What Made Me Cry This Week – Abstract

Abstract - the Art of DesignI’ve watched three episodes of it. Each one has made me cry, in a different way.

It’s a documentary called Abstract. It’s on Netflix. The documentary explores “The Art of Design.”

The first episode is about an illustrator, Christoph Niemman, who has had several New Yorker covers, and does crazy illustrations – they have depth of content. It was fun having a couple of friends come up to me saying that they saw myself in him. Because, honestly, if I can be like him my life is set.

The third (I accidentally skipped the second one somehow) one is the designer for Nike shoes and Air Jordans, Tinker Hatfield. I wasn’t so interested in him, I don’t care that much about footwear – especially athletic – but it was still incredible seeing his drive, his creativity for something as “normal” as shoes.

And the last one I’ve seen so far has been Es Devlin’s episode. She’s a stage designer for theater and pop shows. Beyoncé and Kanye are just a couple people she’s designed stages for. She is incredible. Her pieces are so elaborate: they’re all about light, space, darkness, and time. I was surprised by how visually powerful they are.

With each episode the series expresses well the visuals,the audio, the editing, the thought process, the elaboration, the abstraction of ideas. They’re able to basically strip naked the thoughts of the artist, and it’s like you get to swim inside their heads and taste a little bit of what it’s like to come up with their incredible ideas.

In the end, the documentary is about abstraction; it’s about transforming an idea into something tangible. It’s about understanding your media and how to get ideas into that media. How do you work with just the flat visual image? How do you work with a shoe? With space and light? How do you create ideas, narratives, emotion, concepts, within whatever form or shape it takes in the world? How do you express what can’t be expressed?

I recommend Abstract – The Art of Design to anyone who wants to marvel at how things are created or for anyone seeking inspiration. You’ll finish an episode ready to conquer the next set of ideas that you carry in your own head.

 

What Made Me Cry This Week – Habibi

Habibi CoverCan I just say that I love this new “job” of mine? I get to read stories that I love. Stories that move me, and enchant my small heart. Stories that actually make this heart bigger, opening it up to new experiences, worlds, and ideas. And Craig Thompson, in Habibi, did just that.

Thompson has already moved me through his graphic novel Blankets; Habibi only increased my admiration for his ability to convey emotion in creative ways.

So, the main plot:

A girl named Dodola is made a slave. She runs away with a younger slave that she has taken in, almost as her own child. She renames him Zam. They grow up together on the boat, yes a boat, they found shipwrecked in the desert – their safe haven.

Thrown into the mix of it all are questions of sexuality. Dodola to provide food prostitutes her body. As Zam enters puberty he becomes enraptured by Dodola’s body. The story focuses on the redemption of their own sins, as they try and survive in a world dominated by the evil of humankind. But as we are shown they’ve been separated – with Dodola ending up in a Sultan’s harem. Zam’s search for Dodola begins as she tries to survive the harem.

Thompson has a magical ability to mix poetry, narrative, and visuals. He jumps from place to place, leaves us curious, intrigued, always wanting more. If I didn’t have work the next day I would have stayed up all night reading it. Oh, responsibilities – always getting in the way.

I also really liked the book for the way Thompson incorporates Arabic language, Islamic religion, and poetry. He gives breath to faith that so often seems intangible. Faith, as in Blankets, becomes a lens through which to look at the world. It becomes a means for survival to the lost ones.

Habibi shows. No, it doesn’t show. Habibi makes us live with what is wrong in our world. It makes us experience that which we often try to ignore: a world where the sex-trade still runs rampant and poverty is one of it’s major drivers.

While the world is dark, Thompson is still able to deliver some brushstrokes of hope. At the end, I cried: I mourned for the many lives that have suffered under the cruelty of this world, but also for the glimpse of hope given.

The hope Thompson gives never once felt like the stuff of fairy-tales. It felt real, like I could run into it around the block from my house.

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Hope to see you soon! Or next week more precisely, at 10AM!

 

What Made Me Cry This Week – How Dante Can Save Your Life II

I Can Be An Artist (Quote From Text)

Cover of How Dante Can Save Your Life, by Rod DreherI thought I should fill you guys in to how the book How Dante Can Save Your Life, by Rod Dreher, ends. I wrote the previous What Made Me Cry This Week post before finishing it, but now I can give you the full picture.

After the ecstasy of the first chapters, I slowed down. I needed to let everything sink in. Dreher puts a lot of content into the book. It’s filled with great advice, and the book makes you question yourself. It invites you to do some self-analysis: what are my motives for my actions? Am I making an idol of family, money, friendship, sex? Have I been too harsh with friends? Have I judged them, even though I share in their same faults?

“When family and place and a way of life centered around them become ends in themselves rather the means to the good, they turn into idols.”

And that can be said of anything – as Dreher does throughout the book.

I Can Be An Artist (Quote From Text)One of the chapters that touched me the most was the one that dealt with the creation of art. It felt like Dreher was grabbing my heart and twisting it the way you may twist a towel to get the excess water out.

In recent times my mind has been focused on monetizing my art. I wanted to prove to my parents, friends, and everyone who’s there to see, that I can be an artist. That I can survive in this world through my creativity. I wanted to show them: “I have talent!”

The easiest way I could think of: to make money. The easiest way to make money? Get a following, an audience, grow a platform. Get people talking about you. Post on social media as constantly as you can. Create as much as you can. Self-market. Promote.

Basically: be famous and gain fortune and glory (or recognition). But Dreher’s prose pierced through.

“How much happier would young people be if they began their careers thinking not of the fame, fortune, and glory they will receive from professional accomplishment but rather of the good they can do for others.”

Ouch. It hurt. But he is right. And throughout the whole book that’s what I felt. I kept saying to myself as I read:

Ouch! That hurts.

But…

You’re right, Dreher.

Dreher, you couldn’t have said that better.

His beautiful prose never leaves the book, and he masterfully deals with every topic he touches on, piercing our hardened hearts.

If you’re considering buying this book, why not buy it from amazon through my affiliated link? That way I’ll get a tiny commission if you decide to buy the book! You’ll also be encouraging me to keep writing awesome reviews!

Last words: if you’d like to get updates when blog posts come out, you can follow my Facebook page, or sign up for the mailing list that WordPress has setup — it’s on the bar to the side I believe!

Hope to see you soon so we can cry together.

What Made Me Cry This Week – How Dante Can Save Your Life

How Dante Can Save Your Life, by Rod DreherCover of How Dante Can Save Your Life, by Rod Dreher

Let’s be honest. I started writing this review when I was just 4 chapters into the book. What can I say? I was hooked by the first line and already wanted to cry midway through the second chapter. The book hit the write strings.

My parents have been telling me to read this book for some time. They even bought it through Amazon and sent it straight to my address; there’s no clearer way to say “Read!” I put it off for some time while I read some of the graphic novels I had lined up (there’s some reviews on that coming up!). Until the fateful day came when I reached for Rod Dreher’s book, inside the bus, going downtown. I read the first line, then almost missed my stop because I didn’t want to stop reading. I had to go back to it later — on the bus ride back.

First things first: you don’t have to read Dante’s Commedia to enjoy this book. Although reading Dreher’s book might have you reading the Commedia in the end, just like it has my mom. Now we can proceed.

Dreher has a beautiful prose, and weaves together memoir, poetry and real-life applications. The book is intended for any audience, as he makes sure to create paths for inclusion for those of faith, Catholic or not, as well as for the atheist and agnostic.

I can’t help but share it in his own words, because for me they were so beautiful: “It’s a book for people who have lost faith in love, in other people, in the family, in politics, in their careers, and in the possibility of worldly success.”

At the beginning, he gives a quick overview of his life, in similar fashion to a memoir. But he ties it in with what’s coming up: Dante and the impact the poet has had on the author.

This section deeply moved me because of how much I saw myself in Dreher. We’re both intellectually driven, both book worms, we both have somewhat complicated relationships with our parents.

Even though our lives are completely different, he is able to tie his own life to broad universal themes: our sense of exile – even when we go back to our childhood towns. I even wrote a very similar piece about this feeling – although poorly written in comparison, here.

I’ll fill you guys in on the rest next week, once I’m finished reading it!

But in the meantime, what do you think? Which books have just grabbed you by the soul? Do you also feel a sense of exile, no matter where you are?

Read Part II of this review!

How Dante Can Save Your Life, by Rod Dreher – Buy it through this link and support my work!

What Made Me Cry This Week

What makes you cry? Do you like crying?

If any art piece makes me cry,  I love it. That’s what art is for: those exhilarating emotions that make us cry.

It can be because the story is sad. Or because it just is too beautiful. Or because you know it’s not real. But you cry. The story, the colors, the music, something, touches you, it touches that calloused heart, and tears are shed.

WMM_01 That has been my experience with art. And if you’re like me, I invite you to my series of posts I’ll be doing: “What Made Me Cry This Week.” These will be posts where I share on what I’ve read, seen, or heard that has made me cry, that has made me dance and weep at the same time.

I’m hopeful these blog posts will have a small synopsis or something that makes it worth your time. Nothing too serious.  They will be short posts where I share what I love, most likely every Thursday.

Through this series I hope you find out new artists to follow or just read one of their works. I also hope to connect with you. For us to share what we love. For us to know that we’re not alone.

So feel free to comment, here and in the following posts: did you feel the same? Or was your feeling different? Is there another artist or work that you feel matches this one? What made you cry this week?