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Summer School in Winter | Newsletter

The last couple of months have been highly educational. I streamed Typographics, and took part of their TypeLabs Asia Channel program with a short presentation and a demo. I also watched Where Are The Black Designers 2021 edition, discovered Slow Factory Open Education, and I am currently finalising an online course with John Stevens. On a personal level, I have temporarily closed a seven-month chapter with my therapist, and keep working hard on learning about myself, cultivating humility, kindness, compassion and self-care.

For this July edition, I want to share with you a piece of writing that has touched me deeply. If you want to learn more about American writer Anne Lamott, I recommend this informative, exhausting, elevating, poignant, and relevant lecture from 1994 at the San Francisco Public Library, as well as this insightful interview with Debbie Millman.


12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing by Anne Lamott

 

My seven-year-old grandson sleeps just down the hall from me, and he wakes up a lot of mornings and he says, “You know, this could be the best day ever.” And other times, in the middle of the night, he calls out in a tremulous voice, “Nana, will you ever get sick and die?”

I think this pretty much says it for me and for most of the people I know, that we’re a mixed grill of happy anticipation and dread. So I sat down a few days before my 61st birthday, and I decided to compile a list of everything I know for sure. There’s so little truth in the popular culture, and it’s good to be sure of a few things.

For instance, I am no longer 47, although this is the age I feel, and the age I like to think of myself as being. My friend Paul used to say in his late 70s that he felt like a young man with something really wrong with him.

Our true person is outside of time and space, but looking at the paperwork, I can, in fact, see that I was born in 1954. My inside self is outside of time and space. It doesn’t have an age. I’m every age I’ve ever been, and so are you, although I can’t help mentioning as an aside that it might have been helpful if I hadn’t followed the skin care rules of the ’60s, which involved getting as much sun as possible while slathered in baby oil and basking in the glow of a tinfoil reflector shield.

It was so liberating, though, to face the truth that I was no longer in the last throes of middle age, that I decided to write down every single true thing I know. People feel really doomed and overwhelmed these days, and they keep asking me what’s true. So I hope that my list of things I’m almost positive about might offer some basic operating instructions to anyone who is feeling really overwhelmed or beleaguered.

 

Number one

The first and truest thing is that all truth is a paradox. Life is both a precious, unfathomably beautiful gift, and it’s impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It’s been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It’s so hard and weird that we sometimes wonder if we’re being punked. It’s filled simultaneously with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, desperate poverty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together. I don’t think it’s an ideal system.

 

Number two

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes — including you.

 

Three

There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you’re waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind. This is the most horrible truth, and I so resent it. But it’s an inside job, and we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement for the people we love most in the world. They have to find their own ways, their own answers. You can’t run alongside your grown children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey. You have to release them. It’s disrespectful not to. And if it’s someone else’s problem, you probably don’t have the answer, anyway.

Our help is usually not very helpful. Our help is often toxic. And help is the sunny side of control. Stop helping so much. Don’t get your help and goodness all over everybody.

 

This brings us to number four

Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared, even the people who seem to have it most together. They are much more like you than you would believe, so try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides. It will only make you worse than you already are.

Also, you can’t save, fix or rescue any of them or get anyone sober. What helped me get clean and sober 30 years ago was the catastrophe of my behavior and thinking. So I asked some sober friends for help, and I turned to a higher power. One acronym for God is the “gift of desperation,” G-O-D, or as a sober friend put it, by the end I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards.

So God might mean, in this case, “me running out of any more good ideas.”

While fixing and saving and trying to rescue is futile, radical self-care is quantum, and it radiates out from you into the atmosphere like a little fresh air. It’s a huge gift to the world. When people respond by saying, “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” just smile obliquely like Mona Lisa and make both of you a nice cup of tea. Being full of affection for one’s goofy, self-centered, cranky, annoying self is home. It’s where world peace begins.

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Below, you’ll find three personal projects, my upcoming online and in-person calligraphy courses, a live event and a list of resources to become a better creative and educator.

Wishing you and your family much health and love in this cancel culture.

Much love, Maria xx


 

Across Borders Project | Solidarity Posters

I’m really proud to have been a small part of this global, collaborative and cross-cultural project which recently donated almost two hundred Across Borders Dignity Kits to Syrian women and girls in four refugees camps in the Beka’a Valley of Lebanon.

The refugee settlements that received the sanitary kits were Ale Askar, el Louis, Al Maïs and Al Saros. The kits were distributed with Mayuscula partner NGO Rescate and their local collaborator NAVTSS.

Across Borders Kits products were bought directly in Lebanon in order to reduce environmental impact due to transportation, and to help reinforce local economy. Each kit contained basic hygiene products lasting up to 4 months.

