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Penelope Przekop October 02, 2015

Chasing Love is Like Chasing Your Own Tail

I came across this on Facebook today. So true! I learned it the hard way, and then wrote a book about it ... Please Love Me

The good news is that with determination, we can learn and grow from all our relationships and experience. I sure did; I will never forget the boy that broke my heart while I was breaking his. I'm so thankful I went on to have such a wonderful, fantastic husband ... going on...

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6527212 March 11, 2015

Master Innovation and Me: New Interview

[caption id="attachment_1458" align="alignright" width="300"]One of their favorite works, She Leads and I Follow One of their favorite works, She Leads and I Follow[/caption] I recently sat down with my friend, Lina Bonell at the Master Innovation Group, LLC, (aka The Taylor Dynasty) headquartered in Soho, New York City. It was great to spend some time talking about my work; what drives and inspires me to paint; and what I'm currently working on. Here's a brief except of the interview:

Lina: What and who inspires your paintings?

PenelopeMy work is inspired by my own emotional complexity and that of women, in general.  That complexity exists in men also. I just happen to primarily paint women because I am a woman and so that feels more natural for me. It’s really about the human spirit.  Growing up in Louisiana in a conservative culture and moving to the Northeast in 1991 inspires a lot of themes in my work also. Also, my mother was an interior designer with quite a personality. Both aspects of her life inspire my work both emotionally and visually.  Because I’ve spent so much time writing and love stories, it seems natural that my art should include elements of story and character.

 Lina: Who are your main artistic influences?

[caption id="attachment_1399" align="alignright" width="237"]The World is Full of Magic The World is Full of Magic[/caption]

Penelope: As far as the greats, I have been influenced by Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh in terms of their emotion and honesty. I’ve also been influenced by Dorothea Tanning, Kandinsky and Picasso.  Past and current artists who push the envelope in unique, honest ways inspire me. I’m not impressed or inspired by artists who go for the shock factor, thinking that is honesty. That’s unoriginal to me; if that’s all they have to give, I find that sad.  I’m attuned to learning from others but staying true to myself.  Sometimes that takes courage because you look around and realize that what you’re doing or who you are may not fit the mold, may seem boring, or less chic than someone else’s work, but you keep going knowing that perhaps no one will care or notice the value that you may have to offer.

To read the entire interview, go here:


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6527212 March 11, 2015

Showtime at The Norsworthy

The opening of my solo show at The Norsworthy Gallery in Shreveport, LA was held on March 7th.  The show will run through March 28th.  Thanks to everyone who attended the opening and helped make it a great success!  The feedback was fantastic; I couldn't have imagined a more positive response to my work. It was great to hear so many people excited about bringing their friends in to see the show. The gallery is located at 214 Texas Street in Downtown Shreveport. I'm excited to announce that The Norsworthy Gallery will be representing my work on an ongoing basis. [gallery type="rectangular" size="medium" ids="1446,1444,1443,1442,1441,1440,1439,1438,1437,1436,1435,1434,1452"]  

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6527212 March 03, 2015

Big Girls Cry (with inspiration)

  [caption id="attachment_1415" align="aligncenter" width="513"]Big Girls Cry, 2015 Big Girls Cry, 2015[/caption]

[gallery type="rectangular" size="large" link="none" ids="1416,1417,1418" orderby="rand"]

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6527212 March 03, 2015

Full Circle: The Norsworthy Gallery (Shreveport)

I'm  thrilled to be leaving for Shreveport, Louisiana tomorrow morning to visit and attend the opening of my solo show, Full Circle, at The Norsworthy Gallery. [caption id="attachment_1398" align="alignright" width="274"]Remind Me Who I Really Am Remind Me Who I Really Am[/caption] I grew up in Shreveport dreaming of someday journeying off into the world to establish a life for myself.  I never envisioned that I'd spend my life in Shreveport, and in fact, as a young person, it seemed to represent a lot of what was wrong in my life.  I wanted to run away.  Of course, there was a lot of right in my life, too, but unfortunately, I spent way too much time focusing on the negatives, which clouded many of my behaviors and choices. There are a slew of reasons why this was the case that I won't go into today. I desperately wish that I could start my life over knowing what I know now. I suppose most of us would like to do that.  I carry an incredible sadness about the regrets that I have, yet I feel triumphant because I've learned from those experiences and have evolved into a better version of myself.  There are a great many things I didn't understand as a young person that are clear to me now. I feel fortunate that I've had the capacity to learn and grow. Not everyone does ... sadly. [caption id="attachment_1399" align="alignleft" width="237"]The World is Full of Magic The World is Full of Magic[/caption] It's interesting how we all seem to understand and accept that a child's perception of the world is vastly different from that of an adult. The choices they make and their emotional reactions are based on that limited perception.  This enables us to discount or easily forgive our childish behaviors. Once we grown up, it gets harder to forgive ourselves. Intellectually, we may know that we did the best we could, yet emotionally, it's difficult to forgive ourselves knowing that we are no longer children.  As adults as young as 18, we're responsible for our actions; yet some of us are still floundering in a haze far beyond childhood, trying to find our place in the world. Now experts say that the human brain isn't fully developed until age 25. But even after that, it's evolving. We are evolving, and that is part of the beauty of the human spirit.  I believe people can change. I have changed!  I'm still me but I've evolved.  That is incredible exciting, and should make us all look forward to the rest of our lives, no matter what our age. [caption id="attachment_1400" align="alignright" width="200"]Hope is Eternal Hope is Eternal[/caption] So now as I head back to Shreveport for this wonderful showing of my creative work, I feel incredibly blessed.  I've come full circle on multiple levels, and this trip is the culmination of that for me.  That is an amazing feeling, like finding out the love you couldn't find was actually there all along, hiding in the shadows of your life. I love my hometown, and miss it all the time!  I now understand and see all the gifts that surrounded me as a child and young adult.  They were elements of my life that were overshadowed by some of the volatile emotional struggles that existed within the limited childhood world I navigated through with my brother.  I wish now that the positive elements could have overshadowed those struggles. I think that's what happens in the lives of many people, the lucky ones.  I'm now at a place where that is the case and that has incredible meaning for me.  I know that shift can happen, and so I encourage people to never give up, to never lose hope.  This knowledge further amplified the devastation of my brother's suicide in 2012.  I wanted us both to come full circle, no matter how long it took. If you're in the Greater Shreveport Area, I hope you will join me at The Norsworthy Gallery (214 Texas Street) on March 7th from 4-6PM.  The show runs through March 28th. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdRUQWVGENo

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6527212 March 02, 2015

Kristen Stewart Art Merge & Nietzche

Art is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest.

