31 January 2014

Progress Report: Community Painting Party!

You may remember back in November I introduced readers to this project. Since then, Sarah, Georgia, and I have been loading students onto a bus and taking them down the street to that same wall that has been so graciously given to us by the Kallang Community Club near the Boon Keng MRT (where I live!!!). 

The Saturday after I returned home from Baltimore, we hosted a Community Painting Party. And the attendance was amazing! We had residents mingling with students mingling with parents mingling with artists . . . 

Our little CCA is only about 10 students strong, but we were able to bring in enough people to help get a substantial jump on the piece. The actual mural wraps around the entire playground/work-out area. So what we spotlighted for this first Community Painting Party is only half of what our actual mural will be. Our next Community Painting Party happens on February 16th. We hope to have the entire mural marked out with color by the end of that party. And--hopefully--we'll have the entire piece done by the end of the school year, with a big ol' party to celebrate all of the hard work. Fingers crossed!

We set up a table with colored pencils and had people brainstorming/designing the second half of the mural that's still to come. Oh and that's Ben (below) from NVPC at the end of the table. He initiates walks throughout all of the neighborhoods in Singapore to see what's up and what people might need or be thinking about in their community. I'm so glad he was able to make it to our event!

We had a community drum circle come out for some entertainment. Isn't it great? It's kind of like we were at Bonnaroo . . . I absolutely LOVED it!!

And then there was the hula hooping. I rode my bike from my house to this event with 10 hula hoops strapped on my back. And I wasn't disappointed . . . Hula hoops always make a party. I can't hula hoop to save my life, but somehow it's always a hit!

Georgia was the master of the paint that day. She mixed and matched anything we needed. It was actually pretty incredible. The paint is oil-based, so you can only imagine how dirty her hands and clothes were at the end of the day . . . 

This is Shayne with me, above. Shayne was our point-of-contact for the wall and a huge help in organizing the Community Painting Party. Love her! Can't wait to see what the event on February 16th brings!

Last photo by Ashley Mak . . . Stamford American International School photographer.

29 January 2014

Winter Critique: Baltimore, Baby!

One of my favorite quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has to do with education. It goes--now bare with me--something like this, "Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living. The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically." He wrote this statement in an article for The Maroon Tiger, at Morehousewhile in college in 1947. This is fitting for me to ponder after returning back from a giant trip across the big water for school during MLK weekend. 

I made the decision to fly 9,622 miles from Singapore to Baltimore for my first of two winter critiques in conjunction with my graduate school program at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The trip was short and grueling. I left on a Wednesday morning January 15th at 5:30am, arrived in Baltimore at 7pm, participated in school-based activities through Monday, flew out on the morning of Tuesday January 21st at 9:50am, arrived in Singapore on Thursday January 23rd mid-morning. I jumped 14 timezones twice in 7 days, spending close to 4.5 days time in the air. Needless to say, I was wiped out during the entire weekend (and when I got back to Singapore). 

I was questioning whether I should go or not up until I physically sat down on the plane. You can see the look of sheer enthusiasm on my face. So excited to spend the night prior filling out close to 400 report cards and then packing, only to be able to sleep 2 hours before catching a cab to the airport. Yippee. Hooray. Woohoo. 

Then I got over the big fluffy white clouds, and all was right with the world again. Something weird happens when you sit on the plane for close to 25 hours. Flying has become a sort of meditation for me.  When you are in that seat, looking over the clouds or the ocean or the frozen Great Lakes, you can really think. I explored all sorts of things in my brain. It's really the only time that I am forced to relax . . . And I absolutely love it.

So I thought I was arriving in Baltimore on Thursday night (a day later then when I left), but I was actually arriving on the same day: Wednesday. You see, I don't do math. Thankfully, the wonderful people I call my friends actually do math. So Sarah--see above, superwoman to the masses--actually noticed on Facebook that I had landed in Tokyo at like noon. So she put two and two together and realized I was actually landing in Baltimore on Wednesday night, not Thursday night. Math people, it works. So I got to Baltimore a full day before I actually needed to . . . Genius-style.  

And Sarah took absolute perfect care of me!! We left the airport and went straight to Sip & Bite, where I had the most amazing hamburger (BEEF!!!!) on the planet. I also had a Natty Boh. It's Baltimore, baby! The air was clean and crisp outside, and it was cold. It was the perfect sort of mid-winter cold. Not a wet cold, but a dry cold. I had no coat and no real clothing for this weather, but it wasn't humid and 90 degrees out . . . And that's all I cared about!!

The next morning, Sarah got up and made us pumpkin/chocolate chip pancakes. I could not have asked for a better breakfast. Especially since I felt like I had just taken a nap and it was 8pm, not 8am. (Oh jet lag: I hate you and your mother . . . )

My friend Suzie came and picked me up from Sarah's house around 230pm. She was just driving in from DC, via Kentucky. She had found us--all 5 of us--a beautiful little brownstone to rent for the weekend. We went to check it out and it was gorgeous! It was walking distance from MICA and in a beautiful little neighborhood called Bolton Hill.

