Comic artist and educator Taylor Dow has been running youth arts programs for 13–18 year-olds over Zoom since the pandemic ended in-person after-school programs in the spring. During a recent Creative Virtual Teaching Solutions workshop at foundry10, Taylor shared good, bad, and beautifully awkward stories from teaching in the virtual classroom.
“We all have to see ourselves on Zoom. Imagine being a teenager and having a mirror in front of you while you talk. It’s brutal,” said Taylor.
Several foundry10 educators agreed with this sentiment over Zoom chat. Taylor paused the lecture to read the Zoom chat comments aloud and laughed, prompting more foundry10 team members to share idiosyncrasies of online teaching in the chat box:
“I’m always checking to make sure there’s no glare from my glasses,” wrote foundry10 Digital Audio educator Chelsi Gorzelsky.
“I can’t stop looking at my own mouth,” wrote foundry10 Artistic Design educator, Jon Garaizar.
Encouraging side conversations in the Zoom chat box is a core tenant of the unofficial Taylor Dow teaching philosophy.
“Those in-between spaces; the experience of looking at the back of someone’s head; the experience of wanting to make friends; the experience of being in a hallway; the experience of eating together — it’s all gone,” said Taylor. “Finding ways to fill those spaces is very important for students.”
Taylor designed a virtual classroom that lowers the stakes and tries to fill the social void left in the wake of COVID-19 by providing access to playful, engaging virtual learning experiences.
“It’s not so much about what they’re making, not even so much about what they’re learning, but more a question of — can this place be a respite?” said Taylor. “We’re all so worried about what’s coming next, what came before. Try to give your students some relief from that.”
When the sun doesn’t shine and it’s too wet to play, and you’re stuck in the house on a cold, wet day, it’s time to get creative with paint, glue and clay! Here’s how three local families and artists make the most of Seattle’s rainy season.
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Raven Juarez first developed an interest in art while drawing on a yellow legal pad under her mother’s desk. The child of two busy lawyers, Juarez had to find creative ways to entertain herself while her parents finished up work at the office.
“I used to make up stories and characters and draw them doing different things,” says Juarez. “I always felt that I had a closer relationship to myself through drawing than through spoken or written words.”
Today, Juarez is a professional artist and shares her love of creating with her early-education students at an infant-toddler program in North Seattle. Her teaching philosophy is grounded in the Reggio approach; cultivating a space for curiosity and development through play and art-making.
“Just like kids babble before they learn to talk, they also scribble before they develop their own pictorial language,” says Juarez. “Art is a language that can be used for something deeper and more important than just something that looks nice on a wall.”
I spoke with founder and CEO of Outsider Comics and Geek Boutique, Jill Taplin about living out her dream, the nerd fandom scene in Seattle and making comics more accessible. Taplin strives to bring together a community of individuals (women, minorities, LGBTQ groups) who identify with geek culture, but have traditionally been underserved by comic shops. Here’s what she had to say on the topic.
“Growing up on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Daniel Pak knew that music was in his blood. His father was a jazz pianist and taught him to play scales around age 6. In a few years, he had advanced to performing pieces by Mozart and Beethoven. But it wasn’t until he taught himself acoustic guitar at 13 that his passion was truly ignited. “That’s when I really found that music was more than just lessons. Music was something that would be with me every day,” says Pak.
Pak has fond memories of kanikapila, impromptu music jam sessions with friends. “We’d all go to the beach. Someone would bring ukuleles and guitars, someone would bring bongos. We’d play music and listen to the waves coming in and the palm trees rustling,” says Pak. Today — minus the beach, palm trees and crashing waves — Pak tries to “perpetuate that tradition here in Seattle.”
“In the aftermath of World War II, the USSR and the USA became locked in an ideological conflict between socialism and capitalism. Determined to demonstrate the superiority of the socialist way, the USSR launched a secret space program. Eventually a human cosmonaut would fly into outer space, but first came Laika—a dog.
Laika’s launch was kept a secret until a few days before take-off. As Russian feminist art historian Olesya Turkina explains in her book, Soviet Space Dogs, “the secrecy of the space program was justified by the notion that socialism could not be seen to fail in any of its endeavors. In this sense, space travel was the most imperative achievement of such a society.” According to the official Soviet story, the valiant little mutt launched into orbit, died a heroic death, and became the first icon of space exploration.”
