Lito's Kirie Art

Kirie is the Japanese art practice of cutting pictures, and artist Lito does it on leaves and the work is INCREDIBLE.

A photo of a person holding a leaf. The green leaf has been carved to show a scene where a crowd of people are looking up at a school of fish, in place of the clouds.

A photo of a hand holding a green leaf that has cut out in it a scene of cartoonish monsters.



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The Pandemic Isn't Going Anywhere, so I'm Changing My Personal Protocols Instead

A photo as if the viewer is sitting across the table from a woman who is wearing a health face mask and holding up a coffee cup as if to cheers.
Photo by Vince Fleming.

First, a caveat: I am writing all of this as someone living in a region that has followed reasonable COVID safety protocols since the beginning and has clear safety regulations for gatherings and businesses. Here, spread is mainly happening from social gatherings and workplaces that break protocol.

My friends! I have recently had a revelation regarding the pandemic: it's going to be around for a long time. That means I need to start letting myself do some things and enjoy life a little bit more if I'm going to get through this with a semblance of self.

Yes, I hunkered down for "Team Canada" with everyone else. I did my part to protect society by staying home unless absolutely necessary. Then, once things opened up and summer hit, I continued to do my part by only meeting up with friends outdoors, keeping distance, and not even considering indoor activities that weren't strictly necessary.

That means that despite things like movie theatres, restaurants, and dance studios being heavily regulated and allowed to open, I didn't even consider it.

The thing is that this is actually our lives now. If we can't start actually living and doing some fun things (with all these safety restrictions in place), then eventually you have to ask, what's the point? 

Nobody is actually asking us to stay hunkered down anymore. They are asking us to maintain physical distance, to wash our hands, to wear a mask, and to limit our close contacts.

We can do these things while seeing a movie! The movie theatre wouldn't be able to stay open if we couldn't! (Also, fun fact: you could live in the same house as someone and not be a close contact.)

I'm not saying we go out and run amok. We still can't have big ol' sweaty parties or do karaoke or kiss someone just because we feel like it. What we can do is wear a mask and follow an orderly protocol to walk into a theatre and sit six feet apart while an artist (who is twelve feet away or behind some plexi or on a screen) pours their heart out.

We can feel like a whole person with a whole life.


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I Am Living My Nightmare

A photo where all you can see is a blur of light and smoke in the middle with darkness around the edges. It's abstract and looks spooky and nightmarish.
Photo by JR Korpa.

I just realized that I am living the life I DREADED as a teen: in my mid-thirties, single, living alone, and I work in an office. (If you didn't read the word "office" with total disdain, go back and read it that way again. That's teen Andrea.)

These conditions were basically the worst things I could imagine.

Obviously, there are also things about my life that are great-great-great to the point that even my teenage self could have been excited for them. (I wrote a book! I have a cat who is almost as co-dependent for me as I am for her! I have lots of friends and we love each other deeply!) (I would also mention my amazing family, but teenage Andrea already had this amazing family, so it's not new.)

Still, the bones of my life are such that 15-year-old Andrea would have wailed in despair and possibly given up on EVERYTHING. (Why yes, I was voted "Drama Queen" in my graduating year, why do you ask?)

Sometimes I have a moment of realizing I'm living my past dreams. Those moments help me appreciate what I've got more. As it turns out, however, I'm also living my past nightmare.

Don't worry, it doesn't make me feel bad. It's kind of funny, I guess? That I catastrophized this totally reasonable existence as something that would mean my life was OVER? When really, it's life, so it's a mixture of great, sad, exciting, boring, meaningful, disappointing, and fine.

So apparently if I could go back and tell my past self anything, it's that my nightmare life is fine.

An animated gif of a woman holding two beers and clinking them together, cheersing herself.
Giphy


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George Byrne's Sweet, Colourful Los Angeles

Before I went to LA for the first time, I expected it to be a city of dirty highways. I stayed near Venice Beach so instead I saw bright colours, beautiful palm trees, cute shops, and blue skies. George Byrne's Color Field series depicts that version of LA.

A photo of the side of a building - the main part of it is light teal, with a light/bright pink section on the lower half. Behind you can see bright yellow stairs and the blue sky. The whole thing looks like candy.

A photo of bright blue pool water with a bright pink inner tube floating in it.


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Work in Progress

A photo of a dark wood wall with an inset bed or day couch, above it written on the wall says "work in progress"
Photo by Gaelle Marcel.

“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”
— Plato


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You MUST READ Aisha Harris' Brief Guide to 21st Century Blackface

Aisha Harris' article, "A Brief Guide to 21st Century Blackface", is a MUST READ. She breaks down the different ways blackface shows up in media, from (attempted) satire to "is this blackface?" moments when an actor's skin is darkened for (maybe?) other reasons.

