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Values Awakened

[March 28, 2012, I wrote… ] To take care of those we care about. That’s what we want. I know this to my core. Yet, growing up (my twenties and younger), it’s as if no one I knew talked about this. All I heard was Left v. Right. Conservative v. Progressive. Democrat v. Republican. No one, except college professors, talked about how the terms can be interchangeable and that there are no longer hard and fast definitions. We went to school. We went to work. We did our homework, our jobs, we played our sports, and we talked about who we had a crush on our silly jokes. A few friends and I were concerned with the environment and curious about government, but although we might have learned the rote mechanics — we didn’t talk about what we believed. We didn’t talk about our core values.

This is the final visual of my personal values.

[Today] Six years later, I have defined and redefined my values with the help of a local business consultant, Michelle Gay. When I wrote this post, I was noticing that our labels don’t work and our society is shifting, sometimes uncomfortably. Something I have noticed for a long time now is that we need to come together and retell our stories. We need to rehash what is important to us, and what we hope for. Assessing our values, together, is one way of doing that.

Michelle argues that before you bring your values to your business or to a group, you should get in touch with who you are first. She has started opening up her values exercise to the masses, with the first such workshop held at the beginning of June. I have now taken a look at my values three times with Michelle. Watching her evolution of teaching this workshop is remarkable. It started as a sit-down, reflect activity – which I found very beneficial. Michelle likes kinetic moving, though, and she had to move it up to the wall, so she did. In a few hours, with guided steps, participants dig deep in their values, writing, pasting, and tearing down. Then, we defined what those words meant. I often write “love” or “heart-centered”, and each time I carve away at the definition a little more – so even my own two definitions aren’t alike!

Michelle argues we must define these words we use so we can have a better chance at understanding where people come from. The exercise does not stop at defining the terms, however. Next, she pushes us to consider how we lead with these values, writing down three different ways for each defined value. We finish with a power statement. (See one of my power poses above.)

After three times of doing this, I am working on owning: I am a lioness. For more about my values, click here for personal and here for business.

This is the final visual of my business values.
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A Day in the Life of….

We went to Hopworks for dinner tonight. Yum.

The Basic Burger & Fries
The Basic Burger & Fries
Levi enjoying his fries
Levi enjoying his fries

I went for a walk at work. I discovered a new sculpture in a park I’d never been.

Lunchtime Exploring
Lunchtime Exploring

Peter bought a big wrench.

Levi & The Big Wrench
Levi & The Big Wrench

We discovered Walgreen’s has a car charger.

Walgreen's Goes Electric
Walgreen's Goes Electric
Walgreen's Goes Electric
Walgreen's Goes Electric
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The Return of Tactile

Sandwich Bread
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I love making bread. I’ve desribed the sounds it makes, I show pictures often, all because I love it. I love the feel. I love the progress, the transgression, the change. I love watching how this soupy, frothy liquid turns into this solid, dusty dough. I love the smell it emits in my kitchen. I love cutting into a fresh loaf and as the first slice falls with the sawing of the knife, the huge plume of steam that poofs out of the loaf. I love taking a pat of butter and smoothing it over that first slice and watching it melt faster than I can spread. I love experiementing with different ingreidents and noting how it changes the texture and taste. I love making bread.

When people ask me if I use a bread machine, I (sometimes smugly) boast, “I am the bread machine.” I learned from my mistakes. I created this thing my family actually wants to eat and asks for it. It is an amazing sense of success in this world of convenience.

Sandwich Bread
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

We have dinners we buy on demand, get delivered, or put into an instant heating appliance (microwave). Our movies and music are found wherever we go on our laptops, desktops, and smartphones. We buy oodles of cheap clothing to last weeks without doing the wash. It doesn’t stop there. The art we appreciate is also affected. We cut corners on the sound we listen to and movies we watch because most of us don’t have the appreciation for the range. We use computer graphics to convey meaning instead of drawing a smiley face on our own. We live in a world of convienence.

An argument against CDs and other digital audio is often touted with the loss of art. A coworker reminded me, today, of the fanfare collecting album art used to have. Today, the cover of a CD is more often (it seems) a stylized vision of the artist. What happened to something great and exotic by, say, David Bowie?

I grew up on store bought, white bread. It was pulling teeth to convince my mother to try whole wheat. That was years before you could get sprouted wheat, seed filled alternatives. When we visited my grandmother, we aways had her homemade bread. In my twenties, I was surrounded by people who wanted to return to learning how to do things. We made beer. We made soap. We cooked lots of home cooked meals. And, one friend had a “how to book” on bread making. I remembered how to knead from all the times I had watched my grandmother and father. Getting the ingredients to work in a joyous combination has taken more time. But, what my family and I have found is that we don’t desire the convenient store bought bread. We crave my filling, flavor filled bread.

