Chavo Ben-Amos: I just keep doing it again and again and again

Packaging Designer and educator Chav Ben-Amos talks with OnCreativity about the creative process, problem solving, and artistic style.

Born in Prague in 1930, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz in World War II. She survived the Holocaust, emigrated to Palestine and fought in the war for Israel’s independence. She contracted polio and, as a wounded soldier, was awarded a scholarship to Bezalel Academy where she studied graphic design. She created the first series of stamps honoring the Holocaust in Israel and many other popular logos in American culture.

With the “OnCreativity” series, Plazm explores the nature of creativity and how it works via informal interviews with designers, artists, musicians, animators, and educators. Like creativity itself, their differing points of view inspire, provoke, confuse, and delight.

A more detailed telling of Chavo Ben-Amos’ story can be found in this essay by Christian Cardona.

For more interviews visit OnCreativity.tv

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Visiting the temporal with glass blower Michael Davis

Glass blower Michael Davis talks with OnCreativity about the creative process, uncertainty, and being present.

With the “OnCreativity” series, Plazm explores the nature of creativity and how it works via informal interviews with designers, artists, musicians, animators, and educators. Like creativity itself, their differing points of view inspire, provoke, confuse, and delight.

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Bill Plympton: “Look at the world like you’ve never seen it before…”

On Creativity sits down with legendary animator and award-winning filmmaker Bill Plympton, as he discusses the creative process, having the mind of a child and drawing for 12 hours a day.

Bill Plympton was nominated for an academy award for his animated short “Your Face.” His work has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, MTV’s Liquid Television, and most recently “Adventures in Plymptoons”, a documentary about his life.

With the “OnCreativity” series, Plazm explores the nature of creativity and how it works via informal interviews with designers, artists, musicians, animators, and educators. Like creativity itself, their differing points of view inspire, provoke, confuse, and delight.

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OnCreativity: Ann Hamilton interview

OnCreativity visits with visual artist Ann Hamilton on location at her massive installation’ the event of a thread’, to discuss flexibility, trust, and risk taking.

With the “OnCreativity” series, Plazm explores the nature of creativity and how it works via informal interviews with designers, artists, musicians, animators, and educators. Like creativity itself, their differing points of view inspire, provoke, confuse, and delight.

OnCreativity.tv

 

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OnCreativity

We all have the ability to create. But what is creativity? How does it work? With the “OnCreativity” series, Plazm explores these and other questions via informal interviews with designers, artists, musicians, animators, and educators. Like creativity itself, their differing points of view inspire, provoke, confuse, and delight.

Since our founding in Portland in 1991, we have believed that creativity can change the world. “As human beings, we have to get over the period of competition,” as Arturo Vega says in an upcoming OnCreativity interview, “and we have to replace it with one of collaboration and compassion.” 

For our launch today, we are pleased to present graphic design legend Milton Glaser, graffiti writer/fashion designer Claw Money, art director/author Steven Heller, and filmmaker/photographer Andrew Zuckerman.

Welcome to OnCreativity.

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Who is this slimy creature?

Twenty years ago, in Plazm issue #9, we invited the Guerrilla Girls to do the inside front cover. They provided this nifty educational ad about Newt Gingrich.

Back then Newt was Speaker of the House in the mid 1990s. When he was elected he came up with the slick marketing term “Contract with America.” In our office we referred to it as a “Contract on America.”

Well, the slimy creature resurfaced this year as Chief Planner in the new Trump administration. He rehashed his marketing ploy calling Trump’s first hundred days a “Contract with the American Voter.” We can say the same thing now as twenty years ago: It’s a contract on the American voter.

Newt is no more moderate today than he was then so we are republishing the Guerrilla Girls ad. He continues to happily erode common decency and enrich the corporate class. Newt helped us get here, in his special slimy, hypocritical way.

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Just be

I finally got a chance to see Gimme Danger—the Stooges documentary by Jim Jarmusch. I can’t specifically recall the first time I heard the Stooges. I came of age on the punk rock that was inspired by them. But somehow it seems like they have always been in my subconscious—a kind of visceral, kinetic energy waiting to be unlocked. It’s hard to dispute their purity and power. And hard to argue with Jim Jarmusch’s thesis that the Stooges are “the greatest rock and roll band ever.” He says it in the first few moments of the film and proceeds to prove it over the next hour and a fourty-five minutes.

If you like Iggy Pop, if you are inspired by cultural creativity and innovation, if you’re a fan of music history, then this is a good film to experience.

Iggy, as always, has a way of cutting through the crap. There’s a point in the movie where he says “I don’t want to belong to the glam people, the alternative people, to any of them. I don’t want to be a punk. I just want to be.”

