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Prison Art

It’s not often you see a prison program which works, but every now and then, someone gets it right. Prison art program The Torch seeks to rehabilitate Aboriginal inmates. The art work is amazing and beautiful, and not only provides a way to make a living, pile up a bit of cash while serving a sentence, prevents recidivism, it helps to reconnect indigenous people with their roots. That last is crucial for indigenous people everywhere. For every indigenous person being forced into a colonial lifestyle, the odds aren’t good. This is highlighted, briefly, in the article:

Mr Morris said Indigenous Australians made up less than 3 per cent of the population, but close to 30 per cent of the prison population.
“They’re 15 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous Australians,” he said.
And rates of reoffending are also too high. “Developing economic opportunity and independence allows participants to start afresh, start again and get over that cycle of poverty and disadvantage,” Mr Morris said.


Photo: Works painted by former and current inmates of Victorian prisons. (ABC News)



Photo: The Torch program helps Aboriginal inmates reconnect with their heritage. (ABC News)

Cultural Astronomy

Fall - Version 2

Annette S. Lee, assistant professor of astronomy and physics at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, created the oil and mixed media “Fall Stars” to represent two major autumn constellations—Moose for the Ojibwe and Turtle for the Dakota/Lakota. (Courtesy Annette S. Lee)

Even though a sprinkling of snow fell just this Thursday in northern Minnesota, any arrows shot earlier at Wintermaker apparently have hastened his final departure from the sky. But the rise in the night of Curly Tail, the Great Panther of spring, could bring the threat of floods and dangerous, uncertain travel.

Long before Europeans brought over their Greek monikers for the constellations, Native cultures already had named their sky people. And those faraway relatives helped them to understand their world and how to survive in it.

For the Ojibwe, the constellations of Mooz (Moose), Biboonikeonini (Wintermaker), Mishi Bizhiw (the Great Panther) and Nanaboujou (the original man of Anishinaabe narratives), heralded the arrival of fall, winter, spring and summer.

More on star maps and skywatchers here.

Trump Tombstone


A renegade artist took to Central Park this weekend to express discontentment with presidential candidate Donald Trump in the form of a fake tombstone dedicated to the oft-lampooned businessman with the epitaph “Make America Hate Again.” The mysterious stone also features Trump’s birth year, 1946, but includes no year of death.


The equally-critical graveyard project first surfaced on social media on Saturday, but by Sunday night had been removed by the city Parks Department—much to the chagrin of anti-Trump New Yorkers.

A spokesperson for the parks department told NBC that there is currently no information as to who erected the tombstone, but that it was city employees who hauled it away. No word on where, exactly, the artifact was hauled to.

Read more here.

Cool Stuff Friday

The Creator’s Project on Instagram. Some fabulous work there, have a browse.



Turning thousands of discarded plastic bottles into art


Serge Attukwei Clottey uses his art installations to educate local communities about pollution and waste. Photograph: Serge Attukwei Clottey

Serge Attukwei Clottey uses his art installations to educate local communities about pollution and waste. Photograph: Serge Attukwei Clottey

The brightly coloured plastic jugs once played a vital role transporting water during Ghana’s droughts. Now, they’re creating a new environmental catastrophe of their own.

Seas of discarded yellow, blue and white containers – referred to locally as “Kufuor gallons” after the water crises endured under president John Kufuor in the early 2000s – have become a troubling part of Ghana’s landscape.

No longer used by local communities, vast quantities of jerry cans have built up on city streets, dumps and beaches, contributing to worsening pollution levels. In response to the growing crisis and government inaction, local artist Serge Attukwei Clottey has started using large-scale plastic art installations as a way to draw attention to the issue.

The artist says his aim is to galvanise the local community to combat the large quantities of plastic waste now blocking sewers in cities and endangering wildlife habitats along the coastline.

Clottey, who has been gathering the containers for more than 15 years, cuts them into small tiles and shapes them over an open flame, later moulding sections together and binding them with copper.

The process results in what he refers to as “paint-less paintings” – large plastic tapestries that also incorporate other salvaged waste items, such as discarded electrical goods or wood, bones and shells gathered from the coastal neighbourhood where he lives and works in the capital, Accra.

The full article is here.


Today is the Transgender Day of Visibility.


What is the Transgender Day of Visibility?
TDOV is a day to show your support for the trans community. It aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe while fighting cissexism and transphobia by spreading knowledge of the trans community. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition we deserve!

When is TDOV?
TDoV is on March 31st every year!

