Saturday, November 24, 2007

Opportunity for Expat Artists

Call for Artists

The 10th annual Family in Global Transition (FIGT) conference will present an art exhibition in Houston, Texas, USA on the 6th to 8th March 2008.

For the first time, the FIGT conference is presenting work in all media from expat artists around the world. The presentation will be done on a power point programme and will be running throughout the conference time.

  • The entry is free.

  • Artist may enter no more than 2 pieces of recent artwork reflecting their lives as expatriates.

  • To apply, send by email as jpgs in a range of 1024 x 768 to 2048 x 3072 pixels with no images exceeding 2.5 MB.
    Labelled surname first, then first initial, and the image number (For example DoeJ1, DoeJ2). Within the email also list your full name, contact information, and an image list (title of artwork, medium, dimensions, date of creation).

  • The deadline for applications is January 15, 2008. By this date, email to Natalie Tollenaere

If accepted, a larger version of your images will be requested along with the following information.
  • A short biography (200 words maximum).

  • A comment about the artwork itself.

  • Contacts of the artist (physical address and e-mail address).

FIGT will NOT handle any sale during or after the conference. Delegates are free to contact artists if they want to purchase any art work. If artists make any sale to delegates we would suggest that 20% of the sale would go to FIGT (Pollock funds, see Detail for this will follow.


Selection will be done by Joelle Dietrick, Assistant Professor at Florida State University and Natalie Tollenaere expat artist, engage in accreditation as a life coach and art therapist certification. Confirmation will be sent to the accepted artists.

If you have any questions, please contact Natalie Tollenaere at

Enjoy the journey...
Natalie and Joelle

There are moments in our lives , there are moments in our days, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge. -Robert Henri

Any thoughts from expats in Africa?

Dearest expats who have lived in Africa or have thoughts about self-exile,

I just got an email from New York-based dancer Nora Chipaumire saying that she is interested in collaborating with me during her Florida State University choreographic fellowship. Since some of you lived in Africa for a bit, any thoughts about Nora's work in relationship to mine and your own expat experiences would be helpful. More about her plans during the residency is at

Video clip of her style

I'm thinking flooding the stage with animations of floating figures, white on black, swooping down, something like the one above.

Let me know if you have any ideas.

Having lived in two African countries, Nicola Jane Barratt suggestions are below.


Two (3, 4?) separate trains of thought on this:

1. Last night i watched "Darwin's Nightmare". if you haven't seen
it, check it out. It's basically about how the west rapes Africa of
all her bounty and leaves her starving, homeless and dying of AIDS.
not very uplifting, but they show a local artist in the film called
simply Jonathan - he's just as impoverished as the rest of the people
of Mwanza, Tanzania. Not that people don't buy art, but the buing
power of the people of Mwanza is highly limited - not many tourists
there. There are wealthy locals - someone is definately getting rich
from the Nile Perch industry in Mwanza, the export rose market in
Zambia and Kenya, the gem market in Madagascar. But the money never seems to trickle down to the people - I have been watching it for years. The best explanation i can come up with, is that the wealthy people don't keep their money in-country and they don't seem to be locals. For whatever reason: fear of government confiscation of property, massive taxation, lack of infrastructure, government instability... people transfer the majority of their money to Europe, the US, South Africa - buying houses or other investments - instead of spending the money in the local economy as immigrants to the US and
Europe did and do....... the locals are not "in charge" - why? have the capable ones left? are the locals not educated enough to run things? for whatever reason, there is a small and not growing middle class of black Africans ........ are we taking artists, the same way we take the fish, roses, gold and diamonds ?????????? should we be careful ????

One of the great things about living in Africa is our ability to
purchase high quality original art (which is pretty much impossible
for us in the US or Europe). It isn't cheap here, but it's doable,
even for teachers. which brings up point #2 ...

2. the value that our culture places on different occupations. as a
teacher, i can't afford to live in the US and raise my children
without losing my sanity - hence, my self-imposed exile. our culture
does not value child-rearing enough to allow one-parent to stay home
part-time (unless the other one is a financier and hence, taking part
in the rape of Africa - see point #1), or both parents to work
reasonable hours and have time to be parents. our culture does value
entertainment and art - the very highest paid artists and entertainers
are multi-millionaires....... in Africa, teachers and artists make
similar amounts of money (do they?-or is this my perception?) - they
are valued equally (or is this perception?) is my life possible here
only because I , in turn, am raping the locals? even in my purchasing
of art for "reasonable" prices?

