paddy, and alexa are all coming in on friday evening, in two waves. i started at bu because it was the only east coast school i finished my application for, and, really, they gave me the most money. i remember finding out just how much at a rehearsal for bbhs’s production of  when you wish upon a star… sam harris was in his john smith costume at the time i received the call. i didn’t think i could ever make it as an ‘artist’ – actress, musician, visual artist…. so i told myself i would learn to love theatre design. many many things, after a year of shuffling to and fro the huntington theatre (congrats jordan callais on your new job there!), it was made very clear to me that this was not my space.

taking history of photography from the most fantastic kim sichel with annie was key. paper on photographer august sander:

August Sander | Gypsy | ? 1932

August Sander | Gypsy | ? 1932

i then switched my major to art history and my advisor to kim sichel. i didn’t feel i could create well without knowing what came before me; my largest stumbling block in freshman year design mode was thinking i had a style and trying to force my ideas to fit into this supposed ‘style’. i could not rely only upon aesthetic instinct – i needed more vaildity through knowledge.

writing with 150 with seminar with amy chmielewski taught me the importance of specificity and revision; paper on egon schiele.

Egon Schiele | Cell Door | 1912

Egon Schiele | Cell Door | 1912

seminar with williams on contemporary art. learning that art is much more than i thought, much more than many allow it to be. paper and in-class-happening on allan kaprow:

”]Allan Kaprow | How To Make A Happening | 1966 [Mass Art Inc. M-132 Vinyl Release]

summers performing in big bear lake, winters eating pfefferneuse and falling in love with chistmas over and over. a year ago studying for a semester in kbh. nicoletta isar’s course the anachronism of the image and a  presentation on the artist [divine/scientist/wanderer/genius/absent mind] and the role of art [control/sacrifice/cure/dialectic]

Ferdinand Hodler | Emotion | 1902

Ferdinand Hodler | Emotion | 1902

i loved this time and i hated it also. i know my curiosities would make me drown. and they did. as the sun became a more often visitor, and as i eventually had my own room due to thomas clark’s departure and offer of his keops room, my anxiety grew. i didn’t know how to deal with, not necessarily all of the new knowledge, but all of the new possibilities. i was scared, my body was scared. the sun made me feel exposed, so i stayed inside, or rode my bike alone. this time was also marked by intense feelings of certain friendship, those feelings and then the haulting anxiety are the heaviest memories.

summer beautiful summer. work at the gym / work out at the gym. work with cathy. twitterpated. move back to boston, new apartments. eunice in streetcar. feeling torn down by a comment on a paper: pompous. started second guessing every thought every word, anxiety increases all over again. a nice winter. back in the spring and taking care of business.

sarah ann adams | negative space | 2011

sarah ann adams | negative space | 2011

and then, and now, i see. i have gotten to the place i’ve always wanted to be – a place where i know how to act upon my curiosities. a place where i understand how life is a joy. i’m saying whatever and im giving into being myself. this is terrifying, but i’ve tried everything else up until now, and i’ve been anxious, i’ve been depressed, i’ve been lonely, i’ve been critical. now i’m giving in to how i think…. knowing there is no right or wrong in the manner of living, the mode, the key, the shade, the tone, but there is just the a way that i do things. and a way that you, or he, or she does things. and i say i’ve gotten to the place i want to be – that is the mental place. its activation in day to day life is very choppy as of now. every day is an experiment to see how to improve upon the previous.

this is a lot of change. im enamored knowing i’m moving forward, and taking inventory of all the things i see and feel along the way. this is also daunting, but i do not want to become emotionally reserved. i still fear the same things as before, i just have better understanding of how to move through. what if, instead of creating images of ourselves as ourselves, we actually were all that we wanted to be? when we say we do things, we do them, and then do them well? no playing games, just interest in moving forward? conquering jealousy? having a concept of self that, on the one hand, understands and is sensitive to expectations, but does not let those expectations dominate over intrinsic curiosity, or the fact that every person deserves their best. i must repeat and repeat again that i do not say these things to mean that i have arrived here, but i have arrived at a point where this is the sort of thing i now work toward. not to see things as it is acceptable to see them, not to see things as a reaction against what is acceptable, but to take each day’s component for itself. to create to create. to share creations in order to share. to hide behind no words.

we must give ourselves over to complexity if we are ever to become closer to one another.

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im finishing up a graduation announcement this weekend,

please let me know if you’d like to receive it.