It’s hard for anyone to live in a way that aligns with personal purpose and values—to stay true to one’s self. There are demonstrations of this throughout the film. Like when Iggy talks about “cultural treason.” He’s referring to bands that try to sound like what’s already popular. A band like that is committing cultural treason.

That Stooges arrived in the late sixties—a period with many examples of cultural treason. When asked in an old interview clip if he influenced anybody, Iggy says: “I think I helped wipe out the sixties.” And he did. Five years after the Beatles sang “I want to hold your hand,” Iggy sang “I want to be your dog.” But I believe his idea of cultural treason is broader: It applies to all mediums. The ease of capitalizing on a trend, on momentum in the popular lexicon—rather than staying true to the uniqueness and wisdom that’s inside each of us. That is cultural treason.

I had the honor of interviewing Iggy back in 1994. We sent him our magazine and he liked it. That’s pretty much how we got the interview. In the pages of Plazm we always tried to do more with musicians than basic Q+A. So during the interview I asked if he would send us a rant or manifesto of some kind. He faxed a page from Warsaw to our offices that night. It’s scrawled on Delta Airlines letterhead. Nation of Midgets. Our Gods are Assholes. A revolution is coming, and in reaction a strongman will emerge. Indeed. We scanned it and published it as it arrived to us in the pages of Plazm #5. My interview is now online here.

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Also, here’s a conversation between Jim Jarmusch and Iggy Pop at the Film Society at Lincoln Center on the making of the film.

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Dear Electoral College

federalist1Since Alexander Hamilton didn’t have access to email, I went ahead and sent this letter to all the electors via this site: Ask The Electors. Also submitted it to the Electoral College Petition folks.

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Mourn Heal Act

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Like many of you, I have spent this week feeling a mixture of fear, nausea, and shock. Now there is someone at the upper echelons of government whose stated views about everyone that is not a white Christian male—not to mention our planet earth—is disdain. I’ve had a hard time knowing the best way to respond. I would like to share ten thoughts that are guiding me now:

1.
We need to take good care of ourselves in this time. Eat well, drink water, nourish yourself. Being healthy means you can help others in need.

2.
Find strength in each other. Community magnifies our power. It is a dark moment, but we must never let our hopes and dreams dim.

3.
Be vigilant. Pay careful attention to those under attack: Women, Muslims, immigrants, Hispanics, Native Americans, Jews, LGBTQ, and Mother Earth. Attacks have already dramatically increased since the election. There must be zero tolerance for condescending, racists, misogynistic behavior. An attack on one is an attack on all.

4.
Bring healing to this moment. I refuse to believe that the millions who voted for Trump are all racist and misogynistic people. There are some, to be sure. But many working class people across the country are suffering. Their vote this week shows it.

5.
Commit to kindness and compassion. We must build bridges in our society, not walls. An us versus them mindset is counter-productive. Seek to understand first.

6.
Be creative. Write. Make art. Make media. Facilitate the voices of others—especially those in targeted communities. These stories will connect people and enrich all of our lives.

7.
Be active politically. Mobilize now. We need to quickly determine what organizations will be most useful in this time and build connections between them. ACLU Nationwide350.orgMoveOn.org. There are many. Let’s share resources, not work in silos.

46.9% of eligible voters did not vote on November 8—that’s 20% more than either Clinton or Trump received. It doesn’t help that Congress did not reauthorize the voting rights act. The years of Republican redistricting and suppression through voter ID laws are designed to make it harder for working people and people of color to vote.

From where I sit today I think we should immediately focus on increasing voter access across the nation, elect progressive candidates and retake control of both the House and Senate in two years.

8.
Use your limited time and energy wisely. Facebook is a great way to network and build community, but it can also be an eddy—leaving us swirling in circles and not moving downstream. Act intentionally and thoughtfully with your very finite resources.

9.
Resist. Obstruct any regressive policy. If actions are proposed or enacted that will hurt people, that will hurt the planet on which we all depend, they must be emphatically and actively resisted. The November 9th joint statement from California’s legislative leaders was powerful, as were Governor Jerry Brown’s comments to “lead the resistance” against Trump’s possible changes on climate and health care. Oregon, Washington, let’s join forces with California on this. To the nation’s first LGBTQ Governor Kate Brown: Your November 9th statement was a good start, now let’s turn that into the entire Pacific coast.

10.
When it comes to resistance, violence is counter-productive. The petty and misdirected vandalism that happened in Portland last night plays directly into the hands of those who would like to seize power by force. The news calls it a “riot.” It gets seen around the world. Not only is it misdirected (What does smashing cars in a Toyota dealership have to do with Donald Trump?), but it allows the entirety of the protest to be painted in a negative way. We must not give someone with authoritarian tendencies this kind leverage. We hold the moral high ground. Let’s act like it.

The Trump election can be a catalyst for a positive movement.
Tomorrow we begin.

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