March 2018: a note to you,
his issue is about possibility. Art gives us the possibility to explore our routines, our curiosities, and even our fears or insecurities through an introspective lens. Yet, it also fosters a sense of connectedness through this exploration, a realization that often times we’re not alone in our feelings. In this issue, we interviewed a set of artists who explore this theme through varying mediums. Sarah Elise Abramson describes her photography as “everyday surrealism”, creating worlds that transcend places and eras. Celia Jacobs views her editorial illustrations as an opportunity to welcome readers into the ideas of the writers she illustrates for. Beyond this, the issue is filled with incredible photography, writing, and other art. We also received many wonderful submissions. Thank you to everyone who submitted. We really appreciate all of it. Enjoy this issue, and please feel free to get in touch! Always,
founder / editor-in-chief instagram: @inbtwnmag
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Sarah Elise Abramson
A special thank you to everyone who supports this magazine. Whether you have submitted work, skimmed through an issue, or read each page, we’re thankful to have you as a part of our community. Like the title says, we’re inbtwn where we started and where we hope to be, and your support is helping us get there.
1 — contents
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THE TEAM founder / editor-in-chief Taylor Seamans contributing writers Rennie Svirnovskiy, Erin Clifford, Katherine Wiles, Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes contributing photographers Erin Clifford, Dillon Matthew contributing artists Jennifer Langen, Janice Chang SPECIAL THANKS Sarah Elise Abramson @slow_toast
Dillon Matthew @dillonmatthewc
Celia Jacobs @celiajacobs
Sonia Perdeck @soniaperdeck
Omar Apollo @omar.apollo SUBMISSIONS/INQUIRIES email firstname.lastname@example.org instagram @inbtwnmag
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in rhythm Waiting for You // Verzache, Swell You’re So Beautiful // Reddish Blu Falling for U // Peachy!, mxmtoon Sink into the Floor // Feng Suave Honey // Burns Twins River // Leon Bridges I Can’t Go On Without You // Kaleo Lover Is a Day // Cuco Tired // Yellow Days Everyday // boy pablo Only in the West // Yeek All Your Love // Jakob Ogawa Best Friend // Rex Orange County Lo Que Siento // Cuco Goodie Bag // Still Woozy
music Selection: Sophie Wennemann
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Sarah Elise Abramson introduction by Rennie Svirnovskiy interview by Taylor Seamans
You’ll want to know Sarah Elise Abramson. In one of her self-portraits, she squats with an orange to her chin, perched with her arms and knees crossed in front of her, but her face looking out at the camera. That gaze lingers, like she says she does when she comes across a pretty flower on an in-and-out trip to the post office. Before we even sit down for our interview, she gives me a hug and a tour of her house, shared with roommates and very open, with a big window and a balcony on which they spend a lot of time together. You can just tell. What walls and surfaces there are, are covered in art and photographs, things she and her roommates have acquired or taken. On the doorframe of her bedroom, she says, is her favorite photo ever: her grandparents when they were young. Abramson’s personal style is everyday surrealism that leaves its viewers at the intersection of poetry and intense physicality. Below, the photographer/painter/curator/writer/editor tells us how she achieves that mood, working with just Polaroids and film.
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Q: When did you start photography? Sarah: They don’t offer middle schoolers photography classes, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So, I begged my mom at 11 to sign me up for an adult photography class. She’d just come with me and sit in the corner and read her book. That’s where I learned about F-stop, aperture, shutter speed, and all the basics. It came naturally— which isn’t a ton of other things in my life. We went and shot at the botanical gardens (me and all these other middle aged people). That was the first time we used all the techniques I’d been learning. It was all analog. I use the same camera now. It’s all manual, so you have to use your brain to figure out the exposure which I think is paramount if you want to call yourself a photographer. If you just rely on light meters, you’re not really considering everything because light meters can only tell you so much. It’s just part of it. Q: What made you interested in photography? Sarah: Honestly, I don’t know. I think my parents just bought me a cheap camera, and I started messing around with it. I get distracted really easily, so being forced to look through a lens narrows the world down for me. I’m able to hone in on more of what I’m trying to show or say. Q: What did you shoot mostly as a kid? Sarah: Mostly nature. In high school, I started shooting my friends sort of similarly to how I do today. I just found this really old picture that I printed in the darkroom in high school of a friend. It’s just her in a mirror, and I use mirrors a lot. So it was like “Whoa I was even doing that back then and I didn’t realize it.” Q: Is your work all film? Sarah: Yep, Polaroid, all 35mm. Sometimes 4x5 but I haven’t used that in a while. Q: What was your college experience like? Sarah: I decided I didn’t want to go to New York like I once thought. It’s too fast-paced. I took a tour of the campus at Brooks, and it was so beautiful. It’s in Santa Barbara. I had also recently fallen super in love with my future ex-husband. He is still one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I met him right after I graduated high school, and that also influenced me not to go to New York.
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Anyway, yeah so I got married at 20 and then divorced at 22. I don’t regret it, but it’s just weird to think that I used to be married. I ended up going to Brooks, which was a really poor choice for me because they’re a very commercial school, and I’m not. So, all my classmates loved my work and all my professors didn’t. Q: I’ve been reading the book “How Music Works” by David Byrne. In it he says, “I believe that we unconsciously and instinctively make work to pre-existing formats.” Thoughts? Sarah: Well, I’m confused what he means by preexisting formats. Does he mean other work being made? Well, he talks about how environment and experience influence your perspective. He says creativity is often romanticized as something that comes strictly from within, but that that’s likely not a realistic version of creativity. Sarah: Oh, well absolutely. I’m sure it works differently for all artists, but I’m definitely influenced by my surroundings, what’s happening currently in my life. For example, for a while—and sorta still— I got into posing my models with their hands around their neck. Then, one of my good friends Mel Baker brought that up to me and was like “Are you doing this for a reason?” and I hadn’t even realized I’d been doing it. She was like “I thought you were doing it intentionally. Maybe you were trying to express that you felt suffocated.” Which I definitely did. I was like whoa that’s so crazy that that came out in my work, and I wasn’t even fully conscious of it. Also, the people that you surround yourself with affect your work. Especially in my work because I shoot my friends, and I call all of my shoots collaborations because it’s not just me doing everything. It’s being able to articulate the feeling I want expressed to someone else so they understand it too. I want to start directing short films and feature length films, so I think it’s really important to know how to communicate with your collaborators. Q: How would you describe the style of your work? Sarah: Everyday surrealism. Analog, contemporary, fine art. I like to incorporate nature, especially places that look like heterotopias which is a concept that Foucault elaborated on. The Wikipedia
“In a lot of my photos, I like to put things that you might see after a while but wouldn’t see initially. It’s like when you re-watch movies and you notice something new every time.”
