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    1. Coil Vessel by Paperclip Pottery,$150.00

     

    This coil vase’s unique design and structure was inspired by 3D-printed art. Paperclip Potteryis owned by Mia Rose Schachter, an artist with a background in theatre and music. She focuses on the beauty of “intimate moments over elaborate stories,” and this is something you are sure to see in her work. Even better, Paperclip Pottery donates a portion of profits to NY Abortion Access Fund, allowing women easier access to healthcare. Mia also designs what she calls shagware, a range of beautiful, sculptural sex toys!

    2. Eyes on You Print by Cotton Candy Machine, $80.00

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    This beautiful painting was printed giclee-style on velvet rag paper, and is signed and numbered by the artist, Tara Mcpherson. Tara is a co-owner of Cotton Candy Machine, working with Sean Anderson to provide artwork from numerous artists of all styles. Whether you’re looking for prints, cards, bookmarks, or apparel, there is something sure to catch your eye! Cotton Candy Machine works numerous events to bring art to all who are interested, be sure to check out their Instagram to see where they’re headed.

    3.Butterfly Silhouette Needlepoint Kit by Jenny Henry Designs, $85.00

    Some art is meant to be done with your own hands, and what better way to dive into creativity than with stitching? Jenny Henry Designsoffers this pillow cover that's intended for beginner/intermediate level users, and is a great introductory into the stitching community. Their blog is a wonderful way to learn about the culture, techniques, and even find inspirational blogs Jenny uses to learn more from. Jenny has been designing these kits for over ten years, so she knows a thing or two about creating unique artworks.

    4. Sunset Travel Mug by Heartmoss Pottery, $32.00

     Start your day in calm tranquility with this sunset mug. Heartmoss Potteryis inspired by the breathtaking Appalachian mountains and the farming beauty in these regions. Designed in Virginia, these pieces of work are functional, beautiful, and sure to help you relax before the rush of the holiday season takes over.

    5.Whiskey Flask by Wrong World Ceramics, $31.00

     “Too much of anything is bad but too much whiskey is barely enough.”

    Mark Twain hit the nail on the head with this quote, and Wrong World Ceramics is here to ensure that you can carry your whiskey in handmade fashion. This hand-crafted clay flask is coated with a green celadon glaze and adorned with red lettering. Wrong World Ceramics work is dishwasher safe, and this Philadelphia-based studio's designs also include a quilted flask with matching shooters. Cheers!

    6. The Old Crown Inn Print by FaithWaites, $20.00

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    This black and white print is one of only 25 that is numbered and signed, and the adorable drawing is sure to encourage your vacation daydreams. Faithwaites designs books, prints, and cards, focusing on the beauty that is found in both old and new. Two N.Y.C. artists work together to provide these pieces, and you can read their interviews and posts about drawings on their blog.

    7. Morning Puzzle by Night Sculpture

    In a time of body self-examination and insecurities, our bodies are typically scrutinized instead of explored. Night Sculpture works to eliminate that fear of ourselves by creating sculptures of people in their purest forms. Drawing inspiration from growing up playing with lasers and having a brother who is a physicist, Lisa Niedermeyer uses 3D technology to work with people who wouldn’t do a nude photoshoot. The image is then used to create sculptures.

    8. Bud Vase by Wah Ceramics, $20.00

    Some art work speaks for itself, and that’s what you can find with Wah Ceramics! Offering plates, bowls, cups, and vases, these individual designs painted with earthy colors are sure to warm your heart and household.

    9.Ryan's Freedom Deluxe by Bicycle Painting$150.00

    This screenprint is perfect for those who have a passion for biking, just like artist Taliah Lempert. Taliah is an avid cyclist: she raced at the Kissena Velodrome 8 years in a row and created Bicycle Painting to bring her experience of almost 20 years painting together with her favorite pastime. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, and the bikes she’s painted have been famous as well, she even painted Connie Carpenter’s road bike from her 1984 Olympic win.

    All these artists (and more) will be at the BUST Holiday Craftacular in Brooklyn on 9 and 10 September. The Craftacular will also feature classes and talks as part of the BUST School of Creative Living, where you can learn arts and craft skills yourself. Find out more here.

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    One year after the groundbreaking New York Times exposé about Harvey Weinstein, Amanda Palmer and Welsh songwriter Jasmine Power have released a powerful video accompaniment to their protest song, “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now.” The totally crowdfunded video (all profits are being donated to #TimesUp) is a female tour de force, directed by Noemie Lafrance, shot with an all-woman cast and crew, and featuring sixty women artists. It’s NSFW—shots include full-nudity and implicit assault. It’s a tough but essential watch. Shots of solemn, white Oxford-clad women alternate with anguished dance. As the final shot expands to a full choir, the sorrow—and defiance—is palpable. BUST spoke with Palmer about #MeToo and the difficult, but necessary, process of making this vision a reality.

    “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now” features the work of more than 60 women and the video concludes with a choir; why was it important to have such a strong collective, female presence?

    This moment in time and the progress that we are just beginning to grasp is so clearly about the power of the collective. So while we could have choreographed a video with five killer professional dancers, the sheer force of the number wouldn't have been an ingredient. It's also always important for me to include my community in what I make. This story isn't just my story—it's theirs. I come from a punk and performance art background, and it's always important to me that we all create together. I believe that everybody should be involved in making art, not just the so-called "professionals." So a lot of the women you see in the video have literally never been in front of a camera before, much less naked and raging in front of a camera. And there's something innately powerful about giving all these women a chance to be on the other side of the screen. It reflects what's been happening in the #MeToo era in general: women at every level are grabbing back the narrative, and the very platforms in which that narrative gets told.