Sound and video are similar. In varied populations, the tactile is returning. Analog is making a comeback, if you will. Some die hard record enthusiasts always knew it would. The range of sound, the little things only analog can pick up spikes a purity and appreciation of the art that digital simply cannot compare. With how fast CDs erupted and morphed into DVDs and online sharing, with the resurgence in analog appreciation — I am very curious how our convenient future will look.

French Bread with Garlic
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

It seems with every push on the pendulum to be convenient there is an equal resistance, and equal push back. This push back says, “Remember what it was like to create!” This push back reminds us of the importance of touching the paint that creates the image that is later copied onto an album. The push back reminds us of sitting around the record player listening to the scratch and wine as the next melody is queued. The push back reminds us to appreciate the dusty dough as it turns into nourishing bread. I love this return to the tactile.

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Ingres: Critiques and Line

Michelle Lasley | Art History 481: Prof. Lee Stewart

Born in 1780, Ingres came into a world rife with conflict and revolution. Trained in the school of neo-classicism, Ingres is known for using his own system for the art he created. In addition, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the eldest of seven children1, maintained a childlike hypersensitivity2 that would provide him the motivation to quit the Salon and the French Academy and move to Rome after much criticism over his painting The Martyrdom of St. Symphorien (Image 1). Andrew C. Shelton, in his thorough review, describes how the conflict surrounding St. Symphorien is less about Ingres’ technique and more about the politics of the time. In this paper, I will argue that Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres is more concerned with maintaining his style and securing commissions than in fully participating in contemporary politics.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was commissioned to paint The Martyrdom of St. Symphorien in 1824 after his Vow of Louis XIV was shown at the Salon of the same year. Monseigneur Roch-Étienne de Vichy, the Bishop of Autun requested that Ingres paint the martyr at the most dramatic moment preceding his death, outlining seven points in which he required Ingres to follow. Although Ingres hesitated, at first, in the end he followed exactly the Bishop’s recommendations. The painting was to replace Fra Bartolomeo’s The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine in Autun in the Romanesque Cathedral Saint-Lazare. Ingres reworked St. Symphorien several times during the ten years taken to complete the work before it was exhibited, untimely, at the Salon of 1834, during the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe. As a result, instead of being viewed as a simple commission completed under specific criteria, many critics at the Salon condemned the piece as warming to a religious monarchy instead of a free republic.3 4

The amateur’s eye sees the Martyrdom of St. Symphorien as a dramatic piece that focuses on the Saint, who stands nearly in the center of the canvas, slightly to the left, with his arms and body making an “X” shape, like he his parting the crowd that surrounds him. The eye is directed up and to the left where we see Augusta, Symphorien’s mother, reaching over the edge of the monumental architecture behind which she stands. She reaches toward her son in a manner reminiscent of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. The eye travels the canvas to the right along the monstrous Roman architecture down to a spired colonnade amidst the crowds, and back to the left where we come full circle to St. Symphorien. The light comes from the right side of the canvas illuminating the saint to emphasize his godly qualities while casting the crowd to the viewer’s left and behind him in shadows. A man directly above the Saint’s right hand, in a diagonal line between the saint and his mother, points to the painting’s right side toward a sign, with illegible text, held by one of the lictors leading Symphorien away.

Ignoring the politics surrounding the piece, one can clearly see how Ingres interpreted the painting in his own style while following, verbatim, the Bishop’s instructions.

The moment chosen is that in which the young Symphorien, dragged outside the gates of the city by the governor’s satellites and executioners, is being conducted to the temple of Berecynthia in order either to sacrifice to the idols there or lose his life. 5

The Bishop’s description clearly explains how Ingres was to visual the piece. The viewer sees Symphorien as the centerpiece of the painting, illuminated in white, forming the diagonals in which the rest of the painting is based. The eye next moves onto the Saint’s mother.

His mother, situated nearby atop the walls of the city, encourages her son to suffer courageously the agony that is before him and reminds him of the immortal rewards that God reserves for him in the afterlife.

The young martyr turns toward his mother in order to bid her a final farewell and to show her that his heart, fortified by faith, was ready to brave torture and death, and that he yearned to confirm with all his blood the Gospels of Jesus Christ. 6

Symphorien’s right hand is extended in a defiant pose, points towards his mother, who reaches down frantically repeating the Saint’s pose, which emphasizes the strife of fighting for religion. Although the proportions of the mother are exaggerated, it fits well within Ingres’ style and only serves to reinforce the bond between mother and son by making her appear nearly the same size as he. The viewer sees the gloriousness of answering to a higher calling, turning towards God and abandoning all worldly possessions for dying for honor of faith. The Saint’s steadfastness is juxtaposed to the mixed reactions of the crowd.