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definition is the space in which a phone call exists, the space when you look at yourself in the mirror. All the other examples are basically these placeless places. They’re very specific. So, in a lot of my work, I try to have my models in places that look like they could be anywhere and any era. Q: How do you feel your style has changed over time? Sarah: I feel like it’s changed a lot and also hasn’t. I’m still attracted to the same sort of things and the same sort of feelings I was at age 11. Everything is just much more refined now. Q: Did you have any influences? Sarah: I’ve been really lucky to have pretty amazing photo mentors. Ahndraya Parlato was my first sort of one. I’m obsessed with her work. We started emailing, I’d send her my work, and she’d give me feedback. Every time she’d give me feedback, I’d cry. She was on point and trying to make me better, but it can be hard to hear negative stuff about you work. But that really helped me a lot. Susan Worsham, I wouldn’t call her a photo mentor, but I’m also obsessed with her work. We’ve had a couple phone conversations, and everything she says is golden. She’s some sort of magical being. And then I interned for David LaChapelle, and we became friends. Now, we text all the time. He’s taught me a lot. He’s also very harsh. It’s good to have people who will criticize. I do have friends that will be very straight forward, but most of my friends will just say, “These are all
brilliant,” which is great but not constructive. Q: You juggle your own work, writing for a column, etc. So what exactly is everything you work on? Sarah: Well, photo will forever be my jam, my main squeeze. I also paint, curate, write a monthly column for American Art Collector Magazine, and I used to write for Culture Magazine. I’m also the creator and editor-in-chief of an annual art publication called Slow Toast. I want to get into working with glass, mirrors, and stained glass. I’m going to be going back to school in November. Q: What’s intriguing to you about creating environments/worlds in your photos verses just traditional portraiture or landscape shoots? Sarah: Every time before I take a picture, I try to think to myself “have I seen this before?” And if I have, I won’t take the picture. There’s a Carl Jung quote something about the artist playing with the things it loves the most. I think that’s what I do. I take spots that I find that seem like a heterotopia, and then take the people that I love there. Q: You have different photo series (Parallels, I’ll be Your Mirror, Still Dreams). Can you talk about those? “I’ll Be Your Mirror” is a collaboration between me and another Polaroid photographer named Sarah. She lives in France. For a while, a lot of the Polaroid blogs were doing features on us at the same
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time, and we became fans of each others’ work. We started this collaboration where I took the first Polaroid and came up with the first word or theme. It was “daydream”. And then, I sent it to her, and she played off that. Then we put the photos together. Then, the next time she’d take the picture and think of the word then send it to me, and I’d have to play off of that. “Parallels” is a series that I worked on for three or four years. That’s about the in between, like I talked about before. “Still Dreams” is a portion of a larger series that I have called Déjà Vu. In the show, I filled the entire back wall of the room with Polaroids. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of Polaroids. So, it was just a curation of those. I’m in the process of putting together a book with all of my Polaroids. Q: You do gallery exhibitions. How do you think about installation in terms of scale and placement? Sarah: That’s something I need to work on. I need to give a lot more thought to that. I think I need to work more in terms of series. A lot of my shots aren’t really cohesive in the idea that they’re part of a series. It’s more that it’s cohesive in the way that all my work looks like it’s my work, but a series is something beyond that. Scale is super important; placement is super important. I do think that right now, people in the gallery world are like, “The bigger the better,” but I think my work is very intimate. So, I also feel sort of torn because I like smaller things because it makes you get closer. In a lot of my photos, I like to put things that you might see after a while but wouldn’t see initially. It’s like when you re-watch movies, and you notice something new every time. I like to try to put these sorts of hidden layers in my photos. I really like those frames with really ornate brass. Ultimately, it’d be great to have a really big show where I put all my photos in those. It’s just hard to find ones that I can afford.
Sarah: I hope that I’m creating this other world that I know I escape to, and I hope that other people can escape to also. It’s just a detailed question because my aim in my photos is multilayered. I think about mental illness a lot. I have a lot of friends who are either bipolar, schizophrenic, or depressed. And in those mental states, you see something other than what we see. And so it’s like what is reality? I believe that it’s whatever you see.
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self-portraits // a set from the artist
Q: What do you hope people take away from your art?
“Every time before I take a picture, I try to think to myself ‘have I seen this before?’ And if I have, I won’t take the picture.”
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// Our Cultural Amnesia About Sexual Assault
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// Anxiety, Defiance, and Refuge in Immigrant Los Angeles
Q: What’s your story? Celia: I grew up in Portland, and I lived there my whole life until it was time to go to college. I really loved growing up in Portland because it’s really close to nature, so I spent a lot of time outdoors and feeling connected in that way. That was really nice, but when it was time for college, I was pretty much ready to go. It’s not that big of a city, so it seemed like something bigger was something I should try out. I actually wasn’t planning on coming to LA, but I decided to go to Art Center which was there. I was pretty sure art was something I wanted to do seriously, so I came here for school and then after graduating in April, I’ve decided to stick around. Q: Was art big in your life growing up? When did you decide you wanted to pursue it into college, and did your family support this? Celia: Yes, so my mom was a painter when I was a kid, and she converted our garage into a studio. That was really great because I’d hang out there with her and just draw, so I was drawing pretty much since day one. I went to a middle school focused on the arts which made me really serious about it. In high school, I had other interests as well but art was the thing I felt like I could keep doing forever and be satisfied. When it came to college, my mom was super supportive, almost in a way like she could live vicariously through me.
