New York City | Summer 2021

August 14, 2021 New York, NY, USA


New York City; a photo journal from the city at summer's close.


City Streets

 The Met

Renwick Gallery

July 26, 2021 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006, USA



The Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC is one of my favorite art museums. The range of incredibly creative and distinct exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as the timeless ongoing collections, are always such a joy to see. The Renwick's latest exhibition is entitled Forces of Nature, and the ongoing instillations include Janet Echelman's 1.8—an exquisite display of draping fiber and colorful lights—and Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery. While I loved admiring all of the various works of art, I so enjoyed revisiting Echelman's 1.8, which as evidenced by the multitude of photographs I captured of her magnificent installation, is my personal favorite. Below are brief descriptions of the various exhibitions as written on the museum's website.

Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 features artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts. Representing craft media from fiber to mosaic to glass and metals, these artists approach the long history of art’s engagement with the natural world through unconventional and highly personal perspectives.

Janet Echelman's Janet Echelman's colorful fiber and lighting installation, suspended from the ceiling of the Renwick Gallery's Grand Salon, examines the complex interconnections between human beings and our physical world, and reveals the artist's fascination with the measurement of time. 

Connections is the Renwick Gallery’s dynamic ongoing permanent collection presentation, featuring more than 80 objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world. The installation includes iconic favorites alongside new acquisitions.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

8th and G Streets, Washington, DC 20001, USA



Though I had visited the museum many times before, its massive size and ever-shifting array of exhibitions means there is always more than enough to explore. In addition to the excitement of exploring an entirely new section of the museum as well as admiring the famous portraits, I especially enjoyed the exhibition entitled ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now, in which activists used artistic expression to advocate for civil rights and further social justice movements. Below is an excerpt that summarizes the artwork in the exhibition, as written on the website.

In the 1960s, activist Chicano artists forged a remarkable history of printmaking that remains vital today. Many artists came of age during the civil rights, labor, anti-war, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements and channeled the period’s social activism into assertive aesthetic statements that announced a new political and cultural consciousness among people of Mexican descent in the United States. ¡Printing the Revolution! explores the rise of Chicano graphics within these early social movements and the ways in which Chicanx artists since then have advanced innovative printmaking practices attuned to social justice.

Days in DC: Tidal Basin, The Wharf, National Mall

July 25, 2021 Washington, DC, USA


As can often happen when you live in or nearby a major city, you often stick to what you know, not bothering to venture beyond the handful of neighborhoods, half a dozen museums, or picturesque places you visit so often and avoiding the tourist-y type of attractions. During another brief excursion into the city, my mom and I made a dedicated effort to explore the more unfamiliar parts of DC—from new neighborhoods and never-before-seen historic monuments to parts of the city we had not visited in half a decade or more. For us, that meant driving to Union Market (and for me, taking pictures of the iconic heart wall behind the building), visiting the Freer Gallery of Art, walking the entirety of the path encircling the tidal basin and stopping at the various monuments, and exploring the up-and-coming Wharf District. As usual, I brought my camera with me to document my travels.

Freer Gallery of Art

1050 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA



As a lover of art museums, I have spent much of the month of July exploring the various exhibitions in the Smithsonian art museums. The photographs in this blog post are of artwork from the Freer Gallery, a fairly small museum that is not as heavily frequented as DC's larger National Gallery of Art and National Portrait Gallery, but is nonetheless equally awe-inspiring and enjoyable. The focus of this museum is on Asian art, though it does include some American works as well. Below is a brief overview of the exhibitions in the Freer Gallery as written on the website.


About

The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art: the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The Freer Gallery houses one of the premier collections of Asian art, with objects dating from Neolithic times to the early 20th century, as well as the world's most important collection of works by James McNeill Whistler.


Highlights

Chinese paintings, Indian sculpture; Islamic painting and metalware; Japanese lacquer; Korean ceramics; American art from the late 19th-century aesthetic movement; Whistler's Peacock Room.


Body Image: Arts of the Indian Subcontinent

National Gallery of Art

July 14, 2021 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20565, USA

ARTECHOUSE

July 13, 2021 1238 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA



On a hot summer day, nothing is more appealing than stepping into a cool museum and exploring the array of interesting offerings—from famed French paintings and masterpieces of the greatest American artists to exhibitions examining the most horrific moments in global and United States history. 

Over the past weekend that I spent in Washington, DC, I had the pleasure of visiting ARTECHOUSE, an incredibly innovative museum that explores the intersection of art, science, and technology. The museum opened in DC in 2017 and has since expanded, now boasting locations in Miami and New York City. The vibrant visuals, topical relevance, and interactive components make this museum truly a one-of-a-kind, and I cannot wait to return in the near future to see ARTECHOUSE's latest installation. 

