Sometimes an opportunity comes calling when we need it most. In a recent meeting of the Pratt Resilience, Wellness, and Well-Being Council (a group of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to shifting the culture of Pratt towards a more balanced life experience) I felt compelled to offer to lead a weekly mindful drawing practice. This is not something I had any specific experience with, but when the group put out the call for action the ideas flooded into my mind. Drawing has always been my stead place, I am a doodler, my hands are always moving when there are paper and pen nearby. The connection between my mind, body, and page helps me be present, aware, and focused, it is often automatic. This new adventure seemed like a great chance to bring more attention to my hobby (or quirk).



I was aware that there are many creative mindful practices and have participated in a few activities that use drawing to still the mind and express emotion, but I was not aware that Mindful Drawing was a thing. I have since explored some of the space of shared mindful drawing practices on YouTube and various blogs. I recognized many of the exercises in my own on-again-off-again daily drawing exercises. It is exciting to know there is a community around this technique and I am eager to discover a space of drawing and meditation for myself and share that with others.



For twelve weeks now I have held an open Mindful Drawing session every Wednesday morning and 9 am EST. A small group of regulars drop by each week and warm my heart as we share a practice together. A few new people come and go, and I have even seen a couple of students give themselves the time to take a break from their busy schedules and just draw for thirty minutes. I want this to be something I can build upon, something to engage a community and be of service with my lifetime of practice creating a connection between the mind and the hand through the medium of drawing.



I record each session and practice my video editing and streaming skills to put together an experience of each session on YouTube. This feels right, it feels like what my alternate persona, RooksIsFun, is meant to create. I love working with video and find myself sinking into the flow and getting excited to test new techniques each week. It took a few sessions to get the camera setup working and the audio was rough for a while, but I am in a zone now. I have even been able to begin adding other videos exploring drawing as a generative device for design. I am excited to grow the content and put this channel out there, even if it is just to share with friends and family (and hopefully as a resource for students).


Check out the channel here: RooksIsFun :: Mindful Drawing and other Creative Practices



The images in this post are some of the creations that manifest from the weekly sessions. Each is a reflection of mind and body, of breath and medium. There is no form, no intention to the drawings, yet the space of the page emerges from the process. This is a practice, grounding me to a rhythm and exploring my creativity and curiosity.


Here is the most recent session exploring the space and flow of breath:

If you stumble upon this or one of the hopefully many future posts, I hope these are of some service to having a wonderful day. Happy Drawing.



:: RooksIsFun


In a time of troubles aggravated by human malware at a global scale revealing the cracks in our fragile reality we find ourselves taking a journey through a very near what could be with Octavia Butler. A staple of science fiction since the late 80s, Butler's Parable of the Sower sets itself in the here and now as imagined from nearly thirty years ago. The story is almost too close to reality to remain fiction in our upended world. The book certainly pulls no punches and I often found myself only managing to read a few pages before needed a break to real from the series of blows. Suburban enclaves carving out a semi agrarian society established on the shakey alliances of begrudging neighbors set the stage for a world burning down. Everyone clings to 'normal' or the old ways of scraping together enough bread to make it another day, just as long as nothing upsets the fragile balance of false security and raising tensions. The future is bleak, but for the young, who only know uncertainty, there is a possibility. There is no attachment to the old normal, now is normal, all you can do is live in the now and carve a space to have a better future.



I started this writeup three weeks ago, got distracted and buried in the day-to-day as well as other hobbies. It is time to get it out there and cover all the fun side channels of our meeting set up by the dire and hopeful vibes of Parable of the Sower. At least it is still October :)




The illustrated version (for Joe) is available here.


One of the first things that stands out in my notes from our SkyFi virtual gathering is the question, "What would Butler think of this story now?" Are we headed for a reset, and would she see the current drama of the world and our country specifically as part of the slide (the Pox), or are we on the threshold. There was a lot of parallel in this story to the alternative futures presented in William Gibson's most recent books (The Periphery and Agency) as subtle shifts in the norm have rippling destructive or transformative effects on society. Instead of technology, Butler explores religion as a shared belief. Olamina's emerging belief is not in an external force or being but in the neverending presence of change. Change as the life force of the universe, and the resistance to entropy that keeps the gears turning. Embrace this change, prepare for the unexpected, and lean into uncertainty. It is a painful path, a path of suffering and instability, but an optimistic path, where change can be shaped and encouraged by the individual land the collective. The embrace of change leads to freedom. It is this acceptance of uncertainty that keeps Olamina from despair in the loss of her world.