    So, the video was totally crowdfunded—how does that interact with the video’s narrative or themes?
     
    The fact that this video was crowdfunded is essential. People are so used to seeing content appearing on their screens that they don't often think about where the funding comes from, and most musicians are still very loathe to express how the art-sausage gets made. Every time you see an expensive video, that money had to come from somewhere, and videos themselves don't earn any money. No major label would have ever funded this project. I was on a major label for many years and I have friends who still have to do battle in giant boardrooms to convince a bunch of men that their ideas are worthwhile. I don't want to work in conditions like that—it's why I went indie ten years ago. I would also never let corporate dollars fund a piece of work like this. I mean, I'm from the '80s and '90s and still believe that selling out is real. I think that having Dove Soap or Mac Cosmetics fund art like this literally undercuts the point of the art.

    Feminist art has to be able to exist in a liberated playing field without boundaries, without permissions, without dudes up in marketing telling you that your work is too this, too that, or "off brand." Fuck that. That's the sort of idiocy that trapped us in this mess in the first place. So if you're not independently wealthy, and there's no money coming from labels, and there's no money coming in from sponsorship, the only answer left is crowdfunding. The media is in a strange freefall right now, and people are so hungry for truth and authenticity in art and storytelling. This is why you're seeing people starting to flock to journalists and writers and musicians on platforms like patreon. I've been working on building my patreon for over three years, and I now have 12,000 people giving me about $3-4 a month so that I can make the art I want to make without having to answer to a higher power, and more importantly, without having to rely on the mainstream media to push my work into the world. And that feels like a revolutionary act right now. 

    Rape is (to say the least) a difficult topic to depict, and even imply, in a music video. Can you tell me about the process of translating that topic into visuals?

    Noemie [Lafrance, the music video director] and I discussed this at length and so carefully when we laid out the plans for the choreography, cast and crew. One of the most important things you'll notice is that Weinstein himself isn't represented in the video. Nor is a rape depicted. The song was written as an argument in a woman's head: Jasmine's voice and my voice are pitted against one another as if two sides of a woman's brain—"escape right now and deal with the consequences" versus "just lie back and let's get this over with." So many women I know have had to deal with that inner, crazy-making decision at one point or another. It was such a difficult thing to write about, especially with a specific title like that: these weren't our experiences, and we were using Weinstein as a springboard to a much larger conversation. I actually leaked the title of the song to my patreon blog before it came out and I got a text from one of my feminist journalist friends—Laurie Penny—saying, basically: "Eek - don't call your song 'Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now,' it's not your story to tell, Amanda. Be really careful and don't get yourself into a typical kerfuffle." And I challenged her and said: "Listen, when Weinstein is on the cover of every newspaper and his name is now synonymous with #MeToo, I think we're at the point of fair use." And she said: "Don't." And I said: "What if I just emailed Rose McGowan and asked her permission?" and Laurie said, "Wow. That's fair, I guess."

    So I wrote to Rose McGowan—whose book I had just finished reading, which played no small part in the inspiration for this song—and sent her the track and the lyrics. I asked for her blessing to use the title. And she told me that the song made her heart race and cry, and to go ahead and use the title. And I have to say, that whole exchange gave me so much hope for feminism. Laurie calling me out, my reaching out to Rose, all of us discussing the etiquette of story, respect and ownership together. Like feminism itself: it's always going to be messy as fuck, and nobody is ever going to agree completely, but we have to keep working together to keep this fire burning. Otherwise we are going to perish in the flames of in-fighting and useless battles over the nuances of language and consent while the patriarchy just marches along and crushes our chances.

    The song was originally released in May as a response to Weinstein’s crimes, but the video arrived in the midst of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. How do you think the timing has affected the conversation surrounding “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now”? 

    Oh my god, it was too poetically painful. The video release date was set for the 5th of October, which was the one year anniversary of the New York Times article on Weinstein, but as fate would have it, that was also when the hearing and the vote for Kavanaugh was going down. I hadn't planned to do a screening for the video—I've never done that—but I just happened to be in L.A. that week making a record and I said: fuck it, I really want to get everybody together in one room. Every artist and woman I know right now is just in a state of shock, being on the internet just wasn't enough. So I booked a theater and a few hundred people got to huddle in the dark and watch it together. And we did what needs doing right now: we talked. We wept. People got up and grabbed the mic and shared stories. A six-foot tall man wept in my arms while he told me about his assault and how people find it so hard to believe because he's such a huge dude. Making art and gathering people together is what I do. It felt like the strongest response I could possibly have to Kavanaugh: to get women in a room and share our stories. 

    How has the process of filming this video personally changed you?

    I've been making art and music videos like this for so many years and it wasn't until Trump was elected that I started proactively using my Patreon money to hire crews with more women. the "Mother" video that I shot was with a female director and a crew that was predominately women, plus a lot of them brought their kids, and I was like: holy shit, it's actually incredible when you have a film set that's run by women, there's just a completely different energy. And with the Weinstein video, Noemie and I committed to a cast and crew that was almost entirely female as well. And I can't quite describe the feeling in that room, but it was alchemical. As if we were harnessing something really massive and giving a pointed message to the universe with the act of making this video. And every woman on that set commented on it, and felt it. That video wasn't just about the product we were making, it was about the act of communion that birthed it. I think it fundamentally changed every woman in the building. We left feeling like we had a posse, we had hope, we had a voice. I said to the whole cast while we were rehearsing: even if the footage all gets lost in the river tonight: the point of this video has been archived. Because we're all here, we're all feeling this, and we're going to take this feeling back out into the world tomorrow. 

