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Sites to see (87 posts)
We are living in an era of portraits: the held-at-arm's-length-iPhone-Instagram, the slightly fuzzy webcam profile pic, the Mad-Men-yourself-ed avatar. But artist Moyra Davey, one of the artists featured in this year's Whitney Biennial, has created a different kind of portrait, both older and newer than our everyday barrage of digital images. Davey's work "Mary, Marie," is a portrait of the Romantic writer and proto-feminist (and mother of "Frankenstein" author Mary Shelley) Mary Wollstonecraft, created from letters Wollstonecraft wrote to her lover, along with photographs and other images, which Davey then physically mailed to her own mother, sisters, and nieces.
Here she is, discussing her process in creating her work:
There is something so poetic in the way Davey has taken the original medium -- a portrait created through Wollstonecraft's words -- and added her own dimension. Mailing the hard copies of her creations draws in another floundering medium, the increasingly-old-timey postal service. And the fact that she mails them to the women in her life suggests another way we create the stories of our lives, through the other people in them. After all, we are more than just our chosen snapshots of our faces. We are the people we write to, and we are the people we want to share with.
Airplane Lavatory Self-Portaits
The Self-Portrait that Made Kate Capshaw Weep
Where would you be without your library? I had occasion this week to visit the library I grew up visiting, and passing by a particular shelf in the children's section I happened to glimpse the exact set of ancient hardbound Oz books that I devoured as a kid. I had a kind of sensory flashback: the scent of the yellowed paper, the art deco-weirdness of the illustrations. Even the slightly reverential act of kneeling -- they were on the bottom shelf. The excitement of being done with one and moving on to the next (even then, at 9 or 10, I knew there was something great about being able to say, "Oh, The Wizard of Oz? Sure, that one's good, but do you mean to say you haven't read Rinkitink in Oz?"). I discovered so many books at that library, and thus so many (fictional) friends, and it was because I loved reading that I wanted to become a writer.
What about you? Where would you be without your library? This is the question posed by the tiny M.N. Spear Library of Shutesbury, MA as they try to raise money for a new building. Their 900-square-foot library is a center of community life, but lacks space for studying, story times, and is hopelessly outdated -- they don't even have running water. Here is the charming video filmmaker Lindsay Van Dyke made, with the help of local library patrons, which states the case for why this small town needs a new library:
It happens to be, right now, an uncanny nexus of National Library Week AND National School Library Month. I know, I know, we all read books on kindles and write novels via text and memoirs on Twitter, but still, as the video above demonstrates, there is nothing quite like a brick-and-mortar library. Nothing like finding a book by accident, or being drawn to a crackly spine for an unknown reason; nothing like losing oneself in a quiet corner studying or reading. My current library life is, in fact, nothing like this at all, but one of rowdy story times and chewed-up board books -- important, too, in its way. What about you? Where would you be without your library? Post to M.N. Spear Library's Tumblr or in the comments below!
We all tell stories with our skin. Scars tell about the things we've survived; tattoos tell tales of who we want to be. Notes scribbled on hands suggest an absent-minded bent; dirty fingernails reveal hard work; paint residue announces an artist (or a preschool teacher). Then there are the messages we want to share with the world, the words we live by. "You're stronger than you think." "We are all one." "Be the change." How powerful would it be if you wore your letter to the world on your skin, in bold black letters?
I can't stop looking at the striking images on Dear World, all the messages markered onto hands, arms, the occasional face or chest. This photographic project, started in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, encourages people to write a message to the world on their skin. Visit the Dear World site for more on how the project started and what the founder's favorite messages have been. Some of the photographs suggest an untold story that gives you a spine shiver: "Cancer-free." "I'm going to college." But to me the best part of Dear World is the after-effect. After clicking through the photos I found myself staring at people out on the street, silently asking each, So what's your story?
Given the power you have, what with all this skin, what story do you want to tell the world? Tell us in the comments! Go on, get it off your chest...(on your chest?). Er, you get the idea.
A Love Letter to the World
Send A Note To Future-You
I once worked for a few weeks in a balloon factory, I'm not kidding at all, located on the outskirts of an Iowa cornfield. Everything about the experience was a little surreal. Even though I was just answering phones and taking orders, it was all done to the background music of machines filling balloons with air and stamping images on them. Every now and then a balloon would detach itself and go whizzing through the air, unintentionally playful. Sometimes we would all break into a musical number. Okay, not the last part. But there is definitely something a touch otherworldly about balloons, those undeniable signs of childlike dreaminess. Even more so when they become the raw materials of art.
I'm sure this is no news to Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle, masters of a special brand of balloon twisting they call "airigami." These people make balloon-animal-making clowns look like, well, clowns. (Visit their site for some images of the mind-boggling things they've made from balloons.) And filmmaker Catherine Stratton made a lovely short film showing the process the artists use to make their balloon creations. The balloons floating in the air as the film opens...the poignant pop of one that doesn't make it...it's no exaggeration to say this video will have you looking at balloons as never before. Who knew they could be so beautiful...so expressive...so grown-up?