She points out where these various excuses generally fall short, as well as one example that works: Spike Lee's film Bamboozled. In the end, she suggests that all of this doesn't mean you never, ever engage with blackface in art, but that you have to know what you're doing with it, why you're doing it, if you're using the right context, and to really, really ask yourself if you're going to do it well.

"While nothing made in the last 20 years comes close to Mr. Lee’s film in terms of acutely exposing the folly, vice and stupidity of blackface onscreen, what this look back reveals is that quite frequently there has at least been an attempt on behalf of creators to engage in critique. Some went the Mickey-and-Judy route, treating it like an old comedic pastime with nary a thought to its racist roots, but many showed signs of nuance and acknowledgment, even if the execution fell flat."


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The Fight to Do Things the Way You Want

A black and white photo of Billie Holiday standing in front of a microphone, singing, wearing a beautiful dress.
Photo by The Library of Congress on Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

"People don't understand the kind of fight it takes to do something the way you want to do it."
-Billie Holiday


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I have shared Victoria Villasana's lovely work before. Her adaptations on portraits of cultural icons deserve another look.

A black and white photo of artist Yayoi Kusama with geometric, brightly coloured shapes embroidered on it.

A black and white portrait of Frederica Violi with brightly coloured embroidery over it.


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The Freedom of Never Getting On Top of Things, and Other Secrets to Life

An animated gif from the TV show Brooklyn 99, the character Gina Lanetti says "How did my life come to this?"
Giphy



The first one on his list was very apt for the week I have been having: there will always be too much to do, and that realization is liberating.

Because sometimes giving up is liberating, and if, during this age of productivity hacks and getting things done and habit stacking I can just know deep down that "getting on top of things" for any extended period of time is a lie, I might rest easier. Or at all!

Two more fave pieces of advice:

All things being equal, he suggests choosing "enlargement" over happiness. We are, apparently, pretty bad at predicting what will actually make us happy and use things like security as a proxy for that. Better to ask "will this enlarge or diminish me?"

The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are one, and so am I. None of us had a practice run at life--we're making it up as we go. That means that once you pass whatever basic qualifications are needed for a job or problem, you're basically as qualified as anyone else. Don't worry about it and do your best.


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My Relationship With The Entire World

A photo of a beach. It looks like a colder day, there are people line up along the water looking out and some other people walking away. The image has a black frame.

 

"My relationship with the entire world in this moment depends entirely on the relationship I have with myself."
– Paul Ferrini

I don't know about you, but I think my relationship status with myself is "It's Complicated."

Which is probably a reasonable relationship to have with the entire, very complicated, world. ;)


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Self-Care or Help?

An animated gif of a woman looking and smiling at the camera, holding a coffee mug, but the coffee mug says "help me" on it.
Giphy


I read a headline recently that said, "Parents don't need self-care, they need help", and I just think that's a good filter for all of us.

When we talk about our need for self-care, are we actually covering up the fact that we need help? If life is so overwhelming that doing chores by yourself feels like a day off or vacation (I have been there), we don't need to squeeze self-care into our schedules. We need help.


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It's Thanksgiving!

An animated gif from the TV show Friends. Monica has a raw turkey on her head with giant sunglasses on it and is doing a silly shimmy dance for Chandler.
Giphy

It's Thanksgiving!

In Canada, Thanksgiving technically celebrates EITHER Martin Frobisher's 1578 failed attempt to colonize the Northwest Passage (because they lost each other, found each other, and then celebrated with communion) OR, what it really seems to have been is a slowly-formalized practice of having a day of Thanksgiving after good things happened (mostly the ends of wars) that eventually became its own thing.

At some point in there, American loyalists who ditched their newly-independent country for the sweet, sweet embrace of the Crown brought with them the tantalizing allure of pumpkin spice and turkey as foundational elements of the meal.


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My Dear Yakutia

Alexey Vasilyev's photos of the Yakutia region of Russia are stunning and stark. It's the biggest region of Russia, but largely uninhabited, and has a climate with the biggest shifts of anywhere in the world, going from minus 60 in the winter to 40 in the summer. It's covered in snow from October-April.

Wow, these people are tough cookies.

A photo of two men standing in a forest. They are wearing large, furry suits that appear to be for some kind of giant animal or perhaps monster and are holding the heads of the suits in their hands so you can see their faces, looking deadpan at the camera.

A photo of a giant, snowy landscape with a large model of a mastadon covered in snow. A person, completely obscured by their winter coat and hat, stands next to it. It looks bleak.




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