19 February 2015

Year In Review: My Favorite Creative Experiences from 2014!

1. Turning 40. From the time I turned 39 until June 11th of 2015, I will be celebrating my 40th birthday. I mean I had the year leading into my 40's and then the year that I was 40, which is still happening. That's 2 full years of goodness! Sometimes the celebrations have been small, sometimes they were personal in nature, sometimes they involved overcoming fears, and sometimes they were bigger, more exciting undertakings. I had a small little gathering of people I met in Singapore for a more traditional birthday party, thrown at my friend Sasha's house. It was a fun night, filled with people and drinks and food and dancing. I got my nose pierced on the street in India. And I took myself to New York City for a little 3 day adventure before heading into my second summer of graduate school. It's been a really wonderful 2 years, and continues to be. So--definitely--turning 40 was a highlight!

2. Attending an Indian Wedding in Delhi. For Spring Break last year, I decided to join some friends in India. I knew I wanted to go back to India, especially since I had a 6 month visa. Plus, I loved it so much the first time around . . . So when I was invited to my friend's son's wedding, I knew this would be the occasion to go! And it was such a fun experience! I spent part of the week in Jaipur, and part of the week in Delhi. I felt like I was at Mardi Gras. There was dancing and food, fireworks and marching bands. Everyone was dressed up and smiling and laughing. It was one of the best celebrations I have ever attended. Hands down!

3. Making a 4' x 8' Foot Equality Banner. Over the summer, I was part of a really great show called GUTSY: Taking the Fear Factor out of Feminism. I included a hand sewn banner with words on it. The words were direct quotes from students--young people between the ages of 5 and 18--who I had asked to define feminism, in their own words. I actually got some flack about this piece. But they were direct quotes, so I wasn't going to change anything. I actually think it says a lot more than people are giving it time for . . . And I absolutely love it. 

4. Rowing to an Island. As I mentioned above, some of the things I have done this year were attempts at making me stronger or overcoming my fears (specifically of water, and being surround by it). My initial want for going to Borneo was to learn how to scuba dive. But upon further investigation, I wasn't ready. So instead, I rowed to an island and back. Round trip--with a 30 minute splash break--took about 6 hours. And I had a sunburn for the next 4 weeks to prove to myself that I had really done it. It was an amazing experience, and probably one of the most rewarding things I've done since moving to Southeast Asia. 

5. My New Website. Oh my goodness! If I had to spend the time doing this alone, it never would have happened. I am so thankful to have found the girls behind Public Culture (thank you, Fictive Fingers). They helped me organize several years of work into an updateable and affordable online portfolio. Art + Community + Teaching: all in one neat little package! Find out more! Please take a moment and visit www.cakecrush.com. Click on everything when you get there! Make sure you see what's behind every little link . . . Enjoy!

6. Seeing Justin Timbo Live. The 40th birthday that keeps on giving . . . 4 months after I turned 40, I went to see Justin Timberlake in Perth, Australia. I had splurged on a ticket back in February, when they went on sale. I figured it was the closest he would get to Singapore, and I was right. Once I got to Perth, and into the arena, I realized I would be front row center. Now that's a concert! One of the greatest shows I've seen in a really long time . . . Right up there with Prince! Happy birthday to me!

7. Making a Woven Hut With Community. One of the most interesting groups of people that I've had the absolute pleasure of working with were the senior citizens from the Bedok neighborhood. I've never seen such energy in all of my life! We built two little magical huts together, both in a very short amount of time. Inventive, engaging, and enthusiastic! I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

8. Starting an Etsy Shop. I never wanted to do this, but I always wanted to do this. (I know, it's very confusing.) I had a hard time trying to figure out how I could be a part of the Etsy community. But somehow--within a month's time--I've managed to figure it out. I list banners, bunting, notecards, and ornaments. Most of my items are made out of felt, which is my guilty pleasure. And everything is hand sewn. I can't wait to start putting together treasuries and advertising the shop more! All in good time, folks . . . Have a peak! Shop around! Hand delivery available in Singapore, Fed-Ex shipping available worldwide. Cakecrushonthetown on Etsy! Yay! 

