Finding the Purpose of Art

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Recently I went with my husband to Washington D.C. to visit friends. We were on our way to the National Gallery of Art, primarily to see the Albrecht Dürer exhibit. We passed by the Mall and saw hundreds of people dressed in white running to piles of what looked to be bones, grabbing a handful and placing them on the lawn. Interested, we took a closer look. They were, of course, fake bones, made of recycled cardboard: egg carton-like material cast into a variety of bone shapes. From their website is a brief synopsis:

One Million Bones is a large-scale social arts practice, combining education, hands-on art making, and public installations to raise awareness of ongoing genocides and mass atrocities in places like Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Burma. For the past three years we have been collecting 1,000,000 handcrafted bones for a three-day installation event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 8-10, 2013. The installation will exist as a collaborative site of conscience to honor victims and survivors, and will also serve as a visual petition against ongoing conflicts and a resounding call for much need and long overdue action.

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We watched and read about the project and moved on. We saw the amazing Dürer exhibit and then went over to the west building to see the Edvard Munch show and then browsed around. One of the rooms had just 4 large paintings by Thomas Cole, The Voyage of  Life. I found the scenery depicted was fabulous (though the angels were too much) and I loved how he handled the clouds. Steve was particularly struck by the series and asked me for my phone to photograph them. As we walked back toward where we parked we were just about at the bones again and I wondered how far they had gotten while we were inside. Steve was talking about the Cole series and saying how sometimes he doesn’t like the art for the imagery but more for the meaning. I was thrilled! This is what artists throughout time, all over the world have been trying to get across! Artists have used many forms of media to produce something that inspires and moves you emotionally. This clearly was what the One Million Bones project was all about. The chance to bring a message to the general public in a format that transmits the message in a powerful way.

40th Anniversary of Blue Marble Photos

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

This is great – scientists, artists and philosophers getting together to discuss our world and universe. They have just released their first short film with a longer documentary to follow.

The Overview Effect tells us that the Earth is an interconnected whole, of which human beings are a part. We are one species with one destiny, and as more than one astronaut has said, “We are all in this together.” We are the crew of a natural spaceship called Earth, which is hurtling through the universe at a high rate of speed. In a very real sense, all of us are astronauts, but we do not realize it because we normally do not experience it.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the photos taken of our planet from space by the Apollo 17 crew.

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Today is World Aids Day. So many countries all in support of this and yet so much more needs to be done. According to what I’ve read, over 34 million people suffer with HIV. According to CDC people between the ages of 13 and 24 represent more than a quarter of new HIV infections each year (26 percent) and most of these youth living with HIV (60 percent) are unaware they are infected! I personally have only known one person who was affected, he was an artist with a supremely clever wit and dazzling smile. We lost touch over the years but last I knew he was doing okay, a 15 year survivor.

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Election Day – make your vote count!

I voted today. I can’t say that I’m exactly thrilled with any of the choices I was offered, but I feel that you can’t complain if you don’t participate. Every election I still find myself eagerly optimistic that the winning candidates will benefit the world in a positive manner. And I’m sure they all think that they’re going to, regardless of their personal ideology. Somewhere along the intervening months things just don’t seem to get done in government, at least not the way I always hope they will or even the way the candidates promised.

I’ve decided I’m a Romantic Realist, can that be a party? Maybe we could start using that instead of Independent. That’s what I’m registered as; I find it difficult to admit that I’m married to a Republican, though. Steve claims he randomly chose a party years ago without knowing what they stood for, just so he could vote in a primary. I’ve been with him for longer than I care to admit, and I’ve yet to hear him say he’s ever voted in a primary! I’ve always been an independent sort, and I find many times I’m a “middle of the road” kind of person. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion, most times I do – I just prefer to think that I keep an open mind, can see two (or more) sides to an issue and nothing’s clear cut left or right. So I vote, eyes wide shut like my cute dog Finn and keep hopeful thoughts.

I remember my mom used to say that she would vote for whomever my dad didn’t, and Dad would reply with, “She only votes to cancel me out!” After the election Mom’s station wagon would sport a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t blame me I voted for the other guy” or some such.

This year they’re both going to vote for the same candidate – imagine that. Things DO change.