Find Something to Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

"Three years ago, Blake Haxton's battle with necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) was so serious that his parents were planning his funeral. Doctors at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center saved Haxton's life. He lost most of both of his legs, but survivedand is now thriving at Ohio State."

His story hits me right in the chest: partly because he's willing and able to share it so well, and partly because he was in Alex's graduating class at Upper Arlington High School. I remember when they called his name at the commencement ceremony while he was in the middle of this ordeal. On a very deep level, we collectively want all children to be healthy and happy and them to make the transition from childhood to adulthood as safely as possible.

Blake's insights resonate deeply, about balancing an awareness of our fragility with our innate capacity for resilience which can be strengthened by cultivating a mature relationship with discomfort. 

"In thinking about what got me through my painful timesand there were a lot of themI realized that as a kid and in high school I was really blessed to play a lot of sports...[like rowing, which is] really hard.

If you want to have any success at it, you've got to be able to push through your own pain barriers. Now I didn't know it until after the fact, but that equipped me to deal with pain when it became not an option, when it was absolutely inevitable. I've got to tell you, there were some days where having had those experiences kept me sane.

So what I'd like to encourage all of you to do is find something to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Believe me, I know that's not an easy thing to do or to want to do, but when the time comes that you have to rely on those things and you have no choicewhat literally might be life and deathyou can draw on those things to get you through those times."

~ Blake Haxton, from "The Advantage of Adversity, " TEDxOSU

The Big Game: Art, Sports, and Masculinity

I'll See Your Lorrain and Raise You a Turner (Studio 360)

“The directors of the New Orleans and the Indianapolis art museums have a lot more riding on this weekend's Super Bowl than a couple of bucks in the office pool. After arts blogger [Tyler Green] posed a challenge, they've each put up a treasured painting from their collections. The director of the losing city's museum will have to lend his masterpiece to the winner.”


J.M.W. Turner, The Fifth Plague of Egypt
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art


Claude Lorrain, Ideal View of Tivoli
Courtesy of the New Orleans Museum of Art

Sports and Masculinity Explored in Art

“The multimedia exhibition Hard Targets, on view January 30–April 11, 2010 at the Wexner Center, surveys provocative artworks produced over the last 25 years that take masculinity and sports as their central themes. Ranging broadly in interest and focus from biology to commodity and locker room to stadium, Hard Targets endeavors to complicate and revise the time-honored archetype of the male athlete as an aggressive, heterosexual, hyper-competitive, emotionally remote subject. Instead, the artists in the show offer opposing views of masculinity and sport, and of the entire theater of athletic play, including the rituals and accoutrements that surround this intimate, and often still male-dominated, world. The more than 70 works—in a wide variety of media, including video, photography, mixed-media sculpture, painting, and installation—range from funny and irreverent to self-effacing and incisive.”

Still from St. Henry Composition

Joe Sola, still from St. Henry Composition
The Wexner Center for the Arts

“The 21 artists in the show are Doug Aitken, Matthew Barney, Mark Bradford, Harun Farocki, Andreas Gursky, Douglas Gordon, David Hammons, Brian Jungen, Byron Kim, Jeff Koons, Cary Leibowitz, Glenn Ligon, Kori Newkirk, Catherine Opie (including a new suite of photographs of high school football players produced in Columbus), Philippe Parreno, Paul Pfeiffer (whose 11 exhibited pieces offer a mini-survey of this artist’s work), Collier Schorr, Sam Taylor-Wood, Hank Willis Thomas, and Jonas Wood. In addition, a video work by Joe Sola video will be presented in The Box video space during the first month of the show.”


Brian Jungen, Prototype for New Understanding #23

“Each artist examines the way masculinity is characterized and ‘performed’ in a sporting context, and each suggests that the ways we view and consume sports stars and athletic events are structured by more complex systems of desire and identification than most spectators realize. The works in the exhibition open up alternative, and possibly more democratic, interpretations and inflections of sports and sports fandom than the authorized, often frankly commercial, images that most frequently and forcefully convey the cultural identity of male athletes and athleticism.”

opie_josh Catherine Opie, Josh, 2007