No Women Allowed! (The Genius of Camille Claudel)

Camille Claudel (Colored pencil drawing)

Imagine living in a world in which women are not allowed to smoke in public, study art along side of men, wear pants, or ride bicycles without having stones hurled at them.  Should a woman prove herself to be a genius of sculpture, a profession in which only men are seriously regarded as masters of their crafts, imagine her being labeled either as a witch or described as having male genitalia.  It is nearly inconceivable that women would want to subject themselves to such idiotic treatment as this and pursue a career in sculpting.  Camille Claudel not only pursued sculpting, but excelled at it to the point of becoming, herself, a master.

I often wonder what our world would be like if the hands that held the reins of power belonged to women.  Would we have a more peaceful and tolerant world, or one plagued with wars?  Would opportunity be available to all regardless of sex and race, or would injustice and discrimination block paths to success?  I find it interesting that when I go into Barnes & Noble to shop for bookends for my bookshelf, I’m able to purchase bookends crafted in the shape of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker (You know, the famous statue of the guy sitting with his head down and chin resting on his fist in deep contemplation), but not bookends molded in the shape of Camille Claudel’s sculpture The Age of Maturity. 

Like any aspiring artist, my goal is to one day make it to Paris.  I dream of seeing all the wonderful paintings and sculptures on display in the museums there, and walking the same streets that some of the world’s greatest artists stepped foot on.  In my brief study of French artists, I’ve seemed to gravitate to the story of Camille Claudel the strongest.  I read Camille Claudel: A Life by Odile Ayral-Clause and watched Camille Claudel a film by Bruno Nuytten.  I felt entranced by her statues, drawn to the passion that seems to emanate out of each and every one of them.  And of course, disturbed by how she was persecuted by a male dominated society for her unconventional lifestyle and artistic expression.

In the end, Camille Claudel would die in an insane asylum after being held against her will there for 30 some years.  I’ve had my own experiences with mental health facilities, having been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder some years ago.  I shutter to think of a time when a person could be admitted to an asylum against their wishes, at the discretion of others who may object to their living a life which did not necessarily fit the expectations of society at large.  After all, what separates a genius from society is just that!  A genius does not comply with the expectations of society.  A genius operates outside of those expectations.

© 2011



They Came With Their Canes, Wheelchairs and Signs: A Day in the Life of a Protester

A protester being pushed in a wheelchair enters the protest rally.  Okay, when this guy showed up I got cold chills and the hair on the back of my neck stood up.  Talk about dedication!

…And then he tops it off by getting into the drum circle.  The rhythms of those drummers were the pulse of the march.

A Salsa band plays on the stage minutes before the march.  People in the crowd celebrate and dance with smiles on their faces.

Mic check!  A Hip Hop act gets in on the action.  The energy of the crowd goes up a notch!

A sign points to a bridge that needs attention.  There’s some job creation potential for all of you Senators and members of Congress.

I was a janitor when I worked for Old Navy several years ago.  I stand in solidarity with the janitors of the world!

“The Haitian Community Action” Haiti was in the building!!!!

Yes! Let’s create “Good Jobs,” as opposed to dead end jobs.  And whatever happened to that word people used to use for jobs? Oh what was it?  It starts with a C…Careers! That’s it!

This sign speaks for itself.  Isn’t this what lead to the American Revolution?

One of the 3 or 4 helicopters I counted in the sky hovering above us during the march.  Were the police intimidated by the canes, wheelchairs, baby strollers and poster boards we were “armed” with?

“Wall Street losin’ dough on every share, They’re blaming it on longer hair, Big men smokin’ in their easy chairs, On a fat cigar without a care…” – People Make The World Go Round by the Stylistics (Songwriters Thomas Bell and Linda Creed, Released in November, 1971.)  It’s been 40 years and as this sign shows, not much has changed since then!

The Occupy Miami site AKA “Peace City.”

© 2011