Friday, May 30, 2008

Interactive Exercise

My last drawing (A votive extinguished) provoked some interesting interpretations, so Jena from Gewgaw Writings suggested that I let my readers name this next effort. Here's your chance to come up with a fitting moniker for my latest multi-colored, amorphous slab. After you've all had a go, I'll post the story behind the sketch, and we can compare my inspiration to your responses.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

An apology, an update, and a poem

I apologize for the long lapse between posts, but sometimes real life and work can make greater demands on my time ... and from a financial perspective, that's a good thing.

Also, I've finally taken the plunge and bought my own domain. My hope is to turn the soon-to-be-unveiled, self-named site into a repository for my various creative endeavors. Once it's ready, this blog may revert to its original form as a place for personal essays and social commentary, but stay tuned.

In the mean time, here's the much-awaited (I hope) companion poem to the last drawing.

A ragged suitor

By Francis Scudellari

A ragged suitor dragged, by time not love,
To this altar, his waning flame carried
In crack-cupped hand, a shaky, blue-veined shield
Raised up against stillness dispelling drafts

A lack-clad minister re-called, he casts
Meager light into deep-throated darkness,
Among flickered shadows glimpses, not god,
Not man, an untried path hidden between

Unprotected, preyed on by sudden gust,
Musty air mingling with his own moist breath,
A last exhaled sigh, his votive extinguished,
Acrid black curls drift up from bent, singed wick

Trickled stream of pink wax, glacial flow, fills
Crevices of reflex-clutched hands, preserves,
In translucent shell, the now spent casing
His soul discards as, burned off, it leaps free

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A votive extinguished

Very basically, this drawing is of a hand grasping a candle. Both dripping, the flesh and wax intermingle. All possible prayers have been spoken, and perhaps heard. Their separate flames are extinguished in one breath, and they harden into a single form.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Basking in my blogged biography

My dear friend and fellow thinker/artist/writer/blogger Hanna has done me the inestimable honor of presenting a short retrospective of my life and work on her site. For those of you who, like me, prefer to boil everything down to the bare essentials, this is the perfect way to get acquainted. It's a kind of Cliffs Notes to yours truly.

Get up to speed here: Ti presento un amico americano

Of course, you'll need to be able to read Italian to understand it, but I'm here to help translate anything you can't on your own ... just leave the troublesome passage in this post's comments. I'll return to my regular programming once I've finished basking in the glow of your attention.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bodkin Between: Strange inspirations

It's been a while since I posted a poem, and this one may reveal the desperation of my sometimes searches for inspiration. The title comes from a reCAPTCHA prompt — one of those annoying but necessary little anti-spambot devices used to moderate blog comments. I actually like reCAPTCHA because it doubles as a way to leverage human eyes to help decipher bits of text computers have difficulty scanning.

The phrase in question — Bodkin Between — struck my fancy because of its Shakespearean overtones ("bare bodkin" appears in Hamlet's most famous soliloquy). I used the conceit of a heart as an indecisive dagger to build this verse. It obviously owes a small debt to the bard's great tragedy, although I hope you won't hold it up for inspection against the blinding light of those classic lines.

Bodkin Between
By Francis Scudellari

His heart borne as bated bodkin between,
Its once sharp edge, from youthful age hammered,
Dully cutting ever inward, kept close,
Not bared, buried in leathery layers

Awaiting a proper moment to strike
Out words, act, whether for anger or love,
From thickened air, carve himself a likeness,
But pausing, fear-full of blood stains, his knife

Rather stabs a path in pointed retreat,
Disused, each passing day withdraws deeper
Till embedded beyond his prying reach,
He casts without only his daggered stares

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dull cutting

This is a drawing that I may revisit. It didn't turn out quite the way I wanted. As you might be able to tell by the title's hint, it was inspired by a pair of scissors. It evolved into a squid-like creature.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite For Human Rights: Get Up, Stand Up

Bloggers UniteToday, the social networking site BlogCatalog asks its members to participate in a blogosphere-wide event called Bloggers Unite for Human Rights.

Never one to refuse a blog challenge, especially one with a goal of building social awareness, I'll toss my conscious thoughts into the mix. I'm a bit out of practice with prosaic posts, so forgive me in advance for what may prove a long-winded and meandering screed.

This blog began its life as a device for me to use the act of writing to make sense of the varied cultural stimuli regularly cascading down on me. As I came to realize that others out there in the ether were doing a much better job of critically analyzing contemporary art, media and world events, I switched my focus to more personal writing, poetry and then drawing.

Reverting back to my blog's origins in order to serve today's cause, there are two streams of images haunting my mind as I type this. The first is the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. A local hangout, the Heartland Café, recently hosted an amazing touring exhibit entitled "The Children of Darfur" that features the work of renowned photographer Ron Haviv. It's impossible not to be moved by these revealing shots of the harrowed but defiant faces of West Darfur's youth as they go about their daily lives.

Unfortunately, I can't find any information on the web that indicates where this is headed next. I did find an older article detailing the show's opening at the UN headquarters: UNICEF launches photo exhibition dedicated to children of Darfur . And this one about its stop in New Orleans this past April: Amnesty International Brings 'The Children of Darfur' Photo Tour to New Orleans.

