Friday, September 29, 2006

Art Museum Sculpture Gets Teacher Fired.
(Artwork: 'Child' c Susan Gallacher-Turner 2006)

Unbelievable but true. A news story from Dallas, Texas states that an elementary art teacher took her 5th grade students on an approved field trip to the Dallas Art Museum. Inside the museum, students viewed the art collection including a sculptural nude.

A parent complained. The teacher was reprimanded by the principal, and then put on leave until her contract is out. She will not be rehired. This woman has been teaching for 28 years. She has won awards. And because one parent complained about a nude sculpture in a public museum, she is fired.

Why? It’s simple really, it’s fear. Yes. FEAR.

Why are this parent, principal and school board afraid of art?

Art encompasses a wide range of media and subject matter. From landscapes, still life, abstracts, portraits to nudes, art is part of human history. When I taught an art literacy unit on Rubens, one female student commented in disgust that this artist only liked ‘fat’ women. I pointed out that in that time in human history, people who had ‘flesh on their bones’ were admired because it meant that they had enough wealth to have more than enough food. That to be thin, then, was to be poor and in ill health. Mouths dropped open.

Think about all the messages out there about the body. Again, fear is used and misused to keep us buying food, pills, clothes, activities to mold our body to some sort of cultural image. Today, of course, it seems that the more wealthy a person, the more cosmetic and gastrointestinal surgery they have to keep themselves thin.

Fear keeps us from enjoying, growing and loving our body.

Why are we so fearful? We all have a body. We need it to live. Why aren’t we enjoying it instead of loathing it?

We can blame it on bin laden. Blame it on Bush. Blame it on organized religious right wingers. Blame it on feminism or free love. Blame it on AIDS. Blame it on advertising aimed at manipulating fear into money.

But don’t blame Michelangelo, Rodin, Rubens or Matisse to name a few sculptors and painters to use nudes in their art. They are simply using a chisel or brush to show us ourselves.

If the mother or father of that child never wants them to see a nude, they’d better do more than fire an art teacher. They’d better eliminate every mirror on the planet, outlaw baths and clean clothes as well as surgery, sex and childbirth. Because I don’t know of anyone born in the world who arrives already dressed.

I think it’s time for less fear and more fearlessness.

Come on, people take your life back. Take your body back. Take your rights back. Take your mind back.

Be fearless, make your own decisions. Be fearless, love your body. Be fearless, enjoy your life. Be fearless, listen to you for what is right. Be fearless, look someone in the eye. Be fearless. Look. Listen. Taste. Touch. Smell. Be fearless; use the body you were born with. Be fearless; use your senses and your common sense as well.

You don’t have to like everything, love everyone or go everywhere. But don’t let your preferences cut off someone else’s explorations. Be fearless and let yourself live your very own life. And be fearless enough to let everyone else live, too.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A poem to share.

I found a poem in my desk drawer that I wrote over a decade ago. What's interesting is that while I've changed in many ways, I still find ....I forget. So here's the poem for me to remember and share. And hope it helps you as it did me.

I used to be a rusher
A pusher and a shover
I thought that moving faster
was the only way to be.
What I didn't know or see
was that I was running over me.
I soon got very discouraged
exhausted and depressed.
Because I was so busy
I never stopped to rest.
You see...
I missed the sunsets
the flowers and the trees
All changing different colors
right in front of me.
Part of me was wishful
that the world would just slow down.
I'd lost all of my smiles
all I'd gained was frowns.
Finally, I realized...
that things and people change.
I could decide to stop and stare
and take in the mountain range.
I could paint my colors,write my words under the trees,
and choose to be a lover of life and be free.
There still are days
when I forget and find
that in my rush to get things done
I've left my heart behind.
Then it's time to read the words
and listen to my soul
watch the colors of the clouds
and let that be my goal.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear." (H.P. Lovecraft)
And it’s being used on all of us everyday.

You know what I mean, unfortunately, we all do. Just look at a newspaper, or turn on the TV. Forest fires rage. People stabbed. Car wrecks. Terrorists bombing. Soldiers killed. Reality TV shows like Fear Factor. And of course, there’s the disease d’jour.

Then there are the campaigns…War on Terror…AIDs Ribbons…Cancer Awareness all to make you even more afraid of your world, your sexuality, your body.

And then, the quotes: “The most destructive element in the human mind is fear. Fear creates aggressiveness.”(Dorothy Thompson) “Fear is the mind killer.”(Frank Herbert) “Fear the Lord, thy God.”(The Bible) “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”(FDR)
Now, I know that the last quote was meant to help Americans at war. But isn’t really saying that you have nothing to fear but your own fear? So I guess now you can add your own fears to the list of things to fear.

Isn’t this crazy? No wonder, we’re all stressed out.

I had a thought the other day during my daily dose of news and information. What if I accepted my fear as friend not foe? What if I acknowledged it as my own personal news and information service?

Think of it. Fear is my new source of ongoing information about my self, my health, my safety, my immediate world that I could really use for my own benefit. Something inside me clicked. Yes. That’s what fear really is…a survival tool. Fear is there to provide me with information to keep me alive in this wild and woolly world. When I let go of letting my fear be manipulated by the headlines and tuned into my own head, I saw fear as my friend. I no longer needed to run from my fear or let my fear run me. I could walk alongside my new friend, confident that should there be any real threat to me, my fear would help me. Until then, I could relax and enjoy my life.

I don’t need a government agency. I don’t need a non-profit group. I don’t need a ribbon, bumper sticker or wrist band.

I just need to trust. Fear is on my side. I have my own PSA (personal security agency) working for me 24/7.

You know what? So do you. Turn off the turmoil and tune into your own internal cable channel. It’s all there, all the time and it’s free!

I’m going to try these quotes instead.
“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”(Dorothy Thompson)
“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” (James Thurber)
“I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it is gone, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” (Frank Herbert)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Does the world need another blogger? Why would you want to read my blog? Why would I want to blog? All thoughts going through my head right now.

There are thousands of blogs out there and whether the world needs another one or not, I don't know. Whether you or anyone else reads my blog isn't up to me. I want to do a blog to have a place to put my thoughts and art out there to share in this new techno-territory.

My thought for today, fear less. For me, right now, that means tackling the new territory of blogging. So here I am taking one tiny step into the internet hoping the water's not too cold. Susan

(Copyright Susan Gallacher-Turner 2006)