Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Finding Accidental Art

As I was walking around campus today, I noticed that a bunch of trees had paint markers on them. For what, I have no idea. But I liked how they looked so I chose to use them as my "accidental art."

I think it gives each tree a little more of its own personality and identity.

The Single Story of Young Latinos

I have not served a mission. But I do attend a Spanish ward and that’s kind of the same thing. Maybe. Perhaps it really isn’t, but I have experienced a different culture and it has been great for me. So, when I had the opportunity to choose a social group for this assignment I chose Mexican American teenagers. I was shocked by what I found as to the single story of these people.

My first shock came almost immediately. I was on research step #1, and googled my subject. I was surprised when the tags that popped up before I even finished the word “teenager” implied, no, not implied, they screamed teen pregnancy. I found that these were based off of all the articles about Latino teens having the highest adolescent pregnancy rates. This, along with images and articles about crime, being involved in drug cartels, and taking drugs, did not make these teens’ single story very positive. I looked into TV shows and movies that both were based on teen Latinos and had such characters in them, and I found similar themes. A Hulu show, called East Los High, is one of these. The director said he saw, “rich stories that were just waiting to be told” about this social group. However, earlier in the article about this show was a list of these stories he mentioned, including sexuality, teen pregnancy, school, and drugs “wrapped up in time-honored soap-opera storylines revolving around cheating boyfriends, love triangles, dance competitions, and absent parents.”

I was disturbed by this negative view on these teens. I serve in the Young Womens in my ward, so I have had the opportunity to work with these kinds of kids and they do not fit with this single story. Another story of Latino culture includes the importance of family, as well as the expression of feeling. Perhaps a different take on the negative story, namely the teen pregnancy part, is that young Hispanics marry younger because of the importance of family. This may be incorrect, but I don’t think it is as incorrect as basing an entire social group’s character on a single story, and a very negative one as well.

My First Shock

Accidental Art

 A random arrangement of tiles that I certainly found interesting
 Event the shadows seemed to "cast a different light" on this assignment
 Among the shadows of the trees, you can just make out patterns of light being reflected from the construction being done on the backside of the library
Among this interesting arrangement of random tiles, you can see that someone has "chalked up" the four corners and middle of this large block

Cultural Perception

Hawaiian Pidgin Speakers

I went to my first year of college at BYU Hawaii and learned that many of the native Polynesians that live there speak a language or dialect called pidgin.  

Pidgin came about through these influences:

It’s still mostly understood as English, but it can be pretty hard to understand sometimes.  People who speak pidgin get are usually seen as pretty un-intelligent and lower class. 

Kids who speak pidgin are forced to speak regular English when they go to school to learn.  People who hear pidgin usually laugh at it and comment on how stupid a language it is.   This stereotype of stupidity also carries over to the people who speak pidgin.  They are usually made fun of in popular culture.

The message being sent out about these pidgin speakers is that they are not as intelligent as people who speak normal English.  It’s sad because this stereotype limits the opportunities they have for a real education and they usually end up being stuck on the Hawaiian Islands in poverty.

I had the opportunity to see first hand how this single story about the pidgin speakers of Hawaii is false.  I was trying to find my way from the beach back to the main highway once and I found two pidgin speakers trying to get back to the road as well.  Once we got to the road one of them had to walk a mile or two to go pick up their truck.  They offered me a ride home so I sat and waited with the other guy.  As I chatted with him I understood more and more of his pidgin.  I realized that he was a really smart, intellectual person and we had a great conversation about life.  My story of him was that he was an un-intelligent Taro (Hawaiian root) farmer or fisherman.  It was cool to see how wrong I was.

With the media and culture the way it is in Hawaii, pidgin is looked at more as a novelty or something humorous.  Many Hawaiians who speak pidgin find themselves tied down to their roots and unable to progress economically, academically, and socially. 

Creativity II: Accidental Art

I was walking home from campus today and I cut through where the soccer fields are. I was looking at the ground trying to find paint splatters or cracks in cool designs but something else caught my attention. I noticed some interesting "shadow art" that I wanted to share!

Little robots or pac-man or Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc.
6 headed monster or Medusa or my hair when I wake up in the morning...
It's amazing the kind of shapes shadows can make- even shadows from chairs and trees. There are so many things you can make out of them. These projects are definitely making me more aware of my surroundings. And more observant. And dare I say... maybe just a bit more creative!!! Yay!

From Alabama to Hollywood to the Border: Hispanic Males

Where I live in Alabama, there is a part of the city nick-named “Guadala-hoover”, which comes from the strong Hispanic population that lives there. As you drive around that area, you just might see something like this:

I remember the first time I saw a large group of Hispanic men standing on the side of the road. In my young and perplexed mind, I thought they were all homeless. My dad then explained to me that these men were waiting to get picked up for a day job, usually with construction or agriculture. This is not an uncommon vision of Hispanic males in our culture: hard, physical, dirty labor- labor only done by poor, struggling, illegal immigrants, right? So we think. Labor that causes our society to label Hispanic males as poorly educated. Not to mention being labeled with crime. And “job stealing”.

This vision of hard-working Hispanic males goes deeper as it paints a social picture of “machismo”, or manliness. They are supposed to be strong. They are the head of the household. They defend their family. They will do whatever it takes to care for the ones they love. And if you get on their bad side, you might as well be dead. That’s what the news stories tell us anyway.

As we look at Hispanic males in pop-culture, other parts of this single-story are presented.

Take a look at Enrique Iglesias: romantic and dreamy. Looks like Hispanic men can be macho AND sensitive.

Here’s another example. The dad from Spy Kids. He does whatever it takes to protect his family. And he’s got Enrique’s charm. And he even sheds a few tears! Here we start to see the emotional side of Hispanic men that Hollywood portrays.

That’s quite an interesting mold our society makes for Hispanic males- this idea of an emotional and sensitive man who performs the hard, dirty work. According to this limited social snapshot, it would be impossible to find a successful Hispanic male as the CEO of a company or with a career in law. Or as a politician. Or even a doctor or dentist. Though we know it certainly happens.

So there we have it. From Alabama to Hollywood to the US/Mexico border. As we examine the artifacts, it’s as though we are taught to stereotype ALL Hispanic males as poor, illegal immigrants who just might be romantically charming. But we all know this idea of a “single-story” doesn’t exist, no matter how much the media tries to persuade us. There is so much more to Hispanic males than our often naive and judgmental minds lead us to believe. Just as with people from every social group.

People defy social barriers every single day. It’s a beautiful thing.

Other sources analyzed:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cultural Perception

I decided to examine African American women. The main single story I found was that black women are making progress, but it’s not nearly enough. This photo is an old one, but I feel that similar stories are being circulated today about African American women.

What I mean by that is it seems that most people emphasize the discrimination still faced by African American women, often by saying it outright. This is a negative single story because it ignores all the good things that have been accomplished by black women in the United States and rather focuses on how they continue to be oppressed, which is clearly limiting.

 The damage of this single story is that it propagates a completely negative view of African American women. It depicts them as weak and unable to succeed in an intolerant society. Rather than emphasize their strengths, it holds these women to unfair ideals. After all, who can say when the anti-discriminatory progress is enough? Is it when the single story of African American women is synonymous with the single story of white women in the United States? Who makes that decision?

                What I found most interesting about my artifacts is that most of them were made/written by African American women. I thought it was fascinating that these women were promoting a single story about their own group of people. Perhaps they feel that in order to advocate change, they need to emphasize the single story to get others to see the extreme of their situation. While many of the artifacts mentioned the discrimination and oppression of black women in the United States outright (the ones produced by African American women), there were some that mostly hinted at it with context and statistics, without actually saying the words. These artifacts were the ones not produced by African American women. I also found that interesting. It almost seemed like these creators were trying to make their point without seeming discriminatory or oppressive. Either way, the single story was continuously supported, whether it was stated plainly or disguised with political correctness.

