10 Inspiring rules set by Sister Corita Kent

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

I believe that this rule by Sister Corita Kent applies to writing just as it applies to any other creative process. When I try to write creatively, I find that it is good to just let the words flow. Then leave them to rest for a while, before going back with a fresh view to edit them.

I am revisiting the work of Sister Corita Kent, following a recent email from a friend with the subject header ‘inspiration’. It stated that they were starting a “collective, constructive, and hopefully uplifting exchange” and it was a chain-letter-type-thing that asked simply if I could send an encouraging quote or verse to the person detailed in the email. The deal being that in turn someone (probably a friend of a friend), should send some texts to me sometime soon. I quickly settled on sharing the Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules, which I first spotted in a compelling exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts in 2013. It was at this exhibition that I was first introduced to the work of Sister Corita Kent (1918 – 1986), an activist nun who ran the art department at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles for over 20 years.

Sister Corita Exhibition 3

In total, the Immaculate Heart Art College Department Rules state:

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

In the exhibition, the words of these rules were printed on a number of boxes that were combined to build a room and inside they screened a film. Now almost two years on, this ‘inspiration’ email prompted me to search the for this film ‘We Have No Art’ and I found it lurking in the land of film known as Youtube. I’ve now watched it again a number of times. I’ll probably watch it a few more times by the time this blog post is finished. So I feel pleased that in the quest of inspiring a friend of a friend via email, I’ve also found a little time to explore the work of Sister Corita Kent once more.

I like the sentiments shared in this film, both by Corita and her students. It gave me a chance to get a sense of their methods of thinking and teaching. The film starts with a brilliant and humorous introduction, as Corita discusses why you should never blink when watching a film.

I think maybe one of the most important rules about looking at films that I can think of is that you should never blink. You should really keep your eye straight on the film and never miss anything. Because if you blink or close your eyes or turn around, I always think it is comparable to skipping several pages of a book.

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WORDS: Pecha Kucha Night Vol 12

In May 2015 I was asked to speak at Dundee Pecha Kucha Night Vol 12, with the open invitation to discuss any topic. The only limit being the format = 20 images, each for 20 seconds. 

I selected to discuss words.

I planned what I was going to say. 20 seconds per slide really doesn’t seem like alot, it goes even quicker when you are on a stage with a couple of hundred people in front of you. So I didn’t keep to my plan exactly. However, I’ve embedded the words and images that I planned to say below. You can compare and contrast. Continue reading “WORDS: Pecha Kucha Night Vol 12”

A letter to Dundee

I was five years younger when I first moved to Dundee. My face was five years fresher and I was unaware of all the incredible people I would meet during those next five years. People that have changed the way that I think about myself, the world and art.
A pink sky over Dundee, looking out from Wasps studios.
A pink sky over Dundee, looking out from Wasps studios.
In Dundee I encountered so many people who are passionately working to craft their own part of the world. No one ever asked me to create there, but yet I felt encouraged to. I felt compelled to, as I was surrounding by people who were constantly making.

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Flying Through Clouds

There are a few moments when flying that are truly magical. They are found after the inevitable strip of boots & belts at security, after the tiring queue to board and the bumbling walk down the aeroplane aisle. These moments are imminent as you clasp your seatbelt closed, the plane starts to move and the repetitive safety drill finishes…

The moments that I find truly magical start when the plane lifts off the ground into the sky. It is at this point I can gaze down in awe as the familiar world below becomes smaller and smaller. As I move farther away, I gain a new perspective at which to see the details that shape the landscape below – until the plane breaks through a sea of clouds and the familiar world disappears. In its place is a magical landscape of fluffy white clouds. My mind at this point feels like a child and I gaze on in innocent wonder at these amazing fluffy floating things, that just become even more enchanting the more that you look.

I understand the theory and physics of both the clouds and the plane flying within them, but the reality of flying through the clouds still manages to blow my mind just a little. I’m glad that it does. Such experiences shouldn’t get tiring. Although it is hard to remain in awe for the full span of a 20 hour flight, it is worth remembering to open your eyes and look out the window at the cloudy world outside at least at the point of taking off. As there is a somewhat magical world of clouds lurking just outside.