A large crowd of onlookers displays the various sentiments of astonishment and indignation, sadness and pity, that such a spectacle would inspire in a city that was still almost entirely pagan. 7

Cast in shadow, the various onlookers of the crowd, from rich to poor, individuals, and mothers with their children, surround St. Symphorien. All gaze towards him with varied emotions on their faces.
Next, the Bishop outlines the placement of the painting.

The scene takes place just outside the gate that is currently called the Portail Sante-André, which should occupy at least a portion of the background of the painting. It should be rendered faithfully after the drawing that is engraved in the work of M. Delebrode on the monuments of France.

One should perceive a bit further in the distance the colonnade forming the peristyle of the temple of Berecynthia. This last detail is left to the discretion of the artist. 8

Since the city of Autun was under Roman domination at this time, the costumes should be Roman from the time of the Antoinines’ reign.9

The people portrayed are all dressed in the age-appropriate garb, the colonnade forms the diagonal opposite Symphorien’s mother, and the location seems accurate without having visited. Regarding the politics of the time, Shelton with his thorough review points out that of sixty-three reviews, thirty-five are opposed to Ingres’ piece, twenty-five curry favor with the Saint, and three reviews are non-committal.10 Shelton further points out that the negative reviews are often found in political journals and compare Ingres to an aristocratic supporter of despotic regimes, instead of looking at the commissioned instructions. Symphorien’s mother is a strong female character, taking the role of the father figure as portrayed by David’s Brutus, for example, so it can be believed that Ingres tailored his portrayal to the request of his patron, and not to the politics of the time. For example, when painting commissioned works for Napoleon, Ingres and David both portrayed women as weaker to parlay towards Napoleon’s desires and wants for how his painting should look.11

Ingres reworked paintings and subjects for the length of his career. He is known for maintaining a style, ingrisme, which was a blend of classical and romantic intentions, although not juste milieu. He is known for his design interests and consistency. He is also known as a superb draftsman, using hard graphite points on a coated paper12 to achieve the magnificent look of being able to define texture with what appears only a few simple strokes, such as in his Portrait of Paganini. Ingres was guided “by the marvelous functional design of the ideal human body, and … the linear and spatial pictorial design which Raphael perfected.”13 With this style and sure hand, Ingres supported himself and his family by charging for graphite portraits he made for tourists when stipend dollars ran out in Rome.14 To understand Ingres’ method, it is important to look at his own words such as, “Line is drawing. It is everything,” and when instructing, “Draw for a long time before thinking of painting. When one builds on a solid foundation, one sleeps in peace.”15 One can understand better why he reworked pieces several times and exhibited a piece twenty years after its completion to show his consistency, wanting to say, “Look from where I have departed and where I have arrived.”16 He desired to be a safe investment for his patrons, and that too confined him to a particular style and level of production.17

Although Ingres was part of contemporary politics, when it came to satisfying his patrons requests, he focused more on those requests and his design elements rather than creating an overt political piece. By focusing, and refocusing on line and reworking his pieces for years, Ingres created a solid foundation, his system, for establishing his consistent type and stature as an artiste. St. Symphorien serves as a great example of how politics muddied the commissioned intent and Ingres’ interpretation, and it is understandable why the thin-skinned artist gave up the Salon and its hype and retreated to a place where perhaps he would be freer to express himself and his system of art.

References

  • Boime, Albert. 1985. Declassicizing the academic: A realist view of Ingres. Art History. 8(1)(03):50-65.
  • Brown, Marilyn R., and Rose R. Weil. 1984. Ingres’s pursuit of perfection. Art Journal. 44(2)(06):179.
  • Carrier, David. 2007. Politically incorrect art. Foundation for International Art Criticism.
  • Mitchell, Mark G. 2007. Learning from the masters: Ingres’ miraculous lines. Drawing. 4(12):42-57.
  • Shelton, Andrew Carrington. 2000. Ingres versus Delacroix. Art History. 23(5)(12):726.
  • Shelton, Andrew Carrington. 2001. Art, politics, and the politics of art: Ingres’s Saint Symphorien. Art Bulletin. 83(4)(12):711.
  • Shelton, Andrew Carrington. 2005. Ingres and His Critics. Cambridge University Press: New York, New York. Pp 320.
  • Siegfried, Susan L. 2000. Ingres’s reading – the undoing of narrative. Art History. 23(5)(12):654.
  • Skira, Albert. 1967. Ingres: The Taste of Our Time. The World Publishing Company: Cleveland, Ohio. Pp 131.
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