Monday, June 27, 2011

Indecent......

June was a bit of a challenge for That's Women's Work Arts Network, with the highlight being having this blog frozen for indecent/ harmful content. We spoke and it seems the world noticed! Funny how speaking our mind can still scare some folks. Mary Breen and Alex Hickey your anarchist thoughts of crafting and getting over rejectionn shook the world. Congrats!

Red tape galore but worked through that.. and wouldn't you know it happened right during our guest blogger party?

That's Women's Work will be closed June 27th (today) until July 9th for me, Michelle, to get married.

When I return we'll sort it all out and ensure everyone gets an opportunity to post at a time that is best for them. Until then I'm in the land of dial-up and won't be available for emails.

Here's hoping that this gets posted and all of you will be able to read it!

Cheers,
Michelle

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

BEYOND STATISTICS: CHILDHOOD OBESITY



As the statistics for childhood obesity rise, so does the concern of the health practitioners, educators and parents. Michelle Obama talks of an epidemic. We Google for information; we do our research to get the numbers and gasp at the sheer volume of it all. Thirty per cent of the children in the United States are either overweight or obese. The majority of our children are not eating the right kinds of foods, nor are they getting enough exercise. They live a sedentary lifestyle, sitting and playing computer games for hours on end.

We need to look at the epidemic of childhood obesity and teach children about proper nutrition and support them to live active lifestyles. As adults, we need be role models and encourage our children to become energetic.

The statistics show us the numbers. Let’s look beyond the statistics and the numbers and see how obesity affects children in their day-to-day activities.

What about the personal struggles these young overweight children have? They are often being bullied or teased, and self-esteem is more often than not low.

A friend of mine, Annette, is a fifth grade teacher, and one day she told me a story that made me feel sad. I thought back to when I was a lonely overweight child.

One sunny afternoon, Annette brought her class outside to play dodge ball. The children were laughing and running, happy to be outside. One of the children, an overweight girl, tagged along behind the group, her head bent as she scuffled her feet along the pathway. She was short of breath and stopped a few times before she caught up with the rest of the group.

“Okay, kids, let’s form two groups. Jason and Kaitlyn, you can be the group leaders. Come, choose your teams,” said my friend, Annette.

The other children formed a line. Their faces were beaming with anticipation of being chosen. They were eager to play; this was fun!

Biting her lip and looking up and down the line, Kaitlyn finally pointed to a boy with brown hair. “Kyle!” she called out.

It was Jason’s turn to choose.

“Andrea!” called out Jason. Andrea, an active girl with a blond ponytail, bounced towards Jason with a big grin on her face.

One by one, the children were chosen for their teams.

“Sarah!”
“Matt!”
“William!”
“Emma!”

The line got smaller and smaller, and the overweight girl patiently waited her turn to be chosen. Every time another child’s name was called, her face showed how disappointed she was. She seemed to shrink into the background, trying to be invisible. She wasn’t chosen yet.

“Alex!” called out Jason. With his hands waving through the air, Alex ran towards Jason.

Then the most horrifying and embarrassing moment a child could experience happened. The young, overweight girl stood all alone in the middle of the field. No one had chosen her. The teacher looked at the groups, and then looked at her.

“Okay, Allison, you can be on Kaitlyn’s team.”

“Ah, Miss, does she have to be on our team?” groaned Kaitlyn. More groans rose from her group.

“Yes, Kaitlyn,” said Annette.

Quietly, with her head bent, Allison walked over to Kaitlyn’s team and stood at the back of the line. She knew she was not wanted in this group.

As Annette told me this story, I felt my heart go out to young Allison. I knew exactly how she felt. This happened to me while in grade school.

With a sigh, I sent a prayer to give Allison the strength to become active and learn about healthy eating. I wished Allison all the luck in the world to lose her extra weight and grow up to be a beautiful and successful woman, with only a distant memory of what it was like in grade school, to be the chubby one in the class.


In my book "Freddy's French Fries Fiasco" you will meet a sparrow, named Freddy and his friends. Freddy eats too many french fries and cannot fly any more. I wanted to address the isue of childhood obesity and help give the children an understanding of being healthy and dynamic in life.
You can read an excerpt of my book at www.didilemay.com/bookexcerpts

DiDi LeMay
www.didilemay.com

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Aesthetic awareness, it’s an evolutionary process ...

I often find myself thinking about how I am representing women in my art, am I placing them in positions of victims or objectifying them, allowing for potential crazies to fantasize on female models in my drawings and paintings who, in some case, may seem to be inviting abuse ?

I cannot say in all honesty that I succeed in this as some of my pieces revel in the erotic representation of women and their bodies, not for the enjoyment of sick minds but because I paint what I am interested in and enjoy or feel a need to speak out on. My awareness of women and our bodies is of course quite subjective. For me, it is often a play/struggle between an aesthetic and a political sense and value. I find myself speaking on both, sometimes in the same painting.

