On graduation

#tbt to the one photo that makes me want to burst out in tears every time I see it

#tbt to the one photo that makes me want to burst out in tears every time I see it

This blog marks my final entry for Hopkins Interactive. A little under four years ago I applied to the Student Admissions Advisory Board to chronicle my time as a student at Hopkins and now, seated on the hardwood floors of my house, devoid of furniture in the midst of moving out, I feel just as I did when I first arrived at this university: excited, overwhelmed, baffled, and still a bit naïve. One thing certainly has changed though—I’m now a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University. Picking up my diploma over a week ago was one of the most fulfilling moments in recent memory. I’ve dreamt about holding that piece of paper in my hands for years and knowing, finally knowing that I had successfully finished a trying undergraduate career.

w/ Ellsworth Kelly

w/ Ellsworth Kelly

I was most eager to see three words printed on the diploma as I eagerly pulled it from its envelope alongside a group of friends. I couldn’t help but smile as I read the words History of Art in a feigned caligraphic typeface. It’s a field that I’ve wanted to pursue since high school and now here I am. I’ve taken unbelievably formative courses with renowned faculty members and discovered artworks and artists and movements and ideas that complement how we understand the world and ourselves. I’ve studied at a school of art history in Paris and for the first time in my life saw the world from a totally new perspective. I’ve curated exhibitions, worked with artists, and written about the field. Hopkins and Baltimore equally enabled me to explore a discipline that I hold incredibly close to my heart, and my diploma commemorates four years of chasing a dream—curating—and an area—contemporary art—that I love.

Getting it

Getting it

A few hours before obtaining that glorious piece of paper (and subsequently refusing to let anyone else touch it), I was seated on the lacrosse field with ten fellow art history majors at commencement. Bookending our collective anticipation of walking across the stage, I saw my friends take the handful of paces that symbolically transformed them into college graduates. In these few seconds of glory—names announced, hands shook, blissful victors projected onto screens beside the stage—it hit me just how much we had been through as students at Hopkins. As one friend crossed the platform, I couldn’t help but remember his enormous academic achievements, his infectious enthusiasm, his honesty to himself and to others, and the countless memories that we shared this past year. As another had her name announced, I swelled with pride as I saw her dream to study in the United States finally achieved. This was made all the more meaningful by flashes of the times when we confided in one another about our fears and challenges; when we celebrated each other’s accomplishments; and when we realized that we had found a best friend in the other. As the wind and rain continued to chill the attendees of the ceremony, I was warmed by the sight of another friend traversing the stage and remembered how much she had grown, how tirelessly she had worked in pursuit of improving as a writer, and how often her unrivaled positivity reminded me that everything would be okay. And everything was okay. We had made it. We really, truly made it.

I like these people

I like these people

College is no cakewalk, but at Hopkins I’ve seen just how painfully true that can be. We’ve struggled, we’ve doubted, we’ve wavered, and we’ve fought to be where we are today. But along the way, tremendous things have taken place. My friends—a small fragment of the entire Hopkins community—have achieved incredible things, persevered, found a reason to keep going, to try harder, to do better, and we did it together. The sense of community that I’ve found at this school is something that I’ll never forget and ever more so, the sense of pure, unbridled pride that comes with graduation is so profound that I can only smile when I think about these past four years. Hopkins has pushed us but we pushed right back and now, finally, we’ve earned the right to call ourselves alumni of this university.

I don’t yet have the words to describe how it will feel saying goodbye to the last of my friends, headed toward unfathomable adventures and beyond impressive jobs. Instead, I want to close on a quick anecdote that I’ve yet to share on this blog.

Finally made it to that bell tower

Finally made it to that bell tower

In the interest of being candid (as I hope this blog has itself proven over the years), I’ll admit that it took me a while to finally be happy at Hopkins. If we’re being completely honest, it wasn’t until I returned from France for my senior year that I began to feel that I had made the right choice. My freshman year I was constantly reminded of what-could-have-been by one of my dream schools just two miles down the road. I couldn’t shake the draw of its creative energy and had many moments when I thought that I would transfer. But I stayed. My sophomore year I became increasingly critical of Hopkins to the point where complaining and pointing out flaws seemed like a productive use of head space. I went abroad for my junior year, in part, because I needed a break from this school, but what I ended up discovering was the tried and true value of being happy with yourself. When I returned as such, all of the petty issues that had overwhelmed my mind and conversations felt drastically insignificant. Instead, I surrounded myself with positive and fun-loving people, delved into a thesis and an exhibition, and embraced the sheer chance that brought me to such an incredible city. If you’re willing to give this university a chance, to open yourself up to all that it might offer you, then four years later there’s no telling just how smart, successful, and (dare I say it) happy you might become.

Hopkins isn’t perfect. Every university has its kinks, and ours is no exception. But as I reflect on this place and all that it’s given me, I know that the pros outweigh the cons. I’m a better person because of Hopkins and I owe so much to the professors and the friends and the mentors who made my college years so meaningful.

Writing this final post, much like the act of saying farewell to college, feels at once tragically cataclysmic and curiously mundane. I haven’t been able to fully wrap my head around what this end might indicate, nor do I really want to. Perhaps this numbness will wear off at a moment’s notice, but I feel okay with all of the change on the horizon. My plan for the moment is to stay in Baltimore and for once enjoy life at the pace of my own choosing. I hope to continue curating exhibitions and writing essays and reviews and I feel that the energy of this city encourages and allows me to do just that.

