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24 September 2018

Beauty and the Wheelchair: Mary Settle Releases New Book "The Mansion," A Story of Acceptance

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Mary Settle
Mary Settle
How many times have you seen somebody who was different and felt afraid?  Maybe he walked different.  Maybe he talked different.  Maybe he could not talk at all.  
In her new book, The MansionMary Settle takes the classic tale of beauty and the Beast, and turns it into a lesson on accepting people with disabilities.
The story starts with a high school student who was assigned to tutor a boy in a wheelchair.  Afraid that the rumors about him being an angry and mean boy are true, she dreads meeting the awful boy in the wheelchair.  

As she gets to know him better, she learns that he is just like everybody else.  
This is an issue that is particularly close to Settle's heart.  She was born with Cerebral Palsy which affects her entire body.  She describes herself as having "a handicap and a disability.   A handicap is something that creates obstacles designed to overcome.  A disability means you're not abled.  My handicap is Cerebral Palsy.  My disability is people who treat me like I'm not abled."
The Mansion - Front Cover
The Mansion - Front Cover (via Amazon)
Her Cerebral Palsy was caused by the umbilical cord getting wrapped around her neck during birth.  
Despite doctors' predictions that she would be a vegetable, unable to think, dream, or feel, she has graduated high school, went to college, and is raising three beautiful daughters.
The Mansion can be purchased on Amazon 
SOURCE: Mary Settle

Ontario Science Centre Presents STEAM-Powered Stories As Part Of Nuit Blanche Toronto 2018

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Ontario Science Centre 2018 Innovation in Mas' Award Winner - The Rise of the Cherry Blossoms
Ontario Science Centre 2018 Innovation in Mas' Award Winner - The Rise of the Cherry Blossoms (CNW Group/Ontario Science Centre)
Experience the city through the lenses of art and science this Nuit Blanche Toronto at the Ontario Science Centre, where science, technology, engineering, art and math converge to fuel STEAM-Powered Stories. 
For the first time, the Science Centre participates in Nuit Blanche Toronto to offer free art projects and interactive experiences from 7 p.m. on September 29 to 7a.m. on September 30
In addition to free shuttles connecting the TTC Scarborough Line (Lawrence East) to the Ontario Science Centre, free shuttles will connect the Ontario Science Centre, Aga Khan Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum.
"Scientific and artistic inquiry are remarkably similar. Both are attempts to make sense of the world around us, and both require a great deal of creativity and imagination," said Maurice Bitran, PhD, CEO and Chief Science Officer, Ontario Science Centre. "Participating in Nuit Blanche Toronto provides a unique opportunity for the Science Centre to foster the creative synergies between science and art, inspire curiosity about our ever-changing world and fuel future innovation."
STEAM-Powered Stories explores the Nuit Blanche Toronto theme "You Are Here" through a variety of hands-on activities, interactive experiences and art installations that blur the lines between science and art. 
Featuring live science demonstrations and roving performers, STEAM-Powered Stories includes:
Star Party | 7 p.m. to midnight: 
An opportunity to star gaze in style, visitors celebrate the night sky through telescope observing, smartphone astrophotography, guest speakers and an astronomy-themed musical performance by The Calderons. Telescope observing is weather dependent. 
Presented in collaboration with Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Toronto Centre.
Science Slam! between 7 p.m. and midnight: 
An artistic view into the lives of scientists, this poetry slam-style event allows event-goers to dive into scientific experiences in STEAM and observe the natural connections between science and art.
Light Play | 7 p.m. to midnight: 
In this interactive experience, the event goer becomes the artist through light painting, a technique that involves a moving light source and long-exposure photography. Using "light brushes," participants paint a scene with colours, flashes and streaks and receive a digital image of their masterpiece. 
Presented in collaboration with Blinky Lights Toronto.
Wear Your Art on Your Sleeve | between 7 p.m. and midnight: 
In this hands-on workshop, designer Michelle Reyes, recipient of the Ontario Science Centre's 2018 Innovation in Mas' Award, leads participants through a crash course on carnival costume design — from wire bending to beading — to create take-away, wearable art.
Six-Word Scratch | 7 p.m. to 7 a.m: 
Attendees are challenged to tell their personal story on a graffiti wall in six words as it relates to the Nuit Blanche Toronto theme "You Are Here."
Green Screen Magic | 7 p.m. to midnight: 
Choosing from a variety of science-themed backdrops, event goers drop themselves into the thick of science through chroma key compositing technology (a.k.a. green screen) and receive a digital image.
Nuit Bazaar | 7 p.m. to midnight: 
Featuring food vendors and retail stalls, the Nuit Bazaar showcases an impressive cross-section of cuisine and cultures. 
Presented in collaboration with the Thorncliffe Park Women's Committee.
Rise of D Cherry Blossoms 7 p.m. to 7 a.m: 
A feat of engineering artistry, Rise of D Cherry Blossoms highlights the innovation involved in costume-making for the annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival. Michelle Reyes (Saldenah Mas-K Club), Rise of D Cherry Blossoms designer, received the Ontario Science Centre's 2018 Innovation in Mas' Award for her original and daring design. Installation is weather dependent. 
Presented in collaboration with Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
This Storm is You (Nuit Blanche Toronto Independent Project) | 7 p.m. to 7 a.m: 
An immersive, multimedia project from Toronto-based photographer and installation artist Zahra Saleki, This Storm is You explores the simultaneous feelings of death and rebirth often associated with immigration. 
The project's visitors experience the challenge of immigrating, surviving and adjusting through dance, light, photography, sound and video. This Storm is You aims to capture a story of becoming and transferring.
COLour Odyssey Vol.II (Nuit Blanche Toronto Independent Project) | 7 p.m. to 7 a.m: 
An aesthetic and intellectual experience, COLour Odyssey Vol. II by Toronto-based artist and designer Yaw Tony comprises colour and storytelling to complicate the theme "You Are Here." 
COLour Odyssey Vol. II, a digital projection, explores three aspects of colour: hue, intensity and value. The project is also packed with hidden statements to compel and challenge viewers to identify what's concealed.
First Nations Storytellers between 7 p.m. and midnight: 
A meaningful cultural connection, Debajehmujig Theatre Group, a First Nations performing arts group based out of Manitoulin Island, gives a storytelling performance that aims to build bridges between cultures. 
The group travels throughout the country and is the first and only professional theatre company with based on a Reserve in Canada
Presented in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum and Culture Days.
Art on the Move between 7 p.m. and midnight: 
The art follows you in this multicultural expression through movement, sound and style. 
Performers from around the world roam the grounds to expose visitors to creative expression from different spaces and places.
Performers include Tassa drummers, Toronto's only hip-hop brass band T.Dot Bangerz Brass, presented in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum, and performers of classical Indonesian dance, presented in partnership with the Thorncliffe Park Women's Committee.
STEAM-Powered Stories is a free event. 

