Monday, July 9, 2012

The Conditions for Art

"Great art—or let’s just say more modestly, original art—is never created in the safe middle ground but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. If you want to increase the sum of what it is possible for human beings to say, to know, to understand and therefore, in the end, to be; you actually have to go to the edge and push outwards. Originality is dangerous…and there are powerful sources in many societies, including this one, who don’t want those boundaries to be pushed outwards, who don’t want us to be allowed to think new thoughts, to think dangerous thoughts, to think original thoughts. There are forces in every society, including this one, which push back against the efforts of artists and intellectuals and thinkers to increase those boundaries. And that pushing back can sometimes be dangerous for the artist concerned but if we believe in liberty…. this is the kind of art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Celebrating Life's Passages

It's been a month of travel. I was in New York City at the end of May for Book Expo America. It was huge! I signed a lot of books.

The panel discussion I was on at the PEN America Festival is now up! Click here to listen. It was a discussion of children's rights. I spoke of educational rights.  I referred to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people, Article 17:
"Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning."   
This has been eradicated in the Untied States. My point is that when we talk about the rights of children and the horrific violations occurring in many parts of the world, we must not forget to look at ourselves and our own violations.

After New York I went to Dartmouth for the graduation of my daughter, Anna Bergitte Ahgeak Tuuluk Edwardson on June 10.

She is in the middle, above, with some of her NAD (Native Americans at Dartmouth) classmates. The NAD program at Dartmouth is powerful. As I heard one visitor say, it's like a United Nations of Native American nations.  Most of the NADs wore tribal dress for graduation. Anna graduated with a degree in Film and Native American Studies. She wants to teach Iñupiaq. She wore a green atiqluk (Dartmouth colors) and kamipiaq or mukluks, which I am really proud of because they were made by one of our very young Barrow seamstresses, Jerica Aamodt, and they are beautiful! Bearded seal, calf skin and beaver:

The photo doesn't quite do them justice. My camera broke in the middle of graduation.

Fortunately there were plenty of cameras around to record the birth of my granddaughter when I returned to Anchorage. Annabel Rose Nuyaagik Tavialuk Kalayauk. She was born on June 28 at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage and she was born with her eyes wide open.

She is beautiful and very wise, I think.

What else is there? Life is good.