Equality in Art

Art has long been considered a place of free and open communication. A place for those who feel oppressed, misused or underrepresented to come and share their voice, Art is supposed to be free of cultural bias. However, a recent discussion held at Penn for female artists found a shocking inequality in the level of exposure between male and female artists. Instead of tackling this worldwide discrepancy, though, this panel focused on a problem that can very much be solved.

Designed to promote Philadelphia’s female artists, the panel discussed practices, inspirations and the role of being an artist. A career of nebulous boundaries and uncertain returns, becoming an artist is easy and only asks you to express yourself, but making a living from your particular viewpoint requires more savvy than most anticipate. With tips on entering the industry, how to find inspiration for their work and how to self-promote in the art world, this panel of artists did all they could to inform the future of their industry.

While women represent 51 percentRick Maack of visual artists according to a survey held in 2014, they remain woefully underrepresented in the art cities of the world. The National Museum of Women in the Arts announced a shocking statistic when they examined artists represented in New York and Los Angeles. Of the 4,000 artists on the list, only 32.3 percent were women. Additionally, women hold 24 percent of museum director or curator positions.

Though their experiences in the industry differ, many artists feel that their pursuit of art blinds them to the inequalities plaguing their field. This kind of work-related blindness is what allowed the industry to become so skewed, and women the world over are standing up and having their voices heard. The creation, proliferation and celebration of Art is meant to be sacred, and I for one hope balance is found and order is restored.

The Chicago Art Expo

For years, Expo Chicago has brought art and artists from all over the world together in a grand celebration of their achievement. Drawing thousands of onlookers, Chicago’s dedication to the arts never goes without appreciation, and this year looks to be no different. With pieces from over 100 art galleries in 47 cities all around the globe, this Rick MaackSunday will be the fourth year The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art has breezed through the Windy City.

The offerings of this year’s Expo are as varied as they are beautiful. From collections scattered across the globe, you’d have to visit nearly 20 countries, and the world’s most preeminent art dealers to touch the frame of this collection. Hailing from Rome, San Francisco, Madrid, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, this collection is ripped straight from some of the greatest art capitals of the world.

All manner of art is welcome at this year’s Expo, as everything from paintings to massive installations will be on display. Amalia Pica’s “If These Walls Could Talk” will stand in the same space as work from the Nicodim Gallery of Los Angeles and the Otto Zoo of Milan. Beyond the Expo’s offerings, museums and art houses across the city will be celebrating Expo Art Week. Millennium Park will host a free concert of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the Museum of Contemporary Photography screens Roy Andersson’s “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence.”

For four years, the Expo has drawn tourists from all around the world to an already travesofa.2011.susan_.taylor.glasgowl-worthy location. A weekend of fine-dining, performance and spectacle await any who are able to make the journey. If Chicago’s storied history and rich cultural diversity isn’t enough to draw you in, then perhaps the world’s finest collection of art from around the globe will spur you to make the journey.

Kendrick Lamar Visits Freshman English Class to Talk About Poetry

Rick Maack

Back in March of this year, an English teacher by the name of Brian Mooney published a blog post about using Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly to help his students analyze Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. The next month, he posted some of his students conclusions in a follow up. Both ended up going viral. So viral, in fact, that Lamar himself ended up reading about it and setting up a time to meet in person with the high school freshman class.

Lamar arrived at High Tech High School in North Bergen, New Jersey on to spend the day listening to students poetry, freestyling with them, and leading an assembly. He met with Mooney’s poetry club and English class first where one student read a poem about the struggles he faces as a dark-skinned South Asian. Two more students followed with a joint piece called “What the Media Taught Us.” Lamar laughed when they reached the line “You chose the wrong butterfly to pimp” and praised their work. “They got heart, they got intellect, they got punchlines,” he said about the class.

Lamar was thoroughly impressed by Mooney’s initial post. Regarding the post he said, “I was intrigued that somebody other than myself can articulate and break down the concepts of To Pimp a Butterfly almost better than I can. That let me know he’s a true lover of music.”

More surprisingly was that he found himself equally impressed by the students. “I didn’t think I made [To Pimp a Butterfly] for 16-year-olds,” he explained. “I always get, like, my parents or an adult saying, ‘This is great, you have a message, you have themes, you have different genres of music.’ But to get a kid actually telling me this, it’s a different type of feeling, ’cause it lets me know that their thought process is just as advanced as mine, even if I’m 10, 15 years older.”

