KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion Spring 2024

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The mission of KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion is to promote the individuality, creativity and uniqueness of storytelling by University of Kentucky students utilizing all of our publishing platforms.

KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion strives to bring awareness to the stories that inspire us — through art, human interest, enterprise, investigative, health and well-being or recreation — on and around campus and throughout our community.

Whether through words or pictures, our diverse staff invites, welcomes and embraces all perspectives, allowing us to bring to life a variety of stories that we want to tell.

Produced and distributed in the fall and spring semesters on the campus of the University of Kentucky and throughout the city of Lexington, KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion aspires to be an important voice for our community.

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This semester, I can say without a doubt that every single person that’s played a part in this magazine has shown more support, determination, unity and excitement than I’ve seen since I first joined staff. In the midst of some of the hardest moments of my life thus far, I’m so proud to have such a powerful team by my side to continue the momentum we started in the fall, support each other’s visions along the way and provide me with something to smile about when I needed it most.

It is bittersweet to see my last issue of KRNL come to life so soon. This is the organization I’ve been a part of since my second day as a Wildcat, where I’ve met some of the most encouraging friends and mentors I’ve ever had and how I’ve turned my passion for writing and leading into a reality that I’m not sure I’m ready to give up yet.

In this issue we’ve truly made our dreams a reality sharing stories of self-expression and community in “Beyond the Chair: An Homage to Black Beauty Spaces,” showcasing our dynamic group of seniors in the boldest light in “Rolling Out,” and writing about things that matter to us, like relationships between family, friends and even horses; art through several

lenses, including dance, film, photography and fashion; and the trailblazers that make it all possible, all the while integrating lifestyle and fashion in an entirely new way.

I am unbelievably pleased to have had the opportunity to grow alongside this organization and lead its last two issues, but I am even more thankful for the people I’ve met and the legacy we leave behind. The future of this publication is so bright, and I’m excited to see what new direction it will take in the coming years. The growth we have seen even in the last few months is a testament to the devotion of our staff, new and old, to making the University of Kentucky and Lexington a more creative and expressive place.

This issue in particular is for everyone who’s been there for us every step of the way, supporting our creative ideas, our long nights and weekends spent hard at work to make sure each page turns out exactly like we wanted it, our neverending commentary about the highs (and lows) of our production process and our big dreams to create something that means more to us than just the 100 pages you see today. We thank you for all you’ve done for us, and now we hope you can take pride in this issue alongside us. I think it’s our best one yet.

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Three sets of twins explore their bond through complementary fashion, showing that while they are alike, they still retain their own unique traits.



After experiencing two unthinkable tragedies, single mother Taylor Sweeney turned to One Parent Scholar House for support as she continued to pursue her higher education.


KRNL says goodbye to a legendary class of seniors in the most vibrant fashion possible.




With the Lexington Ballet Company’s 50th anniversary approaching, a new era of cultivating a healthy and supportive learning environment is in full swing under Mia Isaac’s new leadership.



Tattooed members of Lexington reflect on the changing attitudes towards tattoos and the increasing diversity of people getting inked.



UK’s Circus Club is nothing to clown about, providing students with unique skills and a supportive community to help manage the balancing act of being in college.



Kentucky-born singer-songwriter

Zach Day reflects on his home in Appalachia and hardships while making music in Nashville.



Bekah Robinson reflects on the struggles and triumphs of her boxing career and anticipates that the best is yet to come.



Examine Black contributions to fashion across time set in the salon, a root of Black identity and expression.



Tyler Bauer, a writer and poet, embraces a life on the road in his truck, using his typewriter poetry and teaching experiences to inspire others and foster creativity.



Maggie Davis, a sports journalist at LEX18, overcame pandemic setbacks to become co-anchor of BBNTonight, where she brings a unique perspective to sports reporting.



Juliana Hauser and Soul Spark created Lexington’s Tree of Love, which spreads encouraging messages, kindness and love throughout the community.



Sam Fore, acclaimed chef and owner of Tuk Tuk Snack Shop, explores a unique fusion of local Southern cuisine and her family’s Sri Lankan recipes.



Local fashion designer Claire Pabst finds new ways to create and express herself right here in the Bluegrass.



