Millsaps College

Tez & Birjinia Technicolor Harvest

Olivia practices the art of hand painting flowers on white fabric, which she sews into huipiles. She is a bread maker. Beyond flowers, she & her husband cultivate yuca, espelón, limes, squash, fresh eggs and, of course, maize. We can't wait to see what the Spring Collection has in store!

Olivia practices the art of hand painting flowers on white fabric, which she sews into huipiles. She is a bread maker. Beyond flowers, she & her husband cultivate yuca, espelón, limes, squash, fresh eggs and, of course, maize. We can't wait to see what the Spring Collection has in store!

Sami Euan Chel & Olivia Tep Selis have three little girls & a field full of flowers to tend to on the daily. Snugged along the Ruta Puuc in Cooperativa, Emiliano Zapata, Yucatán, the farm has been tended by the same family for generations, thriving off of the seeds from the seeds of mothers, grandmothers & great grandfathers. The tradition of tending flowers is long-held in Yucatán, whether in the garden, murals, or on the sleeves of the traditional dress, the huipil. 

Welcome to the Harvest :) 

While at the farm, Allie & I picked up several tez and birjinia flowers to decorate our altar for Hanal Pixan, a reverent season in the heart of harvest, where we honor the ones that we've lost. It's interesting that Día de los Muertos is nestled into the luscious October month, when there's so much life & fauna everywhere. Looming over roadsides, gushing out of truckbeds, & heating up over open fire stoves. Rain is always in the air, even when it's invisible. 

October has a feeling of potency. Rightness. The continuing of tradition. A field of technicolored flowers. It is with this theme that we introduce YAXHA Bordado's Homecoming collection. See you next weekend, Mother Millsaps!

Purchase products from the YAXHA Bordados Homecoming collection at Millsaps College on October 30 & 31. Products include hand-stitched pillow cases, unique pocket t-shirts & tote bags. Remember, every purchase you make helps to provide dignified work for a Maya speaking artisan from Yaxhachen, Yucatán. 

Purchase products from the YAXHA Bordados Homecoming collection at Millsaps College on October 30 & 31. Products include hand-stitched pillow cases, unique pocket t-shirts & tote bags. Remember, every purchase you make helps to provide dignified work for a Maya speaking artisan from Yaxhachen, Yucatán. 

Photos by AlDog

Words & Art Direction by MandiCat

Meet the Ko'ox Krewe: Liz Allen & Meriweather Bean

Meriweather Bean, Liz Allen & I (Alex Melnick) will travel to Yucatán in late May to work with the community of Yaxhachen, the home of Camp Ko'ox. Learn more about how to show your support for the camp  here ! 

Meriweather Bean, Liz Allen & I (Alex Melnick) will travel to Yucatán in late May to work with the community of Yaxhachen, the home of Camp Ko'ox. Learn more about how to show your support for the camp here

I always say this, but I will say it again. I have the best co-workers in the world. Part of the reason Ko'ox Boon works so well is that all of us get along famously, and all love to spend time with each other. (We better, if we're going to live at Kaxil Kiuic, Millsaps College's 4,500 acre Bio-cultural Reserve, together for six weeks this summer!)

I hold in my heart a special place for two particular Ko'ox Booners: Meriweather Bean & Liz Allen. These Boon Babes, as I call them, are to thank for much of Ko'ox Boon's success in Jackson. Bean and Liz are the wind between my wings and the frijoles to my arroz. We all spend a lot of time together and go on adventures, from Cafe Ole to late night facetimes & phonecalls & giggling endlessly.  The Boon Babes all have each others' back and want nothing more than to help each other succeed. I'm always chatting it up on the Arte y Vida blog, so I figured it was time for me to give them a little shout-out. Meet the Boon Babes!