 

Just a few random words I wrote this summer whilst on holiday and am only just finding the time to post now. Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

Making Marks in the Sand

Love sunny days 🙂 last of my sand writing for today #words #sand #beach #writing

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Sometimes the most simple actions are the most rewarding.

Sometimes the most natural views are the most satisfying.

Reflections of the clouds in the water #sea #beach #water #reflections #photo

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Sometimes it is nice to know that the mark you make is not permanent.

I recently spent a good few hours wandering around St Andrews beach and I was looking for excuses not to leave. So I made a small H in the sand. Marking my spot gave me an excuse to stay a little longer. There is something wonderful about making marks in sand. It is a flexible and responsive surface that allows you to play, build and write without any pressure. With the knowledge that your marks in the sand will be somewhat fleeting.

Sometimes it is nice to do the obvious.

The first mark made me want to write more… So I decided to write a few basic beach instructions, with the vague hope that someone might find them and follow them. They are not groundbreaking requests. They are probably the most obvious thing you can do on a beach. However, sometimes it is easy to forget to do the obvious and it can be nice to get a reminder.

The complete set of instructions 🙂 I enjoyed following them #beach #words #writing #scotland

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WALK THIS WAY

WALK THIS WAY.

I saw this sign the other day and it made me smile and think. It was not directing me to go in the direction of anything specific, but out of curiosity I decided to follow it. I walked to the left as the sign directed and I found myself with a low wall to my left and stacks of fishing nets to my right, beyond the wall was a small river and to right of the nets was the boat filled harbour. It was a pleasant little detour and enjoyed peering over the wall at the water below and photographing the twists and turns in the nets.  I walked until I reached the point at which the water that had been on either side of me met and I discovered I was at a dead end. I guess I could have jumped in the water, I do like swimming, but on this occasion I decided that the best option was to turn around and come back.

Upon returning past the sign and subsequently walking in the opposite direction to the arrow, I began to question the intentions of the original sign maker/hanger/instigator. I began to wonder whether they had hoped to encourage people to take the time to walk up this underused path at the harbour, or had simply hoped to discourage people from walking a different route. I questioned what people would do if the sign did not exist and whether it was a positive or negative addition to the space. I didn’t come to any particular conclusions, as this questioning happened in the space of a few seconds inside my head before I was distracted by the waft of fresh fish and chips.

I am constantly curious about the number of words that exist in our built environment. A number of these words come in the form of signage, but signs don’t need to be formal structures. In fact, I often wonder if people are so used to the formal qualities of official signs that they become rather blind to them, that or they subconsciously submit to them. I saw a lot of signs when I was walking around New York earlier this year and yet these words ‘NO LOITERING’ that were chalked into a stairway were the ones that stood out to me. Perhaps they stood out, as at the exact moment I spotted them I must have been loitering in some way and they caught me in the act as I turned to look directly at them. It was as if these words had preempted that the spot in front of their appartment was the one that I would take to rest for a minute after walking for hours.

I guess that is what most signs do, they run through possible scenarios for a specific place or space and then they try to guide people in what is deemed as the best way to navigate. I think most signs have good intentions, and sometimes signs in the form of identification and navigation are definitely necessary.

However, sometimes it is also nice to decide for yourself which way to walk, as it can make the simplest journeys in life seem just a little bit more like an adventure.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

Damn Water

It always starts with just one drop of water upon a Scottish hillside.

This drop stumbles around until it joins many more drops and starts to create a trickle of energy, an energy that will gather momentum as it flows downhill on a quest to reach the big blue sea. As all the energetic small drops gather speed, they start to gush out of gulleys in small streams and crash against rocks. All that noise is actually the drops incessant screeching about the rumours they have heard about the big blue sea, their excited shouts about the vast mass of energy they have heard exists in the ocean.

What these drops don’t know yet is that there are some obstacles between them and the deep ocean space. There are systems and structures set up to direct the way these different drops flow through the land, pushing them this way and that along the way. The biggest obstacle is the dam. The dam ensures many drops are held in the vast resevoir basin. This basin is beautiful, surrounded by sweeping hills and lofty forests. There is a wonderful and inviting sense of calm in the basin, which many of the water drops will enjoy for a long long time. Some may find they are happy there forever.

