This is and isn’t the Punjab we grew up in. The flat fertile plains spread out into the horizon. This vlogger’s voice mingles with cawing crows, chirping sparrows, and the occasional sounds of a hoopoe. The blues, greens, and browns of a familiar landscape takes me back to a simpler time. I can almost smell the wood fire burning in her outdoor kitchen and feel the chill in the air on this misty morning in November. What is not familiar, is her use of technology, her smartphone which captures and uploads her videos every few days.
Social Media shows us meticulously curated imagery and art: that perfect face, the choreographed tik tok video, the manipulated political message. Through my art, I hope to uncover the beauty in the hidden imperfections that my mind is not yet trained to see. The blurriness in my lines indicates my feeling about the nebulous nature of life. I continue to capture the complexity of my culture and background in the images I create.
Throughout history people have taught others what they learned from those that came before them. Some of us acknowledge our sources for creative inspiration, others don’t, but no one has ever created something out of nothing.
At Play On Words, we believe that the stories we tell reveal truths we may not have recognized otherwise. That’s why we were drawn to Selma Tufail’s “Self-Portrait,” an excerpt of a memoir-in-progress that she is writing with her sister (and fellow Playonwordsian) Anniqua Rana.
Italy is the ideal place to do a course in design, to learn the effortless elegance of Italian fashion and its perfectly imperfect laid back confidence.
As we walk between the olive trees along a dirt path, I wonder how old they are. A cylindrical extraction from the bark to the core is enough to find out the age of tree. But olive trees are a challenge because they tend to be gnarled and twisted. Could they be the variety that was brought over from modern day Palestine 6,000 years ago? by the Phoenicians? For some reason, I had thought it was the Greeks.
Take the case of the dogwood tree, Cornus florida, belonging to the Phylum Spermatophyta—if you’re wondering. It’s a Native American plant that has been burdened with a heavy crime for its 40-foot frame. Granted it is strong enough to make golf clubs and wooden mallets, but its main crime does seem biologically questionable.
We’re all here for something—to enjoy what this peninsula has to offer: olives, silver, purple dye. These Phoenicians, brothers of Jezebel, are my brothers too.
I connected with the work of Aliza Nisenbaum. Like me, she teaches English to immigrants. She taught English at the Immigrant Movement International, a community space in Queens started by the Cuban-born artist and activist Tania Bruguerahe.
Finding time to write and create is a luxury for some, a necessity for others. The question remains, how do we recognize those who don’t have time to create and document? Has the world changed since Tillie Olsen wrote about the suppression of those disadvantaged by gender, class, or race?
It’s a creativity enhancer, an aphrodisiac for art, Selma tells me about the mystic music that inspires her most recent painting of calla lilies dancing like whirling dervish.
Children have a mind that has not yet been indelibly marked by the world they live in. This is what fascinates me when I talk to them. They come up with fearless new proposals while older brains – like mine- tend to go with tried and tested designs, calling the process “experience”. When I look back at some of my own youthful experiments with art and creativity, I smile – or laugh. What I wouldn’t give to return to the innocence of my childhood, to the time I believed I was a misunderstood artist.
Hand crafted projects rarely are perfect, I remind myself. I have learnt to embrace these imperfections and incompleteness, the wabi sabi (侘寂) of life. The simple Japanese concept of coming to terms with transience, the imperfections and the incompleteness that life holds.
“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.” ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón
A raised fist made of rusty-red laterite clay, “Speak Out” is Djakou Kassi’s latest artwork currently on display in Los Angeles, in Signature African Art gallery. It is a symbol of power and support for marginalized communities. African masks cover the larger-than-life clenched fist and the messages carved into the clay cry out against racism and discrimination. “Love”, “No to Hate”, “We are all Human”, and “I can’t Breath” reference the struggle faced by people of color everywhere, especially African Americans in the United States and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Ours is a world where opposites serve as a counter balance to each other. When a balance is created and maintained between extremes, that is the space where we will find peace.