I could keep going but I suppose I’ll stop here. I could craft together a list of thank you’s, but I think those of you who helped make these four years so incredible know who you are. College has been real and I’ll definitely miss it, but life goes on. Time for what’s next—peace.

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We Came, We Saw, We Thesis-ed

In less than two days I’ll have submitted my final papers and will valiantly exit my very last exam at Johns Hopkins University. While the accompanying feelings could make up a book-length blog post, I instead wanted to focus on one nagging sentiment in particular: the inability to will myself to write. While this itself is fairly counterintuitive as I’m currently seated at Gilman, laptop out, and fingers typing away, it’s also a minor inconvenience as I confront the many essays that have forced their way into my senior spring finals.

Straight up euphoric

Straight up euphoric

But why this feeling of discontent? In essence, it has to do with recovering from the shock from one of my most meaningful Hopkins experiences to date: completing my honors thesis in the History of Art. Previously referred to as a “pesky little pal,” I turned in my thesis one week ago and subsequently breathed an enormous sigh of relief.

The process itself has been nothing short of humbling. Expectations are markedly different your senior year, and this entails a number of important wake-up calls regarding where improvement is still needed. In any case, I was lucky to have an advisor who challenged me, pushed me to break out of my earlier writing habits, and encouraged me to look at my material in new and imagined ways. I re-read my thesis a few days ago and I have to say, it’s not half bad. In the moment it was frustrating and demanding and felt never-ending, but after nearly a year of work, I’m proud to have accomplished this feat.

Instead of continuing to expound upon this topic and for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to end this blog short and instead conclude with the final paragraph of my thesis. Whether or not the effects of surrogate viewers on spectatorship in the work of French artist Pierre Huyghe are indeed your cup of tea, I hope you enjoy nevertheless:

Despite many efforts of defiance, [Pierre] Huyghe, through his 2013 retrospective, has carved out a moment in his career that can speak more largely to the overall role of the spectator in his practice. While this relationship is constantly evolving and responsive to the circumstances of exhibition, it contains a deep consideration of the viewer and a subversion of his conventions as such. In the case of his eponymous exhibition, Huyghe imagines the spectators of his work as secondary and detached through filmic and performative strategies, allowing them to focus away from the exhibition and upon themselves. This self, I want to propose, is that of the witness—observing, but not acting or directly involved. Whether Huyghe critiques, nurtures, or simply draws attention to this distanced view of the world is beyond the scope of this text, but the effects of this changing role upon the viewer suggests a re-imagined relationship between the artist and the viewers of his work. Huyghe hones in on one particular aspect of his beholders—their situation as witnesses—and simultaneously exploits and explores this dimension through the means of exhibition. This use of the retrospective as an artistic medium opens new possibilities for the context and presentation of artworks to inform their reception with even broader implications for the contemporary spectator. Huyghe’s invitation to experience his work is certainly loaded with double meaning, but carries with it the possibility for a renewed self-understanding. For if the exhibition indeed functions as an «appel à témoins», it is done so not in pursuit of comprehending one’s momentary surroundings, but rather the rare chance to evade spectatorial primacy and undergo an aesthetic moment from the periphery.

Wreaking Havoc in the Humanities

Nearly three years ago I came up with the title for my Hopkins Interactive blog, Oh, The Humanities. The idea was simple: Hopkins has a longstanding reputation as a place for people who want to play Operation in real life—what some like to call “medicine”—but we mighty humanities students are an equally defining characteristic of this university. We’re not an afterthought, but an integral subset of students with our own building (s/o Gilman), world-renowned programs and faculty, and a strong sense of community. I love being a humanities student at Hopkins and taking advantage of all of the resources that a research university has to offer, all the while relishing in the cultural might of Baltimore.

Gilman forever ft. JHU_Molly

Gilman forever ft. JHU_Molly

But we humanities students don’t just exist—we strive. To prove this, here’s a smattering of highlights from this past week alone that exemplify the liberal arts at Hopkins.

Presenting: Lettrism

In addition to looking at various European avant-garde movements around the 1960s, my art history class has been organizing an exhibition of Lettrist material from Special Collections. The opening reception was this past week and the eight students in the class had the chance to walk visitors through the installation. Professor Warnock is privy to incorporating curatorial aspects into her courses, which means dealing with the physical object, undertaking considerable research, writing interpretive texts, and thinking through the presentation of these works in the library vitrines. All in all, I think that the exhibitions looks really sharp and inviting and it was a great project to be involved with.

Oh yes

Oh yes

Bibliophiles

Two years ago and a bit out of left field, I applied to Hopkins’ Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest with a selection of books about contemporary art, artists, and curatorial practice. And somehow, I was selected as one of the winners of the contest. It opened up a whole new network of fellow students as well as the Sweren’s, the benefactors of the prize. I ran into them a few weeks back at a donor lunch hosted by President Daniels and they surprisingly remembered exactly who I was and had been keeping up with my latest adventures. They invited me to join this year’s winners of the book collecting contest at a lunch last week and hearing the students discuss their varied passions through their books epitomized the Hopkins drive.

tbt 2013

tbt 2013

Dinner and a Chat

The Program in Museums & Society is amazing—we all know this by now, right? Well Thursday night they hosted a dinner between the program’s director, four M&S minors, and the Deputy Director of Education at the Baltimore Museum of Art. We feasted on Afghani dishes at The Helmand (hands down one of the best restaurants in Baltimore), chatted about the museum field and education initiatives, and simply had a great time getting to know one another. When you find your people, there’s nothing like connecting with them over a memorable (and free!) meal.