Nora and i have exiled ourselves for the same reason people have
always exiled themselves - opportunity - for financial security,
freedom of expression, freedom to live closer to one's values .......
For some reason, it's often easier to live closer to one's values when
one lives in exile. The locals tend to leave you alone, to live as
you wish - they figure that you are foreign and entitled to your
values, as long as you don't bother them, whilst those who remain "at
home" are pressured into conforming - which, in the US, means
pressured into consumerism: getting the kids the latest electronics,
getting that new car, getting that new coat of paint on the house -
spend, spend, spend .....

i wonder if Nora's topless performance would be seen so positively if
she was white? could she do this in Zim ???? do American's allow and
promote her because she is "primitive" - "that's just how African's
are" ??????? do Africans allow me to walk around braless because i
am vahza, muzungu, foreign, white????????? or do they silently judge
me, despise me but are too polite to say anything?? do i offend or
am i invisible? do i bring more to this impoverished country by
spending 50% of my dollars here (because i have a big family and hire
nannies, buy lots of local products, believe in buying local art) than
i destroy with my flashy wealth, condescending attitude, promotion of
English, promotion of independence, promotion of women's rights
......... aaah questions for the ages....

November 15, 2007 by Nicola Jane Barratt

Hey all,

Sorry it's been a while - had a fabulous time with Amy and Rick last
month. They arrived and flew up to Nosy Be for 4 days, diving with sea
turtles and whale sharks. We met them in Diego Suarez, at the
northern tip of Madagascar. Next morning we hired a Landcruiser and
driver to take us to the Ankarana Special Reserve. This place
consists of spiky eroded limestone towers called Tsingy and an
associated cave system. We climbed the Tsingy and smiled at the
lemurs hopping along ahead of us and the ring-tailed mongoose who was
hoping one of the babies would fall into his mouth. The giant bat
cave was totally "Indiana Jones" - thousands of bats could be seen
with flashlights, their eyes glowing red in the dark. There were
small, medium and large varieties hanging from the ceilings, chirping
constantly and a few flying around our heads. Whilst scrambling
through the passages, the guide warns us not to touch the walls, then
shines his light to show us the wall covered in giant spiders! The
Sakalava people hid in this cave for 2 years when the Merina people
were trying to conquer them (I wouldn't have lasted a day with the
chirping and the wings brushing past my hair and the guano everywhere-
did I mention that there's a crocodile infested river running thru the
cave?). We stopped to pay respects to some of the Sakalava who died
here – there is a pile of skulls and other bones with some coins that
the Sakalava leave who come to visit their ancestors.

We also drove out to a beautiful beach at the Baie of Sakalava. This
is a kite-surfing and windsurfing hotspot. The wind was blowing pretty
hard, but the water was turquoise blue. We were the only ones
strolling along the white sand beach, watching a few lone hopping,
spinning and flying thrill seekers out at the reef break. We wished
Pete Schneider was there to enjoy the wind and waves! We will never
forget Laady, our Malagasy guide, who took great pains to showed us
how untimely, lazy, and charming a Malagasy can be whilst
overcharging, lying and getting lost! The fresh fish, curries and
cold drinks were fabulous.

Halloween was good this year. Tigi won the best costume contest for
his age (a week of paper mache and paint for me), while Jackson won
the pumpkin-carving contest with his depiction of a witch stirring a
cauldron. Jeff's birthday has come and gone – we made a plan with a
local artist to make table tops out of giant ammonites as a

We have been hot on the trail of new jobs – a rollercoaster of
emotions – trying to determine the pros and cons of living in places
we've never visited - lots of letters, phone calls and emails to
exotic locations – Nanjing (China), Dubai, Buenos Aires, Rio de
Janeiro, Caracas, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Moshi (Tanzania), Bangalore,
Tashkent, some place in Spain – questions to ask, questions not to
ask, weighing the opinions of friends, family, colleagues, bloggers,
travel agents, tourists and school administrators - but the winner
this time – taking first place due to the high pay and benefits, great
housing, high academic standards, world class sports facilities,
proximity to beaches and mountains, attention to safety and security
………… and opportunity to witness peace in the making ………. Is KARACHI,

OK – before you start screaming- we have spoken with the Head of UN
Security here who got the scoop from Karachi for us. He says that the
security is tight –movement is resticted often, but everyone is
totally safe, at all times. Because we will be living on-campus with
full use of the resort-like facilities, we aren't worried about
restricted movement. The Director of the school speaks to the US
Embassy Head of Security weekly for updates and implements changes in
routine and safety precautions accordingly. Remember - CNN loves
hype – it sells advertising, but protest marches are the heart and
soul of political change. Also remember that 300 people die every day
in the US in car accidents and this never makes the news. Our US
gov't wants us to believe that life in other countries in incredibly
dangerous compared to life in the US –so you will be happy driving for
3 hours per day, working 80 hours per week - but we must try and
separate actual risk from perceived risk. When people make plans to
mitigate real risk, life is safer than when real risk is ignored.
Quality of life, for us, means a great education for our children,
lots of time with family during the school year and during the
holidays, saving for retirement, healthy and fun options for leisure
time, and a dynamic work environment. Karachi has all this and the
opportunity to live within a 1000 miles of the Taliban!

Monday, October 01, 2007

art + blog = blogart?

