Tag Archives: friends

Winding Down

Collection of memories.

I’ve been a founding member of the Nasher Sculpture Center Teacher Advisory Board since its inception in 2010. I fondly remember being asked to join months after my daughter moved to California to attend university, all those years ago. Because of her move out of state, I chose to delay moving overseas for another 4 years. When I joyfully accepted this position on the Board, it gave me a renewed interest in teaching, art and conceptual conversations around contemporary subjects of education.

 

 

The Nasher Sculpture website reads, “The Nasher Sculpture Center’s Teacher Advisory Board was formed in 2010 to help the education department better serve the needs of North Texas educators. Since then, teachers in this group have provided valuable feedback on programming and curriculum—from tours and workshops to online teaching materials and family days. The Advisory Board is comprised of educators who teach a variety of disciplines to students of all ages. The group has been instrumental in the creation of self-guided tour materials for school groups and new teaching resources focused on Materials and Process in sculpture.”

 

I suspended my Board membership when I moved to Istanbul (2013-2015), but when I returned to Dallas in 2016, the Nasher Education staff welcomed me back with open arms. I was grateful, as I’d been suffering from reverse culture shock and had found it difficult to make my way back into American culture. Since then, I’ve regularly participated in meetings and events with this strong team of art educator friends. I will miss this monthly gathering of friends as I venture away from Dallas on my next international educational experience this summer.

Our last meeting of the 2018 school year was held at The Warehouse, an exhibition, storage and library building in North Dallas, in which the Howard Rachofsky and the late Vernon Faulconer’s contemporary art collection is housed. What a delight! Thomas Feulmer, Director, gave us a private tour of the new exhibition and I was happy to see that many foreign artists were on display in this unimaginable private art collection.

I arrived early and upon entering the industrial type building, I needed to wash my hands. Stepping into the Women’s Restroom, just beside the uncluttered, white and pristine entryway, I was in for a shock! The black and white patterned markings of Japanese artist, Shuji Mukai, surrounded me in every direction. I felt as thought I had walked into a painting; I was a part of my surroundings in an unfamiliar way. It was magical to see myself reflected in the big mirror amid the powerful pictographic signs. After washing my hands, I lightly touched the paper, hand towel. I was careful because I wanted to take it with me! I couldn’t bear tossing it in the bin because it was also adorned with the artist’s markings. After photographing each of the stalls, and leaving the room, I knocked on the Men’s Restroom door and spoke, “Is anyone in here?” With no answer, I opened the Men’s door. Not feeling 100% I was alone, I chose to NOT walk into the space, but from the doorway I clicked my camera, focusing on one urinal.

Afterward, I drove home and crawled into bed feeling grateful for the Nasher Sculpture Center and Warehouse staff and my NTAB friends. Each of them have deepened my understanding of contemporary art. The relationships that have grown out of this connection cannot be duplicated. I will miss all of you. I reflected upon how it felt to be surrounded in an environment so different from what I was used to. I will soon experience this feeling again as I take my new job in Chennai, India this summer.

What new experience, or environment, will you put yourself in this week?

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Changing Spaces

SleepingGnomeGifts of friends.

This was my last week at “temporary housing #1” and my friends and I spent our time laughing, commiserating about the last days of school, dining out and drinking watermelon margaritas. We also watched a movie called, Bernie, which is based on a fact-is-stranger-than-fiction true story of love and murder. We both chimed in when Jack Black sang old Baptist hymns, familiar to both of us from our childhood years spent in east Texas and southern Missouri. All through the film I was reminded of my Missouri heritage and what it was like to grow up in the country.

A few days after watching the movie, my friend came to me and said she had a gift to offer. I’d barely lifted my head from my computer when she flipped open her worn copy of an old Baptist Hymnal and started singing Love Lifted Me:

Laughing, I immediately joined in. Then we took turns looking in the Index and singing the first verses of hymns such as, Just As I Am and The Old Rugged Cross. It’s been a wonderful gift to live with these dear friends and I will always be grateful for the time we’ve spent together.

Over the weekend, I touched down, for two nights, at another friend’s home. This lovely home will be my “home base” until I move to Turkey. However, until school officially ends in three weeks, I will primarily live with yet another friend and her family. This friend, also an artist, has a home alive with color and textures! It is only because of the generous gifts of my friends that I am able to take the steps necessary to achieve my dreams.