(via The Kid Should See This)
It was one those weirdly windy days when trees whip around like headbangers and buildings rattle in a way that reminds you that they are just buildings. We were walking down the street, hair striping our views, when my daughter said grumpily, "Mama, make that wind stop!" And as I heard myself explaining why I didn't actually control the weather, I had the thought, "And thank goodness for that."
There's nothing like the wind to remind us of how little about the world we actually do control. It can be heart-stoppingly lovely, as when a spring breeze releases a rain shower of petals from a blooming cherry blossom tree. And, as we've seen all too much lately, it can be catastrophic, wreaking havoc on human lives -- from last year's tsunami in Japan to this week's tornadoes in Texas.
Is that what makes this moving Wind Map so hypnotic? I can't get enough of this thing. Just watch the patterns of the winds as they swirl around the country. After a few moments, the winds are constellations, they are whorls on a tree stump, they are lines on a palm. (Zoom in!) Zoning out to the Wind Map makes you think about how the wind doesn't seem to pay any attention to our clever partitions (red state, blue state, any state at all), makes you consider how little -- yes, it's scary sometimes, and yes, it's wonderful sometimes -- we really control.
It's Blue O'Clock. Do You Know Where You Are?
Unfortunately, this does not mean you can actually step into your favorite fictional world, a la Gumby (I know, I was disappointed at first too). But darn close! Users can check out their book club's next pick (or a favorite book, or one you'd like to read) and find an interactive list of people, places, and things that appear in the book. A fun, new way to think about a book, but also a way to guide your reading -- for example, users can browse all books that mention Zeus, or California, or Coca-Cola. Share it at your book club's next meeting...or keep it to yourself, and make it seem like you just did some really awesomely close reading.
Book Clubs Around the Country
Oprah's Book Club: The Complete List
Still in beta (for all you early adapters out there), this wonderful site is an encyclopedia of famous and historically significant paintings. Each artwork is accompanied by some information about the work and the artist, and the paintings are grouped by artist, period, style, and what's most popular on the site. Each click leads to another, like a self-directed (and surprisingly uplifting) stroll through the world's best museum. A bit of Basquiat before breakfast! A hit of Chagall for the mid-afternoon blahs! A spot of Renoir at tea time! I'm leaving this site up on my screen and all day hitting, refresh, refresh, refresh.
An Art Exhibit With a Purpose
How to Start Collecting Art
Everything you ever wanted to know about coffee. (Namely, it's good for you, keep drinking it.)
Hit a baking rut? Need a dose of color therapy? Seeking artistic inspiration? Here, the solution to all these conundrums in one.
You'll never guess what's causing the other-wordly blanket covering this Australian farm.
The casserole for people who don't like casseroles—and 18 other game-changing dinner ideas.
Playing pretend with your kids could result in better grades later on. Bring on the rainbow-polka-dot-fairy-tea!
The Life-Lifter: After almost a month lost in a forest, a New Mexico woman was found alive, huddled with her loyal cat.
Social networks. We love them for the ways they bring people together, introduce us to new things, and provide convenient ways to force cute baby anecdotes onto the world. We don't love them for the ways they can suck us away from the real world and into the virtual one, and for that glazed, slightly queasy feeling we get when we've spaced out in front of the screen for too long. Enter: Kindify, a new social network that focuses not on posting ill-advised party pics, but instead, on doing good.
The idea is to set into motion chains of kindness: you do a good deed, you post it on the site, and you ask a friend to do a good deed in return. I admit I found this a little intimidating (my "good deeds tree" would look so...wintry!), but the site assures me that something as small as buying someone a coffee can count. I love the idea of being part of a community of kindness, of making an effort to do good every day, and I have the feeling that time spent on Kindify would leave me feeling uplifted and positive, without that peedy "OMG Everyone's having such amazing vacations but me" kind of social network hangover other sites can sometimes cause. Every little old ladies waiting to cross a street better look out, because I'm coming to help...whether they like it or not!
Social networking for good.
How Facebook saved an agoraphobic.
What constitutes a life worthy of being remembered? The amazingly prolific author, short filmmaker, and project-inventor Amy Krouse Rosenthal, made this Thought Bubble video about dealing with the whopping question of how to be remembered in the way you want. The graphics of this video are quirky and charming, but her overall message is what sent chills through me (good ones!), because Rosenthal provides an actual plan of action for how to best live a life worth living, despite our stress and anxiety and to-do lists. Watch and learn:
As she says in the video, "A society is actually fueled and propelled by kindness. There's a sort of economics to it. " She's not asking a lot of us, just an awareness of the people around us, and the little ways you can share some kindness and make life a little more pleasant for everyone around you
If the you haven't run off on a random-acts-of-kindness rampage by now, check out Amy Krouse Rosenthal's super-inspirational website, where you can read about her many books, hear her 7 Notes on Life, learn about her wonderful ongoing project The Beckoning of Lovely, and even make a wish.
Pass It On: Living Kindness
The 60-Person Kindness Chain