Tag Archives: Art

The Art of Living with Artists

There are those days when I wondered if I should’ve encouraged them to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, anything but artists.

“You know, Ya Ya always says, ‘That’s why you need to be a doctor papito. So you can take care of me,” my son said the other day. “She says it to all of us.” He’s referring to all of his cousins, her grandchildren.

My son and I were in the car outside a doctor’s office. “Yeah, doctors have it easy,” I said.

“What do you mean? It’s really hard to be a doctor,” he argued, which has become a regular routine lately.

“Yeah, no, I mean, they have to work hard, but they make so much money. You saw your cousin’s house. You know what I mean?”

He nodded but continued to talk about how difficult it is to be a doctor.

I reluctantly agreed and accepted my fate:
to add another artist to my household.

I think every parent feels conflicted about encouraging a child to take the artistic route. It’s more unpredictable in our eyes.

You’re so smart. Be a doctor, a dentist, an engineer, a scientist, a lawyer, they say. Many parents I know outright announce that artists make no money. You can draw, even paint, but don’t try to make it a career.

And, what’s most disconcerting is that many teachers announce that students can’t do anything with a degree in art, let alone make a living with one in the fine arts. So, parents waver and our kids waver, sometimes they even give up on the whole idea.

I didn’t tell my kids to be a doctor or lawyer. I taught them to explore their worlds. I actually encouraged my children to be as creative as possible, not as a hobby, but as a way of life.

And…it…has…been…a…very…wild…ride.

A once-white sink full of blue paint sits clogging one of our bathrooms. Drawings on walls are commonplace. Clothes splattered with paint seem expected.

But, when I want to hang a painting on the wall, I’m met with protests that it’s just not good enough or friends will think it’s stupid. You’re reminded of how fragile such creativity can be.

IMG_0384
Art by Daisy M.

Yet, there’s a magic to living with artists that surpasses the often stressful or methodical worlds of academics or athletes.

Artists live on the brink of ecstacy or the edge of insanity more often than not, so when you live with them it can feel just like you’re in the swirling winds shot from a magic wand.

My daughter left for a pre college art program and, because I share her heart of an artist, I sit wondering what to do without her and hoping she has a good time while worrying that she’s so fragile she could break under her guise of strength.

Then I remember that guise is not a disguise at all.

It’s actually her reality.

She bears a resemblance to a Greek goddess in the midst of a tumultuous highway of mindsets bent on nearly crashing into her.

She stands, sword in hand, striking the sounds of doubt from her stance, sometimes, often, receiving their criticisms, wounded, in pain, dropping her sword, lowering her head, lying down.

She heals eventually and returns to her power.

The number of times she has stood her ground when she fought with me has increased over the years. The power with which she uses and doesn’t use words can set a room on fire. The intensity of her work puts shame to anything I’ve ever accomplished.

That’s magic mixed with a power so intrinsic to an artist.

And, we are all artists.

Accepting that makes our lives easier to manage and enjoy. Otherwise, we’re sent plugging away in drudgery at the daily confines of tasks to be finished and jobs to be done.

Those not just content but happy doctors, lawyers, and engineers are creatives in their own right.

They stand over patients and inspire them to fight for their lives and wellness.

They plunge into difficult cases emerging with solutions to difficult problems.

They sift through data and documents creating new ideas out of old structures.

Parents living with teenage artists find solace in their art.

Our artists are abstract and concrete all the while leaving us breathless with what they can conjure up for us, what they can pull from nothingness.

And you writers, well, you tell us the stories to keep us going when we find ourselves lost in worlds that have abandoned the idea of being artists.

So, as a parent of two artists, I watch in awe of their resolve, saddened by their wounds, hoping for their healing, and waiting for the next burst of magic, bound to love them through it all.

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Censoring Enlightenment

Oftentimes when reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee in the classroom, students giggle when stumbling upon the first “inappropriate” word.

By ages 10 and 11 nowadays, students have heard and said all of those words at some point. In fact, a lot of those kids have heard their parents shouting those words while driving through morning and afternoon traffic.

Cropic Share File
Should we censor or just ban it?

Because I teach in Miami, many of the students volunteer during class discussions that their parents say very colorful words in a couple different languages.

