Hei Laura,

What did you say again?

The Unfortunate Case of Art, Science and Innovations

Posted on May 10, 2016

It’s been two years since Pearl closed, and I barely learned of it today (in 2016!) after deciding to check out their website to see what’s up. I had the pleasure of visiting their famous store in New York in my early 20′s and I was in awe of Pearl, their name really embodies this historical landmark’s essence. Pearl was not just any art supply store, they were an experience, a multi-store artistic journey into the heart of creating.

I am saddened by these already “old news”, and as an art education major on the borderline of finishing my studies, I can’t help but think on the broader implications of the slow disappearance of art in our communities. As highlighted in an article by Hannah Sentenac in Miami New Times, it is usually the art programs that get the ax in schools, when budget cuts are made. This is a symptom and I fear it is telling of the times we are about to enter, an over emphasis of the rational mind.

I can understand the investment into hard sciences: math, physics, technology & co are driving our society forward, but I cannot understand the lack of insight into the supporting pillar that is behind all technological innovations and breakthroughs – the creative mind.

Art is becoming a diminishing resource in schools, its educational benefits have been broadly misunderstood for too long now, Plato himself, thought to be one of the greatest philosophical minds, wrote of the importance of learning through creative means. His theory has been often misunderstood (at times even deliberately in the academic world) with grave consequences.

Herbert Read wrote his masterful book “Education through Art” in 1943, in which he discusses the implications of the Aristotelian emphasis in education since the middle ages and its limiting factors on our youth. The logical bias was adopted as a basis for educational practices: “– the thought process as conceived by the science of logic is regarded as giving to our whole method of acquiring knowledge, and, therefore, to our whole specifically human conception of the world –” (Read, 1943, p. 57).

He argues that the unbalanced favoring of logic as a basis for understanding the reality of our world (and therefore “the facts” reduced from observations) misconstrues the thought process that we teach to children in schools while their mental maturation progresses. The neglect of the creative principle reduces and simplifies the productive thinking process, which is closer to a creative one (artistic production) than previously understood: “It is not suggested that an integral mode of thought excludes logical thought in a tolerant world. But it is only too evident that a training directed exclusively to logical thought produces a type incapable of imaginative activity–” (Read, 1943, p. 68).

He also references Schiller and his famous letters “On the Aesthetic Education of Man” written in 1794 in the after math of the failed French Revolution as another supporter of Plato, and therefore his own thesis concluding that aesthetic education is fundamental in a balanced schooling system. Read unravels Plato’s concept of art and education, and how they have been dismissed due to a lack of understanding what he truly meant by them. The result is a call for an educational reform, where art and science need not be separated, but used methodologically in complimentary unison to nurture the needs of mental maturation of a child into a mature and balanced citizen of a society.

It should be a no brainer that a cookie cutter model for education, where children are taught to pass tests, is simply not enough anymore. We as a society deserve better. The youth deserves better from the people, who are supposed to be on their side, guiding them in this rich, colorful world of ours. How can we learn the ability to “see outside the box”, an acquired skill in the toolbox of creative thinking, when the educational system is designed to keep us right inside it?

Sure, every once in a while “an exceptional mind” may prevail despite the predicament that is imposed upon it, but every child and adult alike has the capacity to be like a creative genius, to think better, a belief I firmly hold, if only guided in how to expand their thinking further into the realm of creativity.

Read’s claims of aesthetic sensibility as a key ingredient in the thinking process was supported by the research conducted by the school of Gestalt psychology in his own time, and in today’s research, he finds his support in Nancy Andreasen, a neuroscientist and psychologist, whose focus is on creativity. She opens up about her research in an article titled “Secrets of the Creative Brain”, in which she concludes that: “For years, I had been asking myself what might be special or unique about the brains of the workshop writers I had studied. In my own version of a eureka moment, the answer finally came to me: creative people are better at recognizing relationships, making associations and connections, and seeing things in an original way—seeing things that others cannot see.” (Andreasen, 2014).

Although much of her emphasis is on discovering links between creativity and mental illness (whether they exist and the possible nature of them), there are valuable notes she makes in her article, especially when mentioning a connection between nurture and becoming a creative genius, suggesting that the level of creativity an individual has may be affected through guidance. She also suggests that: “The arts and the sciences are seen as separate tracks, and students are encouraged to specialize in one or the other. If we wish to nurture creative students, this may be a serious error.” (Andreasen, 2014). The rift between arts and science has persisted, I do see this as a grave mistake, and as Andreasen writes in her article, many of her study subjects (award winning artists and Nobel laureates) found the standard ways of learning wanting, even distracting.

