Art With A Purpose By MB

MB here, local teacher, activist, and artist.

I believe in using our talents to make the world a better place, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do with my art, and, well, with my life. It’s my ikiguai (google that!).

What’s yours?

Most of my work is done on found wood with a simple woodburner, kind of like drawing with pencil/paper, but this is drawing with heat. It’s a much slower process than traditional drawing, which is what I like about it. There is (forced) time with every line, lots of room for thinking and studying, and since it requires intense concentraiton, there is no space for racing thoughts – aka “monkey mind” as the Budha called it, not to be confused with monkey brain, which is a delicacy in some parts of the world. Woodburing actually came to light for me during a period of too much brain activity, when there was nothing but running that I could do to relax (cue the tendinitis, one can only run so much.) Then I found out the painstakingly slow process of woodburning also slows me down. Then I found yoga, meditation, spirituality, meds and friendships that worked too.

There was actually a period when the only thing that got some trapped images out of my head (Khashogii!) was to burn them on wood, and the only times I could make art was when I was struggling emotionally. Luckily, not all of my art comes these days from disturbing images and thoughts, though I will be forever grateful that I have this medium to help me process during rocky times.

Just a little disclaimer, because I’ve seen this discussion before with teachers who are public about their social justice activism – are you wondering how being an activist reconciles with being a teacher? Wouldn’t it make me biased? I’d say just the opposite! What I want from my students is for them to think critically, independently, and deeply – not to agree with me. So in my work with students, I don’t push my views, but instead encourage students to learn to question what they read and hear, identify reliable sources, and stand up for (while actively reflecting on) what they believe in.

  • Einstein
    My first serious woodburn, creating this helped me recognize that woodburning slows me down – no space for worry or […]
  • Collage on Wood
    Just studying what it is like to combine the grains of the wood w/ the different images and symbols jumping […]
  • Hatice
    “…truth can only be meaningful when it serves justice…” – Hatice Cengiz The Crown Prince will not be punished, says […]
  • Burnt Walnut Box
    Using a fractal art burner and I repurposed these walnut harvesting boxes to learn how to utilize electricity and burning […]
  • Burnt Cigar Boxes
    Using a fractal art burner and donated/repurposed cigar boxes, I created these as thank you gifts for anyone who donated […]
  • Icon
    Continuing my study of how to create softness and details with a medium that’s so much less soft and versatile […]
  • Batik Study
    This composition is totally ripped off from an Amnesty International poster – it was meant to be a study in […]
  • End of the World
    Modeled after the (award winning) photograph of the same name by Dorothy Leland, this portrait was more a study of […]
  • The Heart – A Study
    Part of a larger piece, this study lost a lot of its detail when I added other layers, but I […]
  • Action Creates Hope
    During the 2020 fire season, our human rights activism was limited by the quality of the air outside (fires) and […]
  • Derek Chauvin, A Portrait
    Portraits help us remember people, and this is just how Derek Chauvin shall be remembered as he serves out his […]
  • Home Tiles
    More art from the year of left handed art, these tiles were sold as a fundraiser to support refugees stranded […]
  • Quick Quotes
    Matched with each graduating senior’s personality, these quotes and portraits were graduating gifts for 3 seniors that I spent all […]
  • Independence Day
    This collage combines an image from a liberal newspaper with painting and stamp art – I was recovering from wrist […]
  • Women’s Studies
    This lithograph during my college years represents my emerging understanding of the limits of being a woman in a world […]
  • WWJT (What Would Jesus Think)
    This one’s for you, Trump, and anyone who still believes in you. You cannot be a Christian and a white […]
  • African Likeness
    Traveling for 7 weeks in Africa for a low quality reality TV show, I found a disappointing lack of likeness […]
  • Native American Portrait Study
    As Paul Papadonis, my high school art teacher, was teaching us how to draw portraits, I was becoming more and […]
  • Home Sign
    Having been kicked out of a Syrian refugee camp on a tiny island of Lesvos by a crazy German Greek […]
  • Saint Paul
    This one is for Abouna Paul Girguis and his Egyptian Coptic congregation. A day or so before I met the […]
  • Beast
    I don’t want to remember Jamal Khashoggi this way, a giant brown recluse electricuting his innocent face, a Saudi Arabian […]
  • 2020
    I started this early in 2020, back before things became 2020’s new version of intense, and then paused. Inexplicably, I […]
  • Anti-racism is Patriotic
    A simple protest sign to remind people that the far right has not co-opted the concept of patriotism (though, noteworthy, […]
  • Burnt Jewelry Box
    Using a fractal art burner and donated/repurposed cigar boxes, I created these jewelry boxes as thank you gifts for anyone […]