Friday, August 29, 2008

Fresh, Wild Eyes

Catherine Chalmers creates fresh, insightful, sometimes disturbing and always beautiful images of animal life. I saw her installation Safari at a recent show title "In and Around the Garden" at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, NC. This video enraptured myself and those around me as we traveled along at a bug's eye level with creatures like salamanders, spiders, roaches, flies, and frogs. Better than any National Geographic Special from my childhood, I was transported into a wild world so foreign yet filled with such "familiar" characters. Reading the documentation on the exhibit I discovered that all the scenes were shot in her New York City loft; what a conceptually cool addition to a visually well made work of art. Check out her Website for more.

Update: Catherine has informed me that she has a larger show titled the entire American Cockroach project, of which Safari is a part, showing at the Boise Art Museum. You can see Safari in context with the rest of her workby taking a look at

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meeting Ourselves in Meeting David Wilson

Searching the dial, I heard the familiar Tarheel accent come across the radio speaking of slavery. My back tightened uncontrollably. "Great." I thought "another argument on how the Civil War wasn't about slavery." Quickly, another voice entered the discussion, an African-American voice. Soon I learned both men had the same name, David Wilson, and were related historically as the relatives of an enslaved family and the family of their owners. What followed was a considered and balanced discussion on our heavy heritage we all carry in South.

Both David Wilsons had participated in creating a unique documentary titled "Meeting David Wilson" on the still lingering effects of slavery. The black David Wilson had uncovered his roots to slavery in Rokingham and Wilkes Counties, North Carolina and had the courage to come back and confront that heritage. What he found was a man that contradicted his own stereotypes. The White David Wilson is a thoughtful, kind, and carefully considering participant in this rediscovery. His qualified love of his family and his hope for a better world come across in this video. The Black David Wilson is equally intelligent and searching as he experiences unfamiliar territory and crosses lines drawn by race all too old and ready for erasing.

This is a ice breaking documentary worth buying, seeing, and sharing. That it happened in my own back yard makes it intriguing without lessening its universal importance. Its bravery and obvious longing for a better world make it eternally appealing.

Happy Birthday - What's Your Favorite?

This blog is one year old this month. I started it as a way to reach out and decrease my own sense of insulation I often feel as an activist artist. Searching for other artists making art with a social or ecological focus became a hobby. Soon I found other many wonderful things going on, some in my own back yard. Today, I have friends and contacts all over the world and do not feel so alone.

That community has resulted in good things;I am currently working with a group from across the state of North Carolina to pull of a conference of Human Rights and the Arts. Called an Anti-conference on Visualizing Human Rights it will be held on November 22nd, 2008, in the Global Education Center at UNC Chapel Hill. Artists from a wide range of mediums will share their activist art and working processes; students will share their own efforts, and face to face networking will abound. We hope to make this an annual event and move it to a national scale next year. I will provide links to the conference here as soon as they are created.

So what is your favorite entry on this blog from the past year? Mine is the kindergarten class dreaming for a better world.

I look forward to taking this blog into its "terrible twos", a year energized by new beginnings (only four more months!) and new focus on making the world a better place. Thanks for fulfilling the important role of reader.