    What’s the change—big or small—you hope to provoke in viewers?

    I've already read some comment from women who said that the video provided them a real catharsis. That's the ultimate purpose of this work. And if just one person found a sense of camaraderie or healing as a result of this video, that's enough for me. 

    Top photo: Youtube / Amanda Palmer

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  • Screen Shot 2020 10 14 at 1.12.23 PM 7940cMedusa’s origin story is varied. Yet, the most widely recognized comes from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, in which Medusa was a mortal maiden in the temple of Athena, where she was raped by Poseidon. Soon after, Athena banished and cursed Medusa with a head of snakes and a gaze that turned men to stone. As the story goes, she was eventually beheaded by the epic hero Perseus, who used her head as a weapon before gifting it to Athena. Yesterday in New York City, a seven-foot-tall sculpture of Medusa was unveiled across from the Manhattan Supreme Court, where men accused of sexual assault, including Harvey Weinstein, have stood trial. However, this artistic rendition is an inverse of the Greek myth surrounding Medusa. The statue does not show Perseus holding the head of Medusa, but the other way around.

    The exhibition was conceived by MWTH (Medusa With The Head), an artist-led project that reimagines classical artists and their work. The sculpture was created in 2008 by Argentine-Italian artist Luciano Garbati but has amassed newfound fame in recent years. After Garbati posted a picture of his statue on social media in 2018, it went viral. Bek Andersen, the founder of MWTH, explained over email, “In my own art practice I have investigated flipping the script of power and gender roles, and in that moment, Garbati’s unapologetically revisionist Medusa spoke to my interests by reimagining the outcome of the myth of Medusa.”

    Placed across from the storied courthouse, Garbati says that Medusa’s location is important because the statue explores themes of justice. Yet, questions have been raised about why, then, would Medusa not hold the head of her rapist. Andersen explains that her initial inspiration for the project was sparked by a more specific event in recent history, the Kavanaugh hearings. “A man abuses his power... gets called out on it, and the woman is the one who ultimately suffers the fallout. And the man goes on to (gain) fame and acclaim,” she explains. Soon after, Andersen wrote a patron of the arts and proposed to bring the sculpture to New York and organize an exhibition featuring works that focus the center of power away from the patriarchal structures.

    Andersen points out that Medusa is familiar enough to engage a broad population in the dialogue, but with popularity comes criticism, this time about the nudity of the sculpture. Medusa With The Head of Perseus, which was sculpted by a man, is thin, pube-less, and perky-breasted raising criticisms that the work is yet another iteration of the male gaze. “But really she’s still the total object of the male gaze here,” explains Jerry Saltz for New York Magazine, “not of thought, fear, admiration, pathos, power, agency, or anything other than male idiocy.” Saltz goes on to say that this sculpture is business as usual: another naked female figure made by another white male artist. In all fairness, on Medusa’s behalf, Jerry Saltz is also a white male. “The criticism directed at Medusa comes as no surprise,” says Andersen, “whether or not intended, the style of mannerist sculpture is provocative in the context of our western puritanical value system. For a woman to be nude, to be beautiful, for no one’s gain, she is no person’s property.” Andersen explains that this reimagined Medusa is an independent agent, acting in self-defense.

    Although controversial, the discussion surrounding the sculpture which depicts one of the most famous mythological characters of all time is neither unfounded nor surprising. In 2017 as the #MeToo movement took off, the media’s spotlight was mostly focused on A-list celebrity accusations despite the original call to action being created by a Black female activist, Tarana Burke, in 2006. “The women of color, trans women, queer people—our stories get pushed aside, and our pain is never prioritized,” said Burke for Time Magazine. “We don’t talk about indigenous women. Their stories go untold.” However, Andersen doesn’t see MWTH’s new exhibition as an ending point. Instead, “a movement forward in a long and imperfect journey toward an embodied cultural understanding of equality.”

    Despite it all, Andersen welcomes criticism. She explains, “It is exciting that images of the work have generated a dynamic conversation. I don’t take issue with anyone’s response, and I don’t think any reaction could be considered wrong.” She continues to say that this sculpture is a reaction to an antiquated ideology. “My goal with MWTH project,” Andersen says, “is to provoke conversation and action that examines the narratives that shape our worldview.”

    Medusa’s rebirth as a victor makes a statement, especially as it sits across from the place where many abusers during the #MeToo movement faced the court, but may we not forget about the women who aren’t famous, and don’t have cultural influence whose stories have not been told and whose abusers have not been held accountable.

    Top Image: Luciano Garbati Medusa With The Head of Perseus, 2008-2020 Installed at Collect Pond Park. Courtesy of MWTH Project.

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  • parade 4419aSwedish-American conceptual artist Michele Pred is no stranger to art performance activism. Since 2016, she has been a member of For Freedoms, an artist-run platform inviting creative expressions of civic engagment. You may know her from her amazing neon purseswith sayings like Pro Choice, #METOO, Times up etc. Last December, she curated the Parade Against Patriarchy in Miami during Miami Art Week. It's a career defined by a singular mission: using art–and inspiring artists–to provoke a more radical tomorrow. Now, she’s taking the fight for America's midterm elections to New York’s streets.