Another call for the effects of blogging on artmaking. During my MFA, I dreamt of big collaborations among communities spread throughout the globe, bonded together through conversation made possible through this new technology, but sigh...most people don't leave comments. I feel like I'm talking to myself. I again encourage everyone to leave comments. It raises the level of criticality about our globe-trotting lifestyle, considering both its pleasures and its dangers.

Thanks, Joelle

Call for papers at

CFP: art blogging ==;

Category: Calls For Papers [View all]
Posted by: San Francisco State University
Deadline: 11/09/07

New Media Caucus in Association w/CAA. Feb 20-23, 2008 Dallas. Panel Chair Paul Catanese Abstract & bio due 11/9/07.

An explosion of blogs from artists, galleries, residencies and museums are reshaping professional practice in the arts. Though promotion is a driver, some sites focus on projecting a local arts scene into a broader context. Other models investigate blog as sketchbook or open atelier. Does art blogging indicate the emergence of a dislocated, local arts scene? Can blogs shift the space of studio practice while retaining its capability to be unstructured? Is the quest for site traffic at odds with periods of gestation and dormancy? What models exist for balancing these forces? What are the implications for establishing an art practice for those who remain virtually present, yet physically distant? Panelists will be requested to participate on a group blog prior to conference. Prior blogging experience not required.

Full panel info:

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Miwon Kwon's Comments on Nomadism

From Miwon Kwon's "The Wrong Place." Art Journal > Vol. 59, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 32-43.

It occurred to me some time ago that among many of my art and academic friends, the success and viability of one's work is now measured in proportion to the accumulation of frequent flyer miles. The more we travel for work, the more we are called upon to provide institutions in other parts of the country and the world with our presence and services; the more we give into the logic of nomadism, one could say, as pressured by a mobilized capitalist economy, the more we are made to feel wanted, needed, validated, and relevant. It seems our very sense of self-worth is predicated more and more on our suffering through the of always traversing through elsewheres. Whether we enjoy it or not, we are culturally and economically rewarded for enduring the "wrong" place. It seems we're out of place all too often.

But what is a "wrong" place? How does one recognize it as such, as opposed to a "right" place? What do we really mean by these qualifying adjectives? Is being in the wrong place the same thing as being out of place? And what are the effects of such mis/displacements for art, subjectivity, and locational identities? In light of the intensified mobilization of bodies, information, images, and commodities on the one hand, and the greater and greater homogenization and standardization of places on the other (which, by the way, facilitates the smooth, unimpeded mobilization and circulation of these bodies, information, images, and commodities), I continue to wonder about the impact, both positive and negative, of the spatial and temporal experiences that such conditions engender not only in terms of cultural practice but more basically for our psyches, our sense of self, our sense of well-being, our sense of belonging to a place and a culture.

Finally to work on the expat book. Post your comments soon if you'd like to be included. See my Friday, July 20, 2007 post for more info.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back in Mad Land by Nicola Jane Barratt

More writing by Nicola Jane Barratt sent from Madagascar

been back 2 weeks now and have adjusted quite well -
the journey here was almost uneventful - small glitch in that i
accidentally booked both flights for the same day so that when we
arrived in Paris, our flight for Tana had left the day before -
whoops! - lucky for us, the US ambassador and his family had missed
their flight to Paris and we took their seats on the flight to Tana
(you'd think we'd all understand the flying thing a bit better by now,
wouldn't you!!) - when we arrived, after our 19 hours of air time, we
were the last ones off the flight, not unusual except that we were
actually seated right next to an airplane exit, and a flight of stairs
had been pushed up next to the door - the steps were only a meter
from our seats but alas, this is Madagascar and the door leading to
the stairs was never opened - communication error??? electrical
error??? finally we were told that the lights were not working near
that exit .... hmmmm... lights? what lights? who knows? (half our
luggage didn't make it so we were the last ones out of the airport
anyway .....(F____ the french and their airline!!!!))

and then you come down the steps into the Malagasy night and your nose is filled with the smell of cooking fires, the streets are dark and quiet, and you know you are back in Africa (sort of).........

but back at home is mostly great - i love my huge (but standard)
european bath tub, even more, i love the lady that keeps it sparkling
clean. i love the seemingly endless supply of hot water from our 100
gallon hot water heater, that someone else pays the electric bill for.
and the other lady who takes care of the children so i can take a long
hot soak. i love coming home from work to the smell of dinner
cooking, with always enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow. i love when
the children are happily ensconced in their classrooms with their age
appropriate activities and professional educators!!! i love that
there are coaches who occupy the older children with round objects
until 4:30 pm and that this will continue until December because it
never rains until then. i love that the phone never rings (never mind
it's because i've had to unplug it so i can plug the space heater in
to the only electrical outlet!). the stove blew up and we lost all
the electric for a while but the internet appears to be working quite
well!!! more soon, love and kisses, nikki

Thursday, August 16, 2007

photography + travel

The photograph reverses the purpose of travel, which until now had been to encounter the strange and unfamiliar.
(Marshall McLuhan)

Friday, July 20, 2007

art + blog = blogart?

