Tuesday, January 31, 2012

He stands keeping vigil outside a small stone chapel on the property of Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, PA. St. Francis always reminds me of our intimate connection to all that surrounds us, how we are made up of the same "stuff" that composes everything on this earth. Here, this statue lingers, weathered and becoming part of the environs, as a reminder to me that I am very much like the weathered stone; I too am growing with ivy and moss, and intimately a part of this world.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Art and Activism

Rachel and I recently attended a conversation with photographer Zoe Strauss and singer/songwriter Steve Earle on the topic of how art (particularly within their particular genres) intersects with their political activism. Both of these fascinating characters were closely involved with the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU), who advocated for fairness for those on the welfare system in Philadelphia. Zoe in particular resonates with the struggle fought by the KWRU. if you get a chance, I suggest you look at her billboard project, or visit her blog, and you can really get a sense for what her photography shows. She shows people living in all sorts of situations; a woman smoking crack, or a naked man on a bed in a small Los Vegas apartment. She really shows the human condition as it really is. I think she said something along the lines that she shows what we don't want to see, something we tend to brush aside or overlook because it is painful or sad. She shows what is real. Both Zoe and Steve agreed that in order to fundamentally change our society, we need to stop ignoring the problems (KWRU). While Zoe worked directly to expose images of people, Steve wrote and sung to express the need to change. In both circumstances, art was the catalyst for change, exposing the weaknesses we have in our society, and highlighting the problems or needs. I believe that whatever your art may be, it is a platform and it is also an expression. You can use a painting of something whimsical or beautiful to start a conversation with someone. Whatever your medium, the purpose of the arts always should be to foster change in someone.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My great-great-grandfather.

I recently came upon a picture of my grandfather's grandfather, George Elmore Bergen. I have not found very much information on the man, and since my grandfather's passing last year I was not able to ask much about him. What I have, however, is a wonderful photograph, where I can see some family characteristics in his face, mostly his eyes and his remarkable comb-over. The older I get, the more interested I become with my family genealogy. I know there must be many stories about these people, but most are forgotten. My task now is to begin to catalogue these stories, and make them available for future generations.