    On November 3,  we will gather in Washington Square Park for the feminist parade, Nevertheless We Vote. It’s a seismic time for the nation’s politics–and Pred aims to mobilize every citizen to the ballots. The parade will finish at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery. She’s also launched a Kickstarter (with a goal of $16,000) to help fund the parade’s ambitious collaboration; confirmed artists gathering include Yvette Molina, Bud Snow, Yana Evans, Coby Kennedy, Bayete Ross Smith, and Krista Suh. Also joining the parade social justice organizations such as Center for Reproductive Rights, Gun X Gun, and Remember the Triangle Fire.

    BUST spoke with her on the organization, and conviction, needed to bring Nevertheless We Vote to life. 

    Why did you choose to incorporate a parade into a gallery exhibition?

    I actually see the parade as more of a separate effort. There are common themes, of course, and the parade references the show. However, where my solo show represents my voice and commentary, the parade is a collective action meant to bring many artist’s voices together. It is also about highlighting art’s role in depicting and amplifying different and challenging voices.

    How does the significance of bringing artwork into the streets of Miami and New York vary from bringing it into spaces like the Oscars?

    Each venue has had unique characteristics adding to the base narratives about female empowerment and voice. Miami took place during Art Basel and so included the notion of alternative artistic voices making noise in a very establishment art space. However being on the street in Miami meant that we encountered Uber drivers, hotel workers, and construction workers. I'm interested in reaching an audience that may not go to galleries or museums. The Oscars reached a much wider audience and carried the ideas into a very privileged world. New York, with its unique energy, will be about amplification and urgency in the face of the mid-term elections.  

    Tell me about using fashion as a vehicle for politics.

    I have always been drawn to the role fashion plays in both enabling and constraining women’s voices. While many, many aspects of fashion play out the history of denying a women’s fair role in our world, I also see it as an opportunity to flip the script and take control of what we say with our images and how the cultural eye sees us.

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    Art Parade Against Patriarchy was female-only, while the New York Parade is slated to include the work of male artists. What lead you to include men this time?

    Miami was a first step and I wanted to provide a safe environment for me and my fellow female artists to try something new and build a sense of community and shared action. It was very much a learning and confidence-building experience. New York will be about helping to effect change on a national scale and that has to include male allies.

    What message are you hoping to communicate with Nevertheless We Vote?

    Whatever your vocation, whatever your perceived role in our society, making your voice heard is critical to a vibrant, healthy and just world. The math works out if we persist and keep showing up.

    Do you think today’s artists have a responsibility to charge their work with political meaning?

    No. Artist have a responsibility to say something with their art, but it does not have to be overtly political… even though one can argue that everything is political and that one’s art is a unique opportunity. Rather I would say that everyone has a responsibility to engage politically. The medium is up to them.

    Top image courtesy of Nevertheless We Vote

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  • Sylvie Weber The Prophetess Still 13373

    "What started as an annual public exhibition of womxn-made art films in storefront windows is now a mission to support global cross-cultural dialogue," says Zehra Ahmed, the curator behind "Womxn in Windows," a new exhibit on Canal Street in New York City. The show is part of a multi-city screening series in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Shanghai. In New York, "Womxn in Windows" is now showcasing the films of Rémie Akl and Sylvie Weber in the storefront window of 321 Canal Street in association with ON CANAL by Wallplay—a district with over 20 storefront spaces dedicated to hosting short-term projects

    In each city, the films are placed in storefront windows to subvert the notion of women as objects by presenting their emotions, experiences, and intellect in spaces where mannequins are usually displayed. The films deal with subjects lincluding culture, religion, history, and gender. And in this unique time of globally shared experience because of COVID-19, "Womxn in Windows" also aims to present perspectives from outside of America that showcase resilience in other parts of the world. "Through the platform ["Womxn in Windows"] we believe we are learning from one another's cultures and experiences in a way that can contribute to a world with more equality, freedom, and respect," says Ahmed.

    Remie Akl A human an animal or a thing Still b3535


    Director Sylvie Weber is of German-Dominican descent, and her film on display is called The Prophetess. It is an award-winning exploration of spirituality, sisterhood, and the female body as a weapon of war. Set in the South Kivu region of the DR Congo, The Prophetess is based on the true stories of Furaha and Venantie, two women who experienced sexual terrorism. "I made a conscious decision to avoid the use of triggering imagery," says Weber of her film. "On the contrary, I wanted to focus on female strength and the healing effect of community."

    Director Rémie Akl, an artist from Lebanon, is showcasing three of her films. Each deals with themes surrounding the ongoing revolution in Lebanon and highlights the need to "restore humanity...regardless of belief."

    Weber says that upon viewing her work, she hopes people will feel, "hope, empowerment, and maybe even smile a little despite the highly sensitive topic. If I can evoke any of that in a few people," she continues, "I'm happy."

    Both Akl and Weber's films will be playing 24-hours-a day from now until November 15, 2020. They can also be watched online.

    Top Image: Still from Sylvie Weber’s The Prophetess, courtesy of the artist.

    Second Image: Still from Remie Akl’s A human, an animal or a thing, courtesy of "Womxn in Windows."

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  • 4278221010 5dec165c45 z 2e867

    “Why are girls to be told that they resemble angels; but to sink them below women... Yet they are told, at the same time, that they are only like angels when they are young and beautiful; consequently, it is their persons, not their virtues, that procure them this homage,” Mary Wollstonecraft says in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Wollstonecraft is regarded as the mother of Western feminist thought, and her texts are widely acknowledged as the major foundational philosophy for the women’s suffrage movement. Today in North London, her legacy has been realized through sculpture. Rising out of a swirling silver mass is a naked woman standing tall with a gaze staring straight ahead. On the base of the statue reads a quote by Wollstonecraft: "I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves."

