I'm passionate about finding and sharing ideas that feed creativity and inspiration in this weary world. Because we're so surrounded with illusion and lies, I hope this blog will help others in their quest to get a bit closer to the truth. I'd also like to say that opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily mine or those featured here. Oh, and if you choose to use any images/words from this site, kindly obtain permission from all relevant parties and add the necessary links and references.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interview: Carline Coon - With Her Consent

In my quest to learn more about the punk music and the punk movement, I came across Caroline Coon and was intrigued with finding out her thoughts... In addition to her website, you can also view her art work at Saatchi online.

As someone who has recently begun to understand the punk movement, I'd love to know from someone who was on the inside - What is punk to you?

Punk cannot be understood out of context of what preceded it, the 1960's countercultural movement of hippie Peace and Love psychedelia. By 1975 the corporate conservative media was saying, falsely, that the hippie permissive revolution had failed. In 1975 most teenagers not only believed what the tabloids said about hippies, they were also angry about their own impoverished circumstances. In reaction to Peace and Love they created the 'anarchism' of Hate and War. Instead of psychedelic music they crated the low-tech, stripped back speedy sound that I labeled 'Punk rock'. To me, the punk movement was the voice of the 1970's generation of engaged, creative teenagers.

How did you find yourself managing The Clash?
In 1979 the manager who helped create The Clash was exhausted. The Clash told me that they were breaking up. They were about to cancel their first USA Tour. To me The Clash breaking up would have been a disaster, utterly unnecessary and a tragic waste of superb talent. Further, The Dammed had broken up. The Sex Pistols had broken up. If The Clash broke up too, my well publicised theses that Punk rock would be the definitive sound of a generation would prove to be false. I said to The Clash that they absolutely must continue and that if their manager couldn't continue managing them then I would. And I did.

The music of The Clash was refreshingly political and gave the everyman a voice. As a woman, do you feel that your voice was represented as well and how?
In fact, the Punk generations' story could be told entirely through the voices of the women musicians. The most powerful political revolution of all time is Women's Liberation and in the 1970's most of the women musicians were influenced in one way or another by feminism. In the 1970's there was an explosion of women into the male-dominated rock space. See: Zillah Minx's film 'She's A Punk Rocker' and Dr Helen Reddington's book ‘The Lost Women of Rock Music: Female Musicians of the Punk Era’. In the 1970's the rock press was sexist and women's contribution to rock culture was derided when it was not ignored. There has been much great writing on how women have fought to be included in rock music's cannon and the critical mass of women in Punk Rock made a huge difference. We should be eternally grateful to musicians like Zillah Ashworth - bass Rubella Ballet, Gaye Black - The Adverts, Gina Birch - The Raincoats, Jenny Bellestar - The Bellestars, Maeve Bayton - Mistakes, Sue Bradley - fiddle Reward System, Rhoda Dakar - Bodysnatchers, Ana Da Silva - The Raincoats, Heather de Lyon - drummer The Objects and Devil's Dyke, Karen Grey - Gymslips and The Renees, Kate Hayes - The Objects, Rachel Lovell - Dollymixtures, Lora Logic - Essential Logic, Suzanne Long - bass The Reptiles, June Miles-Kingston - drums The Modettes and Fun Boy Three, Ellie Medeiros - Stinky Toys, Liz Naylor - keyboards Gay Animals, Shirley O'Longhlin - The Raincoats, Tessa Pollit - bass The Slits, Heather Smith - The Dollymixtures, Poly Styrene - XRay Specks, Penelope Tobin, Jane Woodgate - Modettes, Enid Williams - bass Girls School, Pauline Black - The Selecter, Vi Subversa - Poison Girls, Sara Furse - No Man's Band, Mufti Berridge - drummer No Man's Band.

You were and I hear still are an activist. What influenced/influences you to not just be politically aware, but also to jump in and effect change?
It is obvious to me that the huge advantages I have as an individual in our enlightened, democratic society have been hard won. Everything I cherish in life was fought for by brave people who actually died for my human rights to freedom, free speech, equality, the vote.... This freedom cannot be taken for granted. There are people who would take all our freedoms away, given the chance. I believe that with human rights come duties and responsibility. The most important of our duties and responsibilities is our obligation to oppose reactionary authoritarianism and ensure that we preserve our human rights. It just takes everyone to do their bit. All our little bits of political activity, be they serious or fun, count!

I read on your site that you are campaigning to legalize currently illegal drugs. What led you to this conclusion and why do you think this is a more effective solution to the current drug problem?
My consciousness was raised about drugs when in 1966 a friend of mine was sent to prison for being in possession of a small about of cannabis. Prohibition is no solution to the drug 'problem'. Most people do not have a problem with moderate, pleasurable use of drugs. For the minority of people who do have a drug problem it should be a health issue not a criminal matter. Even when presently illegal drugs are brought within the law in a system of licensing and control, it will be illegal for children (those under the age of 18) to take drugs. All of us, whether we use drugs or not, should be concerned about the damage that the failed War of Drugs is doing to our society.