She was like, “I wanted to go to art school, you should go!” Q: What are your main mediums? Celia: I use pretty much gouache, acrylics, and colored pencil, and then I do my work on paper. That’s pretty much it these days. I don’t really do anything digitally except for scanning and correcting the color. Maybe digital would be smarter and faster. I know people who are really good at it, but I’m just not. I don’t know, I can’t really get the result I want, so I do things pretty traditionally. I think it’s one of those things where with digital everything looks so perfect that I feel like it has to be 100% perfect, and I don’t feel like I can get that look. So, for me if it’s imperfect and sloppy, but I’m doing it with real paint, it’s okay. Q: Did you ever consider doing anything else? Celia: I guess I knew I wanted to do art pretty young, but also in high school, I was really into music. I played in a couple bands, and for a while I was considering pursuing music, but I feel like music has an even lower success rate than visual art (laughs). And, it also just didn’t seem to fit as well as visual art, which I felt like I could sit and do all day. Visual art wasn’t a super emotional process like music was. I mean, I’m emotionally connected to art, but I feel like I can do it as work. In middle school, I wanted to be a writer and even had some
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photos by Dillon Matthew
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science interests, but nothing stuck as something I could spend all my time doing. And, we’ll find out if I’m wrong, you know, down the line maybe I’ll be like, “I can’t believe I thought I could draw forever,” but for now I feel like I can. Q: How would you describe the style of your work? Celia: This is a question I’m supposed to be good at answering, but I’m not. I think my work is very color-forward. I think color is the first thing, it’s bright. Because of that, it’s playful. I’m also really interested in texture, so it’s textured. I have abstract influences, so it’s also very flat. I’m influenced by printmaking and Japanese art. I steal a lot of my colors from either David Hockney or Japanese graphic design from the 60’s/70’s which is my big secret (laughs). No, but everything else is about textures and being sensitive to that and color. Q: How has your artistic style changed from before college until now? Celia: It’s definitely different. I came in doing a lot of delicate stuff that was just pencil drawings, and it didn’t jump out. I was just into the act of drawing. But, a little over halfway through I had some sort of breakdown, and I decided I wanted to make stuff that stood out. I didn’t want to just be good at drawing. I wanted to be good at making images. I wanted to be more forward and a little more dramatic. The change was also influenced by coming to LA. In Portland, everything
is relatively cold all the time and it’s rainy and it’s a different mood— quieter and slower. Coming here, all the buildings are a lot more colorful. The harshness of the sunlight makes everything so sharp and high contrast, and I really liked that. I started to get influenced by it. I was like, “it’s time for a change.” Q: You do some drawings to illustrate news stories and others for yourself— what is this balance like, and what are your main projects at the moment? Celia: I mostly do editorial illustration work now. I’ve always liked having an assignment, so I enjoy it. I like making something that is going to go somewhere, so it has a purpose. I think I need a better balance of making work just for myself as well. I feel like it’s really valuable to do that. But, I went on this boat trip in December. It was an oceanographic expedition with graduate students and some faculty from UCSB and a couple other schools. The scientists were going out to study changes in the phytoplankton in the Santa Barbara channel. I had met the chief scientist at a research conference I worked at as a visualizer/ documentarian, and so she invited me on the cruise. So, that is an on-going project right now, and then I’m also working on some art for a group show I’m doing in the spring. Q: Where/who do you draw your inspiration from? Celia: The Japanese prints have always interested
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“I want to make information and ideas accessible. Of course, a lot of that is the good work of the authors I get to illustrate for, but I want people to see something and feel welcome in it and interested in it.”
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“Sometimes, I want to move more towards fine art and gallery work and painting my own ideas, and other times that’s totally scary and unappealing.” me, and lately the graphic design/poster design from the 60’s and 70’s is really interesting, flat, and fresh. But, I also like David Hockey— he’s my favorite artist. I love him and his work. I look mostly at art from the 1920’s onwards, but I also like Matisse and Picasso, classic stuff about how you abstract a form. There are some figurative painters that I think are doing cool stuff in New York. There’s Louis Fratino and Robin Francesca Williams who I think are really cool. I love looking at figurative work because I’m interested in portraiture and things with people. It’s cool to see the different ways that people have been represented. Q: What do you hope people take away from your art? Celia: It sorta depends what it is—whether it’s a job or personal work. With personal work, I want people to get a sense of wonder. I like to think my work is a little bit removed from reality. Like all the figurative painting I like, it’s the world but just slightly different. It’s not anybody else’s world— it’s mine and ours— but it’s just looking at it in a different way which I really like. Magical realism is something I love. Like in books, for example, there’s something fantastical in it but it’s never explained, it’s just accepted as a part of the world. With illustration for a job, I wanted to make information and ideas accessible. Of course, a lot of that is the good work of the authors I get to illustrate for, but I want people to see something and feel welcome in it and interested in it. I think that I’m lucky where a lot of the articles I get are really important ideas, and I just want there to be a little bit of fun or playfulness to bring people in so that they then look at the good ideas and care about it. Hopefully, I’ve been able to give it a human touch, and then they see the article which is really a human touch. I just want to be of service in that way. Q: In 5-10 years, what kind of progress do you hope to see in your art?
