Wednesday, September 02, 2009

underGROUND: Artifacts of the Moment by Beverly Naidus

Here are some images from my recent exhibition.
"Between Deliciousness and Impending Doom," 2009, mixed media

"A Prayer for Islands Underwater," 2009, mixed media

"Heavy Metal Filtration System," 2009, mixed media

Ending the Hiatus

So, it's time to write again. After my book, Arts for Change, was completed last January, I clearly needed to give the writing part of my brain a rest. Of course, I still wrote dozens of emails almost everyday, but publishing something for the public to read was not on my agenda. Now that my blog has been linked to Tikkun's blog, I feel a responsibility to be present. So here I am.

It's been a good ride during these past 8 months. The book came out in late Feb and I did readings and signings at various places (LA, Tacoma, NYC, western MA, Olympia, Port Townsend, Oakland and Berkeley). I took the months of July and August "off" partly so I could produce a new body of work, "underGROUND: Artifacts of the Moment"and it opened at my collective's gallery, VALISE on August 7th. I "danced" through the creation of those pieces in the space of 28 days. It was quite the whirlwind. I will post some images of the mixed media work and an artist's statement sometime today.

Otherwise, it's time to start new adventures, and wrap my head around some difficult issues (like the mercenary, right-wing armies I heard Jeremy Scahill discuss yesterday on the radio I'm striving to keep a balance between daily deliciousness and impending doom, as my recent body of work will expose. More soon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Too hot to handle

Here's a new piece. Originally solicited by a magazine devoted to contemporary Jewish thought and culture to create a work on Feminism and Jewish Identity, I went through my old digital pieces on Jewish cultural identity, and decided to rework an old piece. The old one was about being mistaken for a Palestinian spy at the Algiers airport. I eliminated the text, reworked the image to include an old ad and then added some new imagery in Painter and Photoshop. And the text is new as well. When I sent it in to the magazine editor, I never heard back. I wrote to her three times, and zilch was my response.

So, I am sharing it with you. It is inspired by the crisis in Gaza.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Birthing of a Book


Contact: Karen Stewart
510 420-1361

Title: Arts for Change
Subtitle: Teaching Outside the Frame
Author: Beverly Naidus
ISBN: 978-0-9815593-0-8
Publisher: New Village Press
Distributor: Consortium
Pages: 256
Binding: Trade Paperback
Trim: 6.0 x 9.0 x 0.56
Illustration: 48 B/W Photographs
Release: February 20, 2009
Pub Date: April 2009
Price: $14.95

The book will be available for direct sales in advance of bookstores (late February) from New Village Press.

For signed copies available directly from the author, please contact

New Village Press to publish Arts for Change: Teaching Outside the Frame by Beverly Naidus

Arts for Change overturns conventional arts pedagogy with an activist's passion for creating art that matters

Oakland, CA (January 18, 2009) – New Village Press announces its forthcoming title, Arts for Change, by Beverly Naidus, a provocative, personal look at the motivations and challenges of teaching socially engaged arts. The author offers candid examination of her own university teaching career, weaves in broader social and historical perspectives, and opens readers' minds to other points of view, including those collected from contemporaries in her field.

Arts for Change intersperses scholarly concerns with intimate, image-rich metaphor in a free-spirited, non-academic prose. The author answers vital questions that students and educators have long been asking: How can polarized groups work together to solve social and environmental problems? How can art be used to raise consciousness?

Using her personal experiences in the classroom as a template, Naidus guides the reader through a progression of steps to help students observe the world around them and craft artistic responses to what they see. Arts for Change also features interviews with over 30 artist/educators with diverse opinions and strategies for successfully engaging students in what, to them, is most meaningful.

Illustrated with 48 visuals and photographs of student, faculty and community works, Arts for Change is both inspirational and instructional. It is sure to stimulate new thinking among arts faculty, arts students, and activists of all kinds, as well as anyone who has an inkling of the role the arts can play in responding to critical issues of the day.

Bevery Naidus’ warm and serious pedagogic memoir should ring bells with educators everywhere. I have long admired her commitment to an alternative path in teaching art and social justice without contradictions. Her personal and political odyssey, and the thumbnail portraits of her artist colleagues/mentors, offer an illuminating glimpse beyond the academic curtain.
– Lucy R. Lippard, art critic, activist, curator, author The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society


Intended Audience
College-level educators and graduate students in arts education, arts and social change theory, best practices in community-based arts, and history of community arts courses. Faculty and students of critical arts theory and feminist art. Social activists.

About Beverly Naidus
Beverly Naidus, artist, activist, educator, and writer, has had her work exhibited internationally in venues including the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Armand Hammer Museum at UCLA. She is the author of two artist’s books: One Size Does Not Fit All and What Kinda Name is That, and has authored several essays on activist art pedagogy. She is currently co-creating a program at University of Washington, Tacoma on Arts in Community, with a focus on arts for social change within the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program. She lives on Vashon Island, WA with her husband and son.

About New Village Press
New Village Press is a nonprofit publisher specializing in works about grassroots community building, urban ecology, and community cultural development. Since 2005, the press has been publishing progressive non-fiction that offers useful solutions to social, environmental and economic challenges.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

a new year, a fresh start, a moment of peaceful reflection

I am sitting in my studio on a thursday morning, this new year's day 2009, watching the rain dribble down on the remains of the big blizzard of 2008. I've been hesitating to write for weeks, wanting to give my muse a break, and feeling a bit shy of this public broadcast of my used-to-be journaled, private thoughts. But I want to start making things: objects and images, and I feel this need to pour out the words that might be clogging up the pipes.

