Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Elegant Stress

Lindsey is out of the frying pan and into the fire. I think there's a rock and a hard place in there, too. What a week and a half!

To recap: I went back to Provo last week to walk across the stage and receive my shining white diploma cover (I was mailed the diploma itself in January :) I'm on the last month of my internship at the Hirshhorn. I didn't get the job that I coveted here (though I gave it an incredible shot and it felt good to try. And one of the senior staff members sent me a kind email basically telling me, "Good game. Try again after you get a couple years' experience under your belt.") I got into my #1 pick for grad school, The George Washington University's Art History Master's program. I can start in the fall. But I am really getting disconcerted by the level of debt my studies will accrue, and the fact that there is absolutely no promise of employment, or hire-ability (especially not in this economic climate) once I graduate. The idea of taking a full-time job and hugging tight to its stable salary and health insurance coverage winks alluringly my way.

Be timid, employed, and resourceful. Follow your dreams and get wildly into debt. Oh what a tangled web we weave... when first our dreams we try to achieve!! Any advice, family?

Other thoughts and ideas bouncing around the fire with me: Virginia is beautiful in the spring. Greener that any place I've ever lived in. Truly, this is the first location I can ever remember where I can watch things grow, and grow wildly, without a human hand begging them forward. Daffodils, my favorite flowers, dot every long stretch of grass that runs intermittently alongside the 395 beltway. There are four trees outside my third floor window (they’re my morning breakfast companions). Two weeks ago they all flowered pink, and when I came home from Utah they had switched to a full-bodied, emerald green foliage. I recently read in one of my many art reviews (or was it a political essay? Aah I absorb so many of both out here!) how culture and science have replaced a connection with nature and religiosity in the modern life. SUCH A SHAME!

Elegant Stress. That's what I named this post. The present, er MY present, is one giant kaleidoscope of beauty, temptation, clarity, dreams, fragility, loneliness, AWESOME memories, glamour, frustration, and opportunity! Somewhere in there is a lot of love, but it's really hard to feel it out here in DC sometimes. Now I know, I know… stop whining!!! I'm incredibly thankful for my time in Provo, and all the playtime I got with family and my amazing friends there! And I am so grateful that I have exciting opportunities headed my way. I just need to decide, and enjoy the ride. In Provo I drank in the now-rare experience of being surrounded by people who share my ideals, who love life the way I do and are working hard and calling on God the same way I am. I ran around a dark cabin playing sardines with my friends for hours on end. I got to hug almost all of my BFFs, and I got to dance with all the Browns twice! Once at my graduation party (Thanks Aunt Betty and Uncle Gary! As always, you’re AMAZING!) and once at Jonathan’s wedding (congrats!). There’s something magical and timeless about being around people who will buy me a mug just because they think the cute saying on it resembles my handwriting. Or who will give me a card they bought three years ago because they noticed it made fun of art history degrees. Hee hee- I love you all!

And then I fly back to DC, and the warm fuzzy of Provo evaporates. Underdog, Lindsey! Underdog! You’ve got to fight! Immediately I am inundated with thoughts about how much there is to despise about modern life-- networking, the hideous strappy platforms currently in vogue, Obama, Obamamaniacs, Blackberrys, Bono’s ineffectual ONE campaign, Matthew Barney’s happenings in LA that ended up getting some of the crowd hurt, energy price hikes, Statist control of Congress, etc etc etc!! Boo!

Elegant, modern stress. I’m sorry. As a wise conservative once said, “Calamity is unhappily the usual season of reflection,” and I am no stranger to that tendency. ODviously. (What movie??) But as another conservative recently said (in bumper sticker form):

Annoy a Liberal: Work Hard and Be Happy!

Hee hee… no wonder the 19th century saw a resurgence of Utopian and escapist landscapes. Artists were sick of watching their countrysides turn into smoke-belching factories, as the Industrial Revolution altered Europe forever. And so they turned their paintbrushes into “Remember when…” sticks and waved them around until they were completely surrounded by cutesy pictures of peasants and ponds. Heaven forbid contemporary art do that. They’re certainly doing something these days. I don’t want to do a new artwork today. No more art. Nope, I won’t go there. I’m too tired. It’s too confusing out there…

Hee hee. Bah Humbug.

Lucas Samaras, Book No. 6 ("Treasures of the Metropolitan"), 1962. Straight pins, glue, and book in a plexiglass case on wood base.

That’s a lot of pins. And a painful read. Why do I get the feeling this artist shares my current distaste? (notice the title- why would he have chosen to cover a book from America’s most prestigious art museum with spikey pins?? Curious…)

Life is Good.

PS photos of my fabulous graduation to follow shortly. Once I upload them to my shiney new-ish work laptop. :) Have the best day ever.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Underdogs

My wee tiny computer at work died today. I turned it on, it looked like all was going well, running through a couple of normal boot-up procedures, and then... it suddenly blinks the dreaded blue screen of death --{Fatal Error}--. I have seen that screen a depressing amount of times since I started college (this will be the 4th computer I have inadvertently burnt to a crisp. What am I doing wrong??)