Thank you to Olesya and Damon for taking the time to answer my questions and for creating such a special book. Check out FUEL Publishing’s “Soviet Space Dogs” by Olesya Turkina, published by Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell.
“…to speak of them out loud, to speak of their hunger and pain and loneliness and humor, to make them visible so that can not be ravaged in the dark without great consequence.”― Eve Ensler,
“Now, should we treat women as independent agents, responsible for themselves? Of course. But being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.” – Jessica Valenti, The Purity Myth
“Volumes upon volumes on exploration, war, violence, the life-threatening transformative journeys of man. But you can’t talk about this. The fucking, the sadness, the dark, the blood, the light. They will burn you at the fucking stake for this shit.”― Elisa Albert,
I took my love for pigeons to the next level and wrote a personal essay on How to Breed Fancy Pigeons for The Hairpin!
“My pigeon nostalgia took on many whimsical and disturbing forms. I began painting pigeons and writing pigeon poetry. It was what I like to call my “Pigeon Renaissance.” This was a time of great creative flourishing where I painted pigeon masterpieces such as “Pigeon by Day” and “Starry Night Pigeon.” The pigeons were all-consuming. I’d try to draw something else like a bowl of fruit or a self-portrait, but somehow it would still end up looking like a pigeon. Our apartment took on the aesthetic of John Nash’s office at the end of A Beautiful Mind—he too, was fascinated by pigeons. Sam was supportive of (and amused by) these creative endeavors, but also wanted to know what the fuck was going on and encouraged me to meet some new people, maybe join a club?”
Read the full piece on The Hairpin here!
Original reporting done in 2009 by Sydney Parker.
Art is gestating in Long Island City’s Space Womb. The new gallery conceived by artist Jongwang Lee features installation art, interpretive dance and music inspired by the spirituality of the female uterus. Mr. Lee envisions his exhibition as a home for embryonic life, “where one can leave material reality behind and return to the Utopian world of the mother’s womb.” He hopes to promote his vision while fostering the growth of developing artists in the community.
“It’s a little weird, but it’s nice to look at,” said Patricia Toranovich, manager of Court Square Diner located across the street.
Diners enjoy cheese Danish and a full view of the gallery’s galactic “Space Womb” sign imposed on a jet-pack black exterior and swathed in tongue-pink swirls extending all the way onto the sidewalk.
“The name is so strange, nobody knows what it is,” said Tina O’Brien, a bartender at The Shannon Pot, an Irish pub a few doors down from the gallery, “everyone is afraid to go in.”
Mr. Lee credits much of the inspiration for his art to his grandmother who was a famous Shaman in Korea.“During my childhood I was deeply impacted by her performance and felt a strong contact with the spiritual world,” says Lee swooping back a mass of long, dark hair.
Upon completion of his studies at prestigious art Universities in Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan, Mr. Lee moved to New York, New York. He missed the familiarity of his birth country, but wanted to be reborn in the culturally and politically free American climate. His womb-themed art has been featured in group and solo shows throughout museums in California, Washington D.C. and New York. In June 2009 he opened his own gallery at 22-48 Jackson Avenue, LIC.
Space Womb’s address has a reputation in the working-class neighborhood as a haunt for eccentric proprietors. The storefront church, Iglesia De Dios that previously occupied the space held raucous Wednesday night prayer meetings much to the displeasure of neighboring businesses.
“They were singing and screaming late at night. I couldn’t stand the noise,” says Kenny Kang a sign constructor at nearby Eden Signs & More. The owner of the church was later committed to an insane asylum and the church sold to current landlord, Gregory Wolkoff.
The businesses bounding 22-48 Jackson Avenue are relieved by the quietness of their new neighbor. Mr. Lee’s unusual gallery provokes more than a few eyebrow raises, but doesn’t disturb the ebb and flow of the hard working Long Island City citizens arriving off the 7 train zooming overhead.
“I hope that my work encourages people to look within themselves and realize the unbelievable power of life and the dormant potential within each of us,” says Lee.
Mr. Lee is pleased with his gallery’s relatively soothing presence and hopes to continue infiltrating the neighborhood with his artistic and spiritual revelations.
“I like the name Space Womb, it’s funny,” says Michael Stein, a dreadlocked, 6’ 5” elevator mechanic taking a cigarette break in front of Colonial Elevator Corporation. “What the hell do they do in there?”