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Monthly Archives: April 2010

oh well

This is a photo of me in 2006.  I was in Amsterdam.  Unknown to me at the time, I was sitting on a Frank Willems Rubens Stool – of Droog Design.  It was work like this that I experienced that week that made me realize that I wanted and could do more.  A year later I was in the Master’s of Industrial Design Program at Pratt – from which I will present my thesis on Saturday, and graduate on May 17th.

I was wearing the same pair of jeans in this photo and today when Tejo Remy – also of Droog Design, came to visit at Pratt for a lecture, as part of the IDSA chapter.  I do wish he used less glue in his work, that got a bit tiring, but all in all I think he meant well.

A few and many moons ago I met Maria Flores,  free-spirited adventurer, writer, artist, and photographer.  When I saw some of her photos from a recent trip to India, I asked her to write something for this blog.  Above her lovely photographs, and below her story.  She is available via e-mail at: manninoflores (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thank you Maria for your contribution!


India: A Color-Loving Traveler’s Love

Sometime during the economic downturn, I was fortunate enough to lose my job at a well-known art museum in the City. This led to another even more fortunate opportunity for me to do the unthinkable and travel to India just like I’d always wanted. My long-awaited destination isn’t the kind you should visit on a two-week paid vacation. It is one you slowly relish for months (or even better, years) at a time. So, naturally, I took my pittance of a savings account, exchanged it all for rupees, and got on a one-way flight to New Delhi.

Landing in that mad yet mesmerizing place was just the start of them, my sweet little love affairs. As the months passed, I officially consummated my loves with: all nationalities of fellow male travelers (yes, way, but I don’t kiss and tell!); an ancient culture that thrives in every recess of the crusty, shit-smelling streets; and, above all, the COLOR that permeates the entire subcontinent.

Arrival was just the beginning. At first, the onslaught of vividness was too much for this Midwestern girl, accustomed to the grays and beiges of corn fields and sprawling highways. After the first frightened week, a wicked bout with Delhi Belly, and the realization that one must give oneself over to the madness and beauty of it all, I noticed that the tropical and musty light isn’t like it is in the States. Sure, the air is thickly polluted, the Taj Mahal just a Moghul skewer stuck in gelatin-thick smog. The pavement is strewn with inconceivable amounts of droppings and dregs, cracked and straddling the open sewer below. The beds may already or soon will have bedbugs. But there is no millimeter of that country that isn’t celebrated, made sacred, or hand-painted with color.

One can travel 200km by railway and de-board in a new state with an entirely different language, alphabet, and cuisine.  Aside from being mad little nuances to keep long-term travelers on their toes, these worlds apart are stunning marinades of over 9,000 years of fast-paced cultural ups and downs, political invasions, and cluster fucks of Reality. I’d go as far as to say that the only commonality between the widely varied chaos that is Hindustan is its revered appreciation and skilled harnessing of color. A large part of the Indian consciousness, color not only marks daily life, but it influences it too. Goods carriers, rickshaws, chai stalls, dhabas, saris, temples, matchboxes — you name it — everything is colorful. Each suggests a unique sensuousness and intimacy between the people and their objects. Demanding attention from the countless Hindu gods and goddesses, and the color-loving traveler alike.

So, gather one billion people with their own love affairs with color, pack them into overcrowded litter-laden streets, pummel them with harsh monsoons for six months of the year, and then put purely toxic and brightly colored powders and dyes in their impassioned hands. The result: Holi, arguably the coolest, most raucous celebration ever sanctioned by a culture in human history, and is perhaps the only festival of its kind to utilize the power of color.

A rowdy annual hue-and-cry parade of vivid earth tones, classic pastels, and clamorous neons, this phenomenon is a springtime festival celebrated mostly by Hindu and Sikh practitioners, but can be enjoyed by anyone with a love for the coming of spring and, of course, color. Fresh of the plane and hating the fact that my visa expired just before the actual Holi day, I celebrated in Richmond Hill, Queens. See you there next year.

In the flurry of thesis writing, making colorful goodies, and working on a presentation, I’ve almost forgot I’ve been organizing a show too (just kidding, only have forgotten to blog about it).  I attribute this grand multitasking behavior to lots of vitamins, just enough sleep to function properly, and getting out on my bike for a good ride a few times a week.