⏩ During Nuit Blanche Toronto, select areas of the Ontario Science Centre are open to the public. 

The Ontario Science Centre is located at 770 Don Mills Road. 

Food and beverages are available for purchase.



21 September 2018

US Senators to Betsy DeVos: Stop Violating Workers' Rights

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The union representing nearly 4,000 Department of Education employees nationwide, the American Federation of Government Employees, is echoing a call from three U.S. Senators for the department to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair, just, and legal contract
The union representing nearly 4,000 Department of Education employees nationwide, the American Federation of Government Employees, is echoing a call from three U.S. Senators for the department to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair, just, and legal contract
Three U.S. Senators are calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to stop denying workplace rights and protections to nearly 4,000 Department of Education employees who are represented by the American Federation of Government Employees.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined with Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in sending the Sept. 20 letter to Secretary DeVos.
They urge Education to comply with a July finding of a Federal Labor Relations Authority investigation that the department violated federal labor law by failing to bargain in good faith with AFGE and unilaterally imposing its own proposal on 3,900 federal employees represented by AFGE.
"It is in the best interest of the U.S. Department of Education to have a positive and constructive working relationship with its workforce," the senators wrote. "Therefore, we urge you to return to the negotiating table to work in good faith with the employees' union to reach a fair and equitable contract, and to adhere to the 2013 collective bargaining agreement until negotiations are complete."
After months of anti-union proposals and hostile behavior at the bargaining table, Department of Education management told AFGE in March that it would not negotiate and would instead implement its own terms. The so-called "collective bargaining agreement" imposed by management is an illegal management edict that guts employee rights, including those addressing workplace health and safety, telework, and alternative work schedules.
President Trump issued three executive orders in May that largely aimed to expand Education's anti-union proposals governmentwide. In August, however, a federal judge ruled in a lawsuit first brought by AFGE that the administration's actions violated the U.S. Constitution and laws providing checks and balances in the federal government by attempting to deny more than 2 million federal workers their legal right to representation.
"It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this Administration as a whole does not take seriously its bargaining obligations under the Statute, evidenced by the issuance of the illegal, anti-bargaining Executive Orders together with the growing prevalence of bad faith bargaining behavior across federal agencies," the senators wrote.
AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. thanked the senators for their leadership and echoed their call for Education to return to the bargaining table.
"Secretary DeVos' anti-worker crusade has not slowed down one bit since the FLRA's ruling and the judge's decision – if anything the department is more resolved than ever to keep denying workers their rights," Cox said. "I urge Secretary DeVos to order her management team back to the table so we can negotiate a fair, just, and legal contract, which all employees deserve."
AFGE (American Federation of Government Employees) logo
AFGE logo. (PRNewsFoto/American Federation of Government Employees)
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

