dated work samples in springtime

It’s spring – 

As I write this near a window at my local library, I can see tiny red buds pushing outward from their branches. Even while Syrian children gasp for air, parents are torn from their children at the Mexican border, and Nestle steals drinking water in Michigan, Spring is still coming. As I’ve been on sabbatical this semester and working closely with my homeschooled daughter, I’ve been thinking about how we all, individually, measure up in a increasingly standardized and automated world.  I don’t know about you but I need some hope.

Today I launch dated work samples

To kick-start the project, my daughters and I will go to Naco, Mexico, next week and visit Studio Mariposa – a wonderful explosion of love and color launched by painter Gretchen Baer. Gretchen and I collaborated on a gift for the kids that visit the studio each week. She asked the kids what they loved about their town of Naco and I turned their thoughts into questions. For example, “How many birds fly in the sky of Naco?”. We made t-shirts and my daughters and I will have the opportunity to meet the kids in person and give out the shirts. We want to celebrate these kids and their town. 

I also want to celebrate you.  You are invited to participate in the next phase of redefining how we each measure up. I am collecting questions about your worth. 

What are alternative ways we can define our value and worth to each other in a capitalist, and increasingly automated and impersonal, society mediated by artificial intelligence? 

The concept of the value of a human life has been continuously debated, abused, analyzed, leveraged, and distorted. Most of the earth’s inhabitants are not able to determine their own value to those in power over them. While I learn the history and current practice of slavery, read headlines of senseless war and gun violence, observe the double standards and racism in every day life, feel powerless against a massive refugee crisis, and angry toward the current administration in the United States, I consider the luck of my own privilege. I invite you to wonder with me –  what if your value was determined by the efforts you labor, the love you feel, the observations you make, or how much you are worth to your family, friends, or community?

How is your worth quantified? 

The questions should begin with the following phrases –  How much… How many… How high… How low… How old… How fast… How long… How far… How big…or similar.

The answers should be measurable in numerical quantities – something that could be put into a graph or data set. You don’t have to provide the answers. I just want the questions. Please write your initials and a date that has meaning for you in relation to the question.

Your final submissions might look like*:

  • How many children do I have? BD 3.12.2004
  • How fast can I recall math facts? LP 6.1.1983
  • How many miles have I driven? HG 1.1.1986
  • How many days since I smoked my last cigarette? NS 1.1.2000
  • How old are my shoes? NS 2.7.2018
  • How many lines of code have I written? GT 1.30.1999
  • How many times have I been nice to someone I don’t like? GT 8.1.2017

There are several ways to participate:

Some of the submissions will be selected and used in future visual representations. The creative process in this project is inspired by the individuality of cursive hand-writing, the beauty of lists, the comfort and protection of clothing, the vastness of counting, and the power of the people to overcome oppression.

Check for updates on this project as it evolves.

@datedworksamples   #datedworksamples

* While I look forward to your questions that demonstrate diverse views and experience, those that demonstrate hate speech, racism, violence or intolerance will not be accepted.