The Transience of a Sand Castle, as of Life

“Like a sand castle, all is temporary. Build it, tend it, enjoy it. And when the time comes let it go.” ~Jack Kornfield

“Even castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.” ~Jimi Hendrix

“When building sand castles on the beach, we can ignore the waves, but should watch the tide.” ~Edsger Dijkstra

I haven’t made a sand castle in years. But today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt reminded me of the past few months spent away from the beach – not having heard the sound of waves or felt the grains of sand beneath my feet. It also evoked memories of what a sand castle stands for – the epitome of transience. A lesson we learned as young children, that nothing lasts forever. You enjoy things while you have them, grateful for their presence in your life, but one needs to let go eventually. Hoarding objects or confining people, being materialistic or controlling, does not get us anywhere. How ever much one tries to save or preserve a sand castle, it is a futile endeavor. The waves will wash it away, or the wind blow it down, or people playing and running on the beach might trample upon it. You can’t take it home with you, because that defeats the purpose of it belonging on the beach. So you create, and marvel at your handiwork, and watch it all go away, only with the hope of returning to do it again another day. Let us learn from the virtues of the sand castle – be grateful, appreciative, and acknowledge the things and people in our lives, do our best for them, and in the eventuality of things not working out, humbling letting go and learning from the experience, accepting the reality of things we cannot change, with the strength to grow and be better people. In these trying times let us look at the transitory impermanence of the sand castle for hope and inspiration that this, too, shall wash away some day, and we can return to create anew.

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Source: A sand castle at St Helier, Jersey from Creative Commons
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Sand Safari – Australian Sand Sculpting Championship at Surfers Paradise, Queensland
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Hawaii Sand Festival, Hanalei USA
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Sun & Sea Festival at Imperial Beach, California USA

Move to Write, Write to Move

The pandemic has led to the creation of spaces in new ways to adapt. With outdoor movement limited to the essentials and emergencies, we find ourselves confined indoors like never before. Technology has been a tremendous aid in forging connections far and wide. Along side work and studies that have moved online, I find myself attending workshops, seminars, conferences in far off places and varying time zones, meeting new people, visiting places virtually, being exposed to new subjects, and learning much more than I was earlier.

One of my many lockdown forays was a well spent evening with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library today. A leading public library in America, situated in North Carolina and serving readers across twenty locations, the library works with a mission of strengthening communities and improving lives. Founded in 1903, the library serves as a provider of lifelong education, bringing together readers and learners and fostering personal growth through accessible resources. The library’s core values of openness, learning, respect, inclusion, and leadership were at the forefront this evening with Pamela Turner, the senior library assistant, leading us through an engaging session titled, “Move to Write, Write to Move”. A creativity workshop moderated by copywriter Surabhi Kaushik and therapeutic movement facilitator Jyotsna Srikant that emphasized movement enhancing creativity and writing igniting expression.

One of the courses I had undertaken at the start of the lockdown in March was called, “Healing with the Arts” from the University of Florida. It involved dance, writing, music, painting, photography – using the visual and physical arts as a means of healing mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically through a series of art projects. “Move to Write, Write to Move” follows a similar format of combining different art forms to express oneself – bringing ones core emotions to the foreground and the power of arts on oneself rather than creating something for others. The workshop took us through word and movement to express and create.

We began with freestyle motions, signs and gestures to warm up the body and mind, moving nowhere and to nothing in particular, but moving for the sake of moving. Introductions were followed by a writing prompt of making sense of and internalizing Rumi’s quote, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” My interpretation of these sentences was about being more than we believe ourselves to be. The spaces we fill, the lives we touch, the void our absence leaves – there is so much more to us than we let on to others, and even to ourselves. Proceeding with movement to instrumental music which was a prompt in itself, we wrote about the movement experience. The sensory awareness of this activity reminded me of flowing and floating. Without giving much thought to a specific choreography, where I was going or what I was doing, I let my body sway with the music, flowing like water, light like the clouds drifting across the sky. I remembered the smell of fresh air and the soothing sound of waves, from pre-lockdown times when we could move whenever and wherever we pleased. The pandemic has brought us to the moment. With the body confined and the mind all over the place, it has been an experience keeping the mind still and finding ways to exercise the body.

As a dancer, writer and enthusiast of art as a whole, I loved every part of this workshop. I dance, paint, draw, write, or dabble in craft as a means of personal expression, and the experience of combining multiple art forms is much cherished as they flow into each other, ignite creativity and enhance artistry. A wonderful start to the weekend by trying out something different and making new friends from around the globe.