Michael Blowen, the founder of Old Friends Farm, reflects on his journey with retired racehorses as he passes the reins to John Nicholson, marking a new chapter in the farm’s legacy.



Photographer Samuel Greenhill shares his creative process and the impact growing up gay and Christian in a small Kentucky town had on his art and who he is as a person.



The five-person team at State Film Lab emphasizes the importance of staying in the moment and slowing down through analog photography.

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Jason Glass poses for a photo in Cha Cha’s Salon on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, in Lexington, Ky.

The Tattoo Journey

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Tattoos, once regarded by the general public as unprofessional, have recently hit the mainstream. Jason Glass, a business owner, said he works with 22-year-olds with face tattoos, a feat once unimaginable to him.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, tattoos are not a new aspect of culture. They have been around for thousands of years, holding varying significance throughout the world.

Glass, who is 52 years old, got his first tattoo in 1992 when he was 20 and has continued to get them ever since.

“Both my arms are full and my chest,” Glass said.

Since Glass got his first tattoo, they have become more accepted, but this was not the case when Glass went for his first one.

“I had an idea of what I wanted. It was very different back then, because if you wanted a tattoo, you’re either gonna have to go to a tattoo shop that caters to people in the military or a biker tattoo shop,” Glass said.

He got his first tattoo, a music-related piece, in Kansas City, Missouri, from a tattoo shop that was full of bikers.

Glass grew up in the punk rock movement, surrounded by music and friends that he said were on the outlawed fringe of society. This is one of the reasons he wanted tattoos.

“My heroes were always delinquents, and so I was like, ‘I want to be that too,’” Glass said.

By 1995, Glass knew that he was considered very heavily tattooed. He worked in places that would make him wear long-sleeved shirts to cover up the tattoos.

Now a successful hairstylist and owner of Cha Cha’s Salon on South Upper Street in Lexington, Kentucky, Glass recognizes that there was once a time when clients would

turn down haircuts from him just because of his tattoos.

“Back then there was no social media. They didn’t know what I looked like. So, when I would walk up front to meet a client they would just pick up their purse and leave,” Glass said. “Now I think it’s a law, if you do hair you have to be tattooed.”

Glass also noted a shift in attitudes surrounding tattoos outside of the salon space, observing how fast everything seemed to change.

“It is weird when, like, my primary physician has a full sleeve of tattoos. I never thought that would happen,” Glass said.

“My heroes were always delinquents, and so I was like, ‘I want to be that too.’”

Beyond being accepted in more walks of life, Glass thinks tattoos are becoming more mainstream because people are starting to view tattoo artists as true artists, tattooing because they care and not just because they can.

One such artist is Alexandra Carusiello. She works at White Dog Tattoo in Georgetown, Kentucky, and has been tattooing for 13 years.

“I love doing my own original artwork. It feels really comfortable when I tattoo it,” Carusiello said. “I also really enjoy pushing myself artistically.”

“Once it heals and seeing the colors

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Your tattoos, no matter what age you get them, they are just going to age with you. It is what it is.”

settled that you can actually go back in as if it’s like a painting,” Carusiello said. “You can, you know, build the colors in a way.”

As an artist, Carusiello has her own voice and style. She tattoos her own designs but also works with customers who send her their drawings and ideas. She and the customer go back and forth until they have reached a design that the customer is ready to commit to.

Carusiello believes her style of tattooing to be illustrative.

“I don’t really do a lot of realism, but I like to try to tap into bits of realism. I like fine line, black and gray, and I love tattooing, like, neotraditional or American traditional,” Carusiello said.

She got her first tattoo at a fairly young age, and they have been a part of her life ever since.

“I grew up in a small town and I really wanted to get tattooed, and we had one darn shop in that town and that’s where I went, and

I was 16,” Carusiello said.

Her first tattoo was a peace dove on the back of her neck. She said that she knew she wanted the dove after seeing a friend get a similar one.

Carusiello said that she has always been into a more “alternative” lifestyle. Having tattoos gave her a way to express that.

“I feel like in the moment in time, maybe it was capturing a feeling or it made me feel just like cool and good about myself,” Carusiello said.

Despite growing up in an environment where her tattoos were accepted, Carusiello said she has faced certain disadvantages because of them. She said that she once worked at a restaurant that laid off all of the employees with visible tattoos.