Friedrich Nietzsche


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6527212 February 28, 2015

What is Figurative Expressionism?

I don't need a movement; I just need to be myself.

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6527212 February 25, 2015

Maya Angelou Quote

“A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself ” ― Maya Angelou

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6527212 February 25, 2015

Picasso Quote

“Everything you can imagine is real.” ― Pablo Picasso

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6527212 February 24, 2015

Deconstruction of a Southern Girl

I was taught through the church, and the Southern culture supporting it, that men are inherently superior to women. As if that wasn't enough, there was an underlying message that everyone was superior to me.

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6527212 January 06, 2014

What Erich Fromm Would Think of Please Love Me?

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” ― Erich Fromm

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6527212 November 20, 2013

Finding Natural Audience: Marc Zegans

Talent and giftedness are traps. Worrying about whether we have talent or a gift when we’re young diverts us from doing the work. Seeing ourselves as talented or gifted when we’re more seasoned sets us up to be victims, “Why isn’t the world coming to me if I’m so talented?”

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6527212 September 14, 2013

All is Write With the World

For these books, I have dug floppy disks out of corporate trash dumpsters (long story); re-typed nearly 100,000 words due to computer crashes; spent hours and hours on research; endured rejection after rejection; cried; and labored, driven by my unflinching belief that it was important.

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6527212 September 14, 2013

Chick Lit vs. Wit Lit: The Road to Literary Revolution

Now that I'm a woman who can bring home some sort of bacon, I want what I've decided to call, Wit Lit.

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6527212 August 28, 2013

Colorful Approaches to Recovering Addiction

“But I'm not a saint yet. I'm an alcoholic. I'm a drug addict. I'm homosexual. I'm a genius.” ― Truman Capote, Music for Chameleons

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6527212 July 13, 2013

Facebook and the Meaning of Art

... all it took was scrolling through Facebook to solve one of the mysteries of the universe. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.

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6527212 February 24, 2013

Some Thoughts on Figurative Work

Who Am I in This Crowd?
detail of larger work
I've been thinking a lot about the value of figurative work in terms of its ability to be progressive rather than retrograde in nature (as Currin said in a 2009 interview).  I also heard recently from an art dealer that figurative work is harder to sell because people don't necessarily want to hang a painting of someone they don't know in their home. I get that. The selling part of the comment didn't bother me as much as the idea that when someone looks at figurative work they might naturally feel removed from it.

In his 2009 interview, Currin also said that a true artist has less to say in the type of art he ends up creating than one might think.  I get that, too, and realize that, like Currin, figurative art seems to be my path. And I want people to feel uniquely drawn into my work rather than removed from it. I don't want to create a categorical wall between my art and the viewer simply by virtue of the work being figurative.

Seeing older figurative work and being hit with the realization that this specific person once lived can be a powerful reminder of the passage of time and the never ending surge of humanity. But what if the viewer could feel something less retrograde? What if I could capture something more alive than merely a specific person you've never met? What if you looked at the figure and saw every person, a common soul, emotion, and that recognition made you think and feel and somehow evolve?  

Detail of larger work in progress
Sometimes lately I think about the concept of God creating each of us. When I'm painting, I think about Him sitting there pulling each of us straight out of His own enormous soul. Putting us on canvases together in all types of colorful scenarios.

If that's true, I believe He does it for the sake of progress. He isn't looking back; He's looking forward. That's what I want to do.

False Dichotomy
23" x 15" Acrylic, Casein and Ink

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6527212 January 28, 2013

Can You Hear my Voice?

“This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn't matter to me what your position is. You've got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you've got.” 
― Toni Morrison

Can You Hear My Voice?
25" x  40" Acrylic, Ink & Pastel on Canvas
I spend a lot of time thinking about what art should mean, what my art means. Sometimes I get bogged down with the thought that, as an artist, I should be out fighting the good fight, championing a cause, slaying a villain through visual expression. These thoughts often become overwhelming. I'd love to do those things yet I still find myself painting particular images in a particular way. My way.

I wonder if I'm a horribly selfish artist. 

I think about all the great artists and their topics. I consider who was great and why. I tease apart the emotions we know artists such as Kahlo, Pollack, and Van Gogh had, for example. These people were not great champions standing on mountaintops showing the world what the next steps should be toward ultimate peace and tranquility. They were highly emotional individuals who often struggled, and they expressed those struggles through their art. They showed the world who they were and in turn, held up a mirror to others.  

While I was painting my latest piece, Can You Hear My Voice?, I thought about all this, getting bogged down and trying to remind myself that I don't have to solve the world's issue with a painting.  As usual, I began by creating a background for the work. Then I painted a face (as I'm into faces lately). Then I decided I didn't like it so I took the unstretched canvas off the wall and turned the whole thing sideways. I decided to ignore what I'd already painted and began painting another face. It made no sense really. That's the way I often paint. I plan very little. I just start and do what I feel like doing. I paint fast, listening to my emotions and instincts, to stop my hyperactive brain from over thinking.

As I continued working on the piece, I began to head in a downward spiral, thinking that it made no sense in any way and that, once again, it certainly didn't relay anything that would qualify as world-saving or villain slaying. That's when I started to get mad. Mad that I'd wasted my time and canvas. Mad that maybe I'm wasting my life. And then mad at myself for believing I need to satisfy "someone's" definition of art for it to be deemed valuable. Mad that I'd be judged and that I am judged. The angrier I got, the more I did whatever I felt like doing to the work based on my instincts.  

As I began to feel that the piece was nearly finished, I got happier. I liked the sort of sarcastic do-you-think-I'm-an-idiot? expression on the purple-ly faced girl and the red jagged line down the other's face. I liked the way it looked as if the entire left 2/3rd of the piece might be exploding out of the misunderstood girl's head with a small chunk of her brain exposed. I loved all the little creatures around them and the colors and the busy feel of it. I loved the realization that no one could replicate my work.  

Then I came across Toni Morrison's quote. I read it and knew that she's right.  And Kahlo and Pollack and Van Gogh were right. They painted who they were as individuals. They gave to the world proof that we are a vast composite of unique individuals, and that in its self holds never ending hope for our future.

I remembered a wonderful book I read by Kazuo Ishiguro. His novel, Never Let Me Go, is about a society who raises children for the purpose of donating organs once they mature into adults. The kids grow up in special "schools" and are taught their purpose early in life. One of the administrators involved keeps a program going for the kids that focuses on art. Their days are filled with creating art. They sense that it's important yet they don't really know why. It turns out that the woman believes art is the one tangible thing that can prove these kids are human. That they are individuals and worthy of life. The art displays their souls.

