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Feb 17, 2017

On the Body Sexy and the Body Beautiful

We are suffering from the knee-jerk actions of a president who can't be bothered to discover the difference between "Muslim" and "terrorist". A little education would go a long way here! Some of the mysteries that seem opaque to dim bulbs like him are illuminated by Dalia Mogahed appearing on the Daily Show. For instance some of the reasons a Muslim woman wears the hijab are obvious, like expressing her faith. Another that really caught my attention (at about 4;15) is that she's thereby "privatizing her sexuality". Amen to that!

In a culture that splashes on sexy sauce to sell everything from cars to internet services to the state of Israel (really!) that does seem like an affront. In the spirit of the Trans Pacific Partnership, I can imagine corporations suing such women for destroying their right to profit from women's flesh. How dare a woman privatize her own sexuality! (For the irony-deficient that's satire.)

As hard as it is for us to step outside of our own cultural conditioning, I encourage us to try. There is a critical difference between the sexual and the beautiful body. For example, among plains Indians cultures there was a tradition that if you had a beautiful body it was your duty to share it with the tribe as a thing of beauty. (Let me put this in context- the women wore pretty modest clothing, so this expectation most likely referred to men's bodies. Also, in a culture that is not so sexualized as our own, this would not be seen in a context of sex, but of beauty. Can we wrap our heads around that?)

Whether or not our culture recognizes it, there is a crucial difference between sex and beauty! They do often coincide, but distinguishing the difference helps us to appreciate both more honestly. Recognizing and discussing that difference would carry us a long way toward a healthier culture.

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.