I was awakened from a dream,
a dream entwined with cats,
by a cat’s close presence.
In the darkness by my bedside there
had loomed a form with shining hair—
squarish, immense-eyed, still.
Its whiskers pricked my lips:
I screamed.
My daughter cried,
in just proportion terrified.
I realized that,
though only four, all skin and smiles,
my daughter is a lioness, taken as a cat.

"Daughter" by John Updike, from Collected Poems: 1953-1993. © Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

from The Writer’s Almanac on http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2013/12/17

posted by Hatty

Peel Pages turned 3 today on Tumblr! Thanks everyone who’s ever been a part of this pursuit of art and meaning. More good things are to come.

Peel Pages turned 3 today on Tumblr! Thanks everyone who’s ever been a part of this pursuit of art and meaning. More good things are to come.

APA Author Interview — Lisa Lim, New York City

posted by Molly

Children’s literature is a great battlefield for hearts, minds, and cultural norms. So it’s always good to find authors committed to creating stories about multiracial/crosscultural families. Because it’s nice to see oneself reflected in the eyes of the next generation.

The interview is from APALA, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, a kickass group of (you guessed it) Asian and Pacific American librarians, bring meaningful diversity and Asian American issues into libraries and literature.

Getting 'Banksied'

posted by Hatty

Two years ago, I remember confessing to the Tumblr world my slight obsession with street art. I’ve watched a few documentaries, followed a bunch of photoblogs and posted one or two pieces on the art form myself. It’s like French, this kind of curiosity—if you don’t practice everyday with people who are fluent in your subject of curiosity, it goes away.

When my RSS feed started blowing up with everyone getting excited about Banky’s NYC residency, I naturally felt a little sad for not keeping up my study of street art. But enough with my personal lack of commitment to creative outlets. This NPR interview of the Tabachnick family raises some excellent questions about commodification of art: who truly owns this piece, the public (meaning free viewing as I’m sure Banksy has meant to be) or a private collector who may eventually buy the wall? Should the wall be left as is and possibly “destroyed?” Should the Tabachnicks, for the sake of posterity move the piece inside a gallery? Would it even be considered “street” art then? Who decides which stroke of spray paint counts as art and which doesn’t? 

Read this one and the last question becomes even more complicated. A different Banksy piece is completely “destroyed” and repurposed, politicized for the local context (yes I’m still following Cooper Union stories). I must say though, the comments section of the NPR link has the best, most humane and actually substantial discussion that I’ve read anywhere online.

posted by Molly

Caterpillar Suit I, 2007
Caterpillar Suit II, 2008
Anodized Aluminum, brass, razor wire
Walter Oltmann, South African, Natal Province, born 1960
Promised gift of the Vascovitz Family, 2008.114.1 and 2008.114.2

A caterpillar and a conquistador have mixed their exoskeletons together. Both are voracious: caterpillars eat copious amounts of leaves, just as conquistadors often ravage people in their path. But both are vulnerable—scientists issue warnings that the insect population is showing signs of decline, and the role of the conquistador alone in strange new worlds was always a tenuous one.
Subtle hints about the origin of the artist are perceptible: one of the few places that have taken inexpensive metal wire and made it into art is the Natal Province of South America, where Walter Oltmann was raised and learned firsthand how Zulu women weave wire baskets. The spikes of razor wire are a reminder of the strife-conflicted cityscapes in South Africa. Oltmann is currently a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwaterstrand in Johannesburg.

posted by Molly

Caterpillar Suit I, 2007

Caterpillar Suit II, 2008

Anodized Aluminum, brass, razor wire

Walter Oltmann, South African, Natal Province, born 1960

Promised gift of the Vascovitz Family, 2008.114.1 and 2008.114.2

A caterpillar and a conquistador have mixed their exoskeletons together. Both are voracious: caterpillars eat copious amounts of leaves, just as conquistadors often ravage people in their path. But both are vulnerable—scientists issue warnings that the insect population is showing signs of decline, and the role of the conquistador alone in strange new worlds was always a tenuous one.

Subtle hints about the origin of the artist are perceptible: one of the few places that have taken inexpensive metal wire and made it into art is the Natal Province of South America, where Walter Oltmann was raised and learned firsthand how Zulu women weave wire baskets. The spikes of razor wire are a reminder of the strife-conflicted cityscapes in South Africa. Oltmann is currently a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwaterstrand in Johannesburg.