Yet, in this calm beautiful basin there is also a struggle going on below. As below the calm surface there are drops being pulled into the generator which leads to the flowing river below. Some drops are pushing out as they want to explore beyond the basin and other drops are pulling in as they are afraid of the rumours they hear about the wild waterfall on the other side.

The drops that are pulled into the generator will momentarily experience a brilliant sense of power. As they crash down with thousands of other drops in a chaotic cloud like mass, the instant transformation from calm to chaos will give them enough momentum to carry on with their quest to reach the big blue sea.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

 

New York in the Snow

All of the days were cold on my recent trip. The air was fresh, but the skies were blue and the sun shone brightly.

Apart from one day in New York, when the sky turned white and drop upon drop of snow fell down in a flurry of activity that ceased to stop for a moment or run out of energy for an entire day. The falling snow added a new sense of time to the streets, as it fell in fast flurries yet it slowed everything down. Cars ceased speeding and instead started to crawl. As the snow fell it nipped at my cheeks and forced me to pull my scarf up to cover my nose and my hood down to my loom over my eyes. As I breathed into my scarf, my glasses started to steam up on the inside as the snow made wet droplets on the outside. The snow storm blurred my vision and transformed the city in one swift movement.

snowbencheds

The next day I woke up to blue skies again, I woke up to cold air again, but everything otherwise looked different. Benches were draped in sparkly white blankets and you suddenly had new choices to consider when walking down the street – opt for the cleared walkway or delve into the untouched snowy section of the pavement.

snow1

You suddenly found snow hiding in unexpected places, hiding from the bright sun in an effort to stay crisp on these cold days.

snow3

You found iced up lakes in Central Park and snowballs sitting atop it it proudly.

snow4

The cold meant putting on layer upon layer of clothing was a necessity. The cold meant I learned not to trust my visual weather barometer, as the blue skies were deceiving and on the few occasions I opted for less layers I quickly came to regret it. As real cold has a way of setting in when you are walking around the city for hours. The fresh air has a way hitting bare flesh quickly and sharply. The fresh air has a way of navigating in between the creases of your clothing just to quickly and sharply hit any bare flesh it finds. The fresh air has a way of knocking the warm air out of you. It can make you gasp at its ability to make such an impact.

snow5

I found the only good solution too the cold was multiple layers and silly hats. Layers of merino wool, layers of soft fleece, layers of down filled coats, layers of bubbly wool scarves, layers of long socks… that carefully overlapped to ensure that I was wrapped up tighter than a perfectly crafted parcel. Sometimes, it is actually quite nice that it is so cold that you get to put all of these layers on. There is a real sense of satisfaction that you can attain by wrapping yourself up in such a manner. As the cold wind snapped and I pulled my hood up, its furry edge blocked my field of vision so I had to focus on what was in the smaller than usual viewing space, or I had to purposefully turn my head if I wanted to look at something or speak to someone. The cold meant I also had a reason to sample a good selection of hot chocolate. It was a real treat to see New York in the snow.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

Fun A Day Dundee 2014

I have to confess – I have been thinking about FUN quite a lot recently.

The FUN thoughts first appeared when we decided upon our motto for the Dundee Sustainability Jam. They continued to lurk as Seaton Baxter took up the challenge to discuss this motto and whilst he spoke about a number of projects, he highlighted how much FUN actually exists in a number of words if you look for it: FUNgibility, FUNdamental and even FUNeral.

So it seems that if you look hard enough, you can find FUN lurking in some unexpected places.

Subsequently, thoughts of FUN have been drfting around my mind ever since. They are hard to shake, and as I have since volunteered to help organise this years Fun A Day in Dundee, they may be set to stay for the time being.

For the uninitiated, I have to warn that the Fun A Day project will be encouraging the people of Dundee to have FUN in January 2014… on a daily basis! We don’t mean to shock, so we think it is good to be honest about our intentions from the start. We want the people of Dundee to have more FUN!

Fun A Day dundee, 2014

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