I had this sense that I am waking up from a long sleep. It's true that it's not the first time this has happened, but right now it is profound. My dreams refer to this, as does the way that impressions of the world are hitting me, cracking habitual patterns of response, and making me pause.

I think this might happen when people finish books, or when changes push one's expectations into new realms. Or maybe it's the pull of the planets. I honestly don't know.

Ah, but I sense I am being too abstract here. I am looking out the window at lush, thick moss coating an old snag and I feel some sort of identification with it - like there are seeds hiding in this old bark just waiting for the right climate to sprout.

There's more to say...but my fingers are growing restless for something other than be continued.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Global Orgasm Day - Happy Solstice

Almost forgot to announce that today and tonight are Global Orgasm Day (according to some folks in Finland who came up with this and announced it on FB). I hope you will do your part for world peace. We've done ours.

snow crusted into stillness

So, unofficially it's been said that this is the worst "blizzard" since 1948. I put blizzard in quotes, because without wind and whiteouts, this is really just a freakish snow storm, with occasional icy rain, and intense cold, and lots of snow (over a foot now). I feel like we live in the Alps or somewhere equally remote, but without shovels or plows or anything resembling the capability to deal with all of this. I plan to spend the rest of the day making latkes for neighbors who will be sliding down the hill or up, and curried coconut squash soup. The meringues are already made. As is the raw cranberry, apple and nut relish. After everyone leaves, I will organize my office and start writing a short paper for a conference. I want to write about this moment we are living in, one of great uncertainty and fear, as well as one of enormous potential. I've been doing an inordinate amount of web surfing and gleaning things from various sites that I hope to share soon. Tomorrow looks like another day without mobility, so I am hopeful that the muse will arrive to guide me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

After a Blissful Hike, Some Time in the Studio

It's a day of gratitude. Having come through so many health and emotional crises this year, we have found ourselves on a gentle plateau looking out at the vista. Bob and I took an impromptu hike down our hill with the intention of finding salmon leaping in our local creek (one of two creeks in the south Puget Sound that is unobstructed and allows salmon to jump up it). The water was too low, but we did find a new trail, a gift from the Land Trust. It took us across the creek and then up through meadows unlike any I've seen locally. We both felt transported to upstate NY or Vermont. It was truly a delight, with all the late autumn colors and birds of all sorts were stirred up by our arrival. I am now determined to add this hike to my normal one - up the hill, following the trails of the equestrian park.

Now I am in the studio contemplating my next projects for the first time in a long while. The marathon of writing the book is over, and the next steps for its production are mostly out of my hands, so my brain is beginning to ease into another chapter. It is a chapter influenced by tightening already tight budgets, and figuring out priorities.

The first steps must be organized towards writing grants to support my sabbatical projects - an eco-art piece on Vashon, and researching community-based, socially engaged art in South America. I want to build networks abroad with all sorts of people involved in this work. Whether the funding will arrive for both pieces is unclear, but I am putting the energy out to make it possible.

The eco-art piece may deal with the former use of the equestrian park - Paradise Ridge once housed missile silos armed with nukes - it was a NIKE base 1956-74, and there is evidence that during those later years the missiles were from the Hercules series and armed with nuclear weapons. For someone who has done lots of work on nuclear nightmares, and who had her thyroid gland removed due to cancer caused by radiation, this is something significant to contemplate and make art about. Nuked Notes could resurrect itself as a site-specific project easily accessible on the local trails as well as an artist's book. We will see.

Another project is a gardening piece - a remediation art project for the Beall greenhouses in the center of the island. The garden will be filled with altars and signage, and have interactive parts. I am excited about all of this.

I feel privileged to have the time and resources to even meditate about these possibilities. I hope my health continues to stay in an even keel so that I can pursue all of them.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


dear friends -
I can barely focus today because I've been reading voraciously - emails from all over the world, appraisals of this moment written by various great minds and spirits, some well known and some as yet unsung.

Last night was one of rapture, surrounded by hundreds of islanders, many of whom have worked for social change for so many decades, very rarely getting to see a victory so splendid as this one. I was so grateful to be there, hugging crying people, yelping for joy with each new result visible on the large projection screens. Many people remarked that it was like vanquishing the Nazis, as D-Day might have felt. We called it OOOOO-Day, and raised our fists in solidarity and danced and spread our "congratulations" around the room. My son was there, and at age 13, after all the troubles he's witnessed in his short life, I was so elated to see his face light up with the pleasure of seeing something truly good happen. He hugged people freely and bounced on his feet - wow, a chance to see the world as something beyond disappointing - it was the youth who were a large part of what made it happen. The crowd danced and carried on til late in the night, occasionally pausing to weep with the people they saw in Grant Park.

I came home to feast on blogs from friends, current students and former ones, Facebook and images of this new day, and a sense of possibility pouring in from around the world. Check out the slide show here:

We still have many nightmares to unravel, and that will take years, probably decades, to sort through - we need to relish this moment of joy and it will hopefully sustain us.

Check out this beautiful editorial from the NY Times and the blogged responses that follow - very refreshing and grounded people (mostly).

and then read Michael Moore's view of the moment: