Sunday, January 31, 2010

To be

There is great strength found when we can be, uninhibitedly, ourselves. When we further develop our sense of self, we do not need to look to the structure developed by society that we can conform to in order to gain acceptance– we don't need the false affirmation found when we fit perfectly within the approved structure.

To be yourself in this society, you have to fight for individuality.

It is easy to allow yourself to get swept away with the societal current; to follow the trends, to buy into the latest and most heavily marketed phenomena, and to long after the material successes of our culture.

But these will not bring lasting happiness. These will not create a genuine sense of self. In these things you will not find true beauty. We, our true selves, are being diluted by the messages bombarding our society that claim to identify what we need to be fulfilled.

It is time that we stood against the current.

It is time that we each defined our sense of self. We need to discover the true version of ourselves and make our clothing choices that allow us to dress in the costumes for our lives.

Gaining clarity

We all want to be liked. This is an intrinsic human desire.
To be liked, do we therefore feel as though we need to conform?
What will we look like when we do? What do we look like now? Are we each products of our society, or are we a society of individuals?

I hope we are the latter, but if you look around, if you look in magazines, we are not.

We are surrounded with messages and imagery that tell us what image we should conform to, and what things we should purchase to find happiness and to define ourselves.

My question is then, should we continue to let these messages create the outlines that define our self worth?
Where does it all end and what is the pay off? Are we going to be happy once we look how the TV tells us we should and we have all the stuff that we think we should? How are we going to feel if we don't achieve all of that stuff that we think we should? There is so much to worry about when we fall away from ourselves.

The message we need to communicate is one by Ram Dass; "We are not the sum of our material lives."

We need to communicate differently.

Your stuff is not you. It's just stuff. You are not defined by your material possessions– your identity is not defined by your clothing, although what you wear communicates a message. If you choose for your clothing to make a statement about who you are, make sure it is speaking clearly, and truthfully about who YOU are, not who you believe society tells you who you need to be. This is the difference.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Where from here

I have thought about so much.

I have identified things I need to know.

My brain feels as though it was spinning and unable to contain everything that was on my mind. I took time away and have let my exuberance for this topic simmer.

The next step for me now is to define the terms I set out to understand. Without these definitions, it is going to be near impossible for me to move in a clear direction...

With diagrammatic frameworks for our Wednesday presentations, it is time again to think!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Society + culture

Culture is the result of societal interactions amongst individuals.

I didn't want to forget this gem-thought after speaking with my professor in class. It makes sense though, doesn't it? Think about it for a second....

As we coexist and communicate with one another in our physical environment, we influence and develop the thoughts, beliefs and ideas that collectively create our culture!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rome and fashion, one dream of many

I want to encourage people to paint outside the lines.

Fashion is not paint by numbers; it is free-form finger paint! We are individuals; we are each intricate and unique pieces of art. Like haute couture clothing, not one of us is a duplicate of the other!

Prior to designing a line of clothing, I would like to explore the world of fashion as defined by Italians– as they set the world standard for the social identification of beauty. Through my coursework in, Italian fashion, nation and culture, I am learning about the development of fashion throughout history and how it has influenced the culture of Italy, and how Rome, being a major world power, has developed our social definition of beauty.

I plan to someday photograph Italian style as I observe it and identify the ways in which fashion and the ideals of beauty have changed over time. I hope to be able to reference works of art that portray and document the cultural trends and fashion throughout the centuries.

Rome is where it started; Rome is where I would like to be.

I want to embark on a research exploration of beauty. I will wear the hat of an ethnographer and step into the shoes of an art historian, becoming both an observer of culture and a researcher of history...

Questions leading to answers

When there is pressure to fit within an acceptable boundary, I have trouble making decisions on my own. This is why finding a "personal style" was and continues to be challenging for me. It is difficult to assert what I like or I do not.

