RESOURCES | INSPIRATION

Artist Roma Edwards compiled the curriculum of her life, listing things that have inspired her from books to artist talks to live events. Take some time and check out the links.​

TOP TEN (A SNEAK PEAK OF THE FULL LIST)

 

  • The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait

    • This book consists of colored scans of every page of Frida Khalo’s journal; translations of every page with commentary; and a beautiful introduction by Carlos Fuentes that explores personal and collective history, pain, and creation

  • Miranda July

    • Miranda July is one of my favorite artists and she works in many different mediums, and the book “Miranda July” is a retrospective of all of her work, including many different interviews and photos that allow you to see into her process

    • For Miranda July's website, go here

  • Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

    • This revolutionary book by Nicole Fleetwood “is about both the centrality of prisons to contemporary art and culture, and the robust world of art-making inside US prisons.”

    • It combines academic writing, personal writing, and photos of art

    • You can see some of the art featured in the book here

  • The Principles of Uncertainty

    • This book by Maira Kalman is a mix of a biography and a philosophical journal and a poem filled with beautiful paintings and handwritten writing

  • Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good

    • This book includes many different essays on the topic of pleasure and joy and expression as a form of activism, and it articulates power in a way that feels so counter to the way power is usually described in our white supremacist patriarchal society

    • Although this book is not directly related to art, it is very inspiring to think about the ways that art can add to this feeling of joy and healing

  • City Arts and Lecture: Ocean Vuong Interviewed by Tommy Orange

    • A powerful interview where Vuong discusses his book, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”

    • The way that he thinks and speaks is so new and surprising and moving because of the way he jumps from serious to emotional to funny to academic to poetic

  • Toni Morrison Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech 

    • This recording of Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech shows how powerful language and storytelling is for healing, connection, and growth

    • The way she talks about language can be applied to many other forms of art

  • Juxtapoz

    • This is a quarterly art magazine that profiles many amazing artists in each issue

    • The main section includes about four artists whose art is spotlighted alongside a transcribed interview with the artist

    • You can subscribe here

  • Talk Story by Nishat Kurwa

    • This biweekly newsletter was the jumping-off point for so many of the resources that have inspired me and has shaped my core beliefs so deeply--every time there is at least one article that makes me think about the world in a completely new way

    • Each time, it includes an interview by Nishat with a powerful woman alongside a mix of articles that focus on equity and powerful women of color

  • How Black Suffragettes Subverted the Domestic Sphere 

    • This article focuses on one of the mothers of black feminism and intersectionality discourse, Anna Julia Cooper

    • It talks about how domestic space, which has historically been used as a way to take power away from women, can actually be used to build community and fight for social justice

    • It also talks about how personal care is a form of power

  • Pop-Up Magazine

    • “A night of true stories, documentary films, photography and radio from some of our favorite writers, performers, and musicians. Unrecorded, live onstage."

  • Midnight Gospel

    • This is a TV show on Netflix where the main character makes podcasts on spirituality, meditation, life, death, and drugs through the lens of a beautifully illustrated trippy animations depicting the different worlds that the main character travels to to do his podcast

    • Overall it is really hard to describe this show, but I don’t usually like TV and this show has inspired me so much to think about how art can evoke emotion

  • Okay, I'll admit this was a list of twelve, but they're all so good and I couldn't cut it down!

 

ART BOOKS

  • The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait

    • This book consists of colored scans of every page of Frida Khalo’s journal; translations of every page with commentary; and a beautiful introduction by Carlos Fuentes that explores the personal and collective history, pain, and creation

  • Vitamin T: Threads & Textiles in Contemporary Art

    • This book, which includes art pieces and artist statements of almost 300 artists, explores the importance of textiles and weavings in the past and present art world 

    • Many of the art pieces in this book attempt to build community and combat social issues such as sexism, homophobia, racism, and xenophobia

  • Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

    • This revolutionary book by Nicole Fleetwood “is about both the centrality of prisons to contemporary art and culture, and the robust world of art-making inside US prisons.”

