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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

This Mexican culture that mocks death and celebrates it at the same has inspired me to write the following calavera. Calaveras are full of subtle or not so subtle wisecracks that criticize the living.  With that said,  please don’t take my poem too seriously…

In dedication to the dedicated Peace Corps Volunteer

Here lies a good Peace Corps Volunteer,
Who died of grief
From being stood up at community meetings,
Left alone at each meeting;
She has died of a defeat
Received a blow too big
And such was her foolishness
That she was already in the tomb,
Turned into skull and bones
And waiting for community members
to join for the meeting
of the dead.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Today was the last bio-intensive garden lesson in the communities. People are growing veggies!

Death by Diabetes: Dedicated To Those Who Loved Their Sugar

From Death to Compost

From Death to Compost: Dedicated to Those Who Have Fought For the Natural World

Diamond Encrusted: Dedicated to Those Who Die in Vain

Diamond Encrusted: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died in Vain

Hand in Hand: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died of a Broken Heart

Hand in Hand: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died of a Broken Heart

Cempasúchil: Dedicated to Those Who Have Not Given Up on Life and Her Beauty

Cempasúchil: Dedicated to Those Who Have Not Given Up on Life and Her Beauty

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One of my favorite little pleasures living in Mexico is riding in the back of pick-up trucks. There is something romantic about watching the countryside pass by with the sun overhead and a breeze threatening to knock off my sombrero. So, when my host dad told me we were headed to the mountains, I jumped in the back of the pick-up truck with the rest of the kids, ready to learn more about Huimilpan.

Kicking up sand as we pulled up onto the dry earth, we arrived in a cloud of dust. Hopping down from the pick-up truck, I set out to explore this foreign territory of sun-bleached grass. After side-stepping piles of cow-dung, I came across rocks – magnificently huge rocks. Spotted with lichen, they looked as though a painter had splashed lime green, orange, yellow, white and blue on the natural sculptural forms.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: It’s almost Christmas! Image

Image

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La Catrina dons her
best red sequined dress.
Swishing and swaying,
she will visit her loved ones today.

As she sets out for her trip, the
scent of marigolds finds her and
Clings to the red shiny
details of her embroidered dress.

The sequins, the smell.
They are everywhere.
They celebrate the season.
They celebrate the dead.

They celebrate the life.

Candles light the path of the souls.
The path of the souls to the feast.

As she walks along in her feathered hat,
La Catrina finds her offerings.

Sweet and sugary Pan de Muerto,
A Circle. A circle of bones.

The circle of life.

Friends and family join La Catrina.
Join La Catrina to celebrate
the season
the dead
the life.

A calavera, a skull, and a marigold
stop.
Stop to sing and join in her praise,
to celebrate
her season.

the twigster and her sister,
Josephine & Francesca

PS: Only one more full week of Peace Corps training before I become a Peace Corps volunteer. No puedo creerlo.

 

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Amongst the beagles and other varieties of street dogs roaming the humble pueblito known as Piedra Grande, roamed two Peace Corps volunteers named Danny and Josephine. Now these two volunteers found themselves in the mountains above Mexico City with a quest – a quest to create some of the best-recycled art crafts known on this side of the border. The motivation was simple and absolute, an eco-fair for about 70 children. Two weeks to prepare, and too many recycled crafts projects tantalizing their artistic energies led to quite the experience involving trash-picking, rancid milk, plastic dust in noses, and medical emergencies.

Now setbacks are inevitable in projects such as this, but they can’t always be anticipated.

Setback 1: The realization that papelerías are closed on Sundays. Significance of this discovery? Well, Danny and Josephine needed to buy art supplies from said papelerías before heading out from Querétaro to Piedra Grande that Monday morning. With a little huffing and puffing, the crisis was marginally averted. If you saw two gringos running at 8:00 in the morning, one falling a few steps behind the other (Josephine blames it on the altitude), then you saw Danny and Josephine running to buy paint, glue, construction paper, string, etc., before boarding a bus to Piedra Grande.  “Great,” they thought, “we’ve got all the materials, what can stop us now?”

Setback 2: Danny and Josephine decided to transform plastic bottles into jack-o-lanterns of all varieties in honor of the approaching and children-cherished, Halloween. In preparation for this feat, they collected bottles from a local school in Querétaro and hauled that “trash” bag to Piedra Grande, ready to turn the transparent bottles into pumpkins of vibrant orange opacity. And so, they began to paint. “Huh, how strange,” they thought, “the paint seems to be sliding right off the bottle.” Thus, they learned that they needed to sand 65 bottles before painting them – every nook, cranny, and crease needed a graze of the rough paper. That’s not time consuming at all, right? This is what led to plastic dust in noses.

