Advice from the Inadvisable (a.k.a. me)

Sometimes I steal my friends' Instagram pictures despite my own anti-Instagram stance. Shh!

I’m the kind of person who usually veers away from advice. Be it as straightforward as bringing a coat because it’s cold/umbrella because it’s raining/[insert necessary object] because [insert natural disaster], as monumental as choosing a college, or as obvious as not taking and later eating an entire FFC to-go box full of cake, a decision only half-filled with regret, I typically ignore outside opinions and just go with the flow of my own ideas. Call it self-sufficiency or call it stubbornness, you can even “call it maybe” if that’s more your style, I figured that it would be hypocritical for me to write a blog of advice for the Class of 2016 without first mentioning my own disdain towards the simplest suggestion. I only say this because, despite whatever advice I can give you, I trust that you’re all capable of getting through the admittedly tough first few weeks of college. Part of college is making mistakes, maybe sometimes more than we’d like, but it’s inadvertently there. SO, all that being said, here’s some advice! Take it with a grain of salt or a lump of pepper (said no one, ever. Antonyms are hard.) but basically I invite you to read my tips for what’s to come while also reminding you that all will be fine!

  1. Pack lightly. I came to Baltimore with a total of 5 bags between myself and my parents. So imagine my surprise when, sans parents helping me to move out, I couldn’t fit everything I had brought and acquired at school into the 2 bags I could check at the airport! Clearly I’m not a math major. Long story short, think ahead! Everything you take to school will need to come back/be moved somewhere at the end of the year. If your parents will come and help you move out, go crazy! Bring a U-Haul truck! (Just kidding, my sister’s freshman roommate actually did this. It’s a little excessive if you ask me). Otherwise, do you really need that sweatshirt that you haven’t worn since middle school or that book that you don’t plan on opening? (Spoiler alert: no).
  2. Breathe. Your parents might be kind of sad about you leaving for college, so try to make some of your last moments under their wings as stress-free and relaxed as possible. Example: it made my mom much more at ease to buy me things like shampoo, food, and disinfectant Clorox things (I really don’t know…) in inordinate multiples. As a quasi-minimalist, this seemed rather unnecessary, especially at the time foreseeing the potential results to come from aforementioned rule #1. However, I let her continue, even if it meant biting my tongue, in order to make move-in easier on us all. You’ll be in a compact room with your family, your roommate, and your roommate’s family, attempting to move furniture, set up Wi-Fi, and put everything in its place. It will make it easier on all of you if you just remember to breathe and carry on. Make this time with your family as stress-free and enjoyable as possible because pretty soon, you’ll be own your own.
  3. Leave your room! So you’ve set up your dorm to perfection and your parents are gone; now what? Go somewhere else! Sure it’s nice to relax in your room after a day of Orientation events, but you’ll have plenty of leftover time, and it doesn’t hurt to hang out in your common room or knock on some doors and say hi. I remember reading JHU_Sydney’s tips before move-in and one in particular stuck with me: Skype is your friend (keep in touch with those from home) but also your enemy (don’t stay in your room all day and neglect the new friends to be made around you).
  4. #YOOO, also known as “you only Orientation once.” I really wish I had gone to more events, as there are a lot to choose from. There’s really no harm in at least checking out an event; if it’s boring, you can always leave, but who knows, you might also meet a best friend. Go out of your comfort zone and meet new people, the easiest way, of course, being to make the most out of Orientation.
  5. Find your classes…actually. I walked around campus with people from my floor a few days before classes started to find where certain buildings were, but didn’t take the time to figure how exactly to get to each building. Don’t be that kid who leaves Gilman looking for Olin Hall, a fairly simple endeavor, ends up at Bloomberg, and then finally finds Olin, walking into his Intro GECS class 10 minutes late. Was this me on my first day of classes, you may ask? I’ll let the emotional trauma that I feel while typing this answer that question for you. If you’re not directionally-challenged like myself, I envy you, but if the thought of a map gives you anxiety, there will be plenty of time to find your classes beforehand, so do so thoughtfully!

So where does this leave us? Hopefully less worried, but who knows, I may have just increased your stress tenfold. Basically I would say to make the most out of the experience, be smart, maybe even be reckless, but really just to take everything one step at a time. Before you know it, move-in and Orientation will all be things of the past, and Hopkins will be — you guessed it — home.

Just some ridiculous people who I can't wait to see

As for me, I’ll be winding down my summer as I prepare to head back to Hopkins in a few days, which basically just means spending time with family and 24/7 eating, often times concurrently. No complaints. In exciting news, this blog represents my last post on the shared Class of 2015 blog. But no need to fear! You can keep in touch with me and my fellow SAAB sophomores as we move on to our own blogs in anticipation of a whole new class of SAAB freshmen taking our place. Woot! To anyone who has read my blogs this year, I hope that they’ve provided you with some kind of insight, knowledge, solace, or maybe even a laugh here and there. I look forward to blogging next time from my very own blog, and as I cope with the disbelief that I’m no longer a freshman, I hope that you’ll continue to join me as I move on to three more great years at Hopkins. Until then, take care!

