Art to make you Feel

SoulPancake time!  This particular prompt is “List five pieces of art that stimulate your brain stem”.

I love art, and so asking me to choose my top favorite pieces of art is like asking me to choose my top five favorite movies or books; it’s impossible!

*Note: I know this prompt is probably looking for visual pieces of art, such as a painting or sculpture.  However, I see art as a form of powerful personal expression and creativity, so my choices are going to be a compilation of music, photos, paintings, and even a book.  To each their own, right?*

1. Untitled photo of a woman, Man Ray – I couldn’t find a proper title for this image, but regardless.  There is something so captivating about this woman.  I love the fragmented reflections around her.  It’s haunting and sad and dark and beautiful.  Man Ray’s pictures tend to be sexual and dark, but this picture is one that I’d love to hang in my room.

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2. Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin- This piece of music is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest pieces ever written.  I love it so much.  Every time I listen to it, I fall in love.  Last Christmas I received a record with Rhapsody on one side, and American in Paris on the other, and let me tell you what.  They are phenomenal, and Gershwin is amazing.

3. The Golden Echo, Kimbra – Kimbra is a modern singer/songwriter/musician.  When you listen to her talk about her music, or watch her sing, you can see how much music means to her.  This album, The Golden Echo, is her second album, and so incredibly packed full of awesome stuff.  It’s the kind of music that you have to listen to with headphones on and the volume up.  Each piece gives me a very different feeling and impression.  Kimbra’s just a freaking powerhouse, and it shows in her music.

4. The Star, Edgar Degas – I love Degas.  I took ballet for several years growing up, so I have a deep appreciation for the beauty of ballerinas and their world.  I love the subtle brush strokes and delicate focus on the dancers.  Whenever I see a Degas painting of ballerinas, a part of me wishes I was still a ballerina.

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5. Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh – I love van Gogh.  My current calendar is a collection of his paintings.  I love the textures, and the brush strokes, that are apparent in his work.  There’s something calming and gentle, and incredibly passionate in all of his works.  I know Starry Night is his most famous work, but I think this one is definitely one of my favorites.  I love the swirls and the colors; there’s something quite magical in this painting.

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I also really like Dance at Bougival by Auguste Renoir, All My Demons Greeting Me as Friends by Aurora, and Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

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What are some pieces of art that make you feel?

Ciao for now,

Julia

 

Summer Music

 

I love good music, the kind of music that reaches deep into your soul, and makes you feel alive.  The kind of music that is created by true musicians and presented with tangible passion.  (Have I mentioned yet that I can’t stand modern pop music? And for multiple reasons …..)

When summer rolls around, I find myself longing for and searching for, good music.   I should be studying for a major final right now, but oh well.  When I woke up this morning, I laid in my bed for a good long while, discovering new and amazing artists. 

I’ve recently discovered NPR Tiny Desk Sessions on YouTube, and let me tell you what, I have a tendency to fall down that rabbit hole really quick. 

Here are some of the artists I’m currently jammin’ to, and will be listening to quite a lot over the summer.

Joseph

 

Tank and the Bangs  (My favorite song starts at 13:55)

 

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

 

Avery*Sunshine

 

I’m also getting into Mariachi Flor de Toloache, Phox, and Lianne LeHavas.  My brothers have been sharing The Dead South with the family, and we all really like Nathaniel Ratliff and the Night Sweats.

It’s probably time for me to go study, but I’d love to know, what kind of music are you listening to this summer?

Ciao for now,

Julia

 

Shepherd by Crowder (ASL)

I have mentioned many times that I am working on a couple of big projects.  And finally, one is finished!! I’ve very excited to share this with you guys, and I hope it touches you, or inspires you in someway.

I have been learning (American) sign language for a little less than a year, and I have fallen in love with it.  One of my favorite ways to practice, is to sign along to my favorite worship songs.  I hope to make this an on-going series, as I really think it helps me both improve my skills, and better understand the Deaf community.

One of my most favorite bands of all times is Crowder (formerly David Crowder), and this song is one of my favorites of the newest album, American Prodigal.  I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Ciao for now,

Julia

Happy Easter!! He is Risen, hallelujah!!

The Morality Problem

It seems that there is a massive contradiction in modern pop culture and society.  On one hand, there is an adamant cry against sexism, misogyny, and derogatory comments.  But on the other hand, there is obvious and widespread acceptance of such behaviors.

Modern society is a bit of a hypocrite.

During America’s recent Presidential election, a tape was released of now-President Donald Trump saying, in a private conversation ten years prior, some rather inappropriate things about women (regardless of his conversation partner’s encouraging behaviors).  When it was released, America went into immediate uproar.  However, when we take a step back, and look at the whole of society, we notice that these remarks are not truly out of place.  Yes, we can admit that these comments feel out of place in a politician’s mouth, especially one that would go on to be America’s 45th President.  However, they are not out of place in society and pop culture as a whole.

