Monday, December 6, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
i also like to think about apartment buildings as little micro-societies because they each contain their own dynamic. we're stuck with these people because we can hear their music and fighting and you have to wonder how many of these hands have held this coffee maker. and for the most part you'll never know totally who these people are.
so anyway how this manifests into a project starts with my basement. the mailboxes and washers are down there so everyone's been but you rarely see others down there with you. it's a common area to leave old things that you don't want anymore. i have made stickers that i'm going to put on my furniture that i leave in the basement of my building (starting with a hideous gigantic orange armchair from the 70's that i'm getting rid of tomorrow) that will direct people to a blog that will ask them questions about their life in the apartment building...and maybe about their identity to their neighbors (e.g. "i am the one whose smooth jazz you can always hear"). hopefully the next owner of the chair will find the project interesting and tell me that they have the chair and maybe something about themselves. the blog is http://whosetablewereyou.blogspot.com and if it kicks off and turns out to be interesting the blog will eventually be turned into notes taped up in the basement of my building.
Create a questionnaire and ask others to fill in the blanks. The questions should be universal, provocative and compelling. Although the questionnaire may seem superficial at first, this assignment is intended to encourage self reflection and spontaneous human interaction on an otherwise "normal" day. When the project is over, compare what people do and not have in common.
why do you live in Portland?
do you read the paper?
do you believe in god?
trait or character inherited from your father?
if your mother was an animal what would she be?
name a person you feel envious of.
think of a nostalgic smell from your childhood
what books have affected you the most?
Option 2: Create a video passionately expressing my views about a certain topic (men, dating, relationships,abortion, whatever..) and air it on Facebook. Pick up multiple comments from users in my network. Engage in responsive facebook conversation with commentators. Report after.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
My second idea was to pretend to take a picture of someone or a group smiling, but actually be filming a video. you would film the whole "can i take a picture of you? okay say cheese....got it thank you" bit. i think this idea is interesting because in a "say cheese" sort of picture you cant see how reluctant a person is before and after. I could even be filming if they turn me down.
It's been pretty cold outside lately and there is nothing that is more comforting than having some coffee or tea with a friend, but how do these dynamics change when sharing coffee with a stranger? Can you achieve a meaningful conversation impromptu, in public, over coffee, with someone you don't know?
For my assignment, the 'artist' will have a thermos of coffee/tea/hot chocolate and be in a public place (park blocks, pioneer square, etc). The goal of the assignment is to have coffee with a stranger on the street. Try and have a conversation that is worth sending a cup of coffee over. When you are through, encourage the other person to do the same exercise with someone new.
Then send a message to each person whose comment you used in your project thanking them for their participation in the public sphere.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
1. Go to a neighborhood.
2. Have a resident describe one of their favorite walks through the neighborhood, including their favorite spots along the way.
3. Ask them to draw out the walk in map or list form.
4. Take at least one other person on the walk (not the person who described the walk to you). See if you can follow the directions or find some of the favorite spots along the walk.
5. Take a picture or do a drawing and send it to the resident who told you about the walk.
I went to the Richmond neighborhood and asked three people where their usual walks were. I had a map of the neighborhood, but no one had a specific route. They had general directions to walk in.
The class had suggested that maybe I should be more specific about my request, so I decided to go to a local dog park to find out what the usual walks were for dogs and owners using the park. When I got to the park, I was greeted with suspicion because I was carrying a clipboard and asking questions.
So I decided to change my approach, ditched the clipboard, and talked to dog owners on the street. Also, I asked a local pet supply store ahead of time if they would consider posting pictures of the dogs. They said they would consider it.
