Friday, June 18, 2010

The Courage to See

"Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe. " - John Muir

Over/under, or split photography is the convergence of two worlds as one in a single image. Half the camera is submerged underwater, while the upper half chronicles life above the water line. A great over/under photo provides viewers with that rare and vital glimpse that there really is no division between these "two" worlds.

Kim Kasabian
Over Under 1 Acrylic on Canvas 18" x 24"

When you consider that 71% of Earth is covered in water, it's safe to say that we really don't know what goes on in the natural world on a daily basis. And as such, we often don't understand the impact underwater of what we do above and vice versa. There's been more talk of this lately in the wake of global warming, what with islands disappearing, storms increasing in strength, temperatures rising. But for the most part, when it comes to understanding and respecting our world underwater, we're like children - what we don't see doesn't exist and therefore doesn't concern us.

That is, until something happens that is so big, it's impossible to ignore it. I'm not talking about the sleeping giants like overfishing, dead zones or the Northern Pacific Gyre. I'm speaking, of course, about the BP oil spill. Roughly 2.5 million gallons per day. That's 150,000,000 gallons as of Sunday, June 20, 2010 the 60th day of the oil spill. Officials estimate that every four days, the amount gushing from the Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico is equal to a spill the size of the Exxon Valdez. Every four days. To make matters worse, beach clean-up of Louisiana's marshy, sandy shore will be exponentially more difficult than that of the rocky Alaskan coastline in Prince William Sound. Disaster of this magnitude is hard to imagine. It's too big. Too terrible. Too important not to be front page news every single day. Too devastating to ignore. Right? Right?

I know there have been protests, demonstrations, stories about the poor Louisiana oyster fisherman whose prey is dying by the day. But go ahead and Google "oil spill" and "protest" and you'll find a sprinkling of stories about how hundreds or dozens of people stood in protest to the BP oil spill. Hundreds? In a country of 309,000,000? Where are we? What do we stand for? And more importantly, what kind of future do we want to see for ourselves?

I know what I want. I want to to walk on a beach in Louisiana and not see brown crude oil oozing up from my footprints in the sand. I want to one day swim in the Gulf and see seahorses, bluefin tuna and oysters thriving in their natural environment, while brown pelicans gracefully fly overhead. When I walk out of the water, I want to see my skin glisten with beads of salty seawater, not slick from reddish-brown sludge oozing down my arm.

BP drilled a hole in the ocean and started this mess. But they can not shoulder the blame alone. If we have the courage to open our eyes and look underwater, we can begin to forge connections between land and sea. Our car and its dependence upon fossil fuel energy. Our plate of sushi and the cleanliness of the water the tuna swam in before it became our dinner. Our lush, nitrogen-hungry lawns and depleted oxygen levels in the oceans. Tomatoes in January that came from a hothouse in in Chile. The list is so long, it's overwhelming.

So here's an idea. Maybe you already bring canvas bags to the grocery store or you've replaced your tungsten bulbs for more energy efficient ones. What are three more things you can do to put a little less pressure on the grid? A small composter for your table scraps, maybe. Taking public transportation once a week or carpooling with colleagues. Putting pressure on your congressmen to support alternative energy methods. Buying local fruits and vegetables from a farmer's market. Vacationing closer to home. Stop buying bottled water.

There are so many opportunities to make better choices for ourselves, and by extension, our Earth. Over and under the sea.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On the Nightstand

I occasionally receive copies of books for review from Amazon and was thrilled to find this in my mailbox recently. I haven't finished it yet, but I'm already eager to put this on the "must, must read" list for all those who create for a living.

Kick Ass Creativity is a great tool for inspiring not just artists, but anyone interested in identifying and sharing their unique contributions with the world. Lately I've been thinking and reading a lot about how when we engage in a symbiotic relationship with our world, our world takes care of us. A very simple example is a home garden. I grow vegetables that my family eats. The peels and leftovers go into the compost pile, which decompose and turn into nutrient rich soil. That soil is mixed with the existing soil and feeds new plants the following year, which in turn feed us.

This is true of creativity. When we open ourselves up to new experiences, we nourish our creative souls and are in a better position to both create and share the fruits of our inspiration with the world. KAC helps readers to gently quiet the negative thoughts and gives us permission to both visualize and pursue a future with our artistic dreams fulfilled. Sign me up.

A Collage A Day

Here's a brilliant idea: collage artist Randel Plowman has embarked upon an ongoing art project/business endeavor to make one 4" x 4" collage every day, then offer it for sale for $25. I like the aesthetic very much and when I find one I can't live without, I'll be sure to snap it up and quick...'cause they sell like hotcakes.

I like the idea so much because it's a fantastic creative exercise and it offers original art to people on a fixed budget. Many collages could be grouped into small frames to display as a series, but they stand alone very well.