j. morgan puett

listen to this tidbit.

go see her home/school/complex(ity) mildred’s lane

1.   i ran across mildred’s lane surfing the internet for art a few years ago – no doubt needing a break from mothering. after i explored the website thoroughly, i knew it was on my list of places to visit. now, having listened to the interview between ms. puett and nato thompson, it has moved to the top of my list. her recent work is challenging the current thoughts about education and what we need to know living in the 21st century. i love the foundational thinking of mildred’s lane and how they view it as a work in progress. the mildred complex(ity) – a place designed to collectively create and discuss new pedagogical models of being in the world with regards to the environment, systems of labor, forms of dwelling, ethics and sociality.

2.   i have been reading claire bishop‘s book – artificial hell: participatory art and the politics of spectatorship where she argues that small gestures have a potentially liberating effect for many individuals. she traces the history of participatory art and then makes her own observations about what is happening today in that realm.

3.   a few weeks ago, i attended a particpatory project at southern exposure created by my friend valerie imus and her group a citizen’s labratory. there was a boy, maybe ten years old, helping the artist who had orchestrated three participatory sequences (involving the audience) exploring the themes of closeness, collectivism, constraint, togetherness, touching, working together, etc… seeing the boy there past bedtime was an inspiring thing for me – it is so rare to see children in the adult world. gallery space after bedtime is one example of where you don’t expect to see children. (on the streets during school hours is another example.) i admit that i too was there for a break from my life as a mother, but as soon as i saw this boy walk in and participate, i wished my daughters were there.

why am i bringing these things together here? because when i look at the topics that ms. puett is bringing to the table for discussion, i am inspired to keep doing what i am doing – keeping my children on the streets and at home instead of in school. when i read a book like ms. bishop’s i am inspired to continue to live as an example of how we might live differently. when i see a boy walk into a gathering like “seed the sensible” i am inspired to take my children everywhere, especially where they are not expected. i view this as a radical act.

from all three of them i draw inspiration to collaborate with my kids more and to interact with the world around us.


i am starting to anticipate that all very difficult moments of parenting are somehow paired with moments that affirm and amaze. it may not always feel that way, because the beautiful moment might happen right before the horrible one and then that horrible feeling is what sticks for awhile. and maybe it is just my way of looking for balance, grasping for meaning, or searching for a way to accept this roller coaster.

anyhow, these are the moments that help me make sense of it all.

we have all been sick for a couple days. lots of moaning, coughing, sniffling, etc. – yesterday i thought we might be at the tail end of it. then again last night, a ton of coughing and sleeplessness. ugh. we woke up this morning to a puking child with chills – not how i had anticipated spending the morning. then there is the dreaded future of the other child puking and of course then myself puking. not great.

viv puked for the third time this morning – since i was tending to her i didn’t notice ida wander off. when i was finished comforting and cleaning up after viv i wandered into the kitchen and found ida sitting at the table sharpening pencils and writing letters. when i asked her what she was up to she said,”you push the letter button and then write the letter again.” and then she showed me, tapping her pencil on the square with a letter in it and then copying that letter again. she had copied the letters into the squares off the edge of the water color pencils she was sharpening. she is 4.5 years old. i have never tried to teach her to write letters. she has written the name/word “pia” for about a month now, over and over. other letters have visited her drawings on and off. this is ida teaching herself how to write the alphabet, ida style.

photo 2-5

photo 1-4

now i must go snuggle with my sick child who is calling me from the other room. one sure way to move toward puking myself. while puking, i will try and meditate on the paper typewriter, the birds of paradise. (why the birds? more later)