June, 2016 Archive

5 Game-Changing Female Artists

female artists

Meet 5 female artists shaping the postmodern creative movement. Within recent decades, the societal shift toward gender equality has gained momentum in various cultural pursuits — including the global art scene. In fact, an unprecedented number of women are currently establishing a foothold among the most recognized and influential shapers of today’s postmodern creative movement. From ­graphic design to multimedia assemblage to experimental film and theatre — from the abstract and surreal to the stripped-down and visceral — these five game-changing frontrunners redefine female empowerment through artistic expression. Marina Abramović (L) Marina Abramović, courtesy of Manfred WernerTsui. (R) The House with the Ocean View via National Academy Museum. Born in Serbia during the aftermath of World War II, this groundbreaking performance artist now resides in New York City where she dominates the countercultural stage. With an international career across three decades, Marina Abramović has become known for probing the human body’s threshold for physical        …read more

Changing the Chanel: Fashion and Body Shaming on Every Screen

body shaming

Is our media-rich culture obsessed with looks and body shaming? Anchorman was set in the ’70s, and Veronica Corningstone fought her way to the coveted anchor chair with expertise and poise. It’s been about 50 years since Ron Burgundy started keepin’ it classy, but with a lingering emphasis on fashion and body shaming, how much progress has society made in our attitudes toward women in media? I am no fashion designer. I did play stylist at a ’90s Casual Corner, though. A harried newswoman in curlers and sweatpants arrived weekly for size 00 suits. We steamed garments directly while she lamented her male anchor’s three suits and community college degree compared to her bedroom-turned-closet and master’s degree in journalism. My twentysomething broke self watched the wrinkle-free evening news changing out my 50-percent-off suit that I was required to wear, to sell. Let’s take a look at the journey we’ve taken over the decades in terms of body shaming and scrutinizing the        …read more

Go Outside and Play at an Urban Park for All Ages

From the U.S. north and midwest, here are 5 of the best examples of what an urban park can be. Every summer, a transformation takes place in cities across the country. Leveraging space in underused areas to help revitalize cities, government entities and nonprofits has begun creating recreational places as amenities for locals while providing a new venue for musicians, artists and performers to share their work. Combining activities that kids love — think water, swings and games — with entertainment and accommodations that adults expect, like comfortable seating, artisanal food and craft brews, every urban park here is designed to appeal to all ages. Image courtesy of Governor’s Island. 1.  Governors Island (New York, NY) Imagine 172 acres strategically located between Brooklyn and Manhattan with something for everyone, such as bike rentals, grills, picnic areas, tree houses, climbing structures and mini golf. Then add a big dose of the talent that makes New York truly unique        …read more

7 Gritty Fantasy Stories

Fantasy stories

For fans of blood-soaked fantasy stories waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his next book . . . We know you’re out there, looking for fantasy stories that don’t involve unicorns but deliver monsters, gore and revenge. We’ve got you covered. The Black Company series by Glen Cook They’re not interested in fighting for the good guy. They just want to get paid. As told by Croaker, the Black Company’s sawbones and annalist, the reader is taken on a supremely dark journey as the band of mercenaries accept a contract from a cruel sorceress and inadvertently make their realm a lot worse off than if they’d sided with the rebels trying to save it. Cook’s writing style is punchy and declarative. Don’t expect any florid, purple descriptions of rolling hills or frolicking unicorns here. From a first-person point of view — a rare thing for fantasy stories — we follow along        …read more

We Bet You Never Thought This Deeply about the Selfie Stick


The selfie stick: we have mixed feelings about this item in the toolbox of modern life.  Humanity has long awaited the selfie stick, an extra limb with a body of its own. If we are first and foremost ocular creatures, then the photograph is surely the greatest medium we have invented. Many animals are able to see the world, but within the last two centuries humans have found the means of using a thin rectangular surface (formerly of celluloid, now of pixels) to capture and retain the images that have imprinted themselves on the surface of our eyes for millennia. A high-resolution photograph of Mount Fuji, for instance, is the ultimate statement of disembodiment — disembodied in both directions, because the mountain appears before us in its splendorous non-presence, but also because the living eye has been substituted by a camera lens. People enjoy flowers and Mt. Fuji. Photo by Takashi Aoyama, Getty Images It is a function        …read more

