Every Wednesday afternoon at Fusion we have a meeting called the creative huddle. Designers and writers get together for a half hour and each week one person takes a turn sharing something that inspires him/her with the group. My turn came up recently and I told of (and showed) the work of an artist named Katie Kozak.
Katie is my cousin and she’s been working on the most amazing project with her collaborator Lucien Durey. They’re both former students of Emily Carr University of Art + Design and recently spent nine months living and working in the house of Katie’s 81 year old Baba (grandmother), Sophie Ostrowski (my mom’s big sister and my godmother), in Creighton SK.
Auntie Sophie gave up her home for them to use as an artist’s residence and when they moved in last November, to their delight, they found it was filled with a treasure trove of “stuff” accumulated by Baba and her late husband since they were first married 60-some years ago.
Those belongings became their art supplies, and armed with a desktop scanner, great imagination, graphic sensibility, keen eyes for colour and composition and a sense for repetition and contradiction, they set out to finish a new piece every day for the duration of their residency.
All told Katie and Luc produced 273 scans. They can be seen in their entirety at babashouse.tumblr.com.
Now they have the unenviable task of whittling their inventory down to twenty five images which will become a show aptly titled “Baba’s House” – scheduled to open at the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina in January 2014.
I don’t know if any of these examples are going to make the final cut for the gallery show but they are among my personal favourites. And I hope they inspire you to visit Baba’s House. It’s quite the place.
Amrit & Reet
This sounds complicated but it’s actually a very simple and sweet Indian tradition. Yesterday after around 16 years my twin sister and I celebrated Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi for short, together. (It’s popularly called Rakhi by most Indians)
Simply translated, Raksha means Protection and Bandhan means Bond. Put the two together and you have one of the sweetest traditions to celebrate love and bonding between brothers, sisters and cousins.
The ceremony involves tying of what looks like a simple ‘red thread’ by a sister around her brother's wrist. (Probably the oldest ‘friendship band’ tradition in the world dating back God knows when!) This symbolizes sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her and take care of her.
As the life takes its course, kids grow up, move out, get married, have their own kids, we all get busy with our own lives and have homes thousands of miles away, there are fewer occasions for families to be physically together. But no matter how far one may get a sister never forgets to make sure the Rakhi reaches her brother in time each year. We can talk on phone; send emails to stay connected but the bond that this red thread makes is magical.
My dad is 70 and he still receives his Rakhi from all his sisters with eldest being close to 80.
Yesterday, when my lovely 2 year old niece tied her first Rakhi around my son Reets wrist I saw a bond created by a simple tradition that’s going to keep them connected in the times to come.
A simple red thread or is it.
Preserving the Everyday
Image from The DailyQuotes.net
I’m a scrapbooker. <insert your own joke here>
I’ve been doing it for about 8 years, but as of July 1, I started participating in Project Life. In essence, it’s a very basic approach to memory-keeping and capturing what happens in your life on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. It doesn’t need to be a big masterpiece; the point is for it to be simple and easy.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always liked making my photo albums ‘look pretty’. As I’ve gotten older, I think what still draws me to scrapbooking is the preserving aspect. Preserving memories so that one day my grandchildren can know how cool I was (ha!). To know who their grandparents were as 20-somethings. To know that we had interests and hobbies. To see how we spent our days. Maybe it’s just part of getting older, but I often wonder what our grandparents were like as teenagers. Kent, my husband, loves talking to his lone grandparent and soaking up all the stories of his youth.
There’s something beautiful about the everyday. Your favourite mug, the weekly family dinner on Sundays, your morning routine. That’s what scrapbooking represents to me: capturing not just the big events and milestones in life – because those are easy to remember and often told and retold at family gatherings – but the simple, everyday, who-we-really-are stuff.
Project Life is helping me showcase that aspect of our lives. And whether or not we have kids, I think it will still be fun to look back when we’re older and laugh at our hair and reminisce about our weird cat George, or that funny thing our niece said. To paint a fuller picture of our lives beyond the photos that get posted on Facebook and put in the family album. That is, assuming Facebook still exists when we’re 70.
We're waiting for you
Max patiently awaits the arrival of new colleagues.
We're hiring! Check out the postings for a Sales and Marketing Specialist and Account Manager here. The deadline to apply is August 23.
Light the corners of my mind
I've been thinking about memory - what we remember, how we remember and what it all means. I recently finished Joshua Foer's book, Moonwalking with Einstein. It's an interesting look into the into the lives of competitive memorizers (who knew that was even a thing?) and the author's own journey to compete in the U.S. Memory Championship.
Previously, I was only familiar with rote memorization, for learning multiplication or memorizing lines in a play. The book introduced me to the "memory palace," where memories are stored in the rooms of imaginary structures. You can use a familiar place, such as your childhood home, and "place" items in each room. It might make your next trip to the grocery store easy in a 'ketchup in the bathroom, milk in my bedroom" way.
What I found especially compelling is how memory relates to creativity. From the book:
"Where do new ideas come from if not some alchemical blending of old ides? In order to invent, one first needed a proper inventory, a bank of existing ideas to draw on. Not just an inventory, but an indexed inventory. one needed a way of finding just the right piece of information at just the right moment. This is what the art of memory was ultimately most useful for. It was not merely a tool for recording but also a tool of invention and composition."
I like using memory prompts for my writing, personally, but also professionally for making the associations that result in successful copy for Fusion clients. A source of this inspiration is in an unlikely place: the Goodwill down the street from the Fusion office. I like objects that hold a bit of history. Today's 25-cent find went beyond that. It's a memory jar, filled with questions.
I can't wait to see what I remember and where it takes me next.