    This is the first sculpture dedicated to the work and life of Wollstonecraft, and one of only 10 percent of statues in London commemorating women. Sculpted by Maggi Hambling, its unveiling comes after a decade of campaigning by the collective Mary on the Green to raise the £143,000 needed for its creation. Mary on the Green's campaign website reads, "The memorial will be a tangible way to share Wollstonecraft's vision and ideas. Her presence in a physical form will be an inspiration to local young people in Islington, Haringey, and Hackney… Just as the image of Churchill's memorial statue is used in debates on his legacy, the same is needed for Mary Wollstonecraft."

    While the idea is honorable, the execution seems to be amiss. To have a foremother of feminist thought commemorated in a nude "every-woman" form is a bit confusing. If not wholly unexampled, it's rare to see a male thought leader honored for his ideas through a naked statue. Unsurprisingly, the internet feels similarly. Here a few clever takes:

    Top Image vis Flickr/ Amaro Studios

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  • FVP Performance2 7a8c5Isolation. Police brutality. Violence. Quarantine. A global pandemic. Wildfires. COVID-19. These are some of the words that have been ringing through our ears since the start of 2020. It feels very much the meme of the dog in a hat, sitting in the kitchen while flames burn all around, saying “I’m fine.” But we are not fine. Very much not fine.

    While the world is on fire both literally and figuratively, we have adapted. Adapted to Zoom University, six feet apart dinner dates, distanced learning, sourdough starter kits, really long baths, more therapy sessions... the list goes on. We know this year is unfortunately unforgettable, but how do we remember our unforgettable good parts of 2020? Our new found joys, inner power, and strength? Our communities that comfort us especially during these unprecedented times?

    Lucky for us, we have artists whose storytelling reminds us that we are never alone. That who we are is enough.

    Art In Odd Places 2021: NORMAL, a public and performance art festival, will be featured along 14th Street in Manhattan, NYC on May 14 - 16, 2021. Founded and directed by artist, curator, Libra, and educator Ed Woodham back in the '90s, the festival has been showcasing art since 2005, challenging the idea of public space and personal liberties through art.

    This year’s theme, NORMAL, revolves around the idea of normalcy, one that has been challenged distantly by 2020. And it’s not the normal of a pre-COVID world. It is a normalcy that has allowed white supremacy, racism, police brutality, transphobia, and systemic violence to continue to be unchecked and unscathed in the United States. Sonya Renee Taylor's quote says it all: “We will not go back to normal. Normal never was…”

    The festival’s curator, NYC artist Furusho von Puttkammer (also a Libra) and her team have taken AiOP to a whole new level.

    “When I was first approached by Ed to curate Art in Odd Places 2021, I honestly felt like there was no other choice but to make the theme of this year’s festival a critique on NORMAL,” said Furusho.

    AIOP Group shot 87c84 Furusho, “a queer, mixed race weirdo art kid from the cookie-cutter suburbs,” says, “I was bullied, harassed, and abused by my peers because I didn’t fit into what “normal” was supposed to mean.”

    She adds, “When putting together the team for AiOP 2021, I wanted to make sure I was working with artists whose work was socially conscious and who could relate to me on an individual level.” When it comes to the idea of normal, Furusho calls bullshit. “NORMAL meant the American Dream. The pandemic has finally given a mainstream spotlight to how the American Dream is more like the American Myth. If you are poor, if you are a person of color, if you are queer, and especially if you are a mix of those things, the American Dream does not apply to you.

    “The American Dream, basically the American Normal, is bullshit, and finally American mainstream audiences are paying attention. It would be very un-American to not capitalize on this opportunity.”

     

    Ed Woodham supports and honors this vision – as one artist would do for the other. For Woodham, it’s about best case scenarios, autonomy, and trust. “I felt an urgency to reinvent Art in Odd Places (AiOP). AiOP is an ongoing experiment of what art in public space can be each annual iteration,” he said. “It’s an ongoing exercise of letting go. Furusho has worked with Art in Odd Places for two years prior so we began with a collection of experiences that gave us a working knowledge of understanding, trust, and a shared language. NORMAL is her vision.”

    And with this vision, the festival expands. A growing legacy and tradition that artists come together on 14th Street to share, celebrate, and hold space for each other.

    Yasmeen Abdallah, AiOP 2021’s Curatorial Assistant, sees art as necessary, especially right now. “I think perhaps now, more than ever, we need to find forms of connecting to one another during these isolating times. The fact that it’s outdoors and along the length of 14th Street makes it more feasible to create and experience art in a socially distanced way.” Abdallah loves that every part of it is free, from the application to the festival to the experience itself. The crux of the matter is about community engagement, public art, and accessibility. “14th Street is an especially significant area, with a dynamic history and importance, while also easily accessible for people geographically and ideologically.”

    With "normal" in mind, Sonya Renee Taylor’s quote is all the more powerful. Known for her writing The Body Is Not an Apology book and founding the movement by the same name, AiOP found it more than fitting to feature her words as part of the festival.

    “I noticed Sonya Renee Taylor’s quote being passed around the internet within the first few days of the NYC lockdown. The quote immediately struck a chord with me. Everything about Sonia Renee Taylor and her work aligns perfectly with the message we are trying to get across with this festival,” says Furusho.

    Furusho saw that the American “normal” is deadly, from student loans to the inability to pay medical bills to the protruding violence of racism, police brutality, and homelessness. Furusho experienced this too, with the effects of marginalization and otherness, as she calls it. Regardless, Furusho knew she had the power and the privilege to support and create a space for marginalized communities. “Though my family isn’t rich, I come from a supportive, loving, and economically stable household," she says. "That support and stability has given me access to opportunities that others don’t have access to. I feel it’s my responsibility to help create spaces where marginalized peoples can come together and share their experiences in an open and accessible platform.”

