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February 28, 2008

The Digital Storytelling of Unequal Rights

America is the home of the brave and land of the free, right? Unfortunately not. At least not free for our homosexual population. Though for centuries we have been known for our human rights and equality, today we are behind other nations in our stance on gay rights.

I chose two digital story telling clips form The Center, a digital media project website based out of San Diego County. It’s sole purpose is as a website to support the LGBT cause and its members. I decided to go to this website because I avidly support gay rights. So much so that I can’t see the other side of the issue when I try to. I feel that I could never succumb to that level of ignorance. My feelings are really strong on this, as you can tell.

A Marriage Equality Story

The Triumph of Forbidden Love

The first clip that I watched was “A Marriage Equality Story.? Fernando Lopez wrote it. He had met his husband when he was 19. They soon fell fast in love. Michael got sick soon got sick with a pain in his side. He did not seek medical attention because he did not have insurance. Because his condition was left untreated his health quickly worsen and he went into the hospital where he was unconscious for 5 days. After this ordeal they have started speaking out about marriage equality, in any way possible. Fernando has become a public speaker on gay rights and continues to fight for his rights each day.

The second clip that I chose is “Forbidden Love? by Bob Kelly and Bill Taylor. It is a story of gay love between two men that met in 1979. Back then gay rights were even less prevalent than today. They were separated through their jobs and had to hide their relationship from their families. They survived the hardest years of their lives and are still together and happy. Their message to the listeners of their story is “Live be happy, and be true to yourself, in this there lies the victory.?

I chose this video because I thought it was a touching story. They had to hide their relationship from their families. Love is the one thing that will always make you feel alive. And to keep that inside of you and hide it has got to be one of the hardest things in the world. I have so much respect for these men. They lived through decades that were not as accepting as society is today. Even though we are not where we should be, we are still better off than where we came from.

Both of these pieces were made with photos from the men’s’ relationships. Both also have a voice over telling the story in the background.

I liked these two stories because they made me realize again how important gay rights are. Everyday that I wake up I believe in equality. If I were to be asked how I felt about gay rights I would give my opinion. But sometimes I feel that people form opinions and keep them the same, unopen to change. And today I realized that I don’t do that. I am always up for listening to a good argument or hearing new viewpoints. I have not yet heard a good argument for discriminating about a group of people, but maybe some day I will. Or maybe, I never will. Because the voices of these men rang so true, that they could never be wrong.

February 27, 2008



“Blue Christmas is based on a Christmas theme and it is a celebration of the video maker’s anniversary. I love this video because it is very colorful and vibrant. Moreover, I like this video for its homely and happy feelings that is brings to me. It feels joy is surrounded all over. It is a very cozy video and the theme song “Blue Christmas? by Jack, Tanner and Anja is very sweet and loveable.
This video was created on 14th of January 2008.


digital stories

The stories I watched were from here: http://www.storycenter.org/stories/index.php?cat=2

This digital story was made by Kim Dennis in a digital storytelling workshop through a social work program. The story, done by someone who had worked to help youth others for years, is about her learning to let go and to help people find their own way. She frames this in the context of her helping people rather than enabling them, and also in getting a stronger sense of individual and relational self in the process.

In telling this story, she mixes pictures (with various effects), video and music. I like the way that she mixes up the pace so it doesn’t get boring, and the raw, honest way that she speaks.

This story spoke to me because I can relate to being a caretaker and to feeling like I need to be needed. I haven’t learned to let go yet, but someday I hope to get there.

Breaking Free by Griffin Kinnard is a powerful story about growing up in foster care and the ways that it has affected him. He has lived a hard life, and in response to the breakup of his family and what he had been through he shut out other people and turned against the world. With help, he began to work to overcome his pain, became an advocate, and here he talks about his life and how he feels now as he does that work.

The form is a mix of old pictures and video, with Griffin doing a voiceover throughout, narrating the chronology of time and about his feelings. His voiceover is often poetic, and there is music in the background as well.

I especially appreciate this story because it speaks so strongly to the experiences of youth who are growing up in the foster system; their voices are not often heard, and they should be more often.

Ironing and Sacrificios

I love the stories Ironing and Sacrificios, because they both told me something really moving about life in America.
Ironing is the story of Ryan Trauman's loss of his parents and the way that ironing, a simple household chore, helps him to make sense of and smooth over his feelings. I thought that it was really well produced - the music was perfect and he read beautifully. The screen capture I chose has a photo of his mother that I loved.
Sacrificios is the story of a laborer from Mexico and his family. The narrator is the son of a man who worked all his life for a landowner in Texas, and he tells the story of a family hoping to be recognized for their dedication. Again, I thought that the photos and the music were perfect, and I liked that at the end the narration switched to Spanish. It felt like a personal story, but with a wider purpose and message of hope to people who can relate to this life.

Screen shots after the jump --->



Response to the Movie call Southern Comfort

My critical response is on the movie call Southern Comfort by Kate Davis. It is a documentary movie which brings us an insight about the transgender struggle to live in this society and what humiliation they have to go throughout their life. This movie was really shocking to me because of several reasons. First of all, I have heard of the transgender, the gay and the lesbian relationship but until now I have never felt so emotionally attach to their pain and grief. This movie brought an actual picture of the transgender community to me. In our daily life we get so busy that we never get a chance to ponder over what type of struggle other people go through in their life. We always try to think of our problem, how sad and how tough our lives are and most importantly we care a less about anyone else.

This movie was different than any other movies I have ever seen before. I actually, liked the depth and the flawless emotion in this movie. In fact, the struggle that Robert went through in his life seems unbearable. What was most shocking in this movie that his mom had actually didn’t approve of him as a transgender. Furthermore, Robert mentioned in his documentary that when he told his mom that he/she is not a lesbian rather a transgender his mom said I wish you would just stayed as a lesbian then what you are. I felt those words were really painful and it must have hurt his feeling. Later, in the movie hospital refuses him to be admitted because they thought he would bring humiliation for them. Some doctors said that they cannot accept him in their hospital because they cannot put him along the rest of the patients such as in OBGYN. It was really sad to see him dying with no medical assistant and with no community help beside his own transgender community. No one even bother to fight for his right and dignity and he passed away keeping all of his pain inside. Apart from that I really like Robert’s personality because even though he was fighting and struggling through his life but he never lost his hope to live. He was a happy man as anyone else could have been; however, at times his face did show the signs of cruel harshness of this world.
In addition to that, there were times when Robert’s friends were discussing their life stories when one mentioned that although doctors have treated them in the past and gave them the desire look. However, they have not done the perfect job because they do not want us to look natural and there are always these things which separate us from the rest. Moreover, they think that today technology is capable of doing almost anything in any ways. And, if doctor wanted and wishes to make things look natural and more perfect then they should have but they chose to not make us look like the rest.
I personally think that and feel that it is time that we should stop discriminating people based on their gender and accept them as they are. Moreover, we should give them the same privilege as we have given others and there is no need to let them die and suffer till the end because overall they are human being just like us and we should respect that. At last, I think everyone has a right to chose what they want to be and our society should accept their decision and treat them well because if we don’t then the humanity will lost from this world.

February 26, 2008

Digital Story


I really understand this digital story. It also goes with what we were talking about in class about how the camera can capture part of a story that isn’t even true. This woman hates her photograph being taken; she hates that forced pose. Sally Davies uses photographs mainly from her family life, since this piece is reflecting on her mother’s words to “just smile naturally.? I enjoyed it because I completely understand her feelings about “forced smiles.? I will openly admit that I practice my forced smile regularly in front of the mirror and with a digital camera. It’s also true that my favorite pictures of myself are when I’m too drunk to care about my posing. Davies ends the piece on a lighter note by acknowledging there are moments when a smile doesn’t need to be forced. She is not ruining photos as she thinks she has been. She apologizes to her mother in text at the end saying she was right. I really liked the personal family touches that came from this piece.



Yunnie Tsao Snyder is telling her mixed race story using photographs of her family as well as images like of Martin Luther King Jr. and eighth notes. Her story reflects on what it means to be mixed race for her. She is not one or the other, a white woman or having a dragon lady inside of her. She feels that pull that comes from various identities and that effects how she sees herself in the world. Her feminist perspective comes through her work and influences her ability to tell her story.


The “Kelly? Phenomenon


“Let Me Borrow That Top?

I’ll admit it; I too was hooked in by the “Kelly? YouTube videos. I first saw them last semester, but had heard a lot about them from my friends. Most likely you have seen Liam Kyle Sullivan’s most popular video, “Shoes.? In this video a socially awkward teenage girl is obsessed with shoes. Through rock music and her quirky personality she gets her point across. This video was the winner of the 2007 People’s Choice Award for the Favorite User-Generated Video. Sullivan is a comedian that is from Norfolk, Massachusetts, is currently living in Los Angeles, and tours the country to do his comedy routines. When you watch his videos you will realize that he plays many different characters in his videos. He states that he likes to play characters that “never let anyone grind them down.? And after you have seen the Kelly videos you will find this to be true.

The forms of Sullivan’s pieces are meant to be humorous. “Shoes? is a great example of a video made for just laughs. But as the Kelly series continued social issues were implemented. My favorite YouTube video is “Let Me Borrow That Top.? “Shoes? was a 4-minute video with 3 minutes of dance. “Let Me Borrow That Top? is quite different, being a video almost 7 minutes long, with 4 minutes of light talk on social issues. Even though Sullivan makes light humor of some of the issues, he still gets his points across. This video touches on issues of homosexuality, acceptance of different cultures, and weight issues.

It starts out when Kelly’s Aunt Susan comes to visit the family and brings her Spanish-speaking girlfriend. One of my favorite parts of the dialogue portion of the video was when Kelly’s brother was called out when he used the word gay in place of stupid. Although most of the video is meant to be humorous I have found that I appreciate Sullivan’s video for different reasons. After the “Shoes? video he realized that he had a lot of pull with the public viewers and opinions. In most of his videos after “Shoes? he incorporates social issues casually into his videos. As he portrays the issues as humorous he also subliminally pushes his liberal viewpoints towards viewers of the video. I find this to be a good use of his newfound fame.

Screen Captures


Feministing posted an entry on this ad campaign featuring battered women. The campaign suggests that women's former sports bras were not providing adequate support, and the result was the image above, and others like it. Apparently, women's breasts are so unruly that they can cause abuse that is much more suggestive of domestic battery. I think that is the reason this image is able to draw in a viewer. Particularly on a site like feministing, my mind went straight to abuse. The primary ad they show simply looks like an athlete who got roughed up in a game or boxing match...something. But go to the jump and you get this image. Abuse draws on emotions and curiosity. The fact that this was supposed to invoke humor...that women's breasts could be a source of violent injury...shows the spectrum of perspectives different audiences take.