Lamar enjoyed a few more performances before taking questions from the class about the evolution of his storytelling and his collaborations with jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington. Lamar went in depth about the connections he’s made between different forms of storytelling and discussed his years as the quiet kid that used to sit in the back of the class. He recalls that in elementary school, he surprised his teacher when he used the word “audacity,” which led her to make a prediction that he would someday become a writer.

While Lamar knew it was important to share with the students stories of his own life and work, he also wanted to hear what the students had to say about themselves. “Something for me even bigger than mentoring is really listening,” said Lamar. “When I do that we have a little bit bigger connection than me being Kendrick Lamar and you being the student. It’s almost like we’re friends… I’ve met kids that told me my own flaws, and I had to sit back and check myself and reroute certain ventures that I was heading to.”

Mooney also introduced Lamar to the rest of the student body, where poetry club member Aaleah Oliver read her poem “Out of Many, One” to much applause. From there, a panel which included Lamar; education activist Jamila Lyiscott; hip-hop education advocate and Teachers College, Columbia University professor Christopher Emdin; the school’s assistant principal Allyson Krone; and a recent High Tech alum, held discussions inspired by more student work.

After a few more poems, an essay, and even a dance routine, Lamar and Mooney returned to the stage for a finale where Lamar performed, “Alright,” and the students joined in for the chorus repeating “We gon’ be alright.”

It’s amazing to see students from every genre and background able to connect to and learn from poetry, in all it’s forms. The poems, music, art, and performances that today’s popular artists create can serve as an invaluable means of connecting students with the classics teachers are trying to get them to understand. This example of bridging literature with modern rap music is an incredibly creative, and moving, representation of what teachers everywhere should be striving for.

You can see the original article as it appeared on Rolling Stone here.

A Review of “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson’s

A Child’s Garden of Verses is a beloved collection of poems so full of captivating imagery that it really serves as a storybook. It is filled with youthful optimism, innocent curiosity, and naive certainty. The playful, yet subtly philosophical, themes and simple prose of wisdom may be intended to delight children, but readers of all ages feel the influence and importance of these stories echoed throughout their lives for years to come.

Rick Maack

It is difficult to write verse for children that truly captures their perspective. Children think so differently than those of us who have shifted into adulthood. They are able to mix reality with fantasy is unexpected ways, and aren’t bound by the rules, habits, and patterns we’ve had imposed on us as “grown ups.” It can be nearly impossible for a writer to strip away their own life experiences and learned cynicism to truly embody the openness and innocence of a child. Most writers cannot achieve this kind of understanding, but Robert Louis Stevenson does so with a palpable vitality.

Each poem is filled with the magic and possibility of imagination. “I have just to shut my eyes to go sailing through the skies,” says one mousy-haired little girl in a mauve dress, white knickers, and black Start-Rites. As a child, Stevenson recognizes that you can break free of parental rules and everyday routines and escape into a daydream any time you want.

The illustrations found within are often as enchanting as the words themselves. Each story is accompanied by imagery of its own far-off land filled with grandfather clocks, flickering candles, and sleeping children blissfully unaware of the activities of fairies and toy soldiers as they’re dreaming.

In each new moment, Stevenson is able to fills us with hope, fear, curiosity, reflection, and joy. In The Land of Story-Books, a daring boy creeps along the back of a sofa with a gun on his way to shoot lions and tigers in a starlit jungle; his parents sitting by the hearth oblivious to all he sees. In The Unseen Playmate, an imaginary friends comes “out of the wood” when “children are happy and lonely and good,” and though he will play with these children, he will also play with their toys once they go to bed. In The Dumb Soldier, a soldier gets buried in a hole in the garden and is left there as the grass grows over him, only to be recovered at the end of winter after he “has seen the starry hours and the springing of the flowers.”

Rereading these stories, even in adulthood, can transport you back to a time where magic was real and the world was filled with sincerely endless possibilities. You don’t just read a collection like this, you “live within its pages.

Mr. West by Sarah Blake

Mr. West, an unauthorized lyric biography of Kanye West, explores the level of relationship audiences have with high profile artists and celebrities in this ne.w age of access due to advancements in media and entertainment. For this exploration, author and poet Sarah Blake found Kanye West to be the perfect subject as he has embraced social media as a medium to further extend his artistic expression as well as a way to voice his personal thoughts and opinions. Arguably, few artists have embraced this new form of media as well as Kanye has.