It all comes to a quick and beautiful ending this coming Saturday, May 1.  I will be presenting my thesis at 1 p.m., at Pratt. At 4:00 p.m. I will be attending a memorial service for my beloved professor, Lenny Bacich.  In the evening, from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. I will be at The powerHouse Arena in D.U.M.B.O. for a showing of the work that is a result of this blog with some of my friends that I’ve made over the past three years – we are Design C.L.O.T. (I’m so honored to have so many dear friends, I think I write about them a lot.)

A big thanks to Flavorpill for listing us in their weekly events, to powerHouse Arena who have worked on the event with us,  and to all of my fellow designers for all their hard work pulling this show together during these months.

We had a great day of setting it all up, photos are posted on our Facebook Fan page. Saturday is going to be here soon, so much to do, and so much excitement to look forward to!

I first heard this Sufi Poem when a friend wrote a play about it a few years ago.

The past has flown away,
the coming month and year do not exist
Ours only is the present’s tiny point.

Today, I’m doing my best.  It is a moment to moment struggle.  I am in a good place with thesis, with work, everything, yet difficult not to be thinking about my colorful future and how it will translate into life’s work.  I know nothing is permanent , everything passes in time, and time is not standing still for me or anyone.  It’s a lovely Spring day and the world is full of opportunity.

So I did what I know how best to: distract myself by looking on the internet for inspiring photos.  Although not a fan of flowers (I’d take an Italian Vogue over flowers any day) I found these from Boysen Paints that are delightful, and clearly are having a grand time in their “present’s tiny point.”  What is cool about these flowers, is that they, again work with the category that I’m been posting so much about: fake is the new real- or is real the new fake? Reality is but our own, and in constant shift or in need of redifining.

One of the best things about getting older, is that friends get older too.  As the years of hard work begin to pay off, we all start to do really cool stuff.   My dear friend Jennifer Steil is coming out with her first book next month, available on pre-order now with Amazon.

This is a book that you can judge by the cover.  Lively, colorful, and vivid, with a large photo of her favorite fruit on the front and the beautiful blue sky on top is the promise of something more, something with great clarity, and full of opportunity.  Although she is still residing in Yemen, Jennifer will be in and around the U.S. come May through June for touring.  I might be here nanny in June, on her trip to Seattle, assuming I don’t have other specific plans at that point.  I’m always up for an adventure to a place I’ve never been before!

Process, process, process.  Here, I’m about to mix up Pebeo’s vitrea 160 glass paint.  It looks so nice spray painted.  Let’s see about the finals….

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to sit on a panel of jurors for an architecture class at Columbia University.  I was recommended by my friends at The Uniform Project.  Although it was going to take a huge chunk of time I decided it was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.  Yesterday, three trains and an hour later I arrive at Columbia’s Campus, a destination I had never been to in the fifteen years I’ve lived in New York City.  The class was exploring ways to assist the people of Haiti, and some of them had come up with very interesting design options of transporting water, and having multifunctional uses within garments.

I couldn’t say long, as my colorful bowls back at Pratt needed glazing.  It was such a lovely day outside, and just as I was leaving the Columbia campus, I saw a woman of striking beauty, that I recognized.  I couldn’t believe it.  Eva Zeisel was soaking in the sun.  The woman who was with her and took this photo of us together and encourage me to talk with her.  Eva is 103, and is a little hard of hearing, and so I thought it funny that I had to almost shout to tell her I went to Pratt, while on the Columbia Campus.  We had such a nice immediate connection.  I am still amazed that life as afforded me such an amazing twist of fate.

She took my hands and I told her I was making a bowl and made the shape of it inside her hands.  I think she, hands down, has the strongest constitution of any person I will ever meet.  I was in such shock that I didn’t even ask the woman’s name who was with her.  I am hoping to seeing them both again over a bowl of coffee ice cream.

By The Sea by Jasper Johns is now on view at the Acquavella Galleries.  Can’t wait to see it in person.

I will miss many things when I depart Pratt, but colorful desk decorating I will miss the most.