Gregarious Expressions

by Alicia Grega


Trends & Style

the artist as Servant

Is this where we are now? Intriguing essay on the general public’s mass perception of the artist.

We’ve done away with the ridiculous Outsider Saint. But we’ve replaced him with a Servant whose primary task is to make us feel good about ourselves, either through the work itself, or through the way the work (or the artist’s personal life) allows us to grandstand. She must make art that reifies our core assumptions about the world, lest it be found problematic, and thus bad. He must not leave questions unanswered or uncomfortable realities uncomforted, lest the work’s unsettling nature be taken as a formal weakness. And if she stands up for being paid for her work and/or treated with a modicum of decency, she is, of course, “difficult.” 

I’ve felt a degree of this most recently after stepping down from a position this summer in which I essentially worked for free for the theater community for five years. And perhaps I am imagining it all and projecting false convictions. But it seems there has been a subtle level of rejection in the wake of that work. A feeling that the contribution was not enough. That moving on to other work now might be a failure of sorts. I was only worthy, only valuable, as long as I kept giving selflessly, with no concerns for my own artistic interests.

Art doesn’t have to be about the community, but it’s always better when it matters to them, when it has some universality in its appeal. A project I’m drafting a plan for right now is about making art ordinary. Not unlike kids putting on a show in the back yard… a neighborhood happening “marketed” door to door like politicians and restaurants that deliver that will bring people outdoors to an abandoned lot or other open space in which they can share an arts experience, a creative event, and hopefully a positive one, rather than fighting over parking spots, shoveling snow, or watching an ambulance take a neighbor/stranger away.

It’s not about me and it is, to a degree, about public service. Hopefully I will be able to find others willing to sacrifice themselves to such an experiment. 😉


via The Incredible Shrinking Artist – Parabasis.

yes, we should

Shouldn’t we be perturbed that Hollywood is so ready to show human bodies being penetrated by a knife or an axe, but not by anything more pleasurable?

via Let’s do it: How sex in cinema is getting physical – Features – Films – The Independent.

cultural censorship is anti-educational

Students are being deprived of the opportunity to discuss the world as it is in all its glory and tragedy. They grow up not knowing how to talk about controversial topics, how to listen respectfully to differing opinions, how to live in peaceful tolerance in a world that is messy and does not remove sources of conflict to put the sensitive at ease. When we simply pretend the complicated does not exist, we are damaging the healthy growth of our young people. Art is the best way to introduce these necessary topics in all their confusing complexity into conversation.

To shelter students from the “real” goings on of the world is simply illogical. High school is a tumultuous time driven by hormones, mixed with anxieties and confusion. The last thing any of us in high school can relate to is The King and I, which, might I add, couldn’t be more outdated and racist, but still we do it. High school should be a time when we push students outside their comfort zones.

via Taking the Drama Out of High School | HowlRound.

there’s room for everyone in hip hop?

I’m not defending Miley, her choices look like desperation to me and it’s sad she can’t find a more productive way to challenge audiences if that’s what she’s aiming for.
She’s rejecting the burden of being a role model. Flaunting her right to selfishness. And I personally find that a weak, uninspired choice.

She has successfully managed to get everyone talking about her, if that was her goal.

Regardless, the discussion of cultural appropriation is larger than her.

it’s disempowering to continue to portray black culture as a sort of inert, powerless thing that is capable only of fluttering feebly as it’s plundered by privileged white people.

The problem with Miley may not be that she is inspired by “black” culture but that no one believes it. No one complains about Eminem rapping because number one (even if you don’t like him) he is talented and because we believe him. It feels genuine. Miley lacks authenticity, and that’s annoying people. No one likes a poseur.

And somewhere in all of this, I suspect, we are questioning marketplace value. The outrage is the sound of self-respecting, hard working Americans struggling to make ends meet asking, “She’s making millions … for that?”


via In Defense of Miley Cyrus’s VMAs Performance – Flavorwire.

maybe we need to stop for a minute

NPR’s Ann Powers makes a lot more sense of out the Cyrus video than I was able to in this insightful, if long, article from last week.

Take this byte for example:

…when the self become a selfie — when people start approaching themselves and others as things, to be posed, bartered or possessed, rather than as beings with rich and infinitely various inner lives —morality becomes destabilized, making it difficult to determine the difference between a playful risk and real one, or even between violation and fun.

OK, so now what?

I haven’t seen Spring Breakers yet, but plan to soon.
I think my stalling is partly because I’ve pulled away from the mindless party I used to justify as adventure necessary to the artist’s experience. Maybe it was, but it’s not now and since I’ve committed to take a more mindful path of spiritual practice and discipline, watching this kind of line-walking “fun” is almost painful.

People need to reach their own conclusions on their own timeline. I get that. But maybe it wouldn’t hurt if we, all of us, this society, could just press pause for a minute and examine what we really want to get out of this life and what our responsibilities are to ourselves and each other, and what is the best way to go about getting there. You know before we burn up our potential in a hazy cloud of imitation and hangovers of dissatisfaction.


via When Pop Stars Flirt With Bad Taste : The Record : NPR.

The Trouble with Stuff @ Utne Reader

“There’s another shift emerging which offers some real opportuni­ties for building support for the commons. People in the overconsuming parts of the world are getting fed up with the burden of trying to own everything individually. We used to own our stuff and increasingly our stuff owns us. We work extra hours to buy more stuff, we spend our weekends sorting our stuff. We’re constantly needing to upgrade, repair, untangle, recharge, even pay to store our stuff. It’s exhausting.

The shift I see emerging is from an acquisition focused relationship to stuff, to an access- focused relationship. In the acquisition framework, the more stuff we had, the better, as captured in the 1990s bumperstick­er “He Who Dies with the Most Toys Wins.” Having spent a couple de­cades being slaves to our stuff, we are rethinking. Now it is “He Who dies with the Most Toys Wasted His Life Working to Buy Them and Lived in a Cluttered House When He Could have been Investing in Community with which to Share Toys.” -Annie Leonard

via The Trouble with Stuff: A Conversation with Annie Leonard – Blogs – Utne Reader.

“You’ve Been Steampunked” in American Theatre

The iconography favored by steampunkers—aeronaut goggles, stylized corsets, clockwork gears, mad-scientist laboratories cluttered with Industrial Revolution sprockets and pipes—has found its way into a number of recent stage productions. When Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith mounted My Fair Lady at her D.C. theatre this winter, she and costume designer Judith Bowden (who had previously collaborated on the musical at Canada’s Shaw Festival) opted to dress the musical’s Cockney characters in sassy steampunk attire.

via American Theatre – February 2013.


XOXO, ScrantonMade: An Evening of Gifts, Sips and Local Love

XOXO, ScrantonMade:  An Evening of Gifts, Sips and Local Love will be held GreenBeing on Adam’s Avenue in conjunction with the Scranton’s First Friday Art Walk on Feb. 1.
In addition to gift items by more than 11 local artisans and crafters, the event will offer live music, a window installation by ThePop Up Studio, and a photo booth courtesy of Ash Lyn Rose Photography.

via ScrantonMade: Announcing… XOXO, ScrantonMade: An Evening of Gifts, Sips and Local Love.

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