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Art History After Hours

Following the aforementioned opening of Presenting: Lettrism, my dreams came true as I hosted an after-party for my class. I really like the people in my class and in my major more broadly, and the night was filled with art history puns, laughs, and a little bit of painting.

& Darby English !!

The selected presenter for this year’s Rosen Lecture is none other than Darby English—art historian, Director of Research and Academic Programs and The Clark, and consulting curator at MoMA. I AM SO EXCITED.

!!!

!!!

Why Hopkins: then & now

It feels fitting that this 75th post coincides with the month of April, a time when many of us bloggers turn our attention toward answering one big question: why Hopkins? I’ve written on this three times before as a freshman, sophomore, and junior (and JHU_Molly just posted what I wish I’d had the eloquence to communicate as a freshman in her latest blog), but it’s admittedly an ongoing question; I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t had my own doubts on the matter in the past. But for every time that finding an answer has challenged my sense of belonging, I’ve been met with aspects of this school that have caught me off-guard me and changed me for the better—that is to say, the surprise of the unexpected.

I’ll give an unpopular opinion and say that having the foresight to know which college is the “right” choice is a near impossible task. How can you understand what you want in a university and from higher education more broadly when, for so many years, school has been an imposed 7:40am–2:30pm gig and your major exists as a description on a university website? But, as the month of April progresses, the nebulous cloud of college decisions slowly clears and suddenly one decision starts to feel “right.” And you embrace it and finally breathe an overdue sigh of relief.

Like anyone, I had my reasons for picking Hopkins—some of which turned out to be true and some of which were challenged over the course of these past four years. I want to share those reason with you, admitted students, with the understanding that many of these reasons may be different from your own, but for the sake of being as transparent as possible. Hopkins is—put simply—an incredible, life-changing place and, now on the cusp of graduation in little under two months, I know that I made the best choice possible.

 “The art history program looks pretty good”

This was probably the biggest understatement I made when looking at Hopkins. The art history department has blown me away with incredible faculty, hands-on experiences, and a solid selection of courses covering post-1960s art. It’s a major that allowed me to spend an entire year abroad studying what I love at the Louvre. Coupled with the unprecedented resources and opportunities of my minor in Museums & Society, I know that I have a comprehensive basis in both theoretical and practical issues within the field. I feel prepared to enter the work force and eventually pursue graduate studies, and that’s more than I could ask for from a simple major-minor combination.

Curating from the shadows

Curating from the shadows

“I’ll be able to take fine art courses at MICA”

While Hopkins has recently established a minor in the visual arts, a major reason that compelled me to apply to Hopkins in the first place was the ability to enroll in courses at the nearby Maryland Institute College of Art. This is very doable. I enrolled in a course for my sophomore fall, was accepted, and ready to go; unfortunately, it can be tricky to fit in a 4-6 hour, once-a-week studio class into a Hopkins schedule and I ended up forgoing the course. Had I really wanted to, I definitely could have made it happen, but for the sake of candor, I never followed through with this plan.

However, the advantages go both ways. I’ve had MICA students in my language courses and, most notably, an art history course on contemporary sculpture. Their contributions to lecture discussions were invaluable and provided a different and compelling point of view. I’ve also been able to benefit from the artistic climate that MICA creates around the city, be it interning with their graduate students in curatorial practice, making friends from the school, or partaking in my go-to monthly art walk, ALLOVERSTREET.

Why you should never agree to go to openings with  me

Why you should never agree to go to openings with me

“It’s affordable”

Dealing with the financial aspects behind college decisions can make a fun-filled process quite the opposite experience. However, Hopkins meets 100% of a family’s calculated need (seriously), something that was not true at every school that I applied to. Therefore, Hopkins was initially an affordable option and, most importantly, remained affordable over these last few years.

Just last week I attended a lunch hosted by President Daniels to thank the donors that provide need-based scholarships, and it was amazing to meet those who have made educations like my own not just an option, but the best option. In the Class of 2019 Admitted Students group there have been a few discussions about shelling out for a Hopkins education. To those students, I say read this blog and, to throw my own views into the mix, remember that education is an investment. If Hopkins is feasibly an option, know that it an amazing investment, and the opportunities and experiences that I’ve amassed over these past four years confirm that for me every day.

As the « à louer » sign behind me indicates, I am indeed for rent $

As the « à louer » sign behind me indicates, I am indeed for rent $

“I think I’ll be able to find my people”

How can I best explain this? Let me start by saying that I love my friends here. They are beyond driven, caring, and adventurous. They put up with my bizarre antics and have been there for me time and time and time again. They have made Hopkins the place that is and are truly my people. However, to be completely honest, it took me a while to find a group that felt right. With many notable and important exceptions, I tend to vibe with the humanities-minded people on campus and, although we make up a sizable chunk of the student population, it took some take for me to carve out my niche. This is completely normal. But as an astounding amount of people feel right at home the minute they step on this campus, it took me some time to do so. It’s not a regret or a complaint but merely a reality. Would this have been different at an art school? Maybe, but being in Baltimore has allowed me to make lifelong friends on-campus and meet incredible people around the city; that has made any moment of non-belonging so much more worth the wait.