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Celia: When I graduated from school, they made us do this PowerPoint of where our lives will go. It’s super funny to give a PowerPoint of my future life in bullet points. I think my answers have changed since then, but I do want to keep doing illustration. I really like helping and being a part of something. I’d like to do more of that than I am now even. Sometimes, I want to move more towards fine art and gallery work and painting my own ideas, and other times that’s totally scary and unappealing. I think lately I want to have a role in communicating science to the public. From talking with the scientists involved in the phytoplankton research, they feel that science has a communication issue. I agree in that a lot of times science is presented in a way that’s either super intimidating or even boring. But, I feel like there are a lot of really beautiful and abstract things in science that connect with our lives, and it doesn’t have to be scary or serious all the time. It should be allowed to be funny even sometimes. Illustration is about communicating, and so being able to help in that way would be really cool. Q: Musicians or authors that represent you? Celia: Just because I mentioned magical realism earlier, I’ll go with that. Ever since reading his work, I’ve loved Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He’s a Colombian author who wrote about magical realism. I love his stuff because it’s all about the relationships between people and their lives. It’s not that their lives are that special but there’s magic in it, like literal magic, and it’s never explained which I really love. So, that would be for books. Music is harder because I go through a lot of moods. The other day I was thinking about this and trying to think of something that would be interesting, and cool, and edgy but relatable which is a really stupid thing to think that I’m capable of. I listen to a lot of folky stuff/blues stuff. I’m very sensitive, and I love Sufjan Stevens, but at the same time I was in a punk band in high school, so I like to go in that direction too.
top left: Mr. Trump’s Attack on Birth Control - The New York Times
top right: Portrait of Gabriel García Márquez
bottom left: Emory students tackle unsolved, unpunished killings from the Civil Rights Movement - Atlanta Magazine
bottom right: The Psychic Stress of Being the Only Black Woman at Work - Lenny Letter
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OMAR APOLLO interview and photos by Erin Clifford
Erin: Do you have a song you listen to when you drive? Omar: Yeah. Let me see. If I were to hop in the car right now, I would probably play the song “Warned You” by Good Morning. Erin: Yeah! I love that song. Omar: Or, I’d listen to “I Love You” by The Bees. You want to cry? It’s really good. Erin: I remember where I was when I first heard your song. Omar: Where? Erin: I was in New York, and I was having a really weird day. My friend texted me “UGotMe”, and I was just listening to it like 17 times in a row. Omar: No way. That makes me so happy to hear. Erin: It was crazy. I didn’t even realize. Omar: That’s just so crazy. When I made that song, I was home alone and my roommate kept asking me to clean outside, so I had to stop. It’s so funny,
they’ll hear me making music, and then I’ll be putting it out. Then, they’ll be like is this the song you played on this day? But, I remember I made it and had this “Baby there’s something you know.” Here, no one knows this. This was like 4 months before I made the song UGotMe. I’m with my band, and I was like, “Hey Joey hit the snare like this,” and I recorded a baseline. I recorded a voice memo, and the first thing I said was like , “baby there’s something you know.” Then, I just left it there for like 3 months and then I found the voice memo, and I was like this is kind of tight, so I started to make the drums. It was already written like three months before that, the melody that I was going to use. I just put it off, and that’s probably the song that helped me out the most. Erin: What song of yours explains where you are right now? Omar: Weird question. Okay, so I have been wanting to make a song about how I feel currently, which is like numbness, like nothing for anybody or anything. It’s kind of weird, but I am kind of enjoying it because I know that there is going to be a time where I am going to feel that way. Like again. Damn, this got deep. I literally was just thinking about this last night, so in my head is just
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I think I am way more emotional than anybody should be. I think any artist thinks that. like man like I don’t feel shit. Like for anybody, for no one. I’m just kind of numbed out. But, there’s happiness to it because I know I’m going to feel something for someone or something soon enough, like I’m just kind of enjoying the feeling of knowing that it’ll come. Erin: I get that. Omar: It’s weird. It’s a nice transitional period. I feel good, creatively in it. Erin: Do you consider yourself a really emotional person? Do you have to be emotional to be a musician? Omar: Yeah, I think I am way more emotional than anybody should be. I think any artist thinks that. You can’t let things bother you like negative things bother you. That’s the biggest thing. Life is just patterns. The way I’ve gotten as far as I am is literally by not doing and just doing. If that makes sense. You just kind of do it and don’t worry about how things are going to turn out. You just kind of think that they’ll happen and they will. It’s so weird. You have to think about the good, not the bad. Erin: So you’re a self-taught musician and when you were younger you were heavily influenced by the movie Camp Rock. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Omar: Okay, so I love the way they sing and play guitar in the movie. I was like 13 when it came out, and I remember I was on Youtube trying to learn chords. They were playing pretty chords, and I was so frustrated because I loved the music so much at that age, and I couldn’t play them like that. I remember after I was watching it and trying to learn it, I just went to my room. My mom came, and I was crying, and she’s like why are you crying? I was like, I’ll never be as good at playing guitar as everyone else. It was the purest thing ever.
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I’m just kind of numbed out. But, there’s happiness to it because I know I’m going to feel something for someone or something soon enough.
