The Genesis of a New Body of Work

I haven’t made a body of work for the past 10 years. This past decade has been a kind of walk-about so to speak where I tried different careers, started a family, and lived abroad in Asia. But of course I never stopped thinking of new artistic endeavors. I just wasn’t setup to pursue my ideas whether it was due to lack of work space, time, finances, a need to change my kids diapers, or a mixture of them all.

But this time while back in the USA I had an idea that would allow me to engage in  my favorite material, clay; and one of my favorite processes, photography.

These images mark the Genesis of hopefully a new, complete body of work. The end product will be, for now anyway, large scale high definition images of works made in clay that are taken on sites related to the object(s) and ideas as they continue to form.

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Humboldt Summer & Election 2016

downtownHumboldt

The heat laden summers of Humboldt, Tennessee wear you like a thick winter coat in a sauna. Like too many small towns across this country, Humboldt seems to have become a remnant of a more productive time and era. Storefronts that were once covered by the vinyl siding of the 80’s is falling off exposing bricks made on site close to 100 years ago. Some have made attempts at rejuvenating this Main Street with clothing stores and restaurants, in so doing adding a couple more decades of life to them possibly, but the only things that seem to stick around are fast cash advance and title loan businesses. The other buildings sit like stoic ruins badly camouflaged by outdated building materials.

The rest of town is occupied by housing sustained by those receiving government benefits or those living on their own retirement resulting in a very idle, near extinct workforce. The drive to make money died some time ago here for the majority of a once driven people. For too many under the age of 40 exists an acceptance of normalcy for apathy towards earning a living and providing for ones own family. Unfortunately it appears most of those who receive government benefits also seem to be members of broken families whose parents have had multiple partners and several children from different partners.

It’s not uncommon, like many places in the country, to see 5 or more children walking down the street in groups, minus a parent or adult figure. It frightens me being a parent to think about toddlers walking down the road with the oldest in arms reach being only 6-8 years old. Adults convene under shade trees or covered porches and glare statue like as you drive past.

The busiest place in town is of course the local one-stop-shop for all of your clothing, grocery, pharmaceutical, and lawn care & garden needs, Walmart. The sole proprietors who have survived up until now are nothing short of miracles. Among the immovable are a jeweler, somehow a few real estate agencies, a pharmacist, a dentist, a used car dealer or two, a lumber yard, expectantly, lawyers, and of course cash advances and a bank or two.

For dining out you have an array of options such as the omniscient McDonald’s, the new to town Hardee’s, Taco Bell, and a few local staples, one of which thankfully is a BBQ pit, and a great one at that, commonly known as Sam’s to the locals.

About 8 years ago or so the previous mayor helped orchestrate funding for a sister campus of a community college that is headquartered in a neighboring town. But who knows how it is doing now. There’s not any talk of it. One would hope a college would be a little caffeine to a sleepy town, even if it is a sister campus of a community college. But it looks like whatever college crowd that might exist within its walls don’t drink coffee and unfortunately has the appearance of taking the route common to too many endeavors in a place presumably heavily subsidized by government.

A lot of people put their hope into the influence of the Office of the President of the United States of America. It’s hard to truly put hope into our current presidential candidates, so the people here will vote for, given they vote, for the party they always vote for. While both candidates appeal to their constituents in this area, it appears to divide more than unite. And as a result is more of detriment than a benefit for our town and country. If Hillary Clinton wins it can be confidently suspected guns sales will go out the roof and one might do well to open a gun store here, at least while they’re legal, right? Those who receive government benefits will also be relieved their money will keep coming in, and possibly even increase. If Donald Trump wins, the entrepreneurs and real estate agents will be a little pumped in hopes of sales increasing in their respectful industries, while anxiety cultivates among the dependents of benefits out of speculation what will come of their money.

Either way one sect will be living in a world of increasing anxiety for the next 4 years. Truth be told, we all would benefit by adopting a get-through-it mindset for the next 4 years, and hope for a more conducive, unifying candidate in 2020.

sometimes-there-is-no-lesser-of-two-evils-jtf-jtf-org_806011

The Love of Money Leads To The End of the World, & It Appears to be Close. (I Hope I’m Wrong)

racist from the beginning & not slowing down, but actually aborting more black babies than any other

racist from the beginning & not slowing down, but actually aborting more black babies than any other

Planned Parenthood has killed over 10 times as many as the Nazi's did of Jews

Planned Parenthood has killed over 10 times as many as the Nazi’s did of Jews

So much has happened in America & the world at large this year, it is quite numbing to try to keep up. From The Supreme Court violating Constitutional boundaries by re-defining a religious institution into a secular one, to Barack Obama’s Iran deal that seems to put Israel along with the rest of the globe in a worse position due to nuclear potential, to Planned Parenthood being exposed for selling and negotiating aborted babies, it is one shock after another to say the least.

