Student Blog Entry: Make Good Art

     Earlier this semester, during a break (procrastination) from grad school, work, internship search, and planning for the matchbox gala, I was killing some time on the youtube and came across a commencement speech given to the University of the Arts class of 2012 by Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors. In his speech he discusses his journey to becoming a writer having never went to college. How he became a better writer by writing, his failures and rejections, and the hopelessness he faced when the prospects of achieving his dreams seemed too great. True to form, he also included his personal recipe for success in life. Although I appreciated his personal spin, much of his advice could be found in many other commencement or otherwise motivational speeches. What stayed with me was his final prescription; make good art, it will get you through the good times and it will get you through the bad times. Leg crushed and eaten by a mutated boa constrictor; make good art. IRS on your trail; make good art. Cat exploded; make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before; make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best; make good art.

     Now, this brings up an interesting question. What is good art? The question ‘what is art?’ often arises; and has since before Andy Warhol created abstract paintings using his own urine and reactive copper paint, before Duchamp painted a mustache on the Mona Lisa. The question, what is ‘good art’ then is even more complicated. For me art is a creation that speaks to, and speaks from, one’s personal truths. Art is a reflection of some aspect of oneself. Good art then, is when that reflection can connect with the personal truths of others. My personal truth is that I love creating, I love being outdoors, and I love my sense of humor, I value my imagination above all else. To quote André Breton “Beloved imagination, what I most like in you is your unsparing quality”.

     Several weeks ago I came down with a cold.  Unable to fully concentrate on my readings, having to constantly attend to my runny nose and in a mental fog of cold medicine, I followed Neil’s advice and made art. With the matchbox gala on the horizon, I decided to make matchbox art. The first matchbox I ever made, before even knowing I was coming to Naropa was a dinosaur; so I decided to start there. Eventually, I noticed that I was actually starting to feel better. I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn’t notice when my sinuses were plugged or feel the need to cough every time there was a tickle in my throat.

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     It was another side of my truth that brought me to Naropa and led to my involvement with the Naropa Community Art Studio-International project; I care very much about people and I want to facilitate others finding their own truth and expression, and live their lives to the fullest, I will cry out against injustice, and I do not give up easily. Recently in our preparations, we read several articles concerning sex-trafficking worldwide and specifically in Cambodia. These articles discussed the violence inflicted upon those forced into prostitution; verbal abuse, physical beatings, early sexual abuse, traumatic head injuries, STDs, and rape (Farley et al., 2003). It is not often thought that prostitutes are raped, but when someone is unable to decline their sexual partners due to threats of violence, or they are physically forced into sex, beaten, drugged, and taken advantage of, that is rape.

     In Cambodia, young girls are often unknowingly sold to brothels by their families. They are told there are jobs in factories and restaurants then given an advance on their daughter’s first paycheck. That advance then becomes a debt the girls must pay off through enslavement at a brothel. Their virginity is sold for $500, after which the brothel rents them to 6-7 men each day to masturbate into for a price of $2 (Freed, 2003).

     I have again been feeling sick recently. Not a physical sickness, but one of the soul. How can the efforts of twelve make a dent in what is often referred to as the ‘world’s oldest profession’? How can we impact a problem that exists in almost every culture worldwide? How can we do something positive in Cambodia when it is estimated that 59%-80% of Cambodian men have paid for sex at least once, by far the highest of any other country? I feel hopeless and helpless. What went wrong in our evolution? This malice and brutality does not exist in other animals, no other species beats their mates unconscious before it rapes them. I feel like we are fighting back a wildfire with squirt guns and the fire keeps growing every day. We can keep treating the burn victims but this problem requires systemic changes. We need to change how our global culture views masculinity and power.

     So what do I do with these feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, fear in facing the overwhelming immensity of the problem? I make good art. I have experienced the profound healing power of art in my own life. Making art has helped me out of this mire of helplessness, fear, and anger before. Prostitution is not a one-sided problem. I believe those who perpetuate this abuse are in need of healing just as much as those they hurt. I believe art can heal the world, and I do not give up easily.

