February 9th, 2004
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I couldn’t resist posting this one, it’s too good:
“Historical Fact: people stopped being human in 1913. That was the year Henry Ford put his cars on rollers and made his workers adopt the speed of the assembly line. At first, workers rebelled. They quit in droves, unable to accustom their bodies to the new pace of the age. Since then, however, the adaptation has been passed down: we’ve all inherited it to some degree, so that we plug right into joysticks and remotes, to repetitive motions of a hundred kinds.” Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex
That explains my love of Mennonites.

February 7th, 2004
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I admit it. It’s not the first time. I went to put on my favourite t-shirt, a ratty looking grey tank that is soft and fraying from years of wear, when I heard a nasty tearing sound. I contemplate for two seconds the idea of pulling out a needle and thread and quickly decide that there are too many other things I need to do, no time for the old fashioned art of sewing. So I reach for the stapler. And I laugh at the absurdity of it, (I come from a long line of expert sewers, yards and yards of tiny delicate stitches covering dozens of colourful handmade quilts.) I hear the screaming of my ancestors as I punch down through the thin fabric. It’s not that I can’t sew, I’m actually quite good at it, trained by both my mother and grandmother. But sometimes I find the act of dressing myself in the mornings to be a chore, taking more time than I would like. Yes, I have on occasion been known to work in my p.j.’s, (a habit I am trying to break due to meetings with fedex drivers and drop in neigbors). I was quite excited to learn that the brilliant furniture team of Charles and Rae Eames had both invented their own “uniforms”. Rae designed for herself a kind of “frock”, a basic black tunic style dress with pockets. She had several of them made in the same colour. Charles decided on button up shirts, bow ties, and cardigan. Intensely practical people they wore the same things for years. I admire their ability to ignore the mass culture at large (on all fronts, not just clothing). I have thought about what I would have as my uniform, several things came to mind (my black lace up boots). But I have a tendency to dress according to my mood, some days I want a lot of colour, and others all black. Today I just wanted to wear my favourite shirt.
If you are considering following my quick “sewing” tip yourself, keep in mind that staples do NOT hold up in the wash. Just so you know. To demonstrate the extent of my laziness, I have in the past stapled skirt hems, blazers, and shoelaces (don’t try this). Sometimes quick is not always the best solution.

February 6th, 2004
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The Ontario College of Art and Design is in the process of being redesigned, a large new addition has become the focus of much worldwide attention. Much like my thoughts on Salinger I cannot determine if the architect is brilliant or possibly mediocre. The addition might be described as a large box perched on top of several coloured “straws”. Insect like it hovers what seems like miles above the old part of the building, (though in person it does not seem nearly as tall as the drawing).
An article in the New York Times is titled, “How to Make a Building Fly”.
I am excited that the College is finally taking a major risk in terms of design, and not doing the safe thing. (Isn’t that the role of an art school? To push the boundaries of our society at large? To be daring and fearless? To experiment?) The architect Will Alsop says that he “sees happiness and joy in life’s essential drudgery.” A beautiful thing no? I heartily agree with him on that note, and try to put that into practice in my daily life. Except my first reaction upon seeing the drawings of this new addition was a sensation of aching arms. You see one thing about art school is the incredible amount of ‘stuff’ one is required to lug around on a daily basis. A short list, portfolio, large masonite drawing board (read: heavy), sketchbook, a tool box of supplies including any and all kinds of art supplys you can think of, depending on your program you could have any number of materials (bike parts, metal sheeting, wood). Now I find that as an occasional guest lecturer I am also plagued with a lot to carry to the classroom, (laptop, samples, portfolio).
A quote from the architect himself:
“As an architect, our mission statement is just to make life better. It’s a very simple statement, but quite hard to do. In the end it has nothing to do with style or anything else.”
The main access to the new addition appears to be one LONG flight of stairs up to the centre of the insect. I wonder Mr. Alsop, if this might be a bit of a contradictory move on your part to making the life of the student and faculty ‘better’. Did you, (as Jane Jacobs recommends), sit for a time and watch the movements of the art students? Did you notice the patterns their feet made while walking back and forth? Did you consider what it means to be weighted down by the stuff of creativity? (Yes, there are elevators but I find these to be a poor substitute for thoughtful layout).
What I will say is that when I walked past the building a few days ago I found myself grinning, so maybe that is a good sign. I will try to remain open and ignore the screaming of my arms.

February 4th, 2004
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I know I’m probably bombarding you with quotes. I wish to write more but am currently into the throes of book writing. So this will do for now. My old journals continue to give me little sparks of excitement. If you haven’t already done so take a trip with “The Cheese Monkeys” by Chip Kidd. It may push you out of your habitual ways of reacting. Or not. The character of Winter Sorbeck had many similarities to my teacher Ross Mendes. The kind of person that throws your brain for a loop on a daily basis. He commands you to pay attention.
“You are a designer. You have to eat the world with your eyes. You must look at everything as if you are going to die in the next five minutes, because in the relative scheme of things, you are. You can’t miss a trick.” -Winter Sorbeck

February 3rd, 2004
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I found this in an old art school journal…
“there is nothing in the world that should not be expressed in such a way that an affectionate seven-year-old can see and understand it.” -Tolstoy


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