Carlene Kurdziel donated a pair of snow boots to my heartbreak project. It was my first donated object, and a doozie. The glue that holds snowboard boots together is pervasive, and there is stitching on top of it. I had to slice through the stitching with an exacto knife and then muscle the glue apart.
Carlene wrote about her experiences with the snowboard boots below, and why they were important to her. Check out her work at Carlene Julianna
As a part of Katrina Craig’s Suffering Project, I donated a pair of snowboard boots, gently used. By gently, I mean exactly one miserable time. These boots were given to me by a person who had a great impact on my life, more so in their absence than presence. Hurdling downhill sideways and throwing myself to the ground was not my idea of a great afternoon, but my significant other at the time told me that well, it should be.
This relationship didn’t teach me in the midst of love, it taught me once I was out. For years, these boots have followed me around, some obscure piece of memorabilia from a time in my life that brings me unease to reflect upon, yet a sense of peace, all at once. For in this relationship, I was taught what love is, and what it isn’t. Here’s what I learned:
Love isn’t need, it is release.
Love isn’t change, it is acceptance.
Love isn’t worry, it is knowledge.
Love isn’t becoming, it is being.
Forgiveness goes a long way when you recognize your own dependency, when you mistakenly lose yourself to another who doesn’t recognize your value. We’ve all experienced these relationships, got lost within them, and leave transformed; much like these boots. Love based on my choices, and enjoy the serendipitous moments that occur when one’s life is lived with intention.
In case you're wondering how hard they were to take apart....
I have an interest in everyday suffering- Everyone who exists has experienced suffering. In the culture I live in, you're not supposed to suffer. It's expected that you might be sad for a few days, maybe a few weeks. Death, heartbreak, transition and loss are something to move past. There is a huge "happiness" movement with affirmations and methods to feel better faster. Can we rush past suffering? or are we just pressing it down and giving an elaborate "over it" performance to make others around us feel more comfortable?
Seeing those around us suffer creates a feeling of unease, or even sometimes disdain ("Why can't she just get over it already!"). We relate and connect with suffering and it reminds us of our own, especially the suffering we are still holding close to our hearts while mentally holding at a distance. Suffering changes us, it allows us to grow. We have to become new and adapt to our new circumstances, and this is terrifying.
I've realised that groups of my work that were in the past 'unrelated' are connected with the thread of everyday experiences of suffering, judgement and vulnerability. These experiences that we hold in, that we joke about, that we pretend never happened. Vulnerability is sharing these experiences and finding we have been changed, but want to investigate who we are now.
Some podcasts to listen to about these themes:
On Being with Krista Tippett: Bessel van der Kolk, Treating Trauma in the Body
On Being with Krista Tippett: Brene Brown, The Courage to be Vulnerable
Why Does Everyone Think They Are Right?
The last six months have been…. tense. The US election put a magnifying glass on the extremes of political ideology. With less moderate opinions and more ways to show your thoughts to the world, people are having A LOT of conversations. Lately I’ve been having trouble working out what it means to be ‘right’.
I feel my beliefs and views are moving towards equality and providing human rights for other people. I tend to agree with left leaning ideologies. When I get in debates with people who have more right leaning beliefs…. no one changes their mind. They feel as strongly as I do that THEY are right, so what is the point of discussing? Well sometimes people’s beliefs impact your life or the lives of others (for example, reproductive health, race equality, gender equality, LGBT rights and equality). So what the hell is going on? I have researched and compiled some of the intrinsic biases we have going into these conversations.
Everyone thinks they are above average, and that their ideas are better developed and more informed than other people. People speak modestly because it’s a social convention, under the surface is a feeling of being slightly better at things than most people. The only major group of people who don’t experience illusory superiority are people with clinical depression, who often can assess themselves more accurately. So Illusory Superiority is important for mental heath, but can make rational discussion really frustrating.
read more about this
Selective Exposure Theory
Selective exposure theory simply means people are more frequently exposed to media and people who agree with them than media they disagree with. This is different from propaganda (when only one selected ideology is exclusively shown to a group so they believe that to be a truth) in that when people have lots of different options of things they can read and people they can talk to, they will often pick those that agree with their views. Social media has exxagerated this as it uses algorithms to show you more information and posts that you will agree with, and less information you won’t agree with. This can lead to people assuming that they are correct because all of the things they are reading say that they are.
read more about this
False Consensus Effect
We assume other people think and behave the same way we do and that our beliefs, actions and thoughts are normal, and typically assume that people who’s actions and thoughts are different than theirs are wrong or strange. this combined with selective exposure theory can really “other” people who disagree with us. People who live in isolated groups or in cultures where people are expected to conform to specific cultural norms can feel this more intensely than those with experience interacting with lots of different types of people.
