Meet Mandy Harvey, the Deaf Singer Songwriter Who Performs Barefoot & Feels the Music Through Vibrations in the Ground

Attractive young female singer-songwriters who shuck their shoes onstage sometimes find that this small attempt to pass themselves off as folksy and “real” has the opposite effect.

Mandy Harvey, however, is above reproach. The deaf singer-songwriter performs barefoot out of necessity, using her unclad soles to pick up on the vibrations of various instruments through the floorboards. It allows her to keep time and, in so doing, helps her to stay emotionally connected to the other musicians with whom she’s performing, as she told NPR earlier this year, when she was one of 10 finalists on America's Got Talent.

“I’ll feel and concentrate on the drums through the floor, through my feet and then the bass through your chest,” she said in an interview with Colorado Public Radio. “And then if a saxophone player is next to me then it will be on my arm. So you just designate different parts of your body so you can concentrate on who’s playing what and when.”




Born with near perfect pitch and a connective tissue disorder that impaired her hearing, she was able to pursue her love of music by relying on hearing aids and lip reading until 18, when she finally lost her hearing for good, as a freshman Vocal Music Education major at Colorado State University.

While she has never heard fellow songbirds Adele or Taylor Swift, she has gotten over the stage fright that plagued her when she still retained some hearing. Vocally, she turns to muscle memory and visual tuners to see her through.

Her talent is such that some listeners are convinced her deafness is a publicity stunt, a misperception that eats at Wayne Connell, founder of the Invisible Disabilities Association, a non-profit with whom Harvey is active:

We've created an idea [of] how people are supposed to look when they're broken and so when you don't fit that imaginary mold, then it's a trick, or you're a liar — or you're not really broken, so you shouldn't be doing certain things.

See Harvey performing barefoot at the Kennedy Center on the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, below.

Related Content:

Evelyn Glennie (a Musician Who Happens to Be Deaf) Shows How We Can Listen to Music with Our Entire Bodies

How Ingenious Sign Language Interpreters Are Bringing Music to Life for the Deaf: Visualizing the Sound of Rhythm, Harmony & Melody

How Did Beethoven Compose His 9th Symphony After He Went Completely Deaf?

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The “Humans of New York” Photo Project Becomes a 13-Part Video Documentary Series: Watch It Free Online


New York, New York—there are many ways of assessing whether or not you’ve “made” it here—these days it includes an appearance on photographer Brandon Stanton’s wildly popular blog, Humans of New York, in which a spontaneous street portrait is anchored by a personal quote or longer anecdote.

Following several books and a UN-sponsored world tour to document humans in over twenty countries, the project has morphed into a 13-episode docu-series as part of Facebook’s original video content platform.

Aided by cinematographer Michael Crommett, Stanton elicits his customary blend of universal and specific truths from his interview subjects. Extending the moment into the video realm affords viewers a larger window onto the complexities of each human’s situation.

Take episode four, “Relationships,” above:

An ample, unadorned woman in late-middle age recalls being swept off her feet by a passion that still burns bright…

An NYU grad stares uncomfortably in her purple cap and gown as her divorced parents air various regrets…

A couple with mismatched views on marriage are upstaged by a spontaneous proposal unfolding a few feet away…

La Vie en Rose holds deep meaning for two couples, despite radically different locations, presentations, and orientations.

A little girl has no problem calling the shots around her special fella…

I love you, New York!!!

Other themes include Money, Time, Purpose, and Parenting.

One of the great pleasures of both series and blog is Stanton’s open-mindedness as to what constitutes New York and New Yorkers.

Some interviews take place near such tourist-friendly locales as Bethesda Fountain and the Washington Square Arch, but just as many transpire alongside noticeably Outer Borough architecture or the blasted cement heaths aproning its less sought after public schools.

Those who live here will nod with recognition at the cherry blossom selfies, "showtime" in the subway, and the Bushwick vibe of the groom who proposed to his bride at Coney Island, under the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest Wall of Fame.

Ditto the appearance of such local celebrities as Jimmy Webb, emeritus manager of the punk boutique, Trash and Vaudeville and Blackwolf the Dragonmaster, the city’s unofficial wizard.

Below, Stanton explains his goal when conducting interviews and demonstrates how a non-threatening approach can soften strangers to the point of candor.

