Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Haint Blue

A while ago, I came across a very interesting, albeit tongue-in-cheek, article from Cracked.com, 6 Bizarre Ways Architecture Is Designed to Ward Off Ghosts.The second feature really caught my attention:
(Copied from the article)

"Haint" Blue Paint
If you've ever been shopping for house paint, you know there are a lot of ridiculous names out there for blue, leaving you confused whether you want "Utah sky," "blue lapis" or "windmill wings." Haint blue is sort of the opposite. It's one name for a whole bunch of shades of blue -- the exact shade doesn't matter as long as it repels ghosts, or "haints."

Does not repel poor maintenance.

As everybody knows, ghosts can't cross water, at least according to the Gullah people of the American South. The Gullah, descendants of African slaves, did not have money to mix standard paints at the Home Depot so they made their own paint -- mixing lime, milk and pigments in pits to make a blue paint that looked like water, which, when applied to a house, would obviously convince ghosts that the house was covered with rivers or something. They would paint porch ceilings as well as door and window frames. You know, all the typical ghost entry points.

Another story purporting to explain the porch ceilings specifically says that they're actually painted to look like sky, causing the spirits to think they're the way up to heaven. So they walk right on up to your porch, intending to give you a good haunting, moaning and complaining about how they're trapped between this world and the next, and then look up and go, "Oh, hey, heaven!" and make a quick 90-degree turn upward before they reach your door.

Like so.

I guess they're too dumb to figure out what happened, or else that would be a recipe for some really mad haints coming back to your house in a bit.

And another theory is that some people were just embarrassed about looking so superstitious so they painted the porch ceilings where people couldn't see them from the street. The important thing, after all, was that the ghosts would see it when they got there.

If you don't have your own backyard paint-mixing pit, you can buy actual Benjamin Moore-based haint blue shades today, if you trust mass-produced corporate formulas when it comes to protecting your home from ghosts.

Super interesting, especially being from the south, I know I had recognized the color before.

A little more about it by Lori Sawaya:

What is a "Haint"?
Haints are restless spirits of the dead who have not moved on from the physical world. They exist as non-physical in the space between our dimenson and what is beyond. This type of spirit is not the ├╝ber friendly sort and you don't want them hanging around.

What exactly IS Haint Blue?
I learned Haint Blue is a spiritual and cultural based color especially in the southern United States. Back in the day, Haint Blue was mixed as milk paint formulas using lime and whatever local pigments were available. The color was mixed in pits dug on the properties where the painters were working. Hand-crafted Haint Blue translates into a range of colors, not any one specific color.

What does Haint Blue do?
Haint Blue is meant to look like water and keep the Haints out of your house making you safe from their influence. Speculation has it that the tints, tones, and shades from the blue-green to blue-violet part of the visible spectrum fools the Haints. Haints can not cross water. Using Haint Blue on doors, shutters, window trim, ceilings, the whole darn structure, can fool Haints and discourage them from "crossing" into your house.

It is believed that Haint Blue can fake-out insects and birds too. The story is Haint Blue looks like endless sky to the little critters and deters them from making themselves at home on your exterior. The key ingredient of lime in the milk paint formulas is what likely deterred the insects and birds, not the color itself (which is interesting, as often you'll hear the official reason for having the paint is to deter them.) Modern paint formulas do not contain lime. So, I'm not convinced painting your porch ceiling blue is going to help shoo the bugs and birds -- but who's to say for sure. I do know Haint Blue is an attractive addition to most any exterior color scheme.

Even more great info here and here!

But this all came to ahead when I was visiting Louisiana two weekends ago, and started to notice the color on many houses, including the B&B we were staying in.

BUT, even more interesting was this house near where we were staying. It was completely dilapidated (not uncommon for the area) and all the entrances were boarded/chained/closed up.
I passed it a few times before I noticed anything odd:

It had the "haint blue"...but it also had a crudely made cross on the door.

I thought it was surely a fluke, until I saw one on the side door.

And even going back to the front of the house, there was one in the bushes in front of the gate.

Another cool thing, was how many cats were in the yard, the place was full of them.

So! I'll let y'all speculate on what's going on...but it certainly seemed like they were trying to keep something out...or in.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Art Stories - Spirit Photography

Had a wonderful chance to speak at the MIA last week. It really was a dream opportunity to discuss my favorite subject, Paranormal Photography.

Art Stories - Tales From the Local Art World
Spirit Photography with Nathan Lewis

 Listen as some of our cities’ most interesting artists give us the back stories about their work in this series of on-stage narratives.

Photographer Nathan Lewis is fascinated by “spirit photography,” an art form developed by late 19th-century artists and hucksters that used the new technology of photography to capture images of the paranormal world—or so they claimed. In the last decade, Lewis started hanging out with the Twin Cities Paranormal Society, resulting in the series Conversations in the Dark, which documents and interprets everyday people’s claims of contact with spirits, poltergeists, and all things supernatural.
Lewis will discuss his interest in historical spirit photography, describe his experiences with the Paranormal Society, and meditate on the intersection of technology and human feelings of loss, horror,
and discovery.

The talk was all thanks to Alex Bortolot who allowed me to be the first speaker in the ongoing Art Stories series. Oddly enough the lecture was born out of an off-the-cuff conversation I was having with Alex while discussing some Holga's he had asked me to modify.

I had a lot of support from both the MIA and MCAD who helped promote it!

Even going so far as creating a Flickr page for folks to upload their own Paranormal Photographs!

Brady Jeunesse, on behalf of the TCPS also did an incredible job promoting to everyone in the local Paranormal world through all the different outlets, too kind!

With all their great help, we sold out the event! Not only did they add extra chairs, but by some accounts, they were even turning people away...which is insane to think about!

They did this awesome thing where they lined the stage, room, and aisle with tea lights!

A shot taken while creeping around in the back before going on!
Some pictures taken during by friend's in the audience.

Super fun night! Amazing thanks to the MIA, TCPS, and everyone that came out!
Also, be sure to check out Lacey Hedtke, who gave me a ton of help, but more importantly will be the next speaker in the Art Stories series.

Listen as some of our cities' most interesting artists give us the back stories about their work in this series of on-stage narratives. In 2011, the MIA commissioned photographer Lacey Prpic Hedtke to document the museum's collection using archaic photographic techniques, such as tin types, collotypes, and stereograms. She commenced upon an intensive exploration of history, representation, and visual interpretation, resulting in a kind of photographic archaeology that unearthed new connections and fresh interpretations of familiar artworks. Hedtke will discuss this project, the history of photography, and how she decided to pair certain art works with particular archaic photographic techniques.

See you there!