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In Groups and Out Groups
When we think of a group as “other” or “different” than us we create in-groups and out-groups. Compassion, empathy and understanding is significantly higher among people we perceive as being in our group. Humans are more likely to oppress and mistreat those they perceive as belonging in a different group than they do (an out-group) and listen to and more readily respect people from their in-group. This is one of the reasons we are defensive when we talk to people who have views that disagree with ours, and also why groups of people tend to not care about political policies that don’t effect them and their families, or go against their own personal beliefs. Often the media uses this bias to control how people feel about certain groups of people. Populations are more likely to believe negative stories about people who belong to out-groups and isolate themselves from unbiased interactions with people from those groups.
read more about this
We assume that we as individuals see the and the world clearly and without bias. Since we think we understand the world and its truths, we then assume that other people will agree with us when they are given the correct information that we understand. Those who still disagree once presented with our facts are then assumed to be ignorant, bias, or unintelligent. This explains every online comments section ever.
read more about this
So….. everyone thinks they are intelligent, well informed and understand the “true” nature of the world. They seek out media and literature that supports their belief system and tend to cluster in groups of like minded people. We assume that we think and behave in a typical way, and feel weird about people who don’t think and behave that way. People who are outside of these groups are given less compassion and understanding, so individuals don’t feel as bad about treating them poorly or oppressing them. The people inside of those oppressed groups have the same mechanisms of bias happening, and have their own out-groups that they have less compassion for.
With all of these biases keeping us from listening and understanding each other, sometimes uniting people seems impossible. Being aware of your own bias can help us to be more compassionate and understanding when listening to people who have different beliefs. I’m not saying that i do this perfectly all the time (or even most of the time) but i’m trying to learn about my bias to try to change how i’m communicating with people I disagree with.
The Value of Free Time as a Creative Person: Why Not Having a Car Has Made Me a More Creative Person
We are all really busy. Most of the creative people I know always have a lot of balls in the air. Often they work at a non art job, are creating bodies of work, networking, social media, submitting applications for shows and grants, and trying to have a social life at the same time. Where does free time fit into this? Maybe it doesn’t.
In my experience, creativity and free time are intrinsically linked. My ideas do not come from focus. Focusing on an idea feelings like running after a piece of paper in the wind, as soon as you get close enough to grab it, another gust of wind blows it further away. I can get as far as some unrelated and nonsensical sentences but no matter how hard I focus it still seems blurry.
I can’t force myself to make connections. They come in the free space between scheduled activities. I don’t have a car, so I spend a lot of time walking. This is time where I don’t have to focus on anything but getting hit by a car. If I see something interesting I can stop and look at it, and I can let my thoughts bubble as they come, instead of putting them aside to focus on the task at hand.
I love seeing surprises in familiar places, all of the small details that make up the texture of a city. I’m no photographer, but sometimes i’ll take photos of the details that I’ve missed. There is something special about really seeing something for the first time the 50th time you’ve seen it.
I live in a city that is freezing temperatures for about six months of the year. Right now we are in month four of winter, and I’m itching for a summer walk. In the winter my walks are shorter and faster, with my face down so the wind doesn’t sting my eyes and my eyelashes don’t freeze. I’m itching for some free time to see what I’m missing, and to connect the dots on what i’m thinking.
We need to stop measuring our worth based on our productivity, and start thinking about the things that bring us joy and the places that let our minds come out to play. I’ve been told my entire life that I just need to focus. To pay attention, follow the instructions, don’t get distracted. What If what I’ve really needed isn’t productivity life hacks, but a space for my mind to breathe.
The next time you are having a creative block, put down your pen and go for a walk.
Wow. North America has flipped upside down in the last 12 days. Up here in Canada we aren’t feeling the impact of the newest election as harshly or directly as our neighbours to the south, but there is a thick feeling of trepidation and anxiety in that we share a border with a highly armed superpower. Changes that occur in the United States have ripples in the surrounding countries, as the tragic attack in Quebec have shown us.