The remains of my shiny, healthy-looking computer have mocked me all morning; somewhere in that sad little heap is all my files, everything I've worked on for the past four months. Irretrievable. Lost, like the gold plates or Amelia Earhart. Which means that for the rest of today I am relegated to the wizened old computer at the back of the cramped Hirshhorn library. Yet another reminder that I am the bottom rung, the pressure point under the high heel of my industry. I am without glamour, without the ability to procure a new computer, and without much sympathy from any of the paid employees. Ah the glorious life of an intern!

It all makes sense, though, in a way; I've been pondering all week about what it means to be an underdog. Last November I remember feeling unusually confident as I watched CNN's coverage of the presidential election results. "It's all right," I remarked to my brother and dad and anyone else who seemed profoundly disappointed by the implications of the elections. "I fight better when I'm the underdog, anyways."

And it's true. That's always been how I operate. My bestest internet friend, Dictionary.com, defines an Underdog as, "One that is expected to lose a contest or struggle, as in sports or politics; One that is at a disadvantage." Whenever I think of underdogs, images of the various kids from The Sandlot flash through my mind. I am always attracted to any person/place/thing/ or cause that is disadvantaged yet has all the heart and smarts, like those kids did. Only 1 out of every 4 people in the world is an introvert, did you know that? I consider myself one of the 25%. I've striven all my life to shed the vestiges of being shy, but I don't think I'll ever quite make it. But it's ok! The fact that I am aware of my limitations, and that I know I have to work to befriend others, makes my true friendships all the more valuable to me.

Yesterday, American conservatives threw over 700 Tea Parties across the nation, protesting the spend-and-tax profligacy of the current administration. Most of them were protesting for the first time in their lives. Most major news networks ignored the protests, other than screening a couple of shots of the more loony participants. I loved this event! I am proud of them, and excited to see those with sense stomping into the wonderful field of grassroots activism. Good luck to them, and to us all. Can you tell my tenure in DC has made me increasingly political? I used to have a strict No Politics Among Friends rule, but it's almost gone. Except how I still try first and foremost to maintain peace and respect in these conversations (reasonably possible, I've discovered). Just call me utopian, I don't care...

Earlier this week the DC Nationals baseball team almost-- almost-- clinched a victory over the reigning world champs, the Phillies. The team (which I had never heard of before I moved here, BUT NOW LOVE WHOLEHEARTEDLY) is in dire need of a pick-me-up. I am pretty sure that my added support will produce a fairy-tale ending for these dismal underdogs. Yay Nats! I'm adding attendance to a couple of their home games to my list of things to do while I'm here.

The list of Lindsey's beloved underdogs goes on and on: Michael Scott Paper Company, Belgium, works on paper including intaglio and engraving (no one ever pays good enough attention to artworks you actually have to examine!), Mormon culture (hee hee... mom pants and cub scouts forever!) People who never dye their hair, people who think sky-diving is NOT that attractive of a life event, people who refrain from purchasing $200 jeans, people who didn't even know there WERE $200 jeans, Hercules, PBS, T. C. Williams High School's 1971 football team (the one portrayed in one of my favorite movies, Remember the Titans)...

... Nope, there's more. I cheer for Jack Johnson, not mainstream but better than anyone who ever picked up a guitar. I look up to Henry Ossawa Tanner (see my January post Guess What?? if you don't know who he is.) I read in the scriptures about TONS of prophets who were stoned, crucified, ejected, and ignored as they told their friends about God's will. I study art to learn who in history has had an interesting journey, and who has produced art that was different than everyone else's... and why.

I'm championing the underdog cause, if such a thing is possible. As long as I believe it is the correct cause. I think that's part of the whole appeal of underdogs; unitedly they proclaim, "I don't care what the majority thinks, I'm doing this my own way and thinking my own thoughts!" and their stories and examples give us courage to do likewise.
Jeff Koons, Puppy, 1992. 43 feet tall, made out of steel scaffolding, 25 tons of soil, an interior irrigation system, and 70,000 FLOWERS! Standing outside NYC's Rockefeller Center in 2000.

Woot woot.

*Addendum: it should be noted that on occasion, an underdog is picked up and championed by the majority. By so doing it sheds its underdogism and becomes a fad. Then, sadly, I have to leave it behind. I hate when this happens. I loved The Format and Maroon 5, then they got big. I rarely listen to either now. I used to be the only person I knew who liked wearing grey clothes (it's my favorite color... for secret, cheerful reasons). Now "charcoal" is one of the mainstays of fashion. BOOOO! And once upon a time I liked BYU sports... oh wait, they still have a couple hills to climb... I'm still a fan :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Bizzarely, I don't ever remember an Easter before this one where I actually wished and was wished a "Happy Easter," in the same way you wish people a Merry Christmas. I was so appreciative of the many wonderful friends and family (and facebookers :) who offered me this little greeting throughout the week! And I was very grateful to enjoy once more the fantastical feelings of family love as I played with Mom, Dad, Marie, and Katie, who came to visit me starting on General Conference Sunday. I was so happy to watch them explore my East Coast world (although sometimes I felt like a monkey in a zoo-- only my adorable family would find it exciting to accompany me on my morning bus and metro ride to work at 8:30 am. Hee hee!) All throughout the week I showed them what East Coast adventures look like, and I'm thinking we had a rocking time. I felt unusually home-sicky and little girly when they left. Thankfully, today, wonderful today, had a sweet Easter Sabbath church service and dinner with friends that brought me back up to snuff and got me ready for another crazy week in the heart of the nation. The new director of the Hirshhorn starts work tomorrow; I look forward to watching the entire staff buzz around in an uproar. But this is besides the ultimate point I wanted to address in my post this evening.


