the end – of may

It’s the end of May, and what a month it’s been. Classes done. Thesis done. Internship done. End of year show done. Commencement done. Graduation done. Graduation parties done. Apartment packed and ready to move. Portfolio and job/fellowship applications in the works.

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Goodbye, Columbia. I’ll be (seriously) indebted to you forever.

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animals

Animals. They’re everywhere. I’ve never been much of an animal person.

  • BEAR: Sculpture by Eladio (dEmo) de Mora. DUMBO area of Brooklyn, New York. September 2012.
  • TURTLE: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. November 2012.
  • COW: Elephanta Island, Mumbai, India. January 2013.
  • CHICKEN: “The Chicken” by Chaïm Soutine, 1926. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. April 2007.
  • LION: Ulysses S. Grant Memorial (with United States Capitol in background), Washington, D.C. November 2012.
  • SHEEP: Near tomb of Xu Guangqi (Paul Siu), Guangqi Park, Shanghai, China. January 2011.

sheesh it’s burning up in here

New York, ah how I love thee. It’s great that heating is covered by the landlord and there are guidelines in place so they don’t skimp, but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, PLEASE TURN IT OFF ALREADY. It’s the latter part of May, the outside temp is about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. AND THE HEATER IS STILL ON. At this point it’s just wasteful because I have to have the fan on to combat the heater.

Last year my room had an overactive heater, but it was only really crazy during the winter, so it was just mildly uncomfortable with the windows open. I switched apartments and the heater here worked fine during the winter, but now it’s basically summer so having the heater on is just absurd. My room is not actually 97 degrees, it’s just that I keep my thermometer on top of the radiator. Regardless, it’s REALLY HOT IN HERE.

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la divina commedia di washington dc

Back in undergrad my focus was more on 16th- and 17-th century English literature, but I took a class on Dante Alighieri as a comparative literature component for my English degree, and I loved it. Divina Commedia (the Divine Comedy) is fantastic. Utterly astounding in the richness of the symbolism, the depth, the allusions, et cetera. And it has many similarities (religious content, narrative structure, epic poetry) with Milton’s Paradise Lost, which is probably my all-time favorite ‘book’ … so yeah, I like it.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to find a way to get through the many photos I have from my visit to DC, so I’m going to use Dante as a guide. Inferno, Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise), meet Washington, DC, the nation’s capital.

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Inferno = Washington Metro. I ride the New York Subway quite often ($2.50 per swipe … ouch!) and though when I first moved to the city I found its jarring movements very annoying and was a bit disgusted at its lack of refinement, I can’t imagine New York without it. In comparison to the NYC Subway, the Washington Metro is a downright young’un. So sleek and modern and brutalist … and so I’M STUCK IN A CONCRETE TUNNEL. Exposed concrete, fairly dim lighting. Beautiful, but in a foreboding menacing sublime sort of way. Every time I took the escalator down and down and down I felt like I was slowly approaching doom. But coming back up feels like cheating death.

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Purgatorio = United States Capitol. Its design was actually the result of a design competition, followed by committees, resdesigns, and all the craziness that goes on with turning an idea into architecture. It’s a bit odd, don’t you think? Can the Capitol still be conceived of and judged as architecture? Of course it is structure, but the Capitol has so much weight as an icon and symbol of the legislative branch, the government, and the nation that it is no longer ‘mere’ architecture. With so much bureaucracy going on in that building, who the heck really knows what’s going on? All those stairs, do they lead up or down? Is progress being made and lessons learned or is it a place for walking in circles?

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Paradiso = Peace Monument. Hanging out in front of the United States Capitol is the Peace Monument by Franklin Simmons, erected in 1877. The figure of Grief leans against the figure of History, commemorating naval deaths during the Civil War. While the white marble is clean and ‘peaceful’, the arrangement of the figures hovering high above, touching the Heavens, looking down with frozen sadness at all the tourists scurrying by, is actually more haunting. Perhaps that understanding of human turmoil and remembrance of our own frailty and faults is as much as we can hope for.