January 21st I participated in a women’s march along with millions of other men and women worldwide in solidarity with Washington in Winnipeg. It was an inclusive event with speakers from the indigenous people of Manitoba, LGBT community, and Black Lives Matter. The NEWC Buffalo Gals drummers lead the march with the request that the privileged women of the group to allow those most impacted by oppression to lead the group. It was a powerful day for all of those involved and had an outstanding feeling of unity
In the days following I had to debate and defend feminism and what it aims to do to several people. My frustration grew from hearing people say that they don’t need feminism, they are equal, feminism is man-hating. I started to stitch some pieces about violence against women this week in frustration and to feel productive while reading news articles about people being stripped of their human rights south of the border.
In 2015 there were 83 intimate partner homicides in Canada. 67 victims were female, and 16 of them were male, Silk and Cotton
70% of spousal violence in Canada is not reported to the police, Cotton.
Every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Indigenous women are six times more likely to be killed than any other ethnicity in Canada, Wool and Cotton.
Journal Page that I’ve Destroyed/Time Capsule to 2011
I turned my phone off. I’m in need of a break. I check it every five minutes (thirty seconds) and I need to not have to hear how much he wants to do things and hates me.
I just turned it back on. Fuck You lack of will power. What if he is fucking Lily?
I feel awful. I am mentally exhausted I don’t want to do anything. I want to be in my happy ignorant bubble that was popped on the bus yesterday. He wants to leave me,
Thoughts on Minimalism and Art
Minimalism is really popular right now and I can see why. The basic premise is to streamline your life by owning less things for financial, environmental, and ethical reasons. It makes a lot of sense, you spend less money buying stuff and can live in a smaller and cheaper apartment, you contribute to less waste by not ‘purging’ all your stuff you don’t need and throwing it out, and there is less stress trying to figure out what to do with all your stuff.
I try really hard to not buy things I don’t need, and when I do buy I try to buy well made, local, or used. I’m not a minimalist though, at least not in the way that people are when they live in 200sqft micro homes, or live out of a suitcase. I am too sentimental with objects that remind me of people from my past. Where most people clear out objects of people who are no longer in their life, I tend to hold onto them. They remind me of times from the past, and all of the different versions of myself that have existed up until now. They also make me sad when I see them. It feels disrespectful to throw things out that have imbued with so much meaning and most of the things I have you can’t really donate: photos, journals, notes, cards.
Minimalism isn’t easy if you’re an artist. Some people have practices that are easy to minimize, like people who do digital work, performance or ephemeral work. I am not one of these people. I create physical work that is sometimes bulky or large. I try my best to reduce the environmental impact of my practice has, but I’m still buying tons of supplies and need a stockpile of tools and machines to process them. I’m creating more things I need to store in my living space.
Trying to figure out where to put it all can be a challenge sometimes, especially if you’re continually bringing in new supplies.
A few months ago I started to think of ways I could repurpose some of my journals from an incredibly difficult and intense part of my life. I thought about making them into yarn, and developed a method for making continuous paper strips and spinning it into yarn. The work continued from there, and I’ve realised that the process of taking objects apart is incredibly cathartic. I’ve been creating pieces that honour the objects that were used to make them and all the meaning they have for me, while having a really practical application in trying to fit my practice into my apartment.
More Secrets, Journal Pages made into Yarn
Do true minimalists struggle with creativity? All messy creative types post articles all over social media about people with clean desks being less creative and the chaos of mess helps us make new connections. I’m not completely convinced that changing an environment would have a huge change in people’s creativity, but perhaps moreso that certain people are naturally inclined to behave in certain ways.
The other creative people I know are in their heads- they aren’t paying attention to where they put their keys or if they are recording this information in a streamlined way. They tend to write notes on whatever they can get their hands on, and will start working on a project with little thought about all of the materials they’re hauling into the house. I wonder if people inclined towards minimalist lifestyles just have tidier minds, they don’t buy multiples of things because they keep losing them. They don’t get an overwhelming urge to learn something new that requires a bunch of new equipment. They sure as hell don’t feel weird about throwing out a depressing journal from 2011. For now i’m just storing them on the walls instead of on the shelves.