9. Participating in Holi. I'm not into color runs or getting wet in public. But something about this experience was really exciting . . . It's the welcoming of Spring--who doesn't love that? Each person is handed a small bag of powdered dye. And someone has a hose, or a bucket in most cases. Dye goes a long way when water is involved. And red is definitely the strongest color. But what fun! Everyone wears white, and the color and water just flies through the air. Anyone is a target, and the looks you get riding home on the subway, dripping wet and colorful, are priceless. It's great fun! And my Diplo shirt has never been the same. 

10. My Second Summer of Graduate School at MICA. This past summer was an incredibly fruitful 6 weeks. I went into the summer knowing that I would spend most of my time making videos. But I had no idea how I was going to do it. I had always dreamed of making videos, but never liked the idea of sitting at a computer to make art. So in order to make it happen, I made the filming part active. I had friends come into the space with me and dress me. Then they would leave, and that's when I would film the movements. The movements were based on various situations I would find myself in, while living abroad. It was a really fun way for me to get through the shooting part of the video, and it made me more excited to sit down behind a computer to see how I could piece everything together. You can see some of the videos here and here. I can't wait until the summer of 2015! More fun on the way! (This program is flying by way too fast . . . )

11. My Second Batik Made in Bali. The first time I went to Bali, I wanted to do something creative with my time there. So I researched Ubud and found a great little studio that teaches day long workshops on batik. My friend Cheryl went with me and we each spent about 6 - 8 hours learning the process and creating. My first batik project went to my sister, Kerry. You can see it here. This past year, when I made my annual Thanksgiving trip to Bali, I visited Widya's Batik again and this time I made a piece for my mom. I felt much more relaxed creating the second piece. I splattered the dye on the ends of the muslin and painted the piece much more quickly than I had done previously. I would love to start attempting to do this in my home studio on costuming projects. I found a process that uses Elmer's glue. It works great, but it's not as authentic. The search continues . . . 

12. Being Part of James and the Giant Peach. I know that I waxed on and on about this project in the post I wrote a few weeks back. So I'll lay low a bit here, and just encourage you to read all about it. It was an amazing collaboration, and I was so honored to be a part of it. Request to the masses: more theatre projects, please!  

13. Making Lanterns With 11th Graders. We are partially through this massive community undertaking, but we are definitely making headway. This project began in September of 2014, and I have had a great time working with our 11th graders. Taking inspiration from Baltimore's community lantern parade, we are creating lanterns to help celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday party. Lanterns are a huge part of Southeast Asian celebrations--all of them--so we thought this was the perfect combination of cultural relevance and creativity. We spent a few weeks teaching the 11th graders how to build and make lanterns. Then, in turn, they attend community events in our school's neighborhood where they teach this process back to participants. Teaching and learning, community and creativity . . . All in one project! Check out the unicorn costume lantern I am currently working on for my co-teacher, Sarah. I love it! 

14. Dune Bashing in Dubai. Last February I was sent to a PYP conference in Dubai. It was a fun weeklong trip, where I got to meet several art educators from around the world (music teachers, art teachers, and theatre teachers). After the conference was over, we had about a day's time before our outgoing flight. So we spent the day in the desert, dune bashing and eating amazing foods. It was an absolute blast! I felt like I was on a movie set for Star Wars. The UAE is a magical and interesting place!

Honorable Mention: Stellar Swimming Pool Portraits. Last November, my second graders began self-portraits based on David Hockney's swimming pool paintings. We will be showing them in the library next month. They are the most interesting portraits I have ever seen. I had them imagine what they thought they looked like when they were under water or when they were just about to jump in . . . I'm really so proud of their attention to detail in these portraits and how careful they were in creating them. Not to mention, they worked really large, which is super challenging for second graders. Look out for more on this project soon! In the meantime, have a look at this interview with David Hockney.

15 February 2015

Bali For Thanksgiving: Third Times a Charm!!

I love Bali. And Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays . . . Every year for the last 3 years that I've been living in Singapore, I have made my way to Bali for the Thanksgiving holidays. It's about a 2 and a half hour flight, so it's totally worth it.

The first year found me river rafting and batiking with friends. The second year found me totally relaxed, eating Thanksgiving dinner from a bathtub filled with flowers out on a deck above a river while watching Elf on my laptop.

This year found me almost completely alone, except for a yoga instructor and a masseuse. I had my very own villa, and I also went back to Widya's Batik Studio, where I had gone during my first trip.

