How To Fall In Love With Art

How long has it been?

Up until college, I had grown up with an appreciation for fine art thanks to my parents, but it was never really something I had sought out on my own.

I knew enough “art” to maintain my sense of weird, self-righteous adolescent pride in being cultured and artsy. My interest was driven by nothing else really of nobler substance.

At 18, I moved to New York for college, and I enrolled in an art crit class on a whim during freshman year: the Art of Now course at New York University.

Fast forward to 2013, when I studied abroad in Shanghai. I decided to take on a heavier workload of art classes and immersed myself in contemporary and Asian art. I don’t remember much of the art I saw in detail, but this period of time would leave an indelible mark on me, and it was a catalyst for my passion.

Hu Jieming, Casual Status, 1992

I returned, enrolled in some more art classes.. a studio class in drawing.

During my time as a student, I had more time in the afternoons and between classes to do other things (doing nothing, meeting friends at cafes or for lunch in the West Village, chilling near fountains – damn life from 18-22 was so sweet) and I began exploring gallery spaces and art exhibitions everywhere! pretty intensely.

A pic I snapped years ago on another trip to Pace Gallery.

I started taking random things at home: scissors, a tableweight, a pepper from the kitchen, a rose and draw.

 

So newly inspired I was by the intricate beauty in all things that held form, line, and shape.

I was falling in love with art then.

I began to accumulate a larger inventory of the things I liked and disliked, formulate stronger opinions backed by a latticework of thoughts and experiences built thanks to the plenitude of art I’ve seen in the years which have since passed post- college.

For example, I prefer minimalism and modernism. I like French impressionism, and abstract expressionism.

For some reason, Surrealism and Dada works get me.

Man Ray, Ingre’s Violin

Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele works are so luscious and rich. Contemporary movements like pop surrealism, otherwise knowns as “Lowbrow” art are so cool.

Mark Ryden, the father of Pop-Surrealism

I don’t find a lot of photography art to be impressive, but I’m okay with that. Installations with various forms of media are sometimes a hit or miss for me. I like contemporary art, but I’m not particularly fond of Jeff Koons (active from 1977 – ) or Damien Hirst (1988 – , or Jean-Michel Basquiat (1976 – ). But I do love me my Toyin Ojih Odutola (2008 – , Osamu Yokonami, and Chad Wys (2011 – ) :

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Toyin Ojih Odutola, Above all else make it look effortless, 2012. Pen ink, marker, and varnish on paper.
Chad Wys, Sculpture with a Spectrum 2, 2014. Collage on paper.

It’s 2018 and I love art more than ever.

I move and live every week, drinking in all the things I see, from the daily visuals of life to the more curated representations of art at institutions.

And the more I do that, the more I understand this:

Art is an instrument that instructs the way we see and live our lives. Our lives, in turn, are ripe, breeding grounds for art: new expressions and new manifestos… and who’s to say that the act of life and breathing aren’t art in themselves.

They are synonymous with one another– and I cannot see the difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          (on my best days- taha.)
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September: Art Shows

Here are some shows to be excited about and below is a view of my favorite works from the referenced artists. Look out for them if you go!

Suzan Frecon’s Oil Paintings, David Zwirner Gallery, 525 West 19th Street, New York (9/15)

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Campana Brothers: Hybridism, Friedman Benda Gallery, 515 West 26th St, New York

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Noah’s Chair, Noah’s Bench, 2017

 

 

Ad Reinhardt’s Blue Paintings, David Zwirner Gallery, 537 West 20th Street, New York

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Number 88 (Blue), 1950

 

 

Rodin at the Met, Metropolitan Museum of Art (9/16)

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The Age of Bronze, 1876

 

Gehard Demetz, my modern day Geppetto.

Formally trained in religious sculpture, Italian artist Gehard Demetz has progressed to become one of the most talented artists of our century. He wields his art technique and experience to create works, many with children as subject, that explore the dichotomies and marriages of contradiction… between that which is evocative and whimsical – provocative and contemporary. His sculptures often carry an energy verging on the socio-political.

He relies on mediums like wood and bronze and certainly knows how to make dry wood come alive.