Jumbled Emotions of a Rising Sophomore

Long hair, don't care? I'm pretty sure that's the #YOLO equivalent to not getting a haircut.

Well, I’ve come to an extremely unwelcome realization: I need to get a haircut. What this means, of course, is that it’s time to stop acting like a hippie, stop substituting paint parties and road trips as an effective use of a day (for the time being), and once more become a contributing member to society. Whether it’s the knowledge of classes on the horizon or the gradual departing of my high school friends to their respective schools, I’ve finally begun recognizing that summer does indeed have an expiration date and that responsibility isn’t going to kindly wait for me to welcome it back into my life. It really been a much-needed summer of both relaxation and epic times with friends though. If you’re afraid about losing touch with your friends from high school, I can attest to now being even closer to my friends this summer than probably ever before. Be it narrating the olympics with ridiculous dialogue, surprising my friend on her birthday with a face full of potentially-stolen cupcakes (out of love of course), rocking out to Childish Gambino in the middle of Tennessee, or just sitting around talking and laughing about who-knows-what, I can’t help but say this has been a pretty awesome summer. But along with the realization that I need a haircut comes the understanding that there are more exciting things in life than half-price milkshakes at Sonic. That is to say, while summer may offer ease of mind, going back to Hopkins means that I can spend my time doing things of a much more significant nature.

Why? Call Me Maybe dubstep remixes, that's why.

However, it’s not entirely necessary to rid myself of relaxation, but rather it’s time to tack on what I expect to be an amazing sophomore year. I’ve grown comfortable, if not complacent, with my laziness in St. Louis and so I’m ready to go back to Hopkins for all of the reasons that drew me there in the first place. I’m ready to learn more about modern art history and theory. I’m ready to, in one of my more exciting classes, examine a collection at the Walters Art Museum and learn about the installation of non-Western art. [I think] I’m ready to add another minor, this time in Entrepreneurship & Management, to focus on the administrative and marketing side of the museum. I’m ready to curate. I’m ready to contribute to the community through arts programming and community service, and just as ready to explore that community, food included (and in most cases compulsory). I’m ready to plan trips to D.C., New York, and who knows where else. I’m ready to apply to study abroad programs and accept that this time next year I may be packing my bags for France instead of Baltimore. Maybe more than anything, I’m ready to reunite with my friends with whom ridiculously fun nights and more unforgettable moments are just around the corner.

So is this a worried  post, an inspiring post, an anxious post, etc? I don’t really know, to be quite honest. I suppose it’s more of a “dear freshmen, don’t feel like you’re unwarranted in feeling the way you probably do” post, because lately I’ve been feeling similar fits of being ready to go (back, in my case) to Hopkins, sad to say “see you later” to my friends once again, and anxious to see how this year turns out. I’m essentially in a glass case of emotion. I am a little apprehensive in all honesty to start out the semester with 18 credits, one job, one internship, and extracurriculars on top of that, but if I let fear stop me from getting ahead, I’m in no position to succeed. In the end, all I can do is recognize how great of a summer I’ve had and accept that it’s time to buckle up my seatbelt, get that loathed haircut (overreaction, maybe?), and prepare for another semester of giving it my all at Hopkins. Class of 2016, enjoy your time at home as it slowly comes to what may seem like an end, but don’t be afraid of things changing forever. You have a lot, seriously, to look forward to, but you’ll always have the comfort of home to fall back on as well. I look forward to seeing you all on campus in just a few short weeks, get ready for an unforgettable ride!

Most Likely To Make a Hopkins Superlatives Blog

Exhibit A

One of my favorite parts of high school was Senior Superlatives, especially because my friend and I who were voted “Most Artistic” decided to take our newfound glory a little far (see: too far) and splatter-paint ourselves in the middle of the school day for our picture. In the same spirit, I thought I would finally announce my long-awaited Hopkins Superlatives. Seeing as I was the only one voting, it may be a little biased, but for all of you who are anxious to start your time at Hopkins, don’t worry — you’ll soon be able to formulate your own personal favorites that make Hopkins unique to you.

Best Dressed: Gilman Hall

The Gilman Atrium and Hut, or as I fondly refer to it, the “Hipster Library,” are without a doubt the best dressed spots on campus. Seeing as Gilman is the “home for humanities,” I must say that us humanitarians dress to impress. The extent to which people always seem so put together in their finest hipster apparel is actually quite laughable at times, and I’m unable to think of an occasion when I saw someone wearing sweatpants. So congratulations study-goers of Gilman — you always make the place so undeniably classy.

24/7 classiness

Most Likely to Change the World: JHU Tutorial Project

I did Tutorial Project first semester and it was great. I got to spend time with fellow SAABers JHU_Erica, JHU_Kevin, and JHU_Wafa, I worked with an awesome kid named Rickie, and I really got to see the impact that the whole group was having on the kids who we were tutoring. I would definitely encourage anyone to apply and get involved, and even though I had to give it up because of time conflicts, I think that it’s something that will continue to show how much Hopkins students care about the surrounding communities.