It's well know 'round these parts that certain segments of the local populace would gnaw off limbs to be immortalized by Stanton, but he cleaves to the pure serendipity of his selection process. Asking to have your picture taken ensures that it won’t be. Luck puts you in front of his lens. Sharing your truth is what makes you human.

Watch Humans of New York: The Series here.

Related Content:

Humans of New York: Street Photography as a Celebration of Life

Interact with The New York Times Four-Part Documentary, “A Short History of the Highrise”

New York City: A Social History (A Free Online Course from N.Y.U.) 

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch “Alike,” a Poignant Short Animated Film About the Enduring Conflict Between Creativity and Conformity

From Barcelona comes "Alike," a short animated film by Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez. Made with Blender, an open-source 3D rendering program, "Alike" has won a heap of awards and clocked an impressive 10 million views on Youtube and Vimeo. A labor of love made over four years, the film revolves around this question: "In a busy life, Copi is a father who tries to teach the right way to his son, Paste. But ... What is the correct path?" To find the answer, they have to let a drama play out. Which will prevail? Creativity? Or conformity? It's an internal conflict we're all familiar with. 

Watch the film when you're not in a rush, when you have seven unburdened minutes to take it in. "Alike" will be added to our list of Free Animations, a subset of our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

via Design Taxi

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The Employment: A Prize-Winning Animation About Why We’re So Disenchanted with Work Today

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Charles Bukowski Rails Against 9-to-5 Jobs in a Brutally Honest Letter (1986)

William Faulkner Resigns From His Post Office Job With a Spectacular Letter (1924)

Bryan Cranston Gives Advice to the Young: Find Yourself by Traveling and Getting Lost

I don’t know what time you’re reading this post but “What do you really want to do in life?” is a question that can wake you up right fast, or make you want to pack it in and sleep on it.

It’s also a question asked maybe a bit too early of our young people, which starts with fantasy (“What do you want to be when you grow up?” “A spaceman!”) and by our teens it turns into a more serious, fate-deciding inquiry by people who may not be happy with their station in life.

Actor Bryan Cranston takes on this question in this Big Think video, and extolls the virtues of travel and wandering.




“Traveling forces you to be social,” Cranston says. “You have to get directions.You have to learn where things are. You’re attuned to your environment.”

Cranston thought he was going to be a policeman when he entered college. Then he took an acting class. So, at 19, Cranston explored America for two years by motorcycle with his brother, in essence to find themselves by getting lost. He says he’s passed on this directionless wandering to his now 24 year-old daughter.

That idea of letting go and just wandering also dovetails nicely into his other advice about auditions. You don’t go there to get a job, you go to create a character and present it. The rest is out of your control.

Now, Cranston says that the period between high school/college and the “real world” is the best time to do it, but there’s really no time like right now. To quote Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there,” and the boats are always leaving. Just jump on.

Related Content:

21 Artists Give “Advice to the Young:” Vital Lessons from Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Umberto Eco, Patti Smith & More

Ray Bradbury Gives 12 Pieces of Writing Advice to Young Authors (2001)

John Cleese’s Advice to Young Artists: “Steal Anything You Think Is Really Good”

Walt Whitman Gives Advice to Aspiring Young Writers: “Don’t Write Poetry” & Other Practical Tips (1888)

Ursula Le Guin Gives Insightful Writing Advice in Her Free Online Workshop

Akira Kurosawa’s Advice to Aspiring Filmmakers: Write, Write, Write and Read

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Lynda Barry on How the Smartphone Is Endangering Three Ingredients of Creativity: Loneliness, Uncertainty & Boredom

The phone gives us a lot but it takes away three key elements of discovery: loneliness, uncertainty and boredom. Those have always been where creative ideas come from. - Lynda Barry

In the spring of 2016, the great cartoonist and educator, Lynda Barry, did the unthinkable, prior to giving a lecture and writing class at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

She demanded that all participating staff members surrender their phones and other such personal devices.

Her victims were as jangled by this prospect as your average iPhone-addicted teen, but surrendered, agreeing to write by hand, another antiquated notion Barry subscribes to:

The delete button makes it so that anything you’re unsure of you can get rid of, so nothing new has a chance. Writing by hand is a revelation for people. Maybe that’s why they asked me to NASA – I still know how to use my hands… there is a different way of thinking that goes along with them.