These are my favorite works of Demetz throughout his career as a sculptor:

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Introjection. 2017, Wood

 

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Life Without Christmas. 2017, Wood

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Dirt on my Shoulders. 2016, Wood

 

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Restoring My Blisses. 2015, Wood.
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My Parents’ Stories Sound Different. 2015, Wood.

 

Personally, I would say his best works were made in 2013.

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Stones In My Pocket. 2013, Wood.
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Mom’s hands and daddy’s nose. 2013, wood.

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Complement these visuals with a contemplative rendition of Bach’s Christus, Der Uns Selig Macht, BWV 245, arranged by one of my favorite composers and pianists, Chad Lawson.

Not Friends? Then No Benefits

A interesting piece on Modern Love by Emily Demaionewton. Sourced from The New York Times:

 

My friend Nathan and I were walking to a picnic when we passed a woman named Xenia. I stopped to say hello, and she kissed me on the cheek so intimately that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. She had asked to hook up before, and as the sun set and Nathan and I packed up our hammocks, I texted her accepting the offer.

I was lonely. I was cold. I wanted to kiss someone before I turned 20.

I told Nathan I was going to Xenia’s room, and I could tell from the way he looked at me that he knew why I was going. When he didn’t try to stop me, something in my chest caved in. I wished that, instead, he had offered to kiss me.

Here is the problem: I rarely experience sexual attraction. I wanted to kiss a few boys in high school, but by the time I wanted to kiss them we were close friends, which, for me, seems to be a prerequisite for feeling sexual attraction. Unfortunately, on their end, the close friendship deemed me unkissable.

I’m demisexual, an orientation I didn’t even know existed until I discovered the term on the internet after realizing I seem to spend extraordinarily less time thinking about sex than my peers do. Demisexuality is on the asexual spectrum. It means that I don’t experience sexual attraction until I first develop a deep emotional intimacy with someone.

Sure, many people don’t have sex until they establish an emotional connection. But I don’t experience sexual attraction at all until then. I don’t see someone in the coffee shop and think: I might want to kiss her. I don’t go to parties and wonder what it would feel like to sleep with the guy in the corner.

The first time Nathan and I stayed up late talking was after watching “The Dead Poet’s Society” in my dorm room. When it finished, we lay on the bed and talked until 2 a.m. Even as we got too tired to speak, I didn’t want him to leave.

Nights like these became a habit. But after a few weeks of feeling like this was heading toward more than friendship, I needed to address something. Sitting together by a nearby pond, I said, “You have a girlfriend.”

He looked surprised. “Yeah. Why?”

“Well, I feel like some of the stuff we’ve been doing, like reading to each other in the middle of the night, is more intimate than something friends do.”

“I suppose it does seem that way,” he said. “Maybe we should put up clearer boundaries.”

This wasn’t the answer I had hoped for, but I said, “Yeah, O.K.” Then I added: “But I want to be clear that I might have a hard time with that, so a lot of it will have to be on you. Is that O.K.?”

He smiled. “Of course.”

Two nights later, Nathan lay in my bed and whispered, “Shut the lights.”

When I crawled back under the covers, he wrapped his arms around me and I felt close to someone in a way I never had before. I wanted desperately to stay like this, but along with the glow in my chest, guilt twinged.

“Should we be doing this?” I asked.

“Shh,” Nathan whispered. “Go to sleep.”

That night, as we lay in each other’s arms, I hardly slept — having another human in my bed was distracting — but I didn’t mind one bit.

This moment may have been the turning point, the moment when, had I known asexuality existed, I would have realized I didn’t quite fit into that category. Because in this moment, I finally understood why someone might want to have sex.

With Xenia, I knew just seconds into kissing that it wasn’t for me. It felt strange, wet and cold. I felt no attraction because we had never been emotionally vulnerable with each other. I didn’t tell her I wasn’t enjoying myself; that would have been unkind. She was good at asking what I wanted and didn’t, so it wasn’t unbearable. But those aren’t words you want to use to describe your first kiss.