My art displays my soul. Perhaps very few in this world give a real f-ck about the soul of Penelope Przekop but I believe I'm capable of putting my soul on canvas and so I will do it, not only for myself, but for all those who cannot or do not care to try. Perhaps someday, my efforts will be valued individually, as part of a generation, or as a small part of the human race. I don't know, but I sense that it's important. 

So as I finished the piece and wanted to give it a title, I realized that, yes, it loudly portrays who I am as a complex human being in a way that is consistent with the work I've been doing over the last year or so. I took a deep breath and decided, Okay Toni Morrison, I will do this loudly and consistently.  I'm ready. 

Can you hear my voice?  Can you see it?  I hope so. 

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6527212 January 17, 2013

Who Am I in This Crowd?

I don't want the burden of feeling that it's my job to smooth things over with everyone in every situation. I don't want to feel that they are right, and I am most certainly wrong, that they are all surely better, smarter, wiser, more talented, kinder, gentler. That they know what is best for me.

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6527212 December 18, 2012

Five Years in Review (2008-2013): Penelope Przekop

"Painting completed my life."  Frida Kahlo

2012 has been a challenging year in terms of keeping up with my Aberration Nation interviews; I've been hyper-focused on my art work, which continues to evolve.  I'm considering changes to the Aberration Nation focus; details will be forthcoming.

Today the focus is ART!

I began painting in January of 2008; next month will mark my fifth year. At this point in my life, five years doesn't seem long, yet in these five short years, I've moved light years ahead in terms of my art work.

After having the urge to paint for several years, I finally began.  I never painted a single picture until that day, but had some deep arrogant conviction that I might just be able to do a decent job of it; I wanted to try.  For some reason, I needed to try. I had no idea what I was doing. I took 6 2-hour classes that covered the basics.  From day one, I chose to paint my original ideas.  I never had any desire to copy or paint anything that looked like a photograph. That wasn't what I was searching for or hoping to express, and I knew it.

Finally picking up a paintbrush was the best decision I've ever made in terms of both my creative and emotional growth. Five years later seems the perfect time to reflect.  

In addition to completing my life, in many ways painting started my life ....

2008 Representative Works:

Brute Strength

Stuck Inside

Piece of Meat

In 2009, I finished writing, Centerpieces, a novel based on the death of Vincent van Gogh.  As I attempted to gather some early review comments, I contacted Bob Hogge, Monkdogz Urban Art (NYC), to ask if he would read the book.  It happened to be the one moment of his life that he had a little extra time, so he agreed. He liked the novel so much that he decided to give me a call. As we chatted, I casually mentioned that I'd also begun painting. He asked to see my work but I was hesitant. He convinced me to send him a few jpegs; I was not too excited about this professional artist and New York City Gallery owner seeing my beginner work. After all, I was a writer not an artist.

To my surprise, Bob found something uniquely interesting about what I'd done in just one year and so we began to correspond about my work in progress.  He dubbed my ability, "a diamond in the rough." He encouraged me to be brave in all the steps I was taking to improve, to express myself, and to do both in my own unique way. That year, I began experimenting with layered canvas as well as other methods.

2009 Representative Works:

Economic Crisis

Stuck in Immovable Growth

Slice of Suburbia, 2009

By 2010, some of my early work had been shown by Philadelphia, California and Italy.  Also, the
Museum of Art in Caserta, Italy acquired one of my pieces.  I continued to work closely with Bob Hogge. I continued to layer canvas and began focusing on more figurative work.  By the end of 2010, I began to move back away from the layered canvas approach, instead adding complexity and depth to the work in other ways.

2010 Representative Works:

Paper Doll, No. 3

Paper Doll, No. 7

Shattered in Black and White
Throughout 2010, my early work was shown in a couple of New York City venues. Early 2011 was a turning point for me.  I began to gain solid confidence; self-identify as an artist rather than a writer; and to also break through my preconceived notions of what art was supposed to be, what I was supposed to be doing, and what I thought others expected of artists. I realized that to move forward, I had to drop all that behind and truly dig into what I could do as a unique individual.  My art began to evolve more quickly and so I started to view the work in terms of 6-month intervals.  I began to paint more and more with my fingers rather than brushes.

Jan - Jun 2011 Representative Works: 

Faceless Woman

Monster Stretching

Evolution of an Artist

Jul - Dec 2011 Representative Works:

Ridiculous Anger

I Was Born this Way ... please stay

I Never Meant to Upset You
During 2011 my work was shown by three New York City galleries, including Monkdogz Urban Art. Over the course of the year, the work became more complex and I began to understand the direction I wanted to go as an artist. It became more of a mixture of abstract and figurative art. I began to experiment with pastels and ink, and knives, almost completely dropping brushes. Brushes distanced me from my emotions; it was best to let it shoot from my own fingers where I could feel it. I was beginning to develop my own style. As 2012 began, I was extremely excited to take that style farther and farther. I had the wonderful feeling that I'd just begun, and that there was great potential for me as an artist. I began to believe!

Jan - Jun 2012 Representative Works:

It's All Inside

Powder Keg

They Follow Me

Jul - Dec 2012 Representative Works:

Monster Loose

She Leads and I Follow

What's the Point?

At this time, my work is presented by galleries in New York City, Central America, and Europe.  Monkdogz Urban Art (NYC) is currently featuring my work Gallery & Studio Magazine. My nudes have been selected numerous times by guest New York City gallery directors and owners on the Barebrush art site. Two pieces have been acquired by Italian museums, and other opportunities are in the works.

I recently made the following video to showcase some of the work I completed in 2012:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH74OxasF3I]

Since 2008, I've painted approximately 300 works. Those shown here are a small representation of that body of work. To see more of my recent art and find a list of the galleries representing my work, visit my art site or join me on Facebook.

I'm still just getting started ...

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6527212 September 03, 2012

Gary Powell: Dreams and Aspirations

" ... stay alert, do no harm, listen inwardly, then express outwardly by nurturing relationships with individuals who are fair-minded and also your equals in intellect, passion, and talent." 

As creative individuals, we all have dreams. A dream is a romantic sort of thing, I think. It's the cloud you ride on or the star you leap toward.  It's the thing we focus on and believe in when all else fails, when our world is wobbly or worse, crumbling.  My dad always told me that I should reach for the stars or I'll never get off the ground, and that's what I've always done ... in most aspects of my life.  I reach and reach and reach, and look higher and higher and higher. I leap over and over again. I feel my spirit yearning to get there ... somewhere ... up there. It's a feeling that never goes away and keeps me moving forward.  

My guest today, fantastic Grammy-nominated composer Gary Powell suggests that when considering our talent and creative goals we should consider replacing the word dream with aspiration. He says that "Aspiration denotes discipline. Dreams, not so much."  Gary, who has been around the block a time or two and has amazing accomplishments in his pocket, suspects that focusing on the term aspiration may be a little bit scary for some folks. It strips away much of the romantic la-la land quality of the situation, and begs the question:

"What do I want and exactly how am I going to achieve it?"  

Aspiration, like real truth, calls us to the creative carpet where life actually happens. It brings the scenario out of the clouds and into the real world of goal setting, hard work, and dedication. It makes us sweat. It also brings to mind the similar question:

"What do I want and what am I willing to pay for it?"  

I think about this a lot.   

Gary's mantra shifts with each day but he has a few overarching internal marching orders, " ... stay alert, do no harm, listen inwardly, then express outwardly by nurturing relationships with individuals who are fair-minded and also your equals in intellect, passion, and talent." 

In considering what I want and what I'm willing to pay for it, I'm beginning to realize that having like-minded individuals in my life may be critical. Finding these folks and connecting with them in a real way can be quite tricky. As I've kept my focus on all those stars above, I've worked on that as well as some of the other key requirements that my level of aspiration calls for; I've made progress.  Now I'm struggling with the realization that it may beg for a higher price than I imagined.

Maybe it's not just about jumping toward a star; it's about feeling your feet hit the carpet. It's about running.

Gary Powell, professional composer, musician and arranger, has composed, arranged and produced music for 145 musical albums and videos which have sold some 45 million units across 69 countries. All have been produced in his Austin, Texas recording studio Powell Studio Productions.  In Powell’s work with Walt Disney Records, five of his productions have gone Gold and two Platinum. In 1999, Powell won a Grammy nomination along with co-producer Ted Kryczko for their production of Disney’s “A Bug’s Life Sing Along”.   

Of note, Dan Rather will interview Gary on AXS.TV, airing this Tuesday.  Watch for it!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iNq1CGm4q8]

What's your story (in a nutshell)? 

Teen tennis champion and privileged son of Dallas, Texas takes the unexpected and never-traveled road; music and only music.

With regard to your current creative focus, was there an "ah-ha" moment you can tell us about?

Creative focus is a discipline for me. It's not about talent or aptitude. It's about study, work and a fearless capacity to achieve one's highest aspirations and goals, even as they morph in unimaginable ways under pressure, circumstance and serendipity.

For you, is music more about creation or expression? It could be both, but does one dominate with regard to your need/urge/desire to make music?

Music seems to be the great integrator of all that's good about being human. In that, creating what feels like the perfect expression of any given event or feeling becomes at once, the grand unifying equation found within the totality of being alive.

How would you describe your musical style, and why does this appeal most to you creatively? What inspires you, and how does that relate to your style?

Becoming stylistically fluent as a composer is like learning new languages for a translator. Sometimes curiosity inspires me, extreme challenges focus me, and money can certainly fuel it. Outside of obvious rewards, however, personal satisfaction comes from within and is usually outside the earshot of clients and accountants.

Do you believe some of the various attributes related to being highly creative have caused you aberrations in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both? 

The aberrations of living a creative life are born from a societal disregard for almost any definition of what has artistic value. Celebrity we understand. Once we as people loose the connection with the art itself and next replace it with empty gestures posturing as art; artists cannot prosper. Within education, the artist could be taught strategies for negotiating within a market-based system and then slip confidently into a successful and inspiring life. This seldom happens within our higher education institutions, but it should.

Have you had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative personality, interests, or drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?

My family had no experience with artists or the artistic life. My parents were high-functioning individuals who supported my musical interests from the beginning, which began in early high-school. Therefore, my personal drive to explore, learn and prosper was emotionally hard-wired in me from the beginning.

Unfortunately, many creative people never achieve the success they dream about for various reasons. Have your biggest dreams come to pass yet? What do you dream of achieving now? 

I went to study music as a freshman in college only knowing where middle-C was on the piano. Admissions to the music school said I would fail, but they gave me one semester to try. Even from that place, I imagined great success. What surprises me is my continuing and deepening relationship with music regardless of the success I've enjoyed. My current artistic aspirations live outside mainstream music; my theatrical concert "Aristotle's Prayer" being exhibit one. http://www.garypowell.com/blogs/category/shows/aristotles-prayer/

Do you ever wonder if what you're creating or expressing is as meaningful to others as it is to you? How important is that to you with regard to your overall goals? If you've created something that purely expresses who you are, is that enough, or is the circle only completed when someone else says, "Yes, she understands me" or "Yes, that's how I feel"?

An early mentor once told me "nobody creates in a vacuum." I'm not sure that's true. I would say that some of my most precious musical moments as a composer have indeed happened in a vacuum; a closed space, a studio, a piano, a note written on a cocktail napkin. The question is: a vacuum within what context? Surely, like universes, there are parallel vacuums we live in, so who's to say? Also, as I've aged and matured, the need for external edification has greatly diminished, even dissipated. But, the responsibility to nurture my consciousness and self-awareness has magnified greatly. This is the gift of aging. Outside the pain and loss held within aging itself, music becomes the elixir, the antidote and the unifier of all things important to being human. From that place, yes, I do feel understood.

Is there a difference between being creative and being talented? What are your thoughts on this?

Talent is simply unrealized aptitude. Talent is everywhere and largely not mined or developed. To change this, I would suggest we replace the word dreams with the word aspiration. Aspiration denotes discipline. Dreams, not so much. Maybe it's too scary to take personal responsibility in this way. Outside of the endless models of fear there are more opportunities now within the arts than ever in recorded history – we just need new models in education and new inclusive models in business to mine the gold in order to experience a personal and sustainable prosperity within this new construct. When aspirations and aptitude, existing business models and curriculum, are all in concert together, they make a powerful formula for creating successful lives: purposeful and self-directed.

What is your primary motto or mantra in life? Why is this important to you?

My mantra, if you will, shifts. The inspiration needed on Tuesday may not be effective on Thursday. So, stay alert, do no harm, listen inwardly, then express outwardly by nurturing relationships with individuals who are fair-minded and also your equals in intellect, passion, and talent. 

Info on Gary and his work:

Powell Studio Productions


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6527212 June 05, 2012

A Beautiful Girl: Aimiende Negbenebor

"The conflict that goes on in ones mind when you mix cultures, belief systems, race, class, etc., is quite scary." 

I don't yet know the full story of my guest, model and actor, Aimiende Negbenebor, but I can't wait to find out. It will be revealed in Asa, a short independent film currently in production by Sela Films, followed by a full length feature film.

Per Sela Films, Asa (which means "a beautiful girl") is a short film based on a true story. It's a dramatic tale of the last 24 hours before a young girl embarks on her journey to America. It takes place in two cities (Lagos and Benin) in Nigeria, West Africa.

The film chronicles Asa's life from age 7 to age 17, when she meets her biological mom and leaves for the United States. Within these last 24 hours, shrunken into12 minutes, we see what Asa's life has been like over the past 10 years, and gain an understanding for why she absolutely has to get out.

The film opens with a kidnapping plot to get Asa out of the country, and through a series of flashbacks, tells the tale of what she has had to endure from the moment she was placed on a plane with a stewardess to be dropped off at a foster home in Nigeria, to the pivotal moment of confrontation with her biological dad - she was going to leave, at any cost, and by any means necessary.

What's most incredible about Asa's story is that it could be anyone's story, regardless of race, class, religious beliefs or culture. It deals with those things that are kept in the dark and ought to be brought to light. In spite of its darkness, this is very much a dynamic tale of triumph, love and hope. It's both colorful (yes, the costumes are amazing too!) and soulful.

As I read Aimi's interview answers below and, in particular, her quote, "The conflict that goes on in ones mind when you mix cultures, belief systems, race, class, etc., is quite scary," I was struggling once again with my own mother. She chose to cut me out of her life, again, this week. This time, I'm determined to let her go.  Her decision was ultimately based on the religious, political and cultural differences that now seem to divide us. I don't think a mother should walk away from her small or adult children for such reasons, yet I understand their power.

I've always hoped the love between my mother and I would overcome any differences we have. As an adult, I shouldn't need that so desperately anymore, but it's hard not to want it when I've waited for so long. Now I'm trying to face facts. And like the brainwashed, I still struggle internally every day about whether or not I am doing the right thing.  Even when my heart and mind tell me I am, I still have an emotional ache to be at peace with all the notions that were pounded into my head as a child.

I question how adults can be blind to the needs of children, and how, although childhood is such a short span of time, how powerful an impact those years have.

Today I don't care what your culture is, or where you stand politically or religiously. I hope you stand for love. My suspension is that the story of Asa somehow relays this as well, and I'm so looking forward to that discovery. I've donated towards Aimi's production costs,and hope you will consider doing so as well.

Information on how to support the film can be found here.

What's your story ? How did you become interested in film?

My story, wow, where do I begin? I can answer how I became interested in film making, so I think I'll do that. The short version is that a theatrical director friend of mine, Michel Chahade, sat with me and basically said, "It's time we made your story into a film," and I said. "Let's do it." He's not the first to suggest making my story into something - a novel, an autobiography; my dad suggested a documentary and actually started the process by trying to get a few creative people he knows interested. I love my dad. I'm adopted by an amazing father as you know from watching the kickstarter video. I say he saved my life and he says I saved his! Funny isn't it.

I've always wanted to create. I've always been somewhat artistic. But it wasn't something that was encouraged growing up in Nigeria. After a B.E. in Computer Engineering and a B.A. in Literature, and working in the IT field for a few years, I turn around and start acting and modeling, trying to sing (I seem to think I can carry a tune ... not so sure of that though), sketching, painting (very private things for me so no one's seen those,) and writing. I wrote "Asa" and I can't even begin to express how gratifying of a process that was. After the process of making this film began, I realized with absolute certainty that this was what I wanted to do and I can't express in words what that means! I just knew I wanted to be behind the camera and make "this" happen. Since we started filming, I haven't been on a single audition. I can't even see myself doing it. I think I'm in trouble. I stumbled upon a long list of producers, directors and writers I've admired over the years recently, and realized that I'd forgotten I compiled that list. I must admit, I'm looking forward to being on it.

Can you tell us about your current project, Asa?

Asa is a short film that's based on a true story. It's a story about a young girl growing up in Nigeria and moving to the States at age 17. The story is being told in two parts. The first is the Short film that's currently in production and the second part will be a full length Feature. We had originally started work on the project with the working title "Journey" and later settled on "Asa" because this story is about her journey from childhood to adulthood. You may also say it's her journey from the darkness in her life into light. The film has many dark moments, but throughout the abuse, struggle, depression, humiliation, Asa stays very human. 

She's not the stereotypical (forgive me for saying this) black woman, at least not how black or maybe more specifically, African women, are typically portrayed. She strong, she's independent, and she fights, but through it all, she shows her vulnerability, her weaknesses, her fears, she cries, sometimes in front of people! She has her silly girl crushes like the next girl and makes the same sometimes unforgivable mistakes teenagers make, only her environment makes her punishment 100 times worse.

Asa is a film that brings to light things that are usually hidden in the dark, but also shows that that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, might sometimes place itself smack dab in the middle of the tunnel and wait there for you to get to it, grab it, and light your way through the tunnel to the other side. "Asa" is a very complex story. While writing it, I found myself questioning what parts of it is considered the norm. What should I or am I allowed to question? Am I betraying my culture because I've become "Americanized?" Should any of this be acceptable or just left alone? The conflict that goes on in ones mind when you mix cultures, belief systems, race, class, etc., is quite scary.

[kickstarter url=http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/selafilms/asa-pronounced-aa-saa-a-beautiful-girl width=480]

With regard to your current focus, was there an "ah-ha" moment you can tell us about?

Yup! The moment I realized that I really wanted to be behind the camera. There's this small role in the film, Asa's cousin interacting with her the morning she's leaving for the States. The director, Chahade, decided to have me play her and I really did not want to do it. When I realized I was in shock and thought "Oh my, I'm in trouble!"

Many creative people never achieve the success they dream about. Which of your dreams have come to pass and what do you dream about now?

I've just started living my life. I feel I dream dreams everyday that come true. I know, this probably doesn't make sense. I dream of having a constant roof over my head and I do. I dream of being able to pull out a few bills and get a meal whenever and wherever I choose to and I do. I dreamed of being able to read, write, comprehend things and I do all that. I dream about being safe (mostly take it for granted I think, considering the situations I've put myself in at times) but I am safe. I dream about staying warm, clothed, and I am. I think maybe one would have to be able to understand how walking into a Payless shoe store at 145th and Broadway, for the first time (this was late 90s) being able to put down $50 for a pair of shoes, for the first time, and walking out of that store on cloud nine, could be a memory you'll never forget, to get what I'm talking about.  I dream of making friends too, cause I fear I am terrible at that, and little by little I'm making friends. 