Let’s examine one of pop cultures biggest contributors: the music industry.  Now, my brothers and I can not tolerate pop music in any capacity.  (If you were to ask us our favorite bands and singers, we would probably tell you artists you’ve never heard of.) But we have friends and cousins who listen to pop music regularly.  When my brothers and I are forced to listen to it, we are overwhelmed by the themes and the lyrics.

Because I don’t know pop music, I spent the day looking at, and listening to, the songs on Billboard’s Top 100 Songs for the week of April 1st, 2017.  To make it easier, I looked at the top 50, and of those 50 songs, 68% are listed as explicit.  These songs include the “f” word and it’s variations, the “n” word and other racist names and labels, and the “b” word, and other derogatory names and comments about women- including the word Mr. Trump used in the released video.  Multiple songs detail graphic sex, and/or reference sexual actions.  And a great multitude of songs present women as sexual and physical objects.  If the average teenager listens to modern radio, they are exposed to these themes.  For example, the current #3 song is Bad and Boujee, and that’s just a small sample.

I also looked at Billboard’s Top 100 Artists for the week of April 1st, 2017.  I again looked at the top 50, and then looked for these performers’ most recent albums.  Of these albums, 80% were explicit, or included a “Parental Advisory” tag.  For example, one of the biggest albums of 2016 was Beyoncé’s Lemonade, and it includes an advisory warning.  If we average the amount of explicit songs together, we can conclude that roughly 70% of all released music is explicit, or offers explicit themes and lyrics.  Let me ask you, given the music in modern pop culture, do Mr. Trump’s comments seem so out of place?

It is also worth noting that there were several movies during 2016 that included similar language and themes.  For example, Sausage Party and Deadpool received R ratings due to the crude sexual contact and language.  These movies were seen all around the world.  Also, many prominent celebrities use derogatory language in their everyday language.  For example: the Kardashians.  Though currently absent from tabloids, their show offers a showcase of their language.  This family of celebrities is known around the world, and their behaviors are a representation of America.  Also, any reality TV show presents an image just as similar.  And need I mention how many musicians dance or act on stage while performing their songs?  Other celebrities, such as comedians and touring musicians, repeat this language in their public personas, and are also an extension of America.  Let me ask you this, is it too far of a stretch to conclude that celebrities and their behaviors are a bigger representation of a country, than any politician?

Finally, let’s address porn.  I have already made my stance clear on this, but most adolescents view porn by the time they are sixteen. (A simple Google search will prove this.). And unfortunately, watching porn is not publicly discouraged.  In fact, some celebrities even admit to being former porn stars.  Now, without diving into the nitty gritty, we need to acknowledge the titles of porn “films”.  Most, if not all, of the titles put the most explicit pop song and R rated movie to shame.  They include, at the absolute least, the words uttered by Mr. Trump.  And if there were roughly 64 million people viewing porn a day in 2016, those people are all being exposed to words at least as bad as the things Mr. Trump has said.  Let me ask you this, if porn is viewed in private and not widely condemned, what makes Donald Trump’s words so out of place?

Let me end how I began.  Modern culture is a hypocrite.  Pop music includes lyrics and themes that are dubbed “explicit”, and the lyrics depict women in terms worse than the words in the released tape.  Popular movies and celebrities are seen around the world, and they perpetuate this “immoral” culture.  And the secret addiction of thousands, if not millions of people, around the world further encourage the use of this word and further perpetuate the degradation of women through the titles, let alone the actual films.

I am not trying to condemn one and praise the other.  I am simply trying to analyze a culture which is quick to deem a man as “sexist”, “misogynistic”, and “awful to women”, when much of the culture celebrates these labels in other areas.  Turn on any porn website or pop song, and you will be hit with these very labels.  Observe any celebrity and you will see how they impact the world, and how they represent nation of origin.

Let me ask you this, in a nation that celebrates music with a 70% explicit rate, massively popular sexually crude R rated movies, and an unashamed mindset towards porn, is it so out of place for a politician’s private conversation to contain a word or theme that is mirrored by the culture?  Let me ask you think, can we expect a politician to be blameless to the world, when the country he is representing is not?  Let me as you this, what needs to change; our pop culture or our politicians?  Let me ask you this, are you willing to face this morality problem head on?  Or are you more content to fight against the world without first addressing yourself?

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Ciao for now,

Julia

(P.S. For one of my classes this semester, I am required to conduct a research experiment/study.  I am designing my study in the form of a survey.  I think it would be really cool to have you guys be a part of my research (but please do not feel obligated!).  If you are interested, the only stipulation is that you be an American citizen (sorry, but my topic is relevant to Americans).  So, if this is something you are interested in, please shoot me an email at fidelisdiem@gmail.com and I will send you the info. Thanks!! 🙂 )

“Plain Gold Ring”

I apologize that I’ve been rather absent recently.  I had spring break a couple of weeks ago, and all I did was watch movies all day.  (I haven’t done that in so long, so don’t judge me.). Plus, I’m working on several projects that are taking up a lot of time, and are frustrating me a little bit.  Also, as evident from my post about an hour ago, I’m only about 400 pages from finished Les Miserable, and all I want to do is finish it. (Four hundred pages may seem like a lot, but after 1000 pages, this is the easy part.)

