What is your focus?

I always love seeing photos that demonstrate a clear distinction between the focal point and the blurry background because you know what is most important in the picture. Immediately, your full attention is led by whatever is on focus when you see the picture. I was always so fascinated by how a camera visualizes the focus on a picture, but once I realized that cameras are just mimicking our human eyes, I was in complete awe of our Creator.

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ArticlesCamila ChenComment
Silvana Tei Kenney

Silvana Tei Kenney is a local artist and Creativity Catalyst member. In her own words, she describes her art, passion, influences, and her most meaningful works.

Tell us a little about who you are. 

I am an Italo-American conceptual artist.  Though I began painting and sculpting figurative works, my interest pretty quickly moved to deal with ideas and concepts, 

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A Discourse on Handling Grief from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is built on the complexity of its characters
rather than straight-forward character arcs traditionally seen (this article contains spoilers so
unless you are alright with not having seen the movie, you have been notified). As an audience,
redemption for good characters and retribution for bad characters only seem natural and for
many viewers, that’s what we want. Mildred, the embattled mother fighting for justice over the
murder of her daughter does not get redeemed nor the closure she wants emotionally by the end
of the film. Neither does Dixon, the wild and racist cop, gets fully redeemed nor punished for his
actions throughout the story. By the end of the movie, the audience is put in a strange gray area
and we are left in a place where nothing is resolved as Mildred and Dixon contemplate on
whether to kill a rapist as they drive off. It’s a strange film where we get to experience the
frustration and outrage of the failures of our justice systems through the lack of any real
resolution to the film. The film focuses on the pointless actions that are brought on by grief and
the stress of situations that don’t have simple solutions…

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The Creativity of Forgiveness

I wonder if Dinah forgave prince Shechem for raping her (Gen. 34).  Could Tamar of Genesis have forgiven her brother-in-law Onan for sexually taking advantage of her (Gen. 38) or Tamar of 2 Samuel have forgiven her half-brother Amnon for raping her (2 Sam 13)?  Did Bathsheba forgive King David at some point in their marriage after he abused his power and forced her to have sex with him (2 Sam 11)?  There are few things I can imagine that may be more offensive than sexual assault, a trespass that painfully takes something very personal and physical from someone, which cannot be given back.  Against such crimes, forgiveness must be extremely hard.  And yet I also wonder how could Jesus forgive his enemies as he hung on the cross, his body shamed and tormented, saying, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

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Dunkirk – A Defense of Tommy

“WE SURROUND YOU. SURRENDER. SURVIVE”. Just from the first scene out of Dunkirk, we see that this film is unconventional in that it focuses on the historical event revolving around the disaster of Great Britain’s war effort just months into World War II. There is no pomp and circumstance for the fleeing soldiers, and we see in the film Tommy, the last surviving member of his platoon, may be short on the heroism that we may be accustomed to seeing out of war films.

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Creativity & Redemption

When something is broken, it is natural to throw it away and start over. It’s like how we throw the shards of a broken plate into the trash and buy a new one. I’m drawn, however, to works of beauty that you don’t realize are created out of broken contents until you view it closely. At the Burbank art festival this year, incredible installations and metal sculptures caught my eye from a distance. I made a beeline for that booth, bypassing the other four before it. Arriving at my targeted booth, I see that all the metal sculptures were made from rusted toys, old, nonfunctioning cameras, and random scrap parts. Other people’s trash became this artist’s raw material for beautiful creations.

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Death & Beauty

Ever read a book that really rocked your world? Well, I’m reading that kind of book right now. It’s called 'Surprised By Hope' by N.T. Wright. He begins by pointing out that the modern Christian idea of Heaven as a place “you go to when you die”, like that’s where our real eternal life will be, is really not very Christian at all. It’s more Platonic - Plato believed that all matter is just a pale imitation of the real thing - an ideal. And that got me thinking about how I’ve viewed Heaven all my life, and since I’m a bit of a dabbler in the art of spoken word poetry, I wrote a poem about it, to process it all.

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The Creative Life between His First & Second Comings

Religions have generally portrayed the ultimate good for any person is to escape this physical world that is bound to decay, deterioration, and destruction.  Everything physical that is susceptible to sickness, weakness, and harm is associated with the cause of suffering.  Whether it’s our spirits escaping the cycle of reincarnation, being united with the one source, or leaving a vile world to be in paradise based on our good deeds, religions advocate the grand dream for anyone is to abandon a flawed and fallen physical existence.  The gospel of Jesus, however, presents a uniquely creative vision.

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Artists As Sages, Heralds & Prophets

How are artists sages, heralds and prophets?  

To create profound art, artists look deeply into reality, past the surface to investigate the meaning of the way things are.  Why does the world function this way?  What does a certain social practice really mean?  What are the presumptions that lie behind common comments?  Artists seek to recognize the true meaning of things, beyond the norms, fads and trends that may present things at face value.  Insight – that is what artists aim to gain and to express to open the eyes of their viewers and give deeper understanding of truth-claims about reality. 

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Human Dignity Is Core To Our Humanity

Respect – why is it a necessary social value and what does it have to do with creativity? We especially recognize how essential respect is when someone treats us disrespectfully. Consider how fundamental respect is. Someone can’t say he/she loves you and yet treats you disrespectfully. While love and respect are not the same things, respect qualifies the authenticity of love. Can you imagine someone telling you he/she loves you but belittles or demeans you, making you feel like you are not worth much? Disrespect makes love suspect.

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