Tag Archives: American

Holiday Decorating: Fourth of July Table Setting

2 Jul

My mom has some of these jars, this would be darling!

Pet Peeve: “White” is not Me

2 Apr

Dozen Eggs

Out of sheer curiosity (and annoyance), why is “white” the only color listed under race on forms?  I kid you not; I have applied for 19 positions in the past week, and “white” showed up on 17. The only reason it didn’t show up on the last two is because all they asked was whether I was a citizen or foreigner.  And just stop right there with the whole “Decline to Comment” answer–that’s an assumed “white.”  Again I ask, why “white” of all terms?

Let’s back up.  How long has it been since you saw forms that appropriately used “red,” “yellow,” or “black” to describe those of other skin tones.  Uhhuh, that went the way of all bad things like saying “fa****,” “n*****,” and other derogatory terms–we admitted that they were inappropriate and cutting at best, illegal at worst.  In fact, I won’t even put them in this article as an example of bad words (note the asterisks!)  We all know why the other races have abandoned the color-basis; the fact that judging by color is racist was settled ages ago.  (Seriously for those who didn’t get the message; don’t use these terms).  But with that history as a background, I’m pretty offended whenever the term “white” pops up in turn. Why are my people the only ones who can be defined by our color? 

Let’s get the first possible answers out of the way. Is it because “white” automatically says we are better than anyone else so nothing more is needed? Nope. Not true.  Is it because “whites” are  automatically the lessor race and thus no more information is needed? Nope. Also Not true. Conclusion: Whether or not someone is white, pink, purple, or blue  has no bearing on their value as a human.

Now perhaps, the answer is that “white” tells the reader something about my personal background.  This seems more plausible since every time I have to choose “white” on an application form,  I can immediately guess the reader’s response–“Ooh, goody! Another one of those privileged white girls who grew up with a Smartphone, a Trust Fund, and No Work Ethic!”  Appealing image, amIright? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I have never been able to afford a Smartphone. Trust Fund? — Trust me, I’m typing as I roll on the floor with tears of humor streaming down my face.  I grew up in a single-parent home, and I don’t think we ever had more than $7,000 a year.  We didn’t take food stamps, and we didn’t get welfare; we just learned to have fun with what we had.  Silver spoons? Plastic spoons rather.  Now don’t get me wrong; this is hardly a complaint.  Because of where I came from, I’m very motivated and innovative. I cut my business teeth young, using new and improved ways of selling sand-cakes to the neighborhood children (I’ve always had a bit of the car-salesman in me).  Today I can slap onto my ever more desperately distributed resume the terms “inventive,” “creative,” “analytical,” and “industrious.” You name it, I’ve tried to make money at it (stop your dirty minds, “legal” activities only).   I can sew my own clothes; I know how to use spices and 99-cent macaroni like a pro; and I can proudly state that  I have worked hard non-stop to get to where I am today.  The only privilege I grew up with is the fact that I came from an amazing, hard-working, social-work minded mother who loved me dearly and never stopped telling me that I could achieve anything I set out to do. Conclusion: “White” doesn’t say anything about my financial/family’s background.


Since the presumptions that come with the term”white” don’t reflect my background, maybe it shows the culture I was raised in?  Wait. . . “White” isn’t really describing a culture–the Italian culture is pretty significantly different from the English culture.  So “white” can’t really tell them much about me from a cultural standpoint. I’m a cultural historian, meaning that I thrive on immersing myself into a bunch of different cultures, and I have always successfully collected a mis-matched group of friends from other races.  Probably 80% of my closest friends hail from non-“white” cultures, and their ways of thinking and living have rubbed off on me.  Plus, My grandfather was accepted as an honorary member of a local Indian tribe because he devoted so much time to preserving their history and supporting their rights.  Translation: I spent time playing with their kids at the meetings, adding to that “non-white” cultural background. To adequately use “white” as a definition of culture, it’s going to have to be expanded to “white (from a German/Scottish heritage with bits of African, Asian, and Native American thrown in).”  Conclusion: “White” doesn’t explain my background (and even undercuts all of my different cultural traits).