Most Changed: The Brody Learning Commons 

From its beginnings as a meek and humble construction site in the beginning of the year, the BLC is shaping up to be an invaluable space on campus. The BLC is adjacent to the MSE Library and will offer additional space for study and research; even better, it’s planned to open before the start of the school year! From watching the construction occur throughout the school year, the Brody Learning Commons is definitely the most changed at Hopkins.

From getting to school in the fall... leaving for the summer

Most Likely to Brighten Your Day: Spring Fair

Not only does Spring Fair brighten up your day, but it makes your entire weekend a whirlwind of fun. My first Spring Fair was amazing; the food, music, and relaxed vibe all makes for a fun-filled change of pace. It’s hard not to be happy during Spring Fair weekend.

Most Spirited: The Nest

The Nest is the section at lacrosse games dedicated to the most-spirited student fans. It’s always fun to join a sea of light blue as you scream until you lose your voice while cheering for your school.

Go Hop!

Worst Senioritis: The Baltimore crime stigma

I’m not sure whether I should attribute it to seniortis or (more accurately) to the fact that it’s simply over-hyped, but Baltimore’s stigma of being a dangerous place did not show up last year, and it’s not showing signs to come in the future. Hopkins’ security is crazy extensive, and I can truly say that I never once felt unsafe, including my way-post-midnight food runs and coming home from off-campus. (I mean what mom and dad? I’m always in bed by 8:30, don’t worry.)

Do you sense any worry in this picture? Neither do I.

Most Likely to Star in a Movie: Homewood Campus

If I ever felt the (unnecessary) urge to run from class to class, I would make sure to follow the footsteps of Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg in the opening scene of The Social Network. I’ve never seen Harvard so I really can’t judge, but we must be doing something right if they decided to film on our campus. In the film crew’s defense, you can’t beat red brick and marble.

Yes, this is the Breezeway. No, there's not a violin player there every night. Although that would be pretty cool...

Most Likely to Succeed: Program in Museums & Society

I don’t think I’ll ever get over my love of my minor in Museums and Society. The minor is pretty new -- it was first offered in 2007 -- but they’ve already contributed so much to Hopkins. As one of the most interdisciplinary programs, Museums and Society has offered courses that range from curating a print exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art to exhibiting scientific discoveries to an Intersession class abroad in France looking at the role of museums in Paris. I would without-a-doubt recommend signing up for one of the classes they offer, because they only continue to get better.

The Walters Art Museum will become my classroom this fall -- I'm taking a practicum course looking at the installation of their East Asian art collection!

Class Clown(s): My friends

This superlative definitely goes out to my amazing friends who enjoy doing the same crazy things that I do…

...such as failing at velcro walls... through inflatable obstacle courses that randomly appear across campus...

...and even having hipster photoshoots so that we could make our very own stereotypical "instagrammed image with a vague quote" pictures.

Well, the superlatives are out and the suspense is over. Well, there’s still some suspense, as I’m sure the incoming freshmen are eager to start their own memories at Hopkins. Don’t be fooled though: we returning students are just as excited to get back to our school. Until then, continue making the most out of your summers and I’ll be back soon with my last post before the beginning of the school year!

You Can Find Me in St. Louie

So now that I’ve reflected on finals and taken a mock-trip to Baltimore, I guess I should talk a little bit about my summer back home in St. Louis. Take it away, Nelly:

Alright, so maybe that’s not the most accurate depiction of my summer thus far, but hey, in the words of my man Nelly, “I’m from the Lou and I’m proud.” While there was a part of me trying to stay on the East coast for the summer, being back has not been half bad in the least. Here are just some of the things occupying my St. Louis summer.

Different Summer, Same Great Friends

My friends from high school are all across the country doing such cool things — hotel management, journalism, theatre, anthropology, the Marine Corps (Oorah!) — and so getting to catch up with everyone during the summer is always fun. It’s really crazy to see how much everyone changes over the school year, but when we all get back together it feels like we never left. When your days and nights are filled with shaving cream fights, climbing buildings, paint fights, parking lot dance parties, and other various shenanigans, you really can’t complain.

Bonnaroo in a nutshell


Just a few weeks after finishing up finals at school, I road tripped to Tennessee with some friends from high school for the Bonnaroo Music Festival. Just imagine listening to amazing live music all day, going back to your tent exhausted and ready to sleep, hearing Skrillex starting a set at 1:30 am, and then deciding to go back to the stages and party for a few hours. It was ridiculous, and definitely an unforgettable 4 days. I actually got stopped by a guy who noticed me wearing something with a Hopkins logo on it just so he could tell me how much he liked the school and lacrosse team. Bonnaroo certainly gathers some great people.

California Dreamin’

I’m really excited to head to California in a few weeks with my dad to see some private art collections and visit some of the area museums. I rarely travel during breaks, and I’ve only been to the west coast once, so I’m really looking forward to discovering all there is to experience. I’ve been reading a really good book called Rebels in Paradise about the rise of Pop art and the role that California, as opposed to New York, played in the arising material aesthetic, so I’m pretty pumped to see some of the areas, galleries, and art in person.

