I initially thought that my one week of rest would be sufficient but apparently not so! I ended up needed a lot more time to recuperate... it's been a while since I've been able to look at other content creators and appreciate what they do, especially in gaming. My own art has thus been put on hold, and I've been balancing errands indoors, outdoors and some me-time.
It was a good thing that I got my printing done ahead of time, as I was able to make both deadlines I was aiming for, one of which has presently proved successful. Both “Firefighter Below the Sea of Smog” and the newest “Vessel” have been accept to this year's TOMPE show (The Ontario Miniature Print Exhibition). TOMPE2020 will take place on July 29th, and depending on how COVID19 numbers run, it will be open to the public but with a virtual reception online. The show will run until August 15th. Closer to the date I'll be able to give you proper details!
The second deadline I sent “Vessel” off to is the International Contemporary Miniprint of Kazanlak, Kazanlak being a town in Bulgaria. I'm hoping the good news of TOMPE spills over to this one. I'm slightly thankful that the deadlines were pushed back due to the pandemic, because given the failure of the “Lonely Hydra”, I would not have ended up with “Vessel”. Funny how timing works. Fingers crossed it gets accepted!
Because of my self-appointed break I have still not gone down to start the next batch of “Vessel”, but I will this week. I've purchased more paper, and I'm hoping to ship some more inks and mediums since the art store near me has limited stock. If I find myself waiting I'll just cut and register the paper to prep for the next printing session.
Very little on the digital front aside from shop upkeep and some deep thinking. The political climate lately has encouraged me to think sooner about some ideas I have, to diversify things in a respectful and tasteful way. For example, it was always my intention to eventually compose an African Glass God.
As a refresher, Glass Gods is a niche of works where I recreate gods with glass-craft gear and elements. It's a joke that started with my classmates, where we paid tribute to the glass gods to ensure the survival of our pieces. Gafferdite first appeared as an advert image to one of our Valentine's Day Glass Sales, one of many to raise funds for our program. People loved her, and since then I've wanted to continue works like this, incorporating mythical content with glass culture. In the conversation of culture appropriation, both Gafferdite and the Blown Horn Norns from Inktober (pending on a proper title, this unofficial one just makes me laugh) were easy pickings because they are gods or figures of antiquity, which are now commonly used in pop culture through a variety of ways anyway.
When it came to Gurasu Gods, with Izanagi and Izanami prominent figures of the Shinto religion, my primary issues included research and making sure that the image I appropriated was old enough to be public domain. Shinto elements have also be used in more contemporary twists by modern artists, but as a Caucasian I feel it is very important for me to ensure my vision doesn't bastardize anything. Gurasu Gods received very positive feedback, but unless it hits a broader audience I can't know for certain. I want it to be made clear that diversifying and exploring different cultures is my form of appreciation for them, and it is not at all my intention to make fun or take advantage of them. I would very much hope that Gurasu Gods is not viewed negatively as Japonisme, but I obviously can't control how people react, and that's why I would like to cover my bases, to make sure what I'm doing is original and makes sense.
I can't help but feel a bit cautious when creating an African Glass God. African art and mythos is extremely rich, but you do have to reach further for it than you do with European art history. I would have to know exactly what I'm working with and what implications can be made with my choices. Egypt is an important location in glassblowing history so that may be a good place to start, but I hope to educate myself in the different regions of Africa and their corresponding cultures.
Research is of utmost importance, yet the main obstacle will be in execution. Given the political turmoil this year, my previous approach of “research, borrow, recreate, parody” does not sit well with me as an appropriate method; even though the issues lately are reserved for the Americas (African-American Culture ≠ African Culture), this is where my audience exists, and it could be very easy to misconstrue what I'm about. I don't want to take advantage of any movement, let alone be accused of doing so. These are not political illustrations, and are not associated with anything other than the glass craft community. I have already spoken to some POC friends of mine about ideas and what sort of formula I should stick to make sure the intention is more easily recognized, and they've been very helpful and insightful.
I must admit that I suspect some will still think I have no right to touch anything POC-related, no exceptions, unless its proceeds are donated or it functions as a collaboration, the latter of which I would agree with. For example, I will never touch Aboriginal/Indigenous gods or incorporate the staple black/red/white aesthetic without collaborating with an indigenous artist. As I mentioned before, the Glass Gods are not political and I don't feel comfortable about being coerced into donating to any cause. I hope you understand that this does not mean I don't align myself with human decency, a conclusion many seem to leap to.
If the case in which I cannot ethically explore gods of other histories rings true, it will not deter me from diversifying my Glass pantheon. I have the option to stick to gods of antiquity (greek, roman, norse, celtic etc.) and simply reimagine them as POC, at that point simply adding more representation to what is typically known as white. A friend of mine pointed out that there's still a risk of people being upset of a racial change, but I feel at that point it's not on me. “Doomed if you will, doomed if you won't”.
I'll be looking forward to more conversations, and I hope that maybe I will go on ahead and sketch out some new ideas in the next few weeks. But before I get too ahead of myself, I will work on my outstanding projects and FINISH them.
Thanks for reading. If you have some thoughts on my Glass Gods speculations, I would love to hear your perspective, especially if you feel personally affected.