I am struggling to express myself– which is weird, because I am an artist. We are supposed to excel at creative expression! I am realizing the confidence it takes to acknowledge your individuality and embrace who you are, and in turn I am recognizing the lack of confidence that I have.

I find myself caught between being me, the bohemian-chic, Italian-inspired artist and the pressure I feel to maintain the image of responsibility and all that is practical. Why do I feel this?

Why am I living in secret– why do I feel the need to masque my identity, and conform to that which I believe is expected of me?

I need to accept that I will always differ from the societal definition of beauty. Everyone always will, if they are being true to who they are. What can we do to encourage this?

Six questions of how:
1. How can we over come this voice communicated to us by our society? Can we communicate a different message? Can we use design and speak visually?

2. How can we communicate the message that it is okay to be unique?

3. How can we encourage people to accept difference– differences of themselves and amongst others, while inspiring a sense of unity to develop within our society?

4. How can we get people to listen? Who do we target with this message?

5. How can we incorporate the fashion world and encourage them to speak up about the value that they give to original works of art in haute couture?

6. How can we generate understanding of that which defines beauty?

We are part of the whole, but uniquely our own...

Clothes and paint

There is an argument in academia concerning whether or not we are all intrinsically creative.

I believe that we are. As created beings, I think each one of us at the heart understands the importance of and need for creativity in this life.

It has been said that art is the highest form of thought... Art and creativity live outside the boundaries and have the courage to ask,"why," constantly challenging the status quo. Art does not stay within the boundaries, as there are no guidelines to be followed. There is no set standard in which artists are evaluated. We try to establish standards through galleries and museums and connoisseurs in the business to identify what should be valued. Yet the only true method for analysis exists within us. In the end, the question comes back to each of us– what do we like? What appeals to our intrinsic recognition and understanding of true "beauty"?

The answer is the same with clothing. There is not one set standard for beauty, there is not one outfit that is exactly right for that date, that interview, or that reunion. There are types of clothing that are better suited for each occasion, but once this is identified and you realize your chartreuse stilettos and sequin tank are not ideal for meeting your fiances grandmother, you can step back and ask yourself a new set of questions.

What do I feel good in?
What do I want to say?
What do I want to communicate through my visual expression of self?
How am I going to say it...

Just as an artist creating for the sake of expressing one's self, it is crucial to not stifle your creative inspiration by worrying of the judgments of others, but to simply communicate who you are through visual expression. This is where freedom is found and the opinions of others are abandoned. Here, in this state of mind, you can embrace your freedom to choose and be exactly who you are, rather than striving, uncomfortably, to fit within the media-generated definition of beauty.

Style as a state of mind

The Satorialist is now my web homepage, keeping me in a constant state of inquiry as I search to understand what defines fashion, style and beauty.

These people are having fun. They are having fun with their clothing, and it is apparent. Seeing this confidence makes their clothes look good. It does not matter the brand, the designer, the country of its origin– if the article of clothing is used as a deliberate expression of self, no matter its make, it becomes like paint for the artist; used to unlock a bit of the beauty inside of the individual.

This externalized self is a glimpse of beauty– beauty is being simply you, and having the willingness to express who you are.

Being comfortable in your clothing exudes a sort of confidence, therefore beauty is not dependent upon your clothes, but upon your state of mind when you are in your clothes. A sense of self and recognizable comfort.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Satorialist inspiration

Hope was not lost today, and the connecting thread that helped to foster understanding among my peers was my reference to The Satorialist and how this blog has inspired me. Scott Schulman has photographed people of different backgrounds, lifestyles and personalities wearing unexpected but undeniably beautiful assemblages of clothing.

The connecting thread amongst these individuals, is confidence. None of the images or outfits ever look the same. Each tells the story of the wearer. They are unique, they express freedom from the mass-marketed definition of beauty.