    • It combines academic writing, personal writing, and photos of art

    • You can see some of the art featured in the book here

  • Anni Albers On Weaving: New Expanded Edition

    • This book places beautiful pictures of weavings and descriptions of weaving techniques in the context of the history of weaving and the way that it fits into the modern design world

  • My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South

    • This book was created in conjunction with an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and includes essays and photos of art, focussing on black artists from the south and the significance of their art in art history

  • Miranda July

    • Miranda July is one of my favorite artists and she works in many different mediums, and the book “Miranda July” is a retrospective of all of her work, including many different interviews and photos that allow you to see into her process

    • For Miranda July's website, go here

  • Annie Leibovitz: Photographs

    • This is a great collection of photos of pop culture icons taken by Annie Leibovitz for the Rolling Stones Magazine (1960s-80s)

  • Fruits

    • This book is a collection of photos of Japanese street fashion, and the outfits are insane and amazing

    • To buy the (much less expensive) postcard collection go here, or check out the (free) magazine version here

    • It was published by Phaidon, which is a really cool art book publishing company

  • Maira Kalman books

    • Maira Kalman is an incredible writer and painter whose books range from photo books to inner monologues to poems to children's stories, and throughout all of them she keeps the same joyful and thoughtful voice and beautiful illustrations

    • My favorites are

      • The Principles of Uncertainty -- a longer book that is a mix of a biography and a philosophical journal and a poem filled with beautiful paintings and handwritten writing

      • Ooh-la-la (Max in Love) -- the most joyful and poetic and beautifully illustrated children book that is just as good to read as an adult as it is to read as a kid

      • Hurry Up And Wait -- a collaboration with the playful writer Daniel Handler that combines photos from the MOMA, short poems by Handler, and paintings by Maira Kalman, all meditating on time and everyday life

      • 13 Words -- another wonderful children’s book that she illustrated, with writing by Lemony Snicket

      • Elements of Style (Illustrated) -- although it may seem boring to read a book about grammar, I love the idea of the book. In it, she illustrates the random and eclectic example sentences used to explain different grammatical rules (“He noticed a large stain right in the center of the rug”)

 

ESSAYS/ESSAY COLLECTIONS

 

  • Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good

    • This book includes many different essays on the topic of pleasure and joy and expression as a form of activism, and it articulates power in a way that feels so counter to the way power is usually described in our white supremacist patriarchal society

    • Although this book is not directly related to art, it is very inspiring to think about the ways that art can add to this feeling of joy and healing

  • Audre Lorde Essays

    • The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action

      • This essay is a really beautiful way to think about what it means to be silent versus vocal in your artistic practice

    • Poetry Is Not a Luxury

      • This essay explores what it means to be a poet and, in a larger sense, what it means to be an artist. 

    • Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

      • This essay analyzes a type of power that is specific to women and talks about why that power is often held back and not talked about

      • The deep passionate feeling she described is a feeling that is so connected to the feeling of being an artist

  • Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Social Change

    • This book is a collection of essays that explores the idea of Civic Imagination (“the capacity to imagine alternatives to current cultural, social, political, or economic conditions; one cannot change the world unless one can imagine what a better world might look like.”)

    • There is also this link to their website, which elaborates on many aspects of civic imagination 

  • In Praise of Shadows

    • A strangely beautiful essay that talks about the use of shadow in Japanese architecture and aesthetics

    • It is also just a beautiful meditation on physical space and home

    • For the pdf, go here

  • Theme for English B

    • This is a poem, not an essay, but it is such a beautiful exploration of race and America

  • A People’s History of the United States

    • I have only read excerpts of this book, but it is a great history resource that tells history from, as author Howard Zinn says, the point of view of the victims not the victors

    • In some ways it is a bit dated, and it does feel a little bit problematic that a white male is telling the story of “victims” and is many times speaking for groups that he does not personally identify with, but it was a revolutionary way of writing history when it was published

 

REPORTS/HANDBOOKS

 

  • Mapping the Landscape of Socially Engaged Artistic Practice 

    • This is an overview of socially engaged art with many examples of art pieces, and it is formatted in a way that makes it both informative and really interesting/enjoyable to read 

    • Pages 14-17 include a really helpful framework for coming up with a project 

    • Page 21 has an interesting spotlight on what it means to do socially engaged art in communities that are not your own

  • Restorative Practices Handbook

    • This was key in helping me understand restorative practices and their power not only in a classroom context but just as a principle for building healthy, healing, and evolving communities

    • It contains frameworks alongside real-life examples of restorative practices

  • Punishing the Poorest: How the Criminalization of Homelessness Perpetuates Poverty in San Francisco

    • This is much more like a typical report than the other two, so there are a lot of statistics and graphs, but it is a really well-done informative reading on the criminalization of homelessness

 

ARTIST TALKS

 

  • Toni Morrison Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech 

    • This recording of Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech shows how powerful language and storytelling is for healing, connection, and growth

    • The way she talks about language can be applied to many other forms of art

  • Panels about “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

    • Book Launch by MoMA PS1

      • This talk was between the author, Nicole Fleetwood, two artists included in the book, and audience members who asked questions and it discussed prison systems, art in prisons, visibility, closeness, and more

