Update about blogCa

This blog has become the place where I put my opinions...and share my interests in our place in time and space.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Greta Thunberg, Women's History Month - She's making history - 29

 "I have Asperger's and that means I'm different from the norm."

At school I was always alone, without friends, I sat in a corner.
Still at home sick eating disorder
It's all gone now, because I figured out where my path is.
I’m not the angry little girl who screams in front of world leaders, I’m not how some media portray me to be, I’m a shy, studious girl, a nerd who cares about the present and future of the Planet and therefore my own.
I have found purpose in a world that often seems empty and meaningless to so many people. When haters get offended by your looks and difference, it means they don't know where to go. And you know you're winning.”
Greta Thunberg

Source: Women Hold Up Half The Sky a group on Facebook

"To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men."
by  Ella Wheeler Wilcox, poet.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

MC Richards- Women's History Month -28


My mentor to become a potter, Mary Carolyn Richards

 We had a discussion group (a take-off from a reading group) which watched in 3 parts over 3 months, this wonderful video about MC.

Paulus Berensohn was interviewed on the video about M. C. Richards' life.

Her "acting painting" for the camera when the video was being made.

Wikipedia says this about her life:
Mary Caroline Richards (July 13, 1916, Weiser, Idaho – September 10, 1999, Kimberton, Pennsylvania) was an American poet, potter, and writer best known for her book Centering: in Pottery, Poetry and the Person.[1] Educated at Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, and at the University of California at Berkeley, she taught English at the Central Washington College of Education and the University of Chicago, but in 1945 became a faculty member of the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina where she continued to teach until the end of the summer session in 1951.[2] It was her teaching experience and growth as an artist while at Black Mountain College that prepared the foundation for most of her work in life, both as an educator and creator. Later in life, she discovered the work of Rudolf Steiner and lived the last part of her life at a Camphill Village in Kimberton, PA. In 1985, while living at the Kimberton Camphill Village she began teaching workshops with Matthew Fox at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, CA during the winter months. Mary Caroline Richards died in 1999 in Kimberton, PA;

And here's probably more information which I posted several years ago.

M. C. Richards and me...

"Centering, In the Art of Pottery Poetry and Person."

"The Crossing Point, Selected Talks and Writings"

Mary Caroline Richards
(1916 - 1999)

A poet, potter, teacher, and mystical philosopher who said that all of her art was "a celebration of the numinous," M.C. Richards often remarked, "We live in the universe, not just on Maple Avenue." Supremely self-confident, renowned for her warrior personality, she attributed much of her lifelong fearlessness to her mother's wisdom. When she was an impressionable eight-year-old, for example, a distraught neighbor came running to M.C.'s mother to tell her that M.C. had climbed up on the roof and was perched precariously at the edge. Her mother went out and called up to her daughter, "Oh, M.C., you look so beautiful up there all silhouetted against the sky.

Mary Caroline Richards was born in Weiser, Idaho, in 1916 and reared in Portland, OR. 
She received a doctorate in English from the University of California at Berkeley in the 1940s, when few women received more than a high-school education, and later taught at the innovative Black Mountain College and other universities. She left two marriages and a number of unsatisfactory love relationships and started a new career at the age of seventy by joining the faculty of Matthew Fox's Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality. As a seventieth birthday gift to herself, she had her ears pierced.   -- Mary Ford-Grabowsky

My life was definitely impacted by M.C. Richards.  In the 1970's I read "Centering, In the Art of Pottery, Poetry and Person."  The book, which became an underground classic, pulled together ideas about perception, craft, education, creativity, religion and spirituality, arguing for the richness of daily experience if carefully attended to, and the creativity of the average person. ''Poets are not the only poets,'' Ms. Richards wrote.

At that time I was not yet a potter.  I was a "hippie".  I was willing to step into the unknown, several times actually.  My boyfriend, Charlie, and I opened a co-op store in Tallahassee, naming it "Pottery, Poetry and Person." after M.C.'s book title.  Another friend, Martha, was the co-op sponsor of the book portion of the store, a loft full of great new age reading including overstuffed chairs in which to sit and read.  No big box book stores had thought of doing that in 1976 yet.  My share of the co-op was some pen & ink cards and calendars, and doing most of the hands on managing/sitting there.  Other arts and crafts were also represented, leather making, silk flower arranging, batik painting on cloth, wood inlay, watercolors. 

