Art evolves in various forms

Focusing on learning American Sign Language, preparing choreography for my last dance performance as a student at CSU San Marcos and working to keep up with my photography work and photojournalism has proven to be slightly more time consuming than I am willing to admit. Even when one project is completed it seems as though five more have taken its place. I am proud to say that I made it through my requirements in learning sign language, though I feel I need to expose myself to the culture far more in order to get rid of my nervous stuttering when I sign. Beyond that, I have been neck deep in developing my choreography for an April 30-May 1 performance I have been preparing for as a contemporary dance student.

A classmate of mine, whom I admire dearly for whom she is as a person and for her obvious talents in performance arts, came into the studio at the start of the year practicing her routine for a hula hoop competition with a light-up hula hoop. Ms. Cierra Potts was dancing along the dance for and I found myself staring. When she stopped I asked her if she might be interested in doing some light graffiti art photos with me while she did her routine. She had no idea what I was talking about but was open to trying something new.

Amidst all our rehearsals we managed to get together and create:

Light Grafiti with Cierra Potts

Light Grafiti with Cierra Potts

Light Grafiti with Cierra Potts

Light Grafiti with Cierra Potts

Light Grafiti with Cierra Potts

 

Light Grafiti with Cierra Potts

Light Grafiti with Cierra Potts

Light Grafiti with Cierra Potts

In the short hour we had to play with the lighting I brought with me we had some pretty amazing end results.  These are just a small sample of what came of Cierra’s first experience playing with light art photography.  I was so excited to see that she was having as much fun as I was and loved it just as much as I did.  I’m excited that I’ve found a subject that is willing to take the time to create these with me.  From dance, to light photography.

Wondercon leads to intimidation and excitement

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Among the privileged few, I have been approved as press for WonderCon, in Anaheim, CA. These conventions are always full of excitement and action. Finding something to talk about is always a guarantee as there appears to be something for everyone. This time around things are just a little bit different.

I’ve taken the opportunity to cover Stan Lee’s amazing Comikaze. I’ve begun to help find ways to promote San Diego’s Comic Fest…and I’ve applied for press for ComiCon a couple of times to only be cut out of registration last minute both times because I somehow manage to submit my application to the wrong email address. I took a serious chance applying for WonderCon, knowing that many professionals apply and are rejected, as is the same for Comic-Con.

This is huge!

Unlike many other fandom conventions, WonderCon needs no help in publicity. So much that you rarely see advertising for the event until right before it starts. Tickets are sold months in advance. Registration to even obtain admission require membership on the official web site. Heck, press releases aren’t even really distributed because all the information you could ever want to know about the event is publicized immediately at http://www.comic-con.org/wca. It’s the one-stop-shop for all things “wonderous” at WonderCon.

Thus, intimidation sets in. How can I best contribute to the event when it is so popular that they knowingly need little help in the publicity department… The answer: share my excitement and rock the news reels with as much information as humanly possible during the convention. It’s a whole new level of publishing in real time for me.

The day after is obviously too late. Pictures tell a thousand words…and having words worth reading make all the difference.

I’m excited to take on the challenge. Honored I have been given the opportunity. And more and more optimistic about my future in journalism as I continue to encounter people that have openly valued what I produce and guide me through constant improvement and personal growth.

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Insane Inflatable 5K

Insane Inflatable 5K 2015I was asked by some members of a loving new found circle of mine that I have recently become a part of while networking to further establish myself upon graduation this spring to photograph their 5K event. Considering this was my first one, I was slightly nervous and excited at the same time.

Insane Inflatable 5K 2015It has helped to carry on this motivation theme I seem to have attracted this year in terms of doing more “fun” things when trying to be physically active this year.

Insane Inflatable 5K 2015 Insane Inflatable 5K 2015 Insane Inflatable 5K 2015 Insane Inflatable 5K 2015There were nothing but smiling faces as the drones of people swarmed in to the event to participate in the 5K run to help support San Diego County’s Autism Society.  Foundation members brought their children.  Friends, family and other community supporters came and dressed the part in super hero outfits and bright colored apparel.

Insane Inflatable 5K 2015Families and friends were taking full advantage of the bounce houses that were used for the obstacle course.  These were very few of the many photos that we had taken to show off all the fun.  From North County the event moved on to Long Beach, and then on to Arizona.

Insane Inflatable 5K 2015 Insane Inflatable 5K 2015This young lady was out to break the record for climbing the finish line slide the most consecutive times before quitting.  She made it close to 30 rounds before I didn’t see her at the top again.  It seemed like there was nothing that was going to wear her out.  That big smile was great to see when concluding the afternoon.  This 5K is truly a one-of-a-kind.

Beethoven soon to resonate through the halls of Escondido Center for the Arts

Poster provided by Ching-Ming Cheng; Pianist, performer and professor at California State University San Marcos.

Poster provided by Ching-Ming Cheng; Pianist, performer and professor at California State University San Marcos.

Ching-Ming Cheng, a talented and dedicated performer, will be performing at the Escondido Center for the Arts on March 1 to present her rendition of Ludwig Van Beethoven.  As Cheng is a dedicated artist, she practices daily as much as possible and continues her work teaching others as a professor at California State University San Marcos as a contributing faculty member of the new School of Arts.  Relying on her guidance in my own artistic endeavors, I had the opportunity to further get to know this talented young woman as well as gain from her life experience of growing up in Taiwan and completing her higher education in the United States.  With Cheng’s unique background and un yielding ambition in continuing to be the best she can be, as both an individual and an artist, this will be the first of two performances featuring her dynamic talents for the season.

