A Work In Progress

July’s $120 recipient: Jess Chen.
Her goal: empowering the storytellers and artists of the 22nd century.
Supporting gig: with John Denver tribute artist, Ted Vigil- Longview, WA.

Filmmaker, artist, spoken word poet. I am super excited to introduce the incredible Jess Chen, who I had the pleasure of meeting in-person last month at the World Domination Summit! Jess recently submitted an intriguing idea that I knew immediately would be this month’s project here at TheDonatingDrummer. I’ll let her explain:

Being a multidisciplinary artist and having a strong background in film, writing, poetry, and fine art, I have learned over the years that I have a lot to say about approaches to each medium that could potentially empower the upcoming generation of creative thinkers. Though each of those artistic mediums require different technical skills and materials, the philosophical approach to creating outstanding art from each has many commonalities. I have served as a Teaching Assistant at my art school (Rhode Island School of Design) for three years now and have seen my advice, criticism and support yield completely visible results.

Central to my views as an artist is the importance of PROCESS: combining a well thought out concept with strong aesthetics, as well as making sure you are creating FOR yourself, with your own voice, not under somebody else’s expectations. I also believe that in order to make the art, or write the story of one’s dreams, one must turn their own lives into a canvas and approach their own lives as they would approach writing a story. At the end of the day, the overarching story we will write is precisely the story of our own life. If we are not constantly aware of our control over the story of our own life, how will we write other stories? How will we translate our life into song?

This blog (the proposed project) will contain advice for all of these things. Unlike most blogs that have writing after writing for each post, I will use my range of artistic skills to create posts that have images and installations that are just as powerful as the text, and sometimes even video recordings of spoken word poetry related to the topic. If some blog posts themselves could be pieces of art or poetry on their own, I think that would be more effective than just how-to posts that tell people what to do.

The world as I know it is in love with experience, and I hope to make my posts an experience where readers can both understand my concepts better as well as have the space to interpret it for themselves. The audience I strive for with my blog would be artists and designers, writers and musicians of all sorts – mainstream or independent, commercial or freelance. After all, artists, musicians, filmmakers and writers are the shapers of the next generation’s world culture. A decade or two from now, I want to feel less cynical from what I see and hear — less rap songs about girls & money or how awesome the rapper is, less movies with high budgets but no substance. This world needs to feel the very essence of its soul, and that will start with stories and art that will leak into our lives, as well as the lives that we lead.

The money would mostly be used for buying a domain name and server for this blog for one year. I am a strong believer in traditional approaches to graphic design, so I want to use my hands whenever possible for titles of blog posts and so and so. Any of the money left over would be used for materials for such things.

Work In Progress - Jess Chen - The Donating Drummer

About the gig

The gig selected to help support Jess awesome website actually just took place last night. I performed an outdoor concert in Longview, Washington’s Lake Sacajawea Park with John Denver tribute artist, Ted Vigil. Along with good buds John Pounds (bass) and Rich Landar (keys/mandolin), we had a fun (although, at times, chilly) time playing some classic songs for the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of concertgoers that covered the lawn with blankets and lawn chairs. This is same crew that I performed with in Kansas a couple months back (in support of May’s TheDonatingDrummer project) and it’s always a blast!

Quick follow up

Speaking of May’s project, here’s a little note from Christina, who we helped out that month with her daughter’s dance costumes!

Raising children can be challenging & sometimes heartbreaking, but nothing in my life has been so rewarding. There are so many things you are “supposed” to teach, and rules to enforce, but one of the biggest joys is watching them grow & blossom in the arts. The creativity in a child is so wonderful when they are given the tools and opportunity to explore their potential.

Thanks to TheDonatingDrummer, I was able to enjoy a very proud moment during a very trying time. After a house fire that took many belongings (everyone got out unhurt)- but not our spirit- we weren’t sure we could even afford to keep the girls in the recital. Ebony (15) who lost all her past costumes and current shoes, dance clothes & accessories in the fire stepped back this year to allow her baby sister (4) to perform in her 1st ever recital. As Ryas danced Ebony sat with the family in the audiance & cheered her on! With all of the kids’ bedrooms gone & Ebony sleeping at her grandparents house during the rebuild, this moment meant the world to us & especially Ryas, who now asks almost daily if it is time for the recital again.

Without the donation, I don’t know if she could have had that this year. Thank you, DonatingDrummer, for putting the biggest smile on even the tiniest of faces. Can’t wait for next year! Here are a few pictures of the dancing girl on recital day . . . (note: click to view larger images)

Thank you . . .

. . . to everyone who has been passing TheDonatingDrummer along to your friends, coworkers, families, tweeps and FB followers. I appreciate all of your help!

(photo by -sten-)