Setback 3: Turns out Josephine was freakishly allergic to something, something still unknown, and as a result turned into a Blotch Monster. Face swollen, lips white, Benadryl state of mind. It is said that at this moment she informed Danny that she was no longer sanding. No, no dust particles were touching her already fragile face. At which point, as you can imagine, Danny ended up with more plastic dust in his nose.

With the setbacks finally out of the way Team Reduce, Reuse, Recycle was ready to get down to business. Day after day, more oranges bottles lined the room, haunting PC volunteers and begging them for eyes, noses, mouths. But jack-o-lanters weren’t enough. Oh, no. Danny and Josephine decided to make other recycled crafts to give out during a raffle during the eco-fair. This team was getting ambitious it seemed. Like elves, they carried on, hoping their energy and efforts would help dispel the myth that trash is nothing more than trash. Miraculously, beer bottle caps transformed into tambourines, a soda bottle into a piggy bank, milk cartons into wallets, and jugs into Day of the Dead decorations.

Two weeks of working and the time had come. The fair. Team Basura, Team Trash displayed all their handicrafts on the table, anticipating the rush of kids, and eager to give the pumpkins the faces they craved. As was hoped, the kids loved it! Helping the kids decorate their jack-o-lanterns made all the puffy eyes, and frustrated evenings of work fade away, and so they glued, decorated, and transformed “trash” for two hours.  It was the fair winding down, it was time for THE RAFFLE. Now kids had been eyeing these prizes every time they passed Team Basura’s table. They wanted that piggy bank. They wanted those tambourines. They wanted the trash. Names began to be drawn, as fingers were crossed. Prizes were received by kids with smiling faces, hugely smiling faces.

And so, Danny and Josephine gave each other a pat on the back, vowing next time to do the same, setbacks and all.

the twigster,

Josefina

PS: Make your own bottle cap tambourines, milk carton wallets, and soda bottle piggy bank.

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Gila Bend, Arizona; Day 2 of Desert Camp

Since PAC Tour has started, we have been changing towns and hotels nightly as the cyclists bike farther and farther. The other evening I had the pleasure at staying at The Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend, AZ. A relic of the past, this themed hotel welcomes weary travels with glowing neon lights and walls made of galaxies of stars.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Paint your own glitter wall. Everyone loves glitter.

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The other day was my first time in Chicago, and by far my biggest priority was to see the Bean, or the Cloud Gate. Typical tourist. I know, and I totally reveled in it.  I first saw some of Anish Kapoor’s work at Gladstone Gallery in NYC in 2008. Since then, his work has continued to fascinate me, especially his ability to engage the viewer in his work and question their perspectives.  Unsurprisingly, this artist has captured my sister’s attention too, and I invited her to share some insight on the sculptor’s work.

the twigster,

Josephine

The Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park is a seamless construction, executed with precision and talent. A total of 168 stainless steel plates comprise the exterior, yet the Gate appears as a whole bean-shaped drop of “mercury” amidst the city backdrop.  The form and stainless steel material of the Bean then allows the sculpture to form a dialogue with both its audience and the surrounding environment. The sculpture entices the audience to play with their reflections and distorted shapes, and to walk around and even under the sculpture. The viewer quickly learns that different points of contact with the sculpture yield different reflections, different perspectives, and a totally different experience with the art.  This experience, with the backdrop of Chicago’s downtown reflecting in the Bean throughout, unites the viewer, the environment, and the sculpture as one entity. Anish Kapoor successfully created a world within a bean – a windy world.

twigster sister

The Bean!

The Cloud Gate, Chicago
Under the Bean

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Once we picked all the ripe apples from the tops and lower branches of the trees, we scoured the grassy floor looking for any forgotten apples. Those apples that had been undetected for a few days or were nibbled by curious deer passerby were collected for the cows. Daily, the cows would gorge themselves with buckets and buckets of rotten apples. They had become so accustomed to their sweet treat that they would moo from the pasture when they saw us approach with buckets in hand. Those were some happy cows.

The apples that were still fresh, but bruised from the fall were also collected in a separate container. These apples and those that were too small for sale were used to make apple cider. The farmers at Threshold Farm had a purpose for everything that they produced. Nothing was wasted, for everything was viewed in a circular rather than linear fashion. Making complete use of nature’s abundance is something I hope we can all strive to do in our lives.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Check out my sister’s artwork at francescatempesta.com

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