    For AiOP Curatorial Assistant Lorelle Pais, this quote resonates deeply. “As a fellow queer woman of color, I relate to the misportrayal of normalcy as something that seemingly anyone can achieve, but in reality is not obtainable by someone like me,” Lorelle says. “Normal never has been an option for some people. Normal is so relative that it cancels itself out: ten different people will have ten different answers to what normalcy is. I love the clarity of this sensation, this wake up call, this reminder that the American dream is only just a dream.”

    One thing’s for sure: art plays an important role in our society. And it is something that can’t be done alone.

    “Art is just philosophy and experience made visual, in my opinion. It gives us the invaluable opportunity to see the world through another’s perspective, which allows us to learn something new or find someone to relate to. Art in Odd Places acts as a platform to communicate those different perspectives to an audience who might otherwise not be interested,” says Furusho.

    Woodham calls artists "the canaries in the mine" that warn of the dangers ahead. “Art is at the core of inquiry and understanding as we collectively confront the inequities, isms, and phobias that disregard and colonize peoples, cultures, and ideas,” he explains.

    “Artists are cultural producers. It’s our job to understand the time we live in, and the contexts of words and actions,” says Abdallah. “I think that Art in Odd Places is a really thoughtful way to bring out many different perspectives, voices, ideas, and creative avenues of engagement to communicate in real time and space with people so that we can have these conversations, honestly and openly.”

    Amanda WuAiOP's Social Media Manager and an artist who focuses on the climate crisis and social justice, describes artists and time as coexistent. “I think that artists mark a pinpoint in time. We showcase what is happening currently and challenge the viewers to truly see and notice what is happening.”

    Art in Odd Places 2021: NORMAL festival is a celebration. Maybe not so much in the traditional way, but perhaps in the sense that communities never die. Traditions are constantly being reinvented and the resilience and joy of people, especially marginalized communities, is vital and need to be recognized. Always.

    To fellow artists and those who dabble in the creatives (whatever that looks like) AiOP’s team offers some insight to combating burnout, fatigue, and overall hopelessness when it comes to being creative and surviving this world.

    Furusho von Puttkammer: Let yourself simmer in the chaos for a while, then go on autopilot and get things done. Forget perfection, just do it. Believe in yourself enough to figure it out along the way. Look inwards, start small, forgive yourself, and forgive others. As environmental activist Shelbi Orme says, “You can not do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that you can do.”

    Ed Woodham: Do not judge your strange behavior and your berserk newfound daily patterns based on the Pre-Pandemic archaic modalities. Those were put in place by the ‘homogenized cis heteronormative patriarchal white supremacy’ to restrict self-realization in order to block access to personal power(s). So, no wonder we are uncomfortable, at odds with what to do and who we are – as these obsolete systems and imposed mores FINALLY crumble into dust. It’s okay to do nothing, not knowing what to do – as it’s a reasonable response in the initial stages of reinventing ourselves.

    Yasmeen Abdallah: Release that stress however you can. Try not to suppress it, because that’s toxic. Slow down, take it in, feel those awful feelings, then turn that negative energy into something cathartic that will free you of it. I really believe that we have to practice what we preach. Keep protesting, creating political art, reading, learning, growing, and fighting oppression.

    Lorelle Pais: Pushing through burnout is painful, but it gives life to so many powerful ideas, a lot like a phoenix cycle of burning and rising from ashes. The advice I would give is to allow time for the cycle to flow naturally, to let yourself rest and let the ash settle. There is no time, so why worry about time?

    Amanda Wu: I also think it is important to take the time to do nothing, we don’t need to be constantly creating. Though sometimes if I want to make something but I’m not sure what I just sit in front of some paper and materials and create anything. It doesn’t have to be good, it could just be a doodle. Not every piece needs to be a masterpiece, it could just be something pretty that you like so you get some creative expression out. Your voice matters, your art matters, even if it is to just one other person.

    With 2020 coming into a close (three months left!), art and community solidarity is what is keeping us present and positive during this unprecedented times. “Now, more than ever, it’s important for us as artists to continue to share our perspectives on the state of America,” says Furusho.

    AiOP 2021: NORMAL will be live May 14 -16, 2021 on14th Street in Manhattan, NYC. Applications are open July 24 – December 1 at 11:59 PM EST. On December 21, applicants will be notified of their decision.
    To connect more, you can visit AIOP's Instagram @artinoddplaces and/or website www.artinoddplaces.org.
    AiOP is looking for volunteers to help out during the festival! Please contact them via email or Instagram.
    To donate to the artists for their amazing work, find them on Venmo: @Furusho-vonPuttkammer, @EdWoodham, @Yasmeen-Abdallah, and @Amanda-Wu-6.

    Top photo courtesy of Ricardo von Puttkammer
    Second photo courtesy of AIOP Team

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  • Oct 2015 02 88e76

    Anatomy of Autonomy is a touring art showcase curated by writer, activist, and public speaker Shannon Edwards. Through a variety of mediums, non-binary, women, and transgender artists explore the intersections of sexuality, gender, race, disabilities, and class. By confronting these themes, the artists address the ways that they have been systematically oppressed.

    The show hopes to destigmatize identities while also creating a space where misunderstood and disenfranchised people can find empowerment and healing. Each tour date will have a different assembly of intersectional artists to create a one-of-a-kind experience for all in attendance.