Carusiello sees a lot of clients in her position. They are all different kinds of people, proving that the medium is no longer restricted to bikers or people in the military.

“I have a lot of different clients, it’s kind

Tattoo artist Alexandra Carusiello gives her client Kedrick Bacon a tattoo on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, at White Dog Tattoo in Georgetown, Ky

of wild,” Carusiello said. “I have a lot of awesome women that I tattoo: older women, people who are just getting their first ones, so many moms and daughters, so many random normal dudes that just work hard and come and get some cool tattoos by me.”

She also has experience tattooing older people, sometimes as old as 85.

“I have seen an older guy at my last job get a lot of tattoos from like 60 to almost like mid-70s and they were really vibrant. So it was kind of cool to see them age from a more older standpoint, but he had other tattoos that still looked really really cool that were from his 30s,” Carusiello said.

Carusiello said she’s not bothered about what may happen to the appearance of her tattoos as she continues to age.

“Your tattoos, no matter what age you get them, they are just going to age with you. It is what it is,” Carusiello said.

She said that she owns it because her tattoos have just become a part of her body.

Glass also weighed in on the subject, noting that as people get older they just do not care.

“I think we live in a day and age where you can kind of do whatever you want and you’ll be OK,” Glass said.

Beyond her title as a tattoo artist, Carusiello feels as though it is her job to create a safe space for creativity.

“I just feel like tattoos should always just be definitely not frowned upon. Unless you’re really getting something that’s hateful or racist or weird,” Carusiello said. “Don’t be weird, get cool tattoos.” •

Tattoo artist Alexandra Carusiello shows off her own tattoos in her cubicle at White Dog Tattoo. Flash art in the artist station at White Dog Tattoo. PHOTO BY CLAIRE OSTERFELD
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Walking on Air with Maggie Davis

When she steps into the LEX18 station each day around 10 a.m., Maggie Davis is already running through story ideas in her head for BBNTonight.

Whether she’s breaking down last night’s game or catching up on a new development, Davis is ready to get going. Once she’s at her desk, joined by her “On Air” sign and reporter Barbie doll, Davis is researching, reading and pulling press conference sound and interview clips to piece together her story. For the next few hours, she’s hunkered down doing one of her favorite parts of the job: writing.

“I really fell in love with all this because I like writing,” Davis said.

Davis is a Lexington native and University of Kentucky graduate who has been working with LEX18 for over three years. Although she originally started at UK as a biology major, she’s loved writing since she started working for her high school’s student newspaper, where she served as editor-in-chief.

During her time at UK, she was involved as a writing intern for Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR) and later LEX18. It was there that she first thought about having a career in journalism.

“I love to write and I love to talk about sports, but I didn’t know how to combine it,” Davis said.

She made the jump and switched her major to journalism as a sophomore in 2017.

“I was covering every game,” Davis said. “I was writing pregame articles, postgame articles [and] covering the press conferences. I got to interview a couple of players and after that is when I was hooked. So sophomore year I changed my major and never looked back.”

From then on, she continued writing for KSR and pursuing her passion for sports reporting through the broadcast journalism program at UK.

By her senior year, she had years of journalism experience with KSR as well as internships with LEX18 and ESPN and was ready to hit the workforce. Despite the massive wrench thrown into Davis’ last semester in spring 2020, she graduated and began looking for work during the pandemic.

“I applied everywhere. I mean, I applied for TV stations all over the country just trying to get anything, and for the most part, jobs were frozen, sports jobs specifically,” Davis said.

A few days after losing out on a job in Oklahoma, Davis was called by LEX18’s news director and offered a job where she was able to negotiate the title of production assistant and multimedia journalist. She began working at the station in October 2020. Although it was a slow start because of the pandemic, Davis was still doing what she loved.

She has worked her way up to becoming coanchor of BBNTonight, a half-hour, weeknight sports show. This newest promotion began in July 2023 after Davis had gained experience filling in for other co-anchors on BBNTonight and BBNGameday.

To stand there, just you and a camera on, you have no idea who’s watching or who’s listening … and then that red light goes on and you just have to tuck into your job and hope and know that you’ve prepared enough. I’m obsessed with that feeling.”

Anchor and Producer of “BBN Tonight” Maggie Davis during the show. on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, at LEX18 in Lexington, Ky.

