Friday, December 4, 2009

Current Work

These are large pieces, probably will be hung like scrolls. Mixed media on white drawing paper. Hope to experiment soon with different surfaces, maybe linen, to appear more as a textile. Third pictured is in progress.

ArtLab at Spiva

Another great round of ArtLab! Seven area art teachers brought one or two of their students to make art together. We studied pieces from Spiva's permanent collection that had to do with "place", then we did some studies, postcards to mail to donors to say thanks, and some writing exercises about a sense of place. Then the teachers and students traced one another, drew an element from the permanent collection over their heart, and filled their silhouettes with many mediums before installing them on the art center walls. Pictured here are two of the youngest, a first grader and a second grader.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Birthday Rumpus

Happy 38th Birthday to Aunt JoJo. What better way to celebrate than with the boys. Let the wild rumpus start! I'll eat them up I love them so...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Budding Artist

This is Emma. She's 6.
Her artist statement for this piece she made: Beauty is color. Emma's grandma, Maggie, sent me this photo and thanked me for an art-filled evening with Emma this past July. Emma and Maggie are special ladies. It was an honor to make art with them in community. Here are photos of many of us that evening, including Emma, in the groove:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh No They Didn't

You must check this out. Truth surely is stranger than fiction.

Here is their disclaimer:
Don’t get us wrong. We like crafts.

We just don’t like these crafts.

Yes, we know these people put their hearts into it. We know it took hours and hours. We know how mean it is to laugh at their creations. And we regret being the only web site on the internet that makes fun of things.

But what can we do? We’re immature.

Besides, art is totally subjective. Who cares what we think? I barely care and I’m writing this.

Listen, if you like something you see here, don’t argue with us, go and buy it. Seriously. Click on any photo and you’ll be taken to the seller’s store. We’re only too glad to have made the introduction.

Otherwise, we’re just going to sit here and look at the amputee kitten paintings and vulva earrings and laugh so hard that we pee in our reusable Pokemon pads.

- The Regretsy team

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh, Canada

So, I am teaching a freshman orientation class this semester. Part of the class is supposed to cover our international mission, a themed semester, and this time it's Canada. Historically, Canada's First Peoples carved stunning totem poles that represented a tribe's values and belief system. The group project I assigned was to present Canada historically, and to actually make and document the making of a totem pole. It had to be three feet tall minimum, and they could use any materials they wanted. Well, totally awesome theater major, Hunter, went above and beyond. This kid needs to be on Project Runway. I am so proud of him. This is why I teach. The video is about three minutes, and documents the purchasing of materials and then the making of the totem. Note, the eagle represents America, the lion MSSU, and the other three figures are the students in the group, including Hunter himself. The totem pole currently resides in MSSU's administration building, where I was told three years ago I couldn't install art in, because "that's what the art department is for, right?" They seem to have no problem with fuzzy animals with googly eyes. Yay, Hunter!

Monday, September 28, 2009

ISM Self Portraits in Art Theory

So one of my favorite assignments to give is a short powerpoint in Art Theory class covering one of the ISMs of art history, from Classicism through Cubism all the way to Performance and Installation. The last slide must be a self-portrait in the style of their ISM. These are a few of the more memorable ones:

Rebekah's self-portrait in pencil emulating Realism
Scott's self-portrait in gold bond powder (seriously) emulating Gothic art, tongue-in-cheek.
Chrystal's self-portrait photo-collage (that's really her body) emulating Feminist Art, and the Guerrilla Girls in particular.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Veggie Sculptures at the Farmers Market

Had a silly Saturday morning cutting up veggies and showing kids how to stick the pieces together with toothpicks. Parents got into it just as much as the kids; I told them to brush some olive oil on the sculptures and slap them on the grill. The event was Arts in the Park, coordinated superbly by Eileen at the Webb City Farmers Market. I was representing Spiva Center for the Arts. Okra is sticky. Bitter melon looks like a spiny cucumber. Little eggplants make great heads. Slice tiny radishes and you have eyeballs. Good, healthy fun.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Work