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Erin: So, Joe Jonas is like why you started playing music! Omar: (Laughs) No. It’s because of my tío from Mexico. Well, my parents got me a guitar, and I was learning on my own just like pausing videos because I didn’t know about tutorials yet. And my tío came, and he taught me a lot of Spanish traditional stuff. I remember I used to like go to sleep playing guitar. My mom would take it and put it on the side of the bed. Erin: Guitar, your first love. Omar: It really was, and she knew that. She knew how much I loved playing. She would tell everybody, “Yeah my son plays guitar”. It was cool. I wasn’t singing yet. Erin: When did you start singing? Omar: I had always tried to sing but everybody told me I was bad. My dad was just speaking the truth. It was bad. I was just singing loud. I knew that my dad loved vibrato, and I knew that’s all he wanted to hear me do so I could impress him. So, I went on Youtube and watched like 20 videos. All it is is perfect breathing from your diaphragm. I went on Youtube and did stretches. That’s when I first heard it. I freaked out. I remember I couldn’t sleep. I felt it in my throat. You have to allow it to happen. I worked on my breathing and got to where I am now. I just started taking voice lessons. I want to have a more reliable powerful/chill voice. This new song that I have now is pretty up there. It’s a new unreleased song that will be featured on the EP. It’s going to be tight. Erin: I bet. All your singles are really good. What was it like to be on stage for the first time? Omar: Oh my god. Erin: Because I know you didn’t tell your parents right? Omar: I was like 18. It was the first time before I was even playing my songs. You know who Chance The Rapper is right? He had the open mic, and I used to go and just kind of watch. And I remember my first time I was like, I’m going to sing one of my songs on SoundCloud that’s deleted now, but the crowd thought it was tight. I remember they were like, “You’re on deck.” My heart was thumping. It was my first time being in front of that many people and to know I’m up there, like what am I doing. I was just like fuck it, my heart is already beating this fast. I was by myself. I didn’t really know anyone or that there was a scene. I sung and people liked it. It was the most terrifying moment ever, and after that I had my first show. It was a house show, and I had like 4 songs out, but they did pretty well. I had like 400 likes. It was in Indianapolis, people liked it. They were singing along, and I was like damn. That was the first time that had ever happened to me. I was with my band. I had my friend Joey and Manny, and I was playing guitar and singing. We had no experience with arranging or anything like that. I would just be like okay I think we’re good and would just end it. It was so funny because my whole life I wing everything and once you realize everyone else is winging it, it’s cool. And now there’s like an Indiana scene now that we helped curate.
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I am sort of afraid – in general, all the time – but especially of this recent creeping suspicion that I do not learn things for nourishment, but to better pack my brain for combat. It was central to my training to be useful.
What gave you permission to be so unsure? Which vine scaled the center of your spine and sprouted shrouding pixels for your heart? Did it hurt? I bet it hurt. Parasites only cause pain when they striate, like meat teeth. Keep that in mind as the interrogation progresses. Was it red? Black? Explain the finish to me. I want to hear you describe iridescence because, frankly, I know you’ll fail. If I can’t have love, I want embittered glory. Their vapors overlap and form color out of the choking atmosphere we’re forced to share. do not learn things for nourishment, but to better pack my brain for combat. It was central to my training to be useful.
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illustration by Jennifer Langen written by Katherine Wiles
MARIETTA BALZER x NOA RENGGLI Marietta Balzer and Noa Renggli have a special friendship. The two teenagers met when Noa moved to Marietta’s hometown of Lenzerheide, Switzerland about two years ago. Noa is somewhat Marietta’s muse as Marietta photographs her in beautiful scenes. “Marietta is a really talented hobby photographer,” Noa says of her dear friend. Marietta enjoys photography because “each person has their own personality. I love the personalities of my friends, so I like to keep these moments.” Both love Switzerland, but for different reasons. Marietta appreciates Switzerland’s natural assets, especially the mountains when they are covered in snow. Noa loves the versatility of her country, as it “has it all, almost.” They would both like to travel, Marietta to Japan as she finds Japanese traditions admirable and Noa to India and the United States, places she has wanted to visit her whole life.
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photos by Marietta Balzer
â€œI like photographing my friends because each person has their own personality. I like keeping these moments.â€? - Marietta
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written by MAXINE FLASHER-DUZGUNES illustration by JANICE CHANG My French teachers used to have us practice the passé composé and the imparfait by having us begin every sentence with “Quand j’était petite…” or “When I was little…” What was I doing, what did I do, and so on. The times Madam called my name, I would stand up and tell the class the story about how I used to believe trees were unnecessary because they blocked my view. I would go on and on about their ugliness through my five-year-old eyes, and extend the irony by failing to describe the view it was I was missing. Throughout my childhood, our family had to hire arborist after arborist to chop down the invasive acacias expected to tip in the next storm. And they too blocked my view of Homestead Valley, just inland of Muir Beach, California. I wasn’t a tree-climber, like my friend Sami who had broken nine bones just climbing Douglas firs. The acacia bark would tear off and get caught in my
fingernails on my first few attempts, so I gave up and decided whatever view I could find between the leaves would be enough: the summer evening fog obscured by green, and the little sunlight left making freckles on my cheeks. I did not keep those freckles, give or take a few scratches from running barefoot in my backyard. Perhaps I did retain the memory of them, along with the views that now are peppered with suburbia and slowly departing from the rural, country vibes. As I grew older, I would drag my parents to San Francisco to find the best dance classes, the best food, the best views. I even convinced my father to begin a project, taking pictures of all the narrow, unappreciated streets in the city: Raycliff Terrace, Pixley Street, Potomac Street in the Lower Haight. We pictured the Norwegian Embassy, and then a sign that read, “Clothing optional beyond this point.” Yet beyond the city’s
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grid of cafés and museum stores, there are only corners, no curves. On the way to my house, you must be more than seasoned driver, with hairpin turns and pitch-black one-way driveways under the redwoods. Tourists used to come into our valley asking directions to Muir Woods. One time I suggested we charge admission to Stolte Grove, the campground and public garden established in the early 1900s. But it wouldn’t be the same for us with the footprints of outsiders tainting our Secret Garden, as my brother and I would call it. A historian lives next door, and has published articles about the creek-turned-swimming pool at Stolte Grove, and journalist Lillian Furguson’s house in the three acres she named “Three Groves” after the large number of oaks, redwoods, and buckeye trees in the area. My brother and I would play tag in her garden during those lazy Fourth of July picnics, caught around the scruff of the neck once or twice by the new owners, claiming we were trespassing on private property.
and I to Fisherman’s Warf, I’d scoff at the stuff, hold my nose, the thought of my grandmother’s cancer close by. I do not know which is better, which quality of character, or taste in appearance; I only know that each is different.