See previous entry called "art + blog = blogart?" entry below the following pictures. The project is for an exhibition described in that entry. Here's the jist:

1) Look at the pictures (click on picture for bigger image), see if any inspire you / reminds you of your expat experience.
2) Add comments through blog or email to me at
3) The best poems / comments / quotes will be published in a book and the writers of those best comments / quotes will receive one of the books. I'd love to develop the book even further into a limited edition artist book at the Women's Studio Workshop next summer if this one goes well.

Hopefully summertime reflections will help you to process your expat experiences and put it online for others to enjoy. I moderate the comments to avoid an influx of spammers, but feel free to post anonymously if you are shy.

I hope that you find time to participate. The exhibition deadline is July 31, 2007.

















art + blog = blogart?

When I started in 2004, my dream was to bring together the creative outpourings of women spread throughout the globe in one place online. The exhibition call below inspired me to not only have it exist online, but to have us collaboratively create a book that would be made available at because although we love our computers as a way to explore content, many of us still enjoy having a hard bound book that we can hold in our hands while we take a break from technology.

Here's the quick and dirty directions to this project:
1) Scoll through the images
2) If any image relates to your own experience, write a poem or simple phrase in the one-line thought / quote from another offer, etc that relates.
3) Enter your poem, comment, quote, etc in the comment line for all to read (you can also email me your comments at
4) The best comment will be paired with that image for a book that will be made available online.
5) I'll buy and mail a copy of the book for those people whose writing is chosen.
6) The book will remain online for other female expats for years to come.

Thanks for participating!

a + b = ba ?
[art + blog = blogart?]

JavaMuseum -
is starting its 2nd phase
by publishing on open call focussing on the question
whether blogs and/or blogging can be tools for creating a new type of net based art.
The launch of this new project in September 2007
is planned to be also the occasion for re-launching
JavaMuseum after a phase of re-structuring since 2005.


JavaMuseum - Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art,
founded in 2000, realized between 2001 and 2005
18 show cases focussing on Internet based art in a global context,
including more than 350 artists from 40 countries.
In this way, JavaMuseum was able to show for the first time the dimension of Internet based art as a new and individual art genre, even if it is continously said to be dead.
For a + b = ba?, JavaMuseum is inviting
artists to submit such an art project
which is using the blogging technology.

One blog project only can be submitted.

Please use this form for submitting:

1. first name/family name, email address, URL homepage
2. short artist bio/CV
3. title of project, year of launch
4. URL of project
5. short project description ( English, no more than 300 words)
6. 2 screen shots (jpg, 800x600 px)

7. answer the questions of the interview
which can be found here --->

Please send the requested material via email to
subject line: a+b submission

Deadline 31 July 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

American Women Ambassadors

A billion thanks to Ambassador Rowe, the United States Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, for recommending Ann Miller Morin's book An Oral Hisotry of American Women Ambassadors.

Also worthy of note, I attended a performance and a master dance class with Urban Bush Women and Jant-Bi. The experience was extraordinary. Urban Bush Woman dancer Nora Chipaumire, herself an exile from Zimbabwe, will be a MANCC artist-in-residence this coming school year, one of MANCC's administrative staff thought there might be room for her and I to collaborate. We'll see if it happens naturally.

I am forever grateful to the ambassadors who have sent me letters for my project. I realize that they have hectic schedules. Thanks again.

More soon on Ann Miller Morin's book...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Flyover + the American Outback

After having professors insist that I not go to a small town for fear that I was committing art career suicide, I found it comforting to find praise for Flyover, a blog that collectively covers strong small town art scenes. The site led me to Jennifer Smith's coverage of the Wisconsin Triennial and commentary on the work of Stephanie Liner. With my own tendency to combining women's bodies and domestic objects, the work appealed to my sensibilities. Check out her website at

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

bell hooks

Now reading bell hooks' book Art on My Mind: Visual Politics. In a chapter, titled "Women Artitsts: The Creative Process," she writes about the need for a room of one's own (see also Virginia Woolf's 1929 extended essay). I flashback to my days overseas: with the excitement of travel and the desire to take advantage of the experience, I made little time for reflection. my Female Expat Project was originally created to encourage expatriated women to do so. From hooks' chapter:

I think often and deeply about women and work, about what it means to have the luxury of time-time spent collecting one's thoughts, time to work undisturbed. This time is space for contemplation and reverie. It enhances our capacity to create. Work for women artists is never just the moment when we write, or do other art, like painting, photography, paste-up, or mixed media. In the fullest sense, it is also the time spent in contemplation and preparation. This solitary space is sometimes a place where dreams and visions enter and sometimes a place where nothing happens. Yet it is as necessary to active work as water is to growing things.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Jill Ker Conway

I just finished Jill Ker Conway's memoir True North, and after my first year of full-time university teaching, it was the perfect summer read. Particularly refreshing were moments when Conway finds a core group of female friends at Harvard or later when she realizes what an important role model she became when she took lead administrative roles. I'd recommend True North to anyone.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Letters to a Young Diplomat: Plea for Participation

Picture of Eugenie Moore Anderson
In October 1949 President Truman appointed Anderson United States Ambassador to Denmark; she was the first American woman to serve as the chief of a mission abroad.