Below is a description of ARTECHOUSE's current installation, Renewal 2121, as written on their website.

RENEWAL 2121

Inspired by the annual cherry blossom season and utilizing the power of creative technology, Renewal 2121 seeks to inspire hope amid a global pandemic and concerns of climate change.

Transporting us 100 years into the future, it immerses us in an industrial city where nature fights to survive amid an overdeveloped metropolis. This is a future that will arrive if humanity continues unchecked at its current pace.

However, there is a hopeful message to be discovered as blossoms are seen peeking through the plastic, concrete and neon lights, ready to renew the season with the help of those willing to take action.

Currently: Spring Lake NJ, Moving, & Summer Reads

June 16, 2021


Spring Lake, New Jersey

The day following my high school graduation ceremony, after a quick stop in New York City, my family drove to Spring Lake, New Jersey, to spend a few days at the shore before heading back home and preparing for our move. Though the forecast predicted constant rain for the last two days of our trip, we lucked out, as the mornings and afternoons were sunny and the showers and clouds did not emerge until later in the evening hours. While it was a very brief getaway, it was an enjoyable excursion and exciting way to celebrate the start of summer as well as the return to a relatively normal June. 




Moving Houses

The week or so since my family returned from our few days at the New Jersey shore has been spent preparing for our move. From packing up belongings and amassing donations bags to making round-trip delivery drop offs, moving houses is an arduous process. Despite the obvious physical labor as well as mental fatigue moving often entails, it is also an extremely exciting process. I have always loved changes in my environment, as it is in new spaces that I often feel the most creative, motivated, and emboldened to shift my perspective and embrace experiment. I am also very excited to decorate my new bedroom and to take on the challenge of designing a space that, despite its small size, can transform from an empty room into a corner of the house that feels both homy and inspiring. 



Latest Summer Reads

All of the novels I have read so far this summer are from the order of used books I purchased on Ebay in the spring, which you can see in this post entitled Book Buys: Spring 2021. As of now, I have read six of the thirteen books, and I am hoping to finish all of them before I head off to college in late August. My latest two reads from this list include Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly, and Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue. Lilac Girls is a historical fiction novel set during World War II that weaves together the narratives of three different young women—an American living in New York City, a Polish citizen transported to Ravensbrück, and a German doctor who worked inside the concentration camp. Behold the Dreamers tells the story of a family of Cameroonian immigrants and the joys and sorrows they experience as the struggle to build a life for themselves in New York City. Both books were wonderful reads, and I would highly recommend both.

Graduated

June 14, 2021


Just over a week ago, I graduated from high school. The pushed back date for the graduation ceremony—one week later than a typical year—turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the original weekend date consisted of abnormally cold and rainy weather but the forecast for the following weekend was filled with the customary warmth, baking sunshine, and blue skies of June. 


This year was undoubtedly a challenging one. From dealing with the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, the uncertainty surrounding the state of our country in the aftermath of a contentious 2020 presidential election, and navigating a school year unlike any other due to the implementation of health precautions, for the Class of 2021, senior year was not an easy one. Amidst all of these anxieties, many seniors also dealt with both the excitement and unavoidable stresses of the college application process—a process which, as with almost all facets of life for the past two years, was unprecedented. My own college application journey was a difficult one. It was a journey filled with apprehension, unease, and daunting unpredictability. And yet, it was also filled with loud laughter, unanticipated growth, and valuable self-reflection.


It felt so special to celebrate commencement surrounded by family and friends after an especially tough senior year, and also to do so in a manner that so nearly mirrored pre-COVID graduation celebrations due to the timely loosening of state restrictions. I was also incredibly honored to have an opportunity to speak at my graduation ceremony. Though I felt nervous for days (well, weeks) prior to delivering my address, as I stood upon the platform and shared my story with my school community—the lessons I learned and joys I experienced as well as the struggles I faced—I was filled not so much with the paralyzing jitters I had anticipated, but rather a sense of contentedness and gratitude. While I am very much ready to close the chapter of my life that is high school and move on to the next journey that is college, I am so thankful for the experience that I had and, this year in particular, for the strengths I gained from the challenges I faced.

New York City: Spring 2021

May 28, 2021 New York, NY, USA


This past weekend, to celebrate the closing of my senior year as well as my birthday, my mom and I drove to New York City. Usually when we visit the city, we stay in upper Manhattan, but this time we decided to branch out and stay in lower Manhattan, an area I have very rarely visited and that my mom, once a New York native, had also never spent much time exploring. 