This is beauty– THE ACCEPTANCE OF SELF

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pecha kucha

Yesterday I spent at least three hours working on my capstone project, and the exciting thing is, I absolutely loved it! I believe more each day in the truth that when you find something you are passionate about, you find untapped strength. My mind was flying as I came up with new ideas and thoughts about what it means to be truly beautiful, and how it is defined within our society. I am fascinated by the depth of this inquiry and how it has developed in our world.

A weird thought that I had while working on my presentation last night, was that I WANTED to write. I WANTED to research. I WANTED to delve further into the topics I was beginning to brush though, and felt as though I could write; I actually caught myself secretly wishing that I could... My wish was granted as our professor mentioned that we will be constructing some sort of research paper in the spring, so my hope now is that my longings will remain until then!

I gave my second pecha kucha presentation today and once again, it went much better than I had anticipated! I am so glad that my friends and professor were able to track with me–that is always my fear. I am always nervous that my mind has gone wild, roaming through territory unknown to others and will leave me abandoned in the depths of my thoughts as I begin to discuss in public what I have been thinking of...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Studies of a self-proclaimed anthropologist

My studies within the School of Art have had me focusing on the idea of conducting visually appealing communication through the means of design.

My studies within the School of Business have had me learning how to effectively appeal to the needs, interests and desires of humanity through retail management.

My fascination with Italy, that began when I was twelve, has since had me thinking about and now currently studying the origins of beauty within the Italian culture and the affect it has had on our world.

My internship with Nordstrom had me experience, first hand, the success of appealing to the needs of humanity by communicating to our guests that we could provide them with something that would make them beautiful, and that we could provide them access to fashions from the most sought after designers, hailing from New York, Paris and my beloved Italy.
[Please note that this was not, by any means, the mission statement of Nordstrom, but simply the perception that I developed after my time spent working within and observing the world of fashion retail, first hand.]

I was a silent observer– a self-proclaimed anthropologist if you will, and was completely fascinated by the interests, ideas and desires of each individual entering our doors. This interest in humanity, fashion and the impact it has upon our cultural definition of beauty sparked the inquiries pioneering the direction for my design thesis!

In the image of fashion








Questioning beauty

Through my studies, observations and a life spent in clothes, I am beginning to realize the extent of which fashion has played a crucial role in the development of cultural standards for beauty. The standards we compare ourselves to and strive to uphold are based upon the definitions accepted by the greater society.

BUT WHAT IS BEAUTY.

Is there a universal standard for the ideal?
Can it be identified within differing cultures?
What defines beauty in art... in design?
In this regard, is it different–does the definition change when discussing one or the other?
How was beauty defined throughout history?
How is beauty defined now?

People typically define their "beauty" based upon their physical appearance and therefore develop their sense of identity in their physical appearance and outward adornment.

YET, THESE THINGS OR OUR SHAPES DO NOT MAKE US WHO WE ARE.

People are accepting of things that are beautiful, so how can we communicate this message clearly? We have to do it beautifully.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Perspective

As with different light, how we see and experience reality depends upon the individual.

























L'aaventura comincia

Now that you have some insight as to what this is and have been welcomed as a participant in this journey, our adventure begins...

The class I am taking on Italian Fashion is absolutely incredible! My professor is bringing up topics in discussion and also through our assigned readings that exactly align with what I am planning to pursue for my capstone project. On Friday during our quiz section there was great discussion about the idea of "beauty" and the human connection to the act of shopping.

Inspired by the different perspectives within our class, I wrote, "...We are so much deeper than that of our physical appearance or by what we clothe ourselves in. This is just stuff, and the depth of the human soul is deeper than that, it does not define us–but yet, it does. We are not defined by our things, but we find personal definition in what we own or what we wear. We design ourselves and our homes, our very lives even, as a sort of self-expression. The things we own communicate something to the world about who we are, or who we want to be, telling a story, presenting an image, that we want society to recognize us by, but these things that create our visual identity do not make us WHO WE ARE."

