Sunday, September 30, 2007

a time capsule of sorts for the month of september

"what's shakin' in sept" door hanger

my september playlist

progress on the gateway @ the end of september

new york and tim gunn

what a weekend. on saturday i went to new york for the first time. it's a four hour bus ride, and you're only there for seven hours, but it's totally worth it. we got dropped off in front of the whitney... and i always feel like any trip is validated when it involves seeing art. only a few floors were open because they were in the process of installing some exhibitions, but there was enough there to occupy a good portion of the day. so much there: an audio tour (love those...) of the "modernisms" exhibition on the fifth floor, mark bradford's "neither new nor correct" exploration of layers and maps, danny lyon's exhibit reflecting a "long term interest in the grouping and sequencing of imagery" (sounds like scrapbooking...) but the main attraction was rudolf stingel. i was so not expecting to step off the elevator and into a gallery completely covered, floor to ceiling, with aluminum covered insulation panels and a classy chandelier in the middle. visitors are invited to leave their mark- carve or write their name, stick something in the walls, even spray paint- whatever they want. all part of stingel's exploration of the definition of painting. he had a few crazy photo-realistic paintings (i didn't believe that they were oil paintings until i got really close.) from my saic eduction i've been weary of painting from photographs, but it was hard not to stand in awe of stingel's massive paintings. i have no clue how he accomplished such a feat... i liked his damask "wallpaper" paintings the most. they were placed in a room with a mirror metal laminate & plywood floor. seeing a piece reflected in the floor blew my mind. it was a whole new dimension of seeing art... calling me to participate and move around and see all the possible angles reflected in the floor. a heightened awareness of the piece on the floor translated to a new consciousness of what was actually on the wall. why wouldn't i investigate that more as well?

being in new york was a little weird. i don't like being in a place and having there be so much i don't know... i don't know if that makes any sense. but there is so much to that city. i could never grasp it all, so it almost made me not want to try. momsie told me to take a lot of pictures... but it was hard to put myself in the tourist category. (i did buy a five dollar "i heart new york" shirt.) i couldn't really get excited about seeing rockefeller plaza or radio city... maybe it was just because i couldn't find a starbucks all morning and i was looking forward to a hard core venti java chip.

i guess when it got darker outside it started to feel like it fit my expectations for the city a little bit more... the bus picked us up in soho, and i wish i had been able to spend more time in that area. it was much more artsy. they have bus trips at least once a month to new york, i'm going back in october with my drawing class... and i'm sure i'll go additional times & take advantage of such a good opportunity to see art.

today we walked down to the baltimore book festival to see the one and only tim gunn. he was there to discuss his book, "a guide to quality, taste, and style." a fitting title for such a classy man. he was very well spoken (even when he mentioned santino...) & i can't wait for the new season of project runway (november 14! tara & i are going to organize a showing in the gatehouse. the must see tv event of the season.)

even though we went for tim gunn, we were suprised to see how cool the rest of the book festival was. lots of fun stuff going on. we got harry potter glasses, chocolate covered strawberries (yum!), tatoos from the walters, and even met papa bear. check us out.

you know you're jealous.

closing thoughts to top off such an all-around fun weekend... the new matt pond pa cd came in the mail (woo hoo!) and tonight was the best coffeehouse ever. (i guess i don't have much to compare it to. but the performing acts were so enjoyable... only at mica do you get break dancers, spoken word, improv, acappella, fake rappers, and a eukele cover of "yoshimi battles the pink robots" together at one venue. must have been the sweet posters advertising for sign up.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

33. take field trips.

my elements of visual thinking teacher, katherine kavanaugh, (check out her website) decided we needed to break from our class structure and do something a little different this week. she arranged for us to travel to the home of al englemann, one of her friends who collects african art. i'm not sure if photos can do this field trip justice. imagine a house filled with hundreds of pieces of african art... three floors, every room (even bedroom & bathroom), floor to ceiling. only 10 people from the class could be there at once, because there just wasn't enough room. according to al, it is "50 years of insanity... a life of its own."

the whole thing was so overwhelming. i didn't like the objects themselves so much, but i could listen to al talk all today. there were so many moments when i wished i was writing it all down... but the environment wasn't conducive to having a sketchbook out. i have so much respect for him, for his vast life experience and knowledge.

here are some things he said that hit home with me...

"you are different than other folks. you're weird. you are forced to confront what is inside through your art. not a lot of people do that."

"stop beating yourself up. there are enough people out there who will do that for you."

