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every picture, every object has a story to it.

notes to myself over the course of this project


why (how) web


ask mom



october 11, 1996 - steve has asked me if i'd be interested in pursuing a master's thesis in technology in art education. i would be doing the technical work on my own basically. keep in mind an emphasis on not just the 1,2,3's of the technology but its impact on our schools, children, culture, art, belief system. is the connection between humans and the earth being weakened or strengthened as we move closer to a machine interface in many aspects of our daily life and thinking (wendell berry)? the phenomenon of art and "technology" is not new. define technology. a tool that helps with a task. is it a "miracle" or an aid, an enhancement? technology has been used in the creation of art from the beginning, but technology in art as the subject, the issue, the controversy is more recent. the use of electronics, motion, mechanics... has been around. it is now that it is in danger of becoming overpowering of the content, or at least an issue that can no longer be ignored.



why web?

-guided questions within site, email me

-teacher resource on family storytelling

-interactive for family use

-"the medium is the message"


original outline of thesis:

1 section of own art mom/sister. people with sisters, women with mothers will be able to relate and find interest in such a piece. i am the entry point, the voice which threads throughout the work.

2 section of lesson plans, guides, practical guide how to work with students, technology, stories. student work - meaningful computer art lessons - collect, participate.

3 philosophical guide, seminar. balance between learning the skills associated with computer and the knowledge that it is just another tool to make meaningful art with. what are the advantages of using computer in art making? and other questions.


another outline:

1 family/farm chapters
mabel, paul, the farm, polly, charles, hattie, john, ginny, almeda

2 mom chapters
mom's story, mother stories by mom of mabel, mother stories by me of mom, mother stories by siblings of mom

3 technology chapters
using it as a tool, keeping a healthy attitude, why use it? (for this), questions for artists, teachers, bibliography.



originally i had thought i wanted audio files of the interviews i taped on the d.a.t. recorder but the availability of the necessary plug ins etc on computers in order to hear audio files (especially at the high school where i teach) makes me think that it would be better to stick with written text only for now. also the selections would have to be so short that i'm not sure what the advantage would be.

including my voice, finding the balance in my voice and my mother's similarities between my life and hers at this age. siblings/ sisters relationships, life choices.

the parts exist first and then lay them all out and see the connection - the connection that you would make. let the content determine the product.

identify with parents, don't want to be like them, understand why they are that way, become that way. changing. i need to be able to change (not mom) by the end in order to be successful.

student section (interactive template?) place a photo, question and response, story format, submit and link to page as a guide for teachers.

this is a thesis? where are your chapters? where is your linear structure? which is project and which is thesis?

after making the mom video piece on the computer a few summers ago (3 minutes long, 80 megabytes, about 35 photos, 6 titles and a song) i thought i would make this project in the form of a longer video segment, perhaps around 30 minutes total. however, when i sat down with mom to select photos we had about 250 "absolutely necessary" ones and that was just the beginning! also in my talks with my sisters, martha mentioned that it would be nice to be able to click on a person in the family and learn about them or hear a story etc. since i wasn't really sure how i was going to incorporate the audio stories with the written stories (narration - who voice to i use, how to include my thoughts and reflections into a documentary) and pictures i started to think of my options which lead to the idea of an interactive c.d. rom.

however, in my talkings with john in the electronic portfolio project i realized the advantages of having this sort of work be online. it can be changed as often as i like and it is available to many people right now, and there are very few expenses involved. i've probably scanned around 500 pictures at this point but only a small selection have made it onto the site so far. i'm realizing now that i'd like to make a version of this that will be pressed onto cd and will have many more photos - sort of a photo database and all at 150-300 resolution rather than 72 since a cd can hold 650 megabytes. i have enjoyed being able to zoom in on small details of photos that viewers of this website cannot do with the same quality.

i like the interactive format of this project versus the passive one of a video. a video however, is perhaps more moving in its form than a webpage - a complete vision of sound, moving images, narration, building sequence etc. but the fact that my viewers have more control over the work is worth the trade off. i tried to make this website look and feel as much as possible like the video piece that i made prior - it was my inspiration in terms of appearance.



layering voices

i want to have 2 voices on each page -- the voices include, myself, mom, each of mom's siblings, authors, my students, my siblings. a story and a response, an article and a response, 2 related stories showing different sides of the same person/event/issue.

webpage --> stories told by everyone. mom's story about ... john's story about the farm. dolly's story about charlie. polly's story about her uncle charlie. john's story about john. mom's story about paul.

family history is recorded by pieces of stories/ memories strung together by the tellers and the listeners into a fabric that begins to create a picture of the people and their lives like the double wedding ring quilt - each tiny piece, purposefully arranged into a patter, helps construct the mood, the work, the life of the work, the big picture, a collection that can be appreciated, experienced by generations to come. the make of the double wedding ring chooses to piece/ the pieces of fabric from each persons life, chooses some of their own, combines them, letting the pieces tell them where to place them in some cases. and then the quilters, upon piecing the quilt, binds them all together with her own thread/ stitchwork, again telling the stories of the lives of those people whom the quilt represents in fabric bits.

mom is the recorder of our family history in her objects of art - her labors of love - her double wedding ring quilts. in her latest of 5 each circle 22 represents a different member of the /each family and is constructed with fabric pieces either from their life (old clothing), or representative of their life interests (music). then the centers of each, as she has done before, is/are quilted with images that tell the passions and stories of the people/each family member. the house, music, bicycling, nature...

it is in this method that i've tried to bring family stories together. i, as recorder, bring to it my own interests, tastes, experiences and knowledge.