My hope for the holiday weekend was to get a lot of writing done for a little side project that I am working on . . . I kept thinking, private villa: what else would I do? Yeah, right! Do you know how much fun it is to have your own tiny pool? And to be able to schedule a massage or yoga whenever you want? Or take a shower outside, in the rain? I was completely spoiled, and felt like I was living in an upside down, mixed-up world.

The first night I was there, I got in touch with a teacher I met during my second visit to Bali. She runs creative classes in Ubud for community children. And she had recently moved the studio to a new space. It was in one of those really cool dome-style tent structures. She had invited me to a bowl-playing performance. It was super interesting and completely out of my comfort zone.

Many people know that I do not relax very well (or at all) . . . So when I was told that we would be laying on our backs in the dark listening to the performance, I got a little concerned. How long was this performance going to be? Will there be bugs? What if I fall asleep by accident? 

It turned out to be really interesting. And so light, airy, and spatial sounding. It's kind of hard to explain, but have a listen! You can even hear all of the chirping bugs outside! It was magical! And, yes, there were bugs. A cricket was on me for the entire performance . . .

When I got back to my villa, my Thanksgiving dinner was ready to go. Talk about amazing! It was incredible . . . The food at this place was just spectacular. And the staff was so friendly! They even organized a wonderful Gamelan performance. Just for me! Two music performances in one day! (Love Bali, LOVE!)

The next morning I woke up to a beautiful, frothy latte by the pool. I wrote for a couple of hours before heading off to my batik appointment.

I don't know how much you all know about traditional batik. But it is an all day affair. It takes anywhere between 6 and 8 hours . . . Maybe even up to two day trips, to complete a piece. Mine take about 8 hours because I'm less fussy about how things come out. I let the batik do what the batik is gonna do . . . 

I loved being back at Widya's studio. There are so many animals around that I tend to get distracted easily. I didn't ask where the cow had gone that was there before. I'm pretty sure he became a meal . . . Or several. But there were bunnies, purple and pink colored baby chicks, dogs, and koi.

I loved that this hen found it necessary to sit on her babies to keep me away from them. I didn't know that hens did that . . . But every time I went near her, they would scurry under her for protection.

The most tedious and time-consuming part of batik is waxing the drawing onto the muslin. My goodness it takes forever! I tend to be a color girl . . . So I will generally do whatever it takes to get me to the colorful part. So I tend to speed through the wax process. (You might see some drips in that picture above.) Finally after a few layers, I was ready to add the color.

I really liked the design I chose this time. It was Ganesha, but I switched up the background. I combined a honeycomb pattern with giant palm fronds. And then attacked it with color. 

I splattered dye onto the ends where the design wasn't, the tops and bottoms of the piece.

Here's a quickie video of the acid bath and boiling water that the piece goes through after it has completely set in the sun.

I loved how it turned out! My mother was the recipient of this piece for Christmas. My sister received the last piece I created at Christmas 2012. Just look at that purple! 

I ended up getting back to my village just before a light rain began.

I went to the house just above where I was staying to visit their pigs. They were quite talkative, so I had to see what all of the chatter was about. I'm telling you: one of these days I will get a pig or two!

Due to rain, I spent the rest of the evening in my space. I worked on writing and drinking coffee for the next couple of hours. It was perfect.

On my last full day in Bali, I woke up really early so that I could go into the village for the market. I hate shopping and malls, but markets are completely different. I could walk around at markets for hours at a time. I love all of the colors and the foods and items for sale. Lots of the items that I took pictures of are used in religious customs as offerings.

After my early morning visit to the market, I decided to go on a walk around the village. I spent about 2 hours walking around taking pictures. 

It was such a gorgeous day and I was completely surrounded by green and beauty. More days like this, please!!

And that was it! My Thanksgiving weekend was over . . . Generally speaking, it takes me two blogposts to cover Bali each Thanksgiving. But since the bulk of what I did was write, walk, and eat marvelous foods, I felt the pictures could do more for this post in one take then spreading it across two. 

In case you are curious, here are the links to my other Thanksgivings in Bali.

2012: blog 1 and blog 2
2013: blog 1 and blog 2 

Up next? A countdown of creative happenings from 2014 . . . Enjoy!