Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I haven't blogged as much this year, nothing like last year when I was living in Switzerland. As Gerty would say, living abroad is living outside of yourself, the best place for a writer to live. But living in Charleston this year--it has been very much about living inside of myself. Where the whirling words dwell and procreate and go no where fast. It has been chattier year in my mind and body, and I've also liked it very very good.

Sometimes I think about discontinuing A Commonplace Thing in favor of something more CV worthy, something less closely linked to my Googable name. But I have four years on this blogspotdotcom now and what is posted is posted is posted. Employable? meh. Readable? yes. Honest? true. Summer brings new things, posts to come in new, breathable moments. But here are a few shots of home, the chaos and the quiet-- the first morning post-academia.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Achtung! AchtUNG!! Die Bewegung 490

Friday night was my German play-- Freedom Happening! Die Bewegung 490. It started out as a class project for my German Literature in Revolution class, but grew strangely into something that seemed a lot more important. Really it wasn't a play, it was a "Happening," an all-German, theatrical hodge-podge of improv, interpretive dance, poetry, and parody that illustrated in 45 minutes the literature we had studied throughout the semester. Here are the highlights:

Locking the theatre doors and staging a violent "sit-in," demanding that none of the 100 some audience members leave until they have become "aufgeklärt" (enlightened).

Reciting Schiller's Prometheus with interpretive movement and calls of anger toward the gods.

Re-telling Büchner's play, Woyzeck, as a fairy tale with sock puppets.

Staging a mock Presse Club featuring different types of mid-20th Century intellectuals: a radical feminist, an RAF terrorist, a member of a free love commune.

Imitating avant-garde theatre forms with a mini-production of Müller's Hamletmaschine (completely verrückt!)

If it sounds crazy, it's because it was. But throughout the process, our prof, Herr Morgan Koerner, demanded our enthusiasm and energized us with his own example. A project that could have been a pain to perform, uncomfortable to watch, and overall just another tedious project, actually turned out to be a very stimulating, fun experience. The seven students in the class really got into it, everyone rehearsed their lines religiously and contributed to directing and producing the show. The audience, mostly composed of local German speakers and friends of the performers, was also completely engaged. Did they leave enlightened? Ich kann nicht sagen, but without a doubt, they were as impressed with us as we were with ourselves.

We took a member of the audience, Herr Della Lana, hostage and forced him to read our Forderungen. But then he escaped!

After terrifying the audience with the cacophony of Hamletmaschine, we danced our our rage against the machine and took a bow.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lauren Moore, Iron Maiden

My article for College of Charleston Magazine on Lauren Moore came out this week. This was a really special piece for me to write given that Lauren was the first friend that I made when I came to college. I interviewed her late one night on the edge of my bed and as I was writing I thought a lot about how far we have come as friends and as people. When we started school, we were just little fresh-faced, over-achievers. In four years, we have really sculpted ourselves into well, people of greater conviction. Be sure to check out the article and have a look at Lauren's art on her website. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Clips and Cake

It's my birthday, today I am 22. Not that this has anything to do with the present post, I still thought I would mention it. Because while my birthday seemed exceedingly unimportant in the days leading up to it, today it feels rightfully special, because it's my friends who say so.

So getting down to it, here are some clips of my semi-recent work, soon to be transferred to my personal portfolio website ("soon" meaning this summer, when all stops zooming at the speed of light).

Charleston City Paper mentions my essay in Surcee Press' hand-bound guide to Charleston.

A mini profile of Adam Crowell, melodic drum maker, published in Charleston Magazine's March issue

A profile of Wendy Allen, gyotaku printer, published in Charleston Magazine's January issue 

A profile of Tim Hussey, painter and illustrator, published in Charleston Magazine's November issue 

A profile of Karin Olah, canvas quilter, published in Charleston Magazine's October issue

A profile of Brian Bustos, artist and graphic novelist, published in Charleston Magazine's September issue

A profile of Rhett Thurman, Lowcountry landscape painter, published in Charleston Magazine's July issue

Copy for Blue Bicycle Books website

There are many more things still on the printing block, including a profile of the ever-more fantastic Lauren Francis Moore, an expose of the the black women in local broadcast media, a look at Tivoli Art Studios and Gardens, and sneak-peak at Spoleto's spring line-up and copy for some beautifully designed websites... more links to come as they are published.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Florida Florida Land of Euphoria

I put the top down as soon as we arrive.
The temperature's trying to pass fifty-five
I'm freezing but at least I'm alive.

Nothing on earth can diminish my glee
This is Florida Florida land of Euphoria
Florida to the highest degree.

-Laurel Blossom, "The Fight"

In a retro-post (I have time now because I am all set up here at the library to work on my thesis of course...), a few photos from Mason's florida homestead that I visited in January. His mother raises heirloom roses from their garden and his dad restores boats and other found objects. They built this fantastic swamp tree house themselves and it turns out its full of buried treasure.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Check out the Premier Issue of Native Magazine!

In October, a man came into the bookstore to drop off a stack of magazine mock-ups. His business card read Kurt Walker, Native Magazine, Publisher. I told him that I do a bit of writing for Charleston Magazine  and he went on to tell me all about Native, his African-American Charleston Culture Magazine that he was starting up with his friend and editor, Deona Smith. A short while later, I sent him some of my clips and he passed them along to Deona. She liked my work and after interviewing me and sharing her vision for the magazine, she gave me two assignments: world-renowned artist, Jonathan Green and heart-pounding Adande African Dance Company. Today she sent me the online preview of the issue and I couldn't be more excited! A daunting thing it is to launch into catty, cliquey Charleston print media, but by the looks of it, Native is doing it with a surefire niche and incredible style!