Meriweather Bean

Major: Anthropology with a business minor
Fav Drink:   Sparkling Water
Fav Song:  "How Will I Know," by Whitney Houston
Fav Spanish word: frijol 

In her lessons for Camp Ko'ox, Meriweather will focus on nature walks, connecting Maya heritage to present day life in Yaxhachen, and having some good clean fun with the kids this summer. She's teaching the six to eight year olds ninos, whose group in Camp Ko'ox is informally known as the "corn grinders." She's really excited to do yoga & dance with co-leaders Alex Melnick & Shaun McDonough, despite none of us knowing how to dance. (The kids will have to teach us.) One of my favorite things about Meriweather is her "can-do" attitude and tireless cheerful spirit. No matter what obstacle or crazy thing that stands in our way, Bean (as I call her) is ready to meet it. Meriweather is also quite the traveler, having visited Yucatán before & studied abroad in Tanzania the year prior. Meriweather is the real exploradora of our group, and a very kind spirit. 

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                                         Liz Allen

Major: Communications Studies, with an art history minor
Favorite song: A tie between 500 Miles by the Stranglers and Big Poppa by Notorious B.I.G.
Fav Drink:Coffee
Fav Spanish word: Oso

Liz is focusing on teaching Media Literacy this summer to the older children & helping them explore their world. From cameras to book binding, Liz & her co-leader Sara Sacks hope that they can empower students to tell their own stories. After camp, Liz will begin her Millsaps College 1 Campus 1 Community Fellowship, and spend the year connecting community members in Jackson to Millsaps & facilitating community engagement.  My favorite thing about Liz is her sense of humor, & her commitment to the Jackson community. ( Also her love of possums.) Liz has the silliest sense of humor of anyone I know. We once went to  a Mississippi's Museum of Art's Pop-Up Show & I'm pretty sure I made her cry laughing when I pointed to a (very nice) drawing of an aardvark & gravely told her: "This is a terrible cat."  I'm the least funny person I know, but Liz will always laugh with me, if not at me.  Liz is also a selfless friend and an excellent travel buddy, & an incredibly talented artist.

Ko'ox Boon intern Alex Melnick figured she should give herself a little shoutout

Ko'ox Boon intern Alex Melnick figured she should give herself a little shoutout

I love Jackson almost as much as I love interning for Ko’ox Boon. (Who is this “I,” you ask? Read on. Even if you don’t particularly care who this “I” is, read on. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Reflections of Emily Simmons

Emily Simmons has the most relaxing presence. Her conversational tone is as intimate as her art and her smile always implies that she’s letting you, just you, in on a slightly embarrassing secret. Her work focuses on nautical themes, and Emily is in love with the sea. It is this love that is projected in her work, as only a lover could create pieces depicting the object of their love in such innovative ways, sketching out creatures in coffee grounds and wine stains. Emily takes the ingredients of her everyday life and then recreates it into the extraordinary into something bigger than herself.

imageEmily wants art to be comprehensible to all. It makes sense she wants to be an art teacher. An art history Senior at Millsaps College, Emily tells me serenely that she doesn’t have a “thought-out thesis or anything.” She instead tries to just make art that is authentic to herself, and that reflects her personal thoughts and experiences. (This is why there is glitter and seashell fragments everywhere in her recent work.) “I don’t like making artwork in a scholarly sense,” Emily continues. “I just like it for myself.”

When I asked her what the readers of the Ko’ox Boon blog should know about her artwork, Emily paused and said with a trace of amazement, “ I don’t know. I’ve never really had think about my artwork.” That might be the best answer. Emily’s artwork is reflexive, and as intrinsic to her as breathing or the ocean flowing through its tides. Her art is where she “wants to be, and just a representation of myself.” It’s not something she wants to write papers about. It’s something she wants to embody, and something she wants to embody her. It’s a reciprocal relationship, like the interplay between the ocean and the sand, feeding into one another.

 

Favorite Food? Anything. I love to cook.

Beer or Wine? Beer.

Favorite JXN Restaurant? Aladdin’s Café.

Would you rather be deaf or blind? Deaf.

Do you speak any other languages? Spanish.

What fictional universe would you want to live in? The Walking Dead.

