Saturday, June 9, 2018

Get Off That Internet!

Lots of us are concerned that our kids are spending way too much time on the internet, but as adults supposedly setting an example, with attached cell phones, and constant immediate access to the internet, we probably spend even more time online than our kids, so we can't really expect to set much of an example.

I have no cell phone, nor do I want one. Having a desk top computer is more than enough for me. Oh I get all the convenience and how cell phones even save lives and provide safety features of sorts when someone is lost or in a dangerous situation. I also see how cell phones have become an addiction, a diversion, a poor substitute for face to face communication and there are increasing security concerns that threaten our privacy.

Before writing this blog today, I got outside to prepare my garden for planting soon. I can't say I really wanted to get out there to work and could have easily opted to sit in front of my computer screen. But my body memory tells me, I'll be very happy and finding the experience very rewarding afterward and in the days to come, especially when I'm picking and preparing to eat my fresh vegetables.

Today if I'd chosen to stay inside on my device, I'd never written this post and shared this great video, co-written and performed by two of my favourite performers, Steve Poltz and Danny Michel. It's really entertaining, fun and gets the message across.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day of gardening, except for the part when the horse flies bit my butt through my pants, but I know I'll do it again tomorrow anyway.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hope Predicts Creativity

Spring is my favourite time of year. Everything is growing new in creation. The smell of the earth after a gentle Spring rain is heaven to me.

Outside my studio window is my Lilac tree forming new blossoms, soon to be in bloom in June. The newly arrived Hummingbirds are so plentiful, flitting around the tree. They lift my spirit and make my heart flutter like their wings, as they eat the nectar from the three feeders I've hung for them.

Spring makes me feel hopeful and causes me to reflect on hope.

It's rare for humans to actually see a Hummingbird's nest and at times it might feel rare to see evidence of hope in today's world. But I believe it is absolutely vital to remain hopeful. If you loose hope we give up on life itself.

A study done by ARMÉNIO REGO a PhD and master in Organization and Management of Companies concluded that hope predicts creativity and directly affects our creative output and it's what gives us a positive belief in the future. Hope is essential and integral to humanity and it's the force that sustains us to face the challenges in our lives.

Alexander Pope's philosophical and affirmative poem An Essay to Man encourages us to rely on hope that leads into faith, when he stated "Hope Springs Eternal".

Wild Flowers - Catherine Meyers

Friday, May 18, 2018

Artists Under Siege

Artist Steve Higgins

Sometimes it really does feel art, artists and creativity itself is under attack.

My headline for this post may seem overstated, but art, artists and creativity are more often than not, misunderstood and undervalued. Being an artist doesn't seem to qualify as 'real work' or a legitimate profession.

I say this in light of the most recent events involving a number of well known Canadian artists that have been, or about to be audited by Canada Revenue Agency.

Last week what made the headlines, was an item about a well known long time Nova Scotia artist and teacher Steve Higgins.
The CRA has been deemed him a hobbyist, not an artist, making a living from his art work and was ordered to pay tax on claimed expenses that he'd incurred when he created a large installation sculpture, receiving monies through public grants and sold for non-profit.

This has stunned and incensed the art community. In the statement made by CARFAC it stressed in no uncertain terms, that the CRA is gravely mistaken in their definition of what it means to be an Canadian artist and are alarmed by the implications of this and how it will affect artists.

The Canadian Artist Representation has now taken on the CRA on behalf of artists who are well established within the art community, who have received various grants in order to supplement their income.

As it stands, the government will grant professional artists money through Canada Council and then call them hobbyists, expecting taxes to be paid in kind, because there has been a supposed suspicious spike in income due to these grants. But this grand amount of money is not based on a regular yearly income.

For many years now the average income of a Canadian artist is approximately $18,000. If it wasn't for said grants, artists would have an even harder struggle financially.

I don't think the right hand of the government knows what the left hand is doing. They give with one hand and take with other.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Forgiveness, Perfection and Creativity

There is no perfection, only beautiful versions of brokenness. - Anne Lamott

Today I've been thinking about forgiveness. My thought is in order to forgive, there has to be trust involved. We have to find the trust in ourselves, enough to know we can forgive, and be forgiven, because there also has to be trust present in the other, believing that they will also forgive us.

If we don't make the conscious decision to forgive others from the start of our relationships, our friendships are highly unlikely to last, and we'll not be able to ride the rough seas of emotional interactions with human beings, because humans are imperfect.

Our sense of justice, wrong and right can override reality, in that the expectations we have of others exceed their ability to measure up to our high standards and ideals. We can create problems by demanding superhuman perfection in others or of oneself.

Perfection can be seen as a kind of rejection of life, and a defense against the fear of being human and therefore vulnerable to hurt. Perhaps we won't accept nothing less than perfection, because we ourselves have been expected to be perfect and have failed.

Perfection is a creativity killer and robs us our happiness in life.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

My Fred Flintstone Cars

You get a car!
No, I do, because I have some very generous and sweet friends that have given me their 2001 Buick Le sabre.

I've been without a vehicle for, well I don't remember how long, maybe three years now..
There have been numerous lengths of time throughout the years, when I was without wheels. When I did have a car, they were what I call, Fred Flintstone cars.

I have lots of very vivid and now, funny memories surrounding these second hand junkers I've owned over the years. Like the time I worked in a remote location, up a very long dirt road , as a cook/waitress in a place called Cape Dor.