Some Art History Here and There

Since I was unable to find a full-time summer job, (hello babysitting, website design, and working a kickball tournament), I’ve had a lot of time to do some casual research in art history, especially the stuff that they leave out of the textbooks. For example, did you know that Warhol, in an interview, once attributed Jasper Johns’ greatness to the fact that he “makes such great lunches”? Or that early film likely held a strong influence on the emergence of the Cubist style in the painting of Picasso and Braque? A lot of this insight into the artistic community and the relationships between these individuals has been influencing my own art lately, and it’s nice to have the summer to step back and reevaluate my artistic intention. In addition to some light research, I’ve also been formulating some possible exhibition themes that I might pursue once I’m back at Hopkins after having gotten permission from the head of the Mattin Center (the arts department at Hopkins) to do some curatorial work in and outside of the buildings. I’m really excited to see where they may go and so I’m taking advantage of the summer to figure out logistics and ideas.

A sculpture outside of CCAD in Ohio

Well, that’s all I have for you now. I’m definitely enjoying soaking up the St. Louis sun (+ humidity + absurd heat wave) but I’m also eager to head back to Hopkins in just less than 2 months. Moving in with two of my best friends, reuniting with even more friends, an amazing internship, and truly, ridiculously-incredible classes are right around the corner; there’s really a lot to look forward to. In the meantime, I hope everyone’s been enjoying their summers as well and I’m off to continue enjoying mine!

Baltimore, Vicariously through the News

While I miss my friends and classes at Hopkins like crazy, I’ve really found myself to miss the charm and opportunity that lies in Baltimore as well. In order to supplement my St. Louis summer with the spirit of B’more, I’ve been keeping up with what’s been going on around the city through the news.

Baltimore Opens Its Walls to Street Art (The Huffington Post)

I really like this article because it shows Baltimore’s commitment to the arts, especially in Station North, the major art district in the city. One of my favorite parts is the picture at left, showing a building-turned-workspace for street artist MOMO, because that building is actually Gallery CA, a contemporary art gallery where I’ll be interning in the fall while working with the current Curator-in-Residence, a MICA grad student in the Curatorial Practice program. Not only does Baltimore draw in artists from around the city, but also internationaly-acclaimed artists, such as John Ahearn who definitely made a statement at New York’s Frieze Art Fair. Baltimore is surrounded by New York and D.C., a few of the art capitals of the U.S., but it is evident that it is becoming a landmark of its own, made even more clear by the efforts of this year’s Open Walls Baltimore. (Click on the title link to see a few dozen more examples of recent and amazing Baltimore street art)

Baltimore Museum of Art receives major gift of works by artist Morris Louis (Artdaily)

With the Baltimore Museum of Art getting ready to reopen their modern and contemporary galleries in the fall, (I’M SO EXCITED) they’re also acquiring new works through their In a New Light campaign. Morris Louis is one such artist whose works are being accessioned by the Museum, which is fitting seeing his long history with Baltimore, being both born in the city and graduating from MICA. In working in the curatorial offices at the BMA all last year, I actually got to attend a pre-accessions committee meeting in which the BMA contemporary curator showed us the works she was looking to acquire, among which were works by Louis, straight from his estate and still in the crate. It was an incredible experience to see the art in such an environment as the BMA vaults, and I know that the acquisition of such works will make the efforts of the BMA’s reinstallation even more incredible.

Baltimore: Crabcake-Topped Burger at Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Serious Eats)

I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to food blogs; so, when an entry comes up about Baltimore, I’m eager to read it. One of the recent articles is about the “Camden Giant,” a new crabcake-topped burger available at the home of the Orioles. The crab and old-bay featured in the burger, staples of Maryland cuisine, make this one tempting dish, and as a burger junkie, it may prove hard to resist if I find myself at a game. During my year’s Orientation, there was a trip to Camden Yards, so if that goes on again this year, Class of 2016’ers, you may have to take one for the team and try it out.

Burger City Guides: Duff Goldman’s Favorite Burgers in Baltimore (A Hamburger Today)

Yes, I follow a blog called A Hamburger Today. No, I’m only slightly-ashamed of it. The blog recently put out a guide to burgers in Baltimore as chronicled by Charm City Cakes‘ chef Duff Goldman. (Fun fact: Charm City Cakes, the bakery in Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, is only a few blocks away from campus. Swag.)  Coming in at #3 on Duff’s list is Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon, a food truck that frequently comes around the Homewood campus with some pretty tempting burgers. I’ve yet to have free time to try one myself when they’re serving up burgers right outside of Charles Commons, but it’s definitely become a priority for when I head back to Baltimore in the fall.

As you can see, Baltimore is a busy and constantly-changing city, and if you get out to explore it, there’s a lot to be seen. Class of 2016, get excited, because come the Fall you’ll be living in one of the best cities in the country, and even being 750+ miles away in St. Louis for the summer hasn’t made me a stranger to the Baltimore charm.