I guess, when you talk creative ventures, I do have many dreams I'm looking forward to seeing come true - For one, "Asa" becoming an incredible success, leading to me writing many more successful screenplays and books, and producing more successful films. Acting in a few solid ones with directors I admire would be amazing. I'm looking forward to being on the cover of Vogue. That would be a big one. I'd like to call that my vain side but I'm not so sure it's all vanity. And if I may be bold here, an Oscar! I know, the golden boy. I want one. Badly. The culmination of everything I believe for me, will be becoming an award-wining director. The thought is actually kind of scary.

Do you believe some of the various attributes related to your creative interests have caused you aberrations in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both? How so?

This is a complex one. My entire life is a deviation from the norm. I'm Nigerian by decent. Born in the US, shipped to Nigeria. Raised by foster parents and legal guardians and then by my biological remarried dad, in Nigeria, and then by my biological mom very briefly in the States. Getting adopted by a Jewish (Israeli & American citizen) single dad. Studying Engineering and Literature simultaneously, deciding to pursue modeling and acting afterward, and then turning around to become a writer and filmmaker, all the while refusing to fit into any one category in any area of my life. 

Yeah, one big, fat aberration! It's been more than my creative interests that's caused me aberrations in my life. But I do think that my creative interests have in turn helped me deal with life's aberrations. How so? By allowing me an outlet and a safe place to escape to at the same time.

Have you ever had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative personality, interests, or drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?

I mentioned earlier that growing up in Nigeria, being creative was not an option. My Nigerian parents wanted their children to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, that sort of thing. I remember mentioning once to my step mom that I wanted to be musician and she laughed so hard, it was amazing! And then of course she said musicians don't make money and that I needed to focus on more stable professions. I think it's funny how I ended up with dual degrees, one in the arts, the other sort of scientific, which never ceases to amaze me cause I'm terrible in math!

My Jewish papa also wanted an Engineer to work with him and take over his company. He actually mentored me in that direction, and it was very tough for him to accept me making the switch over to the arts fully, but when he came out to my first dramatic play, he said something to the effect of me having some talent. Then he came out to a second show and was blown away. I think he hated the third one or was it the fourth one, but after that, he was sold! He's my biggest fan and though occasionally he, you know, brings up the Engineering, he's very much supportive of me and is 100% behind me making this film.

I have lost a few boyfriends after they found out I have an Engineering degree and I'm pursuing the Arts. Painful experiences, but I lived. There was always that question of what's my plan B? "There's no way [I] expect to succeed in this industry." I had one tell me he wasn't interested in ending up having to support me, and another reminding me that I was getting old and at my age he had made his first million, which at the time we were dating seemed very funny to me considering how broke he was. I found myself wondering what he did with all that money! My most recent ex was very enthralled with me being in the arts, but he wanted it to be things he was interested in, and believe me, you don't want to know what those things are.

I must admit that I hid my creative ventures from my biological parents for a while and they kinda found out, I guess, when the time was right because they weren't upset and seemed okay with it. I think it's old age!  

To end this long story, I'd say that I don't have people in my life who fail to understand my creative interests. My creative personality, I doubt anyone will ever really understand! My drive is what keeps me moderately sane in addition to my solid support system, and the way I've learned to deal with and continue to deal with the people I may encounter who fail to understand me, is to leave them be. This may include walking out of their world. A tough lesson or skill if you will, that I am still working on mastering, but seems to serve me well when applied.

Have you developed a specific creative process that enables you to meet your goals? If so, can you tell us about it, and also share any thoughts you may have on the role of discipline and organization?

Ha!!! Nope. No methods unfortunately. I am very emotional I believe, so intuition, a sense of timing, that sort of thing mostly guides me. I've had to learn some serious lessons as a result of how I attack my goals at times, so I don't feel I can recommend my brand of tactic to anyone. 

Discipline and Organization are absolute musts! And I don't like absolutes. Without them, you get nowhere. So when I all of a sudden get that urge to jump out of bed and suddenly get going, first item on the list - make a list! Check it thrice. As for suggestions, research, research, research! Put everything, if possible, down on paper and know where you put down that paper! And then organize everything down to your thoughts. Ask questions especially when you feel any doubt. Look stupid before you LOOK stupid, if that makes any sense. And this is a big one, when you've made errors, own up to them. It's tough, especially when you're scared. but that's just my advice.

In such a highly competitive world, what do you think it takes to rise above the crowd in your particular creative industry, and has this changed over the years?

That's a big one (I say that a lot, don't I?) I think it takes being in the right place at the right time, fully prepared. I don't believe this has changed at all really. What I do see is that it's easier now for people to make films. There are many outlets for getting one's work out there which is both a blessing and a curse. Funding is tight and the whole structure of the past in the film industry has completely shifted. Everything seems to be blending or moving laterally. People are having to wear a thousand hats at one time, and it's become the norm. To stand out, you need, contrary to what seems to be the norm these days, Snookie, et.al., solid work, great marketing, drive, and an understanding of what's out there versus what you are presenting.

What's next for you?

Very next step, finishing "Asa" the short, submitting it to festivals, and jumping into the process for making the feature.

What is your primary motto or mantra in life? Why is this important to you?

Put one foot in front of the other and breathe. It helps me stay focused, and in a very funny way, helps me stay grateful. I think it's because I suddenly realize after a few steps that I'm walking and breathing, and that's pretty cool 

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6527212 May 17, 2012

Hans Meertens: Starduster

"... interesting, polysemic pieces of art can only be created when I dive deep into my own cognitions; what makes me tick, what is it about certain visual influences that some have more impact on me than others, what is their connection, where is the mystery or poetry in a certain subject, how can I dig that up?"

Last week I went to a presentation at Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lamberville, NJ.  It started at 5pm so I headed over after work. The event was an open house for their 19th/20th Century American and European Art auction held on May 12th. I was looking forward to it, yet part of me wondered if I was wasting time; if I should get home so I could paint rather than look at paintings.

Three hours later, I was glad I went.

Dr. Robert Cozzolino (Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts) discussed the distinctive character of Pop in Chicago during the 1960s. As I sat listening to Dr. Cozzolino's fascinating lecture, some of my own thoughts on art seemed to solidify. I decided that I might be ready to write a statement about my art ... something that I knew at my core. Not a bunch of long, tangled words that sound impressive, but real truth about my life and my art. I felt myself evolving.

My guest today, artist Han Meertens, talks about his evolution as an artist moving from a focus on what he thought artists are supposed to do toward recognizing that the true beauty of art is much more profound than anything someone else can define for the artist; it's about the artist, and what he or she can uniquely define.

Given my own story, I've realized that my innate drive in both life and art is to obsessively search for meaning and/or beauty in chaos. This drive brought me through my dysfunctional childhood in one piece, and has stuck with me throughout my adult life. What I've discovered, almost by accident, it that if I look into chaos, I automatically begin searching, trying to tease anything that might mean something, be familiar, comforting or beautiful. It's probably the strongest natural instinct I have. And I search until I find; it's as simple as that. I do not stop; it's a survival mechanism that has been wired into my brain. Sometimes it's a gift and sometimes a curse.

I didn't study art like Hans and Dr. Cozzolino. I have a degree in Biology, something that fascinated me as a young adult, not because I have a scientific mind but because I have a creative one that has its own unique qualities.  At a time when I was incredibly bored, I stumbled upon biology and found it interesting and challenging. Biology showed me how meaning and beauty emerged from chaos, and that attracted me. I wanted to understand it. My ability to pursue an interest in something no one expected me to embrace opened a door that provided familiarity and comfort.  It was my coping mechanism, and in some ways, my salvation.  And it ultimately led me down the path to Rago Art and Auction Center last week, where I sat eating cheese and crackers as I listened to Dr. Cozzolino. I knew I was in the right place, doing what I am meant to do.

Looking back, I don't believe I could create the art I'm creating now had I taken the path of attending the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. I'm not knocking it in any way; in fact, I'd probably go now if I could. I'm simply commenting on my own evolution as an artist. Who really knows what alternate paths would have produced. We can't know. We can only try to understand the path we choose and why.

I'm understanding mine more every day.

As is Hans ....

What's your story? How long did it take to establish yourself as an artist? Was the journey straight or twisted , and are you surprised by your success?

After spending some years abroad as an art student in York (U.K.) and Ghent (Belgium) I graduated from the HKU - the Art Academy of Utrecht (Holland) - in 2000. I was 25 by then. I took some more courses on the art academy until 2001 before combining my career as a professional artist with a part time job as an art teacher in Amsterdam for the indispensable financial input. For 6 years I worked really hard to build a consistent body of work and portfolio. In the meantime, I had had some sold out exhibitions and in 2007, I decided the time was right to take the risk, and to spend all of my time and energy on my artistic career. I truly don't ever think in terms of success. It is tough in times like these to be financially dependent on art-sales, but being able to do what I want to do most is what it is all about.

Meertens - Stardust 
With regard to your current creative focus, was there an "ah-ha" moment you can tell us about?

Whenever I feel the need to focus on something different, in technique or subject matter and the combination between the two, it usually takes some time and effort to get it right. 'STARDUST' - my current series of collage portraits - found its final shape and form after a period of experimenting with materials and trying several approaches to transform a personal loss into something more transcendent. The ah-ah moment with this particular project was when I made the connection between a mother and Icons.

What has been your process for engaging galleries to show your work?

When I first got out there, I realized that fortune favors the bold! I have always been very straightforward. For the past years I have become lucky with that and still I'm being approached most of the time. In such cases I tend to find out more about the other artists represented, their exhibition space, etc. And most importantly, whether they are interested in me as an artist, including my artistic growth. Is there a drive to help me forward? Unfortunately in the past I have dealt with a couple of opportunistic galleries only in it to make a quick buck. There was absolutely no love for the artist or my work.

Do you believe some of the various attributes related to being highly creative have caused you aberrations in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations (issues), or both?

Both. I think one of the key elements of being this passionate about and committed to creativity is the fact that it is a part of who I am, how I live and breath. Like most artists, I have always been a pretty sensitive and visual type and this cognition has led to a rather equivocal attitude to life´s aberrations.

It is great to dive into the good stuff with your senses wide open, but it hurts equally hard when things go bad. All my paintings are a reflection of how I felt at a particular time in my life. They are like diary pages to me that helped me recover from bumps along the way.

Have you ever had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative personality, interests, or drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?

It took some time and effort to convince my parents that attending art academy was the best option for me. I think there have been a couple of awkward situations with friends and lovers since then when we were on different planets when it came to sharing the intensity of undergoing art, or failing to keep connected when I was highly involved in a particular creative interest. Sometimes it is hard to explain the inner necessity - that drive that is flowing from a very emotional desire - to spend this much time and energy on art. I can deal with it though, by realising I can't follow all their passions either.

Have you developed a specific process that enables you to meet your creative goals? If so, can you tell us about it. Where do most of your ideas come from?

In my first years in art academy, like most fresh art students, I was focusing on fictitious concepts of what art was supposed to be like in my head, based on a very shallow knowledge of art and art history. The results were overtly 'invented', created for the outside world, without anything of the real me in it. I have learned since then that interesting, polysemic pieces of art can only be created when I dive deep into my own cognitions; what makes me tick, what is it about certain visual influences that some have more impact on me than others, what is their connection, where is the mystery or poetry in a certain subject, how can I dig that up? With the risk of coming across vague: the source for my ideas derives from a self-examining form of mindfulness and self-awareness.

Meetens - Stardust
What do you believe places an artist apart from his or her peers? So many are highly talented, but what makes one stand out as truly gifted?

An unstoppable inner force and vision to create and innovate autonomously. A combination of hard work, talent, motivation, will power and courage. Knowing when not to be modest. Also, being in the right place at the right time meeting the right people getting the right feedback and recognizing opportunities, etc should not be underestimated. But this is all just a shot in the dark, really, since I wouldn't know. I think often success is like an avalanche; sometimes a person who experiences some success, is being picked up and then the ball starts rolling which doesn't necessarily mean that the work is much better than someone who hasn't been moved forward to a spotlight point.

What is your primary motto or mantra in life? Why is this important to you?

"Always keep in mind you know nothing." This makes me question what I'm told, keeps me humble, curious, open to different views and most importantly; it keeps me moving forward.


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6527212 May 01, 2012

Irving and Teledildonics: Michael Olson

"Humanity has this indomitable urge to surround ourselves in elaborate fantasy worlds." 

On the day I finished reading a review copy of John Irving's new novel, In One Person (launching on May 8th), I received guest blog content from author, Michael Olson. Olson's debut novel, Strange Flesh, is about sex and gamesPublishers Weekly describes Strange Flesh as a "head-spinning thriller" that "takes us down a rabbit hole of kinky cybersex and multilevel mystery."  It's a "complex, cutting edge debut."  Irving's book, on the other hand, chronicles the life of a bisexual man.