Ok, "plea" for participation sounds a bit desperate, but here's the deal: in times when our foreign policy is constantly questioned by other countries (and often rightly so), an art project highlighting a more human side to our activities overseas seems critical. Why art? At its best, art whittles down matters to powerful visual and forms that have residence. I leave you with one of my favorite art quotes.

There are moments in our lives, there are moments in our days, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Signposts on the way to what may be. Signposts toward greater knowledge.

Keith Ferrazzi on Networking

I was listening to podcasts online and stumbled on this one that seemed worth sharing:

Below are a few of my notes from that interview, much of it from Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone What I liked about the podcast is Keith's focus on networking as natural. I love the Christmas package analogy because I do like meeting and helping other people. With this subtle shift in attitude, the conference or cocktail hour can become less anxiety-ridden and more pleasurable.

When you are at a conference / party:
-imagine that everyone's a Christmas package, and you get to unwrap them and discover their goals
-ask how can I help them be successful? what can I do for him or her?

Personal relationship action plan

How many people are going to be critical btw now and you achieving your dreams?
-probably 25 people (family, friends, etc)
-list 25 people
-list next 50
-list next 50
Then you'll have 125 people

Send a quick email to the top 25: keep in touch with them every other week.

It may sound contrived, but your family and best friends can be in that top 25, and we all know in the chaos of life, it's easy to fall out of touch. Sometimes, it helps to have weekly reminders to reach out to others. This is especially true when you are bouncing around the globe...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Best Expat Blogs

Interesting list at Expatica =

Looking forward to nosing through it later.

A billion thanks for the web's best-of sites because there is just too much stuff to wade through on the internet. For all of my art lovers, here's one of my favorite art ones =

Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

obituaries + movement

Notebooks from a Creative Capital Foundation workshop has me writing one, three, five and ten year goals. Then it asks me to write an obituary. Although it sounds like a morbid task, it does put every goals into perspective. Now I'm nosing through the New York Times obits only to find one on Isabella Blow. When her rich grandfather escapes gambling debt by fleeing to Kenya where "he joined the Happy Valley set of alcoholic, aristocratic semi-exiles." It's no wonder when expatriates are thought of as privileged vagabonds. I flash back to a squirrel seen yesterday—specifically to his skip, skip, leap, skip and his simple joy found in movement—maybe in less cynical terms, that is what all the moving is about...

Howard Zinsser

Another expat contacted me about her interest in my project and mentioned her interest in writing about her expat experiences. I recommended Howard Zinssers' How to Write Your Memoir. Since I loved his book On Writing Well, I'm guessing that I can recommend his book on memoirs. An interview with Zinsser about memoirs can be heard at


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Letters to a Young Diplomat: Letters Sealed

Having stuffed envelopes for far too long today, the letters to our current female US ambassadors are sealed and ready for delivery. Admittedly, I am terrified that none of them will participate--I realize that they have hectic lives--but I'm hopeful so that their voices might be gathered in one spot rather than scattered in a handful of publish and unpublished memoires.

The value of artworks is that they develop ideas / critical thoughts / momentous events into powerful forms. Inshallah, my piece for the fall show, resulting from these letters, will be one such form.

More to follow...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Letters to a Young Diplomat

Websites for inspiration:

Florida State University gave me a 2007 summer grant to continue work on my Female Expat Project. In preparation for an exhibition this fall, I'm emailing and sending letters to all of the current female U.S. Ambassadors a letter by a fictional, inspiring young diplomat. I'll also post that letter here. Modelled after Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" and Art on Paper's "Letters to a Young Artist, the project documents what role women play in the power structures of the 21st century. Please email me at or simply post to the blog if you have a response. These responses will be used to create glowing plexi pieces housed in furniture with the possible addition of sound. I'm so excited.

As I wrote in the letter of introduction to our ambassadors, I hope that you will consider participating to help document our shifting definitions of place for future generations of women overseas to enjoy the recent, huge shifts in these definitions.


Dear Ambassador:

I am writing you as a young woman interested in the Foreign Service. Although I was raised in a small city and have only traveled throughout the United States, other cultures have always fascinated me. Coupled with my interest in international relations and a commitment to community service, this interest in a life overseas inspired me to research careers in the Foreign Service. During this research, I encountered your name.

At the prompt of our teacher's assignment, I am writing to you in the hope that you can find the time to write a letter in response. I'm specifically interested in the joys and challenges of a life overseas, and if you would do anything differently. Although regret is a useless emotion for an individual, when clarified for a future generations, it is informative. I hope you are able to find time in your busy schedule to send a few words of wisdom.

