“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour”
Opening lines of Auguries of Innocence by William Blake
Prolific artist, photographer, writer, and all round creative maven Persephone Winter recently unleashed a selection of images called The Below Series. A stunning array of altered photographs depicts the floor we walk on in fantastic and artistically enriched detail. The same way a musician will add effects to their instruments to bring out unique timbre and quality, artists like Persephone Winter do the same thing to their captures. The addition of variant tones and adjustments of visual contrast gives rise to abstract and unique landscapes from almost alien worlds. They began as images taken of cement on the ground, the textures and gradients within the floor are almost always over-looked. These superb images help us to see that even our own door-step contains a universe of imaginative exploration.
Virtual Witness To Oppression – Online Canadian Blanket Depicts Tragedy Of Residential School System | Alternative Fruit
Pretty much every nation has a few stories in the history book that many would like to forget. Unfortunately, forgetting about things that make us uncomfortable only allows the circumstances to be repeated. No, we have to accept and learn then set a better example. How can we do the right thing in these cases? Honesty and openness seem to be the order of the day.
During Canadian history, between the years 1870 and 1996, young indigenous people from the area were forced to attend what was called Residential School. Here they were taken from the family and culture and subjected to a Western and White Canadian indoctrination. No-one was allowed to speak their mother tongue and their heritage was made to look irrelevant. How can we not take it personally when the essence of who we are is blatantly ignored?
Around 150,000 individuals were taken from their roots and forced to grow in a completely different soil. The way in which everything learned so far was shamed then replaced with new ideas that belittled the old had long lasting trauma and effected the self-esteem and self-worth of so many. Something that has been done by the Canadian people is to provide space for what's called The Witness Blanket.
This 12 meter long wooden structure holds many items from the Residential School Period. With letters, photos, bits of building, and other related items, an holistic picture of life in these times can be built in the mind. Originally toured around the country, Canadians from all over the nation have had the opportunity to see the artwork for themselves and pay respect to those it remembers. The piece was assembled by visual artist and university professor Carey Newman. Carey has Kwakwaka'wakw heritage.
Canada is huge. It also contains many areas that are a long way from modernity. In wilderness areas, people gladly make their home. It sounds lovely, we've all seen the viral posts about who wants to leave society and live in this cabin with me. For some the dream is real, and yes the hard work surely follows. It's a dream for a reason.
This fact of Canadian life means that so many people are simply unable to get to see valuable and important cultural artefacts like The Witness Blanket. In order to make sure it's truly for everyone, a version has been created in virtual reality. Sections were individually scanned and uploaded into a 3D display which allows people to visit online. With the use of VR goggles, we can even walk around and really study it.
Putting the 800 plus artefacts into one huge image took a lot of skill sets. Artists of course do not always know about building virtual reality space. Camosun Innovates is a VR college project based on Vancouver Island. These technicians have taken on the job of putting the blanket into digital. The mixture of donated and reclaimed possessions and objects is usually set behind see-through plastic but in the virtual reality version the items are available to reach out and touch.
We all deserve to experience art in multiple ways, and material that speaks directly to our own difficult past can be the most enlightening. By proudly showing off the piece, new generations can really get a sense of what responsibility feels like and how to handle the mistakes we inherit. When it's finished, people of the Canadian First Nations will be the first on the list to get involved.
Persisters - 30 Imprisoned Women In Louisiana Have Their Stories Retold As Modern Art | Alternative Fruit
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky
Visitors to the Ford Foundation Gallery in New York can see an exhibition of art dedicated to imprisoned women. (Per)Sister – Incarcerated Women Of Louisiana examines the lives and stories of 30 women, who have spent time in jail including many who are still under lock and key. More than 30 artists took the job of creating works based on the personal testimonies of the women.
Media, Politics and Penal Reform: Influencing Women's Punishment (Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology) by Gemma Birkett – View book
By showing the stories of women in prison as art, it is hoped that the choices made and the societal issues that led to incarceration can be explored and avoided in future. When many people see the criminal before the human being, a person's entire identity can be tarnished by one act of thoughtlessness or desperation. These works of art scratch off the surface provided by the justice system to look at who these women really are.
Coaching Behind Bars: Facing Challenges and Creating Hope in a Womens Prison by Clare McGregor – View book
In the USA, women's jail term sentencing has grown by 40% more than the male population. This is an alarming statistic which many feel is being ignored. Why are women finding themselves in criminal activity more in today's society? What changed? Is it a simple sign that women are finding themselves as empowered and capable as men these days, and for some that means breaking the rules? The gender stereotype of criminal activity is male in many people's eyes. Is that actually a sign of dysfunction?
Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman – View book
By allowing the wider population to look at the lives of prisoners through the lens of art, society as a whole has an opportunity to learn and adapt their thinking to relate to prisoners and ex-convicts in a way that sees through the legal system. People do change and they do show remorse, they have lives that extend beyond the activity that put them in prison, and most importantly, unless you work in prisons, it's not your job to look at them as a prisoner. They're just people.
Visitors can see the exhibition from 21st February - 9th March 2020.
Perhaps normally associated with homes and offices, skyscrapers are sometimes considered works of art but how many contain a floor dedicated to them? Up in the sky in Japan's Umeda Sky Building, Osaka, is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the work of Koji Kinutani. The multi-conceptual works of Kinutani express vivid colour and depict extraordinary scenes. A truly mixed-media experience awaits which holds countless avenues and lanes through the creative world of one of Japan's most recognised artists. The floor-space also contains a cafe inspired by the works and of course, the all important studio where Koji Kinutani himself works and creates.
The artist wants to spread the art bug around as much as possible and demonstrate that our creative dreams can become a reality. The studio workshop is there for all to find their own creative self, and with a backdrop of fantastic art, the inspiration is boundless. The entire experience is designed to allow visitors to float through the upper-floor suite while embracing the scenery inside and out. City landscapes sprawl into the distance from the plentiful windows and dream invoking pieces decorate the interior.
Possibly the most iconic strain of Kinutani's work is the mixed-media sculptures. With beautiful materials selected for their aesthetic look as much as their fitness for purpose, Koji Kinutani has constructed various forms that have their own unique feeling. By combining classical fresco painting that he learned in Venice with the sculptures, an interesting and thought provoking technique is mastered. Kinutani will use all kinds of materials to produce his unique works, including precious stones and gold leaf, enabling him to reveal colours that paint can't replicate.
The museum is split into two colour coded art zones. The blue and red areas contain a difference in the art on display. The frescos and sculptures find themselves in Zone Blue. Zone Red delves into the theme of Asian culture with traditional Japanese techniques taking a front seat. Stories taken from Japan's folklore are given life in various works of art which sit alongside pieces inspired by the local castle and skyline. A third area is reserved for video. Called the Symbol Zone, this is where visitors can watch clips and explanations that help to describe Kinutani's journey. When we appreciate the layers of influence that combine to make the artist, we begin to understand the pieces just that little bit more. The best bit is that if you wear 3D glasses, the video springs into life.
Via Time Out
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