Some of the aforementioned people

Some of the aforementioned people

And some more

And some more

“Baltimore seems cool”

This is the second biggest understatement of my decision-making process. Baltimore is dope, sick nasty, and—dare I say it—rad. I love this city. I love the small cafes and the fancy-schmancy restaurants. I love the access to free public transportation. I love the accessible art scene full of daring and visceral work. I love that we have a Shake Shack. I love the bar scene. I love the east coast. I love being by the harbor. I love the fairs. I love the farmer’s markets. I love the music scene. I love being in the country’s original capital. I love the people who are at once warm and full of attitude. I love the vibes and have to conceal my dopey smile and love for this city every time I’m walking around Station North or Mount Vernon en route to do something so unique to this city. So yeah, Baltimore’s pretty cool.

balti bb

balti bb

“I’ll find the academic rigor that will allow me to strive”

I was a good student in high school—good, not great—with some broad interests and a specific goal set in stone for myself. Hopkins’ rigor has turned me into an intellectual. Is it a lot at times? Of course, but the hours I’ve put into my work have paid off. I can see it. I see it in my critical thinking, my writing skills, my observational skills, and my work ethic. Hopkins has turned an average-at-best student into an accomplished art historian and independent curator. This school is the real deal and I’ve grown in so many ways thanks to my classes, my professors, and my peers. It will be with a heavy heart that I leave the campus as a student for the very last time in May. To know that my growth at this university will have come to its inevitable conclusion. But I feel ready (albeit a bit anxious) for what’s to come and, at the end of the day, I have the quintessentially Hopkins experience to thank.

Thx

Thx

C’s (and these classes) get degrees

It’s bizarre to think that, with the culmination of my final semester at Hopkins, I’ll have an oversized, illegible-cursive-font diploma in my very own hands. Fleeting memories of semesters past have all given way to five classes that separate me from graduation from Johns Hopkins University. It hasn’t been easy—and that’s okay—but it has led me to a senior spring semester that’s the pinnacle of perfection. My current course load, finally free of distribution requirements and departmental stipulations *cough ancient and medieval art cough*, spans all of my interests and has sustained a genuine excitement for the material and assignments. I’ve also tailored my schedule to accommodate five-day weekends; after all, only two of my classes meet at predetermined times as the others involve either independent work or take place online. Without further ado, here’s the schedule-to-end-all-schedules—my final semester at Hopkins.

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Not bad for 16 credits

 

HONORS THESIS

Are we tired of reading about this yet? The answer is likely yes. I’ll spare you the details until after I’ve completed this pesky little pal, but I will say that progress is slowly but surely being made. Just last night I assembled all of the ongoing chapters into one word document and it was simultaneously horrifying and exhilarating. In case you haven’t been following the progression of this yearlong pursuit, here are some buzzwords to clue you in until an upcoming blog on the subject: Pierre Huyghe! Retrospective practices! Spectatorship! Surrogacy! Site-specificity! Non-narrativity! Palimpsestic! Wow! Very cool + fun!

Miraculously still fascinated every time I see Huyghe's work

Miraculously still fascinated every time I see Huyghe’s work

CAPSTONE IN MUSEUMS & SOCIETY

My last blog goes in-depth into my senior capstone as a Museums & Society minor. I was able to plan a residency and exhibition for the French artist Thomas Teurlai in the parking garage of a former manufacturing warehouse. It was an unbelievable experience for an undergraduate student to have—a recurring theme here at Hopkins—and was at once onerous, eye-opening, and incredible. There’s also been some cool press following the opening in the News-Letter (s/o JHU_Molly), Hub, and Brine.

FOOT LOCKER gone awry

FOOT LOCKER gone awry

THE BUSINESS OF MUSEUMS

Of my admittedly few on-campus extracurriculars, sitting on the Museums & Society Student Advisory Committee has been a rather cool opportunity. At one meeting, I expressed an interest in a course that would delve into administrative aspects of the museum world—a topic that is addressed in one of the intro courses but not overly emphasized. Lo and behold, the opportunity arose to enroll in a course through the MA in Museum Studies at Hopkins. It’s an amazing chance to take a graduate-level course in a topic that interests and challenges me, and the online format both forges new forms of interaction and allows for existing museum professionals to enroll in the courses. As my classmates for the semester, each brings a solid background in museum practice that inspires me in my current contemplations of a future career.

The ins and outs of an online course

The ins and outs of an online course

THE ‘LONG SIXTIES’ IN EUROPE

This is the first class that I’ve taken with my thesis advisor and I’ve been blown away by the depth with which she presents the material. The course looks to extend the ways in which we bracket artistic periods by looking at the historical moments that precede and succeed the 1960s. So far we’ve considered artists such as Yves Klein, Georges Mathieu, Gilbert and George, and Günther Uecker, and we’re currently organizing an exhibition of materials from Special Collections that explore Lettrism from a number of historical and medium-based viewpoints. As we approach our final term paper, it’s crazy to see how drastically my art historical approaches to the course material have changed since entering Hopkins as a freshman.

