America Will Be Venezuela Some Day. Stand up in Chicago.

Rich = super duper rich, poor = even more screwed, education = nosediving. (Maybe we’ll be more like Iran than anywhere in Latin America, with all our religious predators.) Etc. I know you’ve already heard and seen these things. My thought is that, eventually, things left unchanged, America will look something like the exploitative money exporter that was Venezuela before Hugo Chavez. More so, I believe that if that occurs, someone just like Chavez will rise to power here. And, is there really anything to make you think our populist will be any better? I don’t think he will be.

So, here is the thing for today:
Chicago may be the U.S. front-runner for antidemocratic government. I lived there, and if you did too, you know it’s true. Most Chicagoans say that’s OK because life seems to be fine and life used to be worse. The Daley plan though, can be summed up as clearing space for the mid–upper class, then just saying “fuck it” to the 2/3 of the city that isn’t allowed in the Green Zone (i.e. black and brown people). Occasionally, to make room for a Surge of desirable types, Chicago expands the Green Zone while making no accommodation for those who are still outside of it, whether or not they too wish that there weren’t so many god damned bullets flying around their neighborhood.

So, today, I hear that the students at Orr Campus High School, where I used to operate an after school program, are walking out to protest what appears to be some shady & tyrannical moves by the CPS. (par for the CPS course…) I’m sort of proud, even though I know what sort of mayhem those kids are capable of, and wouldn’t be caught dead within 5 blocks of the school today.

Here is copied text about it:

Teachers for Social Justice is calling on all teachers and everyone else who can to take off work and attend the next CPS Board meeting TOMORROW at 125 N. Clark Street. Be there by 9AM. Be there at 6:30 AM if you want to speak.

CPS is phasing out or “turning around” 19 schools. Parents, teachers, and students have been picketing, petitioning, and organizing to challenge CPS plans even though the media have not covered their actions. Some phase outs are supposedly for “low enrollment” but there are actually special programs or other schools in the building. In other cases, the closing is linked to the CHA plan for transformation, and closing the neighborhood school will drive public housing residents out of the area (e.g., Abbott School). Some schools in African American and Latino areas are being handed over to become selective enrolment schools (e.g., Andersen, Miles Davis). Some closings will force children to cross dangerous streets and will result in under-enrollment of other neighborhood schools, opening the way for more closings. The bottom line is that all this is being done without consultation or participation of African American and Latino schools and communities and against their demands and proposals.

CPS “hearings” are even more of a sham than previous years, with no CPS officials present to be held accountable. One parent group was told that all the evidence they presented for keeping their school open was not even going to be considered. The decision was already made before the hearing. These decisions are being made by Mayor Daley’s appointees as part of a larger political and economic agenda for the city that does not include the welfare of working class people of color.

This round of closings undermines any pretense of democratic participation in school decision making, particularly by African American and Latino communities. TSJ stands with the teachers, families, students, and communities to demand equitable, quality education in all neighborhoods, for all children and for the necessity for families and communities to participate in decisions about their schools.

If you can’t attend, call your elected officials!


Growing my Appreciation for Richard Long

(image purloined from the Telegraph)

I haven’t posted anything for several days because I’ve been walking.

Like, I imagine, many people, damn near every conscious hour of my time is spent in front of one glowing screen or another.  Flat one, boxy one, one with commercials, one with Adblock Plus…  I think this is the root of a handful of extenuated mental blocks.

Alongside this, my exercise habits have, um, diminished…  since I took a job that doesn’t give me free access to a big university rec center.

My solution: walking.  And thus = a new facet to my appreciation for what Richard long did once upon a time.

You see I have been preoccupied with the thought that I don’t have time.  I’m busy, I’m looking for a job in what may be the most competitive market in the still-doesn’t-pay-that-much universe.  I spend time dreaming of ways to engage “young adults” who only respond to spoon-feeding.  I have a darkened art studio gathering dust.  But, I do have time.  I do.  The details may as well remain arcane – but rest assured I can fit everything I need to accomplish into a week.  And so my solution is to do a thing that takes time.

This is another of the things that those who have done it already “get”, and for which explanations to those who don’t get it won’t suffice nearly as well as learning by practice.

I have for some time appreciated the art of Richard Long.  I saw photographs and imagined.  I thought about art discourse, the meaning of drawing and of facets of existentialism – or just existing.  Now, I think of time – an assertion of having spent it and a testament to a viable alternative for how to use it.

I haven’t spent much time with Richard Long’s mud works. And although I see in myself some interest in his rocks, I haven’t compared them favorably with Robert Smithson’s gallery works.  Perhaps though, if I walk a little more I’ll know what might have seen in those too had I only seen it earlier.

I wanna be an artist when I grow up

As the scars of pedagogical endeavor render my former self unrecognizable, two questions appear ever more unanswerable:

1. Why do students who don’t like making art sign up for art classes?
2. How do so many students who have never seen an actual art work first-hand end up deciding to major in art?

Things that happened before my eyes today:

1. Of 17 students in a class
13 showed up on time
9 who were on time “completed” the assignment due
5 of those 9 completed the assignment within the (bullet-listed) requirements
2. A student who’s plasticine sculpture was an sphere-ish disc really truly and actually bit off part of his oil clay underachievement and placed it far enough from the newly scarred orb to meet the minimum size requirement.
3. He explained that the larger globule was an M&M and that his act represented his childhood.
4. He was demonstrably upset when I told him I was uninterested in his crap.
5. At that time a student who smiles a lot said I the aforementioned student looks like me.  (No, I didn’t dignify that with a response.)
6. I broke my personal taboo and lectured a group of people who are legally considered adults as if they were 8th graders.  I quietly suspect many of them actually are.
7. When, later, I warned of a quiz next week – the sixth week – several students asked me where to buy the book.
8. One student asked if the bookstore had the book.
9. My northern-born self spent two hours stuck in traffic behind Virginians because everyone crashed everywhere near the beltway the minute the temperature dropped below freezing. (My commute is usually 20 minutes.)
10. After total incomprehension about why people can’t drive in this weather, I slipped on ice and fell down the stairs.  I’m fine but I’ll be damned if I learn any lesson from it.