Amazon Biopic Of Legendary Argentine Soccer Great Maradona Begins Production

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Amazon Biopic Of Legendary Argentine Soccer Great Maradona Begins Production
Amazon Biopic Of Legendary Argentine Soccer Great Maradona Begins Production 
Amazon Prime Video will soon share the story of the world's most famous soccer star, Diego Armando Maradona
The biopic series will look back at his life from infancy through to his present life and his journey playing for BarcelonaNapoli, Boca and leading his national team as captain for Argentina
Co-produced by Dhana Media, BTF Media and Raze, the companies behind the biopic, have announced the actors will each play a different stage in Maradona's life, accounting his adolescence in Villa Fiorito throughout his turbulent time in and off the field. Nicolas Goldschmidt (Farsantes) will interpret Maradona's early years as a footballer; Nazareno Casero (Stories of a Clan) during his rise to fame and Juan Palomino (Truth Consequence) in his darkest days.
"Collaborating with Dhana Media and BTF Media, to tell a story of global interest in a completely international production, represents both an enormous challenge and a great pleasure," said Mari Urdaneta, Chief Content Officer of RAZE, the Latino Digital Media Company backed by Sofia Vergara. "Diego is considered to be the best player in the history of soccer and is world renowned from his many controversies and high-profile life."
The series will begin filming in Argentina, continuing its journey to UruguayMexicoSpain and it will end production in Italy; making this the largest international production about the world's greatest soccer star.  
The series will be available in more than 200 territories on Amazon Prime Video, and later distributed on linear platforms through Disney Distribution. 
SOURCE:: BTF Media

20 September 2018

Canada Signs On To Global Initiative To Protect Marine Wildlife

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A humpback whale breaching.
A humpback whale breaching. (Photo: World Animal Protection)
Marine animals in Canada will soon be getting more protection as Canada has signed on to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative or GGGI. 
This initiative was founded in 2015 by World Animal Protection, an organization working to end the suffering of animals worldwide. The GGGI is an alliance of governments, NGOs, academics and fishing industry leaders that aims to reduce the amount of ghost gear (lost or abandoned fishing gear) in the oceans.
The announcement was made by the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, during the G7 meeting of Environment, Energy and Oceans Ministers in Halifax, Nova Scotia. World Animal Protection was invited to participate in the aligned Ocean Partnership Summit, on a panel covering sustainable fisheries and including reduction strategies for ghost gear. 
Ghost gear is found in every sea and ocean on the planet, along all three of Canada's coast lines and is a major contributor to ocean plastics. A whopping 640,000 tons of ghost gear is left in our oceans each year. It traps, injures, mutilates and kills hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, turtles and birds annually.
Signing on to the GGGI is an important next step in Canada's commitment to reduce ocean plastics. It means they will be addressing one of the deadliest forms of plastic debris for marine animals like whales and turtles.
World Animal Protection's Executive Director Josey Kitson says: "Canada's agreement to sign on to this initiative is a game changer. Our country has the longest total coastline in the world and Canada is sending a clear message that it is a leader in tackling ghost gear, protecting vulnerable species, improving the health of marine ecosystems, as well as safeguarding fishing industry livelihoods."
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard adds, "lost and abandoned fishing gear kills and injures marine life and has a significant damaging environmental impact. Not only does it negatively affect marine life and fish stocks globally, it also has a significant economic impact that is felt most acutely by the coastal communities and industries that depend on fisheries for their livelihoods. Our Government knows the time to act is now. We are proud to be a signatory to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and we are committed to improving the health of marine ecosystems, safeguarding human health and livelihoods and protecting marine life from harm."
Among the outcomes of the previous G7 Leaders' Summit, held from June 8-9 in Charlevoix, Quebec, was the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities and The Plastics Charter. With ghost gear accounting for an estimated 70% of ocean macro-plastic by weight, this commitment will go further in promoting sustainable oceans and fisheries, supporting coastal communities and tackling marine litter.
"Canada's commitment today also means that Canada will work alongside other key players in the GGGI to create solutions to reduce lost fishing gear and its harmful impacts on a global scale. It is a positive step knowing that our message has been heard and we look forward to working with Canada further on this," says Kitson.
⏩ Canadians from coast to coast can learn more about the impacts of ghost gear and how the members of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative are tackling it, at worldanimalprotection.ca.

