Monday, July 23, 2012

Work work work

It's amazing what a change of attitude can do for a day at work. I went into the office today feeling positive and have been trying to stick to my goals this week and it's having a positive outcome. I'm really excited to see what this type of thinking will do for me in the long run. I have set a couple of short term goals for myself this year which include hitting budget every month and hopefully getting promoted to an operational development position in the fall. I have also been trying to drink more water lately which may or may not help in the productivity area of work.

Friday, November 11, 2011

WCA/Rotimi article reflections

This week's blog was supposed to focus on our thoughts on visiting the Haitian art exhibition at the waterloo center for the arts. Well...upon arriving at the art center myself along with several other students came to discover that the gallery was closed because of veterans day. So excuse my lack of references in this blog.

On Tuesday, a major part of what we talked about dealt with stereotyping and and the fact that much of our  opinions on certain stereotypes will never change because of who we are and how we are raised. I'm not saying that everyone who is "white" and attends a university is racist or anything like that but more along the lines that we cannot help but feel a certain way because of the uncontrollable circumstances that we were born into. Rotimi's article brought up the idea that certain issues are purposefully brought up in order to make a statement. He makes his artwork homosexual intentionally because he hopes to make a specific statement to his audience. In addition not only is he a homosexual man breaking barriers with his art content but he is also a black man battling racial stereotypes that no matter what will continue to exist.

One really interesting thing that we talked about in class was the new type of racism that we have in America. We may claim to be over the controversial issues that occurred in this country but the new type of racism that we are facing is pretending or acting like we do not acknowledge it at all. Many people act as if it does not exist but in its own strange sense, it is its own form of racism/stereotyping that continues to exist.  We did an exercise in class that asked us to consider if overcoming/facing some kind of adversity encouraged or discouraged art making. While a majority of us felt that not having to deal with some sort of barrier would encourage art making for the "right" reasons I can see the point that someone would make by adversity promotes interesting art as well.

Overall the discussions we had in class this week along with the articles assigned really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I take for granted and overlook on a daily basis. I really wish I could have seen the Haitian art exhibit but I think that what I got out of Tuesday's class was enough to get me seriously thinking about the society that we live in today.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


So this is my second attempt at this post this week...I apologize if some of you already saw the original and are getting repeated information...

Anyhow, this week in class we were assigned a couple of very interesting readings about art adaptation in African arts. I found the article, "Imaging Otherness" to be very interesting.  A majority of the time in history courses, especially as children, we are taught how to the newcomers interpret a new foreign place but not so much how the native people perceive it. The Portuguese arrived in Africa and to the peoples Beni, Kongo and Sapi there was an uncanny resemblance between their personal beliefs and the actuality of the Portuguese.

 Images of pale skinned, long-haired individuals are evident on many of the ivory carvings.  Pronounced cheek bones and elongated noses distinguish the portuguese from typical African styled figures. I would not have initially thought much of these images of the portuguese on salt cellars but it actually serves as an accurate way for them to document their arrival.  I was argued that it is impossible for us to know what and when much of these events occurred, but its fairly easy to know simply from looking at the reliefs carved on these pieces.

Today, the concepts of adaption and assimilation are the ones we push on ourselves to be more open minded.  The arrival of the portuguese introduced a totally new world to these peoples and in doing so initiated a different kind of art making. Images of Olukun, the god of the sea were used to refer to these new foreign people as well as the mud fish because of their ability to dwell in two places (both land and water).

Overall I thought it was pretty fascinating to see how so early on people were adapting and assimilating. I feel like a lot of people today pride themselves on their ability to welcome change with open arms but in reality thats how we've survived over the centuries. The ability to change and evolve on all levels is what has brought us to the point we are at now. More or less I suppose we can look back and appreciate it a little more.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Parlez-vous fran├žais ou espagnol?

Week 9 for me was one of the more interesting of classes, partly due to the video we were shown in class over Haiti and the Dominican Republic. A lot of what we had talked about dealt with the practice of vodou in Haitian culture.  I was very surprised to see how strong the separation between the Dominican Republic and Haiti continues to be. Geographically they are separated by a river but they are also separated by a long line of resentment for one another that originates with oppression.  

We had spent the first part of the semester learning about African cultures to which the members are very proud to be a part of. In contrast the view of "blacks" in Hispaniola is night and date between the two countries that make up this island.  Dominicans are proud to be multi-racial until they are forced to associate themselves with black heritage. 

 The qualities that we as Americans would use to distinguish someone as being black are completely different than those used in the Dominican Republic.  People go out of their way to disassociate themselves with African heritage. I struggled to understand this until we continued to watch the video where I learned of the political and racial struggle that existed in the colonial days of Hispaniola. On the opposite of the island, in Haiti, African pride is clearly evident. Vodou is practiced as opposed Catholicism that dominates the eastern half of the island.  The differences are literally night and day. I could never have imagined that  two countries who are so closely located to one another could be different in so many ways.     

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yoruba culture reflections

The visual culture of the Yoruba people communicates their spiritual and cultural beliefs through functional pieces used by its people.  Representations of idealization and ancestral homage are among some of the most widely recognized subjects.