Feministing did provide this notice after posting the entry, which I feel deserves to be noted:

Note: We have been contacted by the company Running Free and they have cleared up that this ad is in fact NOT theirs; an ad agency pitched the idea to them and they rejected it because of their own offense to it. Regardless, the fact that any ad companies are even thinking to create these kinds of ads (and the positive online response to it) is still gross nonetheless.


A former president always has attention. Especially when he is campaigning for his wife. About a year ago, Clinton has a bit of a famous episode on Fox News, where he more or less took out Chris Wallace in an interview regarding 9/11. In the heavy campaign season, a former president directly pointing his finger...regarding something as touchy as abortion...turns a head or two...especially considering the headline feministing posted. He's quoted:

"We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. I reduced abortion. Tell the truth! Tell the truth! If you were really pro-life, if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother, as an accessory to murder, in prison, and you won't say you wanna do that, because you know that you wouldn't have a lick of political support. Now, the issue is, you can't name me anybody presently in politics that did more to introduce policies that reduce the number of real abortions, instead of the hot air putting out to tear people up and make votes by dividing America. This is not your rally."

The pointed nature turns head. The heated topic turns heads. The fact that he said this at a rally of anti-choicers...turns heads.

Digital Story Telling

“Star Gazing? by Sarah Eyles is a beautiful piece about finding a simple answer to a very complex question, especially for a child. “Where do we come from?? Sarah found her answer as a young child. By simply closing her eyes, she saw the stars that stretched beyond our own universe and concluded that this is where she came from.
Sarah found constant comfort in the stars above her.
As an adult, Sarah went to Israel. There she spent a great deal of time star gazing and once again found the comfort that she had once found as a young child. Beneath the Milky Way she once again found her sense of home with the stars.
Sarah uses different forms of images to portray her story. Some are photographs of herself or of the night sky while others are concise drawings of the sky from space. All of these images contribute to her story of where she came from.

Digital Stories


"Mama Basrat" is about a nostalgic man who expresses the amount of influence his Great Aunt had on him, also tied in to his homesickness. He was born in Ethiopia but currently lives in the states. I loved the beginning of his story because of the use of the rain, it also reminds me of home (Sudan), although I only lived there briefly in childhood. The rain for my family (and extended family) was means for everyone to come together, tell stories, cook "rain foods" (foods reserved for rainy days), etc. There was definitely a feeling of being safe, loved, and protected.

I found the usage of black and white photographs from his childhood to be very expressive and drives him (to me anyway) the feeling of desiring things from the past. As someone who has spent most of her life in foreign lands away from him, I find myself being able to identify very well with him.


"The awakening" is a piece by Sharon. Sharon speaks of her aspirations and excitement as a female black student who goes on to attend college. She describes her wanting to fit in and attempting to assimilated but always being reminded of who she is (a black woman), her hopes to "save" the world (joining the civil rights movement) eventually being dashed and finally packing up and going back home when she realizes that her impressive white friend was not willing to allow her to meet her parents. The ending was a bit open ended, but in less than three minutes, Sharon was able to capture the strong emotions (confusion and pain) that accompanies interracial relationships (in this case, friendship), and what it's like to be a student of color in what I can only imagine is a largely white high education Institution. And although this story was set in 60s , the apprehensions she felt are similar to what I feel sometimes (well, besides the civil rights/parents of friends won't accept me part).

I enjoyed the imagery used, the tone of her voice, and this is an assumption but the usage of images of her "today" and in the past while telling a story that is from the past shows the crossover between events. That things have not really changed.

If that makes sense.

Digital Storytelling


“Born In the Wild?
is Kathleen McCann’s story about her childhood and how her lifestyle was significantly different than others. Unlike most English children, Kathleen grew up and was raised in Northern Rhodesia and South Africa. Although her parents worked hard to surround her with a British environment, they could never fight the fact that the wild surrounded them.
Kathleen’s story focuses a lot on their trips. Even her trips with her brother to their boarding school school involved views of the rainforest and even Victoria Falls. Vacations consisted of their adventurous father taking them to placed many adults never get to see.
From the digital story, you can see that the images go along perfectly with the narration. The various pictures show young children as well as adults dressed in a Western attire as they are constantly surrounded by the wild African environment.

Indian. Woman. Storyteller.

Home…in past tense? by Bix Gabriel


When I was growing up Hyderabad had a bad reputation. People who were from there or had some cultural attributes were not as good as other Indians. No one ever came out and said that, it was just something that I knew. I came to college not really giving that a second thought. I didn’t think people from Hyderabad were bad, I just didn’t challenge the notion that they weren’t any good. All I knew was that I loved Hyderabadi Biryani.

This piece resonated with me because I loved seeing pictures of India and learning more about the South Indian culture. Being half-Indian myself, I love anything to do with India…no matter what region. I found her story to be rather engaging and I thought her quote about her house back in Hyderabad being "a musum about growing up," and her before and after photos of Hyderabad to be poignant reminders of capitalism and globalization.

I thought it was so cool that Bix Gabriel was exploring her roots and not forgetting where she came from. I loved seeing an Indian woman who was filmmaker in the spotlight – definitely don’t get enough of that. This piece was an excellent reminder of stereotypes that learned growing up and that I personally still have work to be a more socially just person.


The Talking Tree? by Surya Govender

I loved the Indian music! The sitar was a perfect touch to connecting old memories of Indians to present day. Surya Govender resonated with me because she talked about her father who didn’t talk about his history – I can relate. Much of my racial ethnicity was hidden from me growing up due to my father’s explicit wish that his children would grow up without an accent and as Americans.

Govender’s story was educational to me because I didn’t know that South Asians/Indians were so involved with the apartheid in South Africa. That was not made known to me as I was growing up, I don’t know why, but I was raised as a Christian girl, hold the race. Obviously everyone else saw that I was a young woman of color, but when they asked what I was, I replied, “American.? I could see where Govender was coming from, feeling the lack of connection to her history and also saddened at the circumstances that came about so that her father could and would not share his history with her.

I really liked her quote and I believe that she is correct in saying that, “the stories that matter the most are the hardest to tell.?

February 25, 2008

Digital Storytelling


I absolutely love this story because of its simplicity. The author, Sally Davies, uses snapshots of herself, both "good" and "bad" layered over her own narrative. She is a Welsh woman who gives us just enough personal information that it is her story but not enough that it is not translate-able to anyone who watches the clip. Her story is about how she looses the ability to "smile naturally" and how she finds moments (usually inspired by alcohol) that the natural smile resurfaces. (It also made me think of my mother, who also does not like the way she smiles in pictures : ) ).



This second digital storytelling is about (how cheesy) true love. It is authored by Carol Bolton. It tells the story of meeting her first love, their first date and how they fell in love. It also talks about the years that interviened, the marriages (to others at first, then to each other) that interviened and the "Magnetic Attraction" they still felt when they reunited. Bolton uses snapshots of flowers as well as flowery rhetoric (love bloomed, etc), "borrowed images," hand drawn images, as well as snapshots of the two. She layers music and her voice over these images to produce her story.

FREE: Photography Exhibit Opening on Motherhood

Monday, April 7, 2008
4:00-6:00 p.m.

Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota West Bank 222 21st Av. S., Minneapolis

Monday’s event will feature the opening of the Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood Is Not a Class Privilege in America photography exhibit, along with a talk by exhibit creator and historian Rickie Solinger. Tours of the Social Welfare History Archives, located in the Andersen library, will also be available.

February 24, 2008




Fever Dream lacks a couple of the elements that we've been looking at, but it works for how simple an idea it is. I don't think the story here is so much about what he's saying, because he has a fever and his ideas are pretty sporadic. (That is one of the things I related to, I think I often talk that way) I think the story is more about him through what he says, rather than about what he is saying. Daniel Liss I believe is the creator of all the videos on this site. Through his other videos and comments about them I think he is popular for making urban life poetic and thoughtful with his observations and videos. In this one he simply uses video, voice over, and music very effectively to say what's on his mind.



Bix Gabriel created the piece Home… in past tense to deal with her feelings that being away from home so long left it so changed that she didn’t feel it was recognizable as home any longer. The home she talks about is Hyerabad, India. She came the United States to study planning to return home immediately, but she has only been back several time in the past few years, the visits that led her to make the video. She uses photographs, video, music, and voice over to tell her digital story.

February 23, 2008

digital storytelling


Sunita & Anita, HIV+ women in India Tell their story

this vlog is a story of 2 real women in india finding out that they are HIV+ and having to deal with the consequences. it is very sad, especially because they feel their lives are destoyed, by husbands/arranged marriages, and they do not know who they can confide in.

This next video I watch whenever I need cheering up!

Puppy Bowl 4
An alternative to the Superbowl, this is puppies playing in a arena/stadium like atmosphere. Very fluffy and cute, it can cure the worst day.

February 22, 2008

Video Game: Vagina Punch

What game is this from? All I can find is YouTube clip. Anyone know?

February 21, 2008

HTML Codes to *enhance* your blog posts

In class we talked about customizing our posts. Here are some tutorials:


Here's a link to LOTS of color codes:


You can change your font style (also called font family), check THIS PAGE for examples, and the coding.

In class a student mentioned that you can use code so that your linked web page will open in a new window. Here's how:

New Freeware in the FMC

I've added ImageWell, Audacity, iResize, and SoundSlides to each station in the FMC. I'm working on the binder manuals for each station.


+ ImageWell is an easy way to edit, rotate, crop and resize your image.

+ SoundSlides is the quickest way to make photo/audio slideshow


+ Audacity is a simple sound editing and sound file conversion program


+ iResize is a quick and easy way to resize images


[don't i have the cutest kids in the world!]

February 20, 2008

Donations for Kenyan Refugees

A friend of mine is involved in the effort to get clothing and shoes to send to Kenya for the people who have been displaced by the current conflict and violence.

Here is a the site (KCOC.org), I know it looks a little sketchy, but that's because its a total church basement effort. Don't be discouraged by the religious affiliation, it's a great community-based way to support the displaced people. I'm going with my friend on Sunday to help fold and pack things to send, probably around 6, if anyone is interested. Otherwise there is info when you click DONATE on how to get in touch with the person who is collecting all of these things.

February 19, 2008

Course Blog Post Assignment: Digital Storytellers [and Videobloggers]

What makes a good story? Read about stories on iRoom Stories

This week you'll be viewing digital stories [and videoblogs]. Start at the suggested links on this blog (on the right sidebar), in the Week 5 folder of our WebVista site, and in the Digital Storytelling reading for this week (excerpt 2, Appendix C "Web Resources for Digital Storytelling"), and follow the links to whatever interests you.

Post links to at least two of your favorites. For each post an image (and/or pull image grabs of your favorite images), and link to the original piece.

For each write a short reflection (about 100-150 words) for each piece you've selected. Consider:
1- the context (where the story was created, or anything you know about the maker)
2- the content
3- the form of the piece
4 - why this is a "good" story (read: why/how this piece engages you, draws you in, why you like it...)