I just wanted to let you know that I believe in Jesus Christ. I adore him, and am so thankful for his example and ultimately, his sacrifice. I am always amazed at the immediate calmness that floods my tempestuous little soul whenever I turn to the New Testament or Doctrine and Covenants or Book of Mormon to read about his amazingly simple, brave, and compassionate works, and to read his righteous words, spanning from 2,000 years ago in an unenlightened Israel until today. I believe that he asks me to follow him, keep his commandments, and to make and honor covenants with him. And I believe that when we do this, and give our all to him (which will not be a perfect offering, thank heavens he knows that), he will make up the difference, and someday bring us back to our Heavenly Father, the most glorious gift imaginable!! I believe that he rose from the tomb after lying there for three days, and thereby facilitated the eventual resurrection of all mankind. That fact still blows my mind. I look forward to the day when he will bring peace, equity, and truth to our world for the final and most wonderful time.

I often feel like I don't know him enough. I wonder what he would say to me if we sat down to talk, or if he called me like any of my beloved friends do on occasion (haha- tiny sidenote- my roommate Breanna has a friend Jesus, "Hey-zoos," in her phone, and she says she always jumps a little when his name pops up on her caller id. Funny). I once asked my former Stake President in Provo how he thought we could best get to know this Savior who we profess to be the center of our religion. His suggestion was to look for him in the symbolic ordinances of the temple, and to do the kind of works he would be doing in our place. Serve, in other words. Be kind. Be clean. Be smart. Be true. Be humble. Be prayerful. And you will understand who he is all the more. I am grateful for his counsel. I think he's right.

I just wanted to bear my testimony of that particularly wonderful Son of God for a moment. And now, share a work of art with you all:

Gethsemane, James C. Christensen (1942- ), Acrylic on canvas.
"And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." Luke 22:43

In an effort to understand the atonement, the artist was taken with the above scripture which states that an angel appeared to Jesus in the garden to strengthen him. Here, Christensen has placed the angel just behind the Christ figure as if he is about to place his hands on the Savior’s head and pronounce a priesthood blessing. The extreme darkness of this painting emphasizes the anguish of the garden experience.
James Christensen, a retired professor of art at Brigham Young University, began his career as an illustrator. Today he is considered one of the premier fantasy artists in the nation.



I mined Google for one of my favorite images of Christ by the artist Ron Richmond, but couldn't find it, and instead found this one and decided it'll do for now. The explanatory text beneath it came from http://www.meridianmagazine.com/arts/010417living2.html There are quite a few other intriguing contemporary images of Christ on that site worth contemplating if you have the time (including the one at the top of this post by my second-coming-BFF Minerva Teichert... even though we were born a century apart, I came to know her last year while I organized her personal papers in the BYU Special Collections Library. She's one of my heros).


BUT. Back to the point. I love this picture of Gethsemane because it isn't pretty. It isn't sweet. For a moment you don't feel there is any light coming out of it. The Savior took upon him the pain, anguish, and punishment of every person in the history "so that he may know how to succor his people." It was not a fun ride for him. In fact, it was the worst ride in history. Someone in conference stated that Christ could have chosen to understand the feelings of all others merely through revelation, if he so desired, but he wanted instead to gain empathy for his children by experiencing all their miseries himself. That is love.


Happy Easter my friends.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I Got Mail

Which means... I get to stay in DC!!! George Washington University, Graduate Class of 2011... ish. I'll work out the details of my future work and school balancing act later. But for now, PARTY!!!! And thankfulness. I feel very much looked after this week.

Here's a couple other pictures of my life in the District and NOVA (which I've only recently figured out means the District of Columbia and NOrthern VirginiA):

At the base of a Rodin sculpture in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden


This poster taunts me everyday, plastered to the top of the escalators at my subway stop: that's totally me at the bottom of the heel. Intern. Practically a dirty word. One of these days... I'll move up!


Annual Kite Festival on the Nationa Mall... kind of a dreary day, but still a sight to be seen!


Me and the tiny man-boy drummer from Garotas Suecas (last weekend's Brasilian band)

Me and me roommate Breanna. We're pretty excited. Our FHE activity (I hate saying that word when I'm 23...) was going to see the cherry blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial, and our FHE treats were cupcakes with tiny cherries on them!!! We have a very great, very clever mommy.

Normal face.
Paying homage to T. Jeff and his magnificent Declaration of Independence