Prior to our trip, my mom and I both received our second vaccinations for COVID-19, and though we were still quite cautious and adamant about wearing our masks when around other people, it was a relief to not be burdened with the heavy weight and fear of potentially catching the virus. And though the majority of New Yorkers, no doubt from having been hit so hard at the outbreak of the pandemic, were also still very careful, we could sense a joyful jubilation and the city felt almost alive with vitality.


While our stay was relatively short, we packed in as much adventure and exploration into our few days as we could. From visiting the beautiful Bronx Botanical Gardens to walking the Brooklyn Bridge under the beating sun, we traversed areas of the city that were either entirely new to us or that we had not seen in several years, and it was so enjoyable to experience these more unfamiliar parts of New York City.



A Weekend in Princeton, New Jersey

May 26, 2021 Princeton, NJ 08544, USA


A couple weekends ago, my family and I had the pleasure of visiting Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, as I will be entering as a first year student this fall. While I had visited the town once before for a quick breakfast after my mom picked up furniture in the area, I had never stepped foot on campus or explored any part of the town except for the single restaurant we dined at during that singular, brief visit. 


Our recent visit turned out to be the same weekend as the graduation for Princeton's Class of 2021, and it was so nice to be able to see the campus and surrounding city during such a celebratory time. Though our visit was quite short—we spent two nights and had to depart early on Monday morning—we explored as much of the university and the city of Princeton as we could. 


As a lover of photography and videography, I of course had to bring my trusty camera with me to capture some of the moments and memories from our brief visit.


Campus


Nassau Street

Liz Cheney Ousted from Leadership: Consequences for American Democracy

May 12, 2021


Truth is essential for the survival of democracy. Despite the differences in parties and perspectives on policies, a shared respect, understanding, and acceptance of the truth should serve as a source of unification for a country. To value the truth is to be patriotic, and to reject it is to threaten the very foundations of democracy.


That is why the ousting of Republican Representative Liz Cheney is so alarming—because her removal is based in the complete rejection of fact and instead the dangerous  embrace conspiracy. Cheney, a staunch conservative, was forced out of her position not for any lack of ideological commitment or failure of leadership, but instead her refusal to propagate a baseless claim of election fraud that her Republican colleagues have adopted for the selfish reasons of bolstering their own political reputations and careers. Though I disagree with most of her conservative stances, I applaud her for having the courage and integrity to stand up against her Republican colleagues and commit to the truth—the truth that the 2020 election was a free and fair election and that it was, as countless election experts, officials, and even the former president's own appointees have stated, the most secure election in American history. 


The ousting of Cheney from office may appear to be nothing more than a typical political maneuver, a classic example of the "game of politics." Her removal from her position, though, is much more serious, as it demonstrates that one of the two major parties in the American political system has metamorphosed from a party of traditional, conservative values to one that refuses to accept the truth when it conflicts with their political agenda. Such a disrespect for truth will breed severe consequences for American democracy, and its legacy will continue to haunt the nation in years to come.

Currently: Graduating, Turning 19, & Toni Morrison

May 9, 2021


Approaching Graduation


In just under four weeks, I will be standing atop a graduation platform, walking down stone steps to accept the diploma that will mark the end of my high school career. Despite the restrictions created by the pandemic, my class of one-hundred and thirty or so students will be graduating from the same stage that decades of seniors before us have. And though I am happy to continue the tradition of completing my high school journey on the same graduation platform, unfortunately due to its rather small size, my school has restricted the number of attending guests to four people per student. I am, of course, disappointed that not all of my family members and friends will be able to attend, however I am very grateful to at least have an in-person ceremony to conclude my year.


19


Around two weeks before graduating, I will be turning nineteen years old. To celebrate, my mom and I will be traveling to New York City for a couple of days. By this weekend, we will both be fully vaccinated, and though we will of course exert caution and adhere to the same safety guidelines as we would before receiving our vaccinations, I so look forward to the sense of relief and security that will accompany our full vaccination. Though my mom has kept some of our city excursions as a surprise, I do know that we will be visiting a botanical garden exhibit entitled Kusama: Cosmic Nature at the Bronx Zoo and staying at a hotel in Lower Manhattan. I cannot wait to experience the vibrant energy of New York City that I have missed so much during the pandemic.


Recent Read: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison


As a part of a group at my school called The Fifteen—a band of fifteen members of literature lovers in the senior class—I recently read The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison. Morrison is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is beyond beautiful; it is enriching, incredibly imaginative, and lyrical. I absolutely loved her novels Beloved and Song of Solomon, and The Bluest Eye was no exception. I hope to read her other novels in the near future, too, such as Sula and Tar Baby. Below I have copied a description of The Bluest Eye from Goodreads.