Charlie taught at the local alternative high school.  He learned how to make pottery, bought a wheel and some kilns, and we started making pottery there in the back of the store. We invited some local potters/teachers to join the co-op.  I watched what Charlie did, and tried the same.   I even started doing demonstrations at the local fairs, as well as carrying pottery to sell there.  It was a great thing to do in the 70's in Florida.   I still have a couple of bowls that Charlie and I made...he threw them, I glazed them. One plate I made from beginning to end is carved in a Native American design, and is still in my collection also.  (It is not at all in a style MC would have promoted, being very tight compared to her organic flowing style).

Fast forward to when I finally decided to become a "real artist" and go to the University of Florida in the 80's, studying under Phil Ward and Nan Smith to learn everything I didn't know about ceramics.  There was a lot.  But I also wrote to M. C. Richards (via her publisher probably) and told her how she had influenced my life.  She actually wrote me back.  I didn't understand that a famous woman, who had published two books, could write a student on notebook paper, but I was so excited, I carried her letter folded in my pocket of my coat.  I rode (as most students do) a bike around campus.  Someplace or another, the letter fell out.  But M.C. never fell out of the special place she holds in my heart.

M. C. Richards also planted the seed that led me to live in Black Mountain, NC from 2007 to present. 

As you may already know, after I got that BFA in ceramics, I stayed in school to get an M.Ed. and Ed.S. in counseling...and found that some of the ideas being promoted for counselors still echoed those that were spoken of in "Centering."  M.C. had taught at Black Mountain College, which closed its doors back in the 50's, but not before impacting the arts and education. 

Black Mountain College was the college where performing and visual artists and John Cage engaged in a "Happening" in 1950, well before it happened again in 1968 when I was briefly an art student in The Hartford Art School in Connecticut.  (I also was the receptionist there, thinking myself less talented and more inclined to be earning an income). 

From 1933 to 1941, Black Mountain College was located at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly. Photo: Creative Commons. 

It's interesting that today I can see this building's red roof through the wintertime trees from my current apartment across the valley.

48 YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly.jpg

Black Mountain College's second campus on Lake Eden from 1941 to 1957, is now part of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys. There is one building still standing which was part of the college campus.

Black Mountain College was a short-lived laboratory for innovative teaching and art whose faculty and students included Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, David Tudor, Robert Rauschenberg and Charles Olson. They had workshops where everyone shared making pinch pots, exploring words in creativity and "brain storming."  Buckminster Fuller, (grand-nephew of Margaret Fuller, another genius) tried out his first geodesic dome there, and returned to make a more successful one than the original one of venetian blind slats.

For more information on M.C. Richards at Black Mountain College, look at her Wikepedia page:

M.C. Richards also is the subject of a biographical movie "The Fire Within" taken at her home in PA where she gave workshops, painted, and lived in an intentional community .Camphill Village is an agricultural community in Kimberton, Pa. where she had lived since 1984. (The Black Mountain Library owns a copy of this film available to be checked out.)

 Here's the link for "The Fire Within" film.

The Fire Within is a portrait of a remarkable woman whose greatest artistic ability was perhaps to find the artist in others (despite her own impressive output as a writer, painter and potter). Most of the film centers on Richards' last years, including footage of her as she taught, wrote and worked with many special-needs adults at a Camphill Village in Pennsylvania; Richards touched the creative spark in them while working on her own art at the same time. The film offers us a striking picture of a woman who was as down-to-earth and forthright as they come, but who was likewise a dreamy visionary. She was a contradiction, and a fascinating one.  (movie review by Ken Hanke | 04/28/2004, Mountain Xpress)

Cover art for film

M. C.'s pottery and painting (like her prose and poetry) is loose, organic, speaks of the creativity rather than the polish, and is definitely inspired.  She taught me the value of process rather than product...in everything.  That was fundamental in counseling as well.  I may have tried writing poetry also, but am willing to appreciate that written by others.

My youngest son, the potter, went to a Waldorf school for kindergarden, which was based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.  I just realized that MC wrote the book that I read about him also!
Toward Wholeness: Rudolf Steiner Education in America.