Radio Aporee’s Field Recordings Unlock an International Soundscape

Sound Map field recordings

Take an auditory world tour with this global map of field recordings. So often, we go through life plugged in or switched off, paying little to no attention to the sounds that make up our world. Traversing the globe through field recordings might seem like an abstract way of adventuring, but by listening a little more closely to the everyday scenes that exist in our towns and cities, we can begin to understand more completely what makes each and every one of us tick as human beings. Such is the concept of Radio Aporee, a recording project that has been launched in Berlin. An online audio archive made up of field recordings collected around the world, Radio Aporee enables users to visit more than 30,000 international sites, listening in to the sounds that were produced in any place on a given day. Placing users more completely in a time and        …read more

Put the Pieces Back Together with These Breakup Songs

breakup songs

Here’s the playlist of breakup songs you’ve been searching for. Albums may be giving way to endless streaming playlists, but in their heyday they were an art form in and of themselves: side A, side B and all that could fit in the format. Perhaps one of the things that fit best was heartbreak. Artists used the album for extended laments of lost love, divorce and romantic sadness. The brokenhearted have looked to these albums of breakup songs for solace in their own times of relationship distress. The following are a few of the categories that the breakup album falls into and some of the best examples of the genre.  First Breakup Album as a Concept Album Capitol Records, April 1955 Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours In the 1950s, Sinatra’s career and love life seemed in shambles. He was dropped from his label, his younger fan base was losing interest in him        …read more

The Case of the Missing Parents in Children’s Movies, TV and Books

Where in the world are the parents in children’s movies, TV and books? My introduction to children’s movies in the theater was Bambi. Huddled with my sister at the drive-in, I watched the trailers and eagerly waited for the show. My parents had no Common Sense Media or Amazon to check for reviews. It was a movie about animals in nature. They were more concerned that my sister and I might not fall asleep before the second feature for adults. Not five minutes into the first movie, my toddler sister and I were hysterical after watching Bambi’s mother get killed by the hunter. My parents had to try and watch the adult second feature with two weeping preschoolers in the backseat. As a mother of two young film enthusiasts and readers today, I have an arsenal of online review materials and parent friends to rely on for content appraisal. Even with all that information, it is impossible to        …read more

Same Old Story: The Seven Basic Plots That Govern Our World (Well, Almost)

Christopher Booker suggests seven basic plots frame all our stories, but where do recent Oscar winners stand? Since the Oscars and Cannes Film Festival, I’ve been thinking a lot about stories: what makes one great, how we tell them and why some are better than others. From Northrop Frye’s “archetypes of literature” to Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, many notable figures have suggested great stories follow general trends. Some go as far as to say there are only a few grand narratives that all stories can be categorized within. The thing about that kind of neat generalization, though, is it’s a lie. There aren’t seven basic plots or seven boxes we can neatly stuff everything into — if only things were that simple. As we all know, people are strange, and the world is therefore just as weird, wild and unwieldy. Sure, sometimes generalizing can help you see        …read more

This Young Survivor Knows the Benefits of Art Therapy

How art therapy helped one young hospital patient thrive. I meet five-year-old Cara Smith in the fall of 2015. She takes her seat at a table in the hospital’s art room, eager to begin working. Before her are two white masquerade-style masks and a large sheet of paper. These are her canvases. In addition, Cara has roughly two dozen colors to work with. Cara likes to draw, sculpt with Play-Doh and paint at least once a day. Some days she splatters paint on paper, and other days she puts paint on the page using syringes that used to hold her medicine. Today, though, her art therapist, Cassie Dobbs, brought something different. “I promised her masks,” Dobbs says. “And she does not forget anything you say.” Cara decides the masks are for her and her mother. She hasn’t seen her mom, Angela Smith, for a few days, and misses her. The masks will be a        …read more