Performance Anxiety

It seems I am still doing homework. When I was in  elementary school, my parents never went near my homework. They may have proofed some papers in high school, or noodled around with a math problem, but I was on my own if anything crafty surfaced. 

It’s a different matter these days, and I find myself manipulated with the line: “But, Mom, you’re an artist, you can do ANYTHING.” And off my ego and I go.

It started with a quick sketch in my calendar...

It started with a quick sketch in my calendar...

The fourth grade is studying ancient Eygpt  and its mythology.  Our son was assigned Seth, or Set, the God of chaos, and for those of you who do not know him, this was a good match. However, Seth has both a complicated personality, and visage.  He has a bright red jackal head with menacing devil eyes. 

In the beginning

In the beginning

If you need a blow by blow of Egyptian mythology, our son is your source.  If you want to talk for hours about anything random, bingo. If you need to know the nuances and differences between DC comics and Universal comic characters, he can take hours of your time. But building a jackal head from hell outfit?  Not so much. 

Getting in character

Getting in character

So I bought  paper mache mix and built an armature and got to work covering it and recovering until the whole thing weighed as much as Jay Defeo’s famous painting The Rose. It took days to dry.

It cracked when our son tried it on, and I cracked with it. I had crazy glue in odd places and I had several deadlines lurking in front of me, and spending hours mastering this new sculpting material was not what I had in mind. 

 I skulked and whined. I behaved like a three year old. I wrote a grumpy email to his teacher. My daughter snapped me back to attention: "Mom, you need to calm down, this is fourth grade we're talking about here. FOURTH GRADE. No one cares." 

And then I  started over. I rebuilt the armature and used old fashioned newspaper strips and methyl cellulose and came up with this.

The final product -- Seth's head.

The final product -- Seth's head.

It was fun, campy(our son added the blood smears on the teeth) and best of all, he was delighted and aced his presentation.

Egypt in Aspen

Egypt in Aspen

I hope I get an 'A,' but I'm nervous because one of the front teeth fell off......

 

Juan Felipe Herrera

"Not everybody wants to be looked at. Everybody wants to be seen." Amanda Palmer

Our son and Juan Felipe Herrera on stage at the Paepke Auditorium on the Aspen Institute campus. photo credit: Will Sardinsky

Our son and Juan Felipe Herrera on stage at the Paepke Auditorium on the Aspen Institute campus. photo credit: Will Sardinsky

Last week I took our children to hear our United States poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, who opened the Winter Words lecture series for our local literary organization, Aspen Words. Herrera is an outstanding speaker and a truly compassionate and gentle man. His poetry aligns with his mission -- to sweep those on the fringe back into the margins, back into our sight. Our son asked him a question during the Q and A, and not only did Herrera answer with good humor and sparkle, he also asked Duncan to join him onstage. He then asked our delighted son to repeat what Herrera’s 3rd grade teacher said to him:  “Juan, you have a beautiful voice.“ That simple sentence transformed Herrera’s life and launched him on his journey. Herrera did the same for our son, who is a dreamer and seeker in his own right, and was thrilled to be on stage with this amazing artist. When Herrera became our national poet laureate, he started the Casa de Colores: project as “ a house for all voices. In this house we will feed the hearth and heart of our communities with creativity and imagination. And we will stand together in times of struggle and joy.” https://www.loc.gov/poetry/casadecolores/

Herrera well understands that artists have the power to pull us in, to make us pause to see beyond the tiny scope of our lives. He invites us all to be activists, in a gentle and unrelenting way.  He wrote Poem by Poem for the victims of the Charleston church massacre last year.  Here is an excerpt:

"you have a poem to offer

it is made of action—you must

search for it run

outside and give your life to it

when you find it walk it

back—blow upon it

carry it taller than the city where you live"

May the world nurture more artists like Juan Felipe Herrera.

You can read more about Herrera here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/juan-felipe-herrera or listen to the NPR interview: http://www.npr.org/2015/09/16/437287870/from-mexico-kidnappings-to-eric-garner-hererra-writes-poetry-of-the-moment. 

And he does have a wonderful voice.


Flower Child

Just living is not enough....one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. Hans Christian Andersen

Papaver Orientalis -- The Mojo Garden

Papaver Orientalis -- The Mojo Garden

The gardening catalogues are clogging up our post box and I am daydreaming about my gardening future. I’m beginning to feel the earth move under my feet, even through a foot of snow. 

Lupine in the Mojo Garden

Lupine in the Mojo Garden

Conservation InternationaI's "I need nature" campaign is a household hit, and our kids love the celebrity takes on various "personalities" of our natural world.  The film shorts make a compelling reason for why we all should be conservationists.

Monarda in the Mojo Garden

Monarda in the Mojo Garden

My favorite features Lupita Nyongo and makes me long for my flowers, the Mojo Garden (our garden) and summer. You can find Lupita as flower below, but don’t miss PenelopeCruz as water either.