White Privilege, White Bubble

The call out was for: ‘Roots and Wings, an exhibition held at House of Blah Blah, Middlesbrough exploring the themes of girls growing up around the world. Inspired by a study which stated that Middlesbrough was the worst place for girls to grow up in the UK. How do other girls get brought up around the world, and what culturally and ethnically differences do we teach on girls for us to grow up so differently or similarly?’

This made me think of what it was like for me growing up as a white girl in Brooksville, Florida- and how different it would have been if I had been black. I researched some history (racism, civil rights movement, segregation), primarily looking at Florida, but also the South. I used photos and newspaper clippings as references along with personal photos of myself inside my white bubble, inside the white privilege that I have benefited from all of my life. I surrounded myself with images of black girls growing up, what it was like for some of them- me in my bubble, them fighting for their civil rights.

This is not an easy subject matter to make art about and perhaps I did so in an ineffectual, clichéd way,  others can judge this.  Overall, I like the piece and learned a few things from history that I did not know or had forgotten.

I feel frustrated with the narratives and conversations going on about race in the USA. I recently came back from a visit there and felt dismayed at how some white folks feel that whites are discriminated against. They are mostly Trump supporters, as this is a core concern of his base. They seem to lack an understanding of the institutionalized racism that is alive and well today. If they have this understanding, then they simply do not care. They have forgotten history, constructing false narratives, downplaying America’s original sins: slavery and the genocide of the Native Americans.

And there is not one fucking thing I can do about it, really. Wrong! I can speak out at every chance!

(added note: Maybe I can do something– educating myself, confronting my own white ignorance and speaking out. This educator is a bad ass: http://janeelliott.com/index.htm)

Back to the fabulous art exhibition. If you are in the Middlesbrough area, the show is up until August 25th and features some amazing work from lots of artists!

Check out their page: https://www.facebook.com/blahblahhouse/

 

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Stoicism and Doodling

The field of psychology has roots in ancient philosophy. Philosophy can teach us how to live well and how to deal with human suffering. I have been listening to an audio-book by Massimo Pigliucci called ‘How to be a Stoic.’ Massimo presents an introduction to Stoicism as a humane and practical philosophy that anyone can practice. So far I have gathered that moral character is the most important aspect of oneself  to cultivate. This is more important than health, riches and comforts. Interesting.

The goal of Stoicism is to overcome adversity and attain inner peace by being present and engaging with life’s problems instead of seeking an escape. Some stoics say we should curb our emotions when faced with things that are out of our control but perhaps our emotions can guide us to action, especially when faced with big global problems like: climate change, economic collapse, war and the rise of authoritarianism. Should we seek to stifle our emotions, control them or repress them? Can we instead use them as an energy to transform through correct action?

Can Stoicism help us transfigure by using our emotions and thoughts through increased self-awareness of the inner world?  Could it help people to develop strategies to cope with suffering by cultivating strength and virtues? Could this help keep human suffering to a minimum when basic needs and rights are being met? Could we use the power of our emotions more beneficially, instead of in a reactive and self-destructive manner?  I only have questions at this point in my research.

I feel strong emotions on a regular basis. Often I find that it’s my own thoughts that are stressing me out, that many of my conflicts start in my own mind. Even when it comes to art making, I create a minefield of resistance and procrastination and then feelings of failure. This is why I have been doodling lately. Only doodles- no art. Or is it art? It has released the pressure of having to create market driven art or art that could get me a mention in the contemporary art world.

There is a power to the doodle that is not to be underestimated. It has been around for 40,000 years with the oldest cave paintings. It seems to be an integral part of human nature and reflects the brain’s DNA, what we are thinking about subconsciously, revealing our personality and inner drives. It can increase our memory and deepen our knowledge. My inner self is filled with eyeballs and snakes! It is a way of not only thinking differently, but more importantly- feeling differently. This is why I believe doodling transfigures our emotions and can offer a useful activity to bind anxiety and lead a more meaningful life.