Posted By Emily-

Today I bought a kewpie baby sans mayonnaise at the pop up shop on Broadway that has been pedaling tasteful Japanese paraphernalia in a non-oriental yet inevitably token way.

I named her Pachinko for how her rubber Aryan tummy waggled as postwar milieus do in my picturing.

A decade of neon cluttercornfed Spam, lucky strikes and Uncle Sam, now old veins in family histories hailing from Meiji genealogies.

Dislocation though denies the gash in the opening of another lapse. It’s a matter of issei to nissei and sansei and so forth until old oddities come to broker nostalgia for notional homes.  

We are all longing to reconstitute—

—Awash in iterations inflected with flecks of intersection

rubbing shoulders with specters of imposition.

I drink my beaming sense of ethnicity out of blue bottles.

I guzzle pasteurized milk like mother’s milk. 

I leer like Wayne, bound feet to street bound

foundering in all directions of agenda,

lagging and lapsing

towards a malformed mottled coherence,

What do we gain when we institutionalize? And of course, what do we lose? Does being paid for art give us freedom to concentrate whole heartedly on said art or does it shackle us further to diverging interests? Can something similar be said for activism as a job v. a labor of love?
posted by Molly

So quickly to have lost the summertime
Sends me home heartsick. Up the bank I climb
Trampling the hidden mint. I pause, and then
One breath of mint evokes all summer again.

You groping poets, blinded by too much
Of sea and sky, of taste and smell and touch,
Come out some night of tears and feel with me
How subtly mint assuages misery.

For mint by day is little more than grass
Tempting the causal cattle as they pass;
But mint by night is like the Holy Ghost,
Making its nearness known when needed most.

All redolent with promises of bright
Eternal summers to come is mint by night.
Come out and tramp with me some field untrod
When mint is like the very breath of God.

Summer must go and darkness come and death,
But night is heavy with God’s very breath.
I will remember mint when frost comes on
And boughs are leafless and the last bird gone.

posted by Hatty

Mint by Night by Alfred Barrett from Strand Bookstore on the corner of East 12th Street, New York City

I picked it up without much thought, last November during my post-election vaca. Sidewalk booksales is a dangerous thing.

It’s the first poem in the book and also the title. The rest quickly becomes a little less aromatic than the opening—Father Barrett likes to write almost exclusively about the life of Jesuit priests and their candlelit rituals.

But this feels fresh at the cusp of fall, I’m not ready to let summer go. Flickering in my mind are the images of blue, ocean and night sky, clear and brilliant from July glory. Happy first day of autumn everyone.

Getting the Body You've Always Wanted

posted by Molly

Maybe this would have been more timely in spring. Or maybe it’s perfect because fall is here and instead of thinking of cozy, bulky layers, we’re still thinking about about skin tight jeans and crop tops. Did I say we? Let me rephrase that to me.

Free as Air and Water

posted by Hatty

The first time I heard of Cooper Union was when my ex roommate (Lana Choi, the former Peel Pages’ Artistic Director, not that you asked) told me about her trip to check out the East Coast art school scene. I knew next to nothing about undergrad arts programs in general and if Lana was considering Cooper Union, it must be a decent school (she ended up going to just as decent, I mean awesome, of an art school in Canada, not that you asked). Fast forward a year and half and this tiny college popped up on my Twitter feed via another artist friend’s update: “FYI, @FreeCooperUnion is livetweeting some very important questions about the economics of higher ed right now. Go read.”

Read I did. And more—I’ve been following the news of the occupation every day this past week and researching Cooper’s history, especially since this video dropped.

I won’t comment on the content of the reenactment. About 20 minutes in you can understand for yourself (all the memorable lines from the leaked Board meeting transcript are quoted via tweets: “In 2500 there will be no tenured faculty anyways.” Again, not that you asked). What’s noteworthy is the medium chosen for the occupiers’ message to public. Not all of the 17 students in that office are theater majors; some probably have never staged a shoot before, and you can tell watching the awkward camera angles and fumbling of lines. But it’s moving. I’m thinking again of the relationship between art and an alternative vision for what could be, not to mention the relationship between what’s being discussed on the screen and the future of arts education at Cooper, and maybe of liberal arts education in general.

The occupation has ended as of July 12, but these student activists have been presenting more creative works to teach one another and the larger audience who also care about higher learning for all. Check out their Tumblr here, documenting exhibits and newsletters about new cooperative ways to restructure higher education.