One of the hottest afternoons of the Summer,  I motored my way back down the hill after working my shift, in my recently purchased purple Kia, I called her The Purple Beet. It caught fire, I almost went hysterical, it was so frightening and couldn't even figure out whether to run up the hill or down.

Our great Advocate Harbour volunteer Fire Department got the fire under control and that was the end of my Kia. The whole Village could see the billowing smoke from the mountain and I'm sure there was lots of talk that day. It sure wasn't funny then, but it is now.

Being without a vehicle, and living in a very rural community really poses a lot of unique challenges. Like having to hitchhike and hour and a half away to University. This happened the first month of my first year and the last month of my last year after returning to University in 2009.

Oh was that fun, especially after I'd often find myself stranded in the middle of no where. Once this was proceeded by the an emotional meltdown, with all the elements, hungry, angry, lonely and tired. I had no money, no car, was majorly sleep deprived, and was being attacked by mosquitoes along the side of the country road and no one would pick me up.

I would have to get up at four a.m., to be out on the side of the road to get a lift to town with a neighbour. He'd drop me off  at 6:30 and wait to meet up with the Fine Arts receptionist at the gas station, who then drive me to Mount Allison University. After classes I'd have to get out on the road again hoping and praying I'd get a drive, and then it would start all over again the next morning.

Looking back, I've often really wondered how the hell I went through that, but I did, because I wanted to my Bachelor of Fine Art Degree so badly, more than anything and was willing to do whatever it took to to graduate. That was six years ago. Graduating at the age of 59, with my BFA in 2012, felt like I had conquered a mountain, and I did really. It was an emotional mountain. A hard climb but I made it!

Being without a vehicle this time round, compared to what it was like then, while attending University has been pretty much a cake walk, all things considered and relative.

Tomorrow I will get the new, old car. Yes it's old, but not a Fred Flintstone model. Next month to the day almost will be my 65th Birthday. This Buick Lesabre is one of the best Birthday presents ever.

Thank you to my sweet friends Monica and Garfield who are sadly leaving our small community and moving away to the big city. I will miss you all very much and I'm so grateful for your kindness.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Algorithms, Manipulation and Democracy

This photograph taken on September 28, 2017, shows a smartphone being operated in front of GAFA logos (acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon web giants) as background in Hédé-Bazouges, western France. (DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

In the dial-up days, before countless social platforms, and prior to all of us being Googlefied, when Face Book, Amazon, and Apple, didn't even exist and before we were tracked and trolled, the world really did seem less complex, safer and truly socially balanced, based on real life interactions and relationships, not virtual 'friendships and realities'.

I've more than one friend, and I'm sure you do too, or perhaps you're one of those individuals, that's so consumed  by everything connected to the internet and find it's difficult to engage in face to face conversations. Preoccupation with texting on cell phones is the norm in spite of people being together in the flesh. It's not just very annoying, it's just plain rude. I expect I'm more acutely aware of this behaviour, because I have no cell phone

One day while visiting my friend I jokingly said something to him, as he plopped down into his big easy chair, in front of his huge flat screen.

He was singing the praises of how awesome it was having all his devices hooked into one another through the internet. He was obsessed and addicted to his internet activity, pleased and proud about how he could watch TV, be on the net, be on his phone, all at the same time. I joked saying, one day your internet connection will be implanted into your brain and you won't need to connect any of your devices. It was supposed to be funny, but I eerily wondered to myself if this is in fact the way humanity was headed and that there will be cyborgs among us or sitting in their big easy chairs.

I do believe we've all gone doolally with our addiction to the internet, and have really gone off the rails. We are being manipulated by algorithms. as we commune with the 'Great Data', instead of one another, and appear hell bent on becoming digitized humanoids. It's a worrisome situation. If you're not concerned about it I suggest you might want to be.

 I'm with Dr. Taylor Owen Digital Media and Global Affairs expert who says we're being manipulated and our democracy is being threatened.

Neil Harbisson - Cyborg Artist

Friday, April 20, 2018

Happy In My Dirt

Alone Images

 I'm not a fan of Winter. I experience the affects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. These symptoms of SAD can also appear in the early Spring and are more commonly experienced by women for whatever reason..

I know I shouldn't wish my time away, but admittedly I spend a good portion of the Winter months wishing for those warm, sunny, Spring days, so I can play outside, in the dirt!

I planted a number of seeds early in the year, that are now germinating and growing, reaching for the sun as they prepare for Spring transplanting. I grow a lot of plants inside and especially love the flowering ones if I can find them. Doing this makes my creative soul happy.

Gardener's know instinctively that digging in dirt makes them happy, it's why they do it. But it's a scientific fact there is a Happy Hormone, called Mycobacterium vaccae found in soil that humans can benefit greatly from, as it's is a natural antidepressant that can help to combat the affects of SAD and the decrease in Serotonin levels that affect our feelings of happiness..

Yesterday I transplanted some succulents, two slips I got from a friend has beautiful little bright yellow flowers, that are about to bloom I hope. I also planted some pansy seeds, that ironically I had to place into a completely dark spot away from the sun for ten days, in order for them to germinate. Pansies don't complain, they like it, and it's what helps them grow.

And so each Winter I now try to consciously embrace my inner pansy, to adapt and cope with, those biochemical SAD feelings that happen, due to the lack of sunshine. It makes my Spring so much sweeter when I do.

So if you're feeling SAD get your hands into the dirt, grow something, You'll feel better, and you might even find it to be a trans-formative experience.

Wild Flowers - Egg Tempera on Ceramic Tile - 2012 - Catherine Meyers