Sources:

Doodling

http://jainpsychology.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/doodling-as-art-therapy-creative-process.html

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-thinking-benefits-of-doodling-2016121510844

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/05/why-britains-greatest-psychoanalyst-donald-winnicott-loved-doodles/

 

Stoicism

http://99u.com/articles/24401/a-makers-guidebook-9-stoic-principles-to-nurture-your-life-and-work

https://qz.com/887524/forget-stoicism-a-leading-philosopher-explains-why-we-shouldnt-try-to-control-our-emotions/

https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/stoicism-andvs-positive-psychology/

https://immoderatestoic.com/blog/2017/6/1/how-to-be-a-stoic-a-review

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What if?

Today, I dragged the big piece of plywood downstairs and outside to photograph some art. I plan on submitting work this month and need some decent photos. Can’t wait to hire a professional to do this. Someday I will.

Wouldn’t it be weird to have gallery representation- and upcoming exhibitions? Selling, selling-  so that I would not be allowed to share my work freely on social media? I would have to keep it secret until the show. I would have to sign all kinds of contractual agreements and pay 50% commission all the way. No more buying directly from the artist! No more Etsy or Artfinder!

I would have to quit my day job and make a lot of art. I would lead intimate and expensive workshops in my studio, becoming a cult-like guru artist character. I would give artist talks and interviews, getting so good at it that I would no longer need to take a beta-blocker to do so. I could even start an online creative life coaching business or something. I would write self-help books for artists and make a fortune!

If I was earning a good living from making art, I would need an assistant, an accountant, an agent and a housecleaner. Also, if I was earning over £80,000 and was a UK citizen- would I vote Tory? I doubt it. Half for me, half for Labour government please (or maybe even the Greens someday).

Edmonia Lewis small file
Edmonia Lewis, 2017
Gobbledygook Gang small file
Gobbledygook Gang, 2016
Love and Transcendence small file
Love and Transcendence, 2016
Memories of Home small file
Memories of Home, 2016
Pamela Colman Smith small file
Pamela Colman Smith, 2017
Peg Powler small size
Peg Powler, 2017
Victor and Jacqueline small file
Victor and Jacqueline, 2017

Massive ML Update

It’s been a while. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

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Made a trippy profile picture using selfies and Photoshop.
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April Fool’s Book Fair at the Python Gallery, Middlesbrough
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Some things you make because you have to, not because you think they will sell. This mobile will feature double sided paintings of places and areas where I’ve lived.
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More complicated than I thought- 12 mandala canvases from large to small- a painting on front and back- total 24 paintings, though 4 are very small (2″ in diameter). Still, a lot of work to do.
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from which the mobile shall hang
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Unfinished bookmarks- angels and skeletons and skulls
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unfinished postcards- angels, sea creature and robots
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almost finished– collage, pen and paint bookmarks and postcards
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‘You should do more of these’ my husband said, but I won’t. This was a demonstration of how to actually get something done in self-directed study time at the college where I work. I was hoping that even if the students would not listen to me, I could show them through example what it’s like to practice and work as an artist. It’s on a rather large sheet of paper (32″ x 24″) usi.ng acrylic paint. I like how I captured the light. I worked from a photo I had taken at Grayton Beach, Florida. The skeleton was from an online source, he looks a bit funky and alien, but oh well.
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The ongoing Edmonia Lewis painting- I will finish this someday, it hasn’t been easy, but this artist is remarkable, so it’s worth it and I hope to do her justice.

 

Victor and Jacqueline Brauner in front of the Newport Bridge

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Morbid and I are having a show together next year at the Python Gallery in Middlesbrough. I see this painting in the show.

I initially found Morbid on Facebook after searching  for the Romanian, Surrealist artist Victor Brauner. Turns out Morbid is a huge fan. His love of art and Brauner, along with his love for music (Killing Joke and Julian Cope in particular) made me friend request him.

This artwork  features Victor and his wife Jacqueline, painted from a photo- standing in front of the Newport Bridge here in Middlesbrough. Both of them seem full of love and life.