May God have mercy on us.

For those that believe in God, specifically the God of the Bible, all of these events are not too surprising because they are prophesied, but with them happening in this lifetime, they still cause me pause.

It appears to me that civil unrest is in the near future, for America most assuredly. When I think about the number of people and guns in the U.S., I can only imagine how bloody civil unrest will become when it turns into uncivil-unrest.

I hope I am wrong.

Politicians seem to be increasing in corruption.

Corporations funding the genocide of babies.

Nations’ leaders operate outside the laws of the land.

I don’t dare ask, “can it get worse,” because I know it can and unfortunately it seems most people are oblivious to what is going on around them due to pursuits of pleasure and convenience.

 

source(s): 39 Companies That Donate to Planned Parenthood

9/11:When We Were Sucker-Punched. 6/26: When The U.S. Officially Became A Dictatorship. SCOTUS Abrogates Its Authority By By-Passing Congress To Make Same-Sex Marriage Law

supreme court despots

As an artist and Christian, I can’t ignore cultural issues, especially when they directly address my religion. One can’t expect religious adherents to not respond to this Supreme Court ruling when it redefines a facet of a religion, or attempts to. Actually if you are a Christian, or a Jew, Leviticus  5 : 1  says it is a sin NOT to say something if/when you see something done that is wrong. (Check Leviticus 5:1)

(And yes, I know it says to stone people when they do this or that, and not to eat bacon, BUT you’re reading that out of context and need to research its context before using those references as support in a debate. ) 

Anyway, I find it violating that a panel of unelected judges have redefined something they never originally defined in the first place, even if it is only legislatively and in word. 

As a Christian, it is like a secular institution redefining the Eucharist (if you’re Catholic), or Sawm (if you’re Muslim, sawm is the practice of fasting during Ramadan), or what is and is not Kosher (if you’re Jewish).

A government has no place in defining what is and is not marriage since it never defined it in the first place. If one is pursuing this case to attain a certificate of marriage, my question to you is,

…do you really need a government issued certificate (that we happen to call a “Marriage Certificate”) to validate your love? 

I understand a same-sex couple wanting equal tax/financial/other economic rights as a heterosexual couple, and if that is their purpose, even if in part, then that should’ve been the fight, not redefining religious institutions.

Saying marriage is no longer a religious institution but is rather governmentally defined and is hereby and forever more defined by government is an encroachment and violation of religious liberty and in so doing our government has just abrogated its authority in this area and hereby should be ignored, resisted, and fought back against if/when they attempt to arrest those who do not abide by this unconstitutional dictate.

Likewise churches, mosques, and temples whose congregations ascribe to the origin of marriage being defined by God and not government should never, ever compromise their belief by allowing their places of worship to be used in any way that compromises the belief of their religion.

This ruling on 6/26/2015 grants same-sex couples the “right” to unite via a government issued certificate, but in the original context of marriage, the definition of marriage is sacrosanct and unalterable by mankind when it is defined by a holy and truly omniscient Being, God.  

Now if you don’t believe in God, I’m not talking to you here. You’re doing exactly what I believe you would be trying to do to religion, secularizing it, then obliterating it.

But understand I aim to defend the persecuted, religious rights, and in this case, marriage as God has ordained it, until the day I die. Keep in mind, religion has maintained its existence through the most difficult places and times in history, and in many many cases, grows under persecution.  

Our culture did not define marriage. It comes from eons ago by the first male and female man and woman united by God, and as such you should expect responses from Christians and other religious followers when culture attempts to re-orchestrate a component of said faith that predates any government. 

It hasn’t happened yet, but in light of Christian bakers, photographers, and the like, being sued for practicing their faith by not celebrating same-sex marriage via baking a wedding cake or whatever, soon churches, mosques, and temples will also be sued for not allowing same-sex marriages to be held at their facilities.

We must be ready. We must remain steadfast to God and His Word, the Holy Bible.  

By allowing and agreeing that a panel of unelected lawyers can make laws, you agree to a panel of dictators that can, and will, define many other things in the future fast coming. 