North County Arts Network develops in San Diego

Beginning stages of a creative response I made in reflection of the River North Chicago dance performance earlier this year.  Medium: Acrylic paint.

Beginning stages of a creative response I made in reflection of the River North Chicago dance performance earlier this year. Medium: Acrylic paint.

January held the first of several orientation and networking opportunities for individuals interested in the progression of arts in education and society in San Diego County.  North County Arts Network is looking for teachers, performers, exhibitors, enthusiasts, artists, etc.  To participate in the next event visit my original article at: http://csusmchronicle.com/home/2015/01/north-county-arts-network-seeks-aid-expanding-support-for-san-diego-countys-artists.html

My greatest adversary stands in the mirror

Face in the Mirror

By Anne Hall & Katlin Sweeney

There is the perfect skin, very little problem with acne, the thick, beautiful hair, and the unique aspects that make this face original. You may see the natural view at first glance. But what I see when I look in the mirror is hideous in comparison.  From the fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, nose, and lips, to the sun spots and freckles that have evolved from years of living in the desert in my youth, and the bulge from swollen glands in my throat from environmental allergies; it all sticks out like a soar thumb when I look in the mirror.

I was never told that I was not pretty growing up.  My father always said that I was not the kind of girl that needed makeup as a teenager and always said that maybe I could use a little bit of it in the future. But I truly did not need it.  He was right. Every time someone tried to add makeup to my face in modeling, acting, or whatever, it always aged me. It made me look completely different and as someone I really did not find aesthetically pleasing. I had nothing to complain about in terms of personal appearance. Besides, I was raised that beauty came from within and radiated out.

Admittedly, my mother always gave me a hard time about my weight. Looking back at it all, I never should have listened to her. I was always below average or average in size. I was never chubby as a child or overweight. With her poking and people around me always self-conscious about themselves, I followed the crowd. I ended up making myself anorexic, and then bulimic in order to fit in with friends who had made themselves anorexic to please guys. That misuse of my body definitely caught up with me later in life.

These boys never told them, or me, how to look. They even pointed out that we did not eat enough. We spent all our time watching movies, listening to music, crooning to music videos, and wanting to be what we thought was stereotypically normal in terms of attractiveness. It is what we saw in media that gave us this idealistic view. Females were somehow obligated to be concerned about hiding wrinkles and blemishes. We were supposed to aspire to having the right kind of look.
Low self-esteem lingers within me and there is no reason for its reinforcement and obsession for the details that stick out like a soar thumb. 98 percent of the time that I glance at myself in the mirror, the perception is what I see.  A layered mask created by propaganda. Influenced and nurtured by no one but myself.

***

There are varying degrees to which women (and men!) endure the burden of appearance insecurity. Both Anne and I have experienced the kind of body anxiety that plagues oneself for decades. The intensity of it rarely ceases and often provokes further issues, such as doubting self worth, failing to believe we can wear certain things, and questioning the affection of others. There is a decade and a few years separating Anne and I as far as our time spent on earth. However, one common theme unites our perceptions of identity: that the images surrounding us only aid the demons within in deteriorating our confidence.

Anne and I differ in features: I have thin hair, struggled with acne in middle school, and have often perceived my skin as relatively worn, despite being only twenty-one years old. Our bodies are different builds, facial structures differ greatly, and our smiles do not look the same. But we are cut from a similar cloth: I became ill with eating problems and depression towards the end of my freshman year in high school. I was being bullied by the girls on my volleyball team, my childhood friends seemed to be resistant to letting me back into their inner circle, and my boyfriend at the time seemed to be focused on girls that I knew, as well as celebrities, that had curvier bodies and a sex appeal that I did not harbor at fifteen.

I was still awkwardly stumbling into womanhood, and this discomfort continued through graduation (I have somewhat lovingly nicknamed all of high school my “ugly duckling” years). It all feels like a lifetime ago. But while it seems like I am peering into the memories of a different person, the impact of these things weigh heavily upon my day-to-day life. My extreme disdain for my body and lack of self-esteem prevent me from being at ease with activities that are considered simple to a healthy individual. I struggle to slip into a two-piece bathing suit. I get nervous about eating in public places. If somebody looks at me when I walk to school, I assume it is because I am so distractingly unattractive that it warrants attention. There are certain movies and television shows that I cannot watch because the women are so unattainably pretty that it makes me wistful over my reflection even more than usual.

We need to assert to young girls, and women of all ages, that the ideals of beauty perpetuated through societal norms and omnipresent on television are not just damaging: they are unhealthy. When you are bombarded with these photographs, advertisements, commercials, and carefully airbrushed women, you start to feel overwhelmed. And while it may seem like all women struggle with these insecurities, in some cases the casual discomforts begin to cut much deeper. Body dissatisfaction can lead to problems like depression, eating disorders, self-mutilation, crash diets, and even suicide.

The way that beauty expectations can wield power is unbelievable, affecting not only women but men as well. We are presented images that dictate how we must aspire to be, and if we are close, those downfalls must be tweaked to perfection. It reduces our value down to the amount of blemishes that pop up on your skin on a bad day, or the way that you seem to never lose weight in the ‘right’ places.

We need to come to a point where we address that we are polluting our minds with issues that really serve no genuine purpose other than to destroy our perceptions of our own power. We cripple ourselves with the weight of the scales we drag into our bathrooms and the amount of meals we skip for fear of looking like a realistic human. Until we finally say enough is enough, the perfection disease will continually strike until we are truly rendered powerless.