    The show features acclaimed artists Kaija J. Xiao, Scientwehst, Violet Paley, and many others. Find more information on the curator here, and check out a sampling of pieces below.

    April 7th
    Grapefruits Art Space
    2119 N Kerby, Suite D, Portland, OR 97227

    c per slice3 482e1Anna Vo - “$c per slice 3”

    IMG 7632 2.43.44 PM 999daEllie Gordon

    IMG 7607 2.43.44 PM 0500dMarisa Smith

    jan 2017 33eb5Kaija J. Xiao

    April 11th
    Qulture Collective
    1714 Franklin St, Oakland, California 94612

    beam 4722fAmina El Kabbany - “Beam”

    split rock tape mountains aysia stieb apples oranges 2016 393ddAysia Stieb

    IMG 1314 2.43.44 PM d464eNamaste Shawty

    April 13th, 2018
    New Women Space
    188 Woodpoint Rd., Brooklyn, New York 11211

    FDF9D415 A7BD 4732 9FE0 67B16C8604B0 686d2Alex L.

    unnamed 1 5abdeScientwehst - “Unnamed 1”

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  • instore portrait cc886

    In a world that suggests nothing lasts, plastic is forever. That’s why Brooklyn-based artist Robin Frohardt, 37, is exploring the discrepancy between how briefly we interact with plastic versus how long it stays around in her installation and performance piece, “The Plastic Bag Store.” Originally staged in the Carolina Performing Arts' CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio in Chapel Hill, NC, the piece resembles a grocery store, but the aisles are all lined with plastic bottles, boxes, and containers filled with products made by Frohardt out of plastic bags. “I was at the grocery store watching someone double and triple bag all this food that was already in a bag inside of a box inside of another bag,” she says of the inspiration behind the project. “I was just struck by the absurdity of how much disposable packaging there is in our lives.”

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    A work of art as well as a performance space, “The Plastic Bag Store” also hosts puppetry performances in the evenings that offer a tragicomic glimpse into the ways our trash could be interpreted by future generations. “We only use most plastic for a split second,” explains Frohardt, “so I thought it would be funny if in the future people assumed that these things were of great value. Like, why else would we make so much of it and make it so enduring?”

    Frohardt’s aim is to create a funny and engaging experience that individuals want to explore. “Because you can walk through the installation like a grocery store, and you can go through the aisles and look at the products,” she says, “you’ll take that with you the next time you’re in [a real] grocery store.” 

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    While the installation premiered in Chapel Hill, versions will soon be cropping up in New York and San Francisco. Find out when the piece will be heading your way at PlasticBagStore.org.

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    By Katie Shepherd

    Photos by Johnny Andrews / UNC-Chapel Hill

    This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 print issue of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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  • Fran Matisse 99166

    The recent internet frenzy of ’90s nostalgia have brought Fran Drescher’s titular character from The Nanny to our current pop-culture lexicon. One could argue that Fran’s sartorial choices were their own character in the show, thanks to the talent of costume designer Brenda Cooper. Visually centric social media apps such as Instagram and Pinterest provide the perfect home for Fran Fine’s show-stopping ensembles thus making her a viral sensation.

    One particular Instagram @thenannyart is exemplifying notions of fashion as wearable art by comparing Fran Fine’s looks with fine art.

    Fran Mondrion 31978Fran as a Piet Mondrian

    Brussels-based independent curator and founder of drawingroomplay.com, Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte recalls watching the show as a teen and being inspired by the “beauty in the artifice of this over-the-top-sitcom.” After seeing a still shot of Drescher’s character looking over her shoulder in a red and white patterned jacket, he was struck by how much the image resembled Gerard Richter’s 1988 painting, Betty. Using his keen eye for making visual connections, Van Eeckhoutte has curated an impressive gallery of images that combine Fran’s outfits with contemporary art.

    Fran art ad493The one that started it all: Fran as a Gerhard Richter. 

    Additionally, Van Eeckhoutte’s juxtaposition between the “high culture” of the art world and the ’90s camp of the sitcom addresses the show’s narrative, in which the class difference between Fran and the Sheffields was a defining theme. The lady in red from Queens and her over-the-top, tell-it-like-it-is persona contrasted with the Sheffields' refined, jaded existence on the privileged Upper East Side.

    Fran Jester c820aFran as a Picasso

    Fran water melon fe464Fran as a Josh Smith

    Images courtesy of Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte of @thenanny art via Instagram

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  • Color Tristen ed37f

    Nashville singer-songwriter Tristen has released her new music video, "Partyin’ Is Such Sweet Sorrow," and her luminous libretto won’t be the only thing imprinted on your mind. While making the video, Tristen explored a question that has tormented many women: why our lives, characters, and overall beings are so often created by, for, and through the male perspective. 

    Tristen soaked in the man-makes-woman perspective, turned the tables by casting a "lover boy" to lip sync her satisfyingly melancholic vocals in the music video, and took back the power over her own womanhood. Tristen asks, “I am a woman writing, singing as a male character about his relationship with women. How often does that happen?” Her response is the ultimate woman-makes-man art form.

    Tristen has not only flipped the script, but unlocked the door to even larger questions at hand: Where are all the women? Where are the complex and intriguing female characters? And where are the women’s lives and perspectives told by women? Tristen paired her music video with a powerful essay titled "Is Art Imitating Life or Just Limiting Women?”

    Read Tristen's essay below, watch "Partyin’ Is Such Sweet Sorrow" above, and prepare to be inspired to make your own magic.