Just a side note:  If you’ve ever had the pleasure of driving in Miami, you would probably say them too. 

So, when students giggle about those words, it’s because for one, they’re in school. And, for another they know it’s wrong to say them. Their parents (guardians) and teachers have told them this.

Enlighten Us

For the most part, when students’ eyes run across the “N-word,” they stop, stutter, and say “N-word” or skip to the next word. Some students say the word and just keep going.

It’s not too far into the book that we have a Socratic Circle on the topic of censorship.

It gives them a sense of enlightenment to be given the opportunity to take control of their education and decide what they think is right or wrong.

The students boldly talk about the importance of using those words in this book and to remember how terrible the word really is. These young students, who hear all types of inappropriate words on YouTube and when they’re playing video games, speak about censorship intelligently and almost sound like little parents.

Interfering

I, as their teacher, never interfere with their viewpoints. I only offer questions about it.

Why do you think people would want to censor “inappropriate” language from books?

Who decides what’s “appropriate” or “inappropriate” for whom?

Why do we feel the need to censor anything, in any type of media?

These questions are difficult to answer. We adults know that we go to great lengths to protect our children from any number of situations let alone what may or may not be “inappropriate” language in a book. What about the content of the book itself?

Banned Books Week ended already, but there are other issues involving the internet that leave us all stumped in one way or another, especially those with children or those who are teaching children.

How do we solve these issues? Do we look to our history of banning books and censoring art to guide us into the future?

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/enlighten/”>Enlighten</a&gt;

 

NOT Madonna

Jaw dropping just doesn’t do it justice.

When the image of Miley Cyrus wearing almost nothing, bent over on a stage flashed on my computer screen, I just thought, “Whatever, here we go again.”

But, to all the girls who grew up watching her make exaggerated gestures in response to a weekly dilemma on her Disney sitcom, this was not whatever.

It was a jaw-dropping, “What?”

Seeing the reactions of my children and so many of the kids my children grew up with made me rethink what I actually saw.

My whatever was their shock.

Why shock?

Well, it’s shock because she’s NOT Madonna. She’s a Disney character come to life.

English: Miley Cyrus singing in concert
English: Miley Cyrus singing in concert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She’s what they watched “make mistakes” and who they identified and laughed with. So, yes, as much as I’d like to say, “Aw shucks, she’s just growing up like everybody else, she’s not.”

It’s just not the same as Madonna shocking the crap out of everyone in the 80s, the 90s, and every decade since.

Madonna Inn #2
Madonna Inn #2 (Photo credit: Atomic Mutant Flea Circus)

Madonna existed on a platform of her own. She was never pimped out to Disney. She broke stigmas because she was a badass from the start.

So, the impact is very different.

It’s a statement.

It is art.

No matter how raw or vulgar the art is.

The issue with Miley Cyrus is and always will be that she grew up symbolizing Disney sass, not badass.

I don’t even think, “Wow, she’s really pushing the envelope. I’m starting to respect her.” I just shrug and chalk her up to just another Disney drop out who’s throwing a tantrum because she doesn’t want to be seen like a child but still wants attention.

Written for the DP Challenge.

We are All Clowns.

SadClownThere we were. Our stage lit up. Our eyes blackened, mouths drawn in the shape of a distorted smile, giant red noses, oversized coats, huge feet. We fought for attention.

And, we got it.

We were the clowns in Slava’s Snow Show.

It all began with a noose hanging around his neck, which he only feigned to tighten. He was the single clown who wore a bright-yellow jumpsuit making him look like he had the body of a frumpy muppet.

Slava's Globe
Slava’s Globe

As he glanced to his right, another clown walked onto the stage dragging his own noose around his neck.

When they saw each other, the performance began.

Isn’t that me? And, you?

On the verge….

Then we connect and lose ourselves in a quiet dance.

I watched the foolishness, the silly adventures, the dramas, and finally understood who I am, who we all are in the blogging world. For the last few months, I’ve pondered my blog. What’s the purpose of it really?

Am I inspiring you to be brave, smart, and bold? How can I do this better, differently? Why don’t you stop by more often? Why don’t you like me more? What would other bloggers want to read? What would anyone want to read? And, why?

So, I wrote a bit, but mostly I read your blogs, hoping to gain insight into what you want, to find a secret trick to gaining your interest. I wanted to draw you in and connect with you. But, I still didn’t “get” it.