Here are the dogs that I met:
Here is Bebo at the dog park. Bebo is not from the surrounding neighborhood, and usually goes to the Mt. Tabor dog park:
I next met Lady Isis, who's owner is a dog trainer! Lady Isis is also not from the neighborhood - she was on a trip to visit one of her owner's friends:
I then met Phoebe, who is only 5 months old and very rambunctious:
Next were Angel and Sam hanging out together. Neither of them visit the Richmond dog park (even though we were only a block away from it):Sam:
I went back to the dog park and met up with Lily and Diane who were playing together. They both live in the neighborhood:
Lastly, I met Baxter, who was headed to the bus stop after shopping as For Paws, a local pet supply store. Baxter lives in the Lloyd Center area:
Take photographs of people's beds and try to get photographs of beds from strangers. Add the word FOUND to the photograph. Print the photographs off in black and white on copier paper. Post the photographs up on telephone poles, community bulletin boards, and other public places.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Once you have about five stories make a booklet to distribute to the participants and locations that are relevant to the stories.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
There are concrete benches along the arched areas of the skybridge between the two adjacent buildings; where, I sometimes see an occasional smoker here or there. The scenery facing Park Place is truly a surreal sight to experience; especially, when it is drizzling.
This place allows me the tranquility to experience my surroundings outside the parameters of the usual settings we all are accustomed to when on our commutes. For one moment, I can hear the birds over the city noise below; and, see a beautify skyline without the big blinders of walls from buildings that surround me when in the streets. I guess that it is a sense of freedom that I experience when being here that gives me some solace.
noticed this art mural placed in the lobby below the first set of stairs. It is placed in such an unusual spot that it always has caught my gaze.
For some reason, someone thought it be a beautiful decorative piece to put in front of the bathroom entrance way; but, without having any plague or statement to better understand this piece and the vision behind it. Having to go to a 9am class and battling my usual compications of an overwhelming day, it always seemed to give me a unique and abstract perspective each time I would rush past to make my class. Each time I passed by, I would hear the distant and echoing sounds of Jazz Greatests being heard throughout the Lobby; which, would add a new eclectic element to the piece every time.
My own personal connection to the piece is simply the ancestry and heritage; but more importantly, it symbolizes the unique blending of cultural perspectives that so uniquely relates with my own life experiences.
The Piece itself is made of stain glass and has vibrant primary colors distinguishing each individual part of the Norse Viking ship. The method of using stain glass is from Northern Europe descent which correlates with the image itself; but, what I fail to understand is the connection between the art piece and the building itself. Is the connection simply that we are known as the Portland State Vikings? -and if so, why wouldn't it be better placed in a more appropriate location?
Monday, November 15, 2010
For my fourth location I chose to visit the Oregon History Museum at the Oregon Historical Society. The main part of the museum was closed, but the gift shop was open. I was intrigued because it seemed as though a lot of the items in the store were somewhat related to the exhibits within the museum. Right as I walked over I started talking to Connie Miller, a volunteer who has been working at the Museum for 15 years. She explained to me that most of the items in the store were made by North West artists. I asked her if she knew whether or not the native american artwork was made by native americans since I noticed that most all of the artwork looked like it drew from traditional designs and imagery. "Well," she said "most of the art is made in the North West by local artists, and the native american designs were released for reproduction in these artworks. So they are all traditional designs, I mean, some of the art is made in Indonesia or China, but the designs were signed by Native American community figures so that they could make profit as well as distribute their artwork."
This gets me thinking about a lot of different things, about different dialogues I've been having with people about how cultures and minorities are represented in modern american culture and how we arrived at this place. My globalization class has been focusing a lot on American history and the incredible amount of control and limitations that government has put on what we know about the stories of our countries. American culture somehow manages to look over the horrific events of genocides, violence and brutalities in history when it comes to the relationship with Native Americans and the complete destruction of native and indigenous cultures all over the world. What do we really know or think we know about Native Americans? I know I don't know enough and I’m always gathering more information and I know that the typical school text book doesn’t teach us about this history or Native American culture as it should. I am confused and disgusted at what American culture still accepts and portrays in our society and the false images that deny other cultures and simultaneously justify the actions that have been made for us to reach such a point of ignorance.