“Education through Art” and “On the Aesthetic Education of Man” are must reads for professionals involved in the educational systems, but I do not place much faith in people holding the budget cuts ax. In Finland, this year, major cuts in education have been a polarizing subject of discussion in the public domain.

I am sorely disappointed in Finnish policymakers, calling for more “quality research” to lift Finland from its slumber and pointing the finger at universities: do more, do something, we need more innovation to create jobs. Yes, shit has been hitting the fan for nearly a decade now as far as economy goes in this small Nordic country, to put in a crude way.

But to demand for research results that can be commercialized speaks of a complete misunderstanding on how innovation happens, research is a long process that culminates in discoveries, which in turn can be engineered into practical applications. But this takes time, in some cases decades. And now you’re taking away funding to do this?

Take graphene for example. First recognized in the 19th century, theorized in 1947, isolated in 2004 (Bradley, 2014), and in 2016? Scientists are still dabbling around with it to see what kind of practical applications it may have – the promise it contains for future uses. It is the story of aluminum all over again and the long road it took before revolutionizing our society (or before it started making some serious profit).

So where does art fit in all of this you may ask? Excellent question. The appreciation of all things considered artistic may be at a decline, when job driven societies experience economic troubles, sacrifices must be made, and the steak has to be trimmed from excess fat, most likely the first layer to go is cultural projects. But consider this, innovation and creative thinking (future scientists leading and working on projects) starts at a grass root level, with children. Teach them the way of “creative geniuses” of which for example Herbert Read and Schiller dreamed of, and we will nurture a generation of fluid thinkers and doers, who will go where no man has gone before, and perhaps bring back awe-inspiring stories of what they have discovered in the process of building our future.

The first of May in Finland is a celebration of workers, and traditionally in Helsinki a statue “Havis Amanda” is capped by local university students. In 2016 ironically enough the central theme was art and it was the art students, who received the honor of placing the symbol of higher education on the statue’s temples, a white cap a student receives in Finland after finishing their high school studies.

The office of education took a major hit this year in Finland, a public outcry is warning of a “brain bleed”, the most talented and skilled may leave in search of more fertile grounds for doing research in hopes of receiving more understanding for what they’re doing. Workers in the field of culture and science are holding their breath in anticipation, extremely worried that the colors of our Finnish landscape once beautiful are slowly fading, and it is painful to watch as an advocate of arts and science. A saying goes that forgive them for they do not know what they’re doing, and the educational budget cut mess is truly reaching biblical proportions with nearly unforgivable ramifications for some.



Read (1943). Education through Art. London: Faber and Faber

Andreasen (2014). Secrets of the Creative Brain. An online article. Referenced May 10th 2016: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/07/secrets-of-the-creative-brain/372299/

Bradley (2014). A Chemical History of Graphene. An online article. Referenced May 10th 2016: http://www.materialstoday.com/carbon/comment/chemical-history-of-graphene/

Sentenac (2014). Pearl Paint Art Supply Store Reacreated in Wynwood. An online article. Referenced May 10th 2016: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/arts/pearl-paint-art-supply-store-recreated-in-wynwood-6484957

Paper People

Posted on March 14, 2016

Take a good look at my paper heart
And tear it apart
Did you read what was written on there?
Or did you throw it away without care?

This ink beneath these paper grooves
Is only for the jokers in the court and village fools
Erase every story and line I ever made
Let it all just fade

Carve your name on my soul stone hard
And leave it scarred
Did you see what was engraved on there?
Or did you crush it without care?

This blood inside these veins
Is only for the living dead and deadly insane
Infect every cell
I parted from heavenly grace and fell…

A Graphite Selfie #2016: A Snapshot into the Drawing Process

Posted on February 1, 2016

There’s nothing like waiting for a delivery with a 5 hour window at home, right, so after two cups of coffee and some brisk, caffeine induced pacing in front of the living room window, I grabbed a notebook and did some practice with contour lines. Well, for a minute, got bored, and turned the page.




So there. My contribution to the plethora of selfies on the internet. Not too bad for someone, who hasn’t practiced in a while, I suppose.

Sketching with graphite is kind of like carving a statue, moulding objects (and subjects) out of nothingness that is a white paper. A few lines are drawn here and there, fingers hold a pencil that hovers over the paper, draws invisible lines to map out the next possible line, and then presses more graphite on it. Perhaps the pencil gets changed to a blending stub for softer lines… or an eraser to bring out light in the subject/object. Or to blend. Just to mention a couple of things.

