Beauty Everywhere

Claudia Bicen shows the deep beauty of age, of impermanence. I’ve always had a deep and abiding love for Vanitas work, but I think there’s a tendency to show humans in vanitas only as skulls, or what detritus they may have left behind. Perhaps it’s in self defense that we skim over aging, in every day life as well as art. As an aging person, I’m all for seeing the beautiful in age, rather than looking away or being engaged in a desperate fight to fob it off. Bicen’s work is exquisite, go have a look.

Tat tvam asi - Pastel on wood block 12" x 12" - © Claudia Biçen 2013 Gauntlet Gallery, Visions & Reflections Group Exhibition (SOLD) Editor's Award - Portrait Competition 2013 - www.myartcontest.com

Tat tvam asi – Pastel on wood block 12″ x 12″ – © Claudia Biçen 2013
Gauntlet Gallery, Visions & Reflections Group Exhibition (SOLD)
Editor’s Award – Portrait Competition 2013 – www.myartcontest.com

Art withdrawn

Denver Student's Art Work, withdrawn

Denver Student’s Art Work, withdrawn

A 10th grade Denver student withdrew her work after receiving criticism from police. There’s insistence that this was done voluntarily, and it most likely was, but it both pains and infuriates me that the artist felt the need to do so. It’s not as if police killings, especially those where the victims are non-white people are some sort of rare event here in the States. The work seems self evident to me, but according to the meeting with the mayor and chief of police:

“I wanted to know from that perspective exactly what are you saying and what can you share with me that I can share with the men and women of the police department to kind of correct what that artwork portrayed,” Chief Robert White said after Friday’s meeting.

So, the work wasn’t clear, and he expresses a desire to “kind of correct” cops killing black people. I think that alone expresses very clearly the need for this type of artwork, whether the police like it or not. If they don’t wish to be portrayed as bigoted killers, perhaps they should stop being bigoted killers. (Yes, fine, qualifier: not all cops, just way too fucking many.)

Beautiful Science

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council photo competition allows researchers and doctoral students to share their work in pictures, with winners from categories ranging from eureka to weird and wonderful. Award winning images of science in action. Thanks to Opus for the heads up.

A rotating jet of a viscoelastic liquid, which won first place in the weird and wonderful category Photograph: Professor Omar Matar/EPSRC/PA

A rotating jet of a viscoelastic liquid, which won first place in the weird and wonderful category
Photograph: Professor Omar Matar/EPSRC/PA

Grackle!

The Grackles are back. I look forward to this every year, I’m very fond of grackles. They are astonishingly beautiful birds, with a metallic rainbow hidden in that black. They can look wonderfully fierce and raptorish, but they are endearingly clumsy, and there’s that fabulous puff ‘n’ whistle business. Grackles are always shy at first, as they tend to be high on the enemy list here in farm country. The last couple of years, there’s been an increase in leucism in grackles. There’s one leucistic grackle in particular, I call Pye, and I hope he is back again this year. (The last shot is Pye, from last year). Click for full size.

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Books: Goodbye Victoria

WoLI recently read Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, and I’ll have more to say about it in a bit (I loved it). Now, I want to mention one thing that delighted me absolutely – the book is set a wee bit in the future, in 2025. I was downright grateful for that. As to why that was so delightful, it leads to rant about the love affair too many authors have with the Victorian era, whether they can honestly say their book is steampunk or not. And even if a book is steampunk, or has steampunk elements, that doesn’t mean it must be trapped in Victorian times. I’ve now read enough books set in Victorian London that it’s time to say Goodbye, Victoria. I just can’t take any more. Not only has Victorian London become a mostly snore-worthy bore, with some authors, it’s much worse than that.

[Read more…]

The Revival of Indigenous Ink

A nice article on the revival of indigenous tattooing, by Ruth Hopkins. And yes, I have a wrist tattoo, for a lot of years now.

Due to colonization and the spread of Christianity throughout Native lands, Indigenous tattooing became taboo during the assimilation era. Even today, it’s discouraged. As a result, the practice went underground. Thankfully, genocide was unsuccessful and Native Nations remain, along with their languages, customs, belief systems, and rich heritages. As Native people begin to return to their traditional ways, we are starting to see a resurgence of the ancient art of tattooing.

. . .

Indigenous tattooing is part of who we are. As non-Native hipsters and popstars display generic dreamcatchers and Americans get so-called ‘Tribal’ tattoos on their flesh en masse, it becomes even more vital that we save the art of Indigenous body design from the brink of extinction, thereby preserving its true meaning and place in Native history so we may pass it down for generations to come.

There’s more about Indigenous ink here, about Nahaan.