Post by NOON on Tuesday, 2/27.

+ + + + Rachel's Example + + + +


untitled by Kevin West is a really powerful digital story. Kevin is a transguy who lives in Santa Cruz, California. The piece tells his story of being a queer youth trapped in the juvenile (in)justice system, until a social worker who understands GLBTQ issues helped him. In the piece he uses personal photos, "borrowed images", graphic elements (like texts), motion graphics to edit the pieces together. The music (a drum beat helps to build the rhythm of the piece. The story is structured by Kevin's story, told in a voice over.

I chose to share this digital story because I really like Kevin's honesty. He speaks in a clear, engaging and honest way about his life. He's telling us an emotional story without the boo-hoo sobs (whoa is me stuff), but with clarity. I like that he uses the piece as a way to thank the social worker who helped him change the course of his life.

February 18, 2008

review "Reframings" online

Hey folks, looks like you can view all or most of "Reframings" on Google Books.

Click on the link, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:


REFRAMINGS Reflections

Aims / goals of the anthology:

1 -

2 -

3 -

[to be filled in once you all have posted on your individual blogs] = )

fyi, i assigned a collective reading for a number of reasons:

1 - the book is too expensive to have you all buy

2 - the book is thick and i didn't want to spend weeks on what i slotted one week (meaning: the topic of feminist interventions in photography)

3 - we each see what it feels like to have to share w/our peers; we must rely on each other, and trust the we each have engaged the assignment, and can be trustworthy sources of info in class discussions

4 - we can all only know, in part (we know only what we've read). after hearing the presentations, we still only know a bit more of the text, and our information is mediated through someone else's reading and understanding. even when we put the pieces together, our parts don't fully make a whole.

5 - we all have to be accountable to each other; no one can drop "the ball" if we are all to learn

I could keep going but I won't...

Just know I'm reading your blogs...


FREE Lecture: Artist Amy Youngs

Amy Youngs, Visiting Artist
An artist using electronics, kinetics, sound, insects, plants, and pixels to create art about the complex relationship between technology and our changing concepts of nature and self.

Lecture 7 pm, Wednesday, March 12, In-Flux, Regis

In the News...

I recommend you read the feminist blog: FEMINISTING


They do a great weekly round-up of links. Check it out!

Some highlights:

School newspaper drops a V-bomb Cleveland High is in an uproar after an issue discusses the 'Vagina Monologues,' with a front-page diagram.

The paper's editor-in-chief, 15-year-old Richard Edmond, said he was trying to raise awareness of violence against women with a lead story about playwright Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues."

Read on...

Other important stories:

A gender-nonconforming teenager was killed in Oxnard, CA.

American woman visiting Saudi Arabia was jailed for having coffee with a male colleague.

What have you guys been reading this week?

February 16, 2008

Is ANYONE paying attention?

Every Christmas at my mother's home while we are opening presents, she puts the TV on the channel that simply shows a fire burning in a fireplace and every once in awhile someone puts another log on the fire. The channel makes little sense (Especially because we have a huge wood burning fire place going in the room) but I suppose is meant to be a cheery background scene. The reason I mention this is because I was at a bar in St. Paul this past Monday night with friends from my work when I noticed the background scene on the TVs at the bar.

Every Christmas at my mother's home while we are opening presents, she puts the TV on the channel that simply shows a fire burning in a fireplace and every once in awhile someone puts another log on the fire. The channel makes little sense (Especially because we have a huge wood burning fire place going in the room) but I suppose is meant to be a cheery background scene. The reason I mention this is because I was at a bar in St. Paul this past Monday night with friends from my work when I noticed the background scene on the TVs at the bar. There flashed across the TVs scene after scene of women in bikinis rolling around sandy beaches. The scenes would go from one woman to another either playing in the water or in the sand, just smiling numbly into the camera. The women were always by themselves, and were obviously trying to entertain whoever was on the other side of the lens. I looked around the bar and didn't notice anyone intently watching the TVs. These women were meant to be background eye-candy. I couldn't believe that they were pretty much playing soft core porn in the bar, and no one seemed to notice or care. None of the other women that I was socializing with even noticed that this was what was playing on the TVs until I pointed it out. Even then, they didn't seem to care that much. I thought about asking the owner to turn it off, but I was about to leave anyways so I didn't. I wish I would have.
This incident made me stop and think about how many of us take in the media that surrounds us. I feel as though for the most part we have become numb to the images that surround us. We do not really "see" what is right in front of our eyes. Media is in the foreground of our lives, but it is also in the background. We no longer hold the power to choose what passes before our eyes. Intead most of the media that we see every day, we don't see, proces, and understand. It is simply playing in the background of our lives. We must choose to fully see, understand, evaluate, and question what we see. In some cases though, we need to ask to have it shut off.

February 15, 2008

My Media Viewing

My media viewing the past week has been very atypical. Considering the fact I’ve had mono and haven’t left my apartment since Friday except for a trip to the doctor, I have had very little exposure to advertisement. There were two movie previews on one of the DVD I watched. There was one advertisement on the back of my Netfix envelope. I had one piece of junk mail. There were goofy little advertisements on Facebook and Myspace. However, the amount of times I was willing to crawl across the living room floor to the computer desk was very limited. Needless to say, this was atypical media and advertisement exposure.

Usually, I’m out in the world exposed to giant billboards on the freeways and logos prominently displayed on the shirts of fellow classmates. Advertisement is everywhere. However, I believe because of this overexposure many become blind to how prominent advertisement is in our culture. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not. I believe different forms of media bounce off of us and other stick to us depending on our background, education, person habits, etc.

Lately, my favorite advertisements have been in the movies I’ve been half-heartedly watching through fits of coughing and naps. A character opens up a medicine cabinet and a bottle of Old Spice is prominently displayed on the top shelf. Another character is drinking Pepsi with the label centered perfectly between their manicured fingers and thumb. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

This is a relatively recent trick. You never see Audrey Hepburn holding anything with a label. Then again, with Audrey Hepburn you never see any semblance of reality. I mean my goodness, she randomly runs into men like Humphrey Bogart and Gregory Peck. It’s much more likely to open up a medicine cabinet and see a bottle of Old Spice than it is to run into Gregory Peck on the streets of Rome. As prevalent as all the advertising is in cinema, I don’t believe it is very effective. Ultimately people will not buy something they don’t like the smell or taste of just because they saw it in a movie. This probably holds true from many of the other forms of advertisements.

However, there is one form of advertising that works brilliantly well; shirts. So many people buy the same shirts with the same brand name on them. It’s really quite fascinating how much money people will throw at a shirt with a word on it just to be in fashion.

Personally, I always look at advertising with a critical lens. I happen to know a different brand of make up isn’t going to drastically change my looks. My height isn’t going to change because of a new product. A new shirt will not make me more popular. I’m quite sure supermodels do not use hair coloring out of a box found in their local supermarket. I also carefully choose how many of these messages I am exposed to every day. I do not watch cable, and I choose to ignore advertising out in the greater world. I also choose not to make my body a walking billboard.

I do admit I have weaknesses when it comes to advertising. I never met an add for chocolate I didn’t like.

LOTS of Films at the Walker


Human Rights Film Festival

Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 7 p.m.
Highland Park Branch Library, 1974 Ford Pkwy.

Not For Sale and
So Deep A Violence

Not For Sale and So Deep A Violence are two compelling short films that address prostitution as violence against women and the links between prostitution and trafficking. These films, produced by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, go beyond the myths about prostitution and sex trafficking, to demonstrate clear harm and explore what the world needs to do about this massive violation of women’s human rights.

Film: The Sugar Curtain (El Telon de Azucar)

Friday, February 29 at 7:30 pm
at the Walker Art CenterCinema
$8 ($6 Walker members)

In her autobiographical documentary, the filmmaker returns from the United States to Cuba to reflect on her idyllic childhood shared with her classmates from the mid-1970s to the 1980s—the most prosperous economic period in the country’s history. Her generation was filled with hope that went unfulfilled when Cuba’s financial support from socialist countries abroad dried up as the Soviet Union spun apart in the early 1990s. 2006, France/Cuba, in Spanish with English subtitles, 82 minutes.

Followed by a post-screening discussion led by August H. Nimtz, Jr.; Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota.
In her autobiographical documentary, the filmmaker returns from the United States to Cuba to reflect on her idyllic childhood shared with her classmates from the mid-1970s to the 1980s—the most prosperous economic period in the country’s history. Her generation was filled with hope that went unfulfilled when Cuba’s financial support from socialist countries abroad dried up as the Soviet Union spun apart in the early 1990s. 2006, France/Cuba, in Spanish with English subtitles, 82 minutes.

Followed by a post-screening discussion led by August H. Nimtz, Jr.; Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota.
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Film Festival: Women with Vision 2008

2008 Festival Info

As we mark the 15th year of this festival, it seems fitting that we evoke the dramatic structure used so often in film of sliding forward and backward in time. This year’s festival is subtitled Past/Present, a theme many of the 2008 filmmakers have embraced. Each finds a way to reveal how the past has shaped the present—whether focusing on the legacy of women media artists from the 1960s, Native American boarding schools, human trafficking in Africa and Europe, or the way Jewish humor impacts today’s comediennes. A primordial forest becomes the source of new life in Japan and the Taliban’s destruction of the giant Buddhas has changed the way that Afghani children see the world.

Filled with international flavor, the festival also boasts a Minnesota premiere: producer Christine Walker and director Georgina Lightning present Older Than America. Global viewpoints come from Japan’s Naomi Kawase, with her Cannes Film Festival winner, The Mourning Forest, and a slate of films from Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Iran, Brazil, and of course, the United States. At the Walker we show films by women throughout the year, but with this festival the month of March becomes a time to absorb the universal impact of women filmmakers.

With the Women with Vision International Film Festival, the Walker recognizes the unique contributions and perspectives women bring to the art of filmmaking, and we are deeply grateful to all the artists, filmmakers, and directors who have contributed to this event. We are pleased that this year’s sponsor is Faegre & Benson LLP, a firm committed to women’s success, in addition to its long tradition of pro bono representation and service to the community. We are also pleased to mark the 11th year of support by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Special thanks to the ongoing encouragement and program support from Elizabeth Redleaf. Our copresentation partners include the Sabes Foundation Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival and the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Study Film Collaborative, Consortium for the Study of the Asias, and Studio Arts Department. We hope you enjoy this year’s festival.

$5000 Artist Fellowship

Public Art Saint Paul is offering $5000 groundbreaking fellowships to 3 artists to explore environmentally-conscious, sustainable art making practices in their fields.

The Fellowship period is from April 2008-March 2009. Artists need to live or work in the Twin Cities Metro area. Artists do not have to be full-time professional artists, however, they must not be full-time students. (Faculty, alumni, and staff of universities and colleges are eligible.)