Cloisters, 8"x8". Acrylic and collage on panel.
Feels good to do these tight small paintings. Started this series in grad school and keep going back to this process. As I start to do large, more physically demanding and colorful work, I sit down to the making of these. To me they are restful and meditative and puzzling and mysterious all at the same time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Deep Thoughts from Deep Students

Hello my name is :::::: and I am taking your online art class this Fall. I am a Junior, and an English major. I would qualify as a cool book nerd who is very eccentric and a little crazy, in a good way. I love art and kinda wish, after seeing who you are, that I would have taken your class on campus. But, hey, online classes tend to be even better in communication because you have no other choice but to openly communicate or it will not work. I really enjoyed your blog. I just love the idea of a blog because its the perfect forum for artists to be free and express themselves however they desire. Your blog is eclectic, creative, and very open and free. I enjoyed it. You seem like someone who belongs in a city that is bigger than Joplin. I don't know, like St.Louis or Chicago. Somewhere a bit bigger. I did not know we had non-stuffy and pretty funky art professors on campus. Or at least one on campus.

An Art Theory student: You remind me of myself, you said in class you won't ever talk over our heads, because your vocabulary is limited, your writing says otherwise. You know how after meeting anyone you've ever met there's always that short time period afterward, that time of contemplation, trying to decide whether or not they are someone you would want to see or talk to again? More directly; when you meet your teachers for the first time and most of them are just... whatever. Well, I like you, what I've read about you, your deep, caring, and just genuinely down to earth. The "common object" piece you wrote is especially interesting to me, you think about things, as many "artists" do, things that to an average human being, mean absolutely nothing. I really enjoy your outlook and open-mindedness towards life and things and people. I can't wait to learn more :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August at the Leedy-Voulkos in KC

A shot of my work at the Leedy-Voulkos. I haven't even seen it up yet! Holly, it looks great. You are so good at what you do. Can't wait to see it in person. Special thanks for artist Jenn Jarnot for going to the show and sending me the photos! It takes a village, ladies.

The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist

From the Guerrilla Girls, The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist:

Working without the pressure of success.
Not having to be in shows with men.
Having an escape from the art world in your 4 free-lance jobs.
Knowing your career might pick up after you're eighty.
Being reassured that whatever kind of art you make it will be labeled feminine.
Not being stuck in a tenured teaching position.
Seeing your ideas live on in the work of others.
Having the opportunity to choose between career and motherhood.
Not having to choke on those big cigars or paint in Italian suits.
Having more time to work after your mate dumps you for someone younger.
Being included in revised versions of art history.
Not having to undergo the embarrassment of being called a genius.
Getting your picture in the art magazines wearing a gorilla suit.

The Studio in NYC 2005

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Room of My Own

I love my studio. It feels timeless and placeless. I need that right now. I make things and think about things there. I plan and prepare there. I am reminded of Virginia Woolf:

A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf, is a mighty proposition for women's independence in creative endeavors. While the innovation and courage found in the writing may be lost on today's readers, the profundity of her work is best seen through the cultural and historical lens of 1929. At that time, women were not allowed into particular universities and libraries--let alone given the opportunity to express themselves creatively.

"Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others."

"No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself."

A Room of One's Own is a classic text of the feminist movement. It is an expanded treatment of issues that Woolf presented in two essays she read to audiences at women's colleges in 1928. While the book is focused on women and fiction, its ideas and discussions overlap with larger questions pertinent to women's history.

At the center of the book is its famous thesis, which is echoed in the book's title. In asserting that a woman needs a room of her own to write, Woolf addresses both a historical and a contemporary question regarding women's art and their social status. The historical question is why there have been few great women writers. The contemporary question is how the number of women writers can increase. Woolf's answer—this matter of a room of one's own—is known as a "materialist" answer. That is, Woolf says that there have been few great women in history because material circumstances limited women's lives and achievements. Because women were not educated and were not allowed to control wealth, they necessarily led lives that were less publicly significant than those of men. Until these material limitations are overcome, women will continue to achieve, publicly, less than men. Woolf's materialist thesis implicitly contests notions that women's inferior social status is a natural outcome of biological inferiority. While most people now accept the materialist position, in Woolf's time, such arguments still had to be put forward with conviction and force.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Foodie Revolution

