Happy & Existential Birthday to Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu May 28, 2019
By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu
This year I was planful about my journey forward which is one of my favorite pastimes.
I thought I would craft an original career as a scholar, artist, international teacher, diplomat and author.
I envisioned teaching parts of the year abroad. I imagined myself either starting a school, running a department, or teaching a semester here and a semester maybe in Ghana or Mexico.
I adopted the new vision to be an “international teacher.”
The other thought I had was how an artist succeeds. I think there are plucking grounds for ripe and primed artists via artist residencies. I was at the Studio Museum in Harlem and The Saatchi Gallery showed up to see artists in residence. In Europe, there are residencies like the Rijksakademie that also connect artists to European galleries. Artists in art residencies have completed BFA and MFA, have a body of graduate and professional work, professional studio-they are vetted artists and ripe for the picking. Also their associates within these programs are other artists that become colleagues and make introductions and form their creative circle. You get mentorship at residencies that polish the artist. Perhaps that is something someone like me should do, both go to residencies or perhaps run one in Michigan or in Ghana.
What I think galleries do or should do is keep databases of their groups or pools of artists and keep building on these artist profiles and send them briefs for appropriate shows. So artists are revolving in different shows.
We need in America more residencies for artists where artists are connected to galleries. There are new emerging markets for online art sales like with the Saatchi Gallery that are pursuing high and low strategies and price points with print and original sales-where everyone walks out with something.
One thing that many art departments failed to recognize is the need for art writing to bring art to life where the viewer has more information and ability to engage. The Sotheby’s Institute has an online certificate course in art writing.
I am still having many thoughts about giving and philanthropy. There need to be backbones in communities. You have to know when not to be poor but to find a way to make yourself rich because you’re the backbone. When you need to provide jobs and shouldn’t stop thinking until you have achieved appropriate wealth and vision strategy. When you have not occasional monies, but regular monies and look to models like the Salvation Army that runs big thrift stores to power shelters etc.
I am thinking about successful systems. I am thinking about when art provides “ideas and inspiration” and when art is “functional” and provides a viable solution to a problem or then, is it no longer art?
An existential birthday for me has been buying spiritual books every year around my birthday. I got: “Ceremony,” by Leslie Marmon Silko, “The Masters and The Spiritual Path, Climb the Highest Mountain Series,” By Mark Prophet, “Foundations of the Path,” Mark. L. Prophet, “The Path to Attainment,” By Mark L. Prophet.
This year I gave myself a ton of gifts which was a thrill. They are still on the way to me. I got myself a “birthday shirt” which is light blue with daisy embroidery. I ordered a bicycle pump and will start cycling again this season when it arrives. I got a picture of the ocean. I got a risograph print from artist Ryan Molloy. I got a piano theory book. I played “Happy Birthday” on the piano several times. I am attempting to memorize the notes. I ordered three pairs of shoes, 2 summer sandals and a pair of green New Balance. I got tart pans. I baked and baked: Brownies a la mode, peanut butter cookies, poppy seed muffins and lemon bars. I got serving trays and a large bowl good enough for paella. I imagined my future dinner parties. I got a pink sheet. I got a house cleaning house dress that is pastel/ carnation/ frosting colors. I got a nightgown. The nightgown reminded me of dogs and fireplaces.
My mother sent me some money. Another friend in Chicago sent a blender for some margaritas.
I got Bruce Lee Video’s, Willy Wonka, vintage Disney, I got Chinese Music, some musicals and foreign language tapes. I have been loving both cassette tape and videotape. I got some plastic containers to organize my school work station. I got a new curling iron. I got some “Aveda Stress-Fix” oil perfume that smells divine. I got rose water spray.
I applied to a writing program and researched another writing program and both filled me with the joy of anticipation. I got a “Pocket Style Manual” by Diana Hacker (writing) that covers clarity, grammar, punctuation and mechanics, MLA/APA/Chicago/CSE, usage and grammatical terms.
I got an “Intermediate Algebra” book by D. Franklin Wright/Bill D. New. I am a big fan of the highly useful algebra. I thought about books, informational books, culturally defining books like “Castaneda” or “Wild Irish Rose” or “Arabian Nights.” I thought about Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry. I thought about placement within knowledge. I am working on a book about Interdisciplinary Studies. I thought about learning. I thought about auditory then recognition in early learning and throughout life and in advertising, this strange link, how one comes to know, how one comes to have. I thought about analysis and how it makes you way smarter. There’s tacit knowledge, but there’s graduated and developed thought. Becoming a thinker.
I started a book log this year. Our local Ypsilanti library is recommending that children read about 1000 books a year. I am aiming for longer books maybe 388 books this year.
Those are some of my main thoughts on this 2019 birthday. I am really happy to be so peaceful and serene. I spray rose water on my hair to catch the beauty of the rose to it.