19 September 2018

Facetune2 Taps Into NYFW Game With Artistic Sponsorship

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Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2
Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2
On Wednesday, September 12Raul Lopez presented the LUAR Spring/Summer 2019 Runway Show at the Old National Bank in New York City and Facetune 2 sponsored the show with a series of interactive activations as well as an artistic collaboration with artist Fletcher Nightwine
Featuring over thirty white looks, the SS19 Collection, El Infinitum Purgatorio, is about purgatory and rebirth, as well as blurring the lines as to what is real versus what is fake. 
Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2
Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2
For the lookbook, the designer partnered with Facetune2 and commissioned artist Fletcher Nightwine to create a set of imagery that breaks preconceived standards of beauty: exaggerated shoulders, shrunken accessories, elongated hems - creating a heightened sense of reality.
The imagery plays with the understanding of Facetune2 being a widely used app and advances the conversation around "perfect" body standards, reflecting back to that fact that audiences are inevitably trained to know these are not real.
"At Lightricks, our apps are a part of the creative process of aspiring artists everywhere, including fashion designers. NYFW is the most prestigious event in the fashion world, and it was amazing to collaborate with the top professionals in this industry, Christian CowanLaQuan Smith and LUAR. Building Facetune back in 2013, we definitely did not imagine we'd be attending the hottest fashion shows in NY. This is really only the beginning for us at Lightricks and we're excited to see what other fun & exciting places else our success will lead us," says Zeev Farbman, Lightricks co-founder & CEO.
Front row guests were treated to Factune2 giftboxes with lifetime VIP status, unlocking premium features of the app. The VIP status was provided via an illuminated acrylic QR code that had guests buzzing.
Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2
Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2
About Facetune2:
"Facetune2 is the next generation of Facetune, released four years later in November 2016. It promotes confidence and breaks the illusion of "perfect" body ideals. With millions of users worldwide it levels the playing field: because everyone knows everyone is using it, society is less and less likely to believe that "perfect" body standards are real or attainable. For most, social media is a highlight reel of your life, putting yourself out there the way you want to be seen. Facetune2 gives you the power to do that on your own."

Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2
Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2
SOURCE: Lightricks
Bonus Pictures:
(Via DropBox)
Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2

Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2

Photographer: Travis Gumbs. Artist: Fletcher Nightwine using Facetune2

18 September 2018

National Geographic Chief Scientist: 'Extinction Crisis Unavoidable Unless We Protect Half of Earth by 2050'