Three things have aligned for me in the past few weeks to change my life, my health, my time, my entire food paradigm. This is big. Maybe, even I eventually won't be as much so. But that's not my motivation. It's for my food to taste good, to support the local economy, and to rethink how I've been living for the past 38 years. To take time and consideration with the most vital routine of the day, eating. Here are the three things:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
I've always been a fan of her fiction, but this book has taught me more in one reading than any cookbook or how-to book I've ever read. Next up is In Defense of Food, I have high hopes for that one as a companion read.

The Webb City Farmer's Market
I have never shopped from one in my life until now. Link to the blog is on my blog list. On Saturday mornings, they have a hot breakfast. Also, local live music. Not exactly hip, but authentic to the area for sure. The book above has great seasonal recipes to help me figure out how to cook this fresh produce.

A Food Processor
Seriously. Pesto, guacamole, tapenade, dressings. Where has this little machine been all of my life? This stuff in jars at the store is not fresh and much more expensive. I know I won't be happy the first time I slice my fingers washing the blade, but it's worth the risk.

What I've made just today, with mostly local produce, and jazz blaring and my dog looking up at me extremely confused:

Blackberry Peach Crisp
Basil Pesto
Carmelized Onions
Pizza with dough from scratch
Potato Cucumber salad, no mayo and loaded with fresh herbs and balsamic. Come on!

Haven't sampled it all yet, it's mostly marinating. But very shortly...yum! I know the eventual challenge will be having to work again. Uh, oh yeah, that professoring thing. But at some point I also want to learn how to make batches, freeze things. I'm on my way!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Banksy in Africa

He's clever. He's anonymous. He's hugely popular. He's not even for sure a he. Now he travels.
Read more about it:

Monday, June 29, 2009

I am a Work in Progress

What a productive and inspirational year at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy in Springfield. I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it after my fourth year of being a visual arts instructor. These students are from all over the state of Missouri. These students are art stars. These students are brilliant. These students are leaders. It was a complete honor to teach and learn alongside of each one.

Monday, May 25, 2009

From Joplin to Brooklyn

Such an honor to show these fantastic women around NYC. They plunged in at every turn. The Met, the MoMA, the food, the sites, the subways, the throngs of people, the blistered feet. This was just outside the Brooklyn Museum, where we got to experience Judy Chicago's Dinner Party as a group of important women ourselves.

I dedicate these words of Audrey Flack to them: "Art is a calling. Artists are not discovered in school. Artists do not just paint for themselves, and they don't simply paint for an audience. They paint because they have to. There is something within the artist that has to be expressed. Every creation reveals something more about the universe and about the artist. Some artists surface earlier than others, but all are born to the calling. We share a common language and a common love our masters, and although we often take issue with one another, we are all family."

To Kat, a Young Artist

Kat was recently one of my students. I just spent a week with her in NYC. The above is from her magnificent journal. She is an artist. The following is a letter from Elizabeth Murray, a great painter recently passed:

Dear Young Artist:

I became a painter because I went to a school that was in a great museum. Walking to class, I started to see the paintings, quietly waiting to be seen. They penetrated and I realized I wanted to make paintings as intense and moving as those on the wall. I had wanted to be a commercial artist. Instead, I started trying to paint. Here are some suggestions as you begin your career:

Stay in touch with your original motivation to become an artist--and be aware that it is always a process of becoming. You have to stay light on your feet. It is about change and transformation. You are the boss of that but you don't have total control. Good to give into that. Making art requires a lot of isolation, but I realized over time that I also wanted a whole life, that I could still do my work and have a partner and a family. So have a life. Art making fits in well.

Showing your work--eventually selling your work--is not evil, and it is a natural process. You are not selling your soul, you are earning a living, and you don't have to do anything your feel is wrong. If you make some money and get attention for what you have done, your friends may be envious. Forgive them--you'll have those feelings, too. Only human.

