Self Reflection Essay-Learning To Reflect, Loudly

Disciplinary Term/Concept: Historical Memory

“The concept of historical memory refers to ways in which groups, collectives, & nations construct & identify with particular narratives about historical periods or events,”

-Also referred to as: Collective Memory, Social Memory, & The Politics of Memory

The Art of Steve Prince as a class, started off pretty rough for me. I was too shy and nervous to join any class conversations and this lasted for the bulk of the semester. Class discussion was pretty much the most important part of our lessons so you can imagine how poorly I did. Still, I think I’ve learned a lot since the beginning of the semester. I listened intently to the lectures given though I didn’t speak. I’ve learned through Steve Prince’s art, I’ve learned through the books we read, I’ve learned through the class discussions and guest lectures we’ve had, and I’ve learned through simply existing and adapting in this environment. I have learned to throw a little more caution to the wind when it comes to being part of a conversation. I cannot let my limited experiences stop me from contributing. And one of the most interesting lessons I’ve learned in this class that I keep coming back to, is words, and how they influence our perceptions. I have always thought about this concept but this class, specifically a class day in which Professor Cathy Adams visited, has made me think about this concept in a historical sense. Continue reading “Self Reflection Essay-Learning To Reflect, Loudly”

Striking A Pose

On April 1st, my class The Art of Steve Prince had a guest Professor, Mark Broomfield who teaches dancing. Although he did teach us all how to dance, his primary lesson focused on how we as a society apply gender roles to movements and poses. He separated us into groups and had us come up with two dance moves; a feminine one and a masculine one. We performed our collective moves and he then asked us what made our moves feminine and masculine. He talked about how we assign these gender roles to body movements, but ultimately they are just movement that anyone can make regardless of what gender they identify with. He then asked us to counteract our original gender assignments to the dance moves. Each group came up with different solutions-mine perform both moves at the same time to make them appear unisex.

During the exercise, I was reminded of my experience in the world of cosplay, as a comic book fan. It is probably already a bit obvious even to those who don’t read comics, but women are extremely sexualized and objectified in the comic book industry. Throughout comic book history, female superheroes are often either drawn in positions of vulnerability on cover art, or are meant to be striking a powerful pose, but the attention is drawn to their boobs and butts, negating their power. This isn’t an ancient practice either, as recent as this year a comic run “Heroes in Crisis,” from DC came out with a panel in which Batgirl is showing a scar on her lower back. Except, the scar isn’t the primary focus of the illustration, her butt is.

Many have argued that male characters are just as sexualized but the argument is simply ridiculous. Male characters are drawn to look attractive yes, but when Batman is captured by the Joker, we don’t get cover art of him in a cage crying, facing ass up. We get cover art of him looking angry, in chains. Male characters are never drawn in positions that make them look inherently weak, but women are generally either drawn to look  weak or drawn to look sexy, or both at the same time.

As bleak as the comic book industry is, there is a silver lining. The extreme exploitation of women within the industry does not often carry over to the world of cosplay. I was reminded in class of the poses I use when being photographed. Many are not necessarily unfeminine, but they are all meant to make my character look powerful. The picture above is my go-to pose for Zatanna, a magician hero, me casting a spell.

There is of course the famous Wonder Woman pose, which is a staple in any female cosplayer’s lineup. It is a stance that radiates power, shoulders back, fists on hips, legs apart. There is a considerable amount of push back on gender stereotypes within the cosplay community and I hope as time goes on, the world of comic books will improve as well.

In class that day, I really saw the both/and when looking at the gendered body movements in dancing, and cosplay. I really appreciated that we all tried to defy and push back against these made up roles, and I really appreciate Professor Broomfield for teaching us. Dancing is such a joyous act and it was great to find a way to address things like gender roles through something that still brought happiness to everyone.

Review on Steve Prince’s “Urban Nativity”

Steve Prince is known for depicting many themes in his work; Christianity and the lives of Black Americans are two big ones.

As many of Prince’s pieces are more symbolic, this one, “Urban Nativity” is a more blunt take on these topics. Take note that Prince’s usual characteristics are still present-the block shaped pants and shoes suggest that the horsemen of the apocalypse are standing over the dead body. Symbolically, the horsemen may represent the men who’ve killed the victim. They may also represent passerby’s, who are unfeeling to the tragedy in front of them, as bystanders, they are are also responsible for this boy’s death. The dead body is only covered by a cloth, which forms Prince’s trademark dove. This dove suggest that the boy who died was innocent and peaceful, his death was a great tragedy and wrongdoing. The dove is also lying on the ground, meant to mean that peace is dead too. Lastly, a price tag hangs from the victim’s foot. This can be taken to mean many things, but I think the simple message it is supposed to bring to those viewing Urban Nativity is that a price was put on this person’s life and that the world didn’t slow down to mourn, it was desensitized to his death.

The More You Know

It’s honestly wild how little I knew about really any African culture or history. Lookin at you, US education system.

This semester, I’m taking a class, The Art of Steve Prince. Steve Prince is an artist, or in his words, an art evangelist. His passion lies in community art projects, and most recently, he assigned one of those projects to the students of Geneseo. Ironically, I got super sick right before, and missed that entire project. I have however, gotten to see the end result. The project is called Urban Garden, and it featured three walls turned into a mural. One side, representing the worst in humanity, the struggles of the oppressed. The mural on the opposing wall represents the best of humanity, the passion for strength and justice. The mural was beautiful, one of the nicest things was to see friends looking at each other’s work and saying, “Oh you must’ve done this, I love it!”

While I missed Steve Prince’s lecture and art project, I was able to read the article, “The Kongo Cosmogram” and the Flash of the Spirit Jism. Never have I learned so much about African culture, specifically the Kongo. These articles/chapters went into how the people from the Kongo influenced culture in the Americas. In the US, Kongo culture influenced current slang in the English language, such as words like ‘funk’, and ‘jizz’ and ‘goofer’. Interestingly, goofer is connected to conjure-work, “Goofer Dust” refers to the Ki-Kongo verb, “kufwa”, the dirt from a grave, and is used in charm. Earth from a grave is regarded as one with the spirit of the buried. The information in these passages was interesting to learn about, but by far, the most inspiring thing about them was the resilience of the people of the Kongo. They refused to let their culture die, and now it has influenced modern life for people all around the world.