      • It was the most engaging zoom call that I have been to so far, with the perfect mix of personal stories and academic conversations, seriousness and joy, structure and spontaneity

    • Revolution Books Panel

      • Author Nicole Fleetwood in conversation with artists featured in the book: James Hough and Russell Craig

      • Another beautiful and moving conversation about the book and the ideas surrounding it

  • City Arts and Lecture: Ocean Vuong Interviewed by Tommy Orange

    • A powerful interview where Vuong discusses his book, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”

    • The way that he thinks and speaks is so new and surprising and moving because of the way he jumps from serious to emotional to funny to academic to poetic

  • Emory Douglas

    • This is a video that profiles the work of the incredible Emory Douglas, who was that revolutionary artist and minister of culture for the Black Panthers

    • This shows how design and printmaking can be used to support social movements

  • Bryan Stevenson's Ted Talk

    • He is a civil rights lawyer and leader of the Equal Justice Initiative and he talks about injustice and the criminal justice system with many moving personal stories

  • Ted Talk: Architecture that is Built to Heal 

    • This Ted talk is by the architect of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the first national memorial of lynchings in America

    • This video explores ways that architecture can be used for healing and is a really good way to think about material sourcing and collaboration, even in the context of other art forms besides architecture

  • Do Ho Suh Art 21

    • Do Ho Suh is an artist who does a lot of exploration of the intersection of architecture and fine art

    • This video is a beautiful interpretation of creating, feeling, loving, and being in space

  • Seven on Seven 2016: Miranda July & Paul Ford

    • This presentation is an insane example of engaging with the audience and also really reveals how the internet has all of our information in it if you really look hard enough​

  • Dread Scott Ted Talk

    • This Ted Talk is by an Artist/Activist named Dread Scott who has created many powerful art pieces that you can see on his website

    • I particularly like how his art piece is all about dialogue and audience interaction

 

MAGAZINES

 

  • Aperture Magazine

    • Issue 230: Prison Nation 

      • This is an issue that explores mass incarceration through the lens of art and photography

      • It was organized by Nicole Fleetwood, who is an expert on the connection between art and incarceration

    • Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful 

      • This is an educational resource made by Aperture that explores the photography and photographer that popularized the phrase, "Black is Beautiful"
      • It shows how photography is a tool for social change
      • Aperture also made an art book about Kwame Brathwaite and Black is Beautiful, which you can order here
    • You can subscribe to Aperture here

  • Juxtapoz

    • This is a quarterly art magazine that profiles many amazing artists in each issue and has gotten me out of a multitude of artist's blocks

    • The main section includes about four artists whose art is spotlighted alongside a transcribed interview with the artist

    • You can subscribe here

  • Far-Near Magazine

    • This magazine/book is, as their website says, “a cross-cultural book series, curated annually, that broadens perspectives of Asia through image, person, idea, and history to unlearn the inherent dominative mode”

    • You can buy both issues here

 

NEWSLETTERS

 

  • Talk Story by Nishat Kurwa

    • This biweekly newsletter was the jumping-off point for so many of the resources that have inspired me and has shaped my core beliefs so deeply--every time there is at least one article that makes me think about the world in a completely new way

    • Each time, it includes an interview by Nishat with a powerful woman alongside a mix of articles that focus on equity and powerful women of color

  • Bay Resistance

    • They send really helpful updates on different actions and organizing efforts happening in the Bay Area

  • Next Draft

    • This daily newsletter is a way to stay updated on the news and to know what’s going on in the world (less long identity-based pieces than Talk Story, and more mainstream than both of the previous newsletters)

 

ARTICLES

 

  • How Black Suffragettes Subverted the Domestic Sphere 

    • This article focuses on one of the mothers of black feminism and intersectionality discourse, Anna Julia Cooper

    • It talks about how domestic space, which has historically been used as a way to take power away from women, can actually be used to build community and fight for social justice

    • It also talks about how personal care is a form of power

  • Surviving Rape as a Prison Abolitionist

    • This article is a really strong argument for prison abolition and a moving commentary on the failures of the criminal justice system in the context of rape

  • The Case for Reparations

    • This article reveals so much about systemic oppression and the way that wealth inequalities between white people and black people are directly based institutionalized racism, from slavery, to sharecropping, to racist housing policies

  • The Trayvon Generation

    • This article talks about the horrors of police brutality and really struggles with how art is so powerful for liberation, but ​how it can't bring people, specifically black people who have been killed by police, back to life

  • The Videos That Rocked America. The Song That Knows Our Rage.