Maybe “white” is supposed to reflect me personally somehow? Perhaps I do particularly “white” things?  Fine, you pulled it out of me; I’m “white” enough that I refuse to eat bugs. . . but isn’t that really more of an American/Mid-west thing than a “White” thing?  I’m Christian, but so are people from other races. I like music, nope not really a “white” thing either (in fact I really enjoy Asian and Middle-Eastern traditional music – by definition not “white”.)  I’m smart. . . I like to write . . . I went to a good college . . . my passion is travel and history. . . I grew up without a dad . . . I think a confident man who can dance is hot . . .  I’m introverted . . . Bright colors entertain me . . . still not finding the “white” thing in me here.  There are a lot of other ways to define me, but “white?”  Conclusion: You get my point.

Well, I’m going to have to go with the “physical description” use (even though that is by definition asking about my SKIN COLOR), which plays no role in anything and should not be allowed to be a question.  Still, that doesn’t actually work.  I’m personally very, very pale. But my Greek friend is pretty dark.  My mixed friend is very dark, but he was still required by the school to register as “white.”  To tell you the truth, if this is the proper use of “white,” I don’t fit here either.  Because I’m actually very, very spotted cause of my silly Scottish heritage and their massive freckles.  And the parts that aren’t freckled turn red in the summer thank’s to sunburns (I am not so lucky as to tan, but many “whites” are actually brown by the end of swimming season).  If you saw me walking down the street in July and needed to report me for my almost illegal hotness, you’d have to describe me as something in the realm of “that stunning brown-spotted red lobster.”   Conclusion: It doesn’t even work as a “descriptor.” 

Other people are defined by their geographic history, the accomplishments of their ancestors, and their pride in their culture–“African Americans”, “Latin Americans,” “Native Americans.”  I get the derogatory “color.”    Why not “European-American, German-American, Scottish-American, or just plain AMERICAN?  Even the official name for my race, “Caucasian,” would have been better. Get it right people.  Besides, in the name of the world moving away from racism, shouldn’t that question be somehow unnecessary? Why do you have to know if it isn’t going to impact my chance of acceptance, my rights, my opportunities, etc.?  RACE DOESN’T (or at least shouldn’t) MATTER, so QUIT ASKING. Or at least ask appropriately.

Jackson Pollock

14 Mar

As you know from my previous article, the art world is abuzz with the unveiling of the newly restored Pollock “Mural” — the great “pillar of American art.”  Although I have studied art, I was actually unfamiliar with Pollock’s work until I entered the University of Iowa who owns the Mural.   Admittedly, I am not a large follower of the Abstract movement, but the debate over his work s fascinating.

His parents were from Iowa (hence the fortuitous circumstance of his great art returning here), but Jackson Pollock (first name Paul), was born in 1912, two years before WWI,  in a small town in Wyoming.  He would move around the western states as a child, and it was during that time that he became familiar with the Native American culture on travels with his father; a fact that you can still see expressed in his art.  

Another great influence upon his style was his tutoring from Thomas Hart Benton, part of the famous “Regionalist Triumvirate” of three artists who abandoned city life and preferred painting modern works of rural life.  

“Poker Night” by Benton

But while Pollock liked the brighter colors and strong impression of this type of art, he was not enticed by rural subjects. In fact, he would abandon any sense of “Realism” to his work at all.  With the beginning of his style set in place, Pollock moved on during the Great Depression to work with the Federal Arts Project, part of Roosevelt’s New Deal.  They employed jobless-artists to create works for government institutions–as a results many of them still hang in those buildings today.  Because the program was less interested in the type of art, and more interested in employing artists regardless, it was a great sounding board for many artists of the, at that time, less popular modern abstract art.  Pollock was one of those artists who benefited from the new audience.    

During the Great Depression, Pollock began struggling with alcohol, and he would undergo treatment under a Jungian Psychologist. While I am hardly a psychologist, I understand that they emphasized the need to understand oneself completely before one could then work with society.  One of the ways Pollock tried to familiarize himself with his personality, goals, life, etc. was through art. According to textbooks, this concept of putting oneself into the work (a type of new self-portrait) was characteristic of his later works.  Honestly, I have never particularly been able to see that in his works, but then I don’t really get abstract art anyway.  What I can attest to is that his emotion’s come across–and a scattered mess they were too.