I even began writing poetry to express the confusion I felt surrounding my ideal place to live, because I did not prefer to have the city-mouse country-mouse argument again. In my poem titled, “Love is a thing” in the first edition of the Bay Area’s Youth Poetry Anthology, I allowed the natural landscape to shape if not define the heart of the relationship:
When I’m scrambling pay-check to pay-check as a dancer and a teacher and a writer, I will always be aware of the nostalgia that nature conjures up in my mind. Every image of home will pierce my hippocampus, the forested landscapes that forever exceed those in Central Park. I might never grasp what it is that makes me feel at home until the feeling wraps around me.
Two friends at the headlands, I begin. One dodging waves, The other curling his lips like rubber bands. One wears herself, The other wears a t-shirt and jeans,
And they experience without a predetermined caress or embrace by the water’s edge. They climb a hill and watch the sunset While being blown away by questions.
Our street has experienced many power outages this summer, with the replacement of telephone poles and electrical circuits, and suddenly I feel so functional without the lights on: the wind carrying a barely traceable Pacific air, and the eucalyptus forests somehow bringing our continent closer to the Australian outback where they belong. I started making short dance films out on my deck, but do not know what to do or make of them. They certainly bring about where I am from, the overcast lighting and my windswept hair coming along for the ride. I am from a neighborhood that speaks organically, that captures the old artistry of the valley, when Jack Kerouac and other refugees from American consumerism lived nearby, contributing to what would be his novel, The Dharma Bums.
Maybe I will never know exactly what brings charm to a place of residence until I experience the opposite—in my case what will soon become college life on Washington Square in New York City. It’s like when people who have curly hair want straight hair…until they have straight hair and want curls again, like when I traveled to Bordeaux on a foreign exchange and discovered my obsession with cigarette smoke, the way it sunk into my coat and hair and refused to wash away. Yet in my younger years when my parents would take my brother
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Homestead Valley’s Open Space Land now houses two young goats, and the ghosts of sheep once attacked by a local coyote pack. The walk to Goat Hill is five minutes. I often sit at the bench and watch the evening fog roll in from the West. I feed the goats a stalk of lettuce and try to discourage them from following me home, their bells clanging with a hope that they can claim me as their new owner. It’s rumored that under a plum tree on Goat Hill is where playwright Sam Shepard wrote the beginnings of his Pulitzer Prize Winner, Buried Child.
I do not expect my surroundings to be the sole factor in my success, but I do enjoy relying on the off-blue skies to write half-baked poems and improvise dances that will never become a score. I played Iron & Wine’s “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” the other day, and sat on my deck chair exploring choreographic possibilities as the lyrics played, “Now I’m a fat house cat/ Cursing my sore blunt tongue.” The subpar Photo Booth film will probably sit in a desktop folder on my laptop for months before I can decide what to do with it. Where I live, there are so many places to dance or imagine moving within the frame of an antique camera. My father and I hiked up to Cowboy Rock earlier this summer, dipping Pillsbury Doughboy croissants in a jar of honey, our legs swinging over fields of yellow grass and coyote brush. Although it wasn’t eerie, it still made me think of Peter Weir’s mystery/drama film Picnic at Hanging Rock. If we stayed long enough, listening to the wind, could we perhaps become what we imagine is invisible? I told my father that day that I would rather embody a mystery than attempt to solve one, because from living in this valley all my life, I’ve learned that nature likes to leave itself unsolved. There is an outdoor dance retreat in Kentfield, California that my mother and I just visited, once a West-Coast home to dance pioneers Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, and Anna Halprin. Here, the deck spans three large sections, shaded by redwoods and faced by a small amphitheater. Here, a sign reads “Entry score: walk slowly, pause periodically, look, listen, breathe, smell, touch.” Here, I feel at home. Where there is silence, there is space to make art. Where there are branches, the existing art must weave in and out to experience the full view. Yet still, every vista of mine will be freckled with foregrounds and backgrounds of varying hues. One day, I will share my home with fellow artists so they all can experience the wonders of a valley tousled with sea air and crowded with woods. My parents told me never to go hiking alone. I bet they don’t fear the strange figures, but whether I’ll become invisible in-between the trailheads or on the way ‘round a corner. There is nothing more special than the mezzo piano in my brain that follows the swishes of the bay leaves on those narrow trails. There’s a dreamy conductor in his pajamas, drifting in the forest with his baton. There’s an abandoned clubhouse: crumpled coke cans and boards arranged around a cold fire pit. And then there’s me, just breathing.
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Emma D’Arcy (@emma__drc) “Through my own photography, I have the possibility to capture raw, untouched beauty. I strive to create authenticity on a platform that constantly tries to combat that.”
Roxanne Alaska (@hellospacepotato)
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Carolyn Knapp (@carolynlknapp)
the inbtwn. community
Zari Phillips (@illustrationsbyzari) “Fashion is brought to life by endless possibility in how you choose to express yourself through the art in how you dress. Fashion illustration, to me, is so beautiful because of the possibility of creating any mood, scene, or fashion design without having the limitations of manifesting a physical product.” (see more at illustrationsbyzari.com)
Megan Horn (@meganhornphotography) “The Black Lives Matter group stands in front of California’s State Capitol during the alternative MLK March. A woman throws her fist up for change, strength, and the possibility for a better future.”
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SEIGAR (@jseigar) // Cuentos de una ciudad II
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Nick Mastrolia (@eyeofnick) “Shooting at concerts allows me to showcase my perspective. My photography gives my audience an opportunity to see the world through my lens.”
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Claire Richards (@clairerichardsphoto) x ChloĂŤ Fontenot (@oncloudnineties) // Is this growing up?
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“I’M NOT TRYING TO GO FOR PRETTY PEOPLE IN PRETTY PLACES. IT’S MORE ABOUT THE IN BETWEEN MOMENTS, IF THAT MAKES SENSE.”