To keep apprised of all the latest developments regarding Darfur, be sure to regularly visit my friend Cooper's blog Darfur: An Unforgivable Hell on Earth. It's a great place for information and concrete ways to help solve the crisis, through both charitable assistance and political activism.

The second inconvenient monster gnawing at my conscience right now is the film When the Levees Broke, Spike Lee's amazing documentary about Hurricane Katrina. This is a must see for anyone who has fallen back into the complacency of believing, a few scant years removed from that disaster, that humanitarian crises can't happen here in the land of plenty. I see no evidence that we as a nation have done anything to redress the criminal neglect of the poor and disenfranchised left floating for days on those fetid floodwaters. Nor have we made any attempt to ensure that it never happens again.

And that brings me to the final point of this human-rights themed ramble: Building awareness is great, but it's only the first step in the journey toward real change. A planet full of aware individuals won't solve the many and persistent problems facing humanity. Awareness needs to be combined with political will and grass-roots organizing. After we inform ourselves, we need to share that information and collectively act on it. That's how social movements are born.

Another past feature of this blog was the posting of favorite song lyrics. Fully embracing the spectrum of its former being, I leave you with the video and words from a great Reggae call to action.

Get up, stand up
(Bob Marley / Peter Tosh)

Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight!

Preacher man, don't tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you don't know
What life is really worth.
It's not all that glitters is gold;
Half the story has never been told:
So now you see the light
Stand up for your rights

Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight!

Most people think,
Great God will come from the sky,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights

Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight! (Life is your right!)
Get up, stand up! (So we can't give up the fight!)
Stand up for your rights! (Lord, lord!)
Get up, stand up! (Keep on struggling on!)
Don't give up the fight! (yeah!)

We sick an tired of the bs games -
Dyin' 'n goin' to heaven in-a Jesus name
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you cant fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do? ),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!)

So you better:
Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Doodle Week: Facing Madness

Doodle Week comes to a maddening close with the theme doodle mad. My drawing is a depiction of literal disorder, which is the state in which my thoughts inevitably find themselves. A special thanks to Claire and Laura for organizing Doodle Week and giving me a chance to share my peculiar brand of unbalanced indulgence with a wider audience.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Doodle Week: Figured Abstraction

The theme for Doodle Week's Day 6 is doodle abstract. Typically my abstracts start with a figure that I break down into unrecognizable twists and blobs. For example, the following drawing started out life as a dagger before succumbing to the inevitable deconstruction.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Doodle Week: Flight of Fancy

Doodle Week Day 5 dawns and I'm tasked with doodling a daydream. My imaginings often involve flight — real and metaphorical — so I offer up this drawing of a fantastic wing. I don't know if it will actually get me off the ground, but I'll look cool wearing it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Doodle Week: Pet Project

For the Doodle Week Day 3 theme of doodle animal, I chose to sketch my pet pug Albert. Not that Albert would ever pose, but he let me examine his expressions long enough to capture that special look of sadness mixed with indignation. I'm not sure what happened to his right paw, but it seems to have swelled up on the journey between real life and my brain. Oh, and he's not really blue.

Friday, May 09, 2008

We interrupt these doodles: Check out my guest post

L.S. King invited me to do a guest post on her N*tranced blog about my most recent techno-fascination: The Technological Singularity. Here's a short excerpt ...
Both Vinge's bleak and Kurzweil's rosy interpretations are predicated on the "universal law" that knowledge undergoes exponential growth. Some dispute that, but it's hard to argue against the widespread feeling that we're being propelled into uncharted waters by a seemingly constant flow of innovations. As more and more advances occur, and apparently disparate fields (biology, genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, etc.) begin to converge, we could reach a tipping point after which rapid-paced changes cascade down on us.
If you'd like to take a break from the doodling, please check it out. And in keeping with Doodle Week, she even included my self-portrait doodle with the article.

Doodle Week: Monstrosities

It's day two of Doodle Week and the suggested theme is "doodle monster." I'm quite fond of drawing strange creatures, so I did a bonus sketch for the occasion. I think they're both pretty good natured monsters, but the first has a pretty ravenous appetite.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Doodle Week: Self Portrait

Doodle Week has officially begun, and here is my initial contribution in keeping with the first day's theme of "doodle you." It's not a very accurate or flattering self-portrait, but I'm still fond of it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Firmly rooted

By Francis Scudellari

Firmly rooted, she hugs once wormy earth
A fine-creased face buried in pitch black soil
With twirled trunk of a tongue unfurled to taste
Minerals absorbed since first youth's feasting

Twelve twisted limbs intermingle, enfold,
Form fibrous knots, heaped in full-spread circle,
Each fingertip burrows toward droplets,
Tantalus fruit, seeming drawn to new depths

Her underbelly a clutch of gnarled veins
Red, blue, beating with unseasoned cycles,
Robust rhythms learned centuries ago,
Become broken, now faded to murmurs

Her slate-gray back of hardened bark, sharp ridged,
Exposed till parched, scaly, randomly splotched,
Pocked by lichens, leaching precious moisture,
A constant creeping coat that gives no warmth

Green fur filling intricate crevices,
Overtaking memory's hollow stores,
Nooks carved out with accumulated years,
Notched markers of a past too soon forgot

Her self-contained web finally ebbing
With each gulped breath, spirited essence launched
Into saturated sky, our progress,
Time's precipitate retreat to new life