Barry—who told the Onion’s AV Club that she crafted her book What It Is with an eye toward bored readers stuck in a Jiffy Lube oil-change waiting room—is also a big proponent of doodling, which she views as a creative neurological response to boredom:

Boring meeting, you have a pen, the usual clowns are yakking. Most people will draw something, even people who can’t draw. I say “If you’re bored, what do you draw?” And everybody has something they draw. Like “Oh yeah, my little guy, I draw him.” Or “I draw eyeballs, or palm trees.” … So I asked them “Why do you think you do that? Why do you think you doodle during those meetings?” I believe that it’s because it makes having to endure that particular situation more bearable, by changing our experience of time. It’s so slight. I always say it’s the difference between, if you’re not doodling, the minutes feel like a cheese grater on your face. But if you are doodling, it’s more like Brillo.  It’s not much better, but there is a difference. You could handle Brillo a little longer than the cheese grater.

Meetings and classrooms are among the few remaining venues in which screen-addicted moths are expected to force themselves away from the phone’s inviting flame. Other settings—like the Jiffy Lube waiting room—require more initiative on the user's part.




Once, we were keener students of minor changes to familiar environments, the books strangers were reading in the subway, and those strangers themselves. Our subsequent observations were known to spark conversation and sometimes ideas that led to creative projects.

Now, many of us let those opportunities slide by, as we fill up on such fleeting confections as Candy Crush, funny videos, and all-you-can-eat servings of social media.

It’s also tempting to use our phones as defacto shields any time social anxiety looms. This dodge may provide short term comfort, especially to younger people, but remember, Barry and many of her cartoonist peers, including Daniel Clowes, Simon Hanselmann, and Ariel Schrag, toughed it out by making art. That's what got them through the loneliness, uncertainty, and boredom of their middle and high school years.

The book you hold in your hands would not exist had high school been a pleasant experience for me… It was on those quiet weekend nights when even my parents were out having fun that I began making serious attempts to make stories in comics form.

Adrian Tomine, introduction to 32 Stories

Barry is far from alone in encouraging adults to peel themselves away from their phone dependency for their creative good.

Photographer Eric Pickersgill’s Removed imagines a series of everyday situations in which phones and other personal devices have been rendered invisible. (It’s worth noting that he removed the offending articles from the models’ hands, rather that Photoshopping them out later.)

Computer Science Professor Calvin Newport’s recent book, Deep Work, posits that all that shallow phone time is creating stress, anxiety, and lost creative opportunities, while also doing a number on our personal and professional lives.

Author Manoush Zomorodi’s recent TED Talk on how boredom can lead to brilliant ideas, below, details a weeklong experiment in battling smartphone habits, with lots of scientific evidence to back up her findings.

But what if you wipe the slate of digital distractions only to find that your brain’s just… empty? A once occupied room, now devoid of anything but dimly recalled memes, and generalized dread over the state of the world?

The aforementioned 2010 AV Club interview with Barry offers both encouragement and some useful suggestions that will get the temporarily paralyzed moving again:

I don’t know what the strip’s going to be about when I start. I never know. I oftentimes have—I call it the word-bag. Just a bag of words. I’ll just reach in there, and I’ll pull out a word, and it’ll say “ping-pong.” I’ll just have that in my head, and I’ll start drawing the pictures as if I can… I hear a sentence, I just hear it. As soon as I hear even the beginning of the first sentence, then I just… I write really slow. So I’ll be writing that, and I’ll know what’s going to go at the top of the panel. Then, when it gets to the end, usually I’ll know what the next one is. By three sentences or four in that first panel, I stop, and then I say “Now it’s time for the drawing.” Then I’ll draw. But then I’ll hear the next one over on another page! Or when I’m drawing Marlys and Arna, I might hear her say something, but then I’ll hear Marlys say something back. So once that first sentence is there, I have all kinds of choices as to where I put my brush. But if nothing is happening, then I just go over to what I call my decoy page. It’s like decoy ducks. I go over there and just start messing around.

Related Content:

How Information Overload Robs Us of Our Creativity: What the Scientific Research Shows

The Case for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts & Doing Valuable “Deep Work” Instead, According to Prof. Cal Newport

Lynda Barry’s Illustrated Syllabus & Homework Assignments from Her New UW-Madison Course, “Making Comics”

Lynda Barry, Cartoonist Turned Professor, Gives Her Old Fashioned Take on the Future of Education

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Follow Cartoonist Lynda Barry’s 2017 “Making Comics” Class Online, Presented at UW-Wisconsin

Professor Skeletor—aka cartoonist and educator Lynda Barry—is at it again. Making Comics (& other Graphic Formations), her fall offering at the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Discovery is just getting underway.