The art world seems to conjure up a lot of nonsense right now and seems to be only about friends, money, and fame. Try to stay focused and centered in what you want in your work, keeping in mind that your art is about describing your spirit and your life force makes the work better.

Good luck. You are already succeeding just by attempting.

Elizabeth Murray
New York

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Guns, Roses

This is an elementary education major's collage. It's part of her visual diary, an assignment I give mostly non-artists to document what is visually stimulating to them over the semester. How precious: butterflies, puppies, sunflowers, ducklings, bears, bunnies......GUNS??!! The cow is not jumping over the moon, it's jumping over the GUN STORE??!! Where I'm from this would call for an intervention or at least a photocopy to the staff psychologist. But this is typical of where I live. The second amendment is sacrosanct. Disturbingly, I saw more guns in the visual diaries this semester than even crosses.

Red and Yellow Black and White

I just adore this. One of my sweet and brilliant art education majors, Jennifer C, made this in 2D design class. She likes kids. Wants to teach them art. I have so many associations with this. sunday school, felt noahs and animals two-by-two on the equally-itchy felt board. Vanilla wafers and apple juice. It reminds me of the vacation bible school song that is so out of style semantically: Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Uh Oh, Green Thumb

Bought plants, planted plants, photographed plants, drew plants from life. Plants from my deck. Plants in my ground. Drew them while talking to my 88 year old Grandma on the phone. She's been snipping, clipping, digging, watering her entire life. I told her I finally get it, this planting thing. I feel like I'm on the verge of something huge; things in my life are being pruned, I'm turning over a new leaf, I'm getting my hands dirty, I'm growing. Now all of those garden metaphors make sense! Yesterday the trees in my yard had fuzzy pollen tips; today they are leaves. Bravo, spring.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts Enough

"There's words enough, paint and brushes enough and thoughts enough. The whole difficulty seems to be getting the thoughts clear enough, making them stand still long enough to be fitted with words and paint. They are so elusive--like wild birds singing above your head, twittering close beside you, chortling in front of you, but gone the moment you put out a hand. If ever you do catch hold of a piece of a thought it breaks away leaving the piece in your hand just to aggravate you. If one only could encompass the whole, corral it, enclose it safe--but then maybe it would die, dwindle away because it could not go on growing. I don't think thoughts could stand still--the fringes of them would always be tangling into something just a little further on and that would draw it out and out. I guess that is just why it is so difficult to catch a complete idea--it's because everything is always on the move, always expanding."

Emily Carr, October 1936

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ArtLab Week 4

Today, our last session was called The Village. Teachers and students met at Spiva. Using drawings from the image bank, they created wall drawings using electrical tape, installed in atypical spaces around the Center. Each team worked collaboratively to design and create a piece. The ArtLab was well-received, and the artists far exceeded my expectations. Congrats!


Anne-Marie Gailey, Carl Junction, teacher 4-5
Anna, grade 5
Angie Helm, Carl Junction, teacher K-1 and 6
Madison, grade 6
Elizabeth Cosby, Carl Junction, teacher 7-8
Brent, grade 7
Antonia Ferlo, Carl Junction, teacher 9-12
Kaelynn, grade 10
Nellie Mitchell, Webb City, teacher K-4
Amber Mintert, Webb City, teacher 9-12
Natalie, Webb City, grade 11
Kathryn, Webb City, grade 12
Gia, Webb City, grade 12
Cole, Webb City, grade 11
Ronda Denton, Carl Junction, teacher 2-3
Amber, Carl Junction, grade 3
Sydney, Carl Junction, grade 3

Monday, April 20, 2009

ArtLab Week 3

Teachers and students meet again at Spiva to make Symbolic Totems. Using drawings from the image bank, they created a totem of symbols cut from black construction paper and installed in atypical spaces around the Center. Each teacher/student team worked collaboratively to create and install the pieces.

The director of the art center came back to lock up the building just after we all left. She called me, laughing and shrieking with joy. In all, 6 installations went up, mostly on the second floor.

Participants agreed that I may document, publish, and promote the work. Lesson plans and photo documentation will be created for each session as well as instructional objectives that reflect national art standards and state grade level expectations. Documentation will be provided via CD to participating teachers. There will be a formal assessment of the program by all participants.