In this bit of free time before bed, I wanted to do a quick little musical study/analysis.  I love good music (I hope that’s obvious), and I love it even more when my favorite artists piggyback off of each other.  Last night, I heard Laura Mvula cover a song which I heard for the first time from Kimbra, which she in turned covered from Nina Simone.  Sounds kinda like “cover-ception”doesn’t?  But let me just tell you, each of these three artists interpret this song in three different, yet still incredible ways, and I’m just in awe.

The original by the incredible Nina Simone

I love Nina Simone.  She is incredible.  Her low, husky, emotional voice is so poignant.  My all-time favorite song from her is “Feelin’ Good“.  I also have one record from her, and I just want all of them.  I would have loved to have seen her perform.  This song, though, sung in her slow and emotional style, is haunting.  There is something wild in the emotion is this song.  It paints the image of painful resignation, and incredible heartbreak. It’s gentle yet impassioned, pained yet understanding.  It’s beautiful and heartbroken.

Kimbra’s cover

This is how I heard the song for the very first time.  I remember driving to work, listening to Kimbra’s first album Vows for the first time, and being so totally mesmerized and captivated during this song.  I’ve said it before, but Kimbra is just incredible. (Like seriously, just listen to those vocals!)  Her take on this song is passionate and heartbroken and almost aggressive.  It’s a bolder and more colorful.  And the fact Kimbra is so obviously captured by this song, adds to the emotion.

Laura Mvula’s cover

I’ve been listening to Laura for several years now, and have almost always considered her a modern Nina Simone.  Her emotion and the way she hits certain notes is so reminiscent of Nina.  I heard this cover for the first time last night, and holy goosebumps.  Her cover, I feel, straddles the differences between the original and Kimbra’s.  It’s emotional and passionate and vibrant, but still calm and gentle and subtle.

While Kimbra presents an image of passionate (or even aggressive) heartache, Laura echoes the original sentiment of resignation.  But I feel both covers compliment the original so well.  I love that two of my favorite artists have both covered a song from another of my favorite singers.  My heart (and ears) are feeling rather spoiled.

*I quite liked doing this musical study/analysis.  I think it would be fun to do others in the future (should the opportunity present itself).  What do you think?  Do you like these songs/covers?*

Ciao for now,

Julia

(P.S. For one of my classes this semester, I am required to conduct a research experiment/study.  I am designing my study in the form of a survey.  I think it would be really cool to have you guys be a part of my research (but please do not feel obligated!).  If you are interested, the only stipulation is that you be an American citizen (sorry, but my topic is relevant to Americans.  So, if this is something you are interested in, please shoot me an email at fidelisdiem@gmail.com and I will send you the info. Thanks!! 🙂 )

Oh, the love.

I am a complete and utter hopeless romantic.  I always have been and always will be, regardless of whether I am in a relationship or not.  I love kisses on the hand, hand written letters, a single rose, walks at sunset, you name it. I love words from the heart and vulnerable emotion.  I love the idea of a wild, gentle, beautiful, passionate, never ending love.  I love the idea of a soul that touches the soul, instead of just the body.  I love the idea of a love that exists between equals and companions.

This Valentine’s Day, I’m filling my day with reminders of that pure, dreamy love.  And, like always, I thought I’d share them with you.  I think this world could use some more beautiful love.

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(^^This was one of my favorite movies growing up. And the songs are just simply wonderful.)

(^^Really, though, anything from Sinatra could be included.)

Days of Cheer: My Favorite Things

I know this blog series is about my favorite things during the holidays.  But in writing about my favorite big things, I’m missing the little things.  And as my family and I were sitting around the Christmas tree this evening after the Christmas Eve service, I realized that I love the little things more than the big.  And really, I think life is more about the little things, than the big.

-I love how the house feels all light up in the evening, all calm and serene, and very atmospheric.

-I love the anticipation of the biggest holiday of the year, coupled with the end of the year.

-I love Christmas songs, especially religious ones, played beautifully on the piano.

-I love watching Christmas movies together with my family.

-I love the smell of Christmas trees, and candles that smell like them.

-I love how the house smells when my mom is baking delicious things.

-I love picking out gifts for my family, and seeing their reactions on Christmas morning.

-I love candy canes, gingerbread houses, Christmas cookies, and holidays chocolates and treats.

-I love all of the traditions my family has for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and every day in between.

-I love all the food that only comes out at Christmas time. From cookies to meals, it’s been waited for the whole year.

-I love the candlelight service at my church, and how beautiful it always feels.

-I love how my church always sets out luminaries on Christmas Eve, and I love how welcoming the road to the church looks.

-I love how joy and happiness and love fills the air, especially at family gatherings.

I think there are a great many beautiful, wonderful things year-round.  But at Christmas, it seems the world is just simply breath-taking.  Because, no matter how scary the world may seem, there is always something good and beautiful to be excited about.

(Photo credit: Diana Shaffer Photography)

What are some of your favorite things during the Christmas season?

Ciao for now,

Julia

Merry Christmas! Xx