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Davis jumps feet-first into every new opportunity, including her new co-anchor gig, citing her ambitious nature as what motivates her.

“I’m so competitive … When I played sports, I loved the competitive nature of them which is probably part of the reason why I’m doing this now. You just get hooked on the adrenaline of it,” she said.

Having been a part of the swim team in high school, Davis keeps her competitive spirit alive when covering UK’s sports. She focuses on not only the athletic aspect of sports but the person behind the athlete as well.

“I love being able to give fans something they can’t necessarily get by themselves. The fans watch the game, right? The fans can watch Cal’s press conference if they want to or they can listen to Mark Stoops on the radio on his postgame show. What they can’t get is interviews with the players about the game, and they don’t get to know them outside of the game at all,” Davis said.

Sharing what players do when they aren’t on the court is one of Davis’ favorite parts of her job. For the 2022-23 basketball season, she had a series called “Off Days” where she would follow and talk to players on a random day off. Specifically recalling her experience with Oscar Tshiebwe, one of that team’s stars, she loved being able to show BBN his passion for photography and how he used his photographs to keep up with his mom.

I’m so competitive … When I played sports, I loved the competitive nature of them which is probably part of the reason why I’m doing this now. You just get hooked on the adrenaline of it.”

“The whole point of these ‘Off Day’ interviews was to take them out of the Joe Craft Center and off the court at Rupp Arena and just talk to them as people,” Davis said.

Covering sports on television can come with its challenges, however, especially as a woman. Nevertheless, Davis said being a female sports reporter has not tainted her experiences.

Thanks to seeing women like Laura Rutledge and Erin Andrews on TV as a young girl, Davis grew up knowing the potential of being a woman in sports.

Anchor and Producer of “BBN Tonight” Maggie Davis’ desk decorations featuring a “Sports Reporter” Barbie doll at LEX18.

“I genuinely feel like it [being a woman] has helped me,” Davis said. “I know that it’s not everyone’s experience and I don’t know that it will always be my experience … I’ve been really lucky to have people let me get a foot in the door and then who haven’t kicked me out.”

She even mentioned a few pros of being one of the only women in the room. Davis said her voice stands out more when fighting to ask players questions in press conferences and that if players only see one woman reporter a week, which they often do, they may recognize her more than her male counterparts.

“To me, it’s so much about looking at what being a woman in sports can do for you as a positive,” she said.

Although Davis has a shiny outlook, she said she does feel frustrated with being criticized for a slightly wrinkled dress or frizzy hair, wishing the viewers could focus more on the content of her shows rather than how she looks presenting them.

“For me, I love the writing and I love the show and I love the interviews. I don’t love blow-drying my hair,” Davis said.

Rather than focusing on the less fun parts of her job, she shared just how much she loved doing every aspect of broadcast reporting, from writing and editing to producing and anchoring.

For me, I love the writing and I love the show and I love the interviews. I don’t love blowdrying my hair.”

Davis hopes to have the opportunity to work in more long-form journalism like ESPN’s 30 for 30 show. Her focus on the real people behind the players, coupled with her motivation to improve, has led her to aspire to big things and continue working toward becoming a regional or national sports reporter.

“To stand there, just you and a camera on, you have no idea who’s watching or who’s listening … and then that red light goes on and you just have to tuck into your job and hope and know that you’ve prepared enough. I’m obsessed with that feeling,” Davis said. •

Anchor and Producer of “BBN Tonight” Maggie Davis looks at her co-host, Keith Farmer, during the show at LEX18.
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A Charmed Life at Old Friends Farm

Old Friends Farm, where many famous racehorses spend the homestretch of their lives, mirrors the path of its founder, Michael Blowen, as he faces a similar journey toward retirement.

Blowen, a movie critic at the Boston Globe, unexpectedly found his passion for horses through a simple visit to a racetrack initiated by his editor in 1979.

“When I started out with racing, I liked the drinking and gambling part of it,” Blowen said. “That day at the track, I was placing bets, winning some money and having a lot of fun and that’s when it all changed.”

Blowen’s fascination with the horse industry led him to try out a trainer apprenticeship at Suffolk Downs racetrack in Boston to learn more about the thoroughbreds.

“I knew nothing about horses at first; actually, I was afraid of them and they knew that,” Blowen said.

Throughout his two-year apprenticeship, Blowen gradually overcame his fear and the horses started to shape his life.

“Once you fall in love with them, your life will change, and that’s exactly what happened,” Blowen said.

While continuing his journalism career and his training gig at Suffolk Downs, Blowen decided that he had to come to Kentucky to pursue his dream.

After 24 years at the Globe, they offered him and his wife, Diane White, a columnist for the paper, a buyout and they accepted. Blowen convinced his wife to move to Kentucky and was offered a job as operations director of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in Lexington.

Blowen decided he wanted to build his own thoroughbred retirement farm and started renting paddocks at the Hurstland Farm in Midway.

“At first it was just me and Diane running everything from a golf cart,” Blowen said. “We had a couple of horses and it wasn’t a big deal, but then it started to grow.”

Blowen said once they reached 16 horses, they had to start looking for more space.

“We found Clay Neils Farm in Georgetown for sale

but it was a million dollars and I had no money,” Blowen said.

Blowen said he went downtown to Whitaker Bank and told the bank officials his plan to buy the farm, even though he knew the idea sounded crazy. He asked the officials to tour the paddocks in Midway so they could see the vision he had for these horses.

CEO Elmer Whitaker and President Jim Calloway of Whitaker Bank decided to take Blowen up on the tour and called him two weeks later with their decision.

“He told me, ‘The bank’s decided to loan you $850,000; however, you have two weeks to raise $150,000 cash,’” Blowen said.

Blowen decided to reach out to his closest friend back in Boston to seek the money, and two days later, his friend arrived in Kentucky with a check for $150,000 in hand.

After securing the farm in 2003, Blowen and his wife saw the potential to create a tourist attraction, as Old Friends was one of the few retirement facilities for horses in the world. However, opinions on this vision varied among people in the horse industry.

“Almost everyone thought it was a bad idea; they didn’t believe that people would want to come and visit retired horses,” White said. “I always thought it was a great idea.”

Blowen said they slowly started to receive support from owners of the horses, jockeys and even the community of Georgetown.

“After that, it just started to grow and it got huge,” Blowen said. “People now come from all over the world to see these horses.”

Old Friends quickly gained international popularity, leading to the establishment of multiple Old Friends farms extending from New York to Japan.

Blowen and White created the “Old Friends at Cabin Creek” farm in Greenfield Center, New York, featuring 15 retired thoroughbreds. The “Old Friends Japan” in Okayama, Japan, was started by Kiichi Harada, a former Japanese Olympic dressage rider who was inspired by Blowen’s work in aftercare.

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Michael Blowen maintains Silver Charm and their special connection on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Ky.

“When it first started, we were bringing home all of the thoroughbreds from Japan,” Blowen said. “They started to visit and study our place, then they adopted the Old Friends motto and started one there.”

The original Georgetown farm, now named the “Dream Chase Farm” branch, is where Blowen and his wife live and spend most of their time.

Blowen’s past life as a movie critic for the Boston Globe allowed him to interview Hollywood stars, but he said his favorite celebrity “just happens to be a horse,” and this one lives in his backyard.

Silver Charm, a Hall of Fame American Thoroughbred with career earnings of $6.9 million, is Blowen’s best friend and neighbor.

“I know I am the luckiest man in the world because no one has him in their backyard but me and Diane,” Blowen said.

He said that he has loved Silver Charm since his victory at the Kentucky Derby in 1997. Silver Charm followed the Derby with a Preakness Stakes and Dubai Cup win, establishing Blowen as his biggest fan.

“I’ve always wanted to meet Silver Charm, and the day he came here was the best day of my life,” Blowen said. “Just think of your favorite person, whether it’s LeBron James or Patrick Mahomes, and then you figure out they are moving in with you. It’s amazing.”

Since Silver Charm has resided at Old Friends since 2012, Blowen said that people come from all over the world to see him, with over 20,000 people a year coming to visit the “living-history museum of

[Bold and Bossy’s] story is my favorite. That’s the amazing thing about the horses here –every horse has their own story.” “

horse racing.”

The unofficial “spokes-horse” of both the farm and Georgetown Tourism is a miniature horse named after Silver Charm to carry on the legendary name.