My former next-door neighbors, who I miss very much, emailed me this fabulous short film from the Viking Cruise website. Every time I watch it I get goose bumps. Please watch it! This is the Istanbul I remember from my summer visit in 2011! This is where I’m going to live in a few short months!!

This week I want to give you the gift of encouragement.  Don’t be afraid to dream a dream and begin walking toward that dream. It can be anything! You can be anything and do anything. Everything is possible! Make one choice today that will get you headed in the right direction. Give yourself this gift.

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Update #2

Do Ho Suh. Staircase III

Do Ho Suh. Staircase III

Vagabonding continues.

Of course I got a cold the day before I moved out three weeks ago. Sniffle and cough all day Friday and Saturday, but alas, I did it with the help from many. What great friends I have! I could never have done any of this without their love and support. For now, I’m comfortable in a beautiful, art-filled home that I share with one of my colleagues and her husband and we’re having FUN!!! These past few weeks have been a precious time for our friendship to deepen. We have confessed denial about the fact that I’ll be leaving soon. I’ve been grocery shopping at their neighborhood Sprouts and it feels like I’m in a whole new city! By the time I understand this neighborhood’s restaurants and shops it will be time to move on . . .

Simultaneously with my adventures are the adventures of my daughter who graduated from college last week! Soon, she will also be moving to a new city. Her life of school projects and part-time work is beginning to transition into interviews and apartment searches; a new beginning for both of us. We have our fingers crossed that she will find a small apartment that I can share with her for about 6 weeks, before I leave the country for Istanbul.

My current school year is winding down. Our Senior class will graduate next week. These sweet kids were in first grade when I started teaching at this school. I’ve watched them grow up into beautiful, young adults. Interviews are taking place in the art department as our Head is searching for my replacement. I only have a few weeks left of a wonderful teaching career in this place. As I reminisce, I am thankful.

I’ll be moving to vagabond location #2 next week after one more garage sale at another friend’s home. I was ready to set my few, remaining household items out for bulk trash, but she swept everything up and took it to her home, confident it would sell in her neighborhood’s community garage sale next weekend. It sure won’t hurt to have a few more dollars in my pocket.

I’m working daily to close down, or temporarily suspend, my American life. This means banking accounts, final doctor and dentist appointments, utility refunds, updating my Will, meetings with my accountant, address changes, the selling of my car, communications with insurance groups, investment groups and financial planners. There’s a lot to do! Even so, I’m still excited! What an adventure this will be.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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People Are Gifts

Holding sand loosely.

A friend of mine told me a personal story that mimics some of the things I’m going through as I make my way to trading in my home, my state and my country for an overseas adventure. She remembers a time when she was planning to leave Texas to attend an art school in New York City. Her family members were not supportive of her move and questioned her wanting to leave. They seemed to think if she did not want the life they had chosen for themselves, then that must mean that she did not want them. They thought, because she imagined a life different from theirs, she couldn’t possibly accept their life. This caused great sadness for my friend.

In my own life I’m starting to gather a collection of these kinds of stories. There are not many people I know in Dallas, Texas who are trying to get rid of their “stuff”. Consumerism is at an all time high in this city, evidenced through church buildings, homes, shopping malls and automobiles. In fact, I’m not exempt from this tendency but am working hard to change my ways.

You’d never know there was a global economic crisis going on here. For some, this is comforting. For me, it turns my gut inside out as I observe indifference to the world’s concerns. Even so, there are fantastic people here. I have many friends and family members here and I’m grateful and fortunate to have them. However, I’ve found if I reject their values or the things they’ve chosen for their own life, some seem to interpret it as I am rejecting them personally. I find this so curious. After talking with another friend about this she offered another possible reason for this. Sometimes, when people are making changes in their life and going against the grain of conformity, those that know them well don’t applaud them for their efforts in changing the status quo because it reminds them of what they did not do in their own life. For some, this philosophy seems to exist: If you like me, then you will be like me. My blogger mentor, Chris Guillebeau, wrote an article that really hit home with me about the love of friends. He says, “Some of the people you expect to be your biggest supporters will disappoint you—and some of the people you rarely thought about, or didn’t even know existed, will turn out to be your true friends.” You can find his entire article here.