First, I have a few questions about gender. If the people with the greatest amount of power in the 20th and especially the 21st centuries are those people who can thoroughly understand and gracefully navigate the global scene, what role are women playing in these high-powered roles? Have you found any challenges in the Foreign Service because you are a woman? Do you notice any difference in how your male and female colleagues manage their work and personal lives? Is there a glass ceiling? Are you always taken as seriously as your male counterparts in other countries?

Lastly, with anti-American sentiment on the increase, does you position in the Foreign Service ever make you uncomfortable? Friends of my parents, who have lived overseas, say that people in other countries often clarify their anti-American sentiment by explaining that they dislike the government, not Americans. As a representative of our government, can you clarify how this sentiment affects your work and sense of self?

In contrast to the politically correct statements made my most government officials, I hope you can speak candidly in your response since such honestly will helps guide me to make important decisions. I tried to look up memoirs of diplomats and other books related to the Foreign Service. Not a single one was written by a woman. Please let me know if there are any that you can recommend.

I look forward to your response. Thank you for your time.


Joelle Dietrick

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jeff in Madagascar

Ok, it has nothing to do with women roaming the globe, but this picture had to go up.
Thx to Jeff + Nikki.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


At the prompt of Noah Wardrip-Fruin's visit to Naomi Spellman's class at the University of California, San Diego, I ordered his book Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media. Although I'm not a big gamer, the emphasis on play and analysis of the virtual / actual overlap attracted my attention. Since Noah teaches at UCSD's School of Communications, local favorite thinkers / artists—like Lev Manovich and Adriene Jenik—are in the they should be. Having just dipped into the book, I've only read Teri Rueb's description of her artwork Itinerant involving a small pocket PC with GPS and headphones. As a participant moves to a specific section of the city, their new location, tracked by GPS, triggers the playback of sounds that have been "placed" in that area. Excerpts from Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and Rueb's text about an uncle (I think fictional) who wanders the world with restlessness and is ostracized by their family.

Teri Rueb is one a handful of artists doing great work with GPS systems. The incorporation of this technology in stories about Female Expats navigating the globe make sense. More about Teri's work is at

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

world's top 100 most livable cities

For those of you bouncing around the globe, deciding where to go next, a useful website listing the World's Top 100 Most Livable Cities was just posted.

Thanks to for the head's up.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Nomadism

I wish I could go to this conference.
April 26-28, 2007
The Art World is Flat

bomb shelters

Check out this video shot inside a house with objects flying back into space. Related to my artwork's flying figures (think dislocation and new ideas about space), the video was meant to see. Make clear connections to Zabriskie Point, Michelangelo Antonioni's 1970 film where objects explode at the end.

Wandering into my friend's bomb shelter also served as recent inspiration. The contrast between my floating figures and figures burrowing deep into the ground works well. The discovery also informs the show I'm curating this fall (Oct 1-Nov 11) at FSU's Museum of Fine Arts called Locating Secret Psychological Space. A post with info about the show is soon to follow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Writing Home

April 25 | Town Hall Readings: Writing Home

PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012

When: Wednesday, April 25
Where: The Town Hall: 123 West 43rd St.
What time: 8 p.m.–9:30 p.m.

More info:

Thanks to Yanira Castro for sending me the link.


Word of the Day for Tuesday, April 3, 2007
errant \AIR-uhnt\, adjective:

1. Wandering; roving, especially in search of adventure.
2. Deviating from an appointed course; straying.
3. Straying from the proper standards (as of truth or propriety).
4. Moving aimlessly or irregularly; as, an errant breeze.

Errant comes from Middle French errer, "to travel," from Late Latin iterare, from Latin iter, "a journey"; confused somewhat with Latin errare, "to wander; to err."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

the business of art

I listed to Alyson Stanfield's interview with Paul Dorrell and was pleasantly surprised to get great insights into artist-dealer relationships.

I would guess that her workshop is equally useful.
Enjoy if you are in the area.

Contact: Alyson B. Stanfield


March 16, 2007--They're not going to come knocking on your
studio door. Ever. No matter how incredible your art is you
have to get out of bed (and get out of your studio) and
share it with people. If you've been throwing darts and
praying for the best for your art career, think again.
Successful art careers don't just happen, but are the
result of hard work and savvy skills. Alyson B. Stanfield
of is flying in from Colorado to share
self-promotion secrets with artists in Central Florida.

Artists should make plans to attend the Shameless
Self-Promotion for Artists workshop on March 25 from 9:30
a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Art Center Manatee in Bradenton.
If you roll out of bed early that Sunday, you'll learn:

--Nine things every artist needs for promoting their work.
--Why the process of writing your artist statement is
critical to your marketing (and how to make it pain-free).
--How to build a network of people who are essential to
your success.
--Creative ideas for marketing your art.
--What promotional materials you'll need and the rules to
follow when creating them.

You should absolutely stay in bed on Sunday if:
--You think you know everything already.
--Have no desire to make a living from your art.
--Believe that if your art is good enough, you'll be
--You have a highly contagious virus.

