Mar 16, 2016
Dear friends and family,
I am building an installation in my art studio in Noodleworks this June/July, and part of the content involves input from my community. The subject is the American Family, and I am seeking to gather a social history of America starting from my own network outward.
1) Talk to your parents, family elders, and friends to delve into your history in America.
2) Collect old photographs, written stories, email correspondence, documents, letters, or other artifacts that tell your family's experience in America,
3) Provide the information to me by May 1st, 2016.
If any information is sensitive, you or I can redact (black out) the information. Also if you are the first generation in the US, I am happy to include your photo and story about your experience.
Your materials will not be published online, but included in print on transparency for the installation.
Part of the purpose of this piece is to get us talking and sharing our historical selves with the people that we are personally close to at school, jobs, facebook, etc. Another hopeful outcome is that we may all get to know ourselves better through exploring and engaging in our own histories and families. And finally, I hope that this may lead me to a conversation with you someday about this subject that I am becoming increasing passionate about.
I have included examples of my own family's artifacts in America below to start off the sharing.
Please reach me with questions or input at devonmidorihale(at)gmail.com
Devon Midori Hale
Sep 16, 2015
From an interview by Stephen Dubner with Drew Faust, the first female president of Harvard [Freakonomics Radio, 9/3/15]
I stopped everything when I heard this question and its answer on this podcast. I love this description of bridging individual accounts, diaries, personal experience, family history with the broader historical narrative.
DUBNER: And I know you’ve written that history is inherently tricky in that we rely so often now and then on individual stories, and yet individual stories can be nothing more that anecdotes that might be anomalous. So the job of a historian is to square those stories with the aggregate. I’m curious how you would apply that to the modern world these days. You know, you’re one person, I’m one person, everybody listening here is one person with their own sets of opinions and perhaps biases and so on. And yet we need to kind of think through our own prism, but toward the greater population. Do you think that problem that you identified as an historian is a big problem in kind of public civic life today and why there’s so much sort of…
FAUST: That’s such an interesting question. That’s such an intriguing question, which suggests its own answer, I believe. Part of why I love history is it takes it outside ourselves and at its best enables us to look through other people’s eyes. And that enables us to understand what’s contingent about our choices and our existence. And we need to do that in our own time as well. We need to bridge beyond ourselves and take advantage of stories to serve as a road to other people, as a pathway to being able to look at the world through their eyes and to understand where they’re coming from, why they might differ with us on matters of policies, or practice, and have the stories empower us to be more than simply locked within our own selves. So that seems to me an important part of what stories can do for us now.
Jan 9, 2013
Researching and brainstorming for a potential outdoor piece that references rock art:
"People do not often realize that some marks on rock were created not only by people, but by supernatural and divine forces, too. Rock art in the Americas is often located at sacred sites, points of emergence, crossroads, or were placed at the time of some extraordinary event. The images served as reminders for humanity of valuable lessons given to them by divine means."
"Being a part of the primary source by lineage, we see "She-Who-Watches" [petrograph in Horse Theif Lake, WA] as a mnemonic artifact that marks and provides a connection to both ancient and personal history." Through oral history and lineage, the petrograph serves as a connection between ancient and personal histories, functioning both in the past and actively in the present.
"Many heirlooms found in family collections serve a similar purpose. The design and markings are a form of writing. And, while it is often said there was no widespread use of a written language in the pre-contact epochs of Native civilizations, this is simply not true, especially if one looks to petroglyphs throughout the land, site landmarks, the elaborate designs in wampum belts of the Haudensaunee people and the wood back books of the Lanape in the Eastern Woodlands... Navajo weavers use patterns to help the person remember a sequence of songs, prayers for protection, or a significant event. The weavers wove little bits of shell or feathers into the designs and referred to myths that would aid and protect the owner."
Excerpts from "The Story as Primary Source: Educating the Gaze" by Joe Feddersen and Elizabeth Woody
Woody, Elizabeth and Joe Feddersen, "The Story as Primary Source: Educating the Gaze," in Jackson Rushing [ed] Native American Art in the Twentieth Century. London and New York: Routledge; 1999: 174-177.
May 24, 2012
"In an attempt to fill in missing gaps, the brain is forced to rely on partial fragments, inferences, outright guesswork, and often (most disturbingly) other memories not related to the actual event. It is truly reconstructive in nature, much like a detective with a slippery imagination. This is all in the service of creating a coherent story...
"The brain constantly recieves new inputs and needs to store some of them in the same head already occupied by previous experiences. It makes sense of its world by trying to connect new information to previously encountered information, which means that new information routinely resculpts previously existing representations and sends the recreated whole back for new storage. What does this mean? Merely that present knowledge can bleed into past memories and become intertwined with them as if they were encountered together." (p. 129-30)
From Brain Rules by John Medina
NOTES FOR PAINTINGS: Paint observations from disconnected times and places into a singular work more deliberately rather than incidentally. These disjunctions don't necessarily need to be image-based, perhaps? Emphasize tension between conflicting perspectives within a painting/place. Also play with tension between working from observation (present) and imagination (memory) within the same painting.