Fun During Finals: An Oxymoron Debunked

I have a confession — this year’s final’s period turned out to be…fun. While I’ll eventually talk about my plans for the summer, I wanted to take a step back to highlight the memorable two weeks that concluded my freshman year at Hopkins (…what??). Thanks to having just one in-class final (on the last possible day), one photo critique, and two research papers, along with pushing myself all throughout the semester, I was not only at Hopkins until the very end of finals but amidst all the hard work I was able to embark on shenanigans galore. While being home for the summer has proven to be great so far, in missing Baltimore, Hopkins, and all of my friends I’ve made over the year, I thought I would share some of these fun moments to show that finals don’t have to be all work and no play.

And after everything, SOMEHOW this...

...went to this.

While I don’t have pictures of the last day of school water balloon fight (so crazy!), the end-of-year art history reception, the BMA Contemporary Print Fair, or the farewell barbecue held by our friends here from Sciences Po for the year, I do have an extremely fun finals period to look back on. While summer goodbyes are hard, I’ve been having a lot of fun at home and am getting pumped for some amazing things on the horizon for my sophomore year. Until then, I wish you a great summer, and congratulations to the Class of 2012, both those coming to Hopkins and those leaving, on graduating!!

Let’s Write a Paper!

No matter what major you pick or college you end up at, the reality is that you’ll have to write a paper. In high school, the idea of a three page essay was horrifying and often led to unorganized, unfocused results, but since coming to Hopkins I’ve been able to write some papers that I’ve personally been impressed by, both in quantity of pages and in quality. How is this possible? Well, for just three easy payments of $19.99…okay just kidding. The truth is, Hopkins has beyond incredible resources for research, not just in the labs, but in the museums and libraries. Follow along with my latest paper — a research paper for my Intro to Art History class — to see just how great these resources are.

The Prompt:

Step One: Pick a Piece

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do a paper that would focus on the ideas of modernity and artistic expression in modern art. Since the BMA’s contemporary collection doesn’t reopen until November of this year – I will add that the Contemporary Curator came and talked about the reinstallation to my museums class, and it’s going to be amazing – I decided that I would pick a work from the National Gallery in DC. So, one $7 train ticket later, I was en route to DC for the day in search of what would become my focus for the next few weeks. I departed the train an hour later and walked over to the National Gallery for the first time, only to find myself overwhelmed with choices. The conversation in my head was essentially a series of “Oh, I like that! Oh, but I also like that!” and on and on and on.

The East building with huge works by Calder and Kelly

Andy Goldsworthy's installation in the lobby

Leo Villareal's light installation connecting the East and West buildings

Cherry blossoms in DC


"Field Painting"

After wandering the galleries for a few hours, I somehow narrowed myself to one work: Jasper Johns’s Field Painting. Something about its undeniable presence and visual evidence of the artist hammering out ideas of mark-making and the artist/studio relationship, a sense not evident in his earlier, less introspective works, really connected with me.

Step Two: Research, Research, and, oh yeah, Research

Books about Johns

If you’re pursuing a major where writing papers will be a prominent part of your education, it’s important that the college you choose have the resources to help you on your way. What’s great about Hopkins is that the librarians have set up individual pages to guide you in your research with resources specific to your field. For example, the art history research guide provides access to search through the library catalogue as well as articles in various arts magazines. To start, I run “Jasper Johns” through the library catalogue search engine and discover a section full of books on the artist on campus at the MSE Library. I feel inclined to add that the entire D-Level of the library is made up of art history books. I locate the area on Johns and find everything from exhibition catalogues to books outlining his career. Then I see them: jackpot. First, I find a book that includes copies from Johns’s own sketchbook, which gives me unique insight into his thought process. Second, I find a very specific book on Johns’s use of lightbulbs, and since the work includes a bright red light that I wasn’t sure how to address, this will definitely help me as I approach my ideas on his work. I also find several journals talking about the work at the time of its exhibition, including a work in a French. I check out my dozen books and spend that night going through them, finding everything from a visual analysis to what could be seen as Johns’s manifesto towards the treatment of objects.

My partners-in-crime for the past few weeks

Step Three: Write

After spending a lot of time in front of a blank document on my computer, having random ideas come to me as I walk around campus and as I’m falling asleep, I work on a first draft of the work. I try to introduce the piece using a book of essays from Alfred Barr Jr. (that I conveniently got from the library) and work through a visual analysis, finally consulting my massive pile of books that have been hanging out in my room. 10+ pages later, I’m ready to refine.

Step Four: The Unexpected

I approach my professor one day after lecture to talk about some of the concepts of pop and bring up that I’m writing my paper on Johns. She asks if I’ve looked at an exhibition catalogue put out by the National Gallery about Johns, which I had, and then adds that her friend curated that exhibit. What? She then adds that I should look at one of the essays in there…that she wrote. What?? Lastly, she casually mentions the few times when she met Jasper Johns. What??? Hopkins professors, if that doesn’t explain clearly enough, are really at the top of their fields and are incredible resources to have at your disposal.

Step Five: The Home Stretch

I make an appointment with the JHU Writing Center, which provides students with one-on-one meetings with their trained tutors to go over writing assignments. The person helping me gives me some really valuable insight as to how to improve my paper and really takes the time to establish my strengths and weaknesses. After taking those edits into consideration, I approach the final step which involves listing the images which I’ve referenced in my essay. This, however, is extremely easy since Hopkins students get free accounts to ArtSTOR where I can download high quality files of my images.