The unnerving parallels between Parable and our current climate continue with the Pyros. Drug crazed anarchists bent on the destruction of the sick and dying world through fire and mayhem. California is burning, much like today. Drought and abuse of the land have created an environment ready for the Pyros to wreak their havoc and transform the suburban sprawl of barely hanging on American middle-class establishment into a fresh landscape for the new world. This is another aspect of the book that is exciting, even in the profound sorrow there exists an optimism. All things have their place in the god of change. Destruction leads to trauma, trauma to healing, and eventual to rebirth. The cycle of suffering and happiness is as eternal as change. The jarring question remains, "How much will burn?"



Onto the lighter parts of the evening. Good friends, good cheer, and maybe a couple of good whiskeys help to lighten the mood and drive us into our usual rampage of cultural influence.


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UTOPIA on Amazon

"It's weird" and "I don't know truly whether I liked it or not" were the sentiments of the group. It seemed that people are digging Cusak though.


Ken Burns - The Dust Bowl


New Rose Hotel - https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0133122/


Another often maligned 90's film, David Fincher's Alien 3, which originally had a screenplay developed with William Gibson, emerged as a long topic of discussion. We felt that the movie gets a bad wrap, but its dystopic space prison settings and continued evolution of the Xenomorph was really on target with the franchise. There is nothing like an isolated, closed-off rats nest of tunnels to set the stage for alien horror and carnage.


There is even a 5 part comic book series of the Gibson screenplay (https://aiptcomics.com/2019/03/27/william-gibsons-alien-3-5-review/)

Available on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/William-Gibsons-Alien-3-Gibson/dp/1506708110/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=gibson+alien+3&qid=1603810695&sr=8-1


..a random walk from Asa Argento...


Alien Crystal Palace - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7254808/



This reminds me very much of the dramatization of Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation. A possible future read for the group could even be his new children's book, A Peculiar Peril.

Two of VanderMeer's newer titles were on the list for the next book. We considered Borne and Dead Astronauts, but a fair number of the group has already read them and recommends them. So these will have to be extra credit assignments.


Not to be outdone on weirdness, we decided to really shift things up this time around and go with non-fiction (if there really is such a thing these days) and read Donna Haraway's, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Experimental Futures). After writing in the whole name I am thinking "non-fiction" might be a bit of a stretch here. I am excited to sink my teeth into it, once I can get back into a reading habit. I am starting to miss that daily subway time for crunching through a few pages.


Currently Reading:

Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene - Donna Haraway


A talk by Haraway: https://vimeo.com/97663518


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I am planning to pair this up with the sequel to Sower, Parable of the Talents. Spolier, I have already started and it brings a whole new level of uncanny temporality. Let's just say that it would be a great irony if the "Make America Great Again" campaign were architected after a reading of Octavia Butler from a book published in 1998.


One of these days we plan to take another journey with Neil Stevenson and his (not so new anymore) book, Fall: or Dodge in Hell. It is on the table every meeting, but the page count is always a little too daunting.


Until next time, keep reading and stay weird.

Sacha Frey and I continue our exploration of comics as a hybrid narrative format in the 2020 volume 6 of [Trans-] FICTION with Comics Beyond Fiction. You can read a digital version of the journal below or purchase a printed copy to help support future volumes.

The [Trans-] journal series is edited by Ashley Simone thought the University of Arizona. The FICTION issue asked architects to examine architecture as a creative production of fiction into reality. Our essay and graphic poster examines the comic as a visual medium for hybridizing drawing and language as a pedagogical device for learning architectural design. The comic format helps students connect their graphic work with their design thinking to craft architectural fictions.

You can purchase a physical printed copy of the journal here to support the production of future volumes.



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