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“Dance is for everybody.” -Alvin Ailey

My final assignment from my fall 2014 Photography I class at UIS.

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Alvin Ailey said, “Dance is for everybody.  I believe that dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.”  My desire is to bring every aspect of dance to the world through another medium, photography.  The beauty of the movements is mesmerizing.  The repetition of shapes and lines is intriguing, and when one aspect is slightly different from the rest, it stands out even more.  Dancers have such grace, poise, and strength.  While the moments on the dance floor are moving, I find myself intrigued by the moments happening on the sidelines as well, like doing hair, trying on costumes, or simply watching their fellow dancers.  I tried to catch the relationships between the dancers, the commitment to and absolute love of dance that each dancer possesses, and the hard work, long hours, and pain that each dancer goes through for that love.

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Digital Collage

My 4th assignment from my fall 2014 Photography I class at UIS.

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This project was a lot of fun.  I used my daughter as inspiration.  She is into fashion design, dance, and theater.  She also has a thing for birds and bunnies right now.  We are actually in the process of redoing her room with all of these elements including the colors that dominate each collage.  My daughter also inspired the touch of Victorian Steampunk because I am working on a similar look for her Halloween costume this year.  To give the collages even more of a twist I decided to put these indoor scenes in an outdoor setting.  I hope you enjoy the final product as much as I do.

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Still Life

My 3rd assignment from my fall 2014 Photography I class at UIS.

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The hardest and most interesting part of this assignment was finding a way to add motion into each still life.  I ended up doing six completely different scenes.  My first one is basically what my daughter’s bed looked like after she threw everything on it after her pageant last week.  I moved it around a little and threw her headband in as I snapped it to get some movement.   I also noticed the tiara, photo, and medals from previous pageants hanging on the wall in the background, and since she didn’t get anything this time, I thought the tissues were a nice touch for another way to get some movement.  The second one is a fishing scene.  I had fun searching our garage and barn for things to set up around the pond.  The breeze on the grasses and the ripples in the water worked for movement here.  The…

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Obsessions

My second assignment from my fall 2014 Photography I class at UIS.

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An obsession is something you spend a lot of time doing and/or thinking about.  These photos represent obsession in two ways.  First, because my obsession is my family, and all of these pictures are of them.  Second, each one my family members has their own obsessions, and I have tried to capture them with a few photos for each of them.  My husband is obsessed with guns.  He has one with him almost all the time.  He has also started making his own ammo.  He spends a lot of time thinking about what his next gun purchase will be, and he is always on his phone or laptop looking at sites that sell them or at YouTube videos that pertain to them in some way.  My son’s obsession is video gaming.  He is always on either the Xbox, computer, iPod, or DS.  If he is not playing games, then he…

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Cassie Reiterman – What is Beauty?

My first assignment from my fall 2014 Photography I class at UIS.

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Why start with a picture of an eye to answer this question?  Two reasons.  First, because some people believe the eyes are the window to the soul, and I believe a person’s true beauty comes from their soul.  Second, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the rest of these pictures represent what I, the beholder, believe to be beautiful.  Beauty is not necessarily found in perfection, but in relationships, emotions, memories, uniqueness, details, and even flaws.  I value family, God, and country (both our country and the countryside), and I tried to capture those values in these photos.  I see and feel love, strength, grace, dedication, sacrifice, service, compassion, comfort, and so much more when I look at these photos.  That, to me, is beauty.

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Using Our Cognitive Surplus To Change The World

cognitive-surplusIn the TED Talk that we watched this week, Clay Shirky explains how we can and should use our cognitive surplus to create civic value and change the world.  This week we were asked three questions.

  1. What collective effort have you seen on the internet that fits the description of a meaningful cognitive surplus project?

Clay Shirky says that a meaningful cognitive surplus project is one that creates civic value.  In other words, it is created by the participants for the society as a whole, not just for each other.

Mighty Strong GirlsIn 2012, a friend of mine from church started Mighty Strong Girls.  It is a ministry for teen girls.  She created this ministry to show girls that their self-worth is not based on how they look on the outside (what main stream media would have them believe), but about their inner beauty.  She wanted to create a place where girls could share their stories and see that they are not alone, and most of all to see that they are beautiful just the way God made them.

magazine blog This ministry consist of an emagazine, a blog, and many community events.  They have a presence on Facebook and Twitter.  Most of the people who work on this ministry are volunteers.  Anyone can sign up to be a blogger or a magazine contributor.   There is also a free guide to creating small groups called Mighty Strong Connections where girls events about usget together and use the guide and magazine to take the advice, ideas, creativity, and scriptures even further.

To read more about what Mighty Strong Girls is all about, you can click on this link mightystronggirls.com.

  1.  How would you benefit from this project?

encouragement Without actually participating, I would benefit from this project because I have a preteen daughter who is already struggling with some of the issues this ministry tackles.  If I contributed to this ministry, I would benefit because I was once a teen girl, and it would just be nice to know I had a part in helping girls who are going through some of the things that I went through.