The back cover of the Lettrist film journal 'Ion' with illustrations by Gabriel Pomerand

The back cover of the Lettrist film journal ‘Ion’ with illustrations by Gabriel Pomerand

INTRODUCTION TO FILM THEORY

As I’ve mentioned before, Film Theory has given me a really solid and accessible introduction to the ideas that underlie film and the cinematic experience. Each week we approach a different topic with student presentations mixed in, and our final assignment entails analyzing a film through one of the approaches that we’ve looked at in class. (Will I end up analyzing the greatest film of our generation, Wall-E? TBD) My favorite component of this course has to be our weekly film screenings in Gilman that correspond with class material. As I’ve always wanted to take a film class, I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to make it happen.

Victoria Fu's "Bubble Over Green" at the KAGRO Building

Victoria Fu’s “Bubble Over Green” at the KAGRO Building

These five courses and successfully walking across a fancy stage are the only things standing between me and that coveted diploma of my dreams. It’s been great crafting and living out the perfect schedule, and it’s hard to believe that these are my last classes for the time being. In any case, life as a second semester senior art history major is not half bad, and hopefully my course load gives you a glimpse into ~the good life~

More of the aforementioned "good life"

More of the aforementioned “good life”

Foot Locker

Here's lookin' at you, Stranger Self

Here’s lookin’ at you, Stranger Self

Just about two years ago to the day, I posted a blog about my first foray into curatorial practice; I had fallen into an amazing internship at Gallery CA and had just opened the exhibition Stranger Self with the gallery’s other intern. Even at the time, I knew that I wanted to curate shows again and again—maybe even forever?—and that I wanted to challenge myself through this exhilarating format once more.

Flash forward to today, and I’m still coming down from the excitement of my latest curated project: Foot Locker. As the first exhibition that I organized independently, it’s become the center of my focus for the last few months. In reality, its beginnings can actually be traced back over a year ago when, upon the suggestion of my advisor, I applied for an Arts Innovation Grant. Hopkins offers tons of grant opportunities, and the AIG was the perfect way for me to secure funding for a project that could double as my senior capstone as a Museums & Society minor.

Studio experiments

Studio experiments

Now we must jump to last May to really get a feel for the impetus behind the exhibition. It was my final week in Paris and I was at the Palais de Tokyo, a well-known museum of contemporary art. Here, I wandered the galleries in my typical, hoity-toity museumgoing ways when I was suddenly stopped in my tracks. I entered an austere black gallery that contained the solo-exhibition of a young French artist named Thomas Teurlai. In this show was a work titled Gong—a crackled pane of glass that the artist had suspended in the space and that oscillated with the activation of a small transducer at the surface’s center. The work invaded my primordial desire for safety, carrying the potential to shatter with each moment of ominous movement.

This installation receded into a well of Paris memories for several months until the beginning of the fall semester. It was time to put the gears in motion and select an artist for my capstone project. I thought back to the corporeal prowess of Teurlai’s work and ultimately crafted an email inviting him to undertake a three-week residency here in Baltimore. As the story goes, he agreed to the exhibition, and we were off.

The rest of the semester meant really getting to the bottom of Teurlai’s practice. Luckily, I was enrolled in a graduate art history seminar on response theory, presence, and reflexivity, and was able to focus on Teurlai and Gong through the lens of its effects on spectatorship for my research and writing for the class.

Caspar David Friedrich, anyone?

Caspar David Friedrich, anyone?

Meanwhile, my eyes were peeled for a gallery space that could adequately contain and respond to the work at hand. Enter ALLOVERSTREET, a monthly art walk in the Station North arts district that consolidates the area’s frequent openings into a single, not-to-be-missed night of aesthetic bliss. While wandering the shows back in October, I came across a vacant indoor garage space in the Copycat, one of Baltimore’s many live-work artist spaces. From there, it was a matter of securing the garage-cum-exhibition space, finding housing for the artist, and arranging his travel plans to the US.

Suddenly, February has rolled around and operation: Curate An Exhibit was a go. The following three weeks were a blur of getting Thomas from the airport, sourcing materials, selecting a theme for the show, promoting the exhibition (now titled Foot Locker), putting clay into molds, birthday beers, battling the snow, writing a catalogue essay, installing the show, eating pizza, weeding vinyl, prepping the opening, printing the catalogue, sweeping the gallery, plugging in fans and flipping on switches, and then … it was here. It was exhausting and exciting and it was here.

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Behold

One of my subliminal goals for the exhibition was to lure Hopkins students into Station North to see what was up, and boy did they. The opening was full of new and familiar faces, friends who had been invaluable in the process (you know who you are), bosses and mentors, critics and curators, artists and art enthusiasts, my incredible advisor, and even two high school pals who drove in for the exhibit. Openings are always a remarkable culmination of the labor of love that is curating, and this was no exception.

In the days following the opening, I have slept, frolicked, and breathed deeply once again. In addition:

I gave a tour of the show to the Hopkins Museum Club

I gave a tour of the show to the Hopkins Museum Club…

saw photos of my show up on BmoreArt...

saw photos of my show up on BmoreArt…

and, by some sort of miracle, got a shout-out on Hyperallergic's Instagram

and, by some sort of miracle, got a shout out on Hyperallergic’s Instagram

I’m beyond fortunate to go to a school that funds these types of projects, to have a major and minor that prepared me so thoroughly for this opportunity, to live in Baltimore, a city where the arts are so alive and accessible, to have friends who pick me up when things go wrong, and to have had three weeks to work with such an incredible artist.