The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden to not bloom. Pecola's life does change—in painful, devastating ways. What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrison's most powerful, unforgettable novels—and a significant work of American fiction.

1/2 Vaccinated

April 22, 2021


Yesterday morning, I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. Only around three days ago, eligibility for those sixteen and older to receive a vaccine opened up across the nation, and my school partnered with a nearby pharmacy to provide students who wished to get vaccinated with a vaccine clinic on campus. 205 students, around half of the student population of my school, chose to get the vaccine that day, though I know of quite a few people who were able to get their shots prior to the official eligibility date and all faculty members have already been fully vaccinated.

 As health experts and epidemiologists have said numerous times, vaccines are the solution to returning to some sense of normal, and though masks are not disappearing anytime soon, the most important change is, of course, that lives will be saved. My sister, a college student in New York, has already received both doses of her vaccine, and my parents will get their first shots this weekend. It is strange to consider that my sister and I were able to secure shots prior to both of my parents, who would both be deemed to be of a much higher risk than me or my sister due to their age. Even so, we are thrilled that by mid-to late May, everyone in my family will be fully vaccinated, and while we will continue to practice all safety guidelines as put forth by health officials, that crippling fear of contracting the virus that is universal across the country and the world will slowly start to fade away.

The approaching summer also fills me with excitement. The more Americans get vaccinated, the more normal the season will seem, and the warm weather and ability to be outdoors will also help mitigate the spread of the virus that, while dwindling, is still infecting people everyday. Though last summer my family was able to travel by car on a few occasions, the bulk of it was spent at home, and I look forward to more safe travel and excursions this summer as well as small gatherings, because like so many Americans, I have not seen many of my friends and family members for well over a year now.

Though I am hopeful about a gradual end to the pandemic, there is one very important barrier that must be overcome to achieve immunity among the American population: vaccine hesitancy. Time is of the essence for administering COVID-19 vaccines, as waiting too long allows the virus to continue to circulate in communities and for new, potentially deadlier or more contagious variants to emerge. Vaccines cannot save lives unless people get vaccinated. As many doctors and health experts have stated, vaccine hesitancy declines when people see their family members, friends, and colleagues get vaccinated, and so each person has a responsibility and important role to play in receiving their own vaccination so that others will feel more comfortable doing so too.

Spring Courses: Race and Ethnicity & Latin Literature

April 7, 2021


I am one and a half weeks into the last trimester of my high school career, and in honor of my final spring trimester and as a follow-up to a post I created several weeks ago sharing my winter term courses, I wanted to reflect on my brief experience in my spring classes thus far and what I hope to learn as the term progresses. During my spring term, I took an English class and as well as Comparative Government and Politics—two courses that will go down as definite favorites—and my final classes as a high school student are also humanities-based: Race and Ethnicity and Latin Literature.


Winter Courses: English Literature and Composition and Comparative Government and Politics.


Race and Ethnicity


Divided into three thematic sections, the first three weeks of Race and Ethnicity focus on the foundations of ethnic history in the United States, the middle of the term is spent examining the immigrant experience, and the term concludes with a study of the Civil Rights Era and beyond. Over the past week, we have centered our discussions on indigenous Americans and the arrival of white European settlers, including both the Spaniards led by Columbus and the English colonists who arrived to Jamestown and New England. Our central text for the course is A Different Mirror by American historian Ronald Takaki. Though I have only read around sixty or seventy pages thus far, I have been gripped by the author's depth of analysis and raw, realistic portrayal of an American in which, "ever since the arrival of the English strangers to Jamestown," the "Indians' story had been one of stolen lands, sickness, suffering, starvation, and sadness."


Latin Literature


In contrast to my rather large Race and Ethnicity course composed of around seventeen students, only two students, including myself, are enrolled in my Latin Literature course. This class examines the traditions of Latin lyric poetry practiced by writers such as Ovid and Catullus. A bit rusty from not having taken Latin in almost year due to school schedule changes from COVID-19 and wanting to start with the text that most resembled the epic we worked with last year, Virgil's Aeneid, we chose to start with the Metamorphoses, Ovid's magnum opus. The Metamorphoses was written around 3-8 AD and, composed of a whopping 250 stories all interwoven by the theme of transformation, is the source of many of the myths known in modern Western societies. Centuries after his death, Ovid's work continued to move audiences and influence creators including prominent Renaissance artists as well as renowned playwright William Shakespeare. For the past week, we have focused on translating the story of Daphne and Apollo, and we will continue to delve into other of Ovid's popular myths before transitioning to the works of Catullus.