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 Dear Ulrike,

I left "the art world" after I graduated from CalArts because I perceived that it had no essential relevance to the world in general and existed in it's own self-created universe, isolated and buffered from the real issues of living. I also felt that "the art world" was a consumer/commercial activity for the wealthy and the funded. I still feel this way. Fine art seems to have little or no impact on people's lives outside the small universe of "the art world". I am 46 years old now and still see no evidence to the contrary.
    It was difficult to incorporate my experiences into my life after I left because I felt I had been on another planet for a while, and then returned to earth to find that no one understood the language or the concepts that I had learned in "the art world". You have to stay there to be understood. It really was very much like the experience of returning from a cult, which I have also done.
 I decided to pursue my interests in healing and the spiritual aspects of life, as well as continue to try to make art that was true to my spirit and my self.
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I feel very strongly that the impact of our lives rests primarily on how we effect those directly around us first, and that larger influence occurs as reverberations of our local acts. I have seen so much of dreams and illusions that effect nothing, yet the actors feel so very important. It is too easy to fall into the traps of egoism, and get lost wandering around in our attempts at self-aggrandizement. old in 1971 and all this made a great impression on me.
    While I continue to see and attempt to address the problems of sexism, racism and all the "isms", I see the issues of our global environment, pollution and population as our most urgent and desperate challenge. We have severe and catastrophic situations which need to be addressed, and we don't have time to deal with sexism, feminism, racism etc. as separate and/or more important issues.
    The most urgent question may be how are we going to cope and deal with massive illness, death, suffering and destruction all around us and within ourselves as the problems of plague, environmental destruction and famine become so severe that we can no longer avoid them.
    Depressing and apocalyptic, I know, but knowing what I know about the environmental problems we face,

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including the resulting threats of viral plagues and infrastructure breakdown, everything else begins to look like child's play and cultural denial. Those are the issues that contribute the major colors to my political ideas.
    I'm sorry to sound so morose. I hope I have been of service to you in your project. Please let me know if you have any more questions.
    I received your phone message, but did not feel the need to call because I was planning to respond in writing. I am glad to contribute my point of view to your project.


Shawnee Wollenman Johnson