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Seen from above the ocean surface, the tiny island of Roca Partida appears as two small peaks jutting out from the water. Underwater, however, this remote island of the Revillagigedo Archipelago hosts a rich marine habitat. Here, whitetip reef sharks, Pacific creolefish, barberfish, and Moorish idols populate the reef.
Seen from above the ocean surface, the tiny island of Roca Partida appears as two small peaks jutting out from the water. Underwater, however, this remote island of the Revillagigedo Archipelago hosts a rich marine habitat. Here, whitetip reef sharks, Pacific creolefish, barberfish, and Moorish idols populate the reef.
With the planet facing an exploding population and unprecedented levels of biodiversity loss, National Geographic Society Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist Dr. Jonathan Baillie and Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Dr. Ya-Ping Zhang urged the world's governments to dramatically scale up global conservation targets. They detailed their opinions in an editorial published in the latest issue of Science.
"Current levels of protection do not even come close to the required levels," wrote Baillie and Zhang, who encouraged governments to set minimum targets to protect 30 percent of the Earth's oceans and lands by 2030, and 50 percent by 2050, with a particular focus on areas of high biodiversity. "This will be extremely challenging, but it is possible, and anything less will likely result in a major extinction crisis and jeopardize the health and well-being of future generations."
The targets are significantly higher than the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set at the 2010 Nagoya Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, where governments agreed to protect 10 percent of oceans and 17 percent of land by 2020.
"The trends are going in the right direction, and we applaud the countries that have made significant strides," said Baillie. "But we must accelerate the pace of protection in order to achieve a planet in balance — one that provides for humanity and the multitude of species with which we share the Earth."
Distinguished scientists support the call to increase global biodiversity targets. They include Dr. E.O. Wilson, one of the world's preeminent evolutionary biologists and the leading advocate of the Half-Earth Project — an initiative devoted to setting aside half of the Earth for conservation; and Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, an internationally renowned conservation biologist, widely known as the "godfather of biodiversity," and a National Geographic Fellow.
Wilson said, "It is true that if we turn our backs on the current species extinction crisis, the consequences for the planet will be dire. It is also true that it is within our powers, as humans and nations, to direct our own salvation. If we follow the Half-Earth call to action and protect 50 percent of our lands and seas, we'll safeguard at least 85 percent of species and reverse this crisis. We must work together to learn more about Earth's species and move quickly to protect them before they disappear forever. I encourage the world's governments to commit to conserving at least half the Earth. To strive against the odds on behalf of all life would be humanity at its most noble."
Spix's macaw, native to Brazil, is critically endangered.
Spix's macaw, native to Brazil, is critically endangered. (Image via National Geographic)
The Aichi Targets are a 10-year framework to save biodiversity and enhance its benefits for all people. The strategy includes halting species extinction, halving habitat loss and reducing pollution and overfishing by 2020. Baillie and Zhang want governments to set the higher targets at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Beijing, China, in 2020.
"This is the level of ambition we need because this is the last chance to secure a functional living planet for people and other forms of life," Lovejoy said.

Bollywood Invasion: A Novel by Ricardo Alexanders

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Bollywood Invasion - Book Cover
Bollywood Invasion - Book Cover
Readers who love the music of the Beatles and time-travel novels won't want to miss Bollywood Invasion by Ricardo Alexanders.  
Inspired by a tribute band playing the Beatles' songs with traditional Indian instruments, this clever new release hits the mark for romance, comedy, and suspense. However, readers will have to decide whether it is a blasphemy to the greatest band in the world or a fun Rock-n-Roll journey in an alternate universe.   
Sixteen-year-old John Palmieri is living an average life in modern-day Brooklyn until one day when he wakes up as the prince of a royal family in India, thirty-five years before he was born. Suddenly, he finds himself with riches and power beyond his wildest fantasies. Brooklyn is readily forgotten. Life becomes a constant stream of debauchery, coming to a stand-still only when he meets "the one." However, love doesn't come easy. He must become a better man, a pursuit ignited by his memories of Beatles songs on his iPod…
With a plot that moves unexpectedly, and popular Beatles songs beautifully integrated with the story development, readers will be engrossed in a new reading experience along the way. 
This enlivening read will take readers on a journey from Brooklyn to India, then England, and finally back to New York City, where everything started.
"An imaginative…rock 'n' roll fantasy." – Kirkus Reviews
"An engrossing saga that excels in unexpected turns of plot." – Midwest Book Review

The Trailer:
Available on AmazonSmashwords, and all good book shops from September 18, 2018
Kirkus Review:
(Via Kirkus Reviews)
"Alexanders (The Last Resistance: Dragon Tomb, 2017) tells the story of a teenager who wakes up in an alternate universe and becomes a rock star in this YA novel.