Those with their heads on their shoulders know this panel of dictators is most definitely NOT Constitutional, but knowing this and responding to it are 2 very different things. 

Some believers will cower and say,

“This decision to redefine marriage will not affect me.”

“Look, let them marry, it’ll all be okay bruh. They don’t mean any harm.”

Same-sex couples think a right has been won when in fact we have all acquiesced to a panel of unelected judges to dictate what is and is not law.

I have news for you: THAT IS CONGRESS’ JOB.

By using the guise of being in our best interest, our rights and sovereignty are all but becoming erased. Mark my words, soon churches will be sued because they restrict their facilities for member-use-only, then religious followers will be fined and jailed for saying they disagree with the lifestyle despite having a First Amendment, then it will be required to register your place of worship with the State just like Socialist and Communist countries require.

We’ve slid down the slippery slope culturally, so be ready to hear arguments for adults pleading to allow them to marry minors, people choosing to marry animals, trees, and bridge

woman marries bridge

That last one happened a couple of years ago in France, but who are we to say what is and isn’t marriage, right?

I suppose while there is relatively little recourse for sharing my mind, I’ll continue to share it at least until I get jailed for speak freely. 

If this isn’t a wake-up call for Christians and other religious followers, you’re deep sleep may be your death. Hopefully this unilateral, unconstitutional, dictatoresque violation will be a loud enough call to wake-up religious followers and exercise civil disobedience and get very acquainted with their Scriptures.

While we Christians are called to be ambassadors of God’s love, this doesn’t mean to be conforming to a cultural ethics code of relativity. The first Christians were thrown to the lions for exercising Civil Disobedience. Recently, Christians in Kenya were murdered by Muslims for exercising Civil Disobedience.  

Muslims kill Christians

We Christians in America have been fortunate to not experience intense persecution like so many throughout the world. Our persecution has been primarily nonphysical here in the U.S., but Scripture warns us it will get worse. 

gay parade 6-28

We need to love our enemies and be praying God would enable them (Jn 6) to understand His Truth, and when bullied or otherwise, respond like Friar Jonathan Morris of New York City did when he was spat on (#lovewins???) during a gay day parade, basically turning the other cheek. 

Will Globalization Eradicate Cultural Identities?

No doubt the world is increasingly becoming less homogenous and more heterogenous with globalization. While this in itself is not a bad thing, there is the law of unintended consequences to be aware of. One might say it is counting the costs. 

What are we loosing in the process of the world becoming globalized? 

Culture and ethnicity. Is that bad? Not entirely, but it’s not necessarily all good either if you think that the world having distinct races and cultures is also a good feature of our human race.

What am I saying here? Should we stop globalization? 

First, what I mean here by globalization is (in the undetermined future) a push for a one world way of life where there is the same rule of law for all places led by a one world government that conglomerates all nations into a singular one world nation.

To ask the question again, should it be stopped? Yes. And no. 

No. I don’t think we should stop allowing people to freely travel, and intermarry with other races and all that (as if it could happen anyway, nor should it as it is unethical), absolutely not.

Yes. I think globalization fully realized results in things referenced in the definition above, as well as an eradication of subcultures that contribute to our distinct human diversity. 

I am also interested in the question led to by the above,

how can cultures hold onto their cultural identities and characteristics as the world continues to become more heterogenous via globalization? 

And, is it even important for cultures to hold onto their identities and characteristics for better or worse? 

There is a strong push in the United States to make all things secular. Latest example is regarding religious people not being able to express their values and message by what they do for a living and what they make, or choose not to make, as artisans for example, such as bakers. One cannot say they are for diversity if they are against any one component of a culture like religion. If so, they are really,… religionists (my word for being a racist against those of a religion). 

If someone can sue a baker for choosing to not bake them a cake for whatever reason, it can lead to one being able to sue anyone who makes a living as an artisan or artist such as a musician or painter or sculptor, et cetera, who says they choose to not say, write a song celebrating a certain type of lifestyle such as same-sex marriage, or suing an atheist for not writing a worship song to God. (Yeah, we know the pendulum only swings one way on this matter, atheist songwriters, fear not, at least about writing worship songs.)

But the point here is, are we ready to continue down the road towards a secular world monoculture where distinct cultures composed of a myriad of religions and ethnicities contribute to true diversity? Where I live is currently very homogenous (Asia), and I am thankful for that because I am able to experience a different way of life. I am not trying to impose my way of thinking on anyone else, and nor are they trying to do that to me. But back home in the U.S., globalization is taking place and in its process cultural distinction will be lost, for better or worse.