There were a ton of toys in the place. Of which the pretty-pretty-princess dresses I found most appealing . . . 

We had class all day on Friday, and then critiques solid-thorough on Saturday and Sunday (8:30am - 6:00pm). And if you haven't ever sat in on a professional artist critique before, let me tell you this: they ain't for the weak at heart. I enjoy the friendly sparring, but others do not. And sometimes they can get really uncomfortable. So it makes for an emotionally charged weekend with lots of opinions flying about. But, you know what? These critiques make us better defenders of our art work, whether we like them or not.

Each of us presented our work for an hour in front of 30 - 35 people. It's so quiet when you are talking for the introductory 10 - 15 minutes (which feels like forever). Then the audience--the 30 - 35 people--jump in with questions and comments which you have to be able to respond to. And believe-you-me, you better be alert and on your game. Because if you say something even remotely off or out-of-sync, someone will jump on it. It's really an incredible experience. Especially when you are completely jet lagged, standing and swerving in the back of the group about to pass out and you get assigned to a 3:25pm slot, which is roughly 4am Singapore time. Awesome. 

The work that my colleagues brought in was thoughtful and inspiring. It really is such a blessing to be included in such a great program with immensely talented individuals.

Above, Georgeann Schellenger from Pennsylvania.

Above, Kirk Palmer from Florida.

Above, Suzy Kopf from New York via California.

Above, Jason Stewart from New Jersey.

Above, Howard El-Yasin from Connecticut. 

The above samplings of artwork are only a very few pieces of the many participants in this graduate program. It's a rotating program. So at each critique, there are always a year of students that are about to graduate. And there are anywhere between 8 and 12 students per year. I was a 1st year going into the critique, having the other 1st years, 2nd years, and 3rd years critiquing my work. Last summer, it was the same amount of people but with the 4th years included. Each year graduates during a summer. So the 4th years weren't here for the Winter Crits, because they had graduated. And the 3rd years during this critique will graduate next summer. So basically I was defending my artwork to move from being a 1st year to a 2nd year . . . And I did it! And I did it being completely jet lagged! Whoot!

I also got a chance to see some of my Community Arts comrades. Can you believe it? Almost 5 years later?? It seems like no time has passed at all . . . I wish I could have seen all 12 of the people I graduated with way back in 2010! 

I wish that I could explain fully how heartbroken I was to have to get back on a plane and leave these wonderful people. The only exciting part of this is that I know we will see each other over the summer. It's just that I was so out-of-it during this special weekend . . .

Alas! Summer will be here before I know it. And it will also be the date of my giant 4-0 birthday. So, believe-you-me, we are going to be having a good time when we all see each other again! Yay!

I spent my last night in Baltimore at Sarah's house. The above sunrise was taken out of her bathroom window. Can you believe it? Baltimore was sending me off in style! And I even beat all of their snow!

And then I got to Detroit, Michigan . . . It was a bit of a mess in Detroit, weighing in at a whopping 7 degrees. There was snow all over the place, the Great Lakes were frozen over, and they had to ice down the plane not once but 3 times because the water kept freezing that they were mixing into the non-freeze solution. Oh the irony! So we were stuck on the ground in the plane, in Detroit, for over 3 hours. 

This caused me to miss my Tokyo flight, which made me miss another day of school: fab. At this point the only thing that kept me going were the movies that Delta--yes, Delta--provided me, along with the complementary red wine (keep it coming, please). 

The movies I got to take in during my to-and-from flights were: Waiting For Superman, The Eye Has to Travel, The September Issue, Bridesmaids, Notting Hill, Funny Face, Enough Said, and Love Actually. Four of these movies I had seen several times before, but I was tired of watching New Girl over and over and over again (although I love it). But what actually happened during this bout of movie watching might even be considered as worse: I regained my crush-ness for Hugh Grant. Oh boy. Regardless, I don't know if you have seen these movies or not . . . But you should. They will change your life (said the lady crying in seat 21A . . . Oh wait, that was me!!!). Especially that first one. Waiting For Superman is an extremely important movie for you to watch if K - 12 education is even remotely important to you or your offspring. (It should be: just sayin', folks.)

I can't wait to be in Baltimore this summer . . . I know that we will have such a blast learning about our art work and ourselves, and how all of it relates to the world. It will be amazing! 

Oh wait . . . What? You're asking what I presented during this Winter Crit session in front of all those people? Why dancing of course . . .  More soon!

14 January 2014

Hot 20: December Instagram Favorites . . .

So December pretty much took my breath away . . . Enjoy this last "Instagram favorites" post from 2013. So thankful for a fabulous year! I won't be doing these posts anymore in 2014, so make sure to follow cakecrushonthetown on Instagram. Fun things happening in 2014!