…and the rest, as they say, is (art) history. Cue “We Are The Champions.” Except that actually happened…Anyway, maybe it’s the fact that Jasper Johns and Johns Hopkins share the word “Johns” in their name, but it’s more likely Hopkins’s amazing resources that really made this paper possible. The resources at Hopkins really do make a difference, and it’s really made research not only accessible but enjoyable as well.

Relay for Life 2012

It’s safe to say that everyone knows someone whose been affected by cancer, and this year’s Relay for Life at Hopkins was certainly a testament to that.

My dad and I in Baltimore for college visits -- a pretty accurate summary of our relationship

I signed up for Relay early in the fall and joined the Luminaria committee which is responsible for a ceremony that takes place the night of Relay to reflect on those who have been affected cancer. My earliest exposure to Relay was going each year to my oldest sister’s college to walk with my dad as he participated in the Survivor Lap. My dad was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when I was in first grade, so while I wasn’t completely aware of what was going on as my parents tried to keep my understanding limited, it’s something that has had a lasting effect. The few memories of his fight with cancer that I do have involve him emerging from the bathroom with a newly shaven head and building my new desk the night before going in for surgery. I also have memories of the constant support: my first grade teacher bringing by food as I was getting ready for school and constant wishes for my dad and a speedy recovery. Finally learning that he was cancer-free, even at a young age, was an enormous relief and taught me to really appreciate life.

Everyone in Relay has their own story, their own connection to cancer, and that made us an incredibly motivated group of people. Throughout the year we held events like Kickoff and an a cappella fundraiser, Caroling for a Cure. Various committees such as sponsorship and marketing worked all throughout the year, but the bulk of my committee’s work was in the few weeks prior to Relay both selling luminaria and finally, the night of, placing and lighting the luminaria bags around the track. That night, Keyser quad was taken over by a moon bounce, food galore, and our luminaria lining the perimeter. Prior to that, though, writing the names of survivors and victims was more emotional than I anticipated; with more bags made “in memory of” than “in honor of,” it really makes me hope that with our efforts we’ll be able to make it the other way around with more survivors of cancer.

By the time the event started, the amount of people that showed up was really incredible, and only grew as the night went on. While weekends are usually spent studying and catching up on work or going out to parties, to see that people valued Relay that much was pretty cool. By the time we got to the Luminaria ceremony, everyone gathered around with glow sticks in hand, and as the committee leaders named a group of people (parents, grandparents, friends, oneself) who we were honoring through Relay, everyone lit their glow stick to show just how connected we all are by cancer. Seeing all of the support made me realize just how much Hopkins students care about each other as well as the things important to their peers.

In the end, we were able to raise a total of $64,561.43, which is incredible and will go on to help the American Cancer Society in countless ways, but at the same time it demonstrated the closeness of the community at Hopkins and how we come together to support a cause. I can’t express how much it meant to have my friends there with me that night; those with 4 midterms coming up this week (hi JHU_Ian!), those with papers due and invitations to parties all showed up, and for me, being at Relay with my dad in St. Louis, it meant a lot to have my friends around. As tough, but necessary, as it can be to deal with the uncertainties and unfortunate aspects of life, being able to do it with my friends made it all the more meaningful, and seeing how everyone at Hopkins came together to support the cause was just as incredible.

Art Imitates Life: Why Hopkins

Congratulations Class of 2016!

By now, you’ve received your acceptance to Johns Hopkins University, leaving you with the pinnacle question of your Senior year: which school will you pick? While not as catchy as Rebecca Black’s dilemma of which seat should she take (clearly I haven’t come to terms with the fact that no one else listens to Friday anymore…), the months upon months of waiting have all led up to this. Now I really hate to make it sound this dramatic – you probably have an amazing list of schools from which to choose from – but in the coming days you’ll start to see what school will really fit you best. Not your parents, not your teachers, not your friends, but you.

Now, it’s often said that art imitates life. Why do I make this segue? As a society that holds the view that art is often a reflection of human experiences, conditions, and emotion, I thought I would explore how art imitates Hopkins, a place where I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the last few semesters expanding my horizons and learning more than I thought was possible. My goal is to show you not only comparisons between artworks and my time at Hopkins, but to explain what you can expect at a place like Hopkins, ultimately answering that all-so-important question: why Hopkins?

You’ll find that there’s always something going on

Alone in Gilman // Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913

Just as Boccioni implied movement and dynamism in his works as a Futurist artist, Hopkins is a place where there is always something engaging to do. Whether it entails doing handstands when you and your best friend find yourselves alone in the Gilman Hut, or taking advantage of the numerous events taking place on or off campus, you’re bound to find yourself with a plethora of activities that will make your next four years meaningful and plain old fun.