As my classmate stated, the danger is in becoming encumbered by these things. We need to personally identify who we are and present our authentic selves to society–how do we know once we have done that? Is the me that I present to the world through my visual representation, the me that I actually am, or is it the me that I think the world will accept?

TUTU THEORY.

I feel so free in that crazy pink skirt. I am aware that I look unusual, a little indie if you will, but I feel like a blank canvas that has just been intentionally painted. I have to own that skirt when I wear it, accept that people will judge me as I would another wearing tulle on campus, but I cannot let my fears hinder me. The perceived judgement of others that I usually fear have to be overcome whenever I put it on. It is like Fear Factor Fashion Edition.

Through this though, I experience a reawakening and find myself enjoying life in a way that differs from when I wear my go-to pair of jeans. This is curious though. The only thing that actually changes is the bottom half of my outfit, yet what I experience is a change in so much more.

An idea I have to explore this further is to go to a thrift store and change up my wardrobe–not entirely, but significantly, and design a more "authentic" me–one that experiences the same spirit that I have with my tulle skirt. Will clothing of a different nature cause me to think differently, at least in the way of my perspectives of myself and of others? "All that's real is what you feel..." I do not know how I could prove my findings, except to record how I feel in specific outfits, then interview others to reveal what they think of my clothing, and then record how I feel about myself after true judgments are unearthed.

INQUIRY: How can I design a visual identity through clothes while establishing a deeper sense of self that transcends judgement of others? My goal will be to explore why this feeling is only experienced when I wear certain kinds of clothes.

[Secret. I want to be a chic-indie-bohemian.]

Serendipidous purpose




What am I doing here... I was, for some reason, reluctant to say initially, but this adventure in writing was sparked by a final project I did for my class in game design. We defined the terms of reality, play, experience and had to also define ourselves. These explorations of higher thought twisted my mind and led to my current journey of self-discovery. Through my book, I was able to comprehend through a visual form the changes that had occurred in my perspective of life and of self during the past three months.

It was a design class. It was not intended to spark introspection. Or was it. Was that my professor's intent all along? Was "game design" the chosen context for us to step out of the boundaries and learn how to actually think on our own? Whether intended or not, I am in uncharted territory. It's so good to be here. I feel like for the first time I am digging into my own thoughts and finally feel free to express them. During a class discussion–which when discussing theory amongst opinionated designers, tended to get pretty intense–my friend expressed his perspective that, "You don't always have to be right, but you should always have an opinion." I found so much freedom in this! So true, we are never going to always be right, rarely are we going to be, but within the right context, we should always have confidence enough to share our thoughts. To express yourself fearlessly...what a beautiful concept.

With this in mind as my class concluded in December, I did not want my journey to end, and therefore decided to create a living "book" to record my inquiries on this new adventure. I have so many questions and am going to be exploring the development of our individual realities as I further discover my own.

THEN THE SERENDIPIDOUS HAPPENED.

Design class #1 of my two-part capstone course required us to create a blog to record our thoughts and progress throughout the quarter. I was beside myself. Crazy over-the-top excited, about the fact that my homework will be requiring me to think, as an individual, about what I am curious about. I am required to think! To delve into my thoughts and inquiries through written word. Could this be? Everyday I am thankful for deign studies and am thankful that God has led me to this place. My interests and ideas are not disconnected like I had thought, I think I am actually going to be okay. So right here, this exact place is where they will collide.

Here is a sincere welcome to join me on this journey!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Questions? Direction.

Everyday. Every single day. More than once a day even, I want to write my thoughts down and share with the world. I so long to set the thoughts inside my mind free, but I don't because there is not enough time in each day. When ever I begin to write, I can keep going; I feel completely detached from all sense of time, which is a rare experience for me!