Sixteen-year-old American John Palmieri feels invisible at his Brooklyn, New York, high school—well, except when he’s getting bullied. Then he gets hit by a bus and is suddenly magically transported to 1958 India, where he’s doted upon by servants who call him “Raj Babu.” After getting over the initial shock, he realizes he isn’t too upset about the change of scenery: “Walking onto the balcony, John saw a swimming pool, a tennis court, and a fleet of vintage cars neatly parked to the side of the lawn….By now, he knew his life in Brooklyn was not coming back, yet he felt no real sadness.” At first, “Raj” is happy to smoke weed, have sex, and make predictions about the future, soon earning the affectionate nickname “Babaji” from friends and admirers. When this gets boring, Raj decides to start a band. They’re called the Beetos and play songs with names like “Yesterday” and “Can’t Buy Me Love,” which “Raj” claims to have written. He forsakes his arranged marriage to pursue the girl of his dreams, then sets out to conquer the world while emulating John Lennon (who, of course, no one in this world has yet heard of). Things go pretty great for a time, but then Raj starts to run into some of the same problems that the real Lennon encountered—and others that he never had to contend with. Alexanders’ prose is smooth, although his attempts to render the Indian accent come off as more than a little clumsy: “John attempted an Indian accent this time. ‘I’am taa’king like I aa’lways do,’ he said, shaking his head like a bobblehead.” The overall concept is certainly promising, and the author delivers some details that Beatles fans are likely to appreciate. He also makes a number of surprising, if not always satisfying, decisions regarding the plot; the ending, for instance, essentially negates all that’s come before it.

An imaginative, if rather shallow, rock ‘n’ roll fantasy."
About the Author:
Ricardo Alexanders is a descendant of the Great Yyu and lives in Massachusetts. He enjoys music, history, and experiencing all kinds of cultures around the world. After obtaining his doctorate in science, he became fascinated with time-travel. 

As an aspiring writer, he loves to write time-travel stories that blend fantasy, science, and real history together.
Click here for a free preview (limited time only) ⏪

16 September 2018

Delacroix At The Met: A Retrospective That Evokes Today's Turmoil

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Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Self-Portrait in a Green Vest’ (1837)
Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Self-Portrait in a Green Vest’ (1837). (Wikimedia Commons)
I’m an art historian and professor who studies and teaches French Romantic art. So when I was in France this past summer, I made sure to see the Louvre’s retrospective exhibition of French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix.

In the galleries, I listened in on the other viewers discussing his paintings. Yes, they talked about their beauty and vibrant colors. But they also spoke of the images they depicted – scenes of tyranny and political upheaval, of resistance, chaos and refugees. They may just as well have been speaking of our present moment.

Now the Delacroix exhibition is coming to the United States. It opens Sept. 17, at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and will run through Jan. 6, 2019.

The exhibition will have a special resonance for those trying to make sense of the uncertainties and challenges we face today.

If you only know Delacroix from his iconic 1830 work “Liberty Leading the People” – in which a symbolic woman representing liberty celebrates the three glorious days of the Revolution of 1830 – you might think he was a political revolutionary. He was not.
Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ (1830)
Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ (1830). (Wikimedia Commons)
Instead, the artist was a conservative man facing what he called “the century of unbelievable things.” During his lifetime, he experienced war, two revolutions on his doorstep and encounters with Islamic cultures that challenged and entranced him. The exhibition shows us a man trying to comprehend what is happening to his world.

A star is born 
Born in 1798, Delacroix was a privileged child of the Napoleonic age. As a young student, he honed his skills by drawing in schoolbooks and sketchbooks.

But by the time Delacroix was 16 years old, both of his parents had died, and the family’s money dried up. Delacroix, realizing he would have to rely on his painting to make a living, enrolled in the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris while also studying in the studio of Pierre Guerin, where he befriended influential painter Theodore Gericault.

He was considered an early leader of the new Romantic style, an approach to painting that expressed passions through dramatic colors and loose, fluid brushstrokes.

While today he’s known as “the great Romantic,” Delacroix rejected that title. Instead, he styled himself as a painter who continued the glorious Classic tradition of French art; in his work, he often depicted Classical and historical subjects that were the bedrock of that approach.

He made his debut in the Paris Salon exhibition with the dramatic 1822 work “Barque of Dante,” an image of Dante and Virgil crossing into Hell that earned him widespread praise.
But Delacroix’s paintings of the Greek War of Independence – an early 1820s conflict between the Greeks and their Ottoman occupiers – catapulted him to fame.
In ‘Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi,’ Delacroix uses a pale female figure to symbolize Greece
In ‘Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi,’ Delacroix uses a pale female figure to symbolize Greece. (Wikimedia Commons)
Delacroix, like many in his circle, supported the Greeks in their struggle against the oppressive Ottoman Empire. While “The Massacre at Chios” (1824), dedicated to the brutal deaths of the Greeks on that island, will remain at the Louvre, the celebrated “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi” (1826), an image of tragic defeat, travels to the New York exhibition. Delacroix began the painting shortly after the citizens of Missolonghi attempted to liberate their city only to be massacred by the Ottoman Turks in 1825.