On the other hand, you should set your alarm and join the
other shameless self-promoters if:
--You are fired up about sharing your work with the world.
--You're ready to put into place the tools you need to
advance your art career.
--You realize you can't succeed on your own.
--You're highly entertaining and can provide comic relief
at the breaks.

The workshop is $75 and includes lunch. Get registration
details at or by calling 941-746-2862.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stats on Women in the Foreign Service


"Women in the Foreign Service"
Ambassador Ellen Shippy, Diplomat in Residence, University of NM
12 September 2003

The United States has approximately 288 posts abroad in 162 countries. These are primarily embassies and consulates, which are "branch embassies." The Department of State has approximately 47,000 employees, of which 5,500 are Foreign Service Officers, 4,000 are Foreign Service Specialists (support staff), 7,000 are Civil Service, and 30,000 are Foreign Service nationals. With respect to women, 34% of FS officers are women; 31% of Specialists are women, and 61% of Civil Service employees are women.

At senior levels, the senior Foreign Service and the senior Executive Service, women represent 25% and 30% of senior Foreign Service and Civil Service positions.

Now let's talk more specifically about women in the Foreign Service. The first woman joined the FS in 1922. The first woman ambassador was appointed in 1949; she was ambassador to Denmark from 1949 to 1953. The first woman assistant Secretary of State (for public affairs) was appointed in 1973. The first woman to head a regional bureau was in 1985. The first female Secretary of State of Madeleine Albright in 1997...Yes, there are sometimes difficult questions to deal with, such as dating, marriage, children, employment for your spouse...the same questions male FS officers are dealing with.

The last sentence reminds me of the many questions I am asked and ask myself about my focus on only female expats when both men and women face challenges when they chose a life overseas. From what I observed as an expat, in families, typically the women gave up their careers if one spouse sacrificed a career. My concern was that if the movers and shakers of the 21st century are people who can successful navigate an international career, then I wanted to know how women were doing in this arena. I flashback to statistics about teachers overseas. Although I do not have exact figures, I recall that a high percentage of teachers in international schools were women, but a low percentage high-level administrators were female.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Wow. I'm really enjoying updates from an expat in Estonia at She has a good eye for the absurd. Check out her recent entry. Here's an excerpt to wet your whistle:

Her caption: "I think my favorite promotional item was this deck of cards. Blue for boys and pink for girls, apparently."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Creative Capital

I just attended this amazing artist retreat by Creative Capital. You should definitely attend these workshops if you get a chance.

The schedule for their upcoming retreats are at Maybe you can write your state's Division of Cultural Affairs to support your state's artist by inviting Creative Capital to your community. Florida paid for me.

Not only did the workshop expand my professional network, but it also gave me strategies to focus on goal to work more effeciently and be more financially stable. I'm excited to use their techniques.

Monday, February 05, 2007

boredom, skip the first 15 min

Ok. I'm giving it a second listen, and I think you could skip the first 15 minutes of that link...

boredom link

Yea! It's up =

Or you can go to The Best of Our Knowledge website. (

I'm really enjoying the emails that I automatically get from This blog contains the type of entries that I orginally wanted my blog to gather in one spot, sort of like what is to art. I just applied to a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts during May and hope to use that time, in part, to tweak into something closer to my original vision.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

To the Best of Our Knowledge on Boredom

Shortly after arriving in Tallahassee, I learned that the city has one of the best NPR stations in the country and discovered new favorite programs like To the Best of Our Knowledge ( What more? To the Best of Our Knowledge has a fantastic website where folks (say the dear expatriate readers of this blog) can visit and listen to their own time. With this in mind, I was not upset to find myself mid-broadcast of a fantastic hour on the topic of boredom because I thought I could listen to the rest later. Right? Apparently wrong. The show is not yet properly archived, but as soon as it is, you should check it out. Boredom, restlessness and curiosity drive many of us overseas, and therefore, the show provided some much needed insights into the topic. Please take a listen. I'll try to keep an eye on the site to provide a more direct link asap.

Gemstones and a Wedding by Nicola Jane Barratt

I guess we're all collectors. When we go to a new place, its nice to
bring home something to remind us of all the fun we had - something to
put on the mantle and make us think of sunny beaches on a cold winter
day. Well, moving to and living in different places lends itself to a
more extreme form of collecting for Jeff and me. In Bahrain we
collected carpets – 16 I think in all. In Zambia, it was art - giant
abstract oil paintings, sculptures in ebony and mahogany, masks,
doors, tables and beds from tribal kingdoms. So what do you think
I've chosen here? Here's a hint - I'll be able to bring all of them
home to show off every summer, on my fingers, through my ears and
around my throat - yes - it turns out that Madagascar is the latest
treasure trove of precious gems – some say the world's finest
sapphires and rubies are coming out of this island now, and as
exploration is only a few years old, gem hunters are not in abundance
and gem buyers are in even shorter supply. So the laws of supply and
demand are working in our favor and there's some beauties to be had -
that geology undegrad degree is coming in handy for something! Many
of the less precious gems are in even greater abundance. Amethysts
are literally for sale at the supermarket as are topaz and aquamarines
in sizes up to 4 carats! Jeff bought me a beautiful watermelon
tourmaline necklace – something I've always wanted. More to the
mainstream, he also bought me a 2 carat star sapphire and had it set
as a ring.