Sketching & Making Art

After my earlier post about blogs as sketchbooks (or after that seemed to generate a relative lot of traffic), I started thinking a little about the role sketching plays in my own process. In the inevitable periods when I don’t seem to accomplish much art making – and when I get really desperate for a kick start -I go looking through my computer for any little thing I can remake into something I’m willing to call “Art”. So, then, then… there’s all this stuff just waiting quietly in poorly named folders all over my hard drive and I realize I’ve been doing tons of work. It’s just doesn’t feel like art until it becomes a concrete object.

So, I make something. And, the ink jet transfer + patterns in gouache I’ve been doing lately only take a few hours to make. And… then I have art and can feel good about not allowing my life to be subsumed by the pedagogy of unappreciative community collegians. The thing is though, that most of those art works saw their beginnings months, sometimes years prior.

I went through my hard drive and assembled image files of non-(finished)art I made and the finished works they evolved into. I made no attempt to represent size or chronology, as ideas often take sharp turns, and sometimes, yeah, finished work isn’t big.


Confederacy of Bovines

Orange Chicken

Bovine Dichotomy

Fathers of the Rebellion


All in Line

Jasper Johns vs. Electoral Politics

So, how long until Jasper Johns gets into what must be the lucrative market for election coverage graphics?

Or, alternately, have the art world’s discursive provocations of the 1960’s finally gone mainstream (albeit with the diminution in quality that usually accompanies these things)?

primary election map


jasper johns map

Would it be worthwhile for a company wading in cash like CNN to just inquire how much a commission for a Johns interactive graphic would set them back?

Actually, PBS has a nice interactive primary date-map here –
– that lets you feel like you’re making your own Jasper Johns map a la Sol LeWitt DIY style for about 10 seconds; until you realize, well, that that’s not what you’re doing…

Essay questions on faculty job applications

*Update, 11/22/08:  If you’ve stumbled into this post,  you’re probably looking for advice like what you’ll find here: What follows below is mostly commiseration.

I spent most of the day today filling out virtually identical job application forms for community college teaching positions. Not only were they redundant in terms of my data entry, but are redundant next to the C.V. I’m required to send in with them. ALL community colleges require them. To my knowledge, no universities do. There is no nationally standard form even though the information requested certainly follows common standards.

Then, I can’t not mention the community college that requires applicants to type out their ENTIRE undergraduate and graduate transcripts in the provided form, with dates, course numbers, course titles, and grades. Oh, and then attach your unofficial transcript…

Are they trying to warn us about how much of our time they’ll waste after we’re hired?

What I’m left wondering now is: what is the real purpose of asking faculty candidates to write short essays about diversity? Really? No one worth his salt as faculty would think of writing that they don’t have ANY experience or sympathy with diverse groups of students. Anyone with a graduate degree should be able to turn some personal history into a compelling “not to exceed one page”. Nearly everyone with post-secondary teaching experience has taught students of different backgrounds. And, everyone who has had a full-time position in the last decade knows enough key terms about “meeting the needs of the changing population”, learning styles, and culturally sensitive instruction. Wheat will not be separated from chaff here.

Is the question really just to get a writing sample? To see if we can make convincing arguments for when grant writing rolls around – all the while subtly reaffirming the college’s philosophy before the first round interview? If so, why not just ask us to write a grant proposal for them? Maybe then, at least if we get the grant there’s the chance they’ll have to hire us to administer it…

Here are some questions I’ve faced over the past few days:

“On a separate sheet of paper, or in the space below, provide a statement about yourself that specifically demonstrates sensitivity to the needs of the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, disability, and ethnic backgrounds of community college students and the community at large. Your response is limited to one (1) page.”

“Please also discuss significant contributions you have made to promote diversity in previous positions you have held.”

Also from that college, “State briefly how you specifically fit the Faculty Profile of Personal and Professional Qualities and demonstrate how you have employed these qualities in the past. If necessary, attach additional pages (not to exceed three (3) pages total in length). “

“How does your work as an art teacher support social justice?”

“Please attach a response (maximum of two pages) which addresses your experience working with other cultures and communities and how you have applied your experience to a learning/working environment.”

“Provide any experience and training you posses which demonstrates your sensitivity to and understanding of the diverse socio-economic, cultural, disability and ethnic backgrounds of community college students.” (looks like they’ve seen the first one too.)

More on mapping + job searching

As I posted about earlier, I’ve been marking out various aspects of my professional and personal life in Google Earth.  I don’t know what will come of it, if anything.  It may just be part of my interest in information aesthetics.  But, I’m convinced there’s some heretofore unrealized knowledge deep within little icons spread across the globe.

Today while I was data-entering the latest places I’ve applied to jobs in, I remembered that some time ago I plotted out all of my Facebook friends’ friends in an exploration of the relationship between geography and social networking.  Three things need to be said about that: 1) I don’t have any friends in Facebook that aren’t people I’d actually call friends, 2) I don’t know if I can say the same for my friends, 3) There really isn’t any reasonable way to get data on the relationships of my friends who don’t have Facebook accounts.

The interesting thing I wanted to post in follow-up then, is that it appears that without any intention to do so, I haven’t sought a job in any location where there isn’t at least one person whom someone I know knows.  The map (flags represent jobs and most are buried under other markers, each other marker represents a person or a place I’ve been to.  No jobs are in a place with only one marker.)