ArtLab Week 2

This week, teachers and students met at Spiva Center for the Arts. Using drawings from the image bank of drawings made week one, they create a mixed-media mandala on 18x24 watercolor paper. Each teacher /student team worked collaboratively to create a piece.

7 area art teachers have been coming with 1-2 of their most promising art students. Each lab session lasts 2 hours. Required commitment to all four sessions by the art teacher, students may rotate. There are no fees. Participating institutions are the MSSU Spiva Art Gallery and the George A Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin, Missouri. Supplies were provided by the Missouri Fine Arts Academy.

ArtLab Week One

ArtLab is a professional development opportunity for Joplin-area public art teachers. I created this workshop in response to the lack of unique, collaborative art education programs in the area. It's going well, and I might publish it somehow.

The mission is to explore art beyond the classroom with my community.

K-12 art teachers make non-traditional art in non-school settings alongside and in cooperation with 1-2 of their own classroom students. The lessons were developed during the Missouri Fine Arts Academy for high school students, but have been adapted for K-12. These sessions provide outcomes that include hands-on learning for the art teacher, an intentional mentoring opportunity for 1-2 of their students, networking between art teachers, and a high degree of motivation for their field that is not provided in their current district professional development framework.

This first week, teachers and students came to MSSU gallery and drew from the African art collection. The goal was to collect a series of drawings to use as content for later sessions. This exposes the collection to the public and utilizes the MSSU gallery as a learning space.

Hot House Flowers

Had a sweet afternoon between thunderstorms at Alexandria's nursery just outside Carthage. What a needed moment; so much prettiness, growth, smell of dirt, relaxed bodies, helpful and knowledgeable gardeners. My nephew got his hands in it, feeling...and tasting. Started planting today. I can't believe I haven't worked on my greenthumb earlier in life. Happy Earth Day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


The boundaries being tested today by dialogue are not just ‘racial’ and national. They are also those of gender and class, of value and belief systems, of religion and politics. The borderlands are porous, restless, often incoherent territory, virtual minefields of unknowns for both practitioners and theoreticians. 1

Kansas City as a Child: nurturing public schools, comfortable middle class family values, so much love, so much potential, so much encouragement, Grandma’s depression pantry of canned goods and plastic containers, her basement salon hung with paint-by-numbers of eagles, the American flag, and log cabins in far-off Colorado.

Kansas City as an Adult: segregation, not-for-profit mostly Caucasian Kansas-dwelling young naive women busting their asses for at-risk members of society, namely black kids, writing in coffee shops, human resources corporate lackey, bad schools, loss, near death, vision, movement.

Kenya: exotic, complicated, devastating, addictive, motherland, artistic renaissance, heartbreak, orphans, corruption, exhaustion, service, family, burning garbage, unfenced lions, tusker, dancing around the fire, samosas, traffic jams, hard rains, crusty dust, mangoes, pineapples, hope.

New York City: everyone is an artist and everyone is a Democrat and everyone has white wires coming out of their ears. Crying fit in the middle of Williamsburg at rush hour and no one chooses to notice because they are moving fast so fast. Feeling the pulse of the city pound in your inner ear.

Joplin: Gun racks and fetus billboards and precious moments and praying hands and poor white people with bad teeth and strip malls and local commercials depicting the owner’s entire family standing silently trying to hold a forced smile and get your business, married at eighteen, kids by twenty.

How to mesh, congeal, digest these porous borders, the reality of my geographies? When I overlay and juxtapose the images of my geographies, what is new? At the borders of the layers…is there a fence, a canyon, a line drawn in the dirt? At the borderlands…do I even know I’m there? Have I created an imaginary map, drawn my own lines because I can, because I need to draw the lines? I’m not inclined to plant the flag, stake out my territory, lay down the law. But I must explore, expand, express, experience, expound.