"live with your anxiety. it's good for you. so many people lower their standards because of it. or live in denial."

good stuff.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

town hall meeting

i went to my first "town hall meeting" today. it's mica's way of giving students an opportunity to learn about various initiatives on campus directly from the people in charge, and an opportunity to drill them with any burning questions or concerns. it takes place in falvey hall about 3 times a year. president fred lazarus, provost ray allen, and vice president dusty porter are the stars of the show... they sit on stage at a table complete with pressed tablecloth, microphones, and water bottles (which really should have been the mica water bottles parkhurst has now...) president lazarus said that he felt like he was on "meet the press." (i love him... he's got such a real, honest outlook on things. and it doesn't hurt that he always wears a bow tie and has a sense of humor.) the three of them truly are here to serve the students. they spend most of the day in an office, so it's obvious that they feed off of student interaction and opinion. the whole forum is as much for them as it is for however many people show up. (which was about 25 today.)

the town hall concept is a simple idea, still in the growing stages (2 years old.) i can't see why more people don't go. i didn't come with a hidden sustainability agenda or complaint about the shuttle services, but it felt good to just sit and listen to all of the things that are going on around me at mica. i took four pages, front and back, of notes. (but i do write pretty big...)

some issues on the docket: tuition increase, enrollment growth impacting space, availability of courses, new faculty, the diversity initiative, a new comprehensive mica website, spirituality at mica, sustainability of the new gateway building, improvements with the bank building, the role of the board of trustees, identifying core values on campus, and mica's place as a leading visual arts institution in the national dialogue.

i learned so much. & everything seemed positive. really moving in a good direction. is there room for improvement? yes. of course. but they recognize that here and are always looking for the next big things. it's good to know more about the big picture here. it gives you such a reassurance, and sense of ownership. if you want to change things... go for it. put things in motion.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


my cap class toured brooklyn today. we were instructed to travel in groups of two (less likely to be approached for prostitution) & not to engage people on park benches (probably drug dealers), because, as fletcher put it: "this is not roland park." with that being said, i had a lot of expectations for the experience. i was surprised. (even though i'm finding that i'm not very good at detecting when people around me are under the influence.) it's easy to say that area is depressed and help is needed. but even that conclusion after spending a day there is lacking sensitivity to the people there. that is their life. and with cap you are always an outsider.

being the hopeless optimist i am, i always look for something to grab onto. a glimmer of something good amid a shitty situation. i found that in the elementary school there. they were so welcoming... & so excited to participate in "a neighborhood called baltimore." the staff is fortunate to have what they do. they made the environment a bright, fun safe haven for the kids to grow and learn. the vice principal took us around and showed off every room, every group of kids. i can't wait to go back and actually work with them and see what they create.

the art teacher there was great. (we found out she was a former mica/johns hopkins student... it has got to take a certain kind of motivation to be so young, just out of school, and willing to commit to teaching in baltimore, living off of a teacher's salary.) my favorite thing was her piet mondrian project with the pre-k kids. so cool. it is so important that they are able to have art classes and be creative... that isn't always a standard with inner city schools. the kids may never remember who piet mondrian is or doing a cut paper assignment when they were 6. but maybe when they are 16 they'll remember the power art had to allow them to escape from whatever was going on at home. maybe they'll grab construction paper, glue, and scissors instead of turning to drugs. maybe...

Monday, September 24, 2007

daily intelligence

i've been intrigued by these billboards since i arrived in b-more. my favorite one is: "next time someone asks 'what's up,' tell them." so i finally looked into it & bookmarked the baltimore examiner website. it has pdf archives of all of the newspapers... so cool. i'm making it my own personal campaign, starting now, to read more local news. i don't know yet if i should be worried about reliability in reporting or anything from them... but i figure it's better than nothing.

there is still so much i need to learn. i guess you have to know the whole story before you can begin to rewrite it. (gosh. i can't believe i just wrote that. i am so monumentally corny.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007


ok. so i know it's late. but i just had to share this.

i love stumbling across stuff like this. i feel like i just hit the jackpot.

warning: do not go to this website until you can spend quality time with it. trust me, you'll never be able to tear yourself away from it...