Curating is what I want to do and will continue doing. It combines all of my passions into one tumultuous, chaotic, keep-you-on-your-toes, creative, intellectual, demanding, inspiring process. Hopkins and Baltimore have enabled me to chase my curatorial obsession and to see where it can go. So cheers to art, exhaustion, and Foot Locker; it’s a winding but admittedly long-awaited road ahead.

T and me

T and me


FOOT LOCKER is on view now until March 22, 2015 at the Copycat Building, 1511 Guilford Avenue.

An Education

A few Sundays ago, my friend Tara’s dad decided to finish off his weekend visit to Baltimore by taking a group of us out to brunch. This was especially memorable for two reasons:

  1. We went to Alchemy, where their carnitas grilled cheese satisfied both my unparalleled ardor for chorizo and my stomach.
  2. Tara’s dad, Rob, is a Hopkins alum, and an incredibly enthusiastic one at that.
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Slowly but surely joining the Lawrence clan

Listening to Rob reminisce about his time at Hopkins, how he’s continued to visit former professors (so many of which still teach here—that’s commitment), and how much he understands the Hopkins experience was so refreshing. He was so excited that we all chose to come to this university and was adamant that we would see it pay off in every corner of our future endeavors.

This conversation isn’t the only time I’ve been struck by a certain post-Hopkins reassurance: art history majors in years above me have testified that the work ethic they developed here allowed them to succeed when entering some of the top doctoral programs in the country; recent graduates have explained that they felt worlds ahead to tackle their first out-of-college jobs. If there’s one thing that we Hopkins students may at times take for granted, it’s the fact that we’re receiving an unfathomably great education.

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This is me striving for that great education—if you purse you lips, it comes all the more easily

Let’s take this week for example. Monday I sat in awe as my art history professor give an off-the-cuff synopsis on the relationship between Minimalism and anthropomorphism. Tuesday my film theory professor made Walter Benjamin actually approachable, presenting each aspect of one of his most important essays as if she was describing a best friend. Wednesday I met with my thesis advisor (the aforementioned art history professor) who can astonishingly provide complete titles and years of publications for suggested readings off the top of her head. And we’re only half way through the week.

My happy place

My happy place

We are unbelievably fortunate to be receiving the kind of education that we do here at Hopkins. However, I think that many students’ qualms about the school ultimately stem from this fact. At times, it can seem as though we work without respite, and for some weeks this is true. This is because not only do we believe in success, but we are given the tools and the means to achieve it. It’s there within reach, and you can feel it. Unless you’ve ended up in some oddity of a class, the hours you put in here really add up to something tangible. If you want to come to Hopkins and leave as the best 22-year-old art historian the world has ever seen, you can. Everything you need is right here on campus, right beneath your overzealous fingertips. On the other hand, that’s not all there is to college; in fact, it’s far from it. I find that it can be difficult to find a balance between social life and academics, especially when the latter is at the caliber that it is here at Hopkins. There’s no shortage of opportunities to go out, but at certain points in the semester, it can feel like you have to actively carve out the time from studying.

I’m hopeful that the nights I chose to enjoy myself vs. crack down on my thesis, for example, will not be the make-or-break moments of my life or ostensible success. Besides, there’s a) only so much work one can tolerate in a day, and b) so many great people to spend time with and adventures to be had. In the end, I’m beyond grateful for my (nearly completed) Hopkins education, and even if rationalizing and finding a balance may have proven tricky, there’s no feeling like knowing that you’ve done the best you can at the tail end of four rewarding, albeit long years of college.

Something about a journey and/or foreshadowing my next blog

Something about a journey and/or foreshadowing my next blog

Going to the movies

I blame Paris with a lot of things: my constant longing for real butter and kouign-amann; my French vernacular mirroring that of an angsty Parisian teen; and the fact that my wardrobe has become one-third black, one-third gray, and one-third navy. While I’ve been able to cope with most of these, one aspect of my time abroad has continued to plague me ever since my return to the US of A. You see, during my year in France I was spoiled with an abundance of film. My host mom’s ardor for cinema coupled with the unforgettable video art on view at the Pompidou and the Palais de Tokyo had me hooked, eyes glued to the screen, wanting more. While I will shamelessly throw Anri Sala (fyi), Christian Marclay, and even Oliver Lutz under the bus for this newfound addiction, I wanted to find a solution. But what was I to do? As a senior art history major on the cusp of graduation, I assumed that I had missed the chance to pursue some type of film-centric studies. Oh, how I was wrong.

Rachel Rose, 'Mini Minute Ago'

Rachel Rose, ‘Mini Minute Ago’

My final term at Hopkins has ushered in the semester of film, and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks to flexible scheduling and tapping previously unknown opportunities, I’ve been able to satiate my budding interest in the moving image. Here’s how:

With the help of a very understanding professor, I was able to forgo a perquisite and enroll in Intro to Film Theory. Said professor, Meredith Ward, has turned out to be one of the most down-to-earth faculty members that I’ve yet to encounter. Through approachable and conversational class sessions, I’ve been able to delve into the concepts that make up the cinema experience. Plus, I get to chill with JHU_Genevieve (s/o).

Every Wednesday night for film theory, we have mandatory screenings that relate back to the topics of that week’s class. These screenings are awesome and, since they’re my last class of the week, it’s a nice way to segue into the weekend, albeit a bit early. So far we’ve watched Cinema Paradiso which was, for me, a bit difficult to stay with, but our most recent screening of In the Mood for Love was beyond great. I was enthralled and highly recommend it. I’m especially eager for our upcoming viewings of Boyhood and oddly enough, Blue Velvet.

Livres

Livres

It’s always refreshing to be able to draw parallels between different courses, and The ‘Long Sixties’ in Europe has proven to do just that. In the first two weeks alone it felt like an extension of Film Theory, as our earliest unit dealt with expanded cinema through the lens of the Lettrists. One of our final projects for the course is a student-curated exhibition of Lettrist books and ephemera, and I was lucky enough to get a book and a journal—each on film—as my objects of research for the next few weeks. I’ve yet to encounter a study of film from an art historical perspective, so I’m excited to have a class that allows me to do so.

All of this focus on film has proven especially useful as I continue on the journey known as my Senior Thesis. My first chapter addresses the spectatorial effects of Pierre Huyghe’s 2010 film The Host and the Cloud, and while I had previously struggled in my attempt to write on the work, I now feel much more equipped to tackle an analysis of this work thanks to my current coursework.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to experience film outside of the classroom as well. Just last week my friend Liana who’s in the Honors Program in Humanities invited me to a talk entitled “The Permeable Screen: Stalinist Cinema and the Third Dimension.” The Humanities Center is certainly one of the hidden gems at Hopkins, combining a wide array of humanistic studies and cross-disciplinary approaches, so I’m looking forward to attending more of their programs in my final semester.

Walter Smith at White Flag Projects

Walter Smith at White Flag Projects

Lastly, I’m beyond lucky to be living in a city as vibrant as Baltimore, especially for the sake of experiencing filmic works. The nearby Charles Theater, the black box series at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and even last night’s screening of Let the Right One In and Dracula at the Windup Space, for example, all contribute to a cultural landscape that’s in a league of its own.

One of the reasons that I chose Hopkins over an art school was the ability to delve into various facets of the liberal arts should my interests expand; now more than ever I’m reaping the benefits of this decision. The opportunities made available through the Program in Film and Media Studies, the Humanities Center, and even the History of Art department have collectively added up into an exciting senior spring. Hopkins is unique in that it’s beyond strong across the board, and this semester I’ve been able to experience that firsthand.

The plan

If I’ve learned anything as a college senior, it’s that sometimes—not always, but sometimes—”the plan” likes to veer off 180˚ and leave you in the dust wondering what the point of planning ever was. Of course it’s productive to set aspirations and to envision various means to get there, but upon recently finding myself with overly specific expectations, when things started to go awry I felt lost and, frankly, like a bit of a failure.

Fast-forward through much reflection and a much-needed winter break back in Saint Louis, and I’ve come to see that, while planning ahead is one way of doing things, it’s certainly not the sole means to an end. Since then, I’ve embraced uncertainty—when else in your life can you afford to leave so much up to the unknown?—and I’ve learned how to find peace without a plan.

STL happy place

STL happy place

In this same spirit, it almost feels fruitless to discuss my hopes for my final semester at Hopkins. Instead of assigning an assortment of expectations onto these next few months, I’d rather focus on what I do know and let what’s uncertain figure itself out as time goes on. I’m hoping that by spending my time and effort focusing on things within my control, I can enjoy the moment without stressing about what’s next (because, admittedly, there’s a lot on the horizon of a soon-to-be-graduating-senior that merits some worrying).

A literal horizon (c/o Vancouver)

A literal horizon (c/o Vancouver)

The only issue with this newfound approach is that I typically write a blog about what I anticipate before each coming semester and chronicle my thoughts and feelings about what’s to come. Since this doesn’t fit in with my growing skepticism of setting grand expectations, I’ve instead crafted a list of undeniable facts about my final months at Hopkins to still give you a matter-of-fact glance into the good life.

1.  I’ll be finishing off the year in my favorite rowhome in Waverly, also known as home. It has lots of space, might be haunted, and I’m currently trying to revive my beloved plants after abandoning them for winter break.

2.  I’ll finish off my yearlong internship at The Contemporary. These are some things happening at TC:

2a.  Letha Wilson artist talk on January 29, co-hosted with ICA Baltimore
2b.  The opening of Bubble Over Green, a solo project by video artist Victoria Fu, in the Kagro Building on February 21
2c.  The release of the second issue of Scroll, an intern-produced publication, in March

3.  I’m taking sixteen credits. These include:

3a.  The second half of my Honors Thesis exploring spectatorship in the work of contemporary French artist Pierre Huyghe
3b.  A Senior Capstone through Museums & Society, which will take the form of an upcoming exhibition here in Baltimore
3c.  The Business of Museums, an online graduate course through the MA in Museum Studies program
3d.  An introduction to film theory, aptly named Introduction to Film Theory
3e.  The ‘Long Sixties’ in Europe, an art history class on the multitude of movements that both bookend and span the 1960s
Are you all tired of me talking about art yet? I hope not ...