Artists do not need to have experience in public art, any medium is eligible, including painting, drawing, printmaking, crafts, photography, installation, performance, etc.

The application is due March 14, and the application is attached. The application can also be found on the Public Art Saint Paul website, at www.publicartst.paul.org.

Please contact Public Art Saint Paul at 651-290-0921, pasp@publicartstpaul.org or see the website at www.publicartstpaul.org for more information.

Lots of [on campus] Events: Women's Student Activist Collective (WSAC)

1. S. Bear Bergman: writer, theater artist, instigator, gender-jammer!

**Tuesday, Feb. 19**
Meet & Greet with Bear at WSAC (Women's Student
Activist Collective), U of M Coffman Union, Rm 202 FREE PIZZA!

"Butch is a Noun" book reading at the Amazon
Bookstore Cooperative, 4755 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis

Written by award-winning playwright and
inveterate storyteller S. Bear Bergman, "Butch is
a Noun" picks up where gender theory leaves off.
It makes butchness accessible to those who are
new to the concept, and its finely observed
detail makes gender outlaws of all stripes feel
as though they have come home—if home is a place
where everyone understands you and approves of
your haircut. Stark stories of life on the
margins and stories of being embraced by
community; rough moments and tender moments and
delicious occasions of both; from girls' clothes
to men's underwear and what lies beyond, Butch is
a Noun chronicles the pleasures and dangers of
living life outside the gender binary.

**Wednesday, Feb. 20**
7:30 p.m.
"Monday Night in Westerbork" performance at The
Whole, basement of U of M's Coffman Union

"... a deeply moving tribute to the fundamental
resilience of the human spirit. The odyssey moves
seamlessly across borders and boundaries: between
past and present, America and Europe, male and
female, stage and backstage, skillfully revealing
insights about gender, Jewish identity,
oppression and resistance. Monday Night in
Westerbork is powerful, uplifting, and
surprisingly humorous - a tour de force." -Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman

**Thursday, Feb. 21**
"LGBT, Mending the World, and Me"
A discussion with S. Bear Bergman
Thursday, February 21, 4:30 p.m.
Hillel - 1521 University Ave SE, Minneapolis

Bear will talk about being the product of a double diaspora, living an activist life as religious service, and how growing up Jewish turned out to be excellent training for being a queer tranny.

Live, on-air guest of Fresh Fruit, the
longest-running queer radio show in the country, on KFAI radio

**Saturday, Feb. 23**
10am-6pm "Sing if You're Glad to be Trans" -- Featured speaker, All Gender Health Seminar by and for Minnesota's transgender community http://www.epi.umn.edu/AGH/

**Monday, Feb. 25**
7:30 p.m.
"Monday Night in Westerbork" performance at the
Sabes JCC Theater, 4330 Cedar Lake Rd, St Louis Park
$8-12 sliding scale donation at the door (more if
you can, less if you can't; no one turned away)

A difficult, surprisingly funny, often complex
and ultimately joyous piece set along the
plotlines of the theater group at concentration
camp Westerbork. Monday Night In Westerbork finds
Bergman solidly in hir storytelling element,
investigating points of intersection and impact
among identity, art, persecution and resistance.
Not your traditional Holocaust narrative, but an
educating, interrogating, celebrating piece of
theater including everything from a
song-and-dance number to a prayer for the dead.

About Bear:

Updated details for these events will be posted
beginning this Friday, Feb. 8 on the U of M Transgender Commission website:


University of Minnesota's All Gender Health Program
Women's Student Activist Collective (WSAC)
Queer Student Cultural Center (QSCC)
Transgender Commission
GLBTA Programs Office
Keshet: The Queer Jewish Student Alliance
Sabes Jewish Community Center

2. Co-sponsorship with MPIRG: “The Vagina Monologues? Reserve tickets now!

Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues, was written to break the silence surrounding women’s relationships with their bodies, to celebrate and empower women, and to end sexual violence against women. V-Day is the movement that was created to continue the play’s work. MPIRG campuses and other colleges throughout the United States and around the world receive free copyrights to perform and produce the play under the stipulation that all proceeds benefit shelters or advocacy for battered women. The primary mission of the V-Day Campus Initiative is to clearly and vocally articulate a space for women to redefine their most intimate experiences, and to shatter the silence under which women have been kept from cultural, academic, economic, and political equality.

SHOWTIMES: Wednesday, February 13 @ Augsburg College, Sateren Auditorium, 7:30 pm Thursday, February 14 @ University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (St. Paul Campus), St. Paul Student Center Theater, 8:00 pm Friday, February 15 @ Hamline University, Location & Time TBA Saturday, February 16 @ Macalester College, Location & Time TBA Sunday, February 17 @ University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (East Bank), Coffman Union Theater, 4:00 pm

Reserve tickets: http://www.mpirg.org/womensrights/vday/index.htm

3. Feminist Self Defense Workshops with Feminist Eclectic Martial Arts (FEMA). Five Wednesdays at 6.30-8 pm beginning on March 26th ending on April 23rd. Sign up now!

The Women’s Student Activist Collective will provide 5 self defense sessions with the only Feminist Self Defense provider in the Twin Cities, FEMA. This opportunity is only for 25 female U of M students, so we want to put together a group that is committed to go every session. This is a unique opportunity so sign up now if you are committed!

Mar 26 - Think
Apr 2 – Voice
Apr 9 - Escape
Apr 16 - Fight
Apr 23 - Tell & Review

FEMA: http://www.fema-wuchienpai.com/selfdefense.html Location: 3010 Minnehaha Avenue
Transportation: a shuttle service will be provided.

Talk: "Race, Politics, and Capitalism in the Global Metropolis"

A conversation with American Studies Graduate Students Rodolfo Aguilar and
Lisa Arrastia about research, work, and activism in the City of Chicago.
Aguilar considers Mexican diaspora, migration, and cultural production.
Arrastia links the built environment and public school system as to her
broader project on race, political mobilization, and the politics of

Talking Back is a speaker series that features the work, reseach, and
politics of graduate students in American Studies and related disciplines
and interdisciplines.

Friday, February 22nd
Scott Hall Commons
Cocktails to follow at The Kitty Kat Club
University Avenue at 14th Avenue

7th Annual Political Theatre Festival

In the true tradition of Latin American theatre, Teatro del Pueblo joins forces with Intermedia Arts, the Resource Center of the Americas, and the University of Minnesota to co-present Teatro’s Political Theatre Festival!

The Political Theatre Festival brings together political issues and theatre to create a forum where ideas and information are exchanged through performance and dialogue. New this year, we focus on the issue of Latino identity; bringing seven new plays to the stage, including two all new interactive pieces, international artists from Columbia, and a world premiere exhibit of the political paintings of Santiago Zarzosa.

For ticket reservations, call (612) 871-4444 or email info@intermediaarts.org.
For festival information, call (651) 224-8806 or visit www.teatrodelpueblo.org.

February 12, 2008

Oh, I'm a little ashamed of my media habits...

The media I encountered and chose to see on Friday and Saturday probably had a little tunnel vision thing going for them. I was on the crew for the University Dance Theatre production and also went downtown to see the live performance of Sweeney Todd at the State Theatre. Any media I chose to watch was Sex and the City episodes that I have saved on my computer after downloading (not with the U’s internet!).

I’m really cheap. I won’t usually pay for media. I don’t go to movies, I don’t rent them, I don’t pay for ringtones, or buy cable. Theatre is the only costly media that I seek out. I like to pretend this makes me cultured or something, but I get my fair share of mindless media in too, which I realized when I tried to document it all. Dorms are basically wall to wall advertisements for events as is the theatre building for upcoming plays and workshops. On Friday and Saturday I started noticing all the other advertisements that are plastered everywhere. The University is pretty crazy with ads… especially the ones promoting itself. I thought I was above buying into stuff like that… but I kind of realized that I eat it up. A good ad will stop me in my tracks… especially ones with big bold letters in great solid colors. Same goes for billboards, I saw a bunch downtown on Saturday. The media I choose to watch isn’t really that intelligent, except for theatre I suppose. Analyzing what I watch so closely makes me sort of ashamed at my lack of credible sources and how little I pay attention to the news. That’s something I should work on I realized.

ASSIGNMENT: Reframings Reflection (Post on YOUR Blog)

Read CHAPTER 8 Essay "Representing Women: The Politics of Self-Representation" from Reframings (Handed out in class; copies are available in the FMC if you were absent)

In a 750+ word post on YOUR PERSONAL BLOG, post a reflection of Reframings: New American Feminist Photographies.

- aims/goals of the collection (articulated in the foreword and intro)
- key terms / feminist theory
- critical response / key theory / key terms / key quotes / themes
- your reflection to the entire collection
- AND, why did we read this text COLLECTIVELY!

Please be thoughtful in your response. Avoid generalizations, go for specificity and depth.

Some CONTEXT of our text: Reframings

Diane Neumaier is a professor of photography at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. She is also an artist whose conceptually-based photography has been exhibited internationally. She is editor of Reframings: New American Feminist Photographies and served as a guest editor for an issue of Art Journal focusing on contemporary Russian art photography. Neumaier was a Fulbright Fellow in Moscow in 1994 and continues to work in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.


Click HERE to see more of her work

Turning the Tables: Three Asian American Artists

my my media

I consume media for the majority of my waking hours.from the time I wake up and check my email to when I go to bed nursing my baby while reading my iPhone. The media I encounter is both chosen and unchosen. I see advertisements and signs in the outside world on billboards and bus shelters and passing buses and newspaper stands, and bring media into my house via the Internet and my phone and magazines and books and TV.

I am kind of a techno-geek. I download The Daily Show and The Colbert Report via torrent sites every day (although I don't always have time to watch them) and sometimes other stuff if “the scene?has put out anything new and interesting. I watch the stuff I download on my laptop at home or school or sometimes (if I have time to convert it) on my phone on the bus. Most of the time, I listen to music while I study at night or by myself (when I'm with the kids, I usually keep it off). I play around on the Internet when I'm bored or procrastinating (more often than I'd like) or doing research. I've been doing a lot of Internet research this semester because blogs are a focus of my senior paper.

This week the TV has been on in my house much more than usual. Ordinarily, I rarely watch it at all, but I tend to get a bit obsessive about the political process in election seasons, so I've been watching the primary coverage on CNN. I grew up in Washington DC where politics are our sports and entertainment and gossip and (for many) employment all rolled into one, and I never got over it. I miss living in DC. It's not socially acceptable to be like that here. My kids have also been watching it more than usual (they don't usually watch it either), because my daughter has been home sick and her brother follows her around and does whatever she does. I don't want to make a habit of that, because they stand a pretty good chance of inheriting attention problems as it is, and I don't want to make that worse.

