Freebie Day at Centennial Olympic Park

What do you want to do with your day off? You’re at the heart of a city with exciting attractions in every direction. And what do you want to do?

Atlanta is beautiful – there’s no doubt. But I’ve never fit the mold of a good tourist. I don’t enjoy busy places. I’m not impressed by the next up-and-coming restaurant. And being with a bunch of strangers for a week isn’t exactly my definition of a vacation. In fact, my anxiety is at an all-time high. So my ideal day was to sit in the park and read. The park was filled with tourists, I’ll admit, but it also happened to be a popular place for residents too. I conversed with a girl named Sparkle, and finally felt like I was learning a little more about the dynamics in Atlanta. She reminded me of a friend back home – incredibly sympathetic and friendly, but not likely to challenge. It made for quick-changing conversation but I didn’t mind. I have a tendency to dig until I can’t climb myself out of a deep conversation, which can be hit or miss when the other person doesn’t know me. We talked about great places in the area, how she came to live in Atlanta and her future plans, how I became a vegetarian, why I was visiting, the stigma and treatment of gay people in the area, and the types of marches/protests that have happened here recently. But I think we bonded most over our concern for the children climbing on the rocks, close to the shallow rock-filled water. A boy jumped onto a boulder at the top of the falls and wavered, and she yelled “Baby, get down!” He was a stranger. Now that’s heart. Contrary to what my supervisor said, Sparkle mentioned that people in the area aren’t too nice. Little did she know my impression of Atlanta citizens was shaped by her friendliness. Then again, she’s originally from Oklahoma; maybe the panhandle is even kinder. Overall, I considered the day a success, topped off with a dinner served by a hardworking gentleman I could empathize with, and a Bonner reflection. I realized something about vacations. Not having a strict schedule to follow or other people to answer for/to, helped me rediscover the value in exploring, and making time for possibility. And it doesn’t matter where you go, sometimes it just helps to be away from the routine.

Wandering Back Home

It seems silly to consider visiting home as a weekly wander, but it has changed. Or I have changed. Either way, I think the familiarity of home helps me to not be overly stimulated; then I can better concentrate on how my perspective has changed.

I’ve been thinking more about the idea of creating a personal memory time capsule. Especially since I’m rarely home, these are the types of moments I want to capture. I  have to actively remind myself of happy moments, like surprising my dad with random applause or cooking with my mom and getting my dad’s approval, but these images are going to fade. Reflecting in this post helped me recall instances already forgotten from the weekend. Even still, I did not remember the reason I took one of the pictures. Anyways, I was finally able to get the small camera I ordered for this concept. I don’t think I’ll be able to attach it to a sensor, but we will see.

Yesenia’s Solo Show at TrentonWorks Gallery

Months of planning and the show is finally here. I have to give major kudos to this artist and her family – the gallery was crowded with a steady stream of people throughout the opening reception. And they know how to work the gallery. A young relative of hers even asked for my email.

I regret not taking photos of the work because they were so well done. It’s hard to ignore the genuine talent and hard work that went into each piece. Each  stroke was made with purpose. It encouraged me to look at things with a different perspectives, as each new detail might be the silhouette of a bird or a face.

Having this opening reception also gave me the opportunity to talk to the rest of the gallery team. While planning for the next show, which is for IMM, I became reenergized. I’m enthusiastic about what it could be. Personally, I’d like to capture the spirit of the giant piano scene in “Big” and just make the gallery a play store. Maybe it’s because a classmate was there, or we had just come from Physical Computing, but the possibility of putting sensors around the gallery was exciting. I am eager to see the followthrough.

The Black Monologues

I’m a fan of serendipity. And it just so happened that my friend gave the perfect preface to the end of the Black Monologues, bringing everything full circle. Beyond that, this night connected very well with the TED talk and discussion we had during ACEL training today. Walk with me- I tried. And it helped a lot. That’s the thing about monologues: they humanize difficult subjects. They make them so intimate and vulnerable that it’s impossible to ignore, but moreover, that you couldn’t possibly want to ignore it. You want to hear more, actually. I could summarize “the black experience” but it would not do it justice, especially considering there is no one experience. But my takeaways are many and help me become a more conscientious person:  people have pasts and struggles you’ll know nothing of (like sexual abuse, the complexity of parental relationships over drug addiction or color discrimination, being a primary caretaker) so be mindful of that, positive role models are valued (reaffirming a thought from this morning), affirmative action isn’t something to be bitter about, do not downplay other people’s successes, don’t be an other and recognize those microaggressions, the skin color as an weapon analogy is powerful…

As for my personal reflection, I realized this was the best time to listen. Previous reflections resulted in my being perplexed about my own privilege. I tried to draw connections with my ethnicity and class, but it was not enough. I did not know my place, but I felt it was not my place to say anything. The “spotlight” is precious and I need to learn when it’s my turn to just listen, which is most of the time. And in the moment, I got it. I did not agree with everything but I understood. I understand. I respect it. Especially with the last poet, whose experience seemed most true to this next first generation of college students. Seemingly always the small fish in a big ocean, for lack of a better analogy. Always having to prove yourself. And even coming to terms with not necessarily making it, but still being a success in someone’s eyes.

All of this had me thinking that this would be the perfect event for Bentrice’s students. And the possible collaboration between the two might be just what we were talking about in the ACEL meeting. Except this isn’t a class….that’s always where I fall short.

“…give me a star to reach for tell me what it takes …”

The Second Longest Date of My Life

Saturday, February 6, 2016

I received an email that Artworks put up three new exhibitions, two of which seemed particularly interesting because they seemed to be informed by technology:  Glitch Aesthetic by Phillip McConnell, and Automaton by Kate Eggleston and Christy O’Connor. I set out to make this a trip for myself but it turned out to be the second longest date of my life, and I became quite sick – partly because I am prone to motion sickness and also because three hours of trying to open myself to inspiration was incredibly taxing. Waiting for the 601 was definitely the worst of it. The combination of the cold biting weather, having been scorned by NJTransit before, and my elevated self consciousness did not help with the waiting. As for the gallery, Automaton was unsettling…it was brilliant. I felt like the setup from landscape, to digitized art, to the automaton sculptures was a purposeful transition, though it did not prepare me enough for the uneasiness that Automaton put me through. And I think that’s the kind of art that usually speaks to me, the kind that makes a bold a statement, makes me feel breathless, maybe even upsets me.

Some other random realizations from the bus rides:

  • A new student residential area is being built off campus, as if what’s lacking in our neighborhood is places for students live. Why not better places for businesses? What about for people that are willing to stay?
  • All of these assignments for thesis encourages more introspection for me and that’s dangerous for my personality. It feeds my tendency to overthink, and my quixotic lens on life.
  • The color red has strong influence on my emotions. The red door on the structure next to the NJ School Board Association is the perfect shade.
  • I think it would be fun to take the bus without any intention to go anywhere. And if the Trenton atmosphere were more like New York, perhaps I would.

Disclaimer: All rights to the photos belong to their artist. I own nothing.