Monday, February 23, 2009

JR Art

I recently received an email from my friend Steph and was happy that she shared an artist, a French Photographer, she found who created some work in Rio. The project was apart of a series of photographs he took in Favela da Providencia-the first favela in Rio de Janeiro. The project consisted images in which the photographer captured the facial expressions of women whose lives are infested with crime, a violent loss of loved ones and arbitary repression as apart of everyday life.

I am most impressed with the artist's intent to create work that engages the community and becomes apart of the space rather than exploiting the community which I think sometimes happens with photography. Why simply just take a photograph when you could use it in such a way those around you are involved? It makes so much more sense. The amazing thing is these structures his photographs are placed on become small components included in the "grand picture" which is inevitably the homes inside this community ad things going on around them. The colors and textures just add to it making it cohesive and creating a face to the favela.

His website has lots of great photos from the project as well as an impressive list of other pieces he worked on, all of which were not funded by anyone but created simply for his own desire.

When I was visiting Rio, I had really wanted to visit one of the favelas and actually didn't live too far from Rochina which is one of the largest in Rio. I drove by it every time I took the bus or a cab from Barra into the city and every time it was mesmorizing to just drive by this hill side that was just full of all these bright colors and seemed almost impossible that people lived in these stacked shacks and at night they like stars in the night sky, any many ways I found it beautiful. I just loved it and in some ways feel the same way about buildings throughout Baltimore. I was at a discussion group about Baltimore vacant lots a few months ago and someone brought up the fact that these spaces are often times bitter sweet because we are drawn to these decaying structures and how there is something about them that is asthetically pleasing but at the same times they aren't always benifiting the community. I guess this applies more to spaces in Baltimore more so than the favelas in Rio but either way, when he said that I had an "AH HA" moment because that was exactly my own thoughts. I think there are solutions to these vacant spaces that could prevent them from being demolished but instead refurbished into something new. That seems like the solution to me.

But back to the favelas...

They offer these tours where you can ride in jeeps like your on a safari in this "other place" and unfortunately people do it. I had wanted to visit a favela with a walking tour group where you meet people from the community and they have markets where they sell hand made things so you are actually supporting the community but unfortunately wasn't able to. My cousin Nalita was so confused as to why I would want to go visit the place and I didn't really know how to explain it because in some ways you are exploiting these people's community and lives. I think some of it was for asthetic reasons such as those I mentioned earlier. I think I was more fascinated by the means in which people are able to live and survive in relation to our culture which to some is considered decadent. I guess it all comes back to our consumption and how much less we could consume if we were just more concious of our actions.

On a separate note I had a wonderful time at the Carnaval party hosted by the Creative Alliance. Pictures and a post soon to come!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time Flies..

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to be leaving Baltimore, and heading back to Columbus. It turns out I haven't made it home yet. I am still in Baltimore and working on getting started on a few temp projects that will keep me here for at least another month. It feels nice to finally be busy and back to my normal routine but also frustrating because I lost a lot of my free time for things such as this blog so I am going to try really really hard to start updating again. It just might not be as frequently for awhile.

I started working downtown at the Maryland Science Center for this cell exhibit. It is going to last for three weeks. It is nice to be actually working on a job that is related to my field. Today we used saws and angle grinders and shaped styrofoam all day. Kind of fun but really messy. It sticks to your clothes really bad. I am excited though to learn some new materials and techniques. It will be good for me. I also am freelance for my professor and friend Ledelle Moe and maybe working another job on the side. Busy busy busy! I hope I am not over doing it...I need to figure out how to balance my time between everything so I can enjoy it and not stress so much.

Last week, in the middle of all my job searching... I started looking into courses at JHU to learn Portuguese. I think it would be a lot of fun and really good for me. I want to learn Portuguese well and feel comfortable with it. I also started looking into the Fulbright and know the ones from Brazil want you to be more fluent in the language. It is really important to me so I know I will put the time into it. I also found someone on Craiglist, who lives in Baltimore and is willing to tutor me for a pretty reasonable price so I think we will start meeting soon.

Things are really looking up!! I just now need to figure out where I might be living for the next several months. Currently I am camping out at my friend's space. She lives in an old warehouse in the city called the Copycat. Kind of a neat space. I like it. A little dirty though but really large so it allows people to have a studio inside their apartment. Pretty sweet. Here is a few pics of the place.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I'll be returning to Columbus after staying in Baltimore this past week. Baltimore has been really great and made me realize I want to be here for a bit. I actually think I might be back in a few weeks because there is an event going on that I really want to go to at this community center called the Creative Alliance. The event is called ¡VIVA BRASIL! and it is a Samba Dance Party! I thought it would be fun to attend with some of my friends from Baltimore and have our own little Carnival celebration here in the states.

On another note. My blog is way overdue for a post and once I get back into the swing of things back home, I hope to pick up where I left off. I also in the beginning states of designing my research book from my trip so I hope to start posting some pieces from that.