I think that who I am and where I am in life reflects on the ways that I consume media in several ways. I have the privilege and money (or at least the willingness to take on credit card debt) to buy gadgets to consume media on and for Internet access. I see people who look like me represented on the things that I see and watch. I would like to believe that I am a critical thinker and that I don't believe everything I see (and I don't, particularly in the case of the majority of advertisements), but the sheer quantity of the media I happily consume does not differentiate me much from the average American. I don't think I'm as cool as I think I am.

Excerpts from my log:

Day 1:
9am: wake up, check email
10am: drive my daughter to school, pass 7 billboards and 10 bus shelter ads on the way
12pm: nurse my son on the computer
10pm: watch news on CNN

Day 2:
12pm: daughter home sick, she watches PBS kids while I read the newspaper online
10pm: study while listening to music
12am: nurse baby while reading news on iPhone

Media Watch

This assignment should have been easy since lately I have been watching more television that is warranted for. No, seriously, I have developed a problem. However, I have grown so immune to ads that I barely (consciously) notice the majority of them. The ads that I notice are usually ones that I have an extreme criticism with, and these Ads usually come into attention if they in anyway "resemble" me (dark skin black women with natural hair, then I go “yay? even if these women were trying to sell me rocks) or deal with issues that I care about.

Ads are there to convince you that you are unhappy and they are the solution to your unhappiness. Most ads I have noticed are disproportionately geared towards women (i.e. weight loss, make up, clothing, jewelry, cleaning products, food). And a huge percentage of these commercials lack women of color, or when women of color are presented, they are either stereotypical or are as “none ethnic? looking as possible.

Ok, here is something that always annoyed me.

---Rant--Shampoo commercials. First of all, stop trying to sell me products that will only damage my hair beyond reason (i.e. Pantene). And just because you slapped “ethnic? on your product does not magically make it work for my hair. And stop using women with straight hair that is obviously chemically altered/straightened/weaved in with the hopes that I would actually believe that just because these “ethnic? women are supposedly using your jacked up product on their fake hair that so should I. That is laughable. Really.

Also Cover Girl needs to go away---Rant---.

But, you know. At least they are trying? The vast majority of beauty products are not geared towards women of color, at all. Also, on a random note, it occurred to me that you barely ever see any Asian Americans in commercials. What is that about?

Commercials are not very diverse. That’s pretty obvious. The most diversity in commercials takes place during TV shows that are geared towards “people of color.? Or rather shows that are made up primarily of people of color but is really geared towards non POC (Do you really think Flavor of Love and I Love New York geared towards black folk?), but since a lot of people of color will be watching during that time slot (presumably) suddenly, there will be a hike in what I refer jokingly to as “ethnic? commercials. And there are very few of them. I have noticed though that there’s a surge of POC (mostly black) in McDonalds commercial.

Finally, I realized that Ads extend beyond just the TV screen. They are even in flyers, posters, billboards, bus cards, mugs, clothing, all of the internet (but thanks to ad blocks, I don’t see any) and the list goes on and on. I focused here on Commercials that try to sell us things, but there are also commercials that try to convince us to watch certain TV shows, movies, vote a certain way, take part in certain activities or join different organizations etc…although that is still trying to “sell? us an idea. Whether for profit or not, but pretty much, profit is behind almost everything.

The question that this raises is to which extent are we controlled by the images that we are exposed to on a daily basis (whether we are conscious of them or not). I’d like to think that we are not all tools, but then I notice that every other guy I bump into is wearing Axe (horrible horrible scent to put on yourself. I can't stand the stench, if misogyny had a scent it would be that of Axe, sorry to say) but the commercials surely do express otherwise.

So I thought I had become immune to the media.........

I thought I had become immune to the media. Not the immune where it doesn't have the same effect, but immune to the point of where I had no interest in becoming close with it. I have convince myself over the past few years that media is a waste of my time. I used to read the newspaper daily, but now even that I had become to busy for. And now I am the busiest I have ever been. I work about 50 hours per week, take 18 credits, and play a sport for the University. And recently I made the All-Minnesota Rugby team, and add the new boy on top of that and you can imagine what my life is like. Sometimes I feel as if I have no time to breath, let alone watch the media.
But this was not quite the case.

True I am busy, but media is hard to escape. I started my 48 hour span at 2300 Friday evening. I work security and patrolled a res hall. I finished the shift at 0700, convinced that I had not been corrupted by any media that night. I was in a res hall and what would they advertise? I'll tell you. Minnesota. They advertise Minnesota. Every poster about a club, every advertised event, and every picture of that ridiculous Gopher. They are advertising themselves to us. Since my first class at the University that have been thrusting their statistics down my throat, telling me how accredited they are. It is in every class and everyday that we hear about all these "opportunities." There is not a day that goes by that I don't dream of transferring. But why don't I actually do it. I'm not really happy here and have no ties to anything once I think about it. I tell myself I have already invested too much, that nowhere else will I be able to pair Neuroscience and GWSS. The U tells me that the College of Biological Sciences is in the top three for science based schools in the country. And I take their word for it. They could be lying, but their media has hooked me in. In an eight hour shift I realized how media had blinded me.

The next morning I drove home from work at 0700. Then I showered, and napped until 0930, when I ran out the door to make it to practice. On the ride there I turned up my amp, listening to KDWB, letting its media awake my body to the point of being sufficient enough to make it through the 3 hour practice. After practice I drove my teammates to eat at a nearby res hall and then drove them home. During the lunch, one of our discussions was prompted by the televisions in the background, where presidential candidates were discussing their issues. I drove three of them back home and once again Hank (my car) provided us with our audio needs. I was then off to work again, accompanied by Hank, to work until 0100 at the Law Library. There isn't much media provided in the library, or at least none that affected me. I stopped at one of the computers and logged onto my Facebook page to quick check my messages. I realized that on every page there is an advertisement. I wonder how much money is made by these messages about facial creams and dating services. Millions of people use this site each day and I am certainly not one to receive a paycheck for viewing these adds. Hank once again accompanied and provided me home with "Today's Hit Music."

Sunday I woke up later than I wanted to, almost late for work. The hours were getting to me and I had another Law shift, which I was hoping would go quickly. This one started earlier, at 1200 and lasted until 0100, a few hours after my media watching experience was over. I expected to see no more new media than I had seen the day before, and I was right. I just heard more. We learned in our first class that our cell phones could be a form of media. I am not allowed to have my cell on me at work, but I justify it because sometimes I feel that my job robs my soul. And so I count it as a fair trade-off.
It was set on vibrate and answered it as often as I could. My first call was from Dolores, my mother, doing what she does best, complain. I guess it could be considered a news source, not entirely reliable, but I take it as it is. That call was followed by many from friends, who were definitely more interesting sources. By the time 2300 rolled around I had spent at least 6 hours listening to media.

Not too shabby.

My Media Log

*Feb. 9th
4pm: Watched “Jersey Girl? on Netflix (instant viewing)
6pm: Watched CNN cable news and read the MN Daily during dinner
9pm: Watched random news shows on TV and then caught the last 45 minutes or so of Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp version).

*Feb. 10th
4pm: Watched “Glory? on Netflix (instant viewing)
6pm: Read the MN Daily during dinner
7-10:30pm: The Grammys on CBS

*Feb. 11th
1am: Watched “California Suite? on Netflix (instant viewing)
10am: Started “Bus Stop? on Netflix
11am: Kare 11 “Discovering MN? during breakfast
12p: Read/skimmed through the Pioneer Press and the MN Daily
9pm: Read online news at CNN.com and watched NBC Nightly News
11:30pm: Continued “Bus Stop? on Netflix

I don’t really watch TV for fun…I don’t have the time, but I have watched a lot of movies these past three days - mostly, because it was the weekend and mostly because I have something going on the background while I am updating my schedule. I am always watching a movie at any given point though. I watch something as a get dressed in the morning, as a clean my room after class, as I get ready for bed, and just before going to sleep. I don’t actually own a TV, but on some days (like during the Grammys) I wish I had one. Other times, I’m glad…I would be so distracted!

I love watching movies alone or with friends at a theater, but recently theater tickets have become somewhat expensive, so I only go every couple of weeks when there is a movie I really want to see. I use my laptop as the main vehicle of over ¾ of my media consumption - I watch DVDs that I get from Netflix, friends or the Sanford Hall front desk. I have included print media in my media log because I think I usually am more of a print consumer, also I mostly see advertisements and the like in magazines, newspaper, and other miscellaneous printings. I sometimes upload podcasts to my iPod, but not usually, and since my iPod just stopped working (it happens annually…this is my third iPod have gotten from Apple as a replacement!) I won’t be listening to any music until I go to the Mall of America this weekend.

I am person who consciously chooses to consume media. I have to set aside time to read the paper or watch the online Nightly News show. I am always short on time, so I choose to consume media that is flexible and best fits my time schedule. I like media that can be paused, thrown into my backpack, or left up on my laptop for me to look at later when I get back from class, work or meetings.

February 11, 2008

You all are cordially invited

You I just wanted to invite everyone to part one of University Pro Choice Coalition's Discussion Series. It is on Wednesday February 13th at 6 pm in the WSAC office which is room 202 in Coffman. Our first issue we will be discussing is Roe v. Wade. In the coming weeks we will be talking about international abortion rights and men and choice. There will be cookies and juice!

Also on Valentines Day please stop by the tables in Coffman. I will be tabling for NARAL Students for Choice. We'll be giving out a bunch of condoms, lube, candy, valentines, and other fun stuff. Come spin our contraceptive prize wheel. Oh Yea...and Starbucks is donating coffee so stop on by and get a lot of free stuff! Thanks!

My wonderful media-filled weekend

I decided that this Friday and Saturday would be interesting days for me to take a closer look at how I consume media and exactly my role in media consumption and distribution. I don't watch television that much and I mainly just listen to my iPod and run around Minneapolis/St. Paul all day. So I figured most of my media consumption is done via posters, billboards, city buses, etc.

My day started out on the bus downtown to volunteer at Pro Choice Resources. One of my favorite things about going to PCR is the location. Déjà vu, Sinners, Sex World, etc. all are within a 2 minute walk from the offices. So here I am surrounded by images of half-naked women and bright neon lights on my way to PCR.

After PCR I had my own little media moment. I always wear buttons, pins, stickers, whatever that showcase my opinions on reproductive rights and sex education. On Friday I had a button that said: "Sex Education Prevents Abortion" on my bag. While waiting in line at Dunn Bros. some woman commented on my button and loved it. She herself was a sex educator with PCR whom I had not met yet. We got to chatting and all because of my own little advertisement I now have an internship with PCR and am attending a workshop on Wednesday about comprehensive sex education advocacy work. Thanks awesome NARAL pins for getting me a job.

Finally, Saturday morning rolls around and I wake up bright and early to do escort work at the Hanson's clinic. Between 6:30-8:30 women are scheduled for abortions at the clinic and the protestors of course are out there waiting for us. The media used by the anti-choice protestors is quite graphic and manipulative. One poster was of an aborted fetus, obviously a further along than most. There was also a big poster of the Virgin Mary coupled with a crucifix. Finally, the protestors had posters with pictures of families willing to adopt the children the women did not want. Obviously, this media frustrates me, being a strong advocate for choice. I also feel a strange sense of comfort knowing how crazy some of these people are; it makes me feel a little better about the opposition knowing their arguments are unsound and blatantly offensive. However, their media, whether it be in the form of leaflets, posters, or even, yes, plastic babies, can have a strong effect on people, especially those who aren't already strong in their convictions. I know I as an escort can tolerate someone shouting at me saying "Mother Theresa wants me to burn in hell" but these people prey on people at weaker moments hoping to show over exaggerated extremes and graphic details in hopes of furthering their cause all through the use of various forms of media.

Media Watching

The perhaps most important or surprising information that my media journal brought to my attention was the more unusual places that I encounter media.

There are the more obvious places that I take in media on a daily basis such as on television (on while I gather my school supplies for class on the way out of the house, while I'm cooking dinner, etc.) on the internet, spam e-mail, driving down the road (bill boards, radio advertisements) and in the newspaper. the more surprising places I've found that i take in media without really thinking consciously about it include the classroom and public bathrooms. Today in class, I was exposed to a powerpoint that included a slide about the different ways a space can be used to maximize communication between peers. at the bottom of the screen was www.ikea.com. This interested me because one of the few place it seems commercialism should not invade would be the classroom. the same holds true for the bathroom. it makes sense to place advertisements in the bathroom on the back of the stall doors because there is little else to "do" it the bathroom. Advertisers literally have a captive audience in the bathroom.
The other observation that I made about my media consumption is that "media" and "commercials" seem to be interchangeable. They are not necessarily interchangeable but I think in a lot of minds, they become synonymous with one another. This is, I feel, a product of our "consumer culture." We are so used to seeing commercials everywhere that we become almost immune to consciously, actively watching/viewing them. even now, as I am writing this blog, the television is on and every time commercials come on, I continue to write. I am taking in the media without explicitly focusing on what is being promoted. This is, I believe, a very common trend in American media consumption: watching without seeing. There exists a constant bombardment of media and advertisements that we are exposed to without consciously, critically engaging what we are taking in. Ads on billboards, on the sides of busses, junk mail, junk e-mail, branding on the campus, all of these items are media we take in, albeit without any sense of critical analysis of the messages being sent. That, more than anything, is what my media consumption journal showed me.

But...I don't want to!

I didn’t want to do this. I mean, I really did not want to do this. I planned it out. I was going to take the weekend to media watch. Then the weekend actually hit, and I became suddenly single. Who wants to go out after that? I didn’t. I wanted to sit in my bed, jumping back and forth between hugging a velvet stuffed shark/whale and sitting on my couch with my computer in my lap facebook/myspace stalking. It turns out, though, real life still exists. And it also turns out, there were pieces of media to take into account in and out of my apartment.

For one, we got the mail. We got ads and coupons for things from Lasik to groceries. I couldn’t watch T.V., but that doesn’t mean my roommate became any less involved in it. I was around for it. I saw all of that blatantly obvious media. I wasn’t trying to avoid media. I just didn’t want to do anything. I was basically entirely self-absorbed and drowning in pity for my state.

Today, I decided to take control of myself. I am a damn strong woman. …okay, so maybe I skipped a class, but I started a Senate internship today, and goddammit I showered and made it there and I experienced the real world once again. Yes, there was the obvious media, once again, that we know we cannot avoid. But once again, I was struck by the mail. It isn’t an outlet I immediately consider. But, I am an intern. It is the stereotypical, classic depiction of an intern to sort the mail. Low and behold, today, I was sorting mail. I was throwing out the junk, but that is exactly what “junk mail? is. It is groups trying to get points across via your mailbox. It is often a capitalistic push delivered to your home.

At any rate, it does turn out that media is everywhere. The assignment was to pay attention to it. I apologize for using a somewhat different approach. I still feel that I benefited from my requirement to blog on it. If it weren’t for the fact that this was an academic requirement, I probably wouldn’t have cared. But it forced me to notice. I did actually get something of value out of it.

Do I really watch the media through TV shows and theatre only?

My media consumption has been mostly through TV shows or theatre. After keeping the log of my day-to-day media consumption I was so amazed by the amount of media taking that took place in my everyday life such as through advertisements, magazines, newspaper, flyers, Internet, t-shirt, vans, cars, buses, and etc. Even though I said that, I mostly consume media through TV shows or theatre but that would be actually wrong because in today’s world media watching can been seen in almost every part of our life like in radio, ipods, banners, bumper stickers and the list will go on and on.

When I took my first class on GWSS last summer I started to feel the difference between how women are mostly the targets of most of the media consumption. And in the past two days when I was passing by downtown I noticed the club sign which portrays exotic women on their windows which shows how media is targeting their audience by having these type of stereotype going. I also notice the restaurant is full of variety of ads to bring most customer. Consequently, I guess media consumption is part of our life and we are so used to seeing these types of thing that we no longer consider those things as media watching until we really think about them

Le Tigre - "New Kicks"

I should have posted this a week ago; it's a great get-pumped-up-to-vote song, and I find Le Tigre's D.I.Y. aesthetic inspiring. Enjoy!

Do I Eat Everything I See?

I look around my own room, and there it is. Chevy's attempt to promote their new concept Camaro as my favorite transformer, Bumble Bee stands proudly by it's side. I see this as I play around on the internet while listening to satellite radio. Media is a present as oxygen at this exact moment. It just makes me wonder...how much of this do I actually take in?
As I ventured out to class, there are left overs from caucus two days prior. Students proudly walking around bearing the sticker that screams "HILARY '08" or "OBAMA". I forgot how liberal my college was...
When I finally got to my class (after freezing my face off) I pull out my planner and notice that this thing is covered in advertisements. Money money money...

After class I notice that the bus has a not-so-attractive advertisement of Denny Hecker and his amazing deals on cars. The radio in my car plays anything from Damian Rice to the Dixie Chicks.
I think what shocks me more than anything, is that these things actually make me think. I sit, listen, and look as all of these sources pour into my brain. Most of it just gets put out of my brain within moments, but sometimes a song or an image can stick for days (usually because I'm relating it to some personal experience). How is it that I've managed to acquire an automatic subconscious filter within my own brain? Kinda cool...kinda creepy.

How do I watch media?

These days, I mostly watch media on my computer. I download TV shows (usually as torrent files; sometimes through iTunes), and then watch them on my laptop or my mp3 player. I still rent DVDs of movies and TV shows, but not as frequently as I used to.

My media habits are strongly affected by my budget (somewhat meager), and also by my friends' habits. I love watching movies in the theater, but it's expensive, and I find it hard to agree, with friends or with dates, on a movie for which we're both willing to pay upwards of $9 to see.

I also listen to a lot of podcasts (current favorites: "The Best Show on WFMU" and "Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern"). I like the fact that podcasts can serve as an accompaniment to any activity that doesn't require my active listening participation.

I consider myself a pretty active viewer/consumer of media. Mentally active, I mean--I don't, like, do jumping jacks while I watch "30 Rock." I often have strong opinions about media, and I'm usually unconvinced by dismissals of something being "just a movie," and therefore unworthy of scrutiny. In other words, I often get accused of "over-analyzing" stuff, like "post-p.c." (read: racist) Superbowl commercials.

February 10, 2008

Watching Myself Watch and Read

My media consumption is mostly self-inflicted and well targeted, and I digest the things I see and hear through an instinctively feminist lens. As I make my way through my last semester of a GWSS major, I cannot stop myself from asking what is feminist and what is damaging to women and minorities as I consume media. I look at the roles people play, especially in ads, and I assess the ways that different types of oppression are manifest.

Over the past few days, like most days, I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet. I read the New York Times and Feministing habitually for my news and commentary, and I listen to M/NPR when I’m in my car (not very much over the weekend). As news goes, those sources are generally light on the stereotyping and offensive language (NYT lifestyle reporting is an exception, but I try to stay away from it). Feministing is a great source for commentary on the day’s sexist/racist events, and it’s a lot of fun to read the comment section and get other perspectives on issues like Hillary Clinton’s alleged crying or the HPV vaccine. Today I watched the Grammy Awards and found myself noticing a few things that I really liked. First, that a majority of the performers were people of color, mostly black. And second, that a lot of the night’s bigger awards went to female artists. It was wonderful to see the type of work and artists that were recognized. As far as the media that I didn’t intentionally seek out, I avoided quite a bit of it this weekend, but, as always, I am plagued by the “Working the corner? billboard near my apartment. The billboard is of transvesite man (dressing as a woman) with lettering that says “Working the Corner since (1980something)?, it’s for Figlio restaurant, attempting to make a pun out of their location at Lake Street and Hennepin Ave in Uptown. Instead of a clever pun, they end up with a truly offensive billboard that I see almost every day on my way home. To me, it suggests that transvestites are always sex workers, and that the sex trade is funny. It is not, and it frustrates me to see messages like this bombarding me on a regular basis, and to know how vulnerable I once was and many people are to the attacks.


At 38, Lori Benson, an aspiring filmmaker living in downtown Manhattan, was relishing life and motherhood with her one- year-old daughter Talula. Then a single phone call changed her life forever: it was her doctor; the diagnosis was breast cancer; and surgery was imperative. Dear Talula is a portrait of a woman whose grace and courage allow her to transform her breast cancer diagnosis into a journey of self discovery.

What: An intimate director's roundtable discussion with Lori Benson
When: Friday, February 8th - screening at 11:30am; discussion at 12:00pm
Where: IFP MN's classroom (2446 University Ave W, in St. Paul)
What Else: Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch. There will also be a FREE screening of Dear Talula the night before:

The Survivors' Studio Proudly Presents A Free Public Screening of DEAR TALULA Thursday, February 7th, 7 p.m.
White Bear Township Theaters
A post-film discussion with Lori Benson follows. For more information about the film, go to http://www.deartalula.com. For directions to the theater and to get your free ticket, go to http://studio.survivorstraining.org/grandopening. Or call 651-748-4760.

media consumption

i was incredibly shocked at the fact that for basically every minute of my life, i'm pretty sure i am consuming media. to realize that there are messages being thrown at me from the time i wake up, to the time i go to bed (and probably even in my dreams!) is a little frightening, and it really makes me aware of how much affect the outside world has on my inner thoughts.

during the two days, i came to realize that media is all around me. from the time i wake up, my roommates tv is on. we have tvs in our bathrooms that always play so getting ready i am constantly streaming. when i hop on my laptop, something i usually do right when i get up, im seeing pop ups, facebook ads, and other webpages' messages, but i dont even realize it. driving in my car to class or work, there are billboards, students backpacks, everyones clothing brands, wrappers on the garbage on the ground... little aspects of media infiltration everywhere. going to starbucks for coffee, or a someplace for a quick bite to eat, signs, flyers, and other papers bombard me. these type of things are all around, even when i'm not trying to consume media! when im involving myself, thats another story. reading magazines, watching tv at night, watching movies, playing music during my homework... those are all also media consumption periods, but then i at least know what im getting myself into. all in all, i was pretty shocked at my constant media engulfing.