Where is TDOV?
Everywhere! We encourage you to create panels, talk to friends, and spread knowledge about the trans community no matter where you are! You can also join our Facebook event and use hashtag #tdov on social media. We also have a list of events on our website.

What is this year’s theme?
More Than Visibility (#MoreThanVisibility). This recognizes that while visibility is important, we must take direct action against transphobia around the world. Visibility is not enough alone to bring transgender liberation. Some people experience violence due to their visibility and some others don’t want to be visible. However, we can use visibility as a vital tool for transgender justice.


‘Trans Pose’ exhibition a study of transgender women and their journeys

“Transgender women are often the subject of prejudice and violence, and (can) lead shorter lives due to suicide and their struggle with employment, housing and acceptance from their families,” said Sarah Chaffee of McGowan Fine Art in her blog

“‘Trans Pose’ is portraits of transgender women exploring their unique experiences.”

“Trans Pose,” an exhibition running through April 22 at McGowan Fine Art, 10 Hills Ave., Concord. Gallery hours are Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment. For more information go to

Two Bangladeshi Artists Are Giving Transgender Issues a Global Spotlight

In March 2015, on the streets of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, a blogger was murdered. It was but one killing in a spate of bloody attacks in the country by Islamist radicals on writers who mocked and criticized extremist elements of the religion. Predictably, the combination of brutality and religion attracted the fickle attention of the West. But the story was remarkable for another reason that has been less examined in the media: Two of the three assailants were caught thanks to the actions of Labannya Hijra, a transgender woman who witnessed the killing and retrieved the shirts of the blogger’s fleeing murderers.

In Bangladesh, members of the transgender community—some of whom go by “hijra,” the South Asian word for those born male but who identify as female—are thought to number somewhere between 10,000 and 500,000. They are roundly marginalized, facing poverty and legal and societal discrimination, though they recently won the right to officially identify as a third gender. But, notes British-Bangladeshi writer Tahmima Anam in her sobering op-ed in the New York Times, “it would be premature, to say the least, to pronounce the troubles of the hijras over.”

Mahbubur Rahman, Transformation (ongoing performance 2004-2014), 2004. Photo by Tayeba Begum Lipi. Courtesy of the artist.

The Resurgence of Women-Only Art Shows

The Resurgence of Women-Only Art Shows

Clockwise from top left: Sonia Gomes; Shinique Smith; Perle Fine; and Eva Hesse. Credit Clockwise from top left: Ana Valadares; Gary Pennock; Maurice Berezov/AE Artworks; Henry Groskinsky/Time & Life Pictures, via Getty Images

Clockwise from top left: Sonia Gomes; Shinique Smith; Perle Fine; and Eva Hesse. Credit Clockwise from top left: Ana Valadares; Gary Pennock; Maurice Berezov/AE Artworks; Henry Groskinsky/Time & Life Pictures, via Getty Images

While some artists are ambivalent about being viewed through the lens of gender, the all-women’s group show, which fell out of favor in the ’80s and ’90s, is flourishing again. At least a dozen galleries and museums are featuring women-themed surveys, a surge curators and gallerists say is shining a light on neglected artists, resuscitating some careers and raising the commercial potential of others.

These shows are “playing catch-up after centuries of women’s marginality and invisibility,” said the artist Barbara Kruger, who has both declined and agreed to participate in all-women shows. Galleries looking for fresh names to promote and sell have more than altruism in mind: They are sensing opportunity “to cultivate a new market,” Ms. Kruger said.



In Ms. Reilly’s 2015 Artnews article “Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures and Fixes,” she showed statistically a vast gender imbalance in terms of museum exhibitions and permanent collections, prices, gallery representation and press coverage. Last year, just seven percent of the artists on view in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection galleries were women. “Obviously great women artists have emerged, but unfortunately those are still token achievers,” Ms. Reilly said.

If these shows don’t close the gender divide, they at least provide substantial investment and rigorous scholarship to illuminate narratives that have slipped from the art historical record. The intergenerational lineup of 34 sculptors at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel includes younger artists like Kaari Upson and Shinique Smith alongside modernist forerunners like Louise Bourgeois, Claire Falkenstein, Eva Hesse and Lynda Benglis.

An excellent article, and some great shows coming up.