I think for worse. 

Rolling Stone Magazine Calls Rick Santorum “Vile”. Why?

Let me first say I am not a fan of presidential candidate, Rick Santorum. But unlike Rolling Stone writer, Kristen Gwynne, I do not think of him as being “vile” and “extremist.” I think the people of the U.S. are smarter than that. 

On Thursday (28 May 2015) she assembled a list of some of Santorum’s quotes saying because it is official he is running “it’s time to brush up on what he believes about abortion, gay people and more” and then introduced him as “Former Republican senator and known right-wing extremist” (emphasis added, but not really because it’s already there).

As I read through the list, it did give me pause because I thought, “hey, maybe I’m an extremist too. If one believes in marriage as it has been for 1000’s of years between a man and a woman, does that make one “vile”?

Uh oh. Like how the word “sick” in today’s vernacular can mean “awesome,” now “vile” describes someone who doesn’t agree with mainstream media mantras? Hm. Okay. I might be “vile.”

Now granted, I think Gwynne has a bit of a point in her first used quote to her credit, but I wouldn’t paint Santorum as “vile” because of it, I guess because I still use the old definition.

1. On same-sex marriage, 2004: “This is an issue just like 9/11. We didn’t decide we wanted to fight the war on terrorism because we wanted to. It was brought to us. And if not now, when? When the supreme courts in all the other states have succumbed to the Massachusetts version of the law?”

Drawing a parallel between real extremists such as those responsible for 9/11 and those who want to marry the same-sex is a little extreme, but I don’t agree it equates Santorum to being an extremist as being synonymous to a terrorist, as the word “extremist” connotes in Gwynne’s list of Santorum’s quotes.

The only reason I take issue with this publication is because it used extreme adjectives to drive clicks to the page, and when you get there you see it is a bait-and-switch of language. 

The listed synonyms for the word “vile” are:

evil, wicked, shameful, depraved, base

What I think is extreme, and a bit wicked even, is painting those who don’t agree with your worldview as “vile” and “extremist.”

It comes across as desperate and juvenile, and even greedy, considering examples such as this appear to be merely ploys to drive traffic to a site for monetary gain.

A little, base?

I won’t pursue a full critique on the extreme use of terms in this publication. We all know why it’s done.  Click the link above for your own reference if you want more examples from the intolerant-agenda.

Unfortunately though I believe society has very possibly reached the point where if/when one disagrees with another, they are coined as being “vile” and “extremist.” So sad so many are so easily manipulated by words. It gives me pause to make sure I teach my child it is okay to befriend those with different beliefs than her and that when she meets other with different ideas about life, that doesn’t make them vile-extremists. 

There have been other cultures that did this in the not too distant past led by real mouthpieces for intolerance towards those who lived differently and believed different things about mankind and God in society.

And if we don’t pause and see how mishandling terms such as those used in this Rolling Stone article effect culture, we very well might end up burning up books that articulate opposing views to mainstream mantras in the streets .

Weimar book burning cultural rev burning books
(2 different cultures, 2 different times, 1 common goal. Get rid of opposing views)

We’re not yet burning books, but we better assess the track we’re on and the consequence of our words used to describe those we don’t agree with. The burning books may very well become those that are written by opposing politicians, artists, poets, musicians, teachers, and anyone else who is regarded as “vile” and “extreme” by mainstream outlets.

Vile? No.

Different opinion? Yes.

While this is not as juicy as throwing mud on Santorum’s face, it is more accurate and assumes people are smart enough on their own to draw his/her own conclusions. 

The Truth About Some Contemporary Art

We’ve all seen artwork that leaves us wondering, “what was that supposed to mean?”.  It is typical of the artist to say they want to make the viewers “think” when in reality we’re being left confused or worse, unchanged, which I guess in essence the goal has been achieved considering confusing others leaves them thinking.

I have yet to meet an artist though who says this is their intention, or admit what they are presenting really doesn’t have a message, or if it does have a message then acknowledge the manner in which the work is executed is not able to relay said message, nor say they use the guise and aesthetic of contemporary art to present work as something with intellectual insight, representation, and/or meaning, but really doesn’t have meaning beyond its materials and/or true intention of being a misleading guise.

It’s easier to say a work has an intended purpose when it doesn’t at which point might have to actually explain the “non-ness” of the work. Too deep. And a little delusional even. 

