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Nurturing Creativity

“Making art is hard, but it’s fun!” – 4th grader

For many of us, making art can be many things: hard, easy, interesting, frustrating, fun, funny…

As a teaching artist for Arts Corps and Seattle Art Museum, I aim to make art making an avenue for exploring, learning and developing skills they can use in all aspects of their lives.

Exploring identity and community is probably my favorite way to engage youth through art. I adapted my Passport Series to teach high school English-language learner students how to draw self-portraits. The students engaged in conversation about identity and stereotypes, and came up with the most important things about themselves that they would want to share in a re-imagined passport. In addition to chosen name, culture/religion and important dates or life events, they also thought it was important to share their dreams.

For some of the younger students I work with, my primary goal is to help them develop habits of mind, especially to stretch beyond their perceived limitations, and to persist. Many young students already have such a fear of failure, of not getting something right, that they would balk at even beginning to draw, paint or carve. During one residency, I worked with 4th graders over eight sessions to make Salish-inspired linoleum carvings and prints. It was so thrilling to watch them get over their fears and remain undaunted when things didn’t go as planned, when their wrists got sore from carving, and even when they cut themselves! Yes, making art is hard — even painful and bloody! — but it can still be fun.

Visual Meditation

When I practice yoga, the steady breathing and flowing movements help me achieve a meditative state of mind. I find that happens too when I focus my eyes on the arrangement of patterns all around me. They create this visual beat, a rhythm that calms the chatter in my head and my heart.

When I was growing up, there were times of stress brought on by middle-school friendship drama, insecurity about myself, family strife. What gave me the most comfort was to go into my room and rearrange my collection of James Dean memorabilia. I would move the postcards and posters around until they achieved a certain flow and balance, then lie back and admire the rebel perfectly perched on my walls. I think there are many of us who respond to chaos and uncertainty by reaching for some semblance of order.

Today, the causes of the heartache and insecurity are different, but the need to reach for a safe harbor is still the same. I’m glad, though, that my attempts have moved beyond that small room, beyond moving the same pieces over and over. The search brings me to what appears out in the world around me. While this visual meditation brings me a sense of ease, it also opens me up to possibilities, to wonder. Following the swirl of a spiral staircase, I am calmed by each repeating step and I find myself ready for where it will lead me next.

In 2014, I spent three weeks in Mexico for an artist residency. These images are from San Francisco Etla and Oaxaca City. For more images from Mexico, please see the blog posts from Spring 2014.

Bringing People to the Halls of Power

Passports Postcard 5x7 horizontal
Meet the Mayor and you’ll find the walls lined with passports, each pair presenting the experiences that define and unite seemingly different people. An “American/Anglo American” woman shares a frame with a Korean American whose gender identity is “FTM and/or M and sometimes F.” Both are adopted. A 61-year-old “Secular Jew of Color” is beside a Mexican and African American who is 40 years younger. Both are shaped by motherhood.
These four are among the 40 you’ll meet at the latest exhibition of The Passport Series at the new Paul Schell Gallery, in the Mayor’s Office at Seattle City Hall. The inaugural exhibition runs from November 6, 2014 through February 6, 2015.
As part of the public programming for the exhibition, I have been invited to install additional passports and a temporary “passport office” at the Seattle Human Rights Awards at Town Hall on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, from 6 to 7:30 pm. This free public event commemorates the December 10, 1948 signing of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is sponsored by the Mayor’s Office with the Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights, Office of Arts and Culture, Human Rights Commission, Disabilities Commission, LGBT Commission, Women’s Commission, among others.
Tired of being asked what you are? Visit my “passport office” at this event to meet others who feel the same way, who fight for our right to be who we are. See the creative ways they present themselves. Be a part of the growing Passport Series and traveling exhibition.

Paul Schell Gallery
Mayor’s Office at Seattle City Hall
600 4th Ave, Floor 7, Seattle, WA 98124-4749
For inquiries or to visit, contact elisheba.johnson@seattle.gov

Seattle Human Right Awards, Dec. 10, 6 pm
Town Hall
1119 8th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
RSVP on Facebook

Protecting the Land, the Culture, the People

For three weeks in early 2014, I travelled to Mexico. This is the fourth post of a series from that trip.

In Oaxaca City’s zocalo, the southern building is draped with banners. Workers are camped out, cook for each other, sit behind information tables or stand pressed next to each other, listening intently to stories of their own plight being told through a bullhorn. They come from small towns sprinkled across the state to protest the government’s neglect and their collusion with multinational corporations, allowing them to encroach on ancestral lands, threatening their people’s very survival.

With introductions through Grassroots International, I met organizers from UNOSJO (Union of Organizations of Sierra Juarez Oaxaca) and SERMixe to learn more about the diverse people of the area. Gabriela Linares Sosa of UNOSJO patiently explained to me that for the various indigenous groups that form her organization, corn is integral to their way of life; they are farmers and peasants who subsist on this main staple and  other organic crops they grow. They regard industrial agriculture, with its insidious promotion of harmful pesticides and genetically modified seeds, as not only harmful to their health but also to their self-determination. While my Spanish was not good enough to catch certain nuances, I understood the situation since UNOSJO and SERMixe are part of a global social justice movement. Whether corn and coffee in Oaxaca, Mexico, or forest and fish in Palawan, Philippines, the stories are the same. Indigenous people and allies are pushing back against economic colonization that allows corporate agriculture to poison the soil and water, and wrests away control from local people.