3 Words to Describe Your Work. Ridiculous. Misunderstood. Personal.

Ken Seligson: Archeartist or Arteologist?

me1For work, Ken Seligson never arrives late. He's an archaeologist from Port Washington, New York, currently funded by the National Science Foundation. He packs his bag with extra empanadas to share with his crew of eight, deep within the jungle's briar-filled thickets. The head of his crew goes by the nickname "Huech," which translates to armadillo, and which also means that Ken is captain of the armadillos (cue the image of an animated bug movie). Trekking through the expanses of Kaxil Kiuic, Seligson searches for something that can help him better imagine the lives of the ancient Maya, and, sometimes, that means that he has to be creative. From the field, he's brought back to the laboratory rocks "shaped like spoons" and he famously considers any rock with a hole significant. Albeit, these conclusions are made jokingly, it is Seligson's tendency towards imagination that settles his colleagues and makes him the most popular dinner companion at Kiuic. Seligson's artistic endeavors might be most aptly described by the literary term "magical realism." Human-like characters swing through the vines of Seligson's artwork, engaging in lifelike activities or stretching into new forms. This technique renders from adults what Dr. Seuss does for children. The viewer feels capable, and the artwork asks us to stop, take our time, and decode the multi-dimensional meanings embedded within the puzzle. This Marquesian fantasma associates humanity with possibility--feet with flying. Time collapses as historical figures interact with those from the future, and animals wear the faces of humans. These juxtapositions recur fleetingly, as they suggest that we are not tied to a singular existence, rather, freedom exists in the eye of the imagination.

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Without further ado, the interview:

The ultimate travel destination: One day I’d really like to spend some time in a small town on an isolated island somewhere, get the feeling of living at the edge of the world…maybe in the Azores or Shetland Islands.

 If you could have one super power... Not too creative in this respect, I’m afraid: to be able to fly would be the best (especially considering the opportunities it would open to travel).

 Your favorite art project as a kid: Aside from a general enthusiasm for painting with acrylics, I really liked building a tower out of toothpicks and tiny marshmallows in my 3rd Grade art class.

Beer or wine? Depends on the time, depends on the place.

Name one experience that impacted you tangibly to become who you are today. It wasn’t one single experience, but as a result of having the opportunity to visit a number of amazing Mesoamerican archaeological sites as a kid I developed a deep curiosity about the world of our ancestors and an appreciation for trying to understand contemporary Western civilization within the broader context of human ‘history.’

 If you were to anamorph… I would anamorph into a bird of some sort.

What triggers your “aha” moment? Usually conversations with friends, often over a pitcher of beer.

 Immediately when waking up in the morning, you... Try to get out of bed as quickly as possible, otherwise I’m doomed.

Who is your greatest role model/person that you would like to emulate? If I grow up, I would like to be the Derek Jeter of Mesoamerican archaeology.

What are some of the things happening in Yucatan that interest you as an artist? It’s too bad that a lot of small town markets are producing crafts specifically tailored for tourist consumption, but once in awhile you’ll still find a local artist in a small town producing art for the sake of making something beautiful and/or honoring ancestral traditions. When you come across something like that, it’s inspiring on multiple levels. It’s Ko’ox Boon’s support and recognition of the importance of indigenous, small-town community art that really makes me proud to contribute.

For you, what does the 50//50 project mean? For me the 50//50 project means the opportunity to connect with other artists and art consumers and help foster a greater appreciation for art and creativity that transcends boundaries – social, international, or what have you.

If I could could, I would I'd like to think I would.

Maria

Ken has worked with Ko'ox Boon in the past as a volunteer in Yaxhachen and as a media designer. And now, with a big hug, we welcome Ken to the 50//50 project. On December 11, you'll have the opportunity to buy a Seligson original! For more information on Ken's art, visit his deviantart.com account, where  he posts under the name "Sakbe," or email him at kenneth.seligson@gmail.com.

Bienvenidos, Evan!

Evan

Evan Parker thinks slowly. His handwriting is bad, but he writes everything down. That's the way a good archaeologist works: detail-oriented, and mindful to a fault. Never quick to jump to conclusions, the archaeology reveals its secrets of human behavior slowly. Evan seeks to understand the way that artifacts interact with the built environment through close analysis of context---without the frame, the picture means nothing.

For seven years Evan worked at Escalera al Cielo in Kaxil Kiuic (located just a couple of kilometers from Yaxhachen, Ko'ox Boon's outreach community), answering questions concerning the fall of the ancient Maya civilization. Now, Evan is setting out on his dissertation research in the Anthropology program at Tulane University, where he will tackle "an awesome opportunity to work on the question as to how Maya civilization developed." He'll be digging a small, pre-classic site near Kiuic, called Paso del Macho. The site is thought to have been founded around 700 BC, which will take Evan more than a thousand years back in time from the archaeology he's always known, forcing him to explore questions he's always had. "Ideas about the origins of inequality have always fascinated me," Evan says, "and this project affords me my first opportunity to explore those ideas."

Beyond a professional commitment to archaeology, a profound investment in the local community driven by relationships with colleagues fuels Evan's connection with Yucatan. Friendship with the local community and a deep love for panuchos led to Evan's involvement with Ko'ox Boon.  Now, we welcome him to the team as a member of our Board of Directors, and we can't wait for you to get to know him as well as we do. Without further ado, here's sitting down with El Gusano, Evan Parker:

One road to drive down forever: I've got a real soft spot for any backcountry Mississippi road. Specifically Pike 93 Central in Pike County, MS.

Favorite Jackson restaurant? Cool Al's.

A metaphor for how you feel on Friday afternoons: A rubber band pulled to its maximum extent, waiting on the weekend for its release.

Your favorite art projects as a kid: Finger painting, I think it's so visceral.

Beer or wine? Beer, always beer. I'm not terribly picky either, but I think what I want to drink is largely driven by context. One of my favorite parts of working in Mexico is the beer. It's typically light, and a little skunky, but in the heat, it's absolutely perfect. Microbreweries are booming in Louisiana and Mississippi right now, and they understand what it takes to make a truly Southern beer. I feel like I can't capture the same experience with wine.

Name one experience that impacted you tangibly to become who you are today. I remember being a young boy and falling in love with the history of the American Civil War. I would read Civil War histories by the dozens. But one year I finally had the opportunity to visit the Vicksburg battlefield, and I think it was a formative experience for me. Being able to walk on the same ground as those soldiers and gaze upon their battlements and weapons made history so much more tangible to me. It's something that cannot be obtained from books alone. I think that experience laid the foundation for my interest in archaeology, a field of study so dependent upon space, place, and materiality.

If you were to anamorph… I've been told that my spirit animal is an iguana, so I suppose that's only appropriate.

What triggers your “aha” moment? Normally the only moments when people say they see me truly excited is when I have an "aha" moment, and it's typically followed by a torrent of manic explanations regarding my eureka moment. Typically these occur when I'm doing archaeology. Often the artifacts and architecture we're excavating can be baffling, but when the pieces click, and I understand a particular event or process that was occurring in prehistory, I get that "aha" moment.

Immediately when waking up in the morning, you... I typically moan, groan, and curse the heavens and the earth for making me get up. Then I make a coffee and read the Times Picayune, and that's when everything feels just right.

Who is your greatest role model/person that you would like to emulate? Mr. Fred Rogers (host of the PBS show Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood). I think the key to being a good human (and anthropologist) is the ability to empathize and love other people. Growing up and watching Mr. Rogers taught me quite a bit about empathy, and how we should all strive to understand and love others. He also believed that self-acceptance and loving yourself is an important key to happiness. Sometimes it can be tough to accept your shortcomings, but only after accepting your own faults can accept the faults of others.

How do you feel about the creative economy of Jackson? This is actually one of the things that I enjoy most about visiting Jackson after having graduated from Millsaps. Every year it seems like more artists and entrepreneurs are flocking to Jackson. Combine that with the rich artistic and musical heritage of the city, and I would say that the creative economy of Jackson is attracting people from around the country.

For you, what does the 50//50 project mean? Collaboration and exchange is one of the strengths of Ko'ox Boon. Developing connections between the local and the global promotes collaboration and exchange. Through 50/50, we can ensure that the creative economies of both Jackson and Yaxachen are supported. Considering I straddle both the local and the global, seeing a project like 50/50 becomes personally meaningful.

We look forward to moving onward and upward underneath your patient counsel, Evan!

Here's to painting the world together. Cheers!