I do not reject the technical knowledge handed down through time and mostly invented by men, no more than I do of any language I make use of in order to properly and effectively communicate with the world around me, I use it to express my personal understanding of the world from my own experiences as a woman. I do think that I impart a certain organic, feminine cognitive part of me through my art, it can be understood and felt, depending on the topic and/or subject of a given piece. My sense of what it means to be a female and a woman differs from others, my take on eroticism and how I represent human emotions and experiences are also personal even if similar in many ways to anyone else’s.


I bring with me an aesthetic very much my own, yes it is female but also born of a life in the wrong body and thus subjected to years of seeing through the world of the opposite gender and sex. My aesthetic sense, my awareness speaks to survival, to female eroticism and to the extraordinary queerness of life. I create some pieces that, in contrast to their obvious erotic content, speak of pain, and of othering, of being on the outside looking in. Being a woman of transsexual experience has permitted me to better understand oppression and prejudice, even as a woman by other women. I am conscious of myself, my sexual identity, my gender and my orientation. I am aware of communicating my hopes and fears, my joy and my anger as well as my sadness, my chaos.

If anything, my art, is a reflection of my path and I hope it has some impact, brings some pleasure and happiness but also introspection and much questioning.

___________________________________________


New surroundings, new opportunities in Keswick


Well, we bought our new house in Keswick, Ontario because I really wish to live closer to my sister Jeanne and also because I feel my art might do somewhat better there. This is a little more complex that it may seem at first, we presently live in a small village in the Lanaudière region of Quebec called St-Alphonse-Rodriguez, some 90 minutes north east of Montreal. It’s a big move and even though we know ( my Dany and I ) it’s the right one, it’s still daunting and even a little scary at times. It means, after a half century living mostly in Quebec, we are taking on this adventure, eyes wide open, with some trepidation and lots of excitement and joy.

For me, as a queer femme-artist, this means beginning anew, putting in place a new studio space as quickly as possible as I already miss painting ( most of May without a brush ), connecting with local artists in the greater Toronto, knocking on Gallery doors to see which ones might be interested in representing my art as it isn’t exactly your garden variety type. See, I happen to create drawings and paintings that are sometimes erotic in nature or often feminist and queer friendly, which just seems to fall outside what is socially acceptable.

Mind you, I am very proud and happy to create pieces that I find important to speak out about, to put out there and incite questioning and reflection and so, I’m not regretful or being whiney, just trying to be clear and open about where I’m coming from as a woman artist. Oh, did I mention that I’m also of transsexual origin, oh well, there you go then.

I’m really hoping to meet up with other women artists, queer women and in fact pretty much any woman who thinks we could work together on projects, swap experiences, and find support. Like, where are all the cool women spaces in Toronto, what spaces might be good to show my art, who’s art should I know about in the Toronto women’s art world ? Maybe an eventual group show of women artists could be put together and help other women in need, this is certainly something I would feel honored to be part of.

Although these few lines of mine aren’t exactly filled with the kinda stuff I imagine a real, expert blog might comprise, what I’m saying here is basically that I’m coming to Ontario well grounded but also with the hope and desire of meeting new friends and contacts.

For those of you who might be curious as to what sort of art I create, then you can visit my website at: http://www.circesart.com/ , it is sometimes pretty in your face topics such as my vagina series which was inspired from Eve Ensler’s play “ The Vagina Monologues “, so please only visit if you aren’t offended by nudity.

Warmest regards,

Joëlle Circé
Joelle@circesart.com

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Facing the Risk of Rejection (Guest Blog #1)

Welcome to Guest Blogging Month at That's Women's Work. My name is Alex Hickey and I'm a folksinger-songwriter who lives & works in rural Nova Scotia. 

I have days when it feels like the biggest (and most difficult) part of my job as an artist is to find the strength and courage to open myself up to the risk of rejection. It's the part of my work that looms ominously on days when I've promised myself that I'll spend some time contacting people to ask them to book me to play shows. Or come see a show. Or stock my CDs in their store. Or review my songs in their magazine or on their blog. Or play my songs on the radio.

The process of asking people to support my work entails asking them to listen to it and evaluate it, and that always feels like it teeters on the edge between two things. On the one hand is the hope that my work will resonate with another person and give them an experience that might motivate them to help the songs along on their journey out into the world; on the other hand is the fear that my work will be met with disinterest, dismissal or out-and-out hostility.

And that can be scary for me.

I've often resorted to shielding my vulnerability by shutting down emotionally, but that strategy has an unfortunate side effect: it interferes with doing good work. (I believe that authenticity is the most important component of artistic work, and vulnerability is a vital part of my authentic self). My other big temptation is to avoid the risk of rejection by not doing the work of trying to put my music out into the world. As long as I don't ask, no one can say "No". The unfortunate side effect of that, though, is that they don't get a chance to say, "Yes", either.