Why admit a work doesn’t meet a real expressed intention, or have one to begin? If we did, we might lose our tenure-track professorship at that art school, or fellowship, or gallery representation, speaking engagements, et cetera. But if this really is the goal, to leave viewers confused about a work’s purpose and meaning, then let it be said and sought after directly and with forthrightness, then there will be something of substance to explore.

To say you would like to make the viewers “think” is really a pointless goal only because we are always thinking.

Lose the vagueness and trade it for intentionality. Say what you mean, and mean what you say as the adage best informs. As an art student in college I was exposed, like most in art school, to what was considered art via mainstream media outlets such as Art In America, Sculpture Inc. Magazine, Art News and others. But luckily I had great professors who challenged me to intellectually consider how and why what was being feed as art was influencing culture and me personally. 

Unfortunately though, most art students are not challenged in this way. I have seen in graduate school, and as an art professor in addition to being an artist. What is presented as art in galleries and mainstream media, is bought hook-line-and-sinker despite its having stood up rigorous inquiry or debate as to the validity of its intended purpose.

When I see a mass of materials in a gallery presented as sculptural art for example, that is presented as being something with an intended meaning to be understood by viewers, like say work by artist Richard Tuttle, and have nothing to go on but an assembly of materials and a title sheet, I’m left to assume there is something I am supposed to understand or gather.

Fiction Fish Tuttle “Fiction Fish” by Richard Tuttle

In reality though, if we’re honest towards what is actually happening, what a lot of artist want to leave viewers with is the impression that the art represents something in an enlightened manner which most just will not be able to interpret and attain intellectually. This is what I mean by guise.

When you ask a gallery curator or docent to explain works such as these, they, in my experience, go into an intellectually redundant script that is merely the spoken guise of the visual guise-artwork and by the time he/she has completed their well rehearsed script, you’re ready for a nap. (Again, in my experience.) 

As Gertrude Stein said of her childhood home in Oakland in the early 30’s after revisiting it after spending most of her life abroad,

…”there is no there there.”   

Gertrude Stein

This absence of forthrightness and intentionality in contemporary art is only funded by a small percentage of wealthy patrons who, unfortunately, possess the majority of influence in the art world, allow artists such as those with “no there there” to continue influencing culture at large, and well to be frank, it’s unfortunate, because like sheep we all seem to gobble it up as absolute truth creating the standard for what is and is not art today. 

The most helpful question posed to me while in grad school which stills guides me today and I fail at attaining albeit strive to appropriately answer with my work is,

“What do you want your work to do?”

What I say I want it to do and what it does are not always simpatico, but at least I can answer with certainty, what I want it to do and where it falls short in doing that which allows me to learn from it and re-aim for the next work.

If I wanted my work to confuse people, I would not hesitate in saying that was my goal. But this is what so much artwork these days does, but never owns up to letting it be known that’s its intention which is, in my humble opinion, cowardly.

DISCLAIMER:

There is a lot to Richard Tuttle’s work I do enjoy, aesthetically.

Has The Guise Movement influenced me as an artist?

-Absolutely. I was trained by modernist and postmodern artists. The influence is not all bad. Aesthetically, I enjoy a lot of it. My riff with this approach is lack of forthrightness and truthfulness. A lot in this school of thought have been taught art is whatever you say it is. If this were entirely the case, we would not art schools to tell us so. But when we go to art schools we learn craft, philosophy, and conceptual representation, which in itself contradicts art can be anything because we are taught standards.

How do I know there are artists who approach art this way, using a “guise,” or “guisement” if you want to say it that way?

-Not certain this is indeed the case, just going on what I see and hear from work and interviews of artists. Having a Bachelor’s also in Psychology has helped me discern intentions.

Do you feel hypocritical considering your own work will not be understood by all people?

-Not really because I strive for my work to be straightforward removing the why or what-questions. A good example of what I strive not to do nor to teach in my art classes comes from Texas State University this year when an art major sat outside the school’s library steps, almost entirely naked, as a way of addressing the objectification of women in our culture.

While in concept this sounds like an avant-garde approach to the topic, it is not art in a visual arts sense but is performance, which will take another article to explain the difference between because the visual arts programs throughout the U.S. have been contaminated by this misnomer that performance is just another concentration like painting, ceramics, or sculpture. It is not.

Story for the above mentioned misinformed art major from TSU:               Texas State Univ art student