Read more about this initiative and see the poster collection here.


 

Australia’s First Languages

Protecting Australia’s First Languages is a fundamental part of preserving culture.

For tens of thousands of years, hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages have been spoken across Australia.

At the time of European colonisation, there were at least 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken across the continent. These were distinct languages, each with its own extensive vocabulary and complex grammar, which reflects the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural identities.

In 2014, the National Indigenous Languages Survey report estimated that only 120 of Australia’s First Languages were still being spoken, with just 12 or 13 of these being considered ‘strong’.

Approximately 100 of those languages still spoken are considered severely or critically endangered, meaning that they are at risk of becoming no longer spoken, or ‘sleeping.’

Language is a fundamental part of Indigenous culture and identity, even for those who do not speak an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language.


 

Locker Room Talk

I’m incredibly proud to be part of Locker Room talk, an exhibition space and an event venue, with 30+ incredible artists, 3 events and empowering guest speakers. This fantastic event is bringing together a diverse group of speakers, creatives and brands to celebrate all women (cis, trans, non-binary) to spark meaningful and positive conversation.

Locker Room Talk presented by frankie, curated by Kate Pullen and Louise Brough. Sponsored by Who Gives a Crap, Minor Figures, Wacom, Streamtime and Moody Incense.

Visit Locker Room Talk for more details, and join us online or IRL if you live in Naarm (Melbourne). See you there!


 

Intro to Copperplate Calligraphy for Beginners

I’m working on a series of short videos for YouTube. I uploaded my first intro to Copperplate calligraphy eight months ago, and the video has now been watched 20K times, which has been a huge surprise.

These short videos, as well as my online classes, are helping me to explain things clearer, and the overhead camera is giving me the opportunity to zoom in, show the moment of my fingers, hand/wrist and talk about the details, which makes a big difference.


 

Live Online Calligraphy Courses

My live online calligraphy courses run in a webinar format via Zoom. I record each session and you are able to review the videos later on, and for those of you living in a different time zone.

I am offering 1 spot on all my online courses for a BIPOC student at a heavily discounted price.

Live online Intro to Neuland
Sundays 1, 8 and 15 August 2021
From 9.30am to 11.30am, AEDT / GMT+10

Live online Intro to Copperplate
Sundays 29 August and 5, 12, 19 September
From 9.30am to 11.30am, AEDT / GMT+10


 

In-Person Calligraphy Workshops

These are my next in-person calligraphy workshops at Rotson Studios in Melbourne.

Introduction to Copperplate calligraphy
Saturday August 7
Saturday October 16

Introduction to Blackletter calligraphy
Saturday October 23

Copperplate Capitals Weekend
Saturdays November 6 & 13


 

Where are the Black Designers 2021
Designing and Organizing for Black Liberation

Catch up on the second annual Where are the Black Designers? conference — a FREE and accessible virtual design conference spanning 2 days, and featuring 30+ voices on topics such as creating spaces and imagining Black futures, Believing In Black Stories, Violent vs. Non-Violent Allyship, and much more.

WATBD continues our mission of supporting, amplifying, and making space for the entire spectrum of Black creativity by connecting designers, educators, creative leaders, and allies.


 

Slow Factory | Open Education

Equity-Centered Education for Black, Brown, Indigenous and minority ethnic communities taught by Black, Brown, Indigenous and minority ethnic scholars, thinkers and educators.

 

Equity-Centered Community Design Lecture by Antionette Carroll

How does Equity-Centered Community Design go beyond diversity and inclusion, and how can it be applied to the fashion industry? Creative Reaction Lab, an education reform organization that specializes in leadership development and changing culture will dive deeper into ECCD as a practice, expanding on last semester’s Design Justice class. Watch this lecture here.


 

Kris Sowersby: The Art of Letters.

Kris Sowersby: The Art of Letters is a visual feast of letterforms celebrating one of the world’s leading type designers. The 800 page publication examines Sowersby’s letter drawing practice while considering the characters as independent works of art, exploring their interconnections of function and style. It champions the absurd beauty involved in creating multiple expressions of predetermined alphabets through nuance and theory.


 

Read This To Get Smarter by Blair Imani

Blair Imani is a critically acclaimed historian, author, educator, and influencer. Her scholarship spans intersectionality, gender studies, race and racism, sociology, and United States history.

Imani’s upcoming book “Read This To Get Smarter” is an approachable guide to being an informed, compassionate, and socially conscious person today—from discussions of race, gender, and sexual orientation to disability, class, and beyond—from critically-acclaimed historian, educator, and author Blair Imani.

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