Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Community Artist Dizney Comes to Duke

Brett Cook Dizney is coming to Duke University next semester as a visiting artist. While at Duke he will create works of art shaped by the community. Brett's current work are colorful portraits that are initially colored by the community he is working with; like open coloring book images, Brett outlines the portrait on a large canvas and then lets the community have at it. Their coloring inside and outside the lines are respected by Brett who then takes the works back to the studio. There Brett finishes the works using his artistic training. The collaborations are inventive and striking. Brett also places a lot of importance on building community by adding food and music to his efforts. Artist and Duke art instructor Bill Fick turned me onto Brett by saying that he was full of energy and did a great job exciting Bill's drawing students. Brett will add a lot to the Duke and Durham community and will hopefully help build bridges between strained segments of that community post- and pre- Lacrosse mess. Welcome to NC Brett - I hope our community remembers how to show its classic Southern hospitality. More on Brett will be posted here after he arrives and gets to work. Visit Brett's website here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Woodie Guthrie - The Artist

I have been enjoying Woodie Guthrie's music for some time now. Like most history, I received the cleaned up version of his life in school- singing "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land" with my classmates and thinking nothing of it. Then as an adult I stumbled upon other, more activist songs like "Deportees" and my interest-antenna went up. The more I have read and listened to his music the more I have come to appreciate how far ahead of his time Woodie was, how much he placed his life in the hands of his art, and how much he tried to use his art to help others. Then I discovered this book written my his daughter that showcases the visual art he made. All in all, Woodie has risen to be one of my favorite artists in both mediums. I hope you can catch a glimpse of his art via this book either at your local bookstore or public library- like me you will hear different meanings in the lyrics of "This Land is Your Land."
Nora Guthrie summed up her dad, and I believe many of the artists featured in this blog when he said:
"Ever since the beginning of time there's always been the guys designated to carry the coal. Remember? See, when the tribe's fire went out, when they moved on, someone had to carry the last hot coal to start up the next fire with at the next campsite. They needed this fire to cook with, sleep near, and even for some good ol' talks and songs. Now, many of these coal holders, over time, became folk singers...... Like my dad, they do the work of carrying around the embers we still need to keep our present day tribes well fed, warm, still carin', still talkin' and still singin'. Sometimes it gets real cold out there (have you noticed) and it seems like the chilly wind is just going to blow us all off the map. A lot of people are feelin' the effects of the chill; no food, no shelter, no singin', no rights. And other people are chillin' inside; no warmth, no joy, no song, no tribe.
So these coal-holders are real important right now."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Puppets and Drums Make Impression

PaperHand Puppet Intervention, out of Chapel Hill, NC

Have you ever been to a public protest? If so, what was most memorable? I would bet that it was not the speakers, but the creativity on display in the form of banners, puppets, costumes, and music. The humor of David Solnit's Clown Army members, dressed in self-deprecating fashion help defuse the often ramped up emotions and mob mindset that can take hold even at Peace rallies. Groups like North Carolina's Cakalak Thunder create energy and unite the crowd in one common heart beat. Puppet makers like Bread and Puppet out of Vermont enlarge the human body to create focus, visual variety and humor. (Did you see their puppets in Across the Universe? Also check out their new book, Rehearsing with Gods.) North Carolina's own puppet makers , Paperhand Puppet Intervention, create unique performances that speak deeply and profoundly on the human experience. Be sure to check out these links if you have not experienced these groups first hand.