In “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi,” Delacroix embodied Greece as a single allegorical figure. Pale-skinned and clothed in traditional garments of white and blue – with her body lowered on one knee upon the fallen marble blocks – she recalls the Virgin Mary. Shrouded in darkness behind her, there’s a Turk – dark-skinned, turbaned and dressed in menacing hues of red.

At this point in his life, Delacroix had never traveled to the Ottoman Empire or anywhere else in the Islamic world; he only knew of it from the stories, objects and images he encountered in Paris. People in his circle wrote about the Oriental world of the Turks and North Africa as “the other,” at best, and barbaric at worst. In the painter’s hands, the Islamic world is cast as the infidel, while Christian Greece is represented with the imagery of the Virgin. It is a classic clash of West and East, liberty and oppression.

In Europe and America today, these old conflicts are playing out again with similar language and imagery being deployed. This binary relationship runs so deep in Western culture that it seems like a permanent fixture of our politics.

An artist broadens his horizon 
In Delacroix’s art that simple binary never quite applied. Instead of seeing a border between the two worlds, it was as if he wanted to slip between them time and again. Though he was on the side of the Greeks two centuries ago, he was also fascinated by the glamour and violence he associated with the Islamic world.

In 1832, Delacroix, who seldom traveled, embarked for North Africa as part of a diplomatic mission to Algeria and Morocco. The voyage came about purely by chance when the ambassador, Count Charles de Mornay, sought a diverting traveling companion and artist to accompany him on the mission. Delacroix left within a month of receiving the invitation for the voyage.

The lure of the exotic Islamic world that Delacroix only knew through paintings and drawings was too much to resist. It changed the man and his art.

Little prepared him for North Africa and the beauty he found there. To Delacroix, all was soft and liquid in the light.

I am dizzy,” he wrote his friend Pierret. “I am like a man who is dreaming.”

The artist’s small sketchbooks from North Africa, which will be featured in the Met exhibition, offer an intimate glimpse of the scenes and people that captivated him. He would return to these subjects repeatedly throughout his career.

A star of the New York exhibition, “The Women of Algiers in Their Apartment” (1834), brings viewers into Delacroix’s North African world. Years later, the journalist Phillipe Burty reported in his magazine article “Eugene Delacroix a Algers” that Delacroix had received permission to enter the private women’s quarter of an Algerian home with the help of an Algerian acquaintance. Even male family members needed permission to enter the “harem,” so Delacroix’s access would have been an extraordinary event.
Delacroix returned from his trip to North Africa inspired. He would go on to paint ‘The Women of Algiers in Their Apartment’ (1834)
Delacroix returned from his trip to North Africa inspired. He would go on to paint ‘The Women of Algiers in Their Apartment’ (1834). (Gandalf's Gallery)
The story may or may not be true, especially since Delacroix painted the piece in his Paris studio. Working from sketches, memory and Parisian models wearing the clothing he brought back from Algeria, Delacroix created what art historian Linda Nochlin once called an “imaginary Orient” – a world that may meld truth with fiction, but reveals much about its author.

Like many of us, Delacroix didn’t spend every moment obsessed with politics and conflict. He lived a rich life, and the exhibition shows the full scope of his work. His famous journal reveals a man about town, who immersed himself in literature and life. From the 1830s, the Met exhibition brings us paintings as varied as “Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother” (1830) and “Medea About to Kill Her Children” (1838).

During the Revolution of 1848, instead of creating a new “Liberty Leading the People,” the moderate Delacroix produced the vibrant “Basket of Flowers” (1848–49).
Eugene Delacroix’s ‘Basket of Flowers’ (1848-49)
Eugene Delacroix’s ‘Basket of Flowers’ (1848-49). (Wikimedia Commons)
In focusing on natural beauty, it would seem as though the political warfare roiling the streets of Paris was the last thing on Delacroix’s mind.

Delcroix’s most famous paintings, like “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi” and “Liberty Leading the People,” arose out of the turmoil of the 19th century and evoke the uncertainties of our present day.

But “Basket of Flowers” may also say something important about finding beauty and equilibrium in the midst of chaos.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:
Claire Black McCoy, Professor of Art History, Columbus State University


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

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