I see too many things in the graphite selfie I could keep working on, but that’s not really the point… it’s good enough for now. Hyperrealism used to be a goal of mine, right now I’m learning to let go of that, anyone can get there with enough practice, the exercise of rinse and repeat, but let’s say that… perhaps I will focus on honing the skills I’m already good at, one of them is lines, I love line drawing, quite passionate about it in fact. Just felt inferior looking at all the hyperrealistic art out there, like holy crap are those artists good, just that… my focus has shifted. For now at least.

There is a crude quality to my drawing, which I want to explore a bit more. Something I used to be ashamed of. Not that I have abandoned the more refined side of drawing, realism, but there are already so many people out there, who will do it so much better than I ever can. Perhaps I’ve been scared of evolving into my own (as an artist? Is that a word I’m allowed to use? Don’t even let me get into the politics of that bull crap), who knows, good things may come out of it, or perhaps I’m more scared of the alternative, that nothing does come out of it. Ever. Quite a finite thought.

Writing and drawing. Drawing and writing. Somehow, I want to combine the two, and the defining word here is somehow, no idea how I’m going to do that, or what I’m doing, but here’s to hoping that the answer will be waiting to be stumbled upon across along the way.

And where the heck is my delivery. Been like 3 hours now, but if I do step out just for two minutes, I will find a note on the door, informing the recipient that the package can now be picked up at the post office, because no one was home at the time of delivery.

Time for another cup of coffee I guess, and some more practice with how to shape things out of graphite, or white paper to be exact.

My Shoebox Under the Bed : Sketches

Posted on January 14, 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shoeboxes are wonderful for collecting all sorts of things. The illustrations (doodles) in my sketch books represent a medley of thoughts, kind of like knick knacks kept in shoeboxes, various items that hold symbolic value and memories… Except that my knick knacks are made out of ink and graphite. Here are a few of them, I will be updating the sketches section under images page with more of these mental trinkets.

Crete: A Portrait of an Island in Crisis.

Posted on October 16, 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I visited Crete this September for a week with my husband. These are some of the pictures I took, portraying a land of great beauty, and recently economic devastation.

The First of November: A Day for the Dead.

Posted on November 1, 2014

This morning has been one big Disney movie so far. I was taking in these sights and then out of the blue… I hear 20 swans fly over head in formation. My jaw is still somewhere on the forest floor.


DayofDead 075 DayofDead 037


DayofDead 045

I spent a good half an hour transfixed on the view, breathing in the crisp air and listening in on the forest around the lake. The sound of winter is beginning to echo there. It’s bittersweet standing at the edge of winter, the memories of summer begin to fade as frost and snow kiss the landscape ever so gently.

A medley of pictures played as I stood there, some faded, some more colorful than the actual reality behind them. A good time to move on, I thought, when the 20 swans disappeared over the hill.  It truly is a beautiful day to remember the departed on the First of November, the day for the dead. A lot of candles will be lit across the country today, friends and families will visit cemeteries, make them alive again.

As for the rest of the day, I feel the itch to draw, there is this one picture that keeps haunting me, but I might waste it away gaming…


I, gamer.

Posted on September 20, 2014

WP_20140920_15_16_41_ProThis is me.

At age… I don’t even remember anymore, but the gaming system my dad gave me for a Christmas present is forever imprinted in my memories: Nintendo Entertainment System. The developers certainly nailed the name.

My favorite was Super Mario Bros, I mean, hands down. No need to explain that. A close second was DuckTales, where you played as Scrooge and bounced around on your cane while collecting diamonds to make a rich duck even richer. Good to teach the moral values to the kids early on.

WP_20140920_15_18_34_ProTossing ponies and barbies (and a bunch of boy toys like Ninja Turtle action figures… which are freaking dolls btw) in the corner for an interactive experience with a piece of tech was easy peasy lemon squeezy for me. I preferred being alone most of the time anyway because of all the drama between kids. I just hated it, why couldn’t we hang out with each other without awkward social rules like, no… you can’t play with us because then it would be an uneven number. I mean… what? Some sand box rules I will never understand. There were some even more ridiculous than that.

Nintendo changed the dynamics of my childhood (and PlayStation later on). Gaming became my escape ladder and made me an adventurer instead of a weird kid. I had desperately wanted to experience what the likes of Indiana Jones would in their lives and this was my chance. There were tons of games I played on the NES, the cartridges have survived the years, and when I shuffle them in my hands, I get flashbacks of all the adventures I got myself into, as if I was turning the pages of a picture album.

My first PC I received in junior high for school purposes, but soon enough I was playing Duke Nukem on my educational purposes only machinery. Lesson well learned: headshots for the win! And flash cash to the girls and they will flash you. Again, it was good to keep on learning those moral lessons. There was also this space ship flight simulator I forget the name of, but I had good times flying in insane speeds on the face of Earth, and pulling awesome stunts with the help of my joystick, all the while shooting down evil aliens. It was just freaking awesome, no other way to put it.