Friday, September 21, 2007

how much did that one jesus piece cost?

i got a very fun package from home in the mail today... lots of good stuff. pearls, peeps, wireless router... but my favorite was the new kanye west cd. i flipped out when i found out bittersweet was on it. i thought that john mayer/kanye west collaboration was long gone. because it was easily three years ago that they worked on it... and this video clip was on mtv. it still makes me laugh, so i had to post it. enjoy.

kanye is calling...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

taking the blog off the back burner

this blog has definitely been on my back burner... there is so much that i want to say & document, but it's suddenly getting harder to find time. which sucks. because i've been going through the past few days with all of these crazy big thoughts in my head, and what i need most is to sit down and process it all.

yesterday was a big day for me.

i went back to roland park with my cap class for the implementation stage. in response to our first visit (and our interest in the schools there in particular) we developed a project titled: "a neighborhood called baltimore." i was so excited... a chance for me to create something from the ground up in a totally new place & actually put it in motion and see what happens. it's the closest thing i've got right now to what being part of avondale student leadership last year was for me. i'm talking project planning, fun design stuff like logos & t-shirts. totally up my alley. but doing it here at mica has forced me to reevaluate it all. here i was shoving project planning and "smart" goals down everyone's throats. maybe it's the overall idea of those tools that needs to guide me. the project planning piece is a comfort zone for me. in high school it allowed me to be independent and anal and a perfectionist. understandably, the community arts mentality is more organic. good. i shouldn't lock myself into a structure. i should let go. (i love how that keeps coming back up. such a good guiding philosophy for me right now. it definitely helped me in drawing last monday when fabienne told me to "let go.") what happens when i shove those methods out the window and allow something to develop naturally? i guess i'll see.

the best part about the roland park trip was having one on one time with fletcher. i love that man. it was the first time since i've been here where i've had someone be completely honest with me about baltimore and mica. i sat soaking it all in until the mica shuttle came back and we had to leave. the conversation started with the latest baltimore newspaper report of six people being shot & killed over the weekend. add that to the number of homicides in the city since january 1, and you get a whopping total of 223. (i've been here for more than a month and it's the first time i've heard that number. the power of the mica bubble. and the ability of people to filter what they want to know. i thought it was interesting that the naacp is asking people to post the number on a note card in their windows.) it's understood that the crimes are mostly drug related involving black youth. (there was a kid at the gatehouse monday night who was curious about why we were cutting out cardboard houses. he was genuinely interested. and expressed how important he thinks cap is. he's a baltimore native... and frankly stated that he considers baltimore to be a third world country. he'd been to colombia and seen the drug trade there. and he said it was hard not to see similarities in the two locations. yes, it's extreme... but at least he wasn't so wrapped up in making art that he became completely apathetic to what is around him. i want to talk to that kid again.) how does it get to this point? fletcher explained it simply... as a perpetual frustration & complete lack of hope. hope doesn't fit into the hip hop culture. how do we fix this? i know it's not an easy question at all... that's why i'm still bothered by the conversation and my mind's still racing. (i'm frustrated that assignments are getting in my way. i hope it still means something when i actually have time this weekend. why is it always that i get going on stuff like this and something pulls me back? like having to study like crazy for calc after meeting jennifer granholm.) but the most promising thing to come out of the conversation was the realization of the power that art has. the only thing is it needs to connect with other realities. fletcher was honest in saying that he has no faith in the political machine. but he does have faith in community. which reinforces my hope that community arts has the potential to be a powerful tool for impact in baltimore.

by the way (if you couldn't tell from the picture above) i'm still drowning in post it notes. and it's still a good thing.

Friday, September 14, 2007

a good week.

good is...

- getting tickets to see bright eyes in d.c. november 11.
- my free speech piece being selected for the mica constitution day symposium exhibition. (i've only been here two weeks... already things are happening.)
- kanye leading 50 cent in cd sales.
- impromptu ordering a sufjan stevens "greetings from michigan" shirt and having it come in the mail two days later.
- learning "tall paul's" real name.
- going to the bma for the first time.
- getting soup and star stickers from shushi in the mail.
- being so completely giddy about my cap project because it involves good old project planning.
- drinking so much fountain diet pepsi at the hoff that i become slap happy.
- making my first poster for student activities (where's the projector?)
- tara's parents bringing nelly "country grammar" and the oc dvds.
- leaving the mica bubble (even if it is just to go to ikea & tgi friday's.)
- both ellen lupton and bruce mau being awarded AIGA medals.

good words.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

be the post it.

my first project for elements is to "take an object which has specific visual information and through the use of my own imagination change the way it is seen." i chose post-its. practical, yet fun. accepting of my inner note taker and to do list maker. very graphic. and i also have a thing for using everyday office supplies in art. so it works all around.

this is a three week project... starting with 10 pieces, continuing with five more, and ending with a final version. and there are no rules. just play.

and i have been. i bought a huge roll of yellow tracing paper. (could it be the new acetate? so many possibilities.) i covered an entire corner of the dorm from floor to ceiling with post-its. i found a post-it colored dress suit from the thrift store (very out of my element) that i will never wear in public, but was cheap enough (half off labor day sale) to buy just for a post-it photo shoot. and i'm staring right now at a huge white square canvas just begging for a splash of post-it yellow paint...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

critiques and caves

the past few classes and critiques have been so invigorating. here's what i wrote down on my paper during our critique of the free speech project in electronic media and culture (emac):

"this is what being in an art school is all about. the vehicle of the critique to take discussion anywhere - envoke thoughts that overwhelm and get the wheels in your brain turning. so much more powerful than a lecture hall or disconnected reading assignments. there are so many layers of meaning (what it evokes for the artist and their intentions, what others say about it, and then how it makes you feel) when you see before you say."

ben called me yesterday, for whatever reason. (actually, i think he just wanted to repeat some of the jokes he had heard from krienbring to a fresh audience.) he was half playing madden, half sharing with me his first two days of school. so sweet. he loves kreinbring (no suprise there) & mumbled something about reading about a cave. i freaked out... it's crazy to think that i read plato's "the allegory of the cave" as a sophomore, too. it's one of those good old xeroxed reading packets completely covered in notes that i pull out from time to time, and it always has new meaning. like today in elements of visual thinking. someone brought it up while discussing john berger's "ways of seeing." what a coincidence, kip. i guess the stuff you learn in high school really is important. (but then again, it is plato and not the periodic table.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

roland park

the first community on the cap tour schedule was roland park. in the context of baltimore, it was a surprise. just read their "national register of historic places" sign. i guess in a way it should not surprise me at all. not that different from oakland county. and there wouldn't be an oakland county without a detroit.

roland park was the first planned suburban community in america. crazy. and just the mention of fredrick law olmsted (even if he's jr.) is enough to entitle the community a claim to fame. for all the innovation in site design and planning, roland park was admittedly less than innovative in "social dimensions." which was still obvious more than 100 years after its conception. it's amazing how just a matter of blocks can change everything in baltimore.

as far as i've interpreted it, the concept of our cap "tours" is to find the essence of any given community... using whatever tool we deem necessary: photography, note taking, interviewing, sketching, etc. amid all the researching & learning i did in the community, i learned little things about myself. like... i tend to want to observe from the sidelines. i'm much more comfortable soaking things in as a wall flower. but comfort zones are crap. it took me back to my struggles with debriefing. i need to have a more genuine interest in other people. i need to actually want to talk to them & know their story. that will take time.

i found myself really interested in the schools in the area. mostly private, prestigious, and extremely expensive. but even the roland park public school looked classy. i'm anticipating what i saw today will be night and day compared to the typical baltimore public school that i might run into on other cap tours. i was able to get into two of the "roland park five" (school doesn't start until tomorrow) - gilman school and roland park county school. there was so much there... i still need to process it all. but i'm excited. it will be interesting what, if anything at all, could be pulled from those elite private schools and applied to the floundering baltimore school system. and to see what art can do to benefit a community that already seems to have it all.

Monday, September 3, 2007

labor day weekend snapshots

my first mica t-shirt... so exciting! from "urban plunge," the community service day saturday morning. the shirt made all of the manual labor (removing vines from trees, picking up trash, etc.) worth it. i dragged tara along with me... so we made it fun.

we wanted to pose with a machete, but this little clipper was the best we could do.

after a morning of hard work, we cranked up the jams, got out the cookies, opened the windows, and did what we do best. paint. the homosote board in the living room is now a lovely shade of "jazzy pink." it really changes the whole mood of our little apartment. and now we have a place to hang up our stuff in style. (like our running tally of a kid we like to call "the whistler." if he walks by whistling, that's a tally. bonus points if he whistles whilst on unicycle.)

and... tara finally posed for me in the port-a-potty we walk by on the way to "the hoff" everyday. such a brave soul.

not mentioned above due to lack of photographic documentation: watching "stranger than fiction" (w/ will ferrell) on the commons lawn, utrecht & thrift store shopping, my first "coffee house" (a monthly student showcase @ mica) and being awaken at 2:34 in the morning by a large bearded man tap dancing next door.

you have not lived until you have experienced...

cathy had a problem with me & tara liking kanye west (who doesn't like kanye?) but she just happened to have a copy of r. kelly's "trapped in the closet" in her personal dvd collection. chapters 1-12. so we had to watch it. (& again afterwards, but with commentary.) pure genius. cliff hangers, music you can dance to, complex characters, humor, rhyming, real life scenarios.... it has it all. something you have to see to believe.