Collage Works

Final Large Copy NPNO Small

Nothing to Prove to No One by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2018

Collage was perfect. The act of assembling a new cohesive narrative out of discarded discordant ephemera appeals to me. I got curious about this practice and went to find out more.

Collage was a movement, but before that it was a useful skill employed in 19th century graphic printing processes. Just like then, collage juxtaposes incongruent text, images and color. The result challenges us because we can’t rely on the original context and narrative of each piece and we may not even know where it’s from. Viewing a collage forces us to create a new story to explain the new context. The messy work of mapping out the fluid relationships between formerly fixed elements taxes the maker and the viewer.

The panelist abstracts from the Collage, Montage, Assemblage: Collected and Composite Forms, 1700 – Present Conference in Edinburgh on April 2018 shed some light. Namely that when collage is used an art form the form itself performs several functions and conveys several things.

Collage is a way to conserve. Salvage arts such as collage are often a patriotic gesture during the make do and mend culture of war time.

Collage can be a way to mourn or heal. The act of compositing can be an emotional outlet when physically or emotionally displaced. It can serve as a reminder of lost places and relationships or a way for participants to rediscover and reinvent their identities. Collage can be an act of violence, pulling things apart, and an effort to self-heal by putting them together again in new ways.

Collage can also be used as a way to seize control of the narrative. The act of making a collage gives back a sense of agency, a way to write yourself back into the picture or write your self a new picture. Reconstruction demands decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. Collages subvert mass media images of news, success, etc and takes control of their meaning.

The practice of collage works on so many levels. The emotions expressed can be of sadness or of joy, of disorientation or order, or anything in between.

CrossFit Open 2018 Lessons Learned

All five of the 18.x CrossFit Open workouts are behind me now. It was really fun! I learned five lessons as a newbie that I wanted to share with you. If you’re not a CrossFit crazy don’t worry – they are life lessons too.

Change your grip. 

The 18.3 workout had a ton of pull-ups. I was thrilled to be able to do one, but in one round, I needed to do twenty-four. Miraculously, by adopting a flying bat approach and doing them one at a time I was able to get to 20. But despite four attempts I could not get 21. If I had changed my grip to underhand, I could have gotten at least one more pull-up.

How many things in life, if we could just change our grip on them, would we do more or better or differently.The dutch word “begripet” is perfect for this. It means “understanding” but it means it in a very visceral way –  “to get a grip on things”.  Change your grip on things and change your life.

Jennifer Garvey Berger, author of Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World, talks about whether something has us or whether we have it. When something has us, it controls us without our knowing it. When we have it, in the palm of our hand, we can look at it, and make decisions about it.

Offering our troubles and worries and wants and cares to God’s care in prayer is one way of changing our grip on things. If we don’t have a grip on it, and can give it to Him we know He does.

Work on your weakness

In CrossFit, a weakness in any one of the ten focus areas (like agility, strength, etc) will prevent you from completing a round. For example, if your upper back is too stiff to perform an overhead squat, and that’s part of the 18.x workout, then you can’t get past that point. You work on your weaknesses so that you can participate.

This approach is different from a contemporary approach to development popularized by Don Clifton, author of Strengths Finder 2.0 and Marcus Buckingham, author of Stand Out 2.0,  which focuses on finding your strengths and developing those. I’ve seen this approach work very well to improve individual and team performance. And, it is also true that weaknesses can keep you from participating.

As a contrast to those approaches, it’s good to remember  2 Corinthians 12:9-11

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with [b]insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Encouragement matters

In each Open competition, each participant has a judge and must meet movement standards or else hear “no-rep”. Judges do more.

I despaired of being able to do even one more thruster before the seven minute time cap was up on 18.5. At 65 reps, my judge, Jeb Binkley, gave me hope by saying “two minutes left, plenty of time, rest and go again.” I rested for 10 song beats and went back at it to failure. I got five more…and thought that was all I could do. Jeb said, “90 seconds more. You have time to rest and go again.” I rested for 10 song beats and got five more to complete the set of 15 and went on to get three jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups before the buzzer.

That’s a whopping 20% more reps because my judge oriented me in time and encouraged me. Who’s your encourager? Who are you encouraging? It’s worth at least 20%.

One at a time

Last year, I had started overhead squats with a PVC pipe and squatting to a low box. Nine months later, my best overhead squat was 18 pounds. But the scaled requirement was 35 pounds or 94% more than my best so far. Twenty one times. At the start of the workout. If I couldn’t get past this, I couldn’t do much else.

I tested it out on the practice bars. I could barely do one. “Okay, that’s it then, a score of one.” I thought to myself.

As I was setting up for what was sure to be a one rep round, Tim Dymmel, CrossFit Palo Alto owner and coach, walked by and said, “Can you do one?” I said, “Yes”. He said, “Then do them one at a time.”

Amazingly enough, I did. All 21. One at a time. Whatever mountain is too hard to climb, do it, one at at time.

Teamwork is dreamy

Being on a team cheering for each other, judging for each other, encouraging each other was consistently the best part of this experience for me. Whether it was the team we made, Team Alma, or the temporary team formed between judge and participant, with Rob Castaneda and Jeb Binkley it’s a real bond.

And the people were amazing. From the “box” owners like Tim and Christine Dymmel (CrossFit Palo Alto) and John and Jennifer Huston (Pacific Crest CrossFit) who orchestrated each workout for heats of people, to the volunteers who helped setup and tear down, the judges who both watched for the no-rep and the fellow participants who cheered others on and the people who took pictures, each had a role to play in making these five workouts over five weeks a lot of fun.


Team Alma: Will, Amy, Cheryl, Janine, Coach Alma, Mary and Jennifer

I can’t wait for next time:)

In Between

Large moments lie between

the goal posts of shadowed branches.

Be present there too.

Past and present pressed

together. Morning clothes with

shoulders of others.

What a sedge of cranes can tell you

Something I have wanted to do for some time is learn how to fold an origami crane. I did to! Thanks to You Tube and Dick Blick’s instruction and supplies, I have made over 25 cranes and sent 2 to my nephews! Absolutely made my week.

What can we do to honor the things we want to learn?

The Typewriter Revolution

When is old tech sexy? And to whom? And why?

Typewriters are in and are selling for between $250 and $600 at Oblation Papers in Portland, Oregon. Creamy paper combined with darkest ribbon black and the slight indent of courier font leaves a sillage of nostalgia to the tune of a carriage return chorus and ringing keystrokes.

The typewriter played a prominent role in the Churchill movie Darkest Hour. The strike of Remington key slugs slamming the carriage with growing surety firing words into battle with singular aim and created a character that should have had credits of its own.

Fittingly, the movie Trumbo, about a blacklisted screenwriter who continued to write under other’s names, also had a typewriter cast member, a Royal. Cigar smoke figures heavily in both films.

The typewriter shows up in airports even. Terminal 2 at the San Francisco Airport displays “The Typewriter: An Innovation in Writing”. Focused on industrial engineering, the exhibit shows off an impressive collection of advancements. Through Jan 28, 2018.

And last but not least, Blue Moon Camera in Portland, Oregon also sells vintage typewriters along with vintage cameras. The connection between the two technologies is a bit vague for me other than both are old tech.

Big Boy’s Big Brother

As a child we used to go to Big Boy for a special outing for desert. This lumberjack must be Big Boy’s big brother…or Big Boy all grown up.