I am thinking about so much right now, I am sometimes fearful that my mind will explode–not that I actually expect it to erupt, but do you ever have times when you feel your mind racing ahead, completely unbound in almost a zillion different directions at speed that you can't maintain and you seem to be constantly left behind with every turn it takes? Well, this is what I'm feeling now. I think about life so much, not in a way that prevents me from living, or that has me quietly observing and introspecting, but I guess it is just that I feel completely aware. I catch myself thinking about the moments when I am in them. I am enjoying, savoring, and experiencing life in a way I have never lived before. It has me wondering what I ever thought about before! I know I was stressed, so I was probably just self-consumed with my stress-thoughts.

The only way I can explain this, is to compare my thoughts and my life to a renaissance. I am experiencing a personal renaissance, a renaissance of self. This analogy may be attributed to the classes I have been studying this week with History of the Italian Renaissance and the Art History of Italian Fashion, Nation and Culture. Yeah, they might have had some influence...

Truly, though. I feel as though I am changing. The crazy thing is, nothing is really different. These feelings are attributed to a change in my perspective as my outlook on life is expanding and shifting–is this common? Is this what happens to people as they are about to graduate and the realities of life begin to set in? I can't say. All I know is that I want to share this experience. I want to share my new perspective with others... how can I?

All these thoughts connect to the ideas I have been having for my capstone project for Design Studies. A discovered sense of self, this is what I want to share. As I feel myself beginning to develop strength, I realize that this is what I want to communicate, to teach and to share. I want to inspire others, specifically young women to explore the pathways that will lead them on the journey to discovering their individual sense of self. Diluted identity and a disconnection from one's self has immeasurable impact.

It has been recognized that a viable solution to AIDS is education amongst women in Africa. Therefore, I am fascinated with the idea that similarly, a solution to eating disorders is also education. If we can educate young girls and women about beauty and redefine this concept within society, I believe that we can change perspectives and enable women to learn to love who they are. A redefined definition of what it is to be beautiful will result in confident individuals able to pursue self discovery–and a vivacity for life amongst our population will impact society in a sincerely positive way.

This is what I aim to do. Now I am embarking upon my journey to explore this idea of what it means to be "beautiful". I this process began so many years ago, so I am stoked to see where my inquisitions and observations will lead...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tutu's bring freedom

Yesterday I wore a pink tulle skirt to class. With cowboy boots, and grey fishnet tights. I thought it was a fun idea–which it was–but in addition to this, I wore it as a kind of experimentation for myself. At the moment of it's purchase, I did not intend on using this skirt in a study for myself or my capstone, but some things are unpredictable.

I initially bought this skirt based upon two reasons:
1.) I have always wanted to be a ballerina
2.) I want to overcome my fear of self-expression

Recognizing this, I knew that it would be a challenge for me to wear this as part of an outfit in public, and was therefore hesitant to purchase it as an addition to my wardrobe. I then thought to myself, "Well WHY"? Why did I think that I should be afraid to wear it? I liked it. It made me happy. When I had it on, I felt fun and also beautiful. Isn't this what clothes should do for the wearer in addition to serving the original purpose of clothing one's body? I deliberated over this purchase for over an hour. More than 60 minutes of my life were spent in contemplation, struggling to take a stand for myself against my personal criticism and venture onto the mysterious path of self-expression. I was battling no one's judgement but my own. This choice, to others quite possibly, would not have been a large decision or a cause of stress, but I was overwhelmed. Why did this decision feel like a defining choice in my life?

I felt as though it was a moment of truth. Would I cave to perceived judgments of society that I expected to experience if I chose to publicly wear this tutu, or would I boldly embrace this construction of fabric and communicate to the world a layer of who I am?

But what exactly did I feel it would communicate for me? It was my freedom. Freedom from self, freedom from judgement, and a step towards accepting who I am. Why do I then dress as I do? I realized that I often wear what I feel to be "responsible". Nothing flashy, nothing bold, lots of neutrals. I have stated before that I was in fear of losing myself as I almost forgot how to play, and recognized, as I was contemplating my tutu purchase, that I communicate this separation from self and resistance of fun in what I wear, in how I "design" myself each day.