Throughout Mr. West, Blake often refers to Kanye West simply as ‘Kanye’ or ‘Ye’ to show some level of familiarity with him that perhaps, decades ago, music fans may not have had with their favorite artists. Mr. West serves to highlight the mythos that often shrouds celebrities, in many ways keeping them separated from the rest of us. Blake draws parallels throughout her book between the myth-making process that these celebrities often undergo and the classic Greek myths that many of us grew up reading about. She likens well-known figures to Greek heroes and antiheroes, such as Kanye West being like Parick maackris, Kim Kardashian being Helen of Troy and Nicki Minaj as Athena.

Although unauthorized by Kanye West and his people, Sarah Blake’s book has been making rounds getting excellent reviews from several notable publications. Kanye’s lawyers barred Blake from printing his lyrics, which prompted her to find a creative way to get around that. Throughout Mr. West, the author marks where lyrics appear by using them in titles for poems or sections in the book and includes an appendix pointing readers to various sources including Twitter posts, YouTube comments, and articles related to Kanye West. When lyrics need to be referenced, Blake treats it in the same way that you would cite any form of poetry by pointing to the line and verse numbers where you may find the lyrics in question.

Source: http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/blog/book-review-mr-west/

Rick Maack Top Five Humans of NY posts!

Top Five Humans of NY post:

Brandon, or “Humans of New York” as he is likely known on the streets, has been taking photos of strangers around New York to share them with the world for 5 years. Along with the photos, Brandon includes quotes or a story from the subject of his photographs. Here  are some interesting posts!



 “We’ve been friends since we were twelve, but he’s always kept me at arm’s length.”

“We’ve had fun.”

“Not the kind of fun I wanted to have.”



“I’ve got a couple friends who are members of the internet. They are complete fiends on that thing. Personally, I have no interest.”



“I’d like to write a novel about the future where the earth isn’t a dystopian wasteland and teens aren’t fighting each other to the death.”



“My mom’s a single mother. She adopted me when she was 40. She always tells me that she had a mid-life crisis, and she got a kid instead of a motorcycle. And I’m forever thankful for that. She’s never been too close to her family, so it’s always just been the two of us.”



“Liquor store opens in two minutes.”

The Benefits of Writing

The historical benefits of writing are as clear as they are numerous. Writing has allowed for the exchange of ideas on a global scale, for a single set of laws to be distributed and standardized throughout vast empires, and for contracts to be established as the foundation of a business agreement. It has preserved the sights and sounds of the past as well as a keyhole through which we can perceive the ideas and emotions of some of the world’s most notable leaders.

But what about writing on a smaller scale? What benefits are there for the casual writer, whether the writing is conformed to specific literary styles or just a journal to put ideas on a page?

An article from sparringmind.com did a great job of laying out various benefits offered by writing. Here are some of the best points.


communication Rick Maack

Writing improves communication

By forcing yourself to use words and phrases that most accurately convey your thoughts or emotions, you become a better communicator. Let’s face it: when we have complex thoughts or emotions, it’s much easier to just clam up and not say anything at all rather than struggle towards getting your point across. Through practicing your writing, you will develop communication skills that will prevent you from feeling frustrated or, even worse, your listener potentially missing your point.


For many who have had a problem or found themselves in traumatic or confusing circumstances, it’s likely that they’ve felt better by talking to someone about it.

Writing is no different.

One of the most effective ways to resolve a conflict, to reconcile with an unpleasant event, or just to digest a complicated situation is to sit down and write it out. Though you might feel definitively one way about a situation, it might not be readily apparent what part of that situation is the one that’s really eating at you. By writing yourself through it, you become familiar with all the different aspects and can identify what really bothers you. Depending on the gravity of the situation, this confrontation can sometimes be extremely difficult, but it’s always better to confront your problems rather than let them limit you.


Focus Writing Rick Maack

Many people have suggested that writing is a good way to settle your mind. In a world bombarded by different forms of multimedia, it can sometimes be a challenge to focus on a singular idea or a task at hand. By writing regularly and shepherding incomplete thoughts to their logical conclusions, your mind will no longer be pulled in twenty directions.

Regardless of whether you enjoy writing or not, it’s a useful exercise that will help you to communicate more effectively, focus on achieving goals, and work through problems. Given that the internet is making verbal interaction more sparse, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start practicing!