Thursday, February 27, 2014

19 Before 20 (A Little Late!)

My dear readers, how could I forget to post my list of 19 Things To Do Before I Turn 20?? 
My birthday was almost two months ago! I'd better post it now so that when I make progress I can share it with you!

  1. Get my driver's license. (It's embarassing, really. It has to happen this year. Preferably before summer.)
  2. Learn to crochet.
  3. Take a photography class/wokshop just for fun.
  4. Learn to bake French macaroons.
  5. Walk a collective 200 miles.
  6. Have my photography published in a newspaper/magazine with credit.
  7. Be accepted into SCAD's eLearning program.
  8. Get a job. (Again, needs to happen.)
  9. Learn to play the ukulele.
  10. Purge my life of negativity.
  11. Try a 1-week sugar detox.
  12. Go to a fashion show.
  13. Have my photo taken professionally.
  14. Focus on creating positive memories.
  15. Read 52 new books.
  16. Get to 300 likes on the Whispered Wishes Photography Facebook page.
  17. Travel. (I have to get out and do SOMETHING.)
  18. Wardrobe detox. (I've had some stuff since middle school. Gotta go.)
  19. Cut soda from my diet.

A College Essay: Art Exhibition Analysis of Japanese Woodcut Prints of the Edo Period

Art Exhibition Analysis
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Snow Country: Woodcuts of the Japanese Winter

     The Edo Period, lasting from 1603-1868 C.E., was a time in Japan where peace and prosperity were achieved through rigid and repressive forms of government. Neo-Confucianism replaced Zen Buddhism as the main intellectual force, and foreign ideas were discouraged, including traveling out of the country and allowing outsiders in. Edo, or modern-day Tokyo, was a center of a flourishing community and culture of tradespeople. These commoners were deeply Buddhist and lived by the mantra of living life to its fullest. From this philosophy, a pleasure district was born and named ukiyo after the “floating world.” This district housed theatres, bathhouses, restaurants, and brothels, all places to achieve earthly pleasures to fulfill their mantra. Actors and courtesans were portrayed in woodblock prints as samurai and aristocratic poets were in other art forms, as heroes. The woodblock prints became known as ukiyo-e, “pictures from the floating world.”(Cothren.) In looking at the woodblock prints from the Edo period, it is easy to identify the values of the country at the time.
Ki no Tomonori, Suzuki Harunobu

Geisha as Daruma Crossing the Sea, Suzuki Harunobu
      In looking at Suzuki Harunobu's Ki no Tomonori (1767-1768 CE) in the Fitzwilliam Museum's online gallery, the importance of poetry and cultural standards of beauty can be seen. The piece is from a series of thirty-six poets, in which a woodblock print was created to depict a then-modern interpretation of an 11th century poem. The poems were inscribed in a cloud at the top, and the scene below illustrated it. This particular piece portrays a woman and a young maid walking through the snow along the Sao river. Their garb is that of the 18th century in Japan, including high wooden sandals called geta, and split-toed socks called tabì. Both figures are portrayed in the ideal feminine form, with painted white faces and clothing that hint at the feminine physique underneath. This same idealism can also be seen in a more humorous of Harunobu's paintings, Geisha as Daruma Crossing the Sea (18th century CE) (Stokstad.) The geisha also wears her face painted and light robes that blow around her frame. This piece is a reference to the legend of a semi-legendary Indian monk, known as Daruma in Japan, who crossed a river on a reed. The geisha is performing this legendary act in a sharp and humorous contrast to the image of a Zen monk. This piece highlights the “live to the fullest” mantra by comparing the earthly pleasures brought by the geisha to enlightenment.
Overnight Snow in Yoshiwara, Keisai Eisen
The Nightmare, John Henry Fuseli
      The ideals of poetry and beauty can further be observed in Keisai Eisen's woodblock print Overnight Snow in Yoshiwara (1825 CE.) The scene depicts the image of a geisha looking out the window as a wealthy client leaves her apartment in a brothel. The poem on the left side of the piece compares her relationship to the client to the snow outside. The geisha wears rich, vibrant, and slightly disheveled robes, adding to the sensuality of the piece. In her hair is an elaborate headpiece that distracts from her coiffure of black hair. While artworks of America and Europe during this same time period had a completely different style and were more life-like, there were still sensual depictions of the female form, such as in John Henry Fuseli's painting The Nightmare (1781 CE), although the sensuality is much less direct than a scene from a brothel. In The Nightmare, a sleeping woman in white (possibly to symbolize virginity) strewn across a bed and dreaming an erotic dream that is brought by the demon sitting on her chest. The sensual nature and it's connection with the demon were meant to strike fear and emphasize sexuality as a sin, rather than celebrating earthly pleasures. (Stokstad.)
Kamedo Gyarô-une, Ogata Gekko
      In Ogata Gekko's print Kamedo Gyarô-ume (1895), the idealistic forms of women are continued, as well as hinting at the policy against foreign influence. In the piece, two women with the traditional painted white faces and sleek coiffures of hair are walking in the snow and admiring the plum trees. The women carry not the popular silk and steel western style umbrellas but the traditional paper and bamboo umbrellas called wagasa. The women's robes are thick for the cold weather but still hint at their feminine forms beneath. Both women wear the wooden geta. The posture and stance of the women is also highly feminine, a quality that is much-admired in the country.
Woman From Willendorf
     All of the above examples of the capturing of the idealistic feminine form keep with a tradition that has been around since the Upper Paleolithic Period. In the Upper Paleolithic piece Woman from Willendorf (c 24,000 BCE) the then-ideal forms of women, such as a bulging bellies, solid thighs, and large breasts, are captured in a stone figurine that was a totem of fertility. In ancient Egypt, the famous stone bust of Nefertiti by Tutumose captures the Egyptian queen in a way that is almost too ideal, making it a paragon of socially-accepted beauty over thousands of years and even into modern standards. In observing the woodblock prints of the Edo Period of Japan, we are able to identify not only the period's ideals of beauty but also other various values of its culture.
Works Cited
Cothren, Michael W. Art A Brief History, Books a La Carte Edition. By Marilyn Stokstad. 5th ed. N.p.: Pearson College Div, 2011. 4+. Print.
"The Fitzwilliam Museum : Snow Country Home." The Fitzwilliam Museum News. The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2 Oct. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