After our night together in my bed, Nathan told me how guilty he felt. I mostly listened, but I was thinking about our earlier conversations about sex — how I told him I never felt the desire for it. But that night was the first time I fully understood how important it is to him and many other people.

I don’t know how I missed it for so long; I guess I just thought sex was something that crossed people’s minds from time to time. I was afraid about what this meant for me, afraid it was the reason I had never been in a relationship, afraid that my lack of interest in sex meant I would never find love.

While Nathan debated if he should break up with his girlfriend, I asked, “Are you afraid I wouldn’t have sex with you?” I didn’t add: Because I would.

He thought for a moment. “No, I don’t think that makes a difference.”

But I didn’t believe him.

Nathan didn’t break up with his girlfriend right away, though he did eventually. He stayed single for a while, then started dating another girl.

The night I was with Xenia I left her room with more questions than I had started with. Was I asexual after all? Was I just not attracted to women? Why couldn’t I make myself feel anything?

Surely, I was broken in some way. This was before I discovered the term “demisexual,” and having a name for it helps. But it only goes so far in a culture that includes sex at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

More than a year after we met, Nathan and I walked to an art exhibition on the edge of campus. It was spring, and plants were beginning to bloom. On the way, I stopped to take a picture because it looked as if someone had hung dryer lint on the trees.

When I turned around, Nathan asked, “Do you love me as a friend, or something more?”

I’m a terrible liar. I said: “You can’t ask that! That’s not fair — you can’t ask that.” But of course he could, and of course, my response was answer enough.

Nathan asked if there was anything he could do to make this easier for me.

I told him, “It’s more the stuff we can’t do that hurts.”

We were the only people at the exhibition when we arrived. One installation made repetitive thumping noises: three balls bounced in repeating patterns on the floor. The bouncing was the only noise, and as it kept repeating and repeating, I got the surreal feeling that this was the only room left in the world.

I stood for an inapt length of time watching soap bubble from a hole in the wall while Nathan stood yards away looking at a broom propped up by a kitchen knife. The questions that had floated through my mind for months all surfaced: What is wrong with me? Why do I hardly feel attracted to anyone? And how will I ever find anybody if I’m only attracted to one person every four years?

A year after Nathan slept in my bed, I went to a concert by the band Daughter with my friend Greta. More recently, Greta filmed a dance rehearsal for me, and as I changed back into my street clothes, I looked at myself in my bra in the mirror and wondered what would have happened if I had changed in front of her. If she would have looked up from what she was doing, maybe come over and run her hands along my back. But the concert was months before, when Greta and I were just two people who lived on the same hall and had lunch together now and then.

Right before Daughter came back onstage for an encore, I asked Greta if she wanted to leave and beat the rush. She said she didn’t mind, and we pushed our way halfway to the door before I stopped and said: “Wait. There’s one song I wanted to hear that they didn’t play. Let’s wait and see if it’s the one they’re playing.”

Daughter didn’t play that song, but the first lines of the song they did play caught my attention: “What if I’m made of stone? … I should be feeling more, draped over your bones.”

Greta and I stood listening to the song I now know is called “Made of Stone,” facing the stage with its soft purple lights reflecting on our faces. We dissolved into the ambient noise, watching Daughter’s lead singer hide shyly behind her bangs while singing soulfully to strangers. The air around us was dark; we, too, could hide.

Daughter finished their song, said one last thank you. And as we walked with the crowd into the damp night, the last echo of “Made of Stone” reverberated through my mind: “You’ll find love, kid. It exists.”

Band of Friends

“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes are not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is meaningless- a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. but pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12

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This is my wonderful CG. It’s crazy to think that I’ve only known my friends here for a little over 3 months.

As a CG, we convene every week as a means to deepen our relationship with God and engage in fellowship. Here, I find myself being fed not just spiritually, but intellectually, physically, and emotionally. It’s almost indescribable to explain the encompassing and enormous nature of the benefits and joy I’ve received from these gatherings. I’ve also noticed that I’ve become more alert and acquired a heightened sensitivity to the going-ons in the world around me… to the conflicts and celebrations arising day by day in the personal lives of those I care about and also of those I was previously indifferent to.