 

  1. Would you ever contribute your talents to this project? If not, is there a way that the projects could be changed or improved that would encourage you to participate?

serviceYes.  In fact, I have.  In January of 2013, Mighty Strong Girls had a fashion show for a fundraiser.  The dresses were donated and sold after the show.  My daughter and I gladly participated.  She had an old pageant dress that she no longer needed and couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk down the runway.

Clay Shirky says that people will do something if they think it is something that is in their interest, if they think they will get some benefit out of it, and if it doesn’t cost them anything.

body imageThis fashion show was definitely something that was in the interest of my fashion design obsessed 11 year old daughter.  She would have gotten benefit out of just attending, but by participating, she got even more out of it.  She got the benefit of feeling beautiful on that runway and helping to raise money for this ministry that is helping other girls see their true beauty.  It definitely didn’t cost us anything, but a few dollars of gas, a couple hours of our time, and a dress we weren’t using.  It was well worth it.

connectionsI have also recently joined another friend of mine to start up a Mighty Strong Connections group for our preteen daughters.  We have only had one meeting so far, but I think it is going to be great for these girls.

In chapter 7 of Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky says that we have to use our means (new social tools) and motivations (human generosity, creativity, and sharing) to create opportunities for others to join us in our endeavors.  He also says that to be successful, it is important to give users opportunities to participate in a way that they understand and care about.

That is what Mighty Strong Girls has done with the Mighty Strong Connections guide.  First they gave us something to care about, the health and happiness of our daughters, and then they handed us a step by step guide to leading them on the right path.

 

purityIn Chapter 6, Shirky talks about the tensions between individual freedom and social value.  He says, “We can take on problems ourselves, but to create change we have to work together.”  Later in that chapter he says that creating real civic value takes commitment and hard work.

My friend who created Mighty Strong Girls has created something that can help change the world.  It has not been easy.  When she started out, she had another job.  She soon realized that if this ministry was going to succeed, she needed to give it more of herself.  She quit her job to give all her time and effort to Mighty Strong Girls (and her beautiful family of course).  Her family and her ministry struggled most days to stay afloat financially.  They are now in the process of selling their beautiful home full of memories so they can downsize and continue this ministry.  If this isn’t commitment and hard work then I don’t know what is.

prayerPlease pray for this ministry and everyone involved in creating it, especially my friend who is pouring out her heart and soul to see it succeed.   Thank you.

Teeneagers Search for Identity and Connection Online

brand stampThis week we read chapters 8, 9, and 10 of Here Comes Everybody and chapter 5 of Cognitive Surplus, all by Clay Shirky. We also watched the PBS Frontline documentary Generation Like. We were asked to compare the material we read with what the documentary shows about  how the social media generation, or “generation like”, brand or market themselves.

Being a teenager has always been difficult. Trying to be popular, fit in, or just avoid being made fun of was never easy. Everyone remembers the cliques. A teenager’s self-esteem is a delicate thing. Teens are trying to form an identity and connect with their peers at the same time. Has social media made it easier or harder for them to do this?

cliqueI think it provides the same circumstances as before, just on a much bigger scale. It is high school cliques on steroids. Social media provides more opportunities for teens to create an identity and find a group to belong to, but it also provides more opportunities to feel left out or even to be negatively targeted, which was not discussed in the documentary.

I definitely think it has made it easier for teens to create an identity and connect to their peers. Chapter 9 talks about homophily, the grouping of like with like. The internet has given us more places where people, including those who might have otherwise found it difficult, can find people like themselves where they feel like they belong.

left out onlineThere is an even more important question. Is this kind of connection enough? In chapter 8, Shirky talks about how the internet is supposed to merely add to or accent our real-world lives and not be a replacement for it. He says that websites like Meetup prove that “even in a mediated age, people crave real human contact.”

A lot of the teens in the documentary were sitting in their rooms alone trying to create their image or brand and market themselves to get as many likes, followers, etc. as possible. The more they get, the better they feel. So, then, the opposite must also be true. According to the power law distribution talked about in chapter 9 and 10, these kids are just setting themselves up to be let down.

power law distributionWe were also asked to compare this with Marshall McLuhan’s theory of technological determinism that we talked about last week and to say if we think he would be surprised by this development. McLuhan said that inventions in technology, especially communication technology, cause cultural change and shape our human existence. He also said that no part of our lives would be untouched by the new technology, and that the dominant medium of the age dominates the people.

It is easy to see that social media has changed the way teens create their identities and connect with each other. It was less obvious to me, until watching this documentary, how much this new dominant medium has dominated teens. Shirky even said in chapter 8 that “our electronic networks are embedded into our real life.” Considering that McLuhan was right on, I don’t think he would be surprised one bit.

social mediaI am glad I did not grow up in this generation. Now I just have to help my kids get through it. I could not believe the mom who was basically validating the idea that the number of likes her daughter got was so important. We need to be sure we let our children know that their self-worth is so much more than that. If we let them know how special and important and loved they are, hopefully they won’t look elsewhere for attention and validation, and they will just use social media as a healthy way to accent their real lives.