And another influence of MC...when I interviewed at one of the rehabilitation centers where I counseled, I impressed the director by describing the organic crossing point in all plants (see below) as MC had taught.  Whether a person or plant, we all have almost microscopic points where change happens...in a plant from root to stem as the cells have different purposes...in a person when change becomes healthy rather than unhealthy for the organism.

It's all about Centering.

Seeing with Your Inner Eye

Picture in your inner eye, your inner sight, four avocado seeds on the window sill. Three are suspended in a glass of water and have sprouted. One is still dry and papery and brown. Each of the sprouting seeds has its own character. One has two long roots, like two rubbery legs folding around each other in the bottom of the glass. Out of the top rises a cluster of tiny seedling leaves, and surprisingly, on this one, these leaves are white -- little tight white albino avocado seedling leaves, coming out of that big hard seed knob. Another has one short straight root and one straight shoot bearing green leaves at the top. The third has neither root nor shoot, but the whole seed has been split open by a thrust from inside, and the two halves shoved apart by the germinating seed force -- that little bunch of stuff, big as the end of your pinkie, shoving those big doors aside like a tiny Samson. It is a wonderful sight. And now let us look at the fourth seed, dry and papery and brown, nothing showing on the outside. But within are a life force and a living plantness which we cannot see with our ordinary eyes. If we are to behold the wrinkled old seed in truth, we have to behold it with imagination, with our inner eye. Only with the inner eye of imagination can we see inner forms of Being and Becoming. In this lifeless-looking seed there is a germinating center, totally alive and totally invisible.

-- from The Crossing Point
Selected Talks and Writings

Monday, March 27, 2023

Beatrix Potter - Women's History Month -27

Wikipedia offers this:

Helen Beatrix Potter:  (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist. She is best known for her children's books featuring animals, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was her first published work in 1902. Her books, including 23 Tales, have sold more than 250 million copies. Potter was also a pioneer of merchandising—in 1903, Peter Rabbit was the first fictional character to be made into a patented stuffed toy, making him the oldest licensed character.

Beatrix Potter did not have many friends as a child, but she had lots of animals. She and her brother sneaked a rotating cast of pets into their nursery, including snakes, salamanders, lizards, rabbits, frogs, and a fat hedgehog. As a young adult, she invented narratives about her pets, filling letters to the children of friends with their adventures.

I wonder if British children have more chance of memories of her books and her wonderful illustrations than American ones. Her art and stories were among the early children's literature in my home.

Wikipedia continues:

Born into an upper-middle-class household, Potter was educated by governesses and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and spent holidays in Scotland and the Lake District, developing a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted. Potter's study and watercolours of fungi led to her being widely respected in the field of mycology.

Potter wrote over sixty books, with the best known being her twenty-three children's tales. With the proceeds from the books and a legacy from an aunt, in 1905 Potter bought Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, a village in the Lake District. Over the following decades, she purchased additional farms to preserve the unique hill country landscape. In 1913, at the age of 47, she married William Heelis, a respected local solicitor from Hawkshead.

Potter died of pneumonia and heart disease on 22 December 1943 at her home in Near Sawrey at the age of 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now constitutes the Lake District National Park.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Mary McLeod Bethune - Women's History Month - 26

 Pioneering educator Mary McLeod Bethune founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial School for Negro Girls in 1904 with just $1.50. The first class had six students and supplies were so meager when the Florida school was founded that students made ink for pens from elderberry juice and pencils from burned wood. Twenty years later, it became Bethune-Cookman College.

Born in 1875 to former slaves, Bethune also founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. She became one of the first African Americans to advise a U.S. President when she served as Franklin D. Roosevelt's Minority Affairs adviser. In 1936, Roosevelt appointed Bethune the director of the National Youth Administration's Division of Negro Affairs, making her the first black woman to head a federal division. Upon her death in 1955, columnist Louis E. Martin honored Bethune's immense impact in touching many lives, stating: "She gave out faith and hope as if they were pills and she some sort of doctor."

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Mary Leakey - women's History Month - 25

 Mary Leakey

British paleoanthropologist Mary Douglas Leakey, born Mary Douglas Nicol in London (2,6.1913). Her father was an artist, and she spent her childhood traveling with her parents as he searched for new landscapes to paint. Nicol also took on his daughter’s education — reading, math, and natural science — and encouraged her interest in archaeology. Mary demonstrated a precocious gift for drawing, even at a very young age. Rather than following her father’s career path, however, she used her talent to break into the field of archaeology — literally. She was hired as an illustrator on a dig site in England when she was 17.

