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.

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