 By James Huffman

Farley, M., Cotton, A., Lynne, J., Zumbeck, S., Spiwak, F., Reyes, M. E., et al. (2003). Prostitution and trafficking in nine countries: an update on violence and posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Trauma Practice, 2(3), 33-74.

Freed, W. (2003). From duty to despair: brothel prostitution in cambodia. Journal of Trauma Practice, 2(3), 133-146.

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The Beauty Found in Trusting the Process

Team Dinosaurus Rex on their process oriented approach to the 48 Hour Painting Marathon:

“For our painting, Team Dinosaurus Rex took a heavily process oriented approach. This focus on process led to a theme emerging and evolving, but staying relatively the same throughout most of the painting marathon.  Some of the first marks included a sketchy image of a dinosaur.  That dinosaur changed and evolved throughout the marathon, but never disappeared.  Within the first six hours a tree emerged.  The tree went through many transformations throughout the 48 hours, finally serving as a space for our team of painters to represent their personal symbols in.  The final product is a collaborative piece that has captured snapshots of all the hands that have lovingly contributed to it.  With little to no direction our community of painters created a beautiful and intriguing image, an image that the viewers can look at for hours finding little secrets hidden within.  Our piece is evidence that beauty can be found in trusting the process.” 

AND…Last week to donate!

We’re approaching the last week of fundraising, so if you would still like to donate to the Painting Marathon and support the mission of the Naropa Community Art Studio-International, follow this link!  An anonymous donor will be matching all donations made through November 25, up to $1,000, so NOW IS THE TIME!

THANK YOU from the NCAS-I!

The Evolution of a Painting: TIME LAPSE and Snapshots from the 48-Hour Marathon!

Check out this cool time lapse video of the evolution of Team Soaring Hearts’ Painting for the 48 Hour Painting Marathon!

PLUS!  DON’T MISS SEEING THESE PHOTOS!

The talented Dave Meas generously volunteered his time to take photographs throughout the Painting Marathon.  Check out his photographs on Flickr here!

Team Dinosaurus Rex:  Final Painting

Team Tutulicious Animalz:  Final Painting

Time lapse video courtesy of Erin Shannon…thank you, Erin!  

Painting Marathon 2012: Meet Team “SOARING HEARTS”

Have you chosen a team to support for the NCAS-I Painting Marathon of 2012?  We’d like you to meet team Soaring Hearts!  They are one of three teams representing the Naropa Community Art Studio-International…and we’re pretty sure you’re going to LOVE them!

 

What does Team SOARING HEARTS have to say?

“Hearts that soar
are wanting more
For the women and girls
who silently roar.

We protest by paintbrush!
all day and all night
To raise enough money
to fund our long flight.

Together we’ll serve
to heal and empower
For nothing can stop
our hearts by the hour.

Soaring Hearts Rise Up!”

Who’s leading this fun-loving team to victory?  None other than the amazing Bethany Wells and Erin Shannon!  Read about these NCAS-I rock stars here!

We know you want to DONATE to Team Soaring Hearts, so go ahead, click on the link below and be our guests!

http://www.crowdrise.com/soaringhearts2012

Like them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the 2012 Painting Marathon happenings!

https://www.facebook.com/soaringhearts48hrs?fref=ts

Please email ncas-i@naropa.edu with any questions.

Painting Marathon 2012: Meet Team “Tutulicious Animalz”

Have you chosen a team to support for the NCAS-I Painting Marathon of 2012?  We’d like you to meet team Tutulicious Animalz!  They are one of three teams representing the Naropa Community Art Studio-International…and we’re pretty sure you’re going to LOVE them!

 

What does Team TUTULICIOUS ANIMALZ have to say?

“We are a fabulous team of tutu and tail wearing painters for Naropa’s 48 hour painting marathon.  Join us and have fun supporting a great cause!”