Here are the artifacts I found:


Creativity II

I chose to think of various ways to document time. Sitting in my living room, it was a bit difficult at first to think of new or creative ways to document the passage of time (especially since I can see three different clocks from where I’m sitting). I decided on three ways. First, based on the revolutions of my oscillating fan. I have it on the lowest setting, so it isn’t moving as quickly, so I know that each revolution does signify some sort of time passage. Next, I tried to document time based on my breathing. It seems simple, but it was actually kind of difficult because I tried hard not to count as I inhaled and exhaled, and just focus on my perception of time without using numbers. Finally, I documented the passage of time based on how many people walked by my window. This was probably the most difficult. Not many people walked by, and so it made time seem to go by much more slowly than the other two methods. It was an interesting experience, but I think I’ll stick with my clock. 

Creativity 1

For my project I chose to do something that I used to do as a kid unintentionally. I wrote everything inverted and backwards. I haven't written this way since I was about 5 years old so I decided to embrace my past quirkiness. I wrote this way every time I wrote something down on paper including a note I wrote to those who have weird talents like this as well. I wrote in crayon the way I would've written it if I were a kid again. I was surprised at how easily it came to me. It was a thought provoking experience that you can read about in my letter...although you may need a mirror to read it.

A creation from my 4 year old self.


Give some love, take some love.

Someone must have taken a lot of time to carve out the “provo” font on the blue railing. Why did they choose blue? Why does my mind instinctively read the negative space of “provo” rather than focusing on the blue design that surrounds it?

Who named the bike brand “Electra”? What does “electra” mean to them? How long did it take to engineer that bike? What event/person inspired the creation of that bike/company?

As for the jingle bells, well, I love this one. The jingle bells are tied around the neck of a horse statue. And yet, it was not the horse’s face or design that captured me, but these little bells! Why? Maybe they remind me of childhood Christmas jingles? Maybe because I can hear the faint sound of their jingle in my head? How were they created? What do they represent?

Why did the artist take the time to create these horses? What was the significance or importance of them?

This guy is just cool.

What is the story behind the girl statue? What is she pondering about? Why did the artist choose to close her eyes? What lead the artist to create the statue?

Alma teaches us “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).  I took the time to notice the small and simple beauties in the world around me. It was a small and simple task. Yet, great moments of meditation can come from a task so small. I loved learning how this basic assignment could turn into a spiritual experience for me! As I look back at these pictures, I am now taking the time to carefully study the objects.

Just like how we learn so much more from the scriptures when we ponder them, we can learn so much more about life and people and this beautiful world when we simply take the time to ponder certain details that we never notice in our daily routine. There is power in observation. There is power in pondering. They lend themselves to learning. As that learning grows, our curiosity is sparked and we then crave more information and more stories behind the things we learn. This process inspires creativity! In fact, there is creativity within the process itself!
Pretty nifty.

Perceptive Enough?

It's way too hot.




1) Here's one of the first things I found odd, there were four of these 3-seat benches in a little courtyard area. I can't quite put my finger on what it is that bothers me so much about this, maybe it's just the subtle fragmentation and separation from one another that it implies. Yeah it's cool and different, but I just end up asking why? Ugh
2) Here's another example of something that bothers me for no legitimate reason, but doesn't make any sense. Why did they break the 2 sections of garden? There's no practical reason to have to walk through there.
3) Found this in a back alley somewhere. Thoughtfully placed, it's proof you can hide bits of humor wherever you want, somebody will eventually see it, and appreciate it all the more for its discrete placement.
4) The picture didn't upload sharp enough to see very well, but this building caught my attention, because it demonstrated the new being built on top of the old. This looked like one of the older buildings I'd seen around Provo, but the new construction on top of it was strikingly modern which gave it a really interesting contrast.
5) Another thing that just bothered me, the top points were different lengths and different styles, and I couldn't figure out why. The store underneath it didn't seem to sell roofs or anything like that so it didn't seem to be displaying different merchandise options. I dunno...


