Sunday, October 23, 2005

Suicide Prevention Help - 337,000 Visits

In 1998, just about this time of year, I created a suicide prevention help site, offering those who are despairing and contemplating suicide an opportunity to see their thoughts and feelings more realistically.

As of this week, over 337,000 visits have been made to the site, and I have answered thousands of letters from people, from all over the world, who have written asking for additional support or just to say thank you for making this material available on the Internet.

I know that the site's HTML is pretty basic, but the Web page is meant to be an open letter of friendship.

Sadly, often when people are depressed, they cannot see beyond their own sadness and view the world and future with a pessimistic eye. The site provides a sense that one can move beyond depressing thoughts and feelings, and begin to feel better about oneself.

Take a look at "Some Helpful Suggestions if You are Caught in the Storm of Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings."

the friendship letter includes a link for readers to find suicide hotlines that can be called if someone needs to talk confidentially with a crisis volunteer or specialist. In addition, the site's text can be downloaded as an eBook in .exe format.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Same on the Inside

The other day a good friend of mine, Jason Menard, who is a talented London, Ontario, columnist, blogger and editor, shared with me his commentary, "Not So Black and White."

His writing recounts how he, while watching an episode of Lost, assumed that a black woman's lost husband was of colour. In fact, the woman's husband was Caucasian.

His commentary examines his own assumptions that because this woman was black, her husband had to be black as well.

It is an interesting read because he honestly challenges his own belief system as a liberal-minded "White Male" who did not even consider the possibility of the show's couple being of a mixed-race union. He describes how he notices mixed-race couples but not same-race couples and tries to reconcile his personal belief that "we’re all the same on the inside" and his behavior.

Being personally of "mixed-race," (which to me is an oxymoron, because we are all of the human race), his statement "we're all the same on the inside" reminded me of a series I created a few years ago which I called unBenetton. In this body of work, I re-worked a number of Benetton ads, with permission, adding to my visual lexicon.

Jay asks, "how do we balance the need to educate those who continue to hold on tightly to the reins of ignorance and steer them to enlightenment, with the damaging effects that shining a spotlight on these issues can have for those of us who don’t consider colour and race an issue?"

The recent riot in Toledo, Ohio, demonstrates the need for educational material that goes beyond the tried and failed. Perhaps a little visual humour can go a long way in provoking, encouraging and stimulating conversation and self-reflection on this important social and very human issue.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Le touche coloré / The Colour Connection

I will be showing at a group art show, held by ArtsNDG, from October 13 - 30, 2005. Coordinates: 5839 Sherbrooke Ouest, Montréal, Québec, H4A 1X4, Tel: 514.486.arts (2787).

Graphic designer and artist Arlene Havrot-Landry has been creating the gallery's invite posters. I am constantly surprised by the range of her creativity. Take a peek at samples of her Exhibition Announcements listed on the Archives page of ArtsNDG's Web site.

I am showing a piece called "David Revisited." This 25.5" x 44" digital photographic collage work consists of 12 composite images. Essentially, I took this image and enlarged it so that it has become quite pixelated, and the effect is quite intriguing.

This work is from my xxxART series that was featured on Les pages persos de Matin Magicien. He describes his site as "dédié à la représentation masculine et/ou homosexuelle dans l'art, hier et aujourd'hui."

I completed this series, after finishing another series called "the body internet," where I deconstructed and then reconstructed Gay pornographic images found on the Internet. The purpose of "the body internet" was to show how information found on the Web can be used for creative purposes.

In xxxART, I play with the contrasting notions of pornography and classical art, raising questions of how the nude body can be read or interpreted.

Other artists in this group show include Barbara Asgary, Jacques Bossé, Mieke Cullen, Jane Desjardins and Francine V. Jones.

ArtsNDG is open for this show: Thursday/Friday from Noon to 8 PM and Saturday/Sunday from Noon to 5 PM.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Days of Awe

I have been in the midst of the High Holidays, celebrating the creation of the World, and also marking a time of reflection -- leading up to Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement.

These are the Days of Awe that lead me to contemplate how the past year has been, and my dreams, hopes and prayers for the upcoming year.

The word "awesome" is used today to describe a pizza or a very good movie. But for me, awesome depicts an experience that fills one with a little fear, perhaps, and amazement.

I wrote a short compositional sketch that expresses where my heart and mind are at this time of year. Please click here to listen to this music.

Happy Holidays! May this new year be good and sweet for you.