I want to be recognized for the force with which I can explore
the limits of my identities, the ends of my institutions.
I want to be valued for the amnesia of my history,
The contingency of my cultures,
The silence of my languages,
The boundaries of my body,
The miasma of my memories—
And in that reach beyond,
I want to touch your histories and silences,
Configure our cultural confusions,
Meld memories of what remains untranslatable
But no less telling. 2

1 Lucy Lippard, Mixed Blessings, New Art in a Multicultural America (New York: The New Press, 1990), 6.

2 Homi K Bhabha, “Beyond the Pale: Art in the Age of Multicultural Translation”, in 1993 Biennial Exhibition (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1993), 72.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Neck Up

Spring break is almost over. I'm in total denial. It's been mostly about maintenance. I'm better at start-up. Monday was the dentist. I adore my dentist. Julia Skidmore, ADC of Joplin. She fixed my front tooth. In and out. Fantastic. Tuesday was weirder. New salon. Mind you, I get my hair "cut" about twice a year, and rarely get it "done". Had it dyed, lighter. Highlights. Exciting. I'm an artist. I get into the color thing now. As I was tipped back awkwardly at the rinse station waiting for the dye to kick in, my stylist asked if she could wax my eyebrows. Sure, what the hell. Four quick rips later, I had sculpted brows. I kind of like them. Then, back to the chair for the cut. This was quick and painless. Then the get it "done" part started. I was clear with my stylist that this was now the part where I usually walk out the door: wet head, a bit of gel tousled in, finger comb, done. But she proclaimed that this is the part where she has fun, so I let her. Four products, hair dryer, two combs and two sizes of curling irons later, this was the result. Way too much effort. But fun to watch a fellow artist at work on my neck up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This is ART

Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven't seen this yet, you're silly. See it on the silver screen in all it's splendor; don't wait for the DVD. Hurry. I've always loved movies. Good ones. Ones that make me feel and think, by showing me and telling me simultaneously. Not until I took a cinema class in grad school did I realize that good cinema IS good art. A great movie is the best of all the arts rolled into one package: sound, movement, words, pictures, narrative, metaphor, meaning. You walk away somehow changed, hopefully challenged. This movie did that for me. I've been to the slums, the slums in Kenya. But slums are slums. One of the first scenes takes you on a chase. You're running with the kids through the maze of Mumbai's slum. You feel the chaos of the maze, the stops and starts, the density, the claustrophobia. I could almost smell it. The kids are darling, of course. Kids are kids. But they are survivors, and have to make difficult decisions in order to breathe. The shot above is the young Indian actor that plays the main character Jamal as a kid. What you don't see in this shot is that he is sitting in a public latrine, one that is at the end of a plank, a pier of sorts, and he is dangling his young ass over a hole in the planks that drops several feet into a communal pile of shit. And you don't see the next scene, where Jamal realizes he is locked in and has to make a decision.

The movie is ultimately a love story, so says the brilliant director Danny Boyle. But it is not that simple. It is layered, it hits on all the themes of humanity, just in an unexposed setting to many Westerners, so it feels raw and new. I bawled while the credits roled. And if you know me, you know I don't cry easily. I think I cried for the kids; for the Kenyan orphans my organization and family are trying to help. I cried for my own blinders, my own creature comforts that allow me to turn off the images of the slums. The ending of Slumdog Millionaire may be a bit Hollywood and a bit Bollywood, but it is no Cinderella story. It's rough. Go see it. Hurry.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hate finds a home in the Ozarks

A little piece of history. This is where I live.
Photograph shot down the block.