Who’s leading this fun-loving team to victory?  None other than the amazing Alexa Pinsker and Joanna Loftus!  Read about these NCAS-I rock stars here!

We know you want to DONATE to Team Tutulicious Animalz, so go ahead, click on the link below and be our guests!

http://www.crowdrise.com/tutuliciousanimalz

Like them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the 2012 Painting Marathon happenings!

https://www.facebook.com/TutuliciousAnimalz

Please email ncas-i@naropa.edu with any questions.

Restoration Movement Symposium: SUCCESS!

1st and 2nd Year Graduate Art Therapy Students, along with Sue Wallingford, at the Transitions Symposium in Denver, September 29, 2012 (Photo by Erin Shannon)

What an incredible opportunity it was for representatives from NCAS-I to attend the Restoration Movement Symposium hosted by Transitions in Denver last weekend.  We learned about the urgency in bringing awareness to the issue of sex-trafficking, both here in Colorado and globally.  We learned that trauma-informed care is imperative when working toward rehabilitation and reintegration for survivors of sex-trafficking.  What’s more, we know that quality restoration care takes time, is worth doing well, and cannot be done alone.  Collaboration, a founding principle of NCAS-I, is key.

As we look to the future, we are very excited about the possibility of forging new partnerships with organizations in Cambodia, maintaining NCAS-I’s mission to actively engage with social justice organizations like Chab Dai, Transitions, and Polaris Project.

Moving forward, we find inspiration in James Pond’s words when asked, “How do you find hope with such difficult work?” The co-founder of Transitions responded, “It is the small successes that matter – when you actually have a girl reintegrate back into society without being re-trafficked, re-exploited or voluntarily engaging in prostitution.”  Follow James and Athena Pond and The Restoration Movement here!

Thank you to Sgt. Daniel Steele, Tovah Means, Stacia Freeman, Katherine Chon, Helen Sworn, and James and Athena Pond!

P.S. We walked away from the Symposium with a wealth of knowledge and look forward to sharing more with you as we continue our journey!  Thank you all for your support and please stay tuned!

Become Part of The Restoration Movement!

It’s not too late to sign up for “Restoring The Lives of Survivors Symposium” presented by Transitions!  And it’s easy…simply follow this link!

A few weeks ago we posted about the event, which you can read about HERE.  The symposium will feature a number of speakers and experts in the field of human trafficking, aftercare, and restoration, covering such issues as shelters, safe homes, aftercare programs, and other responses to serving victims of the sex trafficking industry.

General Information:
8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Greenwood Community Church
5600 E. Belleview Avenue
Greenwood Village, CO 80111

***The Naropa Community Art Studio-International will be represented by some of its 2nd year Art Therapy students along with Sue Wallingford.  We hope to see you there!  

All information gathered from TransitionsGlobal.org… P.S. Did you now Transitions has a really informative blog?  Check it here!

Photo Credit:  The Naropa Community Art Studio-International, Cambodia, 2012

TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT!!! DON’T MISS JAMBODIA

Blog by Emma Wallingford

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JAMBODIA: A Benefit show for Cambodian Living Arts is TONIGHT!!! Come down, support the cause. We’ll have live art, necklaces for sale, prayer flags for you to personalize and send to Cambodian Living Arts, and of course, GOOD MUSIC ALL NIGHT! Drop Switch, Shoot to Please, Rhyme Progression, Matty Mac. All proceeds from the concert  will go to CLA and the sale of the necklaces to NCAS-I! Become educated on this cause, watch the video for more information. The people of Cambodia humbled me and changed me, never have I met more genuine and kind people in my life, they truly deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. They need to revive their culture, and bring back music, arts and dance into their country! That’s what Cambodian Living Arts strives to do 🙂http://buff.ly/NANUcF http://buff.ly/NAO0Rn

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PROJECT 10,000 PRAYER FLAGS FOR CAMBODIA

 

NCAS-I SUPPORTS CAMBODIAN LIVING ARTS!