Although this picture doesn't do it justice, my creative moment this weekend was so good.
I went home to Southern CA this weekend for a wedding, and on Sunday night, 
my family turned the fire on in the backyard and roasted marshmallows.
I wasn't really in the mood for something sweet, so I thought I would try something different. 

My family has a small garden in the backyard where they just harvested tomatoes, squash, etc.
I decided to put a tomato from the garden on the skewer instead of a marshmallow.
Once the tomato looked cooked through, I cut it open, sprinkled some salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese, and ate it on a piece of toast. 

It was so, so good. 


For my exercise in creativity I decided to play lava monster in the front room of my apartment instead of traveling through it as a pedestrian. It brought some interesting reactions from my roommates and brought back memories of hours spent on elementary school jungle gyms and playgrounds. This brought a new perspective to me of the space I live in. I now view the couch as "springy", the chair as "hard" and the floor as "fire" that I want to avoid. Luckily, nothing was broken and it helped me to relive some great memories from my childhood.

Walking through Provo was an interesting thought provoking experience. I began on center street and tried my best to see my local world with new eyes. I was surprised at first to realize I had never paid attention at all to the large statue outside of the nu skin building. With children holding hands around the world- it reminded me of how I want to live my summer- with a child like joy and eagerness for discovering the world around me. It helped me see how we often overlook what is obvious and common place. 
Next I found a small eating area between two buildings- an urban kitchen I thought to myself- turns out it was an outdoor seating area for sensuous sandwich restaurant. The coolest part of my discovery was somewhat strategic- I went into one of the main buildings below an upper office room where I had once done an internship and found some local Provo items such as a detailed non geographical map of Provos subdivisions and a rocking horse. The rocking horse to me brought back memories of one of the greatest Christmas presents I had received and all the joy that came with it. No one was around and I was tempted to take a ride myself in the empty restaurant. But the discovery definitely helped me realize that all around us are memories of the people we have been and the things that have formed our view of the world. Lastly I found flowers outside a hotel on a side street I had never been down. It reminded me of an urban beautification project I saw in the city of Pittsburgh just a few weeks ago that sponsored the creation of local gardens that helped establish a community identity.
Lastly was a map of Provo that highlighted neighborhoods over streets and specific locations. I thought this was a good local perspective on how we view this local world. 


I have been in this part of Provo so many times, but haven't quite
paid this much attention to the details.
For example, Center Street has so much character, provided by the small and artistic details that give the road so much personality and making it a fun place to visit. 

One thing that really stuck out to me were the small statues along Center Street.
Why have I never noticed them before? It caught me a little by surprise. 
There were two smaller statues accompanied with description plaques outside the restaurants that I had never paid attention to before.

I also began to notice the little things such as string lights that were running across the crosswalks.
Also, a few of the restaurants such as India Palace (a personal favorite) had both the American Flag as well as the flag go their country as well, which I thought was kinda cool.
There were also other details such as old-fashioned mailboxes and flower baskets all along the street, which add so much more than we probably even notice. 

It was nice to take a moment and really look at my surrounding and take everything in. I'm not realizing how much I don't do this because I'm always rushing. 

My Perception

It is an interesting feeling to go and look at something familiar and discover elements of the unfamiliar. That is what I experienced when I took a walk around Center Street one evening. I live one block away, so the street is very familiar to me, but this time I was determined to see things I've never seen before. It didn't take much effort, I found. Everything could be seen in a different way, even if it is the shadow of a tree against a wall instead of the tree itself, or the reflection of the temple in windows in place of the actual building. In these ways, it was possible to make these familiar things seem new and exciting. Here are some pictures of the new things I saw: