While inside nursing a little cold today, I used Yahoo Avatars to make this cartoon version of myself:
Yahoo! Avatars

What fun! There is something oddly futuristic about making oneself an avatar. If the program to do so had existed during my childhood, I would have had so much fun with it! Perhaps it’s my inner child that is getting such a big kick out of it now…

An “avatar,” is symbolic, graphic representation of a character. The program that Yahoo.com offers enables you to select features for your avatar from eye shape and color, to hair, to clothing style. And, through the magic of technology, it combines all of the elements you enter into this “cartoon” version of the person you’re trying to create. I made the one above of me. You could make yourself, your significant other, or some fictional character just for the fun of it. Give it a try!

Here’s the link: http://avatars.yahoo.com.

T-Shirt Success Story – Nashville

My friend Jen just sent me these shots of her from the streets of Nashville, wearing the t-shirt I made for her when she moved there from Brooklyn this past winter.

The “Nashville is the new Brooklyn” shirt is a one-of-kind variation on the “California is the new Brooklyn” design I created, which is available for sale online by following this link to www.zazzle.com/sarahsloboda.

Jen tells me that the Bluebird Café, which she is standing in front of in these photos, is a famous Nashville place of discovery for musicians and bands. I haven’t been to Nashville in awhile, but I remember that it was really fun! Jen went to college there several years ago, and I paid her a visit.

Jen also tells me that her Nashville friends are jealous of her t-shirt. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s a pretty big compliment, so I’d like to believe it! Jen is also a photographer, and spent some time traveling around Europe, as well as shooting an amazing portrait book called “Faces,” for her church. You can check out her work by clicking here: jenmphotography.com. Personally, I think Jen has an amazing knack for product photography, which you can especially see in her website sections called “places,” and “things.”

Photo credit: Anonymous Nashville Correspondent.

Rocket Cat

Wanting to further explore the medium of “t-shirt,” I created a custom design for my friend as a thank-you gift for letting me have a photo shoot in his apartment.

I call this design, “Rocket Cat.” I drew the stencil onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out with a swiss army knife (because I couldn’t find my exacto). Then I bought some fabric paint (yellow and orange), and an American Apparel “summer shirt,” in a nice, gray-ish turquoise.

For several weeks, I ran around the apartment singing, “ROCKET CAT!” to the tune of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” and finally, today, I painted the design onto the shirt. I was so thrilled with it, that I picked up the extra fabric paint I had bought just because I liked the color (magenta), and immediately started on a t-shirt of my own.

“‘Cause I’m a rocket cat. Rocket cat!”

Car Accident Anniversary

Seven years ago Monday, I was in a traumatic car accident. Luckily, all but the car and the tree survived (I was a passenger), but I came away with a head injury and a chronic neck injury. Having the injuries and the trauma caused me to go deep within my psyche looking for answers to a lot of hard questions, like why do bad things happen? was I given this lifetime to do something more important? and if so, what? how does one use mind over matter to learn to strengthen and recover?

What has been really great is that with regular exercise, I can keep the neck pain to a minimum. Not that I wish for pain, but just that I know it is within my power to minimize it, has shown me a lot about what humans have to deal with in their lives, and how great it feels to be able to take charge of oneself. It has been amazing to see the progress I have made, and it has shown me that the stuff that humans are made of is powerful stuff! We have the capacity to not just know our limits, also to know how to gently test them. We have the ability to envision ourselves in a healthier state, and figure out how to let ourselves heal. I haven’t perfected it – goodness knows I have very stiff neck days, sometimes shoulder pain, and sometimes a clicky jaw. But I have had enough success to know that it is always possible to improve, that we don’t have to just wither as we mature, but in fact, we can use our maturing selves to develop patience and persistence.

The images with this posting are photographs I took of my CT scan, my MRI, and my neck x-rays. When these medical images were made, I was terrified! I hated looking at images of my body, thinking it was going to fail me, seeing only evidence of its imperfections. Now I
look at them, and I think – WOW! That is just a tiny fragment of all of the amazing stuff that’s going on inside of me – just what they were able to record in that specific way. There is so much wonder going on inside me, and actually, the problems are quite small in the grand scheme of my body. I can see the little spurs on my vertebrae and the congestion around my jaw, and go, “There are those little problem areas – they need extra love! That’s why it’s so great that I keep up with my yoga practice!” The x-rays were from years ago, and I have no idea if I have done enough muscle work (or if this is even possible!) to have created any improvements to my spine – but I know I have learned how to not make it worse, and how to make myself feel as good as I can, even with my body’s areas of sensitivity. This is an amazing thing! When I think about my thoughts and feelings, I see that I have changed DRAMATICALLY in the past seven years – I have gone from feeling fearful and always thinking that more terrible things could happen to my body at any moment, to feeling empowered and joyous and always thrilled at the strength I have been able to build, and looking forward to more improvements in my physical body.

Seven years is a long time, and by the standard western concept, I have “aged” a lot during that time. But I actually think, that by doing what I was inclined to do to empower myself over this trauma (too much to even begin recount here!), that I have learned a much more natural and youthful perception of myself – that I can trust this body, and I can take care of it, and it will take care of me.

At some point in time, I bought a copper necklace with a little square charm – the charm is a tiny little square photograph of a tree, coated in resin. I call it “my copper tree necklace.” I learned that copper is very good for aches, and so it was very appropriate to have it hanging around my neck, maybe even beneficial. I like to think of that tiny image of the tree as the symbol of the tree that jarred me awake into my physical body. I like to wear it around my neck as a gentle reminder of my gratitude – for my life, for that tree, for all of life, for my physical body, for life in all its physical forms – as a reminder that a purpose can be found in the most unlikely and unwanted of events.

Brooklyn Excursion with Keith Powell

My friend Keith Powell and I had a fun-filled excursion around Brooklyn, to take photos for his hilarious, forthcoming website. One might recognize Keith from the cast of NBC’s 30 Rock – he plays Toofer.

There were a lot of fun things about this shoot with Keith – the first of which is that he is hilarious. He is silly, in the way of a young, intelligent boy, and had me cracking stupid jokes and singing in a goofy high-pitched voice all day. That’s just what hanging out with Keith makes you want to do. He’s super smart, yet you want to act like a seven-year-old around him.

We went down to a park on a pier in Red Hook, and Keith posed in places of varying levels of restriction, unafraid, and dedicated to getting the right “feel” for the hilarious art we were making. We stopped by my friends’ bakery, Baked, for some lunch and sweet treats – thanks to Matt for introducing us to the Whoopie Pies – they were amazing!

Keith, being a fan of irony, really wanted to make a funny photo of himself in a suit juxtaposed with a touch of silliness – like a helium balloon, or other random prop. (I always say you can find anything in New York City, but I now revise that by saying, you can’t always find a helium balloon in Carroll Gardens.) Keith spotted a snorkeling set in the toy section of CVS, and with a knowing glance, I helped him select a fluorescent green set.

I cried laughing when we were in the park, trying to get the shot of Keith in a suit and snorkeling mask, blowing a giant pink bubble. I cried. I collapsed on the sidewalk in the park with tears streaming down my face. I said, “Keith! I can’t shoot, I’m laughing too hard!”

Keith was undaunted by my tears, and continued posing in the mask.

Finally, we got a Flash-Gordon-inspired shot of Keith running like a blur through the frame down an adorable Brooklyn side street, and called it a day. “Working” with Keith was one of the most hysterical things I’ve done in my adult life. It truly made me feel like a kid, and I remembered why I am an artist in the first place – to honor that little kid that I have always been.

To see more photos, check out Keith’s website at http://powelltothepeople.net/