Lately, I've been experimenting with some different strategies when facing the risk of rejection and I offer them to you here:
  1. Take the long view (tell yourself that you have plenty of time and you don't have to push yourself beyond what you can handle at any given moment; if you feel you've already missed your chance to be an artist, you might find it helpful to read this article by Malcolm Gladwell)
  2. Take it easy (do as much as you can, as you're ready for it; suit your pace to what you feel you can handle. If you're not ready to tackle something, be kind to yourself about it)
  3. Get help (whether hired help or help from friends and colleagues, learn how to identify the help you need, and how ask for it, take it in and appreciate it)
  4. Team up (Join with a friend or friends to swap complementary skills and strengths. Form a co-op for the difficult jobs and/or create a group for mutual support and inspiration)
  5. Find a role model or mentor (Find someone who's journey inspires you and, if possible, ask them if they will mentor you)
  6. Redefine "success" (Success doesn't have to look the same for everybody; set goals that align with your values and work toward them)
  7. Treasure positive feedback (it's hard to resist shutting down in the face of rejection; remember that keeping your heart open can also let in a lot of light; keep positive feedback on hand, where you can refer to it as often as you need to)
  8. Embrace opportunities (when opportunity knocks, be sure to take it as a sign that your work needs to be out in the world; rise to the occasion and do what you have to do to meet each opportunity with your best work)
  9. Fight the power (don't buy the lie that success in your field will only come with recognition from the establishment)
  10. Show up (even when the outside world feels like a hostile place, keep showing up for your own work so you don't lose sight of why it has meaning for you)
  11. Make the world a better place for other artists (make a point to respect and honour other people's work and their vulnerability around it; be a celebrater!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

URGENT Toronto city survey forward far and wide asap!

Toronto Survey- You fill out and submit to ensure services win over cuts! More info below on public meetings!
https://toronto.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9sGiRDeirCJmPVq

TORONTO SERVICE SURVEY AND MEETINGS!!
Register online (http://2012budgetalert.eventbrite.com/) to attend a free information session on OneToronto.ca's Citizen's Guide to the City of Toronto's Core Service's Review.


With an anticipated 2012 budget gap of almost $800 million, Toronto is headed toward deep cuts to vital services, drastically changing the face of our city. There is no time to waste – we need everyone to speak out to protect our city.

The City of Toronto is embarking on three major ‘reviews.’ The Core Services Review (to identify what services are “core” and what can be cut), the User Fee Review (to identify how to make users pay the full cost of services they use) and the “Service Efficiency Studies (to identify which city functions could be privatized, delivered differently). The results of these will determine what services are delivered by the city, how they ard delivered, and who pays for them.

These three reviews are taking place over the next few months, with limited opportunities for public consultation. The Consultation process has just been released. You can check it out here.

‘One Toronto’ is developing a “Citizens Guide” to these initiatives and the consultation processes related to them, and will be conducting a number of information sessions on them over the next three weeks.

The last two sessions are scheduled for:

Tuesday, May 24, 7:00-9:00 PM, Labour Council (15 Gervais Drive, 4th Floor)

Tuesday, May 24, 7:00-9:00 PM, Birchwood Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre (93 Birchmount Road, Scarborough)

All sessions are FREE.

These sessions will be of interest to anyone interested in participating in the consultation process as an individual, as part of an organization, or in promoting engagement and dialogue in your community. They will focus on the fiscal and political context for the consultations, the consultations themselves, and the ways in which individuals and communities can be effectively engaged in the process.

You can register online at http://2012budgetalert.eventbrite.com/ or by phone by calling Mary Micallef at 416-351-0095 x 251.

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A very simple guide to Social Fiance

http://socialfinance.ca/guide

Thursday, May 26, 2011

With spring comes a new vibrancy and energy

Women's Work is gearing up for a lush and full summer. Hang in for more details! In the meanwhile please enjoy these updated postings and calls!
TWWAN is now adding screen shots to be sure you get connected to the correct link, we love the web but we also know it can be a challenge to follow links and find info. Let us know if you think they help. Happy hunting!

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http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whoweare/submissions/hatch.cfm






http://www.akimbo.ca/submissions/?id=25989






http://www.akimbo.ca/submissions/?id=26863






http://www.workinculture.ca/apps/index.cfm?fuseaction=job.showDetails&jobid=52609&termid=7



http://www.planetinfocus.org/sites/default/files/file/Planet%20in%20Focus%202011%20Submission%20Form%20ENGLISH.pdf



Check out!

Women's Health and Art!
http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/eblast/eblast-may19-2011.html



Aangen Spring Yard Sale
Time Saturday, May 28 · 10:00am - 3:00pm
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Location Aangen Community Centre

868 Dovercourt Road

Toronto, ON


More Info Bring your family and friends and see what fun treasures we have - by donation. Aangen is now accepting donations of kids clothes, books and toys to support Aangen's Families in Need Marketplace & all the other causes we support at Aangen - including Naz India HIV/AIDS Orphanage & Animal Rescue Programs.

Please call to book a drop-off 416.519.9800
Please join Aangen's FB group to be updated regularly or our newsletter at www.aangen.com

Check out http://www.aangen.com/newsletter/aangen.2011.0502.html