Margaret-Daniel

At the end of work the other day, I followed a few links that eventually led me to the Soundcloud page of “Conversations with Margaret Daniel” and I began listening. While I should have been heading home for the night, instead I found myself wanting to stay plugged into my computer, listening to this woman talk about the plants that populate her yard: Roses, camellias, azaleas, lilacs… The audio is a collage of many different conversations with this woman and the result is a wonderfully intimate, reflective, and touching look at what is alive and what is dead. “Whoever this Margaret Daniel is,” I thought, “She is a pleasure to spend time with.”

Turns out, Margaret Daniel is the childhood neighbor of photographer Susan Worsham. Worsham turned to Daniel as a subject after losing her brother, mother and father. This audio was played in the gallery for an exhibition of Worsham’s featuring Daniel.

You are introduced to Daniel with these words:

As you go through life, don’t forget to smell the flowers. … ‘Give me flowers while I’m living. Do not wait until I’m dead.’ They come with all these flowers. Mother said that’s the worst thing it could be. Why not do good for a human being while they know? When they’re gone, no matter how many flowers you pour on, it’s nothing.“

- Nell

Image by Susan Worsham courtesy of the artist

I recently visited the new photography exhibit at Candela Gallery of Susan Worsham’s work. Here is her artist statement:

“When I was 18 my brother took his own life on his first visit home after severing his spinal cord in a motorcycle accident. I had already lost my father to a heart attack at the age of thirteen, and finally in 2004 I lost my mother as well.

"Shortly after my mother passed I came across a set of antique veterinary slides. They were some of the most interesting things that I had ever seen. They seemed to hold beauty and death at the same time. I framed 90 of them in a long wooden frame resembling the shape of the slide itself. It was the first piece of art that I made after my mother died.

"I called the piece a watercolor because of the collection of pastel colors, but it was also a sort of poem when you got close and read the titles…Rabbit’s Lung, Fowl’s spleen, and even Human Umbilical Cord. I then went on to photograph my old childhood home as well as my oldest neighbor, Margaret Daniel. She is one of the last remaining threads from my childhood and was the last person to see my brother alive. Russell’s last day was a Sunday, and Margaret  brought him a loaf of her homemade bread (his favorite). He finished the whole loaf, and when my mother and Margaret went for a walk, he shot himself.

"The story came full circle when one day Margaret brought out her dissection kit and microscope slides. I had forgotten that she had been a biology teacher, and here she was holding the same sort of slides that I was so fascinated with. Margaret’s microscope and slides have since become a metaphor for my own desire to look deeper into the landscape of my childhood. From the flora and fauna to the feelings, Margaret calls it ‘blood work.’

"I can remember one particular time when I visited Margaret. I looked out of her large picture window and saw what looked like a nest or hammock of small red berries draped between the winter trees. I asked Margaret what it was. She answered, 'Why that’s Bittersweet. Bittersweet On Bostwick Lane.'”

I was able to connect really well with the work. I think it’s because of how sentimental Worsham is and how all of her pieces have an individual story behind them, yet successfully connect with each other in a visual way. Just walking into the exhibit, I could sense that there was something very fragile about it. 

I recently had the lenses in my glasses replaced, and I was able to keep the old ones. They reminded me of the little glass slides that Worsham found, just in how delicate they are and how much of a purpose they have served. These lenses are what I’ve seen parts of my world through and in a symbolic sense, are a medium of perception. I was then reminded of the first painting that I did last school year - the self portrait I painted without wearing contacts. I am considering using these lenses in a sculpture that references something similar. I feel like they would be an affective material due to their sentimental quality. 

Click this photo for Susan Worsham’s full exhibit at Candela Gallery.

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

After around a year of marriage to Edward, they were finally being visited again by his sister Margaret. Danielle hadn’t seen her since their wedding day and tensions had been very high, so she was very nervous to meet her again.

The retinue soon entered the courtyard of Warwick Castle as the Earl and his Countess stood waiting for their guest to descend from her carriage. As soon as she did, Danielle curtseyed in greeting, trying to hide her nervousness. “It is a pleasure to meet you again.”

Margaret Cho and Bruce Daniels discuss how hatred between Koreans and Black people needs to end.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp-5fa2jqGo

I have decided to write about the Cho article as we didn’t get to speak about that as much in class. I was very interested in the way the author approaches the term “diaspora”, emerging in relationship to power. For folks separated in time and space from the processes causing displacement, diaspora is a “mode of theorization which enables connections between traumas of colonialism even as it marks displacement” (Cho, 13). While the term diaspora provides vocabulary in understanding the sense of loss, often from a point of reference that is hard to name, it was enlightening to read Cho’s definition of diaspora as being a subjective experience, and unpacking the concept of diasporic consciousness. I feel like the discussion on diaspora is often focussed on the “vertical” aspect of the term, being understood through histories of displacement, but there is not as much discussion on how diasporas are constructed through “relations of difference with one another” (Hall, 229). Thus, the term “zionism” has different meanings when applied to Israeli and Africana people. While this term has been used by both diasporic communities, Jewish zionism  cannot be divorced from Israeli apartheid, and displacement and oppression of Palestinians. On the other hand, Black communities seek affirmation from the term: “a stolen Africa [is] sung as lost Zion in Jamaican rhythms on the sidewalks of Eastern Parkway” (Cho, 17). 

The lateral aspects of the subjectivity of diaspora are best understood through “genealogies of diaspora” that shed light on how diasporas are shaped by, and continue to shape, power structures in society. I looked up Margaret Cho and Bruce Daniel’s skit on Afro-Asian tensions, embodied by a Black man who walks into a Korean grocery store, and their mutual dislike of each other is taking away time and energy away from “hating white people” (Cho, 25). The skit helped me understand how the omnipresent Presence-Europeenne, and white supremacy, is invested in creating stereotypes of both of these subjects that place them in conflict with one another. What remains unsaid in Cho is the gender politics of this interaction: it is not coincidence that it is a Black man and a Korean woman (assumably, a non-native speaker of English). The hypersexualization of Black masculinity as “threatening” and the construction of Asian women as “passive/tame”  are also “suitable to the demands of capital” (Cho, 26). 

Moving forward, I wonder how diasporic individuals understand their identity as being constituted by this process of continuity and difference, and thus understand diasporic consciousness as being emergent and not simply using a specific event of displacement/migration as the chief reference point? Finally, I wonder how gender, sexuality, place of birth, class, among other aspects of identity simultaneously  inform, and are informed by, one’s idea of being a “diasporic” individual?

“Everything is ready.”

Sebastian looks up from his notebook, pen in hand, and gives a curt nod towards Liadan. “Good. Who are you planning to take with you? Do you have weapons?”

The redhead rolls her eyes slightly, moving to scratch one of Seb’s ears absently. Her best friend was under entirely too much stress, she knew. “I was thinking just Margaret. We need Lyric here, and everyone else needs to be prepared for any sudden attacks. I do have weapons, I promise, and so does Margaret.”

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