All this came about because Jimmy Freeman and Chandra decided to come
to Mad and get married! They asked us to have wedding rings made so
Jeff went about figuring it out. He came across a 2 man team of gem
dealers who are now regulars at our home! Yes – they do house calls!
They came to the house with about 50 stones of every size and hue. We
chose a lovely royal blue sapphire for C and a big red garnet for
Jimmy. Then we decided to get some ruby earrings and some sapphire
earrings as well – what the hell!! Since then we got a beauty of a
pink sapphire for Cindy and some huge jade earrings for me and really
I could keep on going for a while! Did I mention the new petrified
wood coffee table

The wedding was under a big banyan tree on the beach. The kids and i
collected coral and made an aisle for Auntie C to walk down. We
picked hibiscus flowers off the bushes nearby and made a bouquet. Jax
walked her down the aisle, Tigi was best man and ring bearer, Gabby
was flower girl. Jeff did a beautiful job with the service and Billy
and i did photos. Hope you're all well! More soon, Nikki

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Conference on Cosmopolitanism

What I attended during Florida State's Film Lit conference on Cosmopolitanism ( on Friday, February 2, 2007.

1) Gender and Genre
Room: 123A
Dennis Bingham, Indiana University, Indianapolis, "The Biopic Gets the Guillotine: Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette"
(Exceptional presentation #1 because of the presenters sense of humor and incredible insights into a movie that some considered sheer fluff. Dennis reminded us of the autobiographical nature of Sofia's films in that all of her main characters are women in privileged positions, because of their social / cultural context, and we watch how they use their positions of privilege. In this way, it reminds me of my Female Expat Project since I focus on expats that have a choice about where they live and how they spend their time.)

...left above and caught the end of:
2) Global Longing for Form see Weihsin Gui, Brown University, "Kazuo Ishiguro: National Cosmopolitical Impressions" + Wendy Lee, Brown University, "The Unintentional Comedy of Teaching World- Respect in Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle"
(High energy presentations with a humor and joy found in the books presented made for time well spent. Barry Faulk asked an important question about the timeliness of questions about complicated questions of identity and cultural forms as the ideal way to introduce political questions. Adorno and his belief that art cannot embody political questions, only point to them, was discussed. For any artmaker with any ounce of social awareness, these questions come out constantly, and I am reminded that I need to revisit Adorno, the man who questioned how anyone could “write lyrical poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.”)

...after lunch
3) The Military and Militarism Room
(Left this sesson during the first presentation because I was bored with ideas about women as mere ornamentation and the insistence that we pay more attention to women's POV during the war. Important to say, but no new insights provided)

4) Liquid Modernity
(Good to reminded Jim Jarmusch film's in relationship to liminal spaces and the ambiguity of otherness in Lost in Translation, but again, no new insights gained. Perhaps I am getting tired of sitting, but I continually wonder, do these people not know that points are best driven home by examples and visuals. Admittedly, Power Point can be misused, but when talking about the films, why not project the film stills allowing the images to be the visual focus of our contemplation while you present your paper? It would be so much better than giving us a bad xerox copy of many images and only showing a short clip form the movie.)

5) Keynote address = Tim Brennan
(Tim Brennan was dull, and the response John Marx thankfully shook things up. Why keep asking these same questions, Marx asked? Barry Faulk discussed a synergy at present that prompts us to revisit questions about globalism. I agree. The room felt restless, tired of the day's intellectual masterbation and eager for real action, whether in our classrooms or beyond.)

6) Darwin's Nightmare
(Important, powerful film, but my brain is mush, and I'm desperate to make my own work with a political conscious and a eye on circulation to people without lots of pocket change.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

film lit conference

FSU's Literature and Film Conference on Cosmopolitanism is approaching, and I'm getting sooooo excited.
More at:
Schedule at:

Titles like "Spaces and Places" and "'I'm Not an American, I'm a Nymphomaniac': Spectatorship, Cosmopolitanism, and Trans Identities," are actually causing me to drool with anticipation. (Ok, not something I should admit on my blog but whatever...)

Monday, January 15, 2007


I watched two movies last night, namely:

1) The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (
2) Mostly Martha (

Both were good, but the first was incredibly satisfying, partly because I see the female expat project in everything. Flashing back, I focus on the dullness of a small town and the restlessness created as a result. The setting breeds characters looking for an escape—into an affair, a mall, a telenovela, a porn magazine, the nostalgia of a hometown called Jimenez / Cincinnati, or into another country with a lover or mission.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

hey art lovers, see david byrne

Good article by David Byrne about the Art Basel Miami Beach fair that I attended by have yet to process.
More at

Just starting my class "This Question of Moving" at Florida State. Should have lots of great details to blog soon.