I love that your art has strong feminist and socio-political themes. What in your life compelled you to explore these subjects in your paintings?
Just the other day, on BBC Radio 4, a woman said 'there has never been a great woman artist.' She attempted to justify this outrageous ignorant and sexist statement by asserting that women are less capable of creating art than men. Incredibly, no one on the programme challenged her statement - they seemed to accept what she said. Misogyny and sexism are still 'in' our lives and in society. It it important, I think, to paint what I know - which is why there is a strong feminist thread through my work. As a viewer, a gazer at works of art, I love paintings which have socio-political themes! As a creator, I love making Art for Art's sake and I love doing purely decorative work. But mostly I love making art that argues and challenges and confronts and embroils itself with the issues of our time, our joys and tears.

I find myself to be a procrastinator when it comes to sitting down and doing collage/mixed media. Do you ever struggle with inertia - especially since one of your paintings can take up to 6 months to complete?
Oh, I understand! But, a certain amount of procrastination is good! Procrastination can be a valuable time of clarifying your ideas. Then again, if procrastination leads to doing nothing then that is a problem. Artists have to have the courage to do - they have to have the courage to fail. Sometimes the desire to be brilliant and a success can be very destructive. What does it matter if what you do is not brilliant or successful? They only way to get brilliant and successful - or at least, to do the very best work you can do - is to do a lot, fail a lot and learn to do better with experience and practice! It used to be a tradition for all young artists to copy great works of art. Paradoxically, in copying a great artist you can find your own style. I don't struggle with inertia exactly - maybe because I view my inertia time, or inactive time, as preparation for action. Sometimes I have struggled with depression and despair - and I have learned that the best way to live through periods of such darkness is to do something very basic like drawing. While I am painting one of my 'big' pictures I have others things on the go, too. I keep a note book full of notes and sketches for future work. This ensures that I am never short of ideas.

What brings you comfort and joy?
Aside from gooey cakes and an appreciative glance from someone I love? Well, while there are really terrible things happening on Earth, and it is necessary do everything within our means to reduce pain and destruction, what gives me comfort and joy are all the wonderful aspects of life. I do not let a day pass without giving thanks for all the amazing things we humans have created.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Interview: Project Grab Bag

Project Grab Bag is an absolutely delicious company owned by Shannon Jefferson. Her beautiful handmade dolls were the first thing that caught my eye. So few people make these softies anymore and I remember distinctly wishing as a little girl (as I got poked nightly in the face and ribs) how wonderful it would be if my favorite doll had fewer plastic parts. If you have the imagination, Shannon will gladly do custom work. In her spare time, Shannon also teaches jewelry classes at the Peoria Art Guild so if you're in the area, you might want to check it out. (graphic courtesy of Project Grab Bag)

What inspires you to make dolls/work with fabric?
I've always loved vintage items in general, and have collected vintage fabrics, linens, and clothing for a long time. I was naturally drawn to making dolls because they have so many creative elements - designing the pattern, wild color combinations, hand stitched elements, and each is a unique piece when finished. A couple of my doll designs have come from customer requests, which is so inspiring and challenging at the same time. I really love it when a someone commissions me for a special project that requires new designs and techniques.

Do you have a day job in addition to Project Grab Bag, and if so what gives you the energy to do both?
Yes, and this is the most challenging part of trying to grow the business. I work a day job when necessary and seek jobs that don't distract me from Project Grab Bag. Several months of the year can be stressful when sales are low. I work through a temp agency doing VERY random jobs that will not lead to a fulltime career, as I have hopes to be fulltime with Project Grab Bag and put all of my efforts into growing it more each year. I also instruct jewelry class at my local art guild when I have the time. Having the energy doesn't seem like a choice. I have a great support team and get alot of encouragement to keep pushing forward, which helps so much.

What are your fears/apprehensions, and how do you work past them?
I try to keep positive and realize if you don't try you'll never know. So, I keep my worries and fears to a minimum. I didn't always feel this way, but found it necessary to accept that this is a tough business and the road will be bumpy at times.

Where does your dream for Project Grab Bag eventually take you?
Having a brick and mortor shop is a big dream of mine. I love that you can connect and have sucess online, but ultimately I want to own a shop with unique handcrafted items from all over the world. I would carry items made from artists and crafters that work with mainly recycled and upcycled materials. I'm currently working on a project of having clothing manufactured in a fair trade way. I was asked to work with the woman that distributes Project Grab Bag items in Australia on designing clothing that she has produced in Bali. Together we designed a screen printed shirt that will have beautiful handstitched elements added by some talented women in Bali. I also created unique appliques for each shirt that were shipped to them to be applied. I'm excited to market them here in the US and feel great about the process!!

What brings you comfort and joy?
I'm very close to my mother and boyfriend who bring me comfort and joy. The chance of Senator Obama being our next president brings me a hopeful feeling for our future too! Great food and great, bold wine is very comforting. And, with summer coming up I really enjoy doing a few art shows around the midwest.

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