“I named one of them Little Silver Charm because Silver Charm was my favorite horse,” he said.

As Silver Charm celebrated his 30th birthday on Feb. 22, he holds the honor of being the oldest surviving Kentucky Derby champion, and his teeth are evidence of his age.

“His favorite thing is Mr. Pasture’s cookies, and he only has four teeth now so I have to crush them up for him,” Blowen said.

Silver Charm isn’t the only 30-year-old resident on the premises, as Touch Gold shares the adjacent paddock. He defeated Silver Charm in the Belmont Stakes and prevented him from securing the Triple Crown victory.

Though Silver Charm is Blowen’s favorite, 5-year-old Bold and Bossy is a close second.

“Her story is my favorite. That’s the amazing thing

Michael Blowen and his wife Diane White talk to Breeder’s Cup winner Little Mike at Old Friends Farm.

about the horses here — every horse has their own story,” Blowen said.

When Bold and Bossy was 2 years old, during her first start at Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky, she bucked off her jockey and started running. After hopping over the fence and escaping the track, Bold and Bossy was spotted on the interstate, U.S. 41, and ran for 10 miles into incoming traffic.

She was later found in a public mall parking lot, brought home to Ellis Park and placed in a receiving barn. Later that night, the barn caught fire and Bold and Bossy was the only horse to suffer burns with 40% of her body injured.

A year later in 2022, she made a full recovery, bearing only a few scars, and went on to win two races, earning $21,784 throughout her career. In 2023, she was relocated to Old Friends.

Bold and Bossy is among 160 other horses on the farm with unique stories ranging from 2015 Hall of Famer Lava Man to Breeder’s Cup winner Little Mike.

With 236 acres, each horse gets to benefit from the space and get to connect and bond with other retired racehorses.

“They have been doing whatever people tell them to do before they get here,” Blowen said. “Now we do what they tell us to do.”

Blowen and White said that Old Friends is possible due to all the volunteers who share the same mentality of putting the horses first.

“We owe so much to our volunteers; they are what have made this place what it is,” White said.

Old Friends has evolved into a well-known nonprofit and earned prestigious accolades such as the Special Ellipse award, recognizing their valuable contributions to the thoroughbred industry.

“The award really showed the importance of thoroughbred aftercare,” Blowen said. “There is now a group called the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and they

Silver Charm enjoys a mid-day hay snack at Old Friends Farm.
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Little Silver Charm in his paddock by Blowen and White’s home at Old Friends Farm.
Michael Blowen’s jacket with Old Friends horses’ names stitched on the sleeves and back at Old Friends Farm.

advocate for places like ours.”

With the 20th anniversary of Old Friends, a significant change happened this February as Blowen handed over the reins of his role as president and CEO.

Blowen asked his close friend, John Nicholson, to take on the role and continue the legacy of Old Friends.

Nicholson was the former executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park from 1997 to 2014 and has been friends with Blowen for over 20 years.

“I was at a stage in my life where I wanted my next chapter to be meaningful, purposeful and useful,” Nicholson said. “I think it was divine intervention when Michael and I had lunch one day and this offer came up.”

For Blowen, stepping down and retiring was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“They have been doing whatever people tell them to do before they get here. Now we do what they tell us to do.”

“When the sliding door is open, you either go through it or you don’t because it won’t stay open forever,” Blowen said. “I knew when John said he would do it, it was a sliding door I had to step through.”

Blowen said he has been looking for someone to take over Old Friends for years, and Nicholson’s commitment to the horses made him the perfect choice.

“Throughout my professional career, I have always said that we can never give back to the horse what the horse has given to us, and there’s no better expression of that than Old Friends,” Nicholson said.

He said that the friendship between him and Blowen makes it easier during this transition, and he is eager to learn and listen from everyone at Old Friends.

“I think he trusts me because he knows how determined I am to preserve the vision, philosophy and values that Michael has,” Nicholson said. “I think big and I hope to do big things here at Old Friends.”

Blowen will still be around, as he plans to continue leading tours and will still be able to bond with all his best horse friends. He notes the privilege of being the horses’ “designated treat man.”

“Now that John is doing all of the hard work with the people, I get to spend more time with the horses,” Blowen said. •

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Michael Blowen (right) and the new Old Friends president John Nicholson feed Little Mike at Old Friends Farm.