Shortly after leaving the Federal Art Program, Pollock was hired by Peggy Guggenheim, a famous supporter of the arts, to create his famous Mural for her home. The piece stands at 8 feet tall and is a major accomplishment.  Interestingly enough, unlike many other muralists of the time, Pollock created this one on canvas because they wanted it to be portable. Usually, they were placed on the walls themselves.   This is the work that launched him into the world of history-changing artists. 

It was during the 1930s and 1940s that Pollock improved upon his signature tool–drip painting.  First introduced to the concept of using liquid paint instead of powders in 1936 by another muralist, Pollock soon adopted it as his preferred method.  Most of his work would feature this style beginning in the early 1940s.   He used alkyd enamels (such as the paints used for home walls), which was highly unusual at the time.  He then took sticks, syringes, large stiff brushes, etc.  and would pour or drip the paint over the canvas. Are you familiar with any of those 70’s movie where they start flinging paint in stripes across the canvas? That’s his style.

His great contribution to the art movement, other than the drip style of painting, was that he moved away from the traditional tools of the trade. Instead of easels, he would set the canvas up against a wall or work off of the floor. He used different objects to paint with instead of normal paint brushes.  Instead of smooth deliberate strokes, he would fling his body into moving the paint out.  His concept was that the paint came from his soul, moving from his body straight into the work. It’s all about emotions and the expression of them.  He felt that he was putting himself down on paper (remember the Jungian influence).  

While his greatest works were made in the drip style from 1947-1950, but the stress of maintaining his title as “Greatest artist in the US” started getting to him. He abandoned the drip styles in 1951, and began working with dark colors and canvases. He would later return to colors, but something changed during that time. If his art expressed himself, then he had a dark and depressing turn.  He never came back to the “Drip” works; instead moving on to sculpting until his death in 1956 in a car accident while he was under the influence.  Also killed in the accident was Edith Metzger, a close friend; however, his mistress, Ruth Klingman, another famous artist survived.

Pollock’s work has sparked decades of debate and conflict. Some believe he was the greatest artist of all time–that he captured not a painting per se, but the “Act of painting.”  Kind of like an action shot in a photograph, many claim that his art was the realization of the movement of painting.  That does seem to be how Pollock viewed it.  I rather think it was something like when I play the piano on bad days–I love to bang and pound away, regardless of whether the keys are in the right order or whether it is recognizable by the end. It is the process of playing, pounding on those keys, that soothes my soul.  When I look at Pollock’s work, I think perhaps that is what he was doing–flinging and blazing a mark across the canvas, not for the end results but for the act of flinging and blazing.  Personally, I don’t really like the end results; there is little of beauty or meaning in it to me. But I know that it meant something to him, and with art like this, that is what really matters.

Regardless of whether or not you approve, he did change art forever by encouraging the rise of Abstract Expressionism.

Annabel Lee

10 Mar

I wanted my Poetry students to see how Poetry is supposed to sound–not as flat words read off a page, but with the emotions of the author. There are alternative theories as to the identity of Annabel Lee, but this is the more common belief, and the one I personally subscribe to.

Music: Felipe Sarro (Bach, Orchestral Suite 3)

Please let the following artists know if you liked their pictures!
Art (in Order):
“Sandcastles” by SloppyGee
“Kingdom” by BobKehl
“Annabel Lee” by PrincessJesus
“Annabel Lee” by Lockjaw
“Annabel Lee” by CanoeGuru
“Blowing Wind” by Pinkflamingo61
“Annabel Lee” by Shane Gallagher
“Ocean Lovers” Wallpaper
“Stay” Wallpaper
“The Nightmare” by John Fuseli
“Annabel Lee” by Skyred1409
“Annabel Lee” by Anne Bachelier
“Eyes” by NightDV
“Annabel Lee” by RavenxCorpse
“Killing my Annabel Lee” by Snow Valkyrie
“Annabel Lee” by MariNa
“Virginia Poe” Painting (after her death 1847)
“The Raven” by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
“Annabel Lee” by MirellaBlack
Valentine for Edgar from Virginia

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