Carl Strüwe: Microcosmos


Carl StrüweCourtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York

Carl Strüwe: Microcosmos showcases more than 50 black and white photos from the photographer’s archive. They’re a fascinating blend of art and science—despite the fact that Strüwe didn’t consider himself a scientist. A self-taught photographer, he worked as a graphic designer for most of his life in Bielefeld, Germany. In the waning days of World War II, a bomb fell on Strüwe’s studio and destroyed most of his prints, but the end of the war saw his career to take off. He had solo shows in the US and Europe and in 1955, published a compilation of his micrographs in the book Formen des Mikrokosmos.

Carl Strüwe: Microcosmoswill be on show from April 15 – June 4 at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York.

Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Photo Project

The most rewarding thing about this photography project is getting emails from LGBTQ Muslims from around the world who are finding out about the exhibitions via this Tumblr. It’s really, really restoring my faith in social media. Trying not to get too emotional about this but it’s hard not to.

The idea of doing a photography exhibition featuring queer Muslims came to me a couple of years ago. I wanted to show everyone the creative and brilliant LGBTQ Muslims I identified with the most and would hang out with at art shows, queer dance parties and Jumu’ah prayer. So I picked up my camera and decided to photograph what I was witnessing. In the words of the brilliant Dali (who I shot for this project), “we have always been here, it’s just that the world wasn’t ready for us yet.” I hope you love the photographs as much as I loved taking them.


Photography and interview by Samra Habib Who: Samira, Toronto

I was born in Tehran, Iran. I have very faint memories from that time, some I would like to erase and some are irretrievable. I can tell you however that there were always people over at our house and there were always lively debates happening, usually centred around world affairs and politics. My parents ingrained in me a deep appreciation for social and political justice; from a very young age. …

Virgenes de la Puerta and Fatherland

TW: descriptions of vicious, horrible violence below. Take care. Also, links are NSFW.

Andrew Mroczek and JuanJose Barboza-Gubo

© Andrew Mroczek and JuanJose Barboza-Gubo

Today we are featuring two series by collaborative artists Juan Jose Barboza-Gubo and Andrew Mroczek. With these projects, the artists hope to increase dialog and promote awareness and positive change for LGBTQ communities, especially in Peru, where transwomen are targets for violence, rape, and murder, and have been forced to lead lives on the fringe of Peru’s society with minimal opportunities, limited access to education and healthcare, and no laws to protect them.

For the first series, Virgenes de la Puerta, many of the images in the series were captured with an 8×10 view camera.

The second series, Fatherland, examines haunting spaces and landscapes throughout Peru, both rural and urban, where murders or violence against LGBTQ people have occurred.

Joel Arquímedes Molero Sánchez, 19 (Gay, Murdered, 2013) Joel was tortured by having his genitals, fingers, and toes cut from his body. He was beheaded and burned on a straw mattress beside a landfill. His body was identified by the bracelet he wore on his right hand. Rodriguez de Mendoza, Chachapoyas, Amazons, Peru, 2015

Joel Arquímedes Molero Sánchez, 19 (Gay, Murdered, 2013)
Joel was tortured by having his genitals, fingers, and toes cut from his body. He was beheaded and burned on a straw mattress beside a landfill. His body was identified by the bracelet he wore on his right hand. Rodriguez de Mendoza, Chachapoyas, Amazons, Peru, 2015

The McClain Gallery in Houston, Texas is presenting both series in an exhibition titled, Canon, which will be in conjunction with the FotoFest 2016 Biennial, opening March 19 and running through May 14, 2016.

This work has also been featured in The Advocate. The images at the links are not safe for work. NSFW.

Science Says Narcissism Pays


Picasso’s signature Image: Wikimedia Commons

Looking for a blockbuster piece of art investment advice? Here’s one: “It is more profitable to invest in the artworks of more narcissistic artists.”

That a line from a new paper in the European Journal of Finance by Yi Zhou, a Florida State University professor who studies empirical asset pricing.

“You know, my data does support that: Narcissistic artists will have higher prices and they will have more recognition in the art world,” Zhou told me earlier today in a phone interview. “If I had a large pool of money, I am pretty confident that this result holds strongly.”

Maybe it’s no surprise that art actually rewards the self-absorbed. But how to prove it?

Zhou’s answer: Measure their signatures.

I’m no scientist, and this strikes me as shallow at the very least.  There is one thing I can seriously agree with though:

Zhou cites one definition of clinical Narcissistic Personality Disorder: “an exaggerated sense of entitlement, exploitative tendencies, empathy deficits, and a need for excessive admiration.” Sounds like behavior that is rewarded in the art world to me!

Yep, absolutely. If you’re looking for pretentious assholes, the art world is a great place to find them.