Those of us who can't study in person with an educator whose department chair called her “the best classroom teacher” that he’s ever seen can happily follow along online.

As always, her handwritten homework assignments will be posted to her Nearsighted Monkey tumblr account, along with in-class reflections and inspirational bits and bobs pulled off the Internet.

The first task, familiar to readers of her Syllabus workbook, is to begin a daily diary practice, filling in a template frame of Barry’s own devising.

Begin by putting your phone on airplane mode. "The phone gives us a lot but it takes away three key elements of discovery: loneliness, uncertainty and boredom," she stated last year, on a visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. "Those have always been where creative ideas come from."

Amen.

Any one of the exercises will renew your powers of observation and sense of connection with the world around you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting up early or skipping some must-see TV in order to fully comply with Professor Skeletor’s feel-good assignments. There are no wrong answers, provided you go at the assignments with energy and a willingness to play. As Barry said in an interview:

Because we tend to give up on the arts so early in life, I became really interested in what would happen if we reintroduce the arts without the thought of ‘you’re going to do this to become a great writer or painter,’ but rather that it might help people with the other work in their field.

For added value, complete your first daily diary frame to an audio recording of Barry’s timed instruction here. (Ignore the background noise of your teacher’s life—her sneezing cat, her happy pet birds—or better yet, let her household’s zesty energy seep into your work.)

Related Content:

Lynda Barry’s Illustrated Syllabus & Homework Assignments from Her New UW-Madison Course, “Making Comics”

Lynda Barry’s Wonderfully Illustrated Syllabus & Homework Assignments from Her UW-Madison Class, “The Unthinkable Mind”

Join Cartoonist Lynda Barry for a University-Level Course on Doodling and Neuroscience

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Figures from Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” Come to Life as Fine Art Piñatas

Piñatas are a nightmare.

Oh sure, they look festive, but seriously, think twice before arming a blindfolded child (or a beer guzzling adult guest) with a sturdy stick and encouraging him to swing wildly.

There's no need to worry, however, about anyone taking a bat to the intricate Hieronymus Bosch-inspired piñatas of Roberto Benavidez, a self-described half-breed, South Texan, queer figurative sculptor.

Even if you filled them with candy, the exteriors would be far more valuable than any treasures contained within.

Bosch, of course, excelled at scenarios far more nightmarish than anything one might encounter in a backyard party. Benavidez seems less drawn to that aspect than the beauty of the fantastical creatures populating The Garden of Earthly Delights.

In fact, the majority of his papier-mâché homages are drawn from the paradisiacal left panel of the famous triptych.

Not so the first in the series, 2013’s superbly titled Piñata of Earthly Delights #1, above

In the original, a misshapen waterbird uses its long beak to spear a cherry with which it tempts a passel of weak-willed mortals, crowded together inside a spiky pink blossom.

In Benavidez’s version the lack of naked humans allows us to focus on the creature, whose beak now pierces a simple star-shaped piñata of its own.

Those with a fascination for the antics of Bosch’s party people are invited to play a variation of Where’s Waldo, scouring the painting for the inspiration behind Candy Ass Bottom, above.

(Hint: if you’re gravitating toward those posteriors serving as vessels for flutes, flocks of blackbirds, or red hot pokers, you’re getting colder…)

While little is known about Bosch’s artistic training, Benavidez majored in acting, before returning to his childhood fascination for sculpting, taking classes in drawing, painting, and bronze casting at Pasadena City College. Thrift and portability led him to begin exploring paper as his primary medium.

As he remarked on the blog of the crepe paper manufacturer Cartotecnica Rossi:

I was intrigued by the idea of taking the piñata form, something seen as cheap and disposable, and moving it into the arena of fine art.  I feel that my sculptural forms and fringing techniques set my work apart from what most people think of as a typical piñata and the themes are more complex than is typical.

Definitely.

View more of Roberto Benavidez’ fine art piñatas, including those inspired by Hieronymus Bosch on his website or Instagram feed.

via This Is Colossal

Related Content:

Take a Virtual Tour of Hieronymus Bosch’s Bewildering Masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch Figurines: Collect Surreal Characters from Bosch’s Paintings & Put Them on Your Bookshelf

Take a Multimedia Tour of the Buttock Song in Hieronymus Bosch’s Painting The Garden of Earthly Delights

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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