Every week, we challenge each other with our questions regarding issues present in our world and current events, and around scripture; we ask each other about our careers, our job searches, our physical well-being – whether that leg is feeling better and how much exercise it’s taking, whether x project/x presentation last week went well; we rapidly learn intensely personal things about each other (exhibiting an unbelievable level of vulnerability and trust) I’m not sure I’ve ever learned this quickly in my other relationships.

We build one another up, and the effects of this is enduring and lasting throughout the week. Together, we actively seek and discuss ways to address and alleviate the hurt rampant in the broken world around us and to better each other as young citizens and humans bonded by a common belief.

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Sometimes I wonder if without this CG, I’d have ever befriended them or have even crossed paths with them. We all come from very different backgrounds and paths in life, and our personalities range across the entire color spectrum; it really would be hard to explain our deep friendships in relation to our compatibilities in the traditional sense of the word here.

Yet, these people have quickly become a home to me unlike any other I’ve found, and I can’t imagine a world not knowing them and not loving them.

I only wish I could explain to you better just how good this feels. How good he is to me.

Bises,

Soo

When You Know You’ve Got Something Good: C.S. Lewis + Co. on the Beauty and Essentialness of Friendship

Friendship never belittles.
It runs in at the first sight of pain and pleasure in its members. It seeks out and dulls the slightest pangs of suffering.
It observes less of the human instinct for armour and self-protection.
It inspires perspective and growth.
It warns against hubris and judgement.
It binds together and fortifies all that is good and pure.
Friendship is a gift we all have–
to receive, to give, and to hold.

It looks like this:

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Henri Matisse’s The Dance

reads like this:

“Friendship”

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles [Williams] is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald… In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah 6:3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.” – C.S. Lewis in describing his friendship with J.R.R> Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, and author Charles Williams.

sounds like this:

(cacophonous in composition yet utterly harmonious)


And lastly, why you and I cannot live without it:

“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. For whom am i toiling,” he asked, and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is meaningless– a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – The Bible, Ecclesiastes 5:12


“Lovers seek for privacy. Friends find this solitude about them, this barrier between them and the herd, whether they want it or not…

In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself. No one cares twopence about anyone else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history. Of course you will get to know about most of these in the end. But casually. They will come out bit by bit, to furnish an illustration or an analogy, to serve as pegs for an anecdote; never for their own sake. That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts. This love (essentially) ignores not only our physical bodies but that whole embodiment which consists of our family, job, past and connections. At home, besides being Peter or Jane, we also bear a general character; husband or wife, brother or sister, chief, colleague, or subordinate. Not among our Friends. It is an affair of disentangled, or stripped, minds. Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.

Hence (if you will not misunderstand me) the exquisite arbitrariness and irresponsibility of this love. I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis


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Chen-Dao Lee’s Swan Lake // “A friend awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.” – John O’Donohue, poet and philosopher
Bises,

Soo

Understanding a Marginalized Metric in the Arms Race for Success: Emotional Intelligence

In his delicious article “What Makes A Leader?,” brain and behavioral sciences expert and professor Daniel Goleman summarily tackles and identifies Emotional Intelligence as the fulcrum of the development and measurement of leadership within spheres of business and management.

First surfaced in 1985 via Wayne Payne’s doctoral thesis, “A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence”, EI was formally termed to account for the additional types of intelligence not subscribed in the parameters of technical and IQ modules.

Emotional Intelligence is an important quality to understand as how you measure up against these elements/pre-requisites are factors that can affect one’s ability to be a leader: managing a critical mass of people and ultimately creating high-impact value.

Out of the many models that have since been created by many scholars in their attempts to define EI, Goleman’s on EI has withstood the 2000’s and has served as the frame of reference for many educational and professional institutions seeking to understand this more deeply; I have likewise found his model for EI to be particularly useful, so I will continue on with reference to his model of five fundamental components:

Self-awareness is pretty by the book. It’s having a keen knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, your needs, and your desires.

Self-regulation is the ability to maintain what can be simply described as the “emotional/professional poker face”, having the ability to yield reason over instinct despite certain situations natural eliciting a reaction that might be oppositional.