In his latest novel, Irving tackles the various evolving sexual attitudes we've all either observed, participated in, or endured from the 1960s through today. On par with his previous novels, Irving provides brilliant food for thought on the diverse sexual appetites that exist, regardless of who may or may not be comfortable with them. He reminds us, as others have before him, that there is a specific kind of unnecessary madness involved in trying to deny the truth about who we are as individuals. It's a losing battle and a fruitless crusade.  

Olson's novel brings up another side of sexuality that sits on the border of what many folks consider "normal," even in 2012.  It involves teledildonics, something I had to look up.  Per Dictionary.com, teledildonics is:

Sex in a computer simulated virtual reality, especially computer-mediated sexual interaction between the virtual reality presences of two humans.  

I'm thinking it's akin to making Ken and Barbie get it on in the Barbie Country Camper ... times a million.   

According to the dictionary, teledildonics is not yet possible except in the rather limited form of erotic conversation.  Apparently, the term is "widely recognized in the virtual reality community as a ha ha only serious projection of things to come."  Olson, a Harvard graduate who worked in investment banking and software engineering before taking a master's degree from NYU's Interactive Technology Program, knows a thing or two about it .... from the technical perspective.  When I became familiar with Olson's novel and read about the topic, it struck me as highly creative and different, the buzz words that drive Aberration Nation.  

In response to the question of why bisexuals are rarely represented in literature, Irving said, "I just know that sexual outsiders have always appealed to me: writers are outsiders--at least we're supposed to be detached.  Well, I find sexual outsiders especially engaging. There is the gay brother in The Hotel New Hampshire; there are the gay twins (separated at birth) in A Son of the Circus; there are transsexual characters in The World According to Garp, and in A Son of the Circus, and now again (this time more developed as characters) in In One Person. I like these people; they attract me, and I fear for their safety--I worry about who might hate them and wish them harm." 

Both Irving's In One Person and Olson's Strange Flesh provoke thought, and effortlessly pry open the mind to new levels of consciousness. 

In honor of Irving, one of my absolute favorite authors, I'm pleased to welcome Olson to talk to us a bit about the cultural response to teledildonics, which surely represents a new level of disgusting in the minds of those who would condemn Irving's beloved characters.

Here's what Olson had to say:

“Wait… you don’t seriously think people are actually going to do that?

“Well, actually, they already are. It’s a niche, but it’s growing.”

“But that’s… that’s disgusting.”

Since the publication of my novel Strange Flesh, I’ve been having such conversations a lot. The book is a pretty sanguinary thriller featuring a certain quotient of outlandish violence and a fair amount of material related to the Marquis de Sade. But the element that some readers find far more disturbing is the technology around which much of the action revolves: virtual sex, otherwise known as teledildonics.

The erotic potential of virtual reality has been apparent since its very inception. Soon, using a head mounted display and some means of body tracking, denizens of online worlds such as Second Life will be able to immerse themselves far more fully than they currently can with a traditional desktop computer. In such places one can easily find partners interested in all kinds of salacious exploration. Indeed there are whole worlds explicitly dedicated to adult activity. Adding into the mix special mechanisms designed to simulate the human anatomy could help to render a compelling sensual experience. Initially not much like the real thing, but our tools are always subject to refinement.

I come from a technical milieu where attitudes to teledildonics range from, “When can we have it? Seriously, when? This was promised to us,” to “But will it make iPhone jealous?” In fact, we already see a small industry developing to serve the nascent market for artificial sex. That said, the state of the art remains rather exotic, and I should have better foreseen that the idea seems a bit outré to many.

And yet, I can’t help but think there’s a failure of imagination behind that scandalized “disgusting.”
Granted, at first blush, the notion of having sex with an appliance might seem off-putting. Though of course, we’ve employed various inanimate objects in sexual intercourse from time immemorial. But something about an articulated mechanism seems altogether stranger than the basically inert form of a vibrator. A robot’s position on the continuum between object and being makes them feel uncanny.

But let’s be sure not to confuse the tool with the medium. Precious few people putting household items to alternative uses are in any way sexually attracted to socks or produce. The romance of the moment occurs in the realm of fantasy. We close our eyes and immerse ourselves in a world of our imagination. To say that using a device for sex is disgusting is like saying that minutely inspecting tiny ink markings on a bound sheaf of paper is intrinsically tedious.

The object is just an interface. The real action happens in our minds.

True, teledildonics does tend to bring some of this knee-jerk opprobrium onto itself. One can find plenty of videos and sites online where the robot really is the sexual object. Certain device bondage sites make use of an eye-opening array of automata to service their particular fetish. One to which many observers simply cannot relate. But there’s nothing inherent in the technology that condemns it to be used in that way.
The holy grail of teledildonics is not to create an erotic impulse in people toward machines. It’s for the machines to serve as a means of connecting two humans. The goal of the medium will be for the mechanism, the tool, to disappear as much as possible. When watching a film, we don’t sit and gaze at the projector reels turning.

I propose we try to reconceive sex interfaces as a means to enable a novel medium of sensual communication. Like a camera and projector. Just a new kind of brush with which we’ll be able to paint our fantasies. In doing so, I think we’ll transform them from strange and alien machines to anodyne gadgets that allow us to form a richer kind of connection online. Hasn’t our frigid cyberspace been too long without a sense of touch?

Humanity has this indomitable urge to surround ourselves in elaborate fantasy worlds. To exercise our imaginations. We tell stories. We make images. And we voraciously consume them as though they’re essential to life. The weird folds of our brains hate the harshness of unadorned reality, and we’ll take just about any pretext to embellish it, reform it, or even leave it altogether. We are easily seduced: that page of minutely configured ink can make us weep inconsolably at some ephemeral tragedy. That whirl of sequential images through light can yank our hearts into our throats.

Anytime someone comes up with a new way for us to exercise our overactive imaginations, a new way for storytellers to weave their worlds, it spreads like wildfire. So as we imagine devices that indulge what is perhaps humankind’s strongest, most fundamental drive, does that really sound so marginal and bizarre, even disgusting?

To me it sounds inevitable. No medium has ever remained chaste. And I for one will be eager to see what we paint with this new brush.


I read another great book recently, The Giver by Lois Lowry. It was about a world with no choices, no room for imaginative brushes, no experimentation, no real emotion, and no chance for making a right or wrong decision. No differences. No agony. No pain. No love. Everyone was safe.

It turned out to be a nightmare. 

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