In Mexico, their work is paying off.  Like the Battle of Puebla (the victory of outnumbered and outgunned Mexican troops over the French on May 5, 1862), the persistence of indigenous people throughout the country to fight off powerful multinational forces has led the Mexican government to ban genetically modified corn from being grown within its borders.

But the fight isn’t just with corporate agriculture. SERMixe representatives also talked about how drug trafficking was wreaking havoc in the Mixe communities. SERMixe’s Marcelino Nicolas Sanchez explained that in Santiago Tutla, locals formed their own municipal guard since the government was not doing anything to protect them. They literally put chains around their town and outsiders had to ask permission and explain the purpose of their visit. The situation came to a head in 2007 when the townspeople detained a group of people they suspected of drug trafficking. Marcelino explained that since these suspects had connections with the ex-governor and others within the state and federal governments, the townspeople now have to defend their actions and the case continues to this day.

Again, I was reminded of the Philippines. Palawan NGO Network made citizen’s arrests and confiscated trucks and equipment used for illegal mining and logging since the local and federal government were not taking action.

I had hoped to photograph more extensively the work that UNOSJO and SERMixe were doing, but unfortunately, traveling to the remote communities in which they worked wasn’t possible during my relatively short stay in the area. Still, I am thankful that they took time to tell me their stories. Despite national borders and language barriers, we share the same vision of social and economic justice.

All images on this page and within this website are Copyright Carina A. del Rosario, all rights reserved. For inquiries about purchasing prints or licensing use, please contact carina@cadelrosario.com

Sweet Huitzo

 

For three weeks in early 2014, I travelled to Mexico to study printmaking with Maestro Enrique Flores, experiment with different kinds of art making, and to make new photographs that capture the color and energy (not to mention the sun!) of this beautifully diverse country. This is the third post of a series from that trip.

After Mexico City (pop. 8.8 million), San Pablo Huitzo, Oaxaca, certainly offered a markedly different experience. The town lies northwest of Oaxaca City, in the central valleys of the state. There are fields of corn, strawberries and flowers, and quarries spread along both sides of the two-lane highway. Most of the 118,000 residents live in the three districts on the west side. That’s where Maestro Enrique Flores and Manuel Bernal, his extremely talented nephew, were born and continue to live. It’s where they help artists realize their own creative visions at Enrique’s beautiful printmaking studio. It’s where their big-hearted family embraced me into the fold.

I arrived at the tail-end of the town’s fiesta, honoring its patron saint, San Pablo. At night, the plaza came alive with all the neighbors visiting with each other amidst the food stalls, young couples sneaking romance in the shadows, music thumping from carnival rides and the local band. In the brightness of day, the streets lay still, only the sound of an occasional mototaxi vrooming by.

All images on this page and within this website are Copyright Carina A. del Rosario, all rights reserved. For inquiries about purchasing prints or licensing use, please contact carina@cadelrosario.com

Unplug to Reconnect

For three weeks in early 2014, I travelled to Mexico to study printmaking with Maestro Enrique Flores, experiment with different kinds of art making, and to make new photographs that capture the color and energy (not to mention the sun!) of this beautifully diverse country. This is the second post of a series from that trip.

When people learn I was in Mexico – or any extended trip to another country, for that matter – they often ask, “Did you go for work or vacation?”
It’s certainly a vacation from my regular life: house chores, work obligations, social engagements and distractions, Seattle weather, the internet. But I do consider it work, even though no one is paying me to go. It’s purposeful effort that can leave you exhausted and exhilarated. It’s work  to willfully disorient yourself by going to a place you do not know, where the culture and language are different from what you are accustomed to. It’s work to reprogram your brain to look, observe and absorb in order to create.
On this recent trip, I spent everyday walking and looking, often lingering to observe more closely, sometimes stopping to draw, photograph or write about what was in front of me. Back in my regular life, I often just browse. It’s harder to fully immerse myself into anything because something always beckons: a ding signaling a text on my phone; another email topping my inbox; a link to something else, just one click away.
But out in the physical world, what beckons are the subtle shades of green of the stones in a wall, the entrancing patterns formed by tiles, arches, even empty plastic bottles. Over these shapes, my eyes crawl, caressing every crevice and bump, gliding on edges. I fall into their rhythm and nothing else exists.

All images on this page and within this website are Copyright Carina A. del Rosario, all rights reserved. For inquiries about purchasing prints or licensing use, please contact carina@cadelrosario.com

Channeling Spirits

For three weeks in early 2014, I travelled to Mexico to study printmaking with Maestro Enrique Flores, experiment with different kinds of art making, and to make new photographs that capture the color and energy (not to mention the sun!) of this beautifully diverse country. This post is part of a series from that trip.

First Stop: Mexico City

For many artists, there’s a certain amount of “priming the pump” before the creative juices start to flow. I headed to Mexico City and Coyoacan to do just that. I visited El Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares and lost myself among all the characters in Saner y Sego’s mural. I stumbled upon El Centro Cultural del Mexico Contemporaneo and studied closely different printing techniques on dozens and dozens of contemporary work. Wandering around El Museo de Frida Kahlo, I entered into a womb of intense color and artistry. Embroidered bedcovers and shawls, painted bowls and tiles, carved spoons and doors, embellished shoes and casts — every-day objects with their own distinct purpose, but also representing a reaching for beauty. For Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, perhaps this is how the pump was kept primed; the habit of bringing a bowl to one’s lips, wrapping a shawl around one’s shoulders, is already an ingesting, a donning of inspiration.

 

All images on this page and within this website are Copyright Carina A. del Rosario, all rights reserved. For inquiries about purchasing prints or licensing use, please contact carina@cadelrosario.com