Motivation is the desire to achieve something. Often times, those who are motivated in the work place who currently hold decision making power have been observed to have the inclination to achieve for achievement’s sake regardless of there being a targeted goal or not.

Empathy, is empathy 🙂 Showing and successfully conveying genuine camaraderie and understanding for teammates, despite facing situational differences, deadlines/hard decisions being needed to make (i.e. corporate layoffs). Having the ability to treat each person uniquely and smoothly to best fit his/her emotional makeup and reactionary dispositions.

Lastly, social skills, i.e. being  gregarious – being willing to open up your time, resources, and mind widely. Studies have supported that people with great social skills often have  friendship networks that are very wide in breadth. Also, in the working space, high-leadership potential individuals can paradoxically appear to not be working as much because they more often than not recognize the needs to do things like allocate amounts of time during their work day to “chat ” and get to know their colleagues cross-departmentally.

Goleman doesn’t merely expound on or seek to heighten the value of pre-existing didacticisms, and this particular excerpt, amongst many, is very enlightening as it gets into the neuroscience of it all–showing where exactly EI growth is being activated and how we can push ourselves and our lovely comrades forward towards [higher command!] higher vision:

“With competency and leadership training programs provided in leading companies, it’s important to determine where exactly our emotional intelligence comes from. It’s a mixture of nature and nurture, but studies show that a large part of our development in regards to this as physiological: “Emotional intelligence is born largely in the neurotransmitters of the brain’s limbic system, which governs feelings, impulses, and drives. Research indicates that the limbic system teams best through motivation, extended practice, and feedback. Compare this with the kind of learning that goes on in the neocortex, which governs analytical and technical ability The neocortex grasps concepts and logic. It is the part of the brain that figures out how to use a computer or make a sales call by reading a book. Not surprisingly-but mistakenly-it is also the part of the brain targeted by most training programs aimed at enhancing emotional intelligence. When such programs take, in effect a neocortical approach, my research with the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations has shown they can even have a negative impact on people’s job performance. To enhance emotional intelligence, organizations must refocus their training to include the limbic system. They must help people break old behavioral habits and establish new ones. That not only takes much more time than conventional training programs, it also requires an individualized approach.”

And just how important are these for professional development and how do they add up to affect the trajectories of our careers and our lives?

An extensive study of data culled through the numerous competency models employed by top 500 companies of manager to C-level executives has revealed that out of the technical, intellectual and EQ abilities we can strive to develop, EQ is what’s most paramount to hinting at one’s growth potential as a thriving leader.

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There are people that would scream out in surprise, “what a coincidence! That this is so important to my success!! ..I suppose they would be the kind of people who forget that humans are the backbone to every problem and every solution found in this world, but this is only the opinion of one.

Cool stuff!

Anyways, I shall end my advocacy for EI for the moment, but I do hope you take the time to read Goleman’s article, “What Makes a Leader” when you have the time.

Bises,

Soo

***

See here for another benefit to EI form a cost/benefits angle as noted by a leading research team in the UK specializing in management training:

Benefits of early EI measurement:

Case 1: “When hiring recruiters, the government used an emotional intelligence test as part of the process. They found that the recruiters who performed the best were the ones that had scored the highest on the EI test– particularly in the competencies of emotional self-awareness, empathy, happiness, and assertiveness [hiring employees who have high levels of EI gives you a better chance of hiring the right people the first time and reduces employee turnover, resulting in significant cost savings”. The Air Force soon learned that it could increase the chances of hiring successful recruiters by three times as much if they used the EI test. They found that using EI tests saved over $3 million annually by being able to hire the right people for the first time. The results were so notable that the Government Accountability Office (formerly the Government Accounting Office) presented the information to Congress who in turn requested the Department of Defense use emotional intelligence tests in recruitment and selection in all the armed forces.”

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Read on to get better acquainted with the fundamental tenets of emotional intelligence as delineated here by Goleman: self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, and see them presented through examples within the business sphere.

For additional content, feel free to go further with Daniel Goleman’s work on EI here, or here, to get his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.