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Q: Tell me a little about yourself and how you got into photography. Dillon: I’m Dillon Matthew. I’m 18 and from San Diego, CA. In relation to photo stuff, I started about four years ago. I’d do nature stuff with my parents when we’d travel. My parents are a lot older, so we did a lot of the big trips when I was younger. So, I’ve been to Africa and Iceland which is really cool. That’s where I started taking photos. I think I realized I could really start doing photo when I submitted one of my photos from Africa to a contest. That photo won second place, and I started thinking maybe I could do something with this. Then, end of sophomore year and start of junior year of high school I started getting into portraiture. Within that, I found music photography. I’m very into the music scene itself, but music photography specifically is so fun. To be right up in front is amazing. It’s just you and the performer, and you have no idea what they’re gonna do. You have no idea how they’re going to perform. It’s really unpredictable. Q: What draws you to photography over other things? Dillon: So, I’m studying art, and for all art majors, you have to take two studio classes. The first studio class is all 3D based stuff. So, we had to do sculpture, wood work, clay, and book binding. That was most of the 3D stuff I’ve done. I had to take drawing too, but photo and video is what I find most interesting. I like photography because it’s hands on in a mechanical way. I plan out everything, and I feel like it’s easier to do that with photography. With drawing you can’t plan out every step. I feel like photography can be more structured which matches how I am. I’m meticulous in the way that I like to have everything planned out before I do it. Q: What do you think about when setting up a shot?
Dillon: If the location isn’t planned, I’ll normally base where I’m shooting with someone on aspects about them. That’s either color scheme of their clothes/appearance or honestly their personality a lot of times. There’s this one person I shot with recently who I’d never met. She does YouTube stuff, so through watching her videos and getting a sense of her personality, I found places that matched her. That helped me match colors to that as well. Everything I do revolves around color. The stuff I create tends to have a specific color scheme. I recently did a series that was based on summer and winter. A lot of the places I shot at wouldn’t necessarily be places that are associated with those seasons, but through the colors it fit. Q: Where do you meet people? Dillon: Since being in LA, it’s mostly been through Instagram. Honestly, everyone answers their DMs. It’s ridiculous. Q: When it comes to subject matter of your shots, how do you decide what to shoot? Dillon: I think concerts are my favorite. I feel like even if it’s the same person every single time, each show is different. You’re gonna get something different from each show. That goes along with my long term goal which is tour photography, to tour with someone. I think that would be so cool. Q: I feel like concert photography is all about capturing an energy in a still. What are your thoughts on this, and how do you go about it? Dillon: I feel like no matter where you are, even if it’s just a different venue each night, it’s going to be different each time. There’s a different crowd, a different energy. I really don’t like shooting bands I’m not into because I feel like it’s really hard to make good photos of people that
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“I like photography because it’s hands on in a mechanical way. I plan out everything, and I feel like it’s easier to do that with photography. With drawing you can’t plan out every step. I feel like photography can be more structured which matches how I am. I’m meticulous in the way that I like to have everything planned out before I do it.”
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you’re not interested in. I’ve experienced that. I used to shoot with a music blog, and they only sent me to shoot one thing. It was this screamo band, and it was just really uncomfortable. Q: Do you see yourself pursuing photography as a career, in what industry? Dillon: Yeah I do. Whether it’s for a magazine or something else, I want to pursue it as a career. I’ve been researching a bunch into being a director of photography. On a movie set, they’re the person that composes each scene. Take “Stranger Things” for example. The director of photography is the person who chose how The Upside Down would look, like color scheme wise, compositionally. I think it’s a cool thing to do. Also, it could be interesting to shoot stills for a movie set or TV show— just something in the entertainment industry. I don’t see myself setting up a studio anytime soon and having people over. Q: Is your approach to photography different depending on if you’re shooting a personal project vs something commercial? If so, how? Dillon: I don’t really think my approach is too different. I’ve done one shoot with Local Wolves, but when I approach that stuff it’s not any different. It’s still the same planning, and I work more with bands themselves for Local Wolves. So, whatever the feel of that band is is how I’ll match it to the scene or the lighting. I shot for a band called La Bouquet which was started by the drummer of The Neighbourhood. We talked to the band a little bit before the shoot to see what they wanted. That just helped me formulate ideas about how to get the shot. I did a shoot for Lokai, the bracelets, and in that they wanted a specific style but you could still work in your own. Q: What do you hope people take away from your photos? Dillon: Mmm, okay. Let me think about this one for a second. Each shoot that I do is stylistically different, but I feel like as a whole a lot of my photos have a relaxed quality to them. I’m not trying to go for pretty people in pretty locations. It’s more about in between moments, if that makes sense— certain moments of relaxation.
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“I feel like even if it’s the same person every single time, each show is different. You’re gonna get something different from each show.”
// The Naked and Famous
// Tyler, The Creator
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Artist Insight Carolyn Knapp From the artistâ€” My paint has no restrictions. Reality has no meaning in the world of my art. When I look through my camera, I am limited by what exists in front of it, but paint and multimedia gives me the capability to create new images. Of course I could Photoshop someone to have four arms or to hold the earth, but it feels different with a paintbrush in my hand because I am not manipulating reality, but instead I am creating entirely new life. I can lock myself in my room at 8pm with a canvas and my paints, put on a record, and momentarily forget about everything beyond my door. After hours at a time, my paintbrush starts feels like an extension of my own arm, moving straight from my thoughts, a direct channel from my endless imagination. By 3am, there are infinite possibilities of what could come out of that single canvas.