    • Another deeply moving and devastating and, in the end, hopeful article that talks about police brutality in conjunction with art​

  • The Magic of Black Girls' Play

    • This article taught me ​so much about the beauty of double touch and reinforced to me the importance of play and joy

 

MUSEUMS/GALLERIES

 

  • San Francisco

    • The David Ireland House (Conceptual artist David Ireland turned his house into a piece of conceptual art filled with meaning and beauty that is now a museum)

    • Museum of the African Diaspora (This contemporary art museum “celebrates Black cultures, ignites challenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora.”)

    • Minnesota Street Project (a space that “offers economically sustainable spaces for art galleries, artists and related nonprofits.” The contemporary art that they showcase is always inspiring and meaningful)

    • Creativity Explored (This gallery/workspace for artists with developmental disabilities has been one of my biggest artistic inspirations and it is one of the most imaginative and freeing spaces that I have been to)

    • Southern Exposure (That’s us!)

  • Los Angeles

    • The Broad (First of all, the building is one of my favorite pieces of architecture on the outside and the inside. Second of all, the collection of contemporary art is one of my favorites in the world, offering a diverse range of artists and art forms)

    • MOCA (Great contemporary art museum. One of my favorite things about this museum is the way that they take advantage of space, turning the gallery space into a whole other world)

    • Getty (This is a traditional museum with art from lots of different time periods. When I went there, I loved the gardens outside, the Italian Renaissance paintings, and the fashion exhibit)

  • Chicago

    • Art Institute of Chicago (This is also a traditional museum with art from lots of different time periods. When I went there, I loved the “Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury” exhibit and the Thorne Miniature Rooms)

  • Montgomery 

    • National Memorial for Peace and Justice (This powerful and deeply painful memorial of all of the lynchings that have happened in America is the first of its kind. The experience of walking through this memorial is one of the most real and tangible experiences that I have ever had)

    • The Legacy Museum (This museum connects slavery to mass incarceration through many different forms. It is powerful and painful to walk through.) 

  • Berlin

    • Stasi Museum (The thing that was so fascinating to me about this museum was the fact that it was remembering something so recent. Berlin as a whole is such a good model for memorialization/truth/reconciliation and this museum represented that. It was particularly interesting in conjunction with the Montgomery museums which showed me how much need there is for the US to have forms of memorialization/truth/reconciliation)

    • Museum of Thing (One of the strangest museums I have ever been to, it is literally a collection of random objects organized by theme. It is such a fun interpretation of a museum and commentary on how we define art and design. It focuses on the idea of production, design, and the commodity of everyday life)

  • Norway

    • Astrup Fearnley Museet (One of my favorite contemporary museums of all time, this museum was the first time I felt personally and emotionally excited inside of a museum. The architecture--including a man-made beach--is also so beautiful)

 

EVENTS

 

  • Youth Speaks: Brave New Voices

    • Young people do spoken word poetry all around the country

  • Pop-Up Magazine

    • “A night of true stories, documentary films, photography and radio from some of our favorite writers, performers, and musicians. Unrecorded, live onstage.”

  • SFJAZZ

    • They put on a lot of amazing events 

    • My favorite event there was the poetry festival where there was jazz music and readings of famous poems about America that were then responded to by new original poems

  • Sketchboard Community Figure Drawing

    • Great and affordable figure drawing which includes multiple models and live music and happens monthly

    • This is such a meditative space and has been a really important part of my life since I randomly discovered it when I was walking by its building a few years ago

    • “We focus on creating a space that is supportive of all bodies and give preference to queer, nb, trans & poc models that represent a diverse range of ages, sizes, and backgrounds.”

    • You can follow this eventbrite account and/or join this facebook group to stay updated

  • San Francisco Art and Film Cine Club

    • Free screenings of classic, foreign, and art films

    • The Cine Club starts with a short film, then an introduction of the film, then the film is played, and then there is a group discussion

    • Kinda pretentious, but also really fun

  • Hayes Valley Screening

    • Free outdoor screenings of movies in the park in Hayes Valley

    • Kinda overly-hipster, but also really fun

  • Alemany Flea Market​

    • This flea market happens every Sunday from 7 am to 3 pm

    • I love it because it isn't overpriced and hipster--it feels like a real market where you can find amazing special objects that are actually affordable

    • It is a great scene because it is a mix of fashionable young people, old people adding to this or that collection, and regular people looking for affordable tools

  • Classic Album Sunday, a listening party presented by In Sheep’s Clothing

    • In Sheep’s Clothing is a record bar and cafe in LA where the focus is really on listening to the music

    • For this event, a music expert focusses on one artist and starts by talking about their life and music and plays some songs by other artists that relate to this artist and then they play an entire album of this artist from start to finish (you don’t have to stay for the whole album)

 

PLACES

 

