Friday, December 8, 2023
HomeNewsletterStepping outside of who we are / Yoko Ono / David Ross...

Stepping outside of who we are / Yoko Ono / David Ross / Books

“You change the world by being yourself” -Yoko Ono

It is a truth about human existence that we are prone to stepping outside of who we are in order to fit in. Every situation calls for some nuanced version of our core identity and for many, the desire for acceptance leads to a complete renovation of self. There has never been anyone exactly like you in the world. Each one of us is a unique variation and because of this we each have something to offer that has never been offered before.

David Ross has some stories to tell. As a 21 year old assistant to the curator at Syracuse’s Everson Museum, Ross helped mount Yoko Ono’s first major solo show in the United States. He recalls the first time he travelled to New York City with Jim Harithas, the museum director behind the show and Ross’s mentor. They met with Yoko Ono and John Lennon in their suite on the 17th floor of the St. Regis hotel. Ross was tasked with keeping Lennon occupied while Harithas and Ono discussed her upcoming show. Ono was a fiercely talented artist in her own right and Harithas wished to allow her to guide the show rather than Lennon. Ross played guitar and smoked “rock star pot” with Lennon while artist and museum director made plans. The show, This is Not Here opened on Lennon’s 31st birthday and included Yoko Ono’s gift to him, an installation piece titled Portrait of John Lennon as a Young Cloud in which a wall was filled with intricately made cabinets. The story behind the installation of this piece, which Ross tells in his interview with us, is truly a tale you will not forget.

Narmeen Naser is a Dubai-based artist and co-founder of the AJALA Project. AJALA is named for a Nigerian man named Olabisi Ajala who, during the 50’s travelled around the world spreading positivity and working to change stereotypes. Naser’s AJALA project commemorates modern-day heroes by connecting grassroots initiatives with artists who help raise funds through the sale of their work. One such initiative is a health facility for refugees in Greece. AJALA matches each initiative with up to five artists who create art inspired by the cause which is then sold to support the cause. Naser speaks to the unique composition of Dubai’s population where more than 90% of residents are expats. This, she says, gives not only a cultural and economic advantage to an art based project like AJALA, it creates a supportive artist community.

Additional interviews include: Chavisa Woods, Edward Hirsch, and Maja Ciric

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a sharable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. User Stacie Arguello is reading The Rise by Sarah Lewis and user Madeline Wood has recently consumed Notes from a Minor Key by Dawn Bailiff.

Opportunities / Open Calls

Submissions are currently being accepted for the Luxembourg Art Prize. Ten finalists will be selected for an all-expenses paid group show and one winner will be chosen to receive a grant of 25,000 euros to support a solo exhibition. Travel and accommodation expenses as well as all exhibition costs are covered and artists are able to invite one person to join them. Deadline for submissions is May 31.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket

Go forward as you are. Do no harm but do not let yourself be swept up by the tide of virtue that seeks to extinguish even the smallest spark of chaos.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

More Resources – For Artists Only – (weekly articles)

The Art World is a Mafia, You Can’t Break in unless… – Read More here

Real Artists Case History: Stacey Kirby – Read More here

Popular Writings –

Non-profit spaces to know –

London, UK Non-Profit Spaces – read about some of the best.

Los Angeles, CA Non-Profit Spaces- read about some of the best.

New York City Non-Profit Spaces – read about some of the best.

Self Illumination –

Conquering Fear – read about methods and Pema Chodron.

The Trap of Self-Esteem and How to Break Free- read more here.

F*ck the Art World, F*ck Consumerism! – read more here.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here