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Sonia Perdeck Q: Can you describe yourself? Sonia: I’m 20. I grew up in Amsterdam, but right now I’m living in a smaller city in the Netherlands for university. I like to take pictures, but I also like painting, drawing, and playing music. I’m studying industrial design and engineering. It’s my first year. I like it, but I’m also still thinking about going to art school and studying photography, but I’m not sure. Q: How long have you been into photography? How did you get into it? Sonia: Three and a half years ago, I started my Instagram. For the first few years, I had a simple digital camera. My Instagram used to be more like a blogger Instagram— pictures of coffee, of my outfits, and things like that. But, a year and a half ago, I bought my first DSLR camera, and that was the moment when I really started taking pictures of my friends and some self-portraits. About one year ago, I posted a message on my Instagram asking if there was anyone who wanted to shoot with me. Some people responded, and I took photos with them. So, it was then when I started taking lots of my own
pictures. I’ve been interested in photography like this for a very long time, but I just didn’t do it for myself until recently. Q: What draws you to photography over other things? Sonia: You can take a picture quickly and capture something really beautiful. Of course with painting, you can also paint really fast, but my style isn’t like that, so it takes a lot more time and practice than photography. With photography, I just— I don’t know— if I see something beautiful, I just take a picture. Also, through photography, I’ve been able to meet a lot of creative people. A lot of that is through Instagram, but yeah I really like to take photos with a model and to meet these people. Q: Do you shoot solely with film? Always 35mm? Sonia: Lately, I’m shooting with a lot of film. Actually, since 2018 has started, I’ve only been using film. But, in the past, I haven’t only shot film, but I really do love it. I’ve only used 35mm so far. I love the grainy look of 35mm. Also, I like that you take
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more time to take a photo when you’re shooting film. I really focus. For example, about two weeks ago I had a shoot, and I did the whole thing on film. I only took 24 pictures in 2 hours, so I was really focused and I like that. It’s hard to explain, but I like that. When I’m shooting digital, I just take so many pictures, then I have to choose which one I like, then I edit it. And I usually end up editing it to look like film— give it more grain. I just really like the look of 35mm. I also like that you don’t see the pictures right away. It’s a little surprise when you get your pictures back. Sometimes, you forget what kinds of photos you’ve taken. Q: What are you thinking about when you’re taking your photos? Sonia: Lately when I’m doing a shoot, I plan it before since I haven’t been shooting for a very long time with models. Now that I am, I want to prepare a bit. I look for examples of light that I want to cre-
with them since meeting, so it’s comfortable. But when I’m first meeting someone new, we usually meet to talk or drink coffee to get to know each other. If you don’t know each other, and you just go take pictures right away, it’s really hard to feel comfortable. But also, the people I’m shooting with are really good models. Even though I don’t know them very well, they don’t feel awkward in front of the camera or with me. I really like to meet random, or not random because I’m usually following them on Instagram, but new people and to go take pictures with them. Q: Where do you take most of your portrait style photos? Sonia: My friend has an empty studio that I’ve been going to to take pictures. I’ve been using it sort of as my studio also, and in there you can create lots of different kinds of pictures that you wouldn’t be able to while shooting outside.
“I like that you take more time to take a photo when you’re shooting film. I really focus. For example, about two weeks ago, I had a shoot and I did the whole thing on film. I only took 24 pictures in 2 hours, so I was really focused, and I like that. It’s hard to explain.” ate or some poses I like. But also, I sometimes just come up with ideas while I’m shooting. Because I’m shooting a lot of film lately, I don’t have a lot of chances to take pictures, so I want to be prepared. Sometimes when I’m just shooting with friends, I don’t have a plan and we just see how everything goes. Posing models is something I find a little difficult because I’m not shooting with models from agencies but more just people I’ve met through Instagram. I find it difficult to direct how they should look, but it’s usually just in the moment I see it and ideas come. Q: On your website, your work is separated into “Portraiture,” “self-portraits,” and “vibes.” I feel like with all your work there’s a sense of comfort/intimacy with the subject matter. The way you shoot the angles/distance from the people makes me feel like you have a close relationship with them— that feeling is transmitted through the photos. Is this something you strive for? Or, does it happen naturally? Sonia: A lot of people I’ve met on Instagram have become good friends, and I’ve taken lots of photos
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Q: Do you have photographers who inspire you? Sonia: I’m inspired by a lot of photographers I’ve found on Instagram. Here are some of their usernames: @nishediary, @tinasosna, @jimmymarble, @paulini, @lalovenenoso, @huiuh, and @lukasz_wierzbowski. Q: Do you develop your photos or get them developed? Is it something you want to learn how to do? Sonia: I haven’t in the past. I’d love to, but I just haven’t. Next semester, I’m going to take an analog course, so I’ll learn a bit. I think it’s just developing with black and white film, which I’ve never really shot with. I’d like to try that out because I think that it’s really beautiful. Once you learn how to develop, you’re doing the whole process. I like the feeling that you’re doing the entire thing by yourself. Q: Do you see yourself pursuing photography as a career?
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“I’m still not sure about switching to art school, but I do want to make a career out of my photography. That’s something I’m sure of.”
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Sonia: Currently, I’m really thinking about going to art school. I took a gap year before beginning at my current university, and in that time I took a pre-course at the art school. I liked it, but I chose my university because I missed the sort of intellectual side since I also really like science and math, these more technical things. It seemed like a good combination of creativity and the more technical part. But now, I don’t have much time for photography, and I really miss it. I’m still not sure what I want to do next year, but I hope I make a good decision because I think in the future I want to be more professional with photography. Sometimes, I think you can do it without art school, but sometimes I think that it’s really nice to just be in art school and to be surrounded by creative people and to be given lessons. I’m still not sure about school, but I do want to make a career out of my photography. That’s something I’m sure of.
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p ossi bi li ty
Art gives us a possibility to explore our routines, our curiosities, and even our fears through an introspective lens. // Featuring Sarah El...
Published on Mar 8, 2018
Art gives us a possibility to explore our routines, our curiosities, and even our fears through an introspective lens. // Featuring Sarah El...