Exhibition Link:

(I have added the photos of the prints for easier viewing for my readers. Photos are from either the Fitzwilliam Museum website [link above] or a Google search to help find the works I referenced from my textbook. Photos were not included in my graded essay.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Southwestern-Style Hummus


1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 chipotle pepper
1 tsp ground cumin

Blitz in the food processor and enjoy!!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Product Review: Business Cards from MOO.COM

I received a perk from Klout for 50 free business cards from MOO. I was really excited because I had been wanting to order business cards to start my photography business out, and I only had to pay for shipping with this perk. The picture above doesn't do the cards justice.

I opted for a gloss finish because I wanted to use one of my own photographs as the background, and it was a huge success. The photo quality is perfection, and the cards themselves aren't cheaply made. They are made on a nice thick cardstock-type paper that seems very durable. They even came bundled in a cute little cardstock holder with an adorable little message inside and a code for 10% off the 200 pack of cards.

My only issue is that in printing, a small strip of white was put on every one of the cards, but that isn't enough to turn me off from the company. I am so pleased with the quality that I will gladly order my business cards from them in the future!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Life Lately

Craving: I'll tell you what, I love junk food, but I have been wanting nothing but salads lately. I mean, yeah, Oreos are awesome, but there's nothing like a good salad when you need an energy boost and you want to eat healthier. Mom and I went to Outback for dinner today, and I ordered the Sesame Salad with Ahi Tuna on top and Oh. Sweet. Goodness. I ate the whole thing and almost felt sick after but it was just so freaking good. I want to start buying lettuce and eating a salad a day. I've pinned probably 100+ salad recipes on Pinterest. Bring it on.

Feeling: Restless and nostalgic. I always have a desire to get out and do something. Since I'm stuck at home 99% of the time, I've taken to experimenting with nail art, food, and watching a lot of movies. And reading a lot of books. I'm working on the first two Game of Thrones books right now. Joe and I spent the day together yesterday and we went for a walk along a new local trail, and I got some gorgeous sunset photos. It used to be the railway, but they paved it over. I remember when he and I would walk along the tracks, and it makes me kind of sad, although now the trail is more user-friendly. Still, I miss when it wasn't, because there was never anyone else walking there and it seemed like a special secret thing just for us. 

Working On: Building my photography business. Tons of essays and speeches for college. The usual. I'm also working hard to eat healthier and exercise more. I've been walking as often as I can and trying to build up strength in my pitiful upper body and abs. I'm tired of constantly feeling like crap because I haven't taken the extra step to care for my body. I'm still young, and I've decided it's time to change before it's too late.

Doctor Who-themed nails
Doctor Who-themed nails... pardon my left hand handiwork


Friday, February 7, 2014

Candid Thoughts: Six Times

     Today we were out running errands when we stopped at a busy intersection. Walking along the sidewalk was an old man, homeless and holding a cardboard sign that stated so. A few people would signal him over and give him some pocket change. Traffic started moving before he was even close enough to us for me to pass him anything, and we drove away. It got me thinking back to when I first encountered poverty, when I first really realized that not everyone has a roof over their heads or food to eat or clean water to drink or bathe in. 

     I grew up in a military family. My dad and my moms second husband were both in the Marine Corps, and after she remarried, we moved out to Oklahoma City for a while. I was 9, very curious and also very naive. I had always assumed that everyone lived the way that I did, or better. Never once did I even consider that some people had nothing. Sure, everyone gets the "There are starving people who would eat that in a heartbeat" speech when we don't want to eat our brussels sprouts, but I never batted an eyelash at the thought. It wasn't a lack of care but a lack of that "Aha!" moment, that realization of the true state of the world.

     As we drove through our new city, which was larger and busier than I had ever seen before, my face was glued against the glass in wonder and awe. There were malls and Chuck E. Cheeses and and every type of fast food restaurant you could imagine. There were giant Billboards and cacti and red clay earthy patches all around. I was fascinated. As we drove under a particularly large overpass, though, I was startled. Lining from edge to edge along the sides, pressed against the concrete were possible hundreds of people, filthy and with torn clothes, mostly Hispanic in ethnicity. They stared at every car as it passed, which I know now was a defeated stare hoping for change or partially eaten food scraps to be thrown from the passing vehicles. There were men older than I thought could exist and young children who couldn't possibly even be walking yet. It was shocking, confusing, and mind-blowing.

     I remember asking my mom why all those people were there. When she explained that they had no homes, no jobs, and no food, it took me a while to truly grasp what that meant. It took me driving under these overpasses every day on my way to school and beginning to recognize faces to understand... oh my God, these people don't have anything. The image of those people huddled together looking lost and defeated has never ever left my mind.

     Recently, I read something that said that there are so many empty homes in America that each homeless person in the whole country could own six. That means there are six times as many homes as there are people without a home. That saddens, confuses, and angers me all at the same time. There are houses that those people I saw could be occupying, but they are being left to die. They can't get a job because they can't buy clothes, which they can't do because they can't get a job. It's a vicious cycle, and I desperately hope that someone can come up with a way to fix it and soon.

     Just some food for thought, and some rambling to let out some of my reflections of the day.