Hate finds a home in the Ozarks
The Joplin Globe/January 2001
By Andy Ostmeyer

'Whitewash' There is something else that groups with racist and separatist beliefs are seeking: areas that Potok characterized as "very white." Noble agreed, but noted that for members of his group, the anti-Semitic and racist beliefs came after they moved to the compound to prepare for the end. But he said the Ozarks is a natural for groups with like-minded views. "People who do want to get out of the cities, part of what they are looking for is more whiteness," he said. Today, the Ozarks is an "exceedingly 'white' place," in the words of Jeffrey Nash, head of the department of sociology and anthropology at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. Springfield, the Ozarks' largest city, is 3 percent black today; other cities are less so. However, at the end of the 19th century, some parts of the region had a much larger black population. Many historians think the black population was around 10 percent, although one census estimate put it as high as 25 percent in 1878. In Joplin, blacks were among those attracted by the mining boom, and some blacks rose to own mine property. According to Joplin historian Gail Renner, "Some amassed considerable wealth." In Springfield, according to Nash, blacks owned the largest grocery store and held a seat on the school board. Despite that, racial prejudice simmering just below the surface bubbled up in blood at the turn of the century with lynchings in Pierce City, Joplin and Springfield. In 1903 in Joplin, a black man accused of shooting a police officer was dragged from his cell and hanged from a telephone pole at Second Street and Wall Avenue. That night, a mob burned the homes of other black residents. When firefighters arrived, their hoses were slashed. According to Renner, "The next morning, many blacks packed their belongings and left by train. About 100 black families fled." A similar episode erupted on Easter Sunday in 1906, when three innocent blacks accused of assaulting a white woman were lynched on Springfield's public square. A mob of 5,000 people threatened further violence and destruction, but the governor sent in troops to stop the mob. Several hundred blacks in Springfield fled for St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, Tenn., and Tulsa, Okla., according to historian and Springfield resident Mary Newland Clary. She has heard the term "whitewash" used to describe what happened. "Springfield experienced, along with the rest of the region, a diaspora of African-Americans," Nash said. The following decades witnessed an outburst of Klan activity, including a rally attended by 1,500 hooded Klansmen in 1921 at Schifferdecker Park in Joplin. Freeman Hospital was built, in part, with a donation of $10,086 made by the Klan, whose robed members received a standing ovation. And Joplin's Connor Hotel, the city's symbol of cultural elegance, displayed a rooftop KKK sign during a rally in 1923 that attracted 1,300 marchers. In Springfield, Klan members gathered at a cave that later became known as Fantastic Caverns, which is a popular tourist attraction today. At the same time, industrializing cities were looking for cheap labor, providing other reasons for blacks to move to larger cities. The result was a decline in numbers and in clout for the black community, which at one time had one-third of the registered voters in Greene County. Although many whites in the Ozarks organized to defend minorities and combat the Klan, the ultimate effect was "race homogenization," according to Nash, resulting in that "exceedingly white place." Therein lies part of the region's appeal. "I feel certain that the absence of African-Americans and Jews would be a major predisposing factor" in picking locations, said Michael Barkun, a professor of political science at Syracuse University and an expert on the Christian Identity movement.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Art Opening at Global Fayre in Springfield

Springfield's First Friday Artwalk is a happening event. The Crump's own Global Fayre, a beautiful fair trade shop that I knew would be a great space for my work to hang. They helped me hang and even fixed me some tea since I've been sick this week. Gracious hosts. The opening was festive and just fun. There was a local reggae singer and several friends from Springfield, Joplin, and even Kansas City. I feel good about the work. It's important that I practice what I preach. The show is up til the end of the month.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

“The boundaries being tested today by dialogue are not just ‘racial’ and national. They are also those of gender and class, of value and belief systems, of religion and politics. The borderlands are porous, restless, often incoherent territory, virtual minefields of unknowns for both practitioners and theoreticians.”

Lucy Lippard, Mixed Blessings, p6 1990

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thank You, Mira

This past week has been historical. It brings to mind how I have evolved, the opportunities I have seized, the teachers in my life. Mira Schor was my instructor at Parsons School of Design. The first few months I'm sure she thought I was a crazy christian country bumpkin. But I went to every show she recommended, every speaker, I wrote like crazy and tuned into every bit of wisdom she had to offer. I came into her class green to the power and recent history of art. I left empowered to contribute my own voice. Mira is a gifted writer, artist and teacher. She said, "My writing is an excuse and a vehicle for my own education". This is how I want to approach writing alongside my art-making. I recently re-listened to a great talk she gave at SVA in 2006 called The Art of Nonconformist Criticality, Or, On Not Drinking the Kool-aid. Any aspiring artist and/or writer should drink this up. It can be found here:

Thanks, Mira. I'm doing it because I saw you doing it.