  • Bernal Hill

  • Glen Canyon

  • Angel Island

  • Baker Beach

  • The Wave Organ

  • Heron’s Head Park

  • Visitacion Valley Greenway

  • The Crosstown Trail

 

MOVIES

 

  • Me and You and Everyone We Know

    • I love the role that art plays in this movie

  • Moonlight

    • Heartbreaking

  • Tillsammans

    • Joyful and really good 60s quilts

  • Do the Right Thing

    • what a nuanced way of thinking about race​

  • American Honey

    • It feels so real ​

  • 20th Century Women

    • An actual exploration of what it means to be a man and what it means a woman 

  • Midsommar

    • I have never seen such a gruesome movie that is also so beautiful

  • Harold and Maude

    • Great playlist, lovely story

  • Sorry to Bother You

    • So creative, great commentary on race

  • Eighth grade

    • So cringy in the best and most relatable way

  • Boyhood

    • The way that this movie appreciates and centers everyday life

  • The Shining

    • Scary, great outfits

  • Romeo and Juliet (1996)

    • So aesthetically pleasing 

  • Thelma and Louise

    • Actually really empowering

  • Grizzly man

    • Insane

  • Beginners

    • The way he inserts historical context is so cool

  • Brokeback mountain

    • The long slow shots of sheep

  • Call Me by Your Name

    • I just want to have that summer (but a lesbian version)

  • Monsoon Wedding

    • Beautifully hectic

  • Booksmart

    • also so joyful

  • The Future

    • Kinda of hopeless, but also beautiful​

  • The Social Network

    • The first scene!!​

  • The Burden (min borda)

    • strange and very aesthetically pleasing short animated musical

    • Here is a link to the trailer which also gives you an opportunity to rent/buy the film

    • Here is a link to another beautiful short film made by the same artist

  • Midnight Gospel

    • This is a TV show on Netflix where the main character makes podcasts on spirituality, meditation, life, death, and drugs through the lens of a beautifully illustrated trippy animations depicting the different worlds that the main character travels to to do his podcast

    • Overall it is really hard to describe this show, but I don’t usually like TV and this show has inspired me so much to think about how art can evoke emotion

 

NOVELS/POETRY

 

 

PODCASTS

  • 1619

    • I thought that I knew about the legacy of slavery and the way that it shaped America, but this podcast revealed to me so many things that I never knew and that made me look at America in a completely new light

  • Have You Heard George's Podcast?

    • The format of this podcast is insanely creative with a mix of poetry and interview ​and acting and many more things and it talks about people and race and culture in a way that I have never seen before

    • One thing I would say is because it's so creative, it is also a little bit confusing sometimes

  • The Mystery Show

    • I love the way that Starlee Kine turns small and mundane mysteries into these hilarious and actually kinda philosophical journeys​

    • It feels like she got this idea from reporting on other stories where she would have great conversations that she couldn't include because they didn't have to do with the story, so she created this podcast to be able to keep all of those conversations

  • Nice White Parents

    • This story about public schools and how the seemingly nice white people are the ones who are the problem is just so true and makes me think about my own role in the education system​

  • This American Life

    • What’s Going on in There? 

      • One of the most emotional This American Life episodes, it tells the firsthand story of an abusive relationship and the story of a boy who speaks to his dad for the first time after not being able to understand each other's languages for 20 years

    • This American Life: Act V

      • This episode is a powerful story that follows the production of Hamlet by inmates in a high-security prison

    • Recordings for Someone

      • This episode is great, with stories about personal recordings that one person made specifically for another person

    • 24 Hours at the Golden Apple 

      • This is such a fun episode which indulges in all of our secret eavesdropping wishes by interviewing every single person at a 24-hour diner for the whole 24 hours

    • Birds & Bees

      • The third act of this episode is about a grief counseling center for children who have had family members die. Although it is heartbreaking, it is also kind of hopeful

    • Fermi’s Paradox

      • The third act of this episode is about a girl who makes her dad a list of questions that explore the fundamental questions of life, and it becomes a story about the relationship between the daughter and the father

    • Who You Gonna Call?

      • The first act of this episode is a very intense story of a life and death phone call that attempts to save a man from committing suicide

    • Break Up

      • The first act of this episode is the hilarious and charming story of a person trying to write a break-up song 

    • Death and Taxes

      • The emotional first act of this episode hears from different people who are staying in or visiting family members in hospice

    • Say Anything

      • The second act of this episode is the reading of a list of fears made by an artist from Creativity Explored, a gallery and workspace for people with developmental disabilities. My favorite part of this list is how surprising it is and how he jumps from things that seem lighthearted to things that are very personal​.