Okay. So I understand that we are not defined by our clothes, but I realized, after an hour had passed, that I have a problem in the fact that I felt confined by what I thought other people might think of me, how THEY might define me, if I wore something I liked. I would be vulnerable in my apparent playfulness, and people might judge me. This, terrified me. Was this the heart of my newly realized fears? This fear was so strong and so real to me, that it was affecting the decisions I made for my life. If I was having such trouble over a skirt, where would it end? When would I free myself from my perceived ideas of others, and stop making decisions based upon what I thought others were thinking and make a choice for myself? Do others think about this? Do all people think about what others are thinking, and make choices based upon their perceptions? All I know is I did, I did for a very long time.

But then, I bought a pink tutu...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Capstone providence

"Oh my goodness. I realize that I am okay. I am different than what I had thought I needed to be successful in this program, but there is a place for me here. I have finally found it!" Scribbled amongst my notes from class yesterday was a moment of profound realization that I am exactly where I need to be–I belong exactly where I am.

During our discussion of capstone projects, we approached, once again, the question of what it means to be a Design Studies major. My professor explained this time where we might fit within this world. What is Design Studies... brilliant question. It seems to be a metamorphic assemblage of art, creativity, research, observation, and now anthropologic observation, which has me completely ecstatic! Could this be it? Is this very thing the hidden element that swept me into the world of design? It seems right. I feel like I have found where I belong after years spent wondering why I was here, never feeling adequate for what I was trying to accomplish with design. I feel like I have unearthed the reason for my being here. It is providence, and it is beyond beautiful.

I am seriously inquiring if what I should pursue is ethnography. With all that was discussed in class, I believe that it is quite possible. Not a designer, but a career as creative thinker is my calling...

So the better question becomes, what is a Design Studies major? What do we do–what and who exactly are we? This question took residence in my mind shortly after I joined this secret society of designers. Unusual and undefinable–are we cutting-edge, or just crazy?

We study human interaction. We ask questions. We identify problems. We inquire to discover. We are researchers and observers. We are individuals who see and explore limitless possibilities–and this is where I fit.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bellissima

Life can be inexplicably amazing. Today was a wonderful day to start, but this afternoon I went to get my textbooks for the quarter and things fell into place before me. Chance, luck, serendipity. I know it is a God thing. The thoughts I have been thinking and my applying to the internship in Rome now, the timing of everything is beyond perfect. The title of my book aligns exactly with what I had been planning to pursue for my capstone–Bellissima: Feminine Beauty and the Idea of Italy. If this is a sign of things to come, I can't begin to contain my excitement! This is a sign. It simply has to be. I believe in signs, I do. Although I don't know what it says exactly, but this serendipidous event is soothing to my soul. I feel so hopeful for life and all that is to come.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Heart thoughts


To live is to love, and to love you need to allow your heart to live. I realize I was in danger of losing myself... I almost forgot how to play! It is necessary to be responsible, but within responsibility the soul needs to have fun. People, all people everywhere need to play–so here is to having fun and the sincere childlike enjoyment of life...

In light of Christmas & the New Year

"We too set out on a journey. And like wise men, we return by a different path–not our own pathway, but one revealed by God. Follow the star, your God-given desires. Trust in God like a vulnerable child. And give the gift of your heart to God and to the world." Rev. Patrick J. Howell

This was a surprising find in The Seattle Times this morning as I ate breakfast, now back in Seattle–my other hometown. I don't usually read the paper, but thought it would be good for me this morning as I am trying to gain a deeper awareness of the world–part of my New Year's goal and list of resolutions. Shocked to find something spiritual and uplifting in the paper of a city that proudly claims the reputation of being liberal. This just proves that we should never be ashamed for what we believe in effect resisting to judge others, and accept that people and therefore this life will always surprise us.