Like previously talked about African cultures, the Yoruba people have a king who adorns himself in an abundance of beadwork and lavish clothing. When the king wears this beaded crown, his spirit takes on another essence. His feet cannot touch the earth when he is wearing this crown and the spirits of his ancestors embody his own figure. The rest of the Yoruba people see the ancestors looking out from behind this beaded crown rather than the king himself and therefore provides them a direct visual connection to their spiritual beliefs.

Divination boards used for Ifa are another form of visual art that connects the Yoruba people to their spiritual culture. Divination is a way to for the believer to potentially answer a question or connect with the spiritual world. The divination board is elaborately decorated with relief carvings and a number of symbols. The babalawo recites specific verses to which others may interpret dependent on their own scenarios. These decorated boards may appear to be mainly aesthetically pleasing but hold a much more meaningful purpose when in practice. It would seem that almost everything in Yoruba culture has a defined purpose.

The Egungun masquerades are another interesting aspect of Yoruba visual culture.  Representing the dead, entertaining the audience and providing comical amusement are among some of the situations represented by the masqueraders.  These dances and performances are a way for the masqueraders to be in touch with themselves as well to present idealized qualities.

Overall I found the connections between the spiritual beliefs of the Yoruba culture to have a unique connection to how they visually represent these ideas. I think it is a really beautiful concept to have the visual and spiritual parts of a society so deeply interlinked with one another.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Baule Kple Kple masks vs Mossi Karan-Wemba

This week we were to compare items from two different cultures.  I chose to compare the Baule Kple Kple masks with the Karan-Wemba masks of the Mossi people. Though both of these items are ceremonial masks they represent very different things as well vary in their appearance.

This week we shifted our focus to the peoples of the Burkina Faso area, the Mossi people being the focal point of our discussions. The masks we talked about regarding this group of people featured carved superstructures that sit upon the base of the mask.
The image displayed features a female figure with enlarged breasts and buttocks as well as models the ideal hairstyle for Mossi women.
The figure stands upon the part of the mask to which the dancer would insert their face.

Returning to the Ivory Coast, the Baule people also present another interesting type of mask. The Kple Kple masks used in the Goli  celebrations are flat, disc shaped masks that feature animal horns. The dance is performed by the young men of the village and is accompanied with rafia grass to transform the entire body into a mask. The mask and dance performed is representative of the ignorance of young men.

When comparing the two to one another there are evident visual differences between the two. While the Mossi features a figural superstructure that sits on the main portion of the mask, the Baule's is much more simple in its overall design. The Karan-Wemba mask acts a way to honor older women of the village for their wisdom and experience while the Kple Kple masks of the Baule people draws attention the flaws of youth and the transition into adulthood.

I really enjoyed learning about the significances between these varying masks as well as being able to learn something by comparing them to one another.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Week four(for) adventures!

This week's classes focused a lot on Baule masquerades with emphasis on the Mbla, Goli and Bamana. What was of particular emphasis to me was how the dances and masks were divided by gender and age. Within the Goli masquerade there are the Kple Kple and the Goli glen which were to have been representative of dumb, youthful men of the community. There were also Kpan Pre and Kpan which were for the women and illustrated changes in maturity.

I was slightly overwhelmed with the variations of all these dances and masquerades. It seemed like there was a dance for every age group but I noticed that there was quite a bit of focus on molding the youth.  The sacred men's masks we talked about or Amuin Yasura were intended to be intimidating and initiate some sort of social control. In class we talked about the numerous ways in which we attempt the same type of thing in America. Many families enlist their children in extracurricular activities like sports and clubs in order to help shape them into well rounded adults. I found it interesting to compare the two together.

Aside from elaborate masquerades other items have been used for transitional events in a youth's life. The Bogolon from Mali utilize a woven cloth to help a young woman heal post excision. The cloth is intended to help heal and to also act as a form of protection when an older woman passes away.  The concept and sanctity of womanhood is upheld quite highly.

The video that we watched on Thursday really helped to bring into perspective the relevance of both the mask and the dance. Seeing how the drummers interacted with dancers and in turn how the dancers interacted with the audience really showcased how much these masquerades are a "total experience" type of event. In class we talked about how the significance of these masquerade dances is not fully appreciated unless someone is able to see them within their full context. I felt like my understanding for these dance rituals increased from watching the video.  I thought about Nani on Thursday and how he connected with audience while doing his drum performance and I honestly don't think it would have been nearly as interesting if he hadn't done so.

We also read "I am not myself" by Herbert M. Cole this week. The article brought about some interesting concepts about change and how these masquerades are continually changing and evolving. It was hard for me to understand this at first because I felt like for the most part that a lot of the dances were very traditional. When we watched the video in class I was able to see more clearly what he meant. The snake mask referenced in the video marked change by how it supposedly influence the pairing of men and women in a particular village. When the neighboring village saw how powerful and effective this mask supposedly was they decided to make one for themselves but had the snake be build much taller/longer than the original.  This was a very interesting week in class and I felt that it was fairly relatable to some of the cultural norms we see here in America.