Her drawing skills eventually led to a job illustrating a book called Adam’s Ancestors (1934). The book’s author was an archaeologist and anthropologist named Louis Leakey. The two married in 1937, forming a personal — as well as professional — partnership. Soon after their marriage, they moved to Tanzania, where Louis was scheduled to begin work on the Olduvai Gorge. Mary Leakey worked in East Africa for most of the rest of her life. She was particularly interested in primitive art and artifacts, but she had a real knack for finding fossils. She led the digs that resulted in two of the most important hominid discoveries in Africa: Australopithecus boisei and homo habilis.

Louis Leakey died in 1972, but Mary continued their work without him for over two more decades: excavating and cataloging, but also lecturing and fundraising. She published two books after her husband’s death: Olduvai Gorge: My Search for Early Man (1979); and her autobiography, Disclosing the Past (1984). She retired to Nairobi in 1983, and died in 1996.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Elizabeth Keckley - Women's History Month - 24

 At some point in February Elizabeth Keckley was born; we don't know the day because she was born enslaved; we are lucky to know the month and year at all. She was a talented seamstress who bought herself out of slavery with her needle and her dress designs, and she eventually became personal dressmaker (and sometime nurse, because, you know, racism) for Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham.

She is remembered (sometimes) because of her unusual position and incredible entrepreneurial sense, but like Harriet Tubman she had a lesser known but very important role supporting the community of newly freed slaves - for Elizabeth, in the DC area.
Her life was hard, sad, triumphant at (all too few) times, and unbelievable at others and I will never cease to be amazed what people can do through the most unfair and unimaginable of hardships.
Highly recommend the History Chicks podcast for her history - it's a riveting and highly informative (and occasionally enraging) hour.

The History Chicks episode on Elizabeth Keckley:

Her autobigraphy, "Behind the Scenes, or, 30 years a slave and 4 years in the White House" available at Project Gutenburg for free:

She was the dressmaker of Washington D.C., her dresses sophisticated and clean and designed to be of excellent fit, the desire of many. And to clients, she was often more than a dressmaker; she was a dear friend.

Elizabeth Keckley was born enslaved in Virginia in 1818. The only daughter of her enslaved mother, her birth father was the plantation owner. The man Elizabeth considered a father was her mother's husband, an enslaved man who lived on a plantation nearby. Twice a year on special holidays, mother, father, and daughter spent time together.

When Elizabeth was about seven years old, her father joined her and her mother, finally getting to live together. The time, however, was short-lived. Her father was taken West soon after. Of the experience, Elizabeth wrote:

"My father and mother never met again in this world. They kept up a regular correspondence for years, and the most precious mementoes of my existence are the faded old letters that he wrote, full of love, and always hoping that the future would bring brighter days. In nearly every letter is a message for me. 'Tell my darling little Lizzie,' he writes, 'to be a good girl, and to learn her book. Kiss her for me, and tell her that I will come to see her some day.' Thus he wrote time and again, but he never came. He lived in hope, but died without ever seeing his wife and child."

Life was a constant struggle for Elizabeth. In her teens, she was beaten at the whim of an owner who seemed to desire vengeance on Elizabeth. She was raped by her owner's friend, from which Elizabeth became a mother. And in 1847, Elizabeth, her mother and son were taken to St. Louis, where Elizabeth worked as a seamstress. For twelve years, she worked many hours a day, her income going to support the family that enslaved her.

But it was also during these years of work as a seamstress that she met many women in town. Elizabeth was able to establish a network of connections. And in 1855, through a connection, Elizabeth secured a loan to purchase freedom for her and her son.

Elizabeth eventually made her way to Washington D.C., where she leveraged her skills as a seamstress, business savvy, and network to grow her business. She employed twenty seamstresses, making dresses for many women in town, including Mary Todd Lincoln, the president's wife.

Today's quote:
"None of us are perfect, for which reason we should heed the voice of charity when it whispers in our ears, 'Do not magnify the imperfections of others.' "
“An act may be wrong, but unless the ruling power recognizes the wrong, it is useless to hope for a correction of it.”
-- Elizabeth Keckley

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Time's 12 Women of the year - Women's History Month 23

In 2022, TIME magazine debuted its 12 Women of the Year list, which acknowledges pivotal figures in politics, culture, and activism.