If you’re further interested in the Divine Comedy, my professor for the Dante class, Guy Raffa, created this website related to the Divine Comedy which is worth checking out. It’s ostensibly a study guide, but the images are pretty nifty.

carnegie hall

Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall. Yeah, it was pretty amazing. Saw a choral/orchestra performance there a bit back. Carnegie’s located two blocks south of the park and not near the subway lines I frequent, which means I had to transfer, which was annoying and led me to declare that Lincoln Center is so much better than Carnegie (and yes, I fully realize that this is petty). The performance itself wasn’t anything special, but whatever … it’s Carnegie Hall. Outside of New York, people don’t really know Lincoln Center … but they know Carnegie!

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thesis? oh, that thing i turned in?

Thesis – done. Not fantastic and not actually done, but turned in so … DONE. Not completely happy with what I turned in so I’ll probably work on it some more before the End of Year Show, but that’s just for me. But basically I’m done. Absolutely done. Commence intake of food and alcohol and long periods of sleep!

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A bunch of us went to Five Lamps Tavern for dinner in celebration. Some people still had work for other classes so couldn’t join, but … it was a good night. I had fish and chips, which were yummy, made all the more yummier by the fact that they represented FREEDOM FROM THESIS.

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congrats, pratt peeps!

I just wanted to extend a hearty congratulations to all those graduating over at Pratt! Pratt was my first real taste of New York, so even though I haven’t been back to Clinton Hill since that summer way back when, I will forever have a soft spot for Pratt.

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Two of my fellow interns are graduating from Pratt’s interior design program, so I stopped by the Pratt Show on Monday to check out their work. They graduate next week, but basically they’re done. This show is the big hurrah with all their thesis projects, and their thesis books are due aftergraduation … crazy, eh?

The Pratt Show 2013 is currently being held at the Manhattan Center (311 West 34th Street at 8th Avenue). The show opened May 6 (when I stopped by) and it’ll run until Thursday, May 9. It’s open to the public! You should go! And if you do, head to the very back where the master’s interior design work is exhibited!

weird morning in new york

Thesis presentation went well – woot! Class paper finally done – woot! Final thesis turn in is … uh oh, back to campus then.

Yesterday morning I walked to campus, taking the same route I always do. Walk walk walk. As I was climbing a set of stairs in the park, a guy in a black suit walked by. Weird, but it barely registers. Walk walk walk. More guys in black suits. Huh? Eh, whatever. Walk walk walk. Woman in white puffy wedding dress. Walk walk walk. WAIT. WOAH NELLY, WHAT? Stop. Double take. Stare. Gaggle of women in sage green dresses walk by. They stare back. Oh, I get it now. Wedding pictures. They’re not actually crossing the park to get to Harlem, they’re just using the park and stairs as a backdrop. But still … woah.

I know it’s not that weird, since it’s a park and the weather is AMAZING and it’s wedding season, but it was still surprising, maybe because my walk to campus is usually done on autopilot. After I made it out of the park I was still thinking to myself: That was weird, right? And then I was confronted with a children’s carnival. Right there along my normal path. It was set up in the street with pony rides and face painting and inflatable bouncy castles and OH MY GOSH IS THAT A LLAMA!?!

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Yeah. Weird morning. And in the afternoon I saw another wedding party, but those bridesmaids were wearing blue.

time warp: i hope i survive(d)

Am I alive? No, seriously … did I survive this past week? I honestly don’t know because I’m writing this post a week in advance of when this is being posted. Why? Because the next week (er, the past week) is my hell week. Paper due. Final thesis presentation. Hence the label of hell week. And hence this time warp. Are you humming “Time Warp” from Rocky Horror in your head yet? Or even out loud!? You should be.

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Image is from the National Gallery of Art in DC. “Multiverse” (2008) by Leo Villareal is an underground light tunnel in the concourse connecting the NGA’s east and west buildings. Reminds me of James Turrell’s “Light Inside” (1999) at the MFAH, which also acts as an underground connector tunnel and uses light. Very trippy.