¡Cuba! Photos

In May of 2014 I traveled to Cuba (legally!) thanks to a research grant from Pratt Institute’s Faculty Development Fund. Since then I co-founded Cuban Artists Network , or CAN! And now we’d like your TAX DEDUCTIBLE donations to help bring art supplies to artists in Cuba. 

Also though, today an exclusive peek at photos from my research trip have been released. I traveled with acclaimed LA based photographer Kenneth Scott- and the photos he took are jaw dropping. Please check them out HERE! Scroll down, and enjoy! (And don’t forget to donate!

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CAN! Cuban Artists Network

We’ve launched CAN- the Cuban Artists Network. It’s a non-profit campaign to bring art supplies to Cuba, where the artists do AMAZING work with extremely limited supplies. Please consider donating! And if you can’t donate, please post it on your social media- every little bit helps. To read about the organization, go here: www.cubanartistsnetwork.org and to donate, go here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cuban-artists-network/x/10033883

Thanks!!

CANlogo

An Aside

I normally limit my blog to talking about artwork, but I want to bring attention to something that I think is important. I play the #TheColbertReport while I’m drawing and it’s great. I love the show. Stephen Colbert is brilliant and a great way to start my drawing day. However, it went to commercial break, and what I saw was shocking:

This commercial is offensive on so many levels that I’m not sure where to begin. Racist and Sexist – few commercials have either, let alone both. It propagates the stereotype that Asian women exist for the pleasure of men- refining their skills of pleasuring. Or, as the commercial actually states, “For thousands of years, the women of Asia have been mastering the Art of the Welcome: warmth and kindness… You can see it in their eyes.. feel it in their smile… Expand your world of dating, with women from Asia”.

First there’s the ignorant lumping together of all Asians with complete disregard to race and nationalities. Because when getting an Asian woman, does it really matter what kind? They all kind of look the same anyway, right? It’s like saying ‘Middle Eastern Women’- hey, Arab, Israeli, Persian, they’re all the same, or close enough. I’m sure they’d feel that way too.

If you don’t know the difference, if they’re just ‘Women of Asia’ you can also lump them together and say that for thousands of years they’ve been mastering the Art of Welcome. Perhaps it is the Japanese tradition of the geisha? Perhaps it was the sex industry that built up around American GI’s during the Vietnam war? Is it a basic cultural misunderstanding: what is social tact in one culture is seen as submission in another? I’m not sure what the stereotype is based on, but it definitely exists. Asian women are thought of as being exotic beauties who are submissive pleasers, there only to love you long time.

Objectification of human beings leads to very bad things. If you can think of someone as a thing, whether it be a pleasing thing or not, you don’t have to value them as a human, or see them as an individual. How are people able to kill? Because we can lump individuals into groups. It’s ok to hate ‘them‘ or kill ‘them‘ because they‘re one of thesethey‘re the enemy. So then what happens when you have obtained your Woman from Asia, and she turns out to have her own needs… or her own opinions? What if she, god forbid, has just as many faults as white women? Because she’s a human being too? Uggghhh… that is totally not what you signed up for.

Asiandate.com is not the same as jdate, christian mingle or black singles. Those other sites are geared toward dating within your race or religion. Asiandate.com is open only to men who want to expand their world of dating. The site publishes other videos featuring mostly middle aged white men who have successfully obtained a Woman of Asia. Which makes me wonder too- where are these women coming from?

While I know that mail order brides exist, that sex slavery exists and that women across the world are still subjugated and exploited due to extreme poverty, I was shocked to see such a clearly racist and subjugating commercial on cable tv. #ComedyCentral, this is not a joke. Don’t be part of the problem.

Sarah R. Lotfi

Sarah is my niece. And she’s wildly talented. She’s had a passion for film her entire life. I showed her the insides of a camera when she was a toddler and her face dropped open, she gasped and said ‘whoaaaaa….’ as her little legs kicked in the air. I’m sure that’s what made her a brilliant filmmaker… right??

My niece has always loved costuming and history as well, so it’s no wonder she makes amazing period pieces now. She also has had to deal with a great deal. Her two younger siblings both have downs syndrome. Both. In this, her latest film, one of her leads has downs, and there’s lots of pyrotechnics as it’s a WWII movie, and I believe it’s in German as well. She’s impressive, my baby niece. But she’s not a baby any more! She’s 3! I mean, 23! She’s madly talented and a real go-getter. She’s often interviewed in the paper, she was a finalist in the Student Academy Awards for a previous film, she worked an internship for HBO, she somehow got donations to this film to be tax deductible, and is all round impressive. Would you like to see baby pictures? I’m her aunt, I can show you baby pictures.

From the film website http://www.menschenthemovie.com/:

“Menschen is an Austrian / USA co-production, from Belvedere Film, Slack Productions and Schuetzle Company. Sarah R. Lotfi first began developing the concepts for Menschen while she was in production on the award-winning WWII short The Last Bogatyr. Under the guidience of Robert von Dassanowsky, Menschen is a meticulously researched story that deals with the consequences of the Nazi’s T-4 euthanasia program and the value of life.”

At any rate, here is the trailer to her new film.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/44407508″>MENSCHEN Trailer – Bande-Annonce</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user6957249″>Anastasia Cummings</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Avatars for hire~

One of the quicker jobs I was hired to do- to create a vector portrait for use as an avatar in social networking sites. This is a good warm up for the course I teach in the Fall in Illustrator.

Cool, right?

But this is what the client actually ended up wanting:

My Amazing Students

I have to say, I am very lucky this year. I teach at Pratt Institute and this semester I have such an amazing group of talented, creative and hard-working students. I was floored today at the work of my Drawing II class. We just finished up a unit on Pastel Portraiture and they all did an amazing job. Here are three of the top students. The first, of the child in the snow, is by Napasawan “Nan” Sirisukont. The next of the model is by Seungeun Lee and the last, of the lady in a hat, is by Jonathan Lai. Keep an eye out for these budding artists!

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