Monthly Archives: July 2012

night in baghdad, laurie anderson

we think this is a great poem for how it parallels calm eloquence with chilling insanity of war.  cascading the sacredness of life thru art is one of the best ways to oppose the life-robbing horror of war

anderson speaks images of beauty, such as fireflies on a summer night, in irony, because what is really going on is bombs thru the air

she says, “it was so beautiful,” in a swallowed way, like someone gasping for air in baghdad

“i wish i could describe this to you better but i can’t talk very well because i’ve got this damned gas mask on”

in addressing california from baghdad, anderson juxtaposes americans in the safety of the sun against people being gassed in the name of us wars

eerie middle eastern beats give a hauntingness to the song, layered with ethereal water and heartbeat sounds: the sacredness of ancient culture and life undertoned by the landscape of murder welling up.  this dissonance is the truth of modernness.  so many of us go about our lives distracted by the fireworks and christmas tree lights, forgetting that other people are seeing explosions in the sky, wearing gas masks, and being maimed raped and murdered so that the west can have all the comforts oil brings


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Guantanamera, Jose Feliciano

I want to share my fate with the poor people of the earth
the streams of the mountains please me more than the sea 

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Awakening Creativity: Dandelion School Blossoms, Lily Yeh

Lily Yeh’s 2011 Awakening Creativity: Dandelion School Blossoms awakens people and communities to their innate creativity.  A formally trained artist, Yeh selflessly spreads joy and vision thru community art projects.  She helps to beautify impoverished places in cities throughout the world by making public art installations.  She includes community members who use the spaces in these projects, helping to train them and providing materials.  She wrote this book in hopes that it would help others embarking on similar projects.

Awakening Creativity documents a project Yeh began in 2004.  She helps students and teachers transform their school using art in her home-country China.  The Dandelion School is for children of migrant workers.  These kids are very eager to work and participate and have a chance to pursue education within China’s highly competitive school system and society.  They come from incredibly poor, dislocated families; many live in shantytown junkyards.  The Dandelion school has dorms so children can live and study soundly.

Yeh begins the artistic transformation of the drab school by first awakening creativity in the teachers.  She knew in order to get energy and excitement within the school, the teachers would need to get involved.  She began mural and mosaic making lessons with the teachers, who then led the children in building and painting huge mosaics and murals throughout the school.

This is a gorgeous, inspiring book, full of pictures and art from the project, as well as beautiful poems, stories, drawings and paintings by children from the school.  Lily Yeh nods to her art ancestors throughout the book, noting how she gained much of her style from admiring traditional Chinese folk art that is full of color and lively design.

Yeh shows how everybody is a natural artist and how the patterns and spirit of art is all around us.  She also realizes our profound relationship with our environments and how greatly our surroundings influence us.  Seeing the Dandelion School transformed from a drab place to one of colorful, positive images and story heightened the imaginations and joy of the students, and also their pride in their surroundings and concern for the environment.

I knew of Lily Yeh because Robert Shetterly painted her.  He told me he would, and has, gone to the ends of the earth to follow Lily Yeh.  He introduces this book.

Lily Yeh says:

“My life’s journey has been about returning to that ‘dustless world’ depicted in the Chinese landscape painting.  It is a place filled with beauty and poignant meaning.  Time and again, I have found my way back through working with people in broken places.  When fragments are made whole, beauty returns.  When people’s voices are heard, when the community is given opportunity to envision and be empowered, people’s lives become richly meaningful.

I am not a brave person.  But the one daring action I took in the summer of 1986 was that I listened to my inner voice and acted accordingly.  It ignited my passion and changed the course of my life.  This flame within, the light of creativity, has been guiding me along my life’s journey.  In my work, I try to pass it on and light other people’s pilot lights so that we can all shine together to dispel the darkness around us.  I believe that through self-awareness and actions that benefit others, together we can make our world a better place.” -191

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