    Is Art Imitating Life or Just Limiting Women?

    To me, great songs are stories set to music that reveal some hairy truth we can all relate to. I recently wrote a song about a barfly who lost his true love. My Henry Chinaski was coasting rock and roll’s rock bottom, with only the lonely enabling his addictive repetitions. "Partyin’ is Such Sweet Sorrow," as I named it, needed a music video, and this archetype felt real after living in Nashville among artists, lost dreams, and fevered egos. For the video, I found a rugged, drunken lover boy with great hair to lip sync my song, while the voice was still mine. I'm thinking, I am a woman writing, singing as a male character about his relationship with women. How often does that happen?

    I’m talking to a friend on the phone, feeling like a unicorn in hell’s dick forest, and I remember that I must focus my feminine powers on wedging myself into my favorite spot: Promoting the confusion, creating questions, flowing with fluidity, and hanging in the mystery space of differentiation, identification, categorization, and cultivation of self. I remember how fitting in always feels hard for those with a sensitivity to contradiction.

    My friend asks, “Who are your favorite female characters written by women?" I pause, thinking. Harper Lee, The Handmaid’s Tale, Meryl Streep in Heartburn, Celie in The Color Purple, "Amelia" by Joni Mitchell, "Jolene" by Dolly. I’m stalled. This is hard, so I break it down. What are my favorite works of fiction written by women? I think of a few more, but I’m mostly grasping at straws. I tell my friend that I’ll have to call him back. Why was this so hard?

    So, I consult further data. According to the study Gender and the Billboard Top 40 Charts between 1997 and 2007, women make up only about 11% percent of the total number of songwriters, yet 37% of the songs had women contributing to lyrics. The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film’s recent study had women accounting for 13% of writers. Salon reports that women in literature are doing better, making up about 30% of most publishers’ rosters, and about the same percentage, 33% percent, are getting reviewed in publications. And we’ve all heard the classic tales of women writers using a nom de plume to seem like dude.

    Even if I accept the numerical disadvantage of finding female writers, I still must dig for female characters because, according to Gender Bias Without Borders: An Investigation of Female Characters in Popular Films Across 11 Countries, as of 2014, named females only account for 1 out of 3 characters, and only about 23% of films have a female protagonist or co-protagonist at all. Got it. There are fewer female characters being created, but hey, not all boys are bad at writing interesting female characters, right?

    The walls draw in closer as I read about the Bechdel Test. A little more than half of movies currently pass this test, which requires a movie to have at least two women in it, who talk to each other, about something besides a man. Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room Of One’s Own in 1929, “It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen's day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman's life is that.” Men have created the few images of women that exist, and about half of those characters aren’t written realistically. Woolf notices, “All these relationships between women, I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery of fictitious women, are too simple.” Is this why my female relationships are constantly plagued with talk of men and love? Are we only mimicking mens’ image of us?

    Humans learn to communicate through mimicry. After our parents replicate themselves into us, they impress their unlived dreams onto us. My mother, pregnant and then married at 18, would tell me, “Don’t get married until you’re 30." Too often living in Nashville, we see musicians grooming their three-year-olds for a life on the stage. A teenager delineates Bob Dylan’s career before he’s ever worked a job or fallen in love. We grow and learn inside the reflection of our parents' regrets, misfortunes, or expectations for greatness, that even they could not achieve.

    We mimic what we see. When my one-year-old niece tried to make her my sister laugh for the first time, she strutted around the room talking into the palm of her hand, babbling and laughing. This toddler looked as if she was talking to a little person in her hand. We finally realized she was imitating my sister talking into her phone while on FaceTime. And this little girl is growing up in a habitat of images, instant information, communication, and connectivity. The black mirror now permeates our development.

    And it’s so new. Only within the last 100 years, humans have establish widespread radio communication, the television, and finally, in the last 30 years or so, the internet, which for the first time allows instant communication between the users of the technology. According to the Nielsen report, each day, Americans are immersed in their screens for about 5 hours of television, an hour on the internet, and three hours of radio. These screens most likely show images of women created in the tradition of men’s fiction. In all of this, sadly, the rare, oversimplified depictions of women, usually in relationship to men, are hypnotic mirrors for men, too.

    And as a great leveler and oppositional reaction, I can swear off male artists forever, but this feels like the tool of the oppressor, just further dividing and reacting, and it feels too simple. How can I become the change I want to see while men’s art is within me still? It flows in the conversation of consciousness, my mimicry, and therefore, my creations. The only solution I can see is to reveal the concealed conversations through my work.

    It’s called the conquest for truth, because truth is not a trust fund that kicks in when you are eighteen. It is not a gift; it must be discovered. You must perpetually pull weeds from the garden, so flowers can grow. You must accept that when you are sleeping, there is always someone willing to distort, obscure, obfuscate the truth, in hopes of getting a leg up. Regardless of gendering the writer and gendering the characters to establish the numerical meekness of the female writer’s scream, men and love of men are still the usual subject of mainstream women’s art. Just one more truth to survive and thrive in, because right now, as you are reading this, despite all of this, it is still the best time to be a woman. Woof. Or maybe Woolf.

    So please don’t bore us, get to a female singing a chorus, where the lyrics are about something other than a man. It’s clear that women see very little representations of their own complexity from their own perspective in art. So before you are eaten by time, catch the wave of reform with your surfboard, and even more so, revere or unearth the untold stories in art. As we distill the human experience into a clever turn of phrase, and as these characters mesmerize the masses, I’m only asking that art imitate life, rather than limit women.

    Top photo courtesy  Tristen

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