Are you all tired of me talking about art yet? I hope not …

4.  I’ll continue writing blogs for Hopkins Interactive.

4a.  I will inevitably and nostalgically read through all of my old posts during the last few days of classes

5.  I will spend too much money at:

5a.  Dooby’s Coffee (not on coffee, but on sandwiches and snacks)
5b.  Charles Village Pub
5c.  The Bun Shop
5d.  The pizza place next to The Bun Shop
5e.  Iggie’s (for actual, good pizza)
5f.  The Crown (this has already happened—help)

5 cont.  It’s good to acknowledge this upfront.

Snapchat excerpt from Dizzyland at the Crown this weekend (tempura shrimp not included)

Snapchat excerpt from Dizzyland at the Crown this weekend (tempura shrimp not included)

6.  I will listen to each of these albums on repeat until I start to hate myself and move on to the next one:

6a.  Lushlife, Plateau Vision
6b. Kanye West, Graduation (very fitting)
6c.  Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Taste
6d.  Black Moon, Enta Da Stage
6e. Jacques Brel, Les Bourgeois

7.  I will go on a rad Spring Break trip with rad people.

8.  I will spend an exorbitant amount of time in Gilman which is very much okay with me.

9.  I will reach new heights vis-à-vis the corndogs at Spring Fair.

Had to abandon my corndog partner-in-crime while I was abroad last spring—I will not make this mistake again

Had to abandon my corndog partner-in-crime while I was abroad last spring—I will not make this mistake again

10.  I will guilt people into doing fun/weird things with the useful adage “…but it’s senior year!”

11.  I’ll figure out my next steps when the timing’s right, graduate from college, and go from there—and that’s a-ok by me.

Use "me learning to ride a bike at the age of 22" as a metaphor for "anything is possible!"

Use “me learning to ride a bike at the age of 22″ as a metaphor for “anything is possible!”

The art of the exhibit

To the unsuspecting museumgoer, an exhibition can seem like the result of a fairly simple process: choose a topic, assemble some objects, maybe even write a few texts, and then boom!—an exhibition is born. On the surface, this isn’t far from the truth. However, if my time as a Museums & Society minor at Hopkins has taught me anything, it’s that there is so much more to it. The organization of an exhibit is a thoughtful, time-consuming, and critical endeavor where each and every step or decision is the product of many contemplations and conversations.

~cur8ing ~ circa 2013

~cur8ing ~ circa 2013

If my minor has taught me anything else—which, trust me, it has—it’s that exhibitions can take any number of formats. From the museum gallery to the online setting (and nearly everywhere in between), the public humanities have delved into more and more spaces, oftentimes for the sake of better engaging with audiences. To demonstrate this, I’ve assembled a selection of recent, student-curated exhibitions made possible by the Museums & Society curriculum that also help to show you the unbelievably cool opportunities made available to us students. (If this is truly up your alley, you can see a list of all of the exhibits and projects here.)

 Print by Print: Series from Dürer to Lichtenstein

Print by Print was organized by a group of students the semester before I arrived at Hopkins, but opened in the fall of my freshman year—it goes without saying that it peaked my interest in the Museums & Society program tenfold. In this practicum course, students worked with the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Baltimore Museum of Art to help organize one of the museum’s most impressive exhibitions to date. The combined study of the history and practice of printmaking, research into specific works in the BMA’s collection, and the proposal of exhibition themes made for a class that I can only imagine as being thought-provoking and beyond informative.

In Focus: Ara Güler’s Anatolia

My first practicum course for the minor was dedicated to the creation of this very exhibition, which explored a series of photographs by Ara Güler in the collection of the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries; check out a first-hand account of this unique opportunity here.

Jews on the Move: Baltimore and the Suburban Exodus

While I may tend to focus on exhibitions of artwork, there’s no shortage of projects that focus on the presentation of other fields of knowledge as well. Take Jews on the Move for example, an exhibition in conjunction with the Jewish Museum of Maryland that examined postwar Jewish life in our very own city. Through archival work, field trips, and plenty of insightful discussions, the class culminated in a traveling exhibition—a collection of standalone signs that later went on display in various locations across Baltimore.

The Material Culture of Academic Life

In my class this past semester, “Curating Material Culture in the Digital Age,” we looked at the growing practice of creating online exhibitions through the lens of the JHU Collections Web (check it out!). The website serves as an ever-expanding catalogue for objects and curiosities from across the University’s many collections. Each student selected three objects of material culture which we researched, catalogued, and presented through the meticulous drafting and editing of interpretive texts. I must say that my favorite aspect of this class was exploring the history of Hopkins itself; this school has hosted so many discoveries and ‘firsts,’ and it was surprisingly cool to discover the stories that stemmed from each object.

Senior Capstone (coming soon!)

Students in their final year of the minor have the unique opportunity to conceptualize and organize a public project of their choosing. This culmination of sorts epitomizes the Program’s emphasis on both theory and practice, and I’ve elected to embark on an exhibition of my own this upcoming semester. More to come on this soon—I’m beyond excited for my project, and will definitely blog about it after its official announcement in just a few weeks. Nevertheless, I hope that this post has given a clear picture of the incomparable opportunities available to Museums & Society students. The presentation of knowledge to an audience is a useful exploit in any field, and I’m grateful to my minor for making this way of thinking so exciting and accessible.