Then, there I was last night, watching Slava’s Snow Show and everything emerged in a wild clown drama on a paper snow-filled stage.

We blog to write to read to love to remember to show to dazzle to cry to rage to surrender to melt to rebound to bounce.

We are clowns so sad, awkward, funny, ridiculous, and proud.

We conjure up a makeshift ship in the middle of a stage and one of us pretends to be a shark while the others sail on. We step into the imaginary ocean and reveal each other for who we really are:  clowns.

We sweep up our messes only to get our hand caught in a spider web that suddenly sticks to all of our fingertips scattering to an obscure audience that pulls it apart and tosses it to the floor.

Webs
Webs

We need intermission to rest.

Then we regenerate and find that someone shot arrows through our heart. We struggle and find it was our best friend, again. We hurt each other.

We freak out. A crazy clown sitting next to a tilted table, we scream then fall. Everything goes black.

Repeat.

Then one of us is knitting and rocking in a chair in the corner. Madness.

Darkness.

We pack our bags and travel.

And, we weather storm after storm.

All with big fat smiles painted on our faces.

We are foolish.

We fall.

We bounce back.
We bounce.

We bounce.

And, we are so magnificent.

We are Magnificent.
We are Magnificent.

Written By Lisa Chesser

Desire Meets Talent

They broke into my sea of problems rushing through my brain as I cleaned the house. There was a slow pounding to them as if sorrow was leaving the body and finding it’s own center.

I hadn’t heard any music, at least not from the piano for two months.

A half-smile split my thoughts apart.

My daughter finally played it.

Back Inside Music
Back Inside Music

Her piano teacher and mentor left for New York City a couple of months ago. She was the opposite of Daisy, my daughter. She smiled all the time and laughed a lot too. Most people who do this too much make me very nervous because I feel like they’re trying to cover something up.

But, Daisy who normally carries a serious demeanor found her teacher refreshing and inspiring. I did too. Then she left.

Since then, Daisy has avoided the piano, which she used to play every day. She abandoned it in a sort of mourning process because she really loved this teacher.

Even though her school has a piano teacher, we’d leave school at four and drive a half hour through heavy traffic to another school, a school where rich kids played tennis and housed a special piano teacher.

In a second-floor room, they sat and played. I took my shoes off and lay on the floor in a desperate attempt to fix my aching back. Between the hard floor and the therapeutic drop of each piano key, I was a new person at the end of each session.

More importantly, Daisy smiled and pushed back her shoulders that normally curled inward out of insecurity.

After two years of lessons, I realized, watching and listening to them together, that this very young woman wasn’t just her teacher. She was her mentor.

She was her mentor because she held Daisy to a standard above which desire met talent. She was an artist.

This mentor wasn’t just teaching piano. She was a pianist and a singer. So, the respect Daisy felt for her flourished on a level beyond teacher and student.

When she left, well, she took Daisy’s soul.

So, when the notes spilled into our house this last week, I smiled the smile of an artist who knows heartbreak.

My eyes filled with tears but none spilled over.

International Day of the Girl

Today my daughter spoke to a group of middle schoolers about bullying. She had originally created an anti-bullying campaign for the elementary students at her school. When the principal of the middle school saw the posters and asked her to speak to the middle schoolers, this ten-year-old girl spoke passionately about standing up for yourself and doing what’s right.

Afterward, students came to her to thank her for speaking out.

Bully Buster
By Daisy Maldonado

All children should be able to do this.

International Day of the Girl.

Mission Accomplished

In the last post about Writer’s Bloq, I had announced I’d deliver snippets about the Kickstarter campaign all week long. But, by the next day, Writer’s Bloq met the goal of raising $15,000.

Their Bloqparty Tour begins in Massachusetts then winds through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, D.C., and right on over to New York. You can find out more information at http://www.writersbloq.eventbrite.com/

There’s this piece of me that aches at the thought of missing out on these events.

Mission Accomplished

If I weren’t shackled to my husband and kids in Miami, I’d be making plans to journey to at least one. So, to all of you who enjoy the freedom that I don’t, take a moment for yourself and click your way into a writer’s haven.

There will be plenty of art, drinks, literary mingling, and more.