Click here to see the online issue! Be sure to check out my articles on p. 16 and p. 32!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Know I'm SuPOST to, but....

My blog has been neglected this year due to an annoying change in my Google account. Boo... what a shoddy excusy. I had this blog long before I had my gmail address (Commonplace and I are going on four years together!) Once I got my new gmail address, I couldn't add this blog to it (maybe there is a way and I am too dumb to figure it out.) Now I have to sign out of my gmail then sign into my old account, then sign into Blogger just to post a picture. Hassledassle it is!

That and I've been doing a lot of writing for other publications, namely Charleston Mag, Native Mag, and CofC Mag. And I've been trying to simplify me life a bit. I'm going in a million different directions this semester. I've got my last semester of school (French, German, and Italian classes galore!), my thesis (An Analysis of S.C. Press Framing of Illegal Immigration), my little jobby at the bookstore, babysitting/English lessons here and there, books to read, people to love, art/zines/plans to make.

I've toiled with the idea of starting a new blog, one of just interviews and profiles of people I find interesting. That might be a summer project. For now, I will try to periodically throw nuggets on here and keep a little momentum. Thanks for your patience...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

The lake's frozen solid and silent. Two hours till the roast is done, two hours to walk on water.

An Interview with Jonathan Green

Last week, I had the honor to interview world-renowned artist, Jonathan Green in his home studio for Native Magazine. The 900-word article will print in February, but for now, here is a portion of the interview text.

Q: How do you see the relationship between your art and today’s contemporary culture?

Jonathan Green: What we learn in life truly comes from the arts. We are the visionaries, the carriers of our culture. Our perspective represents a continual history, a visual interpretation of our culture. We have the power to encapsulate history as it is happening. When you remove the arts from a culture, it ceases to be. You know how they say that in a war, the first casualty is always art.

I think that we live in a world that is creating a certain mindlessness of self in our youth. But I am not afraid for the power of the image. Considering all that we know from cave paintings, it’s clear that culture transcends generations and it is not best preserved in writing or stories or music, it is best preserved in the image.

Q: Tell me about your art background, I understand that you are one of the few Gullah artisans to ever receive a BFA.

Jonathan Green: Yes, I had the honor to study at the Art Institute of Chicago in my late twenties. I come from an oral culture where imagery is the most powerful and profound force, yet these images did not yet have a place in the art world. For that reason, I took my role at the Art Institute very seriously. I studied very close to the Institute’s museum, one of the finest art collections in the world—As much as I loved walking through there, it pained me to see in the entire museum only two images of black faces: one by Jacob Lawrence and the other by Alex Katz, two artists who later became very influential to my work.

Q: Can you tell me more about your childhood and the oral culture that you grew up in?

Jonathan Green: My childhood in Gardens Corner, down in Sheldon Township, South Carolina, was wonderful, beautiful, normal, and supportive. It’s interesting because I don’t think that I was ever aware of money until about the age of 12 when I started passing the offering plate at Tabernacle Baptist Church. It was a bartering culture, where people traded goods and services and seldom used money.

I was raised by my grandmother. I learned that the role of the grandmother is absolutely crucial in the passing of culture. It’s not the mother who tells the stores, it’s the grandmother. She raised me to adhere to a well-disciplined schedule. I woke up early in the morning and did my school work before school. It was kind of like living in a monastery. She felt that I was different from the other children. Perhaps I was. Maybe it was my sexuality or my artistic abilities…
But she raised me to be prepared to deal with issues in life. At a young age, I understood life and death; by the time the Civil Rights Movement came along, I was already prepared to understand what was happening.

Q: How does your history and childhood experience impact your work today?

Jonathan Green: My work portrays scenes from my childhood: weddings, certain family members, relationships between my relatives. Many pieces display a deep connection to plantation life. I’ve traced my roots back to the Twickenham Plantation in Beaufort, the Bull Point Plantation, and one called the Tomatle… My work also speaks to the Euro-American heritage because they have a long history of mixing with the African slaves. My images are about a people with a 300-year landscape. The atmosphere remains consistent: there are people, the presence of water, a flat landscape. They are visual memories that portray a level of honesty that could only come from the imagination of a child.

Q: I’ve read that you are a painter of an authentic Southern experience. Would you say that the innocence of your paintings represents a truly authentic experience or a more stylized one?

Jonathan Green: I do paint an authentic Southern experience, but it is also a stylized experience. I think that I have the artistic right to eliminate some of my ancestor’s hardship. You will never see a mobile home in my work; you will never see poverty or oppression. I am not interested in painting angst or negativity. As a child, I first learned about the goodness of people. I can’t spend hours and hours painting out of anger. I try to just paint a simple message: We were here, we are here, and we hope to stay here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

UnionnnHope: tooloudtolivein

You can glare down the loud people, the talky talk talk people, in the hollow public spaces shouldered by "serenity." Where you are trying to write, to artikulate your artikel, to stay warm and tappy and eesole-ate-d. 

But still there's nothing between you and the table over there of seven women and their new jobs and new husbands and new babies on the way, drinking organic java that three years ago they could not afford back when they had more interesting things to talk about.