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The Light of Knowledge – Bookmarks for Diwali

Happy Diwali, everyone. To those who celebrate the festival of lights, I hope you have a great holiday season with the festivities. I made these sparkly bookmarks today, to go with the Diwali theme. Bookworms look for any occasion to celebrate books. And don’t books add light to our lives?  😀

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Celebration Of An Artist

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Today’s Google doodle.

It’s always an exciting day for a dancer when the Google doodle features an artist. Today’s doodle is an ode to Oskar Schlemmer on the occasion of his 130th birth anniversary, for his contributions to art, puppetry, theatre, and dance. Schlemmer was a German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer associated with the Bauhaus school – Staatliches Bauhaus, a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that combined fine arts and crafts, and was recognized around the world for its approach to design. Schlemmer’s work has been described as a “rejection of the pure abstract, and retention of the human” (not in the emotional sense but in the physical structure of the human body). He represented bodies as architectural forms, where the figure was an interplay of convex, concave and flat surfaces. He was fascinated by movements the body was capable of, and captured his observations in his work.

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Oskar Schlemmer – One of the most influential aesthetes.

Schlemmer was the youngest of six children, whose parents both died before he reached his teens. He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule – a vocational arts school which existed in German speaking countries in the mid-19th century. The Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart was another one of his alma maters, where he studied under the tutelage of landscape painters Christian Landenberger and Friedrich von Keller. Schlemmer moved to Berlin in 1910 where he painted some of his early works, before returning to Stuttgart in 1912 as an apprentice under Adolf Hölzel. In 1914 he enlisted to fight in WWI, and returned to work under Hölzel in 1918. Schlemmer turned to sculpture in 1919, and was invited to run the mural painting and sculpture departments at the Bauhaus school.

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“Grotesque” (1923)

This was followed by being hired as a Master Of Form at the Bauhaus theatre workshop in 1923, after working at their workshop of sculpture. His most famous work which brought him international recognition was the Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet) of 1922, which comprised costumed actors transformed into geometrical representations of the human body. There were three acts, three dancers and three colors, twelve scenes with eighteen costumes. He designed the costumes based on cylindrical, spherical, conical and spiral shapes – revolutionary at the time. Schlemmer described his creation as a “party of form and color”. The Triadic Ballet is viewed by many scholars and artists as a precursor to contemporary choreography and modernism.

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Costume from the Triadic Ballet, 1922

Space dance, gesture dance, rod dance, hoop dance, metal dance, form dance, scenery dance – Schlemmer used elaborate costumes in his stage ideas and transformed dancers into “artificial” figures which united dance, costume and music. Faceless female figures were the predominant subject in his paintings. He developed a multidisciplinary course at Bauhaus called “Der Mensch” (The Human Being) – a movement which celebrated his themes of the human figure in space; sitting or standing, lying down, walking or stationary. He used Cubism as a springboard for his structural studies, and was intrigued with the possibilities of figures and their relationship to the spaces around them. His characteristic forms are visible in both, his sculptures as well as his paintings. He also immersed his creative urges in stage design, and executed settings for the opera “Nightingale” and the ballet “Renard” in 1929.

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“The Dancer” (1922)

Schlemmer left Bauhaus in 1929 and joined the Akademie in Breslau where he painted one of his most celebrated works, the “Bauhaustreppe” (Bauhaus Stairway) in 1932. During WWII, he worked at the Institut für Malstoffe in Wuppertal. He produced a series of eighteen small, mystical paintings titled “Fensterbilder” (Window Pictures) in 1942, his final works before his death a year later.

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“Bauhaustreppe” (1932)

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Sources:

~www.thefutureperfect.com

~www.britannica.com

~www.bauhaus100.de

Spinning Dreams

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

~Maya Angelou

I haven’t shared much of my craft work lately. This is a dreamcatcher I had made a while ago from some yarn I found, along with random bits and pieces of decorative items lying around the house.

Dreamcatchers are crafts of the Native Americans (Ojibwa people), to be hung on a cradle, or bedroom window or door. They consist of hoops on which webs are woven, mostly made from twigs, feathers, and other objects from nature. The traditional belief being, good dreams descend from the feathers and find their way to the dreamer. Bad dreams get trapped in the web, and evaporate like morning dew on sunrise.

These are synthetic feathers and plastic beads used with the glittery yarn, wound around a metal hoop. Traditionally, however, dreamcatchers are created from objects found in nature.

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Art Techniques – A Glimpse

Today’s prompt reminded me of an assignment I had submitted while pursuing an art  course at the Pennsylvania State University. While I prefer keeping this blog light-hearted and avoid technical posts, I thought of sharing this one creation. We had different submissions every week which were peer reviewed. Students were provided a theme and purpose, for which we had to create an art work along with the artist’s statement and a brief description. This was one of our weekly assignments and my submission for the same.

Theme: Stories Through The Lens

Purpose: Create a collage medium of a black & white photograph from small pieces of newsprint.

Artist statement:
“Puppy Love”

This is a picture of my dog, Razor. Razor was the youngest of my three dogs, and the baby of the family. This picture was taken when she was seven years old, and clearly shows her love for her (and our) food. She would look at us eating as if food was the most important thing in the world that she was being deprived of.

The photograph has a curtain on one side of Razor’s head, and the wall and floor on the other. The collage was created from black and white newspaper shreds. The curtain and wall have lighter values, compared to the floor. The curtain is printed, so pieces of alternating values have been overlapped. Razor’s fur is darker on her muzzle and ears, compared to the top of her head. The fur on the body is even lighter. So I’ve used bits of newspaper accordingly. The features have been highlighted with darker shades of paper.

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We had to submit the original photograph along with the art work created. This was what I had come up with. 🙂

A New Day, A New Lesson

The beauty of the Ragtag Daily Prompt (RDP) is that it not only encourages you to think daily about something to write on and hone your writing skills, but also connects you with fellow bloggers from around the globe. With everyone submitting their own interpretation of the myriad ways a prompt can be elaborated on, there is so much sharing and learning within the community – always something new to look forward to. A few days ago I learnt about pantoum – a form of poetry from a submission by Kristian,  a regular participant on the RDP forum. I have never been much of a poetry person, and make a conscious effort to look up something new I come across.

So, I’ve been reading up pantoum lately and found it really interesting and creative. Pantoum is a poetic form derived from pantun – a form of Malay verse, specifically the pantun berkait (a series of interwoven stanzas). The poem can be of any length, but needs to be composed of four-line stanzas. The poetry is characterized by repeating lines throughout the poem, with the second and fourth lines of each stanza repeated as the first and third lines of the following stanza. The first line of the poem is the last line of the final stanza, and the third line of the first stanza is the second line of the last stanza. The meaning of the lines shifts as they are repeated, although the words remain exactly the same – this can be done by shifting punctuation, recontextualizing, or punning (also known as “paronomasia” – another new word I learnt). I’m sharing a pantoum here by Anne Johnson titled “Desert Dawning” .

The desert awakes with a whispered sigh.

A jackrabbit scurries through the brush

while far above a raven cries.

Dawn breaks from a frozen hush.

 

A jackrabbit scurries through the brush

bent on finding food to eat.

Dawn breaks from a frozen hush,

The cold chill of the night retreats.

 

Bent on finding food to eat,

a roadrunner darts across the sand.

The cold chill of the night retreats,

as fiery warmth fills the land.

 

A roadrunner darts across the sand,

in the shadow of a towering sanguaro.

As fiery warmth fills the land

The cactus wren peers at a beetle below.

 

In the shadow of a towering sanguaro

a bevy of quail march by in a line.

The cactus wren peers at a beetle below.

On a sunny rock the lizard reclines.

 

A bevy of quail march by in a line

while far above a raven cries.

On a sunny rock the lizard reclines.

The desert awakes with a whispered sigh.

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Entering A Bookstore

The beauty of bookstores that lead you to your favorite books. Something that online portals and ebook shopping cannot recreate.

Tomes and Tales

A warm welcome to the world of books. This “open book” features at the entrance of a bookstore. You enter where the “cover” is – literally having to “close the book” as you open the door. Such an ingenious bookish idea to greet patrons and have bibliophiles coming back for more.

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The text is a poem by Safdar Hashmi – a playwright and director, who was highly involved in street theatre. For those who would like to know what the lines mean, I am translating the contents below.

Books
talk to us
of past eras
of worlds, of people,
of today, tomorrow or yesterday
of each day, each moment
of happiness or gloom
of flowers or bombs
of victories or losses
of love or loss.
Won’t you listen,
to the talks of these books?
The books want to say something…
They want to live with you
Sparrows chirp in these…

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