 

Life moves on, it is as bad as we expected, the resistance is strong

It’s been one hell of a week for and fascism is on the rise, again.

I’ve been listening to an audio-book by Christian activist Jim Wallis called ‘America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America’. I wish all my white friends and family  would read this and stop denying the systematic racism that is alive and well in the U.S. We can do so much better. The current administration is making it worse and people like Steve Bannon should not have so much power.

If this upsets you and you want to say: ‘I’m not racist, but…’ then I would say to you, ‘You need to shut your gob and listen for a change.’ Why is it that black parents have to give ‘the talk’ about what to do when you encounter a police officer? I never had to have that talk. Wake up people! Admit and atone, reach out and love- denying this with your ‘All Lives Matter’ bullshit isn’t helping.

Here are some of my recent sketches that reflect my struggle with sanity. Enjoy and thanks for reading.

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I Deleted 75% of My Website

Dear Reader,

There was just too much on it. I don’t need to put so much on it. Instead, I chose: 5 photos for the first page, a bio that is two sentences long, a link to my blog, a link to my Etsy shop and a contact page. Voila! www.marylouspringstead.com

I’ve been researching the art business lately. It’s a lot of work to make a living as an artist. Ain’t easy, never has been- but I’m in it for the long haul- or until something better comes along (including death).

I work a full-time job, so I need to be patient and set realistic goals. There’s no hurry really and it will come. It’s ok to be hungry, as long as you aren’t starving.

I will do what I can with what I have. I will self-care and then help others. If I’m sick and tired- you’re all on your own.

Love,

ML

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Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,

Here’s to 2016- What a year, what a time to be alive!

Greetings from the Gobbledygook Gang.

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2016 hasn’t been all bad, many good things have happened throughout this year.

I just can’t be arsed to mention any, or any of the bad things– so…

Here are some sparkly promotional things I’ve been making.

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Wishing everybody reading this an even better 2017, with awe-inspiring health, wealth, growth, self-actualization and freedom from boredom, discrimination, drudgery, trauma, violence, poverty, brutality and war. May peace and justice be swift. (or at least in my lifetime!)

Roll on 2017, I embrace you with open arms.

Love,

ML

P.S. Here is a cool textile thing I made in Rebecca’s class- my cat loves it too.

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Shop ’til you drop Robot Lady Power Art

Shop ’til you drop, just like I work my fingers to the bone to keep up my artist practice while working a full-time job.

Oh my dear sweet patrons- I know you are out there waiting to sustain me!

I have listed 44 items for sale on my Etsy shop- all at an affordable price.

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The Power of Obsession and Resistance to Trumplandia

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Trump was elected and I shouldn’t be so surprised.

I wonder if when Dr. Eric Maisel talks of the importance of productive obsessions (http://ericmaisel.com/brainstorm/), he was talking my determination to de-friend every single family member/friend who supported Donald Trump for prez on Facebook. (I probably missed some, but I’ll find you, I swear.)

I can’t believe so many of y’all voted for this fool!

Whether you want to admit it or not, you also voted for the bigotry behind his campaign.

I still love y’all,  but from a distance. Now, not even an ocean is enough. Now, I must distance myself through cyberspace.

This is my feeble protest as I am not enlightened enough to want to connect with you on Facebook or share my life with you at this moment in time.

I will not ‘normalize’ this insanity. The personal is political.

Enjoy ‘Making America Great Again’- whatever the hell that means.

For the record, since it’s beginning, America has been a racist, violent country. We have made some progress, but not nearly enough. We can do so much better.

I’m angry with the Democrats too, because they shafted Bernie Sanders in their obsession to have Clinton as the candidate. Thanks for nothing neoliberal elites. I still voted for her though, mama didn’t raise no fool (though I can’t say the same for my siblings).

Now we have neofascism rolling through the White House- way to sock it to the Establishment!

As an artist, it is my duty to say these things and you may not agree, but I will keep saying them.

After all of this, I’m working on listing these beauties on Etsy.