Michael Rosen

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January 2011 Archives

If you go to the Museum of Arts and Design, on Columbus Circle beside Central Park on The Island at the Center of the World... and If you go to the Global Africa Project, open until May 15, 2011, then you'll be one of the graced people to see Kim Schmahman's "Apart-Hate" people divider.
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Kim Schmahmann - I first met him as a planner at the NYC Department of City Planning (they do planning - for NYC), and he was trained as an architect in South Africa, and he moved to NY to be with his wife as she did her PhD at NYU when I taught there, en route to her career in Boston. Kim also made the journey to Boston (okay, "Cambridge"), learned to make beautiful things from wood beginning without (electric) power tools, and went to making art - ten year projects. The Smithsonian took home Kim's first piece for a place in America, his Bureau of Bureaucracy, a decade worth of transcending function for meaning from beauty.

"Apart-Hate" - it takes your breath away, on what we too often are to each other, on what we can be. In Tucson, Barack Obama said.... "We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us." And it was like the day I realized that racism exists only because, for whatever reasons, we want it to.

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"One problem I have encountered," Kim Schmahmann says, "is that people think that the piece is just about apartheid, when of course I am trying to get them to think more generally about how societies create systems that divide people with hate... and apartheid is just one of the many examples of this practice, with the Arizona immigration legislation being a more recent case."
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You can look more closely... "We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -- but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others." - President Obama, in Tucson.
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The Bible was used to legitimate all the horror of Apartheid
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...and to make a place for love... "As Scripture tells us: There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day." - President Obama

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If you make one piece of art once a decade--more or less--it's hard for the conventional art world to make a place for you. So Kim Schmahmann makes his art hours each day after week after month to years.

I've realized he's making places. For us to go. Places of pilgrimage, where we can take stock of moments in history and how we might have lived in those moments, and how we can live our moments now in treating each other...
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A painting, a story, a sculpture, a decade's worth of labor in wood, inlay, sweat and inspiration - places of pilgrimage.


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