February 6, 2008

2/13 FREE: Angela Davis at Macalester

Angela Davis
A Socially Conscious Conversation with the Legendary Activist

5 p.m., February 13
Alexander G. Hill Ballroom
Macalester College

This event is free; however, tickets will be required and available for pick up at the Macalester Campus Center Information Desk beginningon February 6 for students and February 8 for the general public.

February 5, 2008

Assignment 3: Media Watching


For this assignment, please complete steps I - III, detailed below.

Part I. For 48 HOURS, I want you to KEEP A LOG (date, time, location, form of media, details about content, your response) of your media exposure (things like all the ads on bus benches or the video screens in the bathrooms at restaurants/clubs downtown), and the times & places that you choose to watch media. (Note: This could be a great basis for this week's reflection on your personal blog.)

Part II. Reflect on your media watching log. How typical was your viewing during these 2 days? Consider your normal media watching habits: How do you watch / view media? In theaters? On television? Do you rent DVDs and watch on a laptop while riding the bus home? Do you have a video Ipod?

How does who you are and where and how you watch, affect what you see, how you see it, what you "read" and how you understand media and the world.

Part III. Post your answer(s) to the prompts on the COURSE blog, give us some excerpts of your log, and reflect on your interaction(s) with the media by NOON on Tuesday, 2/12.

Thinking about Chicago

One of my favorite things about Judy Chicago was her attitude. She explained in the beginning of the movie that she cared very little about what other people wanted her to be. In fact, this is why she changed her name; in order to invent who she wanted to be, rather than what she was expected to be. I noticed that many of her students did not have this type of confidence. The second lesson in the film was called “giving voice? and revealed her students’ insecurities about exposing themselves in the art world. Her students often looked to her as a source of confidence, many of them striving to mold their art to fit her expectations instead of their own. I felt as though this was often what her students struggled with the most. It was almost as though they could not decide whether they were putting themselves out there for themselves or for Judy Chicago.

One of my favorite things about Judy Chicago was her attitude. She explained in the beginning of the movie that she cared very little about what other people wanted her to be. In fact, this is why she changed her name; in order to invent who she wanted to be, rather than what she was expected to be. I noticed that many of her students did not have this type of confidence. The second lesson in the film was called “giving voice? and revealed her students’ insecurities about exposing themselves in the art world. Her students often looked to her as a source of confidence, many of them striving to mold their art to fit her expectations instead of their own. I felt as though this was often what her students struggled with the most. It was almost as though they could not decide whether they were putting themselves out there for themselves or for Judy Chicago.
This inner strife was what made the film most appealing to me. Many of the students felt an inner turmoil about the role that their art was to play in their lives. Some of the students said that they would be content as artists if they could simply win the respect of their peers. Others, such as Judy herself, felt as though they could not be an accomplished artist unless they were famous. I felt as though Judy Chicago did not understand or sympathize with the students who were not ready to dedicate all of their time and energy to their art. She simply said that when she became famous, she felt as though she was becoming herself. Whether this is how all artists should self-actualize, is another question.
As I left class, I couldn’t help but sympathize with Judy’s students. Many of these women wanted to find balance in their lives. They wanted to be successful artists, but they also wanted to be mothers, gardeners, wives, etc. I could not help but feel as though Judy Chicago expected the women in her class to be as dedicated to their art as she was. Yet, what I observed among that group of women was a diverse array of needs that art was there to fulfill. I believe that becoming famous at the work that one does is irrelevant. What is truly important is the art itself. There is so much art that was never appreciated at the time that it was produced; therefore, fame is not the ultimate measure of success.

going to chicago

The thing that struck me the most about the video was Judy Chicago's conversations with her female students about balancing one's life with their art. She seems to believe that making art requires one not to compromise; in order to do it well you have to dedicate your entire self and all of your time, energy and resources to it. This clearly works well for her, as she is a very successful and famous artist. She has done exactly what she wanted to do with her life. I find her dedication, fierceness and ability to get things done inspiring, and that spirit is the lesson that I would like to take from her method. At the same time, I don't think that everyone has the ability to do what she does, and I don't think that one has to in order to make art. The women in her class who have families expressed a need for balance in their lives; they had other commitments and responsibilities that they needed to attend to, and they disagreed with Judy's idea that they couldn't do that and be artists. So do I. People come from different places and have different situations in their lives, and it takes a certain amount of privilege to be able to dedicate the kinds of resources to one's art that Chicago suggests. Women of less privilege have inner selves and a lot to express as well; to say that they cannot fully do so (or are less worthy artists because of it) is, in my opinion, unhelpful and wrong.

Judy Chicago

Judy's teaching techniques comes across to me as "tough love." She is brutally honest, as in very direct and unafraid to show her opinions. My initial thoughts were, "I'm glad I'm not in her class," because at first she seemed very pushy to me. To the point that I felt like the students' art were no longer their own, but a vision of what Judy has for them. But, eventually I realized that she was attempting to push them outside their comfort zone, in order for them to fully explore their own abilities.

But I still remain conflicted by her techniques. Her "tough love" kind of guidance, and her whole "you have to do it THIS WAY in order to get your message across!" robs the women of what they freely want to express. Part of my conflicting emotions regarding Judy is a product of my belief that art is subjective. No matter how direct one tries to convey a message through an art piece, it will always be misinterpreted in some way. I was especially not comfortable with Judy pushing some of the women to be more explicit in their art. Although the women in the end seemed satisfied and "glad" they were pushed in such a way, there were still hints of discomfort on their part.

Aside from that, there were many points that Judy made that were important for me to note. For example, women not being socialized to be independent thus in the end settling for less than what they are capable for. Of course I cannot speak for everyone, as I am sure that there are some women who sought independence and reached success, but in my circle of friends, independence is almost a non existent word. It sounds great in theory, but it's left behind in order to please family and friends (early marriage).

Another spot on point she made was her speaking of women in institutions of higher Education that seem to cater more to men, since it's mostly ran by men. Although the Educational system is certainly changing, I can't help but still wonder about the ways that higher education is gendered (why such few women in IT?). But on that same note, Judy spoke of how women needed to almost be "held" by the hand and directed, because of the different ways in which we learn. I had issue with that. Yes, because of the way men and women are socialized, there will be differences, but (and I might be totally misinterpreting her) she made it seem almost like it's inherent.

Whenever I start agreeing with her on one point, somehow on that same point I start reaching a disagreement. For example, a lot of the women in her class were not really aiming for success. I also was bothered by that because I hear a lot more women say that they are just fine with "stay behind the scenes." On the other hand, Judy seemed to believe that if you are not successful then you haven't made it. Then suddenly, her domineering style became unpleasant, because she was basically shaping them based on her own idea of what success and what feminist art is, and anything less was not edgy enough. And then it occurred to me that her idea of being a successful person is to emulate the success of men.

Finally, what is Feminist Art? What is the difference between one woman who takes a picture of herself naked vs. another woman's same image? Must the woman think of herself as a feminist first? Is it the message behind a certain piece?

I honestly don't know.

Lesson In Feminist Art...

I learned a great deal from Judy Chicago video. Before the video I did not know who Judy Chicago was but now I know that, she is a very bold and honest intellectual. She has her own way of teaching her students on how to be self-assured and be a role model for others. She wants her students to freely express themselves and look at them in a practical and logical way. Moreover, she wants to bring her students most inner thought. In a video she mentioned that, “ it is not what I do but it is what I know because of studying about women?. She is mainly interested in women because she thinks that average Art Institute is interested in mainstream art and not in feminist or feminism. She also thinks that feminist art is about the expression of women’s struggle and men are driven toward being independent; where as, women are not and that is why they are struggling through it.
In addition to that, she thought that these students needed time to be strong and be bold and she was helping them by making them think beyond the boundaries. I personally liked her approach of teaching because at the end her students were really satisfied with their artwork and they were proud of themselves.

Judy Chicago Analysis

The class was given strict instructions from the highest authority not to start our analysis of Judy Chicago with, “This was an interesting movie.? In truth, it was. Judy Chicago is a highly interesting and controversial figure. Her art plays an important role in the creation of feminist art, and her teaching methods are unconventional.

I must admit this was not my first reaction to Judy Chicago. My first reaction was to dismiss the art and the artist. It’s too crude for my personal taste. However, the art and the artist must be looked at though a historical perspective. Judy Chicago’s most famous work was representations of women by a woman. Art such as Judy’s was a revolution. Her work created controversy, alienation, and conversation. However, this is was an incredibly important tool to put the cause in public light. Her work sparked important discussion about the role of women and the role of feminism within society and the art world.

My criticism of Judy Chicago’s work is that it belongs to an older generation, one that was sexually repressed. When Judy began her work it was an exciting new concept. She presented it to a society that needed to be awakened. However, in our society today, one almost cannot escape the images of women many of which are highly sexual. Work that may have been provocative at one point is now passé. Sex is now casual rather than controversial. I say this as an observer of the world around me, not as pure fact.

Judy urged many of her students to be more sexually explicit or body conscious. My issue with this is that I have seen the after effects of these forms of art. It did not work out as planned. Many young people are ignorant to the history behind these images. Many are only aware to the fact that men and women alike represent female bodies as sexual objects. The do not know the ideology behind it. This can do enormous damage to a society. The work has not gone beyond the sexual to represent the bigger issues that are facing women in society today.

Another suggestion Judy makes to her students is to live more like male artists, be the rugged individual artist. She suggests throwing all of one’s self, including money, into their art. This is a fantasy only manageable by some. There are many more issues to consider. Women must be financially sound in order to be safe. Access to health care, birth control, safe transportation, safe neighborhoods, ect. are all important safety issues for women. These things also require more money than the average artist can afford.

Judy’s work is undeniably important. However, I believe a new analysis is needed for feminist art. It’s important for women to be aware of the past, but to create new art that centers on today’s issues that speaks for the good of us all.

My thoughts on Judy Chicago...

“Visual arts is our picture of the world.? - Judy Chicago

Before, I saw this film I had no idea of who Judy Chicago was, and I was really struck by how tough and honest she was. She really pushed her studio students outside of their comfort level as much as she could, and I really do think that they grew a lot because of that. She was so forceful at times and really harsh with her students, so much so, that I really kind of grew to resent her - I was so glad that I wasn’t in class with her.