“I wonder how individuals within Native American communities feel about their culture’s artwork being commercialize and popularized such as here,” I said to Connie. I’m not sure she understood exactly where I was coming from and it was proving to be a bit difficult to get more than professional information from her. “There was a spiritual stone on a reservation that wanted to be viewed and in order for people to see it there needed to be 150 something separate signatures collected by different people all over the U.S.,” Connie explained to me, “So, you know...” Well I didn’t really know, but I was trying to understand and create my own opinions of how I felt about that. Or maybe more so how publicizing a culture and people that America has denied, torn apart, assimilated and marginalized continues to support and reinforce our extremely unequal and greedy country.
I decided to take this discussion out of the museum and to a few friends and ask them their opinions about owning/buying Native American artwork and the kinds of feelings and associations they make with it. I know people who are uncomfortable with dreamcatchers as they could symbolize a part of Native American culture that has been completely commercialized and accepted as a part of American culture and maybe forgotten for it’s true meaning. When I was little, I had horrible nightmares. I remember having a dreamcatcher and really believing that it caught all of my bad dreams and let me keep the good ones. I am a really visual thinker and so having this image and belief that this physical item could help me to control my dreams was really helpful. I learned how to make a dream catcher from a friend who makes really elaborate ones using feathers and bones that her parents find on the land their house is on, out in the middle of nowhere. She sews them and weaves them and they are beautiful. For my whole life I’ve always made hand made gifts for my friends and family. My mom is very creative and crafty, so making things by had has always been something I really value and enjoy. I talked to my friend Joel about my museum visit and dream catchers and poured out some of my ideas to him and he had some really interesting things to say. “I feel like things are different when you make them your self and have an understanding about what it is your making or where it comes from. And I also really dislike the way that our culture has marginalized and popularized these cultural items and art for American consumption, and also typically the rich American’s who can afford to be tourists,” Joel said to me. “I have a dream catcher that a friend made for me and that is something I separate in my mind from the commercialization of Native American art work where it becomes a gift with other informed intentions.”
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
I thought to investigate the UPS Store by the Urban Plaza when I was offered an interview there. When I went in I also asked them some questions about their store.
Sharon told me that the UPS store also does some printing and designing for things like resumes, which means that I'll have to learn how to use a Windows computer again. They also deliver packages through USPS.
They currently have four employees. I'll be the fifth. A friend of mine worked for the store last year but not anymore.
Sharon told me that one time they packaged a canoe in the narrow hallway behind the main working area, but found they'd have to unwrap the entire thing to get it outside.
And later: I've worked at the UPS Store two shifts now and I think my bosses like me. They're letting me make their Christmas decorations and the job is pretty easy. The store gets a lot of regular characters, including this man named Bear who comes in to print his eccentric storybook pamphlets all the time.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Black Bag speaker series is a Black Studies Department production that collaborates with the Multicultural center to bring the Portland community together for a series of different speakers to have open dialougue about issues facing Oregon communities. The first Black Bag Speaker series that I attended was hosted by members and representatives from The Environmental Justice Task Force. The Environmental Justice Task Force is a Governer's Task Force on Environmental Justice that was authorized by the Oregon State Legislature in 2007 , and was proposed by Portland State's own, then-senator Avel Gordley! There was a series of speakers at that event, from representatives from DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality), The Department of Transportation, The Department of State Lands, and the Department of Land Conservation and Development, to Law professors at Clark, and many representatives from all kinds of Governmental positions in the state of Oregon, even members of the local community and further communties from other counties spoke about how they are connected to the Environmental Justice Task force, how it has affected them , and why this Governmental task force is important.
Environmental Justice communities include minority and low-income communities, tribal communities, and other communities traditionally underrepresented in public process. It was such an educational and intriguing event that I swore I would come back for more Black Back speakers. Not to mention the events are catered, and I also tried some of the most delicious tofu pad thai ever!!