Blog written by Sue Wallingford

While in Cambodia we were fortunate to spend some time with Arn Chorn Pond, at his lovely community home right outside of Phnom Penh.  Arn shared his music and some stories of being a survivor during the Khmer Rouge, and we even got to see a live filming for MYTV (Cambodian’s version of MTV!) while we were there.  Arn is founder of the Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) and his mission is to bring back the traditional arts to Cambodia that was mostly extinguished during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, when most of Cambodian’s artists and professionals were exterminated.  To restore the rich culture of his people is one way he has found to heal the pain he and his people experienced during these horrendous years.  He lives his life to restore what was so brutally taken away.  He inspired us all.

In the next few weeks we will be sharing some more stories about Arn and the work of Cambodian Living Arts, including some videos of our time with him, and at the CLA center listening to the sounds of traditional Cambodia.  On September 19, at Cervantes Other Side in Denver, NCAS-I will be joining DROP SWITCH, for “JAMBODIA,”  a benefit concert to raise money and awareness toward Arn’s mission.  Lead female vocalist Emma Wallingford (who is also my daughter  😉 was with us in Cambodia, and was so inspired by Arn’s stories and his passion to revive the traditional music she wanted to do something about it.

Emma writes:

“30 years ago, the country of Cambodia was victim to a terrible genocide called the Khmer Rouge. When Pol Pot came to rule, he wanted to wipe out all of Cambodia’s culture and start from “Year Zero”, and establish a communist country. He did this by killing off 2 million Cambodians; all musicians, dancers, artists, educators, or people of higher class. Arn Chorn Pond, who survived through the Khmer Rouge through his talent for playing flute (he played propaganda music that played over loud speakers to muffle the noise of them killing off his people), is founder of Cambodian Living Arts. It gives kids of Cambodia the chance to rebirth culture of music, arts and dance into their country. Even 30 years later, the whole country is still suffering from the loss of their culture. A career in arts there is very much thriving and rebirthing Cambodian’s culture. Through the good vibes and night of music, we can support Cambodian Living Arts and raise awareness about this issue to help the amazing souls that populate this desolate country. Donation boxes, flyers about the school, and pictures and videos will be provided at the show!

Art Therapy comes in all kinds of packages…..  this is just another one!

Please join us for this concert on September 19th to spread the LOVE and the HOPE for the restoration of the Cambodian Arts.

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WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH
Cervantes Other Side – Denver, CO
Doors @ 8pm, Show @ 9pm – $7/$10 DOS
JAMBODIA: A Benefit for Cambodian Living Arts
Featuring…

DROP SWITCH
Shoot to Please
Rhyme Progression
Matty Mac

Two Upcoming Events: NCAS-I at Paramita Hall and Longmont Festival

Cambodia Trip Presentation at Paramita Hall, Thursday, August 23, 2012, 6-9 PM

The Naropa University students and faculty who traveled to Cambodia this summer as part of the Naropa Community Art-Studio – International (NCAS-I) will be offering a presentation  of their trip at Paramita Hall on Thursday, August 23, from 6-9 PM.  Enjoy a slide show and the opportunity for an informal question and answer with the group!  Paramita Hall is located on Naropa’s Paramita Campus.

“FESTIVAL ON MAIN” in Downtown Longmont, Friday, August 24, 2012, 6-9 PM

Members of the Naropa Community Art Studio – International (NCAS-I) will be at a booth at “Festival on Main” in Downtown Longmont on Friday, August 24, from 6-9pm.  The festival is a free, family event and is Downtown Longmont’s signature summer attraction, with more than 18,000 people in attendance each year.  The NCAS-I booth will be continuing the tradition of making hand-stamped prayer flags and invites all members of the community to join!  For those who attended the Matchbox Gala, you’ll remember what fun we had with this collaborative art project!  Our goal is to collect thousands of these flags by May of next year for NCAS-I’s next trip to Cambodia!