I did, however, find some of her statements to be enlightening and I did learn more about some new aspects of feminist art and feminist pedagogy from her.

Her idea that women “do and be,? was a great way to state how women are often objects and objectified in art, so I thought that she was dead on with that phrase. Her point that women were brought into male schools and then were expected to fit-in in the institutions that were created for men, by men, resonated with me. I think that our current education system is slowly evolving and changing for the better, but I know from personal experience, that often times many girls are left out of the math and sciences, and as they grow older, these women are “left behind.? Chicago’s reference of a sexist education hierarchy in terms of art was a new perspective, and one that I definitely needed to hear.

So, Chicago didn’t fill me with feelings of endearment for her, but I was glad to hear some of the more positive comments from her students. One woman said that Chicago made her students feel as if they had something worthwhile to say – that is great that Chicago is able to channel their passion effectively. I felt as if her style of teaching was to break them down and rebuild them, but that she really tried for them to discover what elements they wanted to bring forth and use in their creative processes. One of her students mentioned that Chicago uses a holistic approach to teach her students more about artistic technique and such, and she said that it was a feministic approach. One thing that was kind of funny, during the entire film, the narrator/interviewer was trying to find out what was feministic about this studio art class, and at the end? Still no solid answer! The students themselves couldn’t and didn’t really talk much about feministic pedagogy and I didn’t really mind either way…I just thought it was interesting that the idea of a feministic approach to teaching art wasn’t explored more – but maybe that’s just it…why does it need a concrete boxy type definition?

I heard two good (I thought) definitions of feminist art: one being that feminist art peels away layers of stereotypes while affirming women --and the other-- feminist art is being able to let oneself go and not be embarrassed about what the results are.

One challenge I have to Chicago is that she seems kind of full of herself. I know that she has accomplished quite a bit and was on the cover of Time when she only 25, but her quote, “When I got famous, I knew that I had become myself,? made me think that she needed approval from Time to validate her work…what does that say about any internalized oppression she may have? Her students talked about being comfortable in being successful among their peers (read: women) and content at being behind the scenes. But, Chicago said that she had hit it when she was equal to the men…I don’t know if she should really be striving to further play and cash into a sexist system...it kind of makes her seem like a “sell-out? or no longer a grassroots revolutionary feminist. I think that she absolutely deserves her fame, and who am I to judge her? I’m just writing out some of my thoughts here…I could go on forever, but I won’t.

Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago scares the bejesus out of me. However, I’m intrigued by her mentality. There was a line in the video that went something like this: “confidence affects the way the artist creates.? This certainly seems true. Yet, what I seemed to see was Judy really digging into the work, and asking the artists to create something that screamed their message. The ideas of vulnerability and exposure are generally terrifying, and not particularly empowering. With Chicago, though, those seem to be necessary in really portraying what it is you want to speak to your audience. Further, I would suggest that Chicago’s bold, blunt methods of instruction and guidance trounce passivity, in principle and in practice.

I am also intrigued by the mention of women remaining in school for the use of kilns, supplies, etc. in order to continue to create. Also, there was a mention of women needing hand holding in order to teach confidence and strength. I wonder to what extent this is true. I hate to think that I need to be nurtured through my endeavors. Yet, I do feel terrified about what comes next. The suggestion in the video stemmed from the process of women being brought into male schools, where they were expected to fit in. The argument is for a different pedagogy for women. Women are clearly socialized differently from men, and this argument continues to pop in today. I’ve recently heard the reverse, where there are some who are suggesting that the way elementary schools are set up currently caters to the learning process of girls above boys. Obviously, boys are more active and learn better that way. Girls are naturally passive, and can learn easily sitting still and behaving in a chair behind a desk. There is no such thing as misbehavior—only differences. Those differences, too, are gender based. This argument is differently, obviously. The women being brought into male art schools occurred after socialization. The children in elementary schools are in the midst of socialization.

We saw, too a woman explain her difference with Judy Chicago. She said she sought balance. She wanted time for her garden, kids, dogs, and time to create art, not the go go go world of men. Men, and Judy Chicago. It’s hard not to be impressed by someone who became an icon at such a young age. And I have to admit that I agree with her mentality, as intimidated as I think I would be to sit in the same room as her. I think it is important to incorporate vulnerability into anything of importance to you and to something that means a great deal to you. If there is anything worth keeping in mind from the video, it is that.

JuDy ChIcAgO

How do you define feminist art? How do you label art as feminist?
In the documentary I discovered that if you spend too much time with a label, you end up missing the point. Judy Chicago stressed the importance of women creating art. Since the male art is dominant throughout museum and history, the idea of female art has been extremely neglected. Thus the views and the expressions of women and their experiences are lost or misinterpreted. THAT'S why it's so important for women to pursue art. Merely existing in the world of art will not inform the world of what type of power a woman holds.
Judy Chicago as an instructor played an incredible role in her student's life. Her way of holding her student's hands was to be demanding. She held high expectations for her students and didn't complement them on being an excellent artist or on being creative, but rather encouraged their effort. At some point within the video it was said that, "85% of the time she was teaching them to be strong".
When searching for a definition of a label, give up, and just look at the art.

February 4, 2008

Judy Chicago

At several points in the video, Judy Chicago either says or implies that she does not believe that men can ever really share or understand women’s struggle, especially in self-expression. She motivates the students to get in touch with their female experience, pushing them to explore ways that they’ve experienced womanhood. For an artist who’s work is considered feminist, I think that this is a necessary approach. To savor the female experience in art and to push towards a deeper form of expression of that experience is one of the defining characteristics of feminist art as I see it. And I think that Chicago’s assertion that men cannot and will not fully share in the experience seems to be a cornerstone of her art class. This is particularly evident when she notes that many women artists become less aggressive about pursuing a professional art career, because (she believes) that women prefer the safety and dependency of a classroom situation (instead of the confidence and independence to promote themselves outside of that setting). If this is true (and I can see how it would be), I would say that it’s a result of the socialization of women to be less independent and less self confident, or to limit one’s independence or confidence – especially in fields that have been seen as male dominated (like arts or sciences). If this art class is Judy Chicago’s response to that phenomenon, then I think she does an excellent job in forcing students outside of their comfort zone and to a certain extent, allowing them to step outside of normative expectations for women.

Feminist Art

As I was reading some of the other posts and looking over some of the ideas that others have had, I find that I have connected to these same points but in slightly different ways. I, too, connected to the statement about Judy having to "handhold" her female art students, an idea that, quite honestly bothered me considerably.

I understand that in a situation governed by men, it becomes difficult for a woman to exercise her own, strong voice. For Judy to be able to express her voice so clearly is truly amazing. However, for her to say she must "handhold" her students, she almost places herself in a masculine position by "allowing" her women students to express their artistic voices. As a teacher, this encouragement of personal expression is an integral part of pedagogy, but to do so in what appears to be a condescending manner would do just the opposite of prompt me to uninhibitedly express my voice.
The other point of the movie that I particularly connected to was Judy's insistence that her students produce art that explicitly pronounces her concept(s). The reason I connect to this idea is because for me, art, whether it is feminist or not, is about personal interpretation. Art is art because not everyone produces the same meaning from viewing the same art object. Art is, in my opinion, meant to facilitate discussion among those that view the piece(s) and if everyone that takes in an art object finds/discovers/produces the same meaning, art becomes no different than a math equation: 1 + 1 = 2. While I agree that an artist's voice should be heard/felt through the art he or she produces, there should be, I feel, a certain amount of interpretation involved in the process of viewing art. Judy pushes her students beyond their perceived limits-a definitely positive pedagogical technique to induce a student's best work-I believe that allowing for fluid meaning in a student's work adds dimension to both the work itself as well as to the student that produced it. Ambiguity is not necessarily a sign of weakness.

Judy Chicago

In the video, Judy Chicago said that 85% of her teaching was handholding. This could be reflective of what her female students need after years of trying to break into the male dominated art world. Yet at the same time, I wonder how self conscious these women really are that are trying to express themselves, and do so potentially for a living. What motivated them up to this point to create? I guess I'm questioning the accuracy of Judy's quote here rather that her student's motivation. I think "handholding" is a strong word to use in this context. I don't see my teachers as "hand holders" so much and I don't believe it to be there jobs either. I guess the term just bothered me in a way that it reinforced the fragile notion of the feminine spirit.

I, however, really liked the idea of confidence in Judy Chicago's teaching style. I guess when you're holding back it is really evident in any form of art. Instilling confidence is a little different then handholding in that in helping someone be confident through their work through praising and gentle prodding with what is already there. However, I see handholding as walking someone through something difficult.

After watching the video I was interested in what my friend back home thought of gender within her art department. She's a painting major at SUNY Fredonia in New York; her teachers are all male. She also is the lone person doing portrait work as opposed the mass amount of abstract art that is there. What was interesting was she never thought of her experience at Fredonia as being influenced by her gender. Yet it got her thinking more about her teachers’ responses to her work. She does a lot independently and tries to not let her instructors influence a lot of her work---abstract art isn't everything and quality should be more important not quantity. I guess what I got out of our conversation was that she never thought of gender until someone else brought it up. Does someone else need to bring up gender for some women in order for them to face differences and biases, especially in the art world? Also, if Judy Chicago wasn't teaching that class would her students have recognized their own art as feminist art?

City of Minneapolis Art in Public Places

Artist-Designed Public Drinking Fountains
Public Art Project

The City of Minneapolis Art in Public Places Program and the Department of Public Works are pleased to invite artists to apply to design public drinking fountains to be installed at seven different locations in the City. The vision of this project is to celebrate the role water has played in Minneapolis history and to foster a commitment to honoring and protecting water as fundamental to all life.

Artists or artist teams from Minnesota may apply. Final designs, and possibly one or two fountains, will be unveiled as part of the City’s celebration of its 150th anniversary in July 2008.

Application deadline: Friday, February 22, 4:00 p.m

Request for Proposals

Mary Altman
Public Arts Administrator
City of Minneapolis
350 South Fifth Street, #210
Minneapolis, MN 55415-1385

February 3, 2008

Lessons in Feminist Art

Watching the video, I found it incredibly obvious how different ideas of feminism can be. It was quite clear how Judy saw the issue was very different than how some of the female students. with judy, being a feminist is about breaking into the boys club, being bold, becoming a star.

with some of the students, feminism is something they are not quite sure how to define. Some view their art as their way of feminism, a message or a way about how they express what they believe being a woman is. As judy explains her start to feminist art, she talks about changing her name (by doing so, she was) "inventing who I wanted to be, not who i was supposed to be". This is the bold method judy uses with everything she does. ths students aren't quite sure what they think about their feminism, but one gives what she thinks are the steps to discovering it, "think logically and clearly, and then express yourself freely". I think in the end of the video, you aren't left with a definate defination about what feminist art is, but you are left with the ideas of judy, and the tools given to the students to discover your own.