This year they nominated the following:

Cate Blanchett, up for an Academy Award for her performance in 2022’s psychodrama TÁR and a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ambassador.

Angela Bassett, also up for an Oscar for 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and the first actor to ever be nominated for a Marvel Studios film.

Phoebe Bridgers, a singer and pro-choice advocate who [h]as spoken openly about undergoing an abortion.

Ayisha Siddiqa, a 24-year-old poet and Pakistani climate justice and human rights activist. In 2019, Siddiqa organized protestors in Manhattan to advocate for environmental responsibility.

Megan Rapinoe, a soccer star who has long advocated for equal pay among players regardless of gender.

Quinta Brunson, the creator and co-star of the hit ABC comedy Abbott Elementary, a vehicle for Black voices in culture as well as a window into the role of schools in helping to inspire and educate.

Makiko Ono, the incoming Suntory Beverages CEO and one of the few women heading a large Japanese company. Ono will look to meet the company’s goal of having women make up 30 percent of its managers by 2030.

Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist whose outspoken support of oppression in Iran has led to kidnap and assassination plots against her.

Verónica Cruz Sánchez, an abortion rights activist whose Las Libres organization has assisted women in getting medical treatment.

Olena Shevchenko, a Ukrainian LGBTQ+ rights activist.

Anielle Franco, Brazil’s new Minister of Racial Equality.

Ramla Ali, a pro boxer and Somalian refugee whose nonprofit Sisters Club provides training and support to Muslim women as well as anyone else looking for a safe space to train.

I'm especially impressed by the abortion rights activists here. "Times" has certainly stood up to be counted on this issue! It may have before, but I don't read it often.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Georgia O'Keeffe Women's History Month - 22

 "I found that I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way things that I had no words for."

Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia Totto O'Keeffe (1887-1986)was an American artist. She was known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. O'Keeffe has been recognized as the "Mother of American modernism".

If I remember rightly, there were more than a few years that I lived with an O'Keeffe painting on my wall in monthly calendars.  I may still have a few of my favorite paintings stashed away, thinking I would frame them.  But walking through her museum was a very heady experience, and I didn't take photos of ALL of the works on display.

I'm sorry to not have her bio here. Please check out Wikipedia for details.

Source: Women Hold Up Half The Sky a group on Facebook

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Betty White - Women's History Month - 21

 We remember Betty White who died shortly before her 100th birthday (January 17, 1922 – December 31, 2021)  A pioneer in the entertainment industry, White was the first woman to produce a sitcom -- the nationally syndicated "Life with Elizabeth" which premiered in 1952 -- and one of the first women to have full creative control in front of and behind the camera. Due to her influence on the industry and her trailblazing nature, she was given the honorary title of "Mayor of Hollywood" in 1955.

After moving from radio to television, White became a staple panelist of American game shows such as PasswordMatch GameTattletalesTo Tell the TruthThe Hollywood Squares, and The $25,000 PyramidShe then became more widely known for her appearances on The Bold and the BeautifulBoston Legal, and The Carol Burnett Show.

Betty White on Mary Tyler Moore show.

White's biggest roles include Sue Ann Nivens on the CBS sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973–1977), Rose Nylund on the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls (1985–1992), and Elka Ostrovsky on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland (2010–2015). She had a late career resurgence when she starred in the romantic comedy film The Proposal (2009) and hosted Saturday Night Live the following year, garnering her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. The 2018 documentary Betty White: First Lady of Television detailed her life and career.

Betty White in 2010

With a career that has spanned over 80 years, she was recognized by the Guinness World Records as having the longest career of any female entertainer in the world. A lifelong animal advocate, White was a long-time supporter of many animal welfare causes and organizations.

White was the author of two inspiring memoirs: "If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won't)" (https://www.amightygirl.com/if-you-ask-me) and "Here We Go Again: My Life In Television" (https://www.amightygirl.com/here-we-go-again)

SOURCE: A Mighty Girl on Facebook
Wikipedia...lots more information is available about her carreer.

Today's quote:

Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree which stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here. Hold on to life, even when it is easier letting go.