Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The New Duck-and-Cover

On a more depressing note than the previous entry, I got a text message from the college about the Test broadcast for "simulated violent act by an armed intruder"while waiting for my flight home. Even knowing that the message was a test- I was sick to my stomach. After being on campus during the NIU tragedy (which I still haven't really processed), I don't know if I would have handled the simulation very well. I applaud the efforts of administrations across the country to try to make schools safe, but it seems like the spector of student or gunman violence on campus is encouraged by advertising it. It seems like the next paradigm to unite people in fear. Nuclear holocaust is still on the table, but more people are worried under the surface about an unstable person with a loaded gun in a public place. Sweeping statements (which are offensive to discriminating audiences) follow, I apologize in advance. I can not process the info, but I am trying to get a handle on it in broad sweeps. Is it a creative outlet for those who have no sense of community or identity? Considering the proliferation of such shows as "Ultimate warrior" and nearly any American depiction of hero violence, is this the contemporary way of getting notoriety without talent/wealth/hard work? Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point discussed the spread of teenage suicide in the South Pacific islands of Micronesia as being viral. Are we seeing the same thing occur here with school violence? ---I was conducting research on violence in my studio practice but I just couldn't detach myself or deal with the info after the shooting at NIU. I only got a few chapters in to Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect before I had to stop.

The experience did however bring me a fresh reason for dedicating my life to art--- the only thing that seemed to heal was artwork. Two things made me feel better during the numb weeks afterward: spending time in Ayomi Yoshida's Yedoensis installation (click on photo gallery at the top of the blog for some better views than my photo) at the NIU Art Museum and hearing former poet laureate Ted Kooser reading his Valentine poems on public radio. (Not only were the poems simple and precise, I heard him read during my residency at the KHN Center for the Arts). Those artworks made sense during a time when not much else did.

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