This week will you think about this with me? We don’t own anyone. We are all uniquely made. People are given to us for a given amount of time and we have to hold those relationships loosely. When I was a young child, I remember being upset that a friend, who I adored, had abandoned me. I remember being outside and my mom grabbed a handful of warm sand from the sandbox. The fingers of her hand were loosely holding the sand when she said something like this, “Friends have to be held loosely. If you hold them tightly, they will run away.” As she said this, she began squeezing the sand and it freely ran out, between her fingers.

We don’t have the right to demand relationships. People drift in and sometimes, out of our lives; sometimes for a season, other times for a lifetime. People, while we know them, are a gift to us. They can teach us and enrich our life. Be grateful for those you love. Tell them you love them and applaud their successes. Encourage them to press on and be there if they change their mind and go off in a new direction.

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Friends, cats, poets and artists

Try something new.

On an unusually delightful, breezy evening this week a group of curious women met on a rooftop to discuss poetry and art. This meeting was only my second time to participate in a poetry group that was formed in Dallas two years ago. Interestingly enough, two years ago I searched for a poetry group to join, but didn’t find one. I wish I had known about this group then, but eventually we found each other and I am grateful.

I’ve known two of the more-recent members of the group for over 25 years. My daughter’s day of birth was chosen because it would fall on one of these women’s birthday. The other woman and I started a monthly book club, over 20 years ago, when the idea of a book club was clever and unusual. This current poetry group consists of seven interesting women who have worked to be a part of the Dallas art scene for most of their adult lives. Many of us “know of” each other but don’t really know each other. It is because of this literary art form that we have been brought together. They would agree that choosing to live a life that includes the interdisciplinary arts gives spice to life. It is art that has flavored their days in a way that nothing else ever could have.

These women are inspiring just to be around. Their knowledge on a range of subjects is impressive. All have found ways to weave art into all that they’ve experienced and learned about over the years. This week we met in the loft of a woman who works in the education department of a local museum. She shares her loft with three cats, one of which lounged across the table we were seated at and seemed to enjoy the rhythm of the spoken words during the evening. There are artists of all kinds represented: interior designers, musicians, sculptors, publicist-journalists, gallery owners and art educators. I want to encourage you to get to know an artist if you don’t know one. Artists are curious about everything!

I’ve never spent much time getting to know poets or poems beyond the classical, school-learned variety. When my friend and I started a literary book group years ago, I felt completely lost walking into a bookstore’s literature section and knowing where to start. I would find myself choosing a book based solely on its cover. However, in time, I was able to choose books based on authors I’d been exposed to. In the book club we were all given the opportunity to discuss sometime controversial subjects with friends who really cared about our opinions, whether they agreed or not.

This is how my new poetry group is turning out to be. Last month we ventured into the beautiful and thought provoking works by Charles Wright. The hostess chose the poet and selected the poems for each member to pre-read and photocopy for the other members. Each member read her poems out loud while the others followed along. Often the poem was spoken several times, in its entirety or in sections. Together we worked to find a pattern and meaning in the carefully selected words flowing across the pages.

This week our hostess selected a variety of different poets, all included in the book, The Convergence of Birds. Each published poet wrote their poem based on the artwork of Joseph Cornell, a 20th century, American artist, best known by his boxes of carefully collected and arranged objects. Because Cornell is a favorite of mine, and is an artist I often feature in my curriculum, I was happy to share a brief bio about him to the group before we started reading and discussing the poems. Jonathan Safran Foer, acclaimed young author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, compiled this book of collected poems. The art of Cornell impacted Foer in a way he couldn’t have predicted when he stumbled upon a poster signed by Cornell in a friend’s studio. This entire account is written about in the early pages of the book, but is summarized on this Amazon page, by scrolling to the bottom. I encourage you to read it. In his own words, Foer writes this to his readers:

When you read these pages, imagine the letter that you would write. How would it begin? Who would be the characters? What images would come to the fore? What feelings? What colors and shapes? And as the imaginative cloud begins to open itself over your head, ask yourself: To whom would you address such a letter? And what would you use as the return address?

During these lazy days of summer, why not try something new? Be brave. Put yourself out there for the world to see. Write a letter, as described above. Spend an afternoon in an art museum or attend an opera for a change. Go listen to music or take dance lessons. Explore. Be adventurous and then tell me about it!

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