in this way the 'chapters' will be multi-layered.

layer in the responses of everyone. differing ideas/interpretations of the same story. for example, "just off the boat" attitude, leaving behind the old world way of doing things, living, beliefs. attitudes about getting an education transferred on to children. supportive parents, close knit family, importance of keeping problems private. is emphasis on education and "intellect" confidence or conceit? "if it is very painful for you to criticize your friends, you're safe in doing it. but if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that's the time to hold our tongue. " -- alice duer miller. "children need models more than they need critics." -- joseph joubert. my goal is to show the (conflicting) interpretations of various people by having at least 2 voices per page/issue. sometimes meshing sometimes not.


ask mom

mom is at the center of a nonlinear arrangement. entry points

ask mom for a story about iowa summer storms from her time on farm.

do you miss living in the country?

talk about the art of distracting a toddler

don't live in the past. enjoy the here and now.

i was her mostly companion. coda = me.

intentional contact with objects.

recipes for baklava, potatakur, donut holes, moldy choc. cookies, RED BOOK.

field of corn / kitchen table.

quilts (double wedding ring)

house photo, quilted house photo, images of the house repeated.

pictures can override the content of the text. "reporting live" -- leslie stahl

baskets, fabric, clothing, books, linens, tools, zippers, coats, sweaters, furniture...

during naptime my head rises and falls with her breath

mother&child encounters of closeness are relatively rare and they are so sweet - they have the ability to slow life down, to make one acutely aware of themselves and at the same time, at peace.

she is the sun, the warmth, the source of all - of all activity, all knowledge; nothing can miss my (attention) while i am (at her side)

her life as a woman, as a wife, a mother, a teacher, a mentor, a stranger, an aunt, a mother-in-law. in each she is ("good" and "bad").

giving back to a larger community of people - beyond that of your own family and friends.




the woman who gave birth to her mother: seven stages of change in women's lives by kim chernin, 1998.

"mother stories have to be told over and over. repetition is part of their nature. they have come into existence because, like a chinese box, or a russian doll, they contain secret drawers, dolls within dolls, stories within stories in a sequence that must be explored, until the heart of the matter, the smallest doll, the innermost drawer of meaning, has been reached. that requires time, patience from the teller and the listener; it requires them to have understood the purpose of the story." (chernin page 5).

"in a good telling of the mother-story, the storyteller has to be constantly looking for her theme, the story's meaning. she has to figure out, from moment to moment, what is at stake, why the story needs to be told, what drives it and eggs her on to tell it. details are helpful in work of this kind. they invite the listener and teller to pay the closest attention to everything that emerges as the story unfolds. by studying the details that show up, often unexpectedly and spontaneously, the storyteller comes to understand that nothing is irrelevant, the smallest objects, the most fleeting gesture, begin to shine with the power of revelation. memory, after all, picked them up for just this purpose, cherishing this particular detail while thousands of others vanished." (chernin page 41-42).

the seven stages are: idealizing, revision, blaming, forgiving, identifying, letting go, giving birth. (chernin pg.25 - 37)

i am giving birth to the new and more meaningful understanding of my mother through identification, and through understanding. i am moving to a place of enjoyment giving birth to a mother i am able to relate to without tension. with a higher level of care, of mutual care. i want to be able to go beyond the mother that is only right in front of me at the moment of frustration or anger or guilt of sympathy or competition and move on to seeing my mother as the young woman she once was, as i am now. as the young girl she was, and i was, as the youngest in her family, close to her mother, her sisters -- as a person.

by taking from the past that which helps the understanding and enjoyment of the present i want to stop our old dance and begin learning a new one. in this way i am giving birth to my mother, and to myself.

i am learning about all the women who came before and helped influence each other. hattie's mom (anna) and hattie's sisters (anne and minnie), the choices hattie made and how that influenced mabel and her sisters (esther and almeda) and how they influence mom and her sisters (polly, hattie and ginny) and how that influences me and my sisters, and how they influence their daughters. how we are all born and reborn.

i am learning about the influences in their lives,. about their choices to become educated, to work, to marry or not marry, to have kids, where to live, what art they made, if they were happy, if they enjoyed their children, if they agreed with their children, with their families, with their communities. the choices that women made in reaction to the men in their lives. the mens' work, their contentment with their work, with their families, with their lives. their struggles, their sons, their fathers.

after reading kim chernin i want to collect my sibling stories about mom. i want to scan ben's photo of basement door painting by martha, find photo of original one done by andrea. scan it. make image map to go to sibling/sister stories and OLD photos of their childhood. their stories about growing up, about mom, about changing attitudes of mom relationship over the years.

put up a short story and statement on a particular issue and provide a way for family members to respond either through the webpage submit button or regular mail. (it does require an email address in order to send me email through the page so i need to set up way of sending me words.) be as honest with yourself in your story as you asking you siblings to be.

balance - the search for balance in life. balance = health. reaching a place of acceptance, forgiveness, true appreciation, peace, centered, enjoyment. not hating nor being blind to those people or their actions that you dislike. but hearing, listening, dealing, processing, speaking and growing. change is necessary. flexibility. to negotiate what is balance. age, time, experience. hurting people with our actions, our words, our lack of actions, or lack of words, teaches us about balance. non-judging, non-hurtful. speaking with our heart. speaking to the empty row boat - it has no evil intentions - it merely IS. other people are merely who they are - the events and situations that have acted on their selves to form who they are and how they react to situations and people. it is everyone's choice to grow, to find balance, to understand, to be graceful in life.

constancy solid strength stability

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