You’ll make unforgettable friends

Vincent and I in D.C. // Kahlo, The Two Fridas, 1939

Hopkins is not only an environment full of beyond intelligent people but also a student body that is diverse and exciting. While Frida Kahlo expressed herself as two interconnected parts, you’ll make instant connections at Hopkins with friends who you’ll never forget. While Vincent, a math major from Paris, and I seem to mimic the connectivity of The Two Fridas, we also share hilarious experiences at Hopkins; we’ll be living together next year in a suite with JHU_Ian and I couldn’t be more excited.

You’ll test yourself and discover what you’re capable of

Rock Climbing During Pre-O // O’Keeffe, Shell and Old Shingle No. IV, 1926

Georgia O’Keeffe challenged the art world with her ideas of representation, whereas you’ll learn to challenge yourself and be amazed at how much you’re able to accomplish. Hopkins throws you into an academically-driven environment which is not a walk in the park, but this is truly for the best. I’ve learned to explore topics on an entirely new level of understanding and I continue to see my abilities as an art historian grow.

You’ll become part of a community

Dorm Room Picnic // Manet, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass), 1863

While Matisse’s realist work shocked the art community upon its earliest exhibition, what isn’t shocking about Hopkins is just how quickly you become part of a community, a family. It’s moments like dinners on the floor of your friend’s kitchen, studying late at night with your floormates, and the constant encouragement from those around you that remind you just how close-knit the community at Hopkins truly is.

You’ll find the charm of the city of Baltimore

32nd Street Farmers Market // Cézanne, Apples and Oranges, 1899

Cézanne stands as one of the most important colorists in the history of art, while Baltimore’s charm — the brights colors of the row homes, the fresh tastes of the local food, the sounds of a campus self-contained in a city — is something that can’t be missed. Not to mention, the people in the surrounding communities have proved to be some of the most generous and interesting that I’ve ever met.

You’ll learn what it means to work together

Late Night Subway // Rousseau, The Dream, 1910

Sometimes the workload at Hopkins can make you feel like you’re in a jungle, themes Rousseau explored in his Post-Impressionist paintings. However, this doesn’t create a competitive environment but rather a place where we support and encourage one another. One night I stayed up late with my friend Liana as she worked on a paper, periodically keeping her alert with “Eye of the Tiger” dance parties, complete with tiger face paint, a contrast to the tiger lurking in the grasses in The Dream. Hopkins is a place where students come to succeed, not bring each other down, and that’s clear in the sense of support and working together in classes and beyond.

You’ll explore the traditions

First Night // Rembrandt, The Night Watch, 1642

Rembrandt broke from the tradition of group portraiture, whereas Hopkins is a school rich with traditions, further creating a sense of group and unity. Traditions like First Night, the Lighting of the Quads, and Spring Fair are unique to Hopkins and give you a feeling of pride as you partake in events that have gone on for years.

You’ll be surprised by the unexpected

Holi Shenanigans // Matisse, La femme au chapeau, 1905

Fauvists such as Matisse revealed a much more spontaneous approach towards painting through brushwork and color, and I think that spontaneity is also reflected in life at Hopkins. Just yesterday I was walking by the Beach and saw my friends Tara and Malka at a petting zoo organized outside of the Homewood House, and after petting sheep and llamas, we preceded down the grass where we were engulfed in colored powders for Holi, the Festival of Colors, almost resembling a Fauvist work ourselves.

I think it really is these unexpected moments that most accurately answer the question “why Hopkins?” It doesn’t only happen when you suddenly find yourself covered in neon colors, but it also happens in the classroom, the library, the dorms, etc. Hopkins has continued to surprise me with just how many incredible opportunities there are, how intelligent and willing the professors are, how amazing the people are, and how being in such an environment pushes you to your absolute best. Yes, there are times when I feel like the work is too much, times when I even ask myself “why Hopkins,” but then when I look at the bigger picture – the unforgettable opportunities and spontaneous moments – I remember just how great it all really is. You really can do anything at Hopkins, and if you’re willing to commit to a rigorous yet rewarding education, you’ll discover just what makes Hopkins so special.


Thanks for reading what I hope has given you a better picture of life at Hopkins. Now is really the time to connect with us students if you have any questions – what solidified my choice of Hopkins was actually a conversation I had on the Forums – so take full advantage of these opportunities. Ask a question on the admitted students Facebook group, ask me a question on Twitter or the Forums, or even post a comment on this blog and I’ll reply right away. Good luck as you finalize your decision, and to those of you who choose Hopkins: congratulations and welcome to the incredible class of 2016!

“Art History? Why’d You Come To Hopkins For That?”

Rauschenberg, National Museum of American Art, 2011

I was thinking about where I was just one year ago, a high school senior beyond anxious while awaiting college decisions, and realized that it’s probably best to just explain it as you’re all probably feeling right now: I just want to know already!! Well, very soon, you’ll have received all of your decisions and be faced with an even bigger dilemma: Where do I want to go? While I may not have the answer, although I do have a suggestion (see: Hopkins), and while we’re on the theme of “just wanting to know,” I thought I’d explain “all you need to know” about one of the best parts about Hopkins: art history. Since coming to Hopkins in the fall with the expectation that being an art history major here is so out-of-the-ordinary, and now feeling completely the opposite, I thought that I should write a blog solely about what it’s like studying the history of art at a school like Hopkins for those of you who may have the same doubts that I had.