And then came PlayStation. A personal game changer for the second time in my life. I’m a graphics w***e, let’s get that out of the way right now. I understand that being into shiny stuff and having a gaming PC would be a no brainer, but I liked consoles for the ease of it. Mostly because I wasn’t that tech savvy. Which I regret, I wish had delved into computers a bit more than I did… these days I’m finding it hard to keep up with the leaps and bounds technology takes (I guess I just have to believe I’d be saying that one day).

Another magical Christmas in 1999 gifted me with Final Fantasy VIII. I have never been the same after playing this title. That’s when I took my adventuring to another level. Here was a game that combined an enthralling story rich with lore, complex characters and epic battles. Role-playing was right up my alley I discovered. There was so much to do in the game, I could progress the story or focus on leveling up and making my characters stronger (I like seeing numbers go up), complete side quests or play mini games.

Having a lot of control over my gaming experience is what turned me onto the Final Fantasy series (fanatic about it). The elements of a perfect storm were there with the timing of playing FF VIII. I was around the same age as the protagonists (all mercenary teenagers brought up in an elite battle academy) so the relatability was there. Their dreams and emotions were like that of an ordinary teenager, except I got to live an elevated story with danger woven all through out it. But I, Laura, was an active part of shaping the story and that’s what felt really good. To this day I revisit the game for the sake of nostalgia. Check it out, it has one of the best game cut scene openings:

It’s always been about escapism, then and now. And I still continue on that road with A Realm Reborn, an online role-playing game like World of Warcraft (essentially). Playing with real people online is a different beast entirely because of interpersonal relations between players. I might have hated the sand box in my childhood, but here I am back at it.

Usually I’m the healer in the team, but most times I also want to wreck enemies for a faster fight while keeping my team mates standing. I definitely take the battle aspect of my healing class to an extreme, which can cause raised eyebrows. That edge has caused team wide wipes on occasion (=we all dead).

Oops. WP_20140920_15_20_43_Pro

The best feeling is when the team gets into some serious s*** by a horrible mistake and everyone excepts it to be a wipe, but we make it through, because I kept their asses alive through what would have been an annihilation. Yup. Yup yup. Virtual ego just outgrew another room.

On a good day I make friends while playing the game, share some good laughs while feeling accomplished after downing a super hard boss …and on other days I land in the middle of a troll fest while wanting to complete a dungeon for a piece of loot I need oh-so-bad, and these maxed out jackasses with their best in slot gear decide to make my life miserable. A******s. Online gaming will thicken your skin. And possibly induce unfiltered rage. Absolutely lovely times. ffxiv_21092014_101929


(Screenshot of my character in A Realm Reborn, wearing her healer gear)


The best laughs (and rage fits, yeah my diaper can shrink to being two sizes too small) I’ve had while teaming up with my husband. Whether it is (was) Army of Two, Borderlands, Halo, Call of Duty, any shooter really, we can make an effective team. WP_20140920_15_32_15_ProI’m not as pro as him, so his patience has been tested while I charge into an ambush with a kamikaze attitude and have my virtual head blown into bits. I yell “Resurrect!” and hubby looks at me with murderous eyes: “How about you learn how to take cover and stay alive?”. Curse words omitted.

(I did something wrong?)

Repeat that a dozen times. I think it’s a riot, husband wishes he could strangle me the Homer Simpson way (I love you). He has pitched Hal- I mean Destiny to me, the latest online shooter with a role playing flavor developed by the same creators as Halo …but I gotta restrict my intake of the hardest virtual crack the internet can dish out or my real life will be over.

Learning tactics and strategy, figuring out mechanics of fights can take hours and even weeks, when the content is brand spanking new with no guides to lean on, but it’s all part of the process. The record player is indefinitely stuck on rinse and repeat, but the sense of accomplishment is comparable to winning a world class sports competition when a fight/boss finally goes down. It takes smarts, tenacity and most of all patience. Sometimes I got none of those.

World firsts in beating content between elite teams are a serious business, it’s brutal and cut throat. And it’s not just about bragging rights. The best players in the world are sponsored like athletes, and why wouldn’t they be? Games, or eSports, is a huge business. Pro-gamers can collect 6 figure sums from a single tournament. Not bad for a waste of time.

I’ve had the same screen name since 13 years of age alluding to the goddess of strategic warfare (play hard and smart!). It’s my armor and mask, when I log on and turn into a virtual bad ass in the wild west of imaginary worlds, and make no mistake:


I got game 😉 See you out there! Love, Laurathena.




%d bloggers like this: