Archives for posts with tag: people

the moon

I watched an episode of Dr. Oz in which he debated with another guy.  As I watched this, I wondered about authority.  Both of these men spoke with intelligence. Each was confident of his authority on the same topic, however, they differed in opinion. A silly question entered my mind as I watch them counter each other: would this debate be different if it were between women?  Would it be the same kind of debate?  Would the audience be able to stand watching two women act like this?  My mind then turned to Oprah Winfrey.  She is one of the most important people on earth and she is cherished by millions of people. But is she considered an authority in anything?  My answer to my initial questions lead to further bleak thoughts.

Later that week, I was chatting with a friend about International Women’s Week.  My friend asserted a frightening, yet sincere question that she was thinking about. She felt like she could nearly give up.  She stated something similar to “we women make up 52% of the world’s population, if we are not leaders of most things, then perhaps we are indeed the weaker sex.”  That comment really threw me off.  Yeah, what if? It reminded me of talks I had with my great grandmother some twenty-odd years ago.  Granny Short would tell me to look around and see for myself: men are the best at everything.  She observed that most women at that time cooked for their families, and yet how is it that it is the men who end up being the best cooks in the world? Why are men the chefs?  I think she said this to me to protect me, since she was never one to limit me.  I understood what she was saying, but I am glad this is not the end of the story.

So, I asked myself, where are women acting as authorities?  Where are these women in my life?  It is funny, because I asked that question to no one but myself. All of a sudden, a host of seriously authoritative women came out of the woodwork.  A friend on Facebook spontaneously reminded me of a singer I used to listen to a lot, Ani Difranco.  Ani is a talented musician and poet that has influenced many, many people over the years in terms of music and politics.  She has caused me to think a great deal about my experience.  She has also inspired a great deal in me, like she has for many other women too.  And she is still involved in her craft, authoritatively.

And then there was a brief blip in thought on the subject when another friend sent me the Rebecca Black song, “Friday”.  My friend sent it to me thinking I would appreciate “this really deep song” (heeheehee).  I did enjoy it, however not the earworm.  But it made me realize that some women end up becoming great, even if they are young and lacking in authority.  This is not the worst thing, I am okay with her being lucky with success.

Then another good example came to life while I watched Sarah Kay’s skilled and authoritative TED talk.  Once again, I was hopeful for women and the future.

And last but not least, I read a story of tragedy and then triumph.  Liz Murray was raised on the streets by drug-addicted parents, sometimes eating chap stick or toothpaste as food, missing a great deal of school and ends up beating all of odds and gets into Harvard.

If I can put aside my need to perceive what is weaker or stronger, and if I look into my own life, I see many examples of women who are authoritative.  It is extremely obvious that women are kick’n it in many different realms.  I am almost embarrassed that I even asked the silly questions in the first place!  But, it was a good exercise for me.  And I am sure I will enjoy exploring this topic further.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.


Self and slightly-larger-than-life portraits of some Great Canadian Artists

Last week, I worked with two sets of students to paint the portraits of eight Canadian Women Artists. The artists I chose for this project were relatively current artists, and most are living still. If they weren’t living and contemporary, I had good reason to select them (strong influence on other artists, international artistic influence, and influence in the realm of policy change.) 

As Women artists, these trailblazers have pushed their way forward to make pertinent, strong art. They are all women of their time, whose actions and freedoms reflect the reality of being a woman artist. They are all Canadian.

Lisa Steele, Janet Cardiff, Jin-me Yoon, and Anne Savage on the right side of the mural.

For most of these artists, the medium carries the message. The medium alone isn’t the message anymore. One could say that the work tends towards the more narrative/story-telling genres (eg video, film) that are content-laden by nature. However, even the most well-known of these artists in the field of film (arguably Joyce Wieland) worked masterfully in other media too. She worked in textile art, in public art, in installation, and more. The media had to suit her expression, she took control of the content and the implicit meanings of the formats.

As for this specific project, I chose portraiture to pay homage to these women. It’s a reflection on them, a reflection on the mind behind the visage we see. It’s a reflection of ourselves as we look at these faces and relate to them.

There were a total of 14 students who worked on this; none of them Art students. I was very impressed with them all.

The students used a technique called grisaille, in which one paints in shades of grey. Traditionally, a painter would then glaze translucent colours on top of this greyness, in order to achieve naturalistic colouring. We also talked a little about how this is related to chiaroscuro, the Rennaissance-invented method of modelling shapes through the use of dark and light. In a best-case scenario, a painter would use both aspects to create a likeness.

Before finding a permanent home, Joyce Wieland, Rebecca Belmore, Gathie Falk, and Betty Goodwin were celebrated in a hallway display-case.

I am proud of what the students and I did this last week. I am glad that the paintings have a home in Vanier College, in the Women’s Studies department. It was interesting to me that there were no Art students amongst the bunch of students who came to the workshops; perhaps they felt that they painted and drew a lot already, and wanted a break. It is sad that they missed this opportunity to not only connect with a live, professional artist from outside of their school system but inside their community (me), but they missed learning about these contemporary artists who, if the students continue to work in the arts, they will eventually hear about. In any event, it was an invigorating experience to not only guide the students in painting, but to introduce them to these artists and their ideas. 

Natasha Henderson, Montreal  

snow painting in herbal pigments

A friend of mine remarked to me a couple of months ago that Arcade Fire’s music is very marchy.  Sometimes when I am listening to them on my Ipod, I test this comment and try to march a little.  Unfortunately, I can usually march along to their music.  This does not really matter to me.  I still like them, even if I am marching to it!  I think this a positive thing to do in March, I have a hunch that there is an Arcade Fire song for any day in March, no matter the weather.  So, get out there and try it!

Coming up in March (the month) in fleurbain:

Resto reviews of three places you really shouldn’t miss in three very different Montreal neighbourhoods (Downtown, St Henri, and The Village).

Herbalism, recipes, photography, cartoons, an art review…

Felted DIY Nesting Bowls and Slippers (it’s still cold outside, baby!)

In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8th, a three-part feature on Canadian Women in The Arts.

Simple herbs for cats… this isn’t your Grandcat’s catnip!

A new web feature: Online Featured Artist. Every Month we will share a new artist with you in this online Gallery, with images of their work, links to their websites, and other cool info about them. Submission requirements will be announced shortly…

A heart-wrenching, mind-boggling, gut-churning anecdotal tale about Professionalism In The Arts.

A Snow Painting and book-making creativity spa workshop! Bringing the web to real life, yet again. Also, we will officially announce our new service: Customised Workshops.

March looks like both a lion and lamb month, so join us as we gear up for Spring!

Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson, Montreal

I recently read in the New York Times that women are not contributing to Wikipedia as much as men.  Anyone can contribute and yet approximately only 13% of the contributors are women!

What does this tell us?  It reflects who has time and interest in writing for Wikipedia.  It shows us who is comfortable with the process of adding to Wikipedia.  It also shows us who sees themselves as an authority capable of writing on a particular topic.  It tells us what women are not doing in this public forum.

I can tell you that this is a little shocking for me to read.  Are not the universities at present populated with more female students than male students?  It’s clear that women are increasing their status as public authorities. Why are women not, then, sources of authority on Wikipedia?

So, here’s something to add to the to-do list.  Contribute something to Wikipedia.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

nesting. copyright Natasha Henderson

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