So I may have just lost at least half of my readers – I mean art history, who wants to study that, let alone read a blog about it? – so if you’re one the valiant readers continuing, you’re most likely my hero. Why? Because you’re interested in art history! And even better than that, you’ve realized that Hopkins is one of the best places to do that. Why, you may ask? Well, here we go:

And P.S., as added incentive, we’re going to go delve back in time to my awkward teenage days taking pictures with art.

Pollock, Met, 2010

Unique Opportunities

Whether your interest is in research, art theory, or museology, Hopkins lets us art history majors take the classes that match our ambitions in the field. At the end of this semester after having taken just the two introductory art history courses, I’ll have written four papers – two visual analyses and two academic research papers – which is not only necessary when applying to internships but exposes you to the more research-focused side of art history. A lot of the art history classes are labeled as “writing intensive,” so if you enjoy digging deep into certain issues in the history of art, something I’ve found to be surprisingly rewarding, you can focus your curriculum around such courses. If you’re more intrigued by the ideas surrounding art in a more culturally-focused context, there are courses that will expose you to those ideas, while if you’re interested in art museums and how to deal with issues of exhibition and interpreting art for the public, the Museums & Society minor cross-lists many courses with the art history department to combine such topics. For example, one of the classes next year gives students the opportunity to reconsider the exhibition and installation of the East Asian art collection at the Walters Museum of Art – that’s pretty cool if you ask me. And speaking of museums, who could forget about Hopkins’ ideal…

Duchamp, MoMA, 2010


It’s no surprise that Baltimore is thriving with the arts, and the numerous museums play a large role in that. If you’ve ever taken an art history class before, you know that slides only get you so far; actually experiencing the work, seeing it in the flesh, brings entirely new interpretations and new levels of learning to an art history education. So let’s start with the closest museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, which is literally right next to campus. The museum boasts the largest collection of works by Matisse, which compliments its impressive collection of other European Impressionist works. There is also a great collection of European master works, American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts, (the department in which I currently work), non-western works, as well as modern and contemporary art in a smart and inventive way. The modern wing is currently undergoing a reinstallation, and the curator of the collection came to talk to our Intro to the Museum class and explain the exhibition; all I can say is it’s going to be amazing and open the public up to new ideas in contemporary art. In Mount Vernon, just a 15-minute, free bus ride away, is the Walters Art Museum, which houses ancient to Impressionist works, often displaying them in ways that give a better understanding of their original context. If for some reason this isn’t enough, DC is just a $7 train ride away, while it’s just as easy to take a bus to New York to experience the renowned collections there; I recently took a trip to see the New Museum’s exhibit The Ungovernables, so there’s really nothing keeping you away from the art scene there in the city. My Intro to Art History professor actually commutes from NYC, which reminds me that I should definitely talk about all of the amazing…

Pollock, Art Institute of Chicago, 2010 (Getting more awkward...)


The art history professors at Hopkins never cease to astound me in terms of their reputations and passion for the material. Even better is that no matter your focus in art history, there’s bound to be at least one professor who has specialized in that field and can guide you in your studies. From as general of concentrations from Modern to Early Christian and as specific as Early Modern Spanish to Northern Renaissance, the faculty not only knows their stuff, and knows it pretty darn well, but knows how to teach it in engaging and insightful ways. In the Fall, Dean Newman, the Dean of Arts & Sciences, invited art history students and the professors to her house for dinner and a lecture. It was a really great opportunity, and I got to talking with Professor Merback about how our loves for art history were both fostered by first practicing the visual arts. It’s incredible being around such intelligent (admittedly an understatement) professors who are also approachable and insightful about the field, which is especially helpful in discovering your…

Pollock, Art Institute of Chicago, 2008 (What a punk)

Focus and Secondary Field

As an art history major, the requirements involve taking two introductory survey courses, four courses focusing on four different time periods (ancient, medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, modern), and finally (but not limited to) three additional courses of your choosing. My interests revolve around modern and contemporary art, with a bit of French post-Impressionist thrown in, so the way that Hopkins sets up the major will let me get a focused education in the entire history of art while letting me get especially in depth with what interests me most. In addition to these major requirements, students choose a secondary field which shows specialized studies in an outside department, which can be anything from a language to museum studies to cultural studies, really whatever you like. By giving us the freedom to focus on our interests but framing that in an education that exposes us to many areas, Hopkins art history students are definitely a step above the rest, and we’re constantly being ranked with the top schools offering art history programs.

So, where do you go from here? Feel free to take my word that art history at Hopkins is incredible. Even at a school known for its sciences, Hopkins art history offers an education unlike any other that I encountered when visiting other schools, not only for the reasons above but also from the high level of academic excellence that comes from a school like Hopkins. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to do your research, either. Visit the art history website, ask a question about the major on the forums, or sit in on a class if you get the chance to visit. I can honestly say that I have no regrets in choosing to study art history, and Hopkins has only helped me maintain my love of the material while pushing me to new levels of understanding.

Good luck to everyone awaiting decisions! Keep a clear head and know that everything will soon be done!