This particular Black Bag Speaker Series event that I recently attended and took pictures of, took place on October 27th , and was hosted by the Black studies Department and Trevor Griffey. Griffey is Project Coordinator of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project. He also co-wrote and contributed to a book entitled, "Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry (Cornell University Press, 2010). " The book "examines community activism and direct action by civil rights groups to advocate desegregation of federal and city-funded construction projects across northern cities in the 1960s and 1970s." Griffey spoke specifically about the civil rights movement in Seattle, and he spoke alot about the lesser-told problems Phillipino people had gaining respect and rights in this country. He has a book on that also I believe.
Professor Ethan Johnson is the lead coordinator behind the Black Bag Speaker series.
Also I found this really cool website that updates citizens and community members on great events that take place like this in the Northwest. The website is : http://www.northwesthistory.org/ and for more information about future black bag speaker series, visit http://www.pdx.edu/mcc and click on 'events.' also there should be signs around campus.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, PSU’s unofficial house of Catholic worship, is located at 1701 SW Fourth Ave. I visited this parish’s celebration for the Feast of All Souls Day. The noon Mass was dedicated to all the souls who sacrificed their lives in the name of Jesus Christ and for their faith in his teachings. Before Mass began I grabbed some of the literature laid out for the patrons. Many things could be said about the messages printed in bulletins and the different donation forms; that is a different topic. Though, I will share one statement made about Saint Michael’s attributes, “…vanquisher of rebel spirits.” I took a seat near the back corner of the church and pulled out my notebook. I showed early and observed as patrons prayed until Mass began reading through the different bulletins. Mass began, people continued to arrive ten to fifteen minutes afterwards quietly finding the first available seat. I choose to observe the mass rather than participating noting how long different people kneeled or how loud they sang and how they dressed, watching their response to my presence.
After Mass I approached the priest and asked if had time to sit a talk. He told me that this was not where his office was and directed me toward the deacon. There was also a form for scheduling a meeting with the priest on the back of the St. Michael literature. I introduced myself to the Deacon. He introduced himself as a Married Deacon when I greeted him. I asked if had time for a conversation, he agreed after asking what I wanted to talk about. My question was, "Could you tell me about he personal life experiences that have lead you to the vocation of seminary work and describe you spiritual calling?" After going to the back of the church and changing into a different outfit we met for an hour. In his office he asked me to join him in prayer before beginning his story. It goes as follows. Growing up in rural Oregon with seven siblings his family raised him a devout Catholic. He recalls schoolwork being a challenge for him and expressed feelings of alienation (especially after moving to Salem) with his family and fellow classmates. Insecurities grew with the stress of high school and pressures of choosing a carrier path. During this time he explained an experience he had walking up the stairs of his childhood home where he spoke to God directly creating their first open dialogue. During this time he kept his eyes closed and took many long pauses. He seemed to be navigating through stirred feelings from the past.
After his graduation he attended eight years of seminary school. After seminary school he felt confused, not wanting to take a vow of celibacy, he said, “I came from a big family you know…it fit for me.” He met his wife later in age. Speaking very fondly of her he shared a desire for five children. To provide for his future family he received his library of science degree and worked in a library until he was let go being told he talents were best served in the faith services and let go. It was then he decided to become an ordained deacon. At this time he described various duties of his. He seemed to favor couple counseling. He now has three kids, he said after watching his wife go through pregnancy he now knows who the weaker sex is, men. After three children she decided to not have anymore. He silently protested by carrying two pennies in his pocket everyday for an extended period of time in hope that his wish would come true. We concluded our meeting with prayer and me sharing some about myself. He wanted me to come back to the Catholic faith after learning I had received all of the sacraments. He also told me a joke, “Almost all of the western population is Catholic, or used to be. Some come back,” he went on, “I never left my faith. My family went to church every Sunday and I prayed everyday, including the rosary, I’ve never stopped. My friends in high school were nerds and maybe deep down I was too. I played football but I never drank kegs with the other members of the team.” The way he said this lead me to believe that he was scared to test his faith.