Twins, by nature, share a bond unlike any other. They are two sides of the same coin, reflections of each other’s personalities and styles. This unique connection makes them the perfect canvas for exploring the art of complementary styling. The fashion team challenged ourselves to choose clothes that share a common thread, echoing synonymous colors, textures and patterns, reflecting the captivating harmony of two souls.






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How Circus Club Unites and Excites UK Students

Room 104 in Barker Hall on the University of Kentucky’s campus is a hidden spot for many students, but for others, it’s a second home for one night a week.

Inside the room resides the UK Circus Club, the only university club of its kind in all of Kentucky, according to staff advisor Kylee Pipgrass.

Nearly 20 participating students enter the cold, quiet room after signing a waiver acknowledging the dangerous activities they are about to take on.

The room heats up as aerial acrobats take advantage of the blue silk curtains hung about 15-feet-high from the ceiling, as well as a lyra hoop and trapeze.

Jugglers, contortionists, stilt walkers, cyr wheel artists and unicyclists remain on the ground but utilize the space to enhance their skills all the same.

The club was founded by former UK student Jess Farace in 2021 with the help of Meg Wallace, a philosophy professor and the club’s faculty adviser. Farace took Wallace’s Circus and Philosophy class in the fall of 2021, where Wallace said she teaches students circus skills as well as how philosophical thought processes apply to circus arts.

Wallace said many students left the class thinking, “This is great, but I want more circus,” and Farace was one of those students. Farace then went to Wallace with the idea of creating a circus club, which they did.

“I think the very first day we had about 50 people who came in,” Wallace said.

She said some people show up not even knowing what circus arts are, and most members come in with no prior experience whatsoever.

“It’s not about getting people together who are experts at this in any way; it’s about getting people who are curious to learn something new and do something a little different,” Wallace said.

Wallace has been practicing circus arts for 13 years ever since her first aerial class in Louisville, Kentucky, she said.

Amber Singh, the current UK circus club president, said Wallace has taught several club members a lot of what they know. Though the club operates without any trained teachers, the members learn through skill sharing.

Anyone at any skill level can join the club, Singh

It’s not about getting people together who are experts at this in any way; it’s about getting people who are curious to learn something new and do something a little different.” “
Peyton Cummins performs tricks on the aerial silks at a University of Kentucky Circus Club meeting on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, in Barker Hall in Lexington, Ky.
I think the club is really important because it brings together people from a lot of different areas who wouldn’t normally have a reason to interact, and it gives us the time to do something fun and just take a break from the rigors of college.” “

said. Singh started with the club last year and is now a sophomore.

“I think it’s an awesome stress reliever for students, and a way for students to pick up a hobby and have fun, other than thinking about school or work,” Singh said.

She is a kinesiology exercise science major and said the club is a great way for students to get physical activity in a fun, untraditional way, which she said makes it a “great health club.”

Peyton Cummins, a UK freshman majoring in psychology, ultimately decided to attend UK because it included circus arts.

Cummins said she was first introduced to circus arts after taking a class for a birthday party at age 16. She said she fell in love with it and has been doing it ever since.

She was also in a traveling circus, where she practiced mostly on aerial silks, but said she is now just doing it with the club for fun.

“I think a lot of people think that they can’t do it because it looks hard or difficult, but anyone can try it,” Cummins said. “And I think it’s important to expose yourself to new things and try new things because you might love it.”

Jamin Kochman, a third-year graduate student majoring in mathematics, has been with the club since its founding in 2021.

He said he comes to practice almost every week and has met a lot of people he considers good friends through the club.

“I think the club is really important because it brings together people from a lot of different areas who wouldn’t normally have a reason to interact, and it gives us the time to do something fun and just take a break from the rigors of college,” Kochman said.

Former president and current staff adviser Kylee Pipgrass uses current president Amber Singh to demonstrate a trick on the aerial silk on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, in Barker Hall in Lexington, Ky. PHOTO BY SYDNEY TURNER
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Kylee Pipgrass, 24, is a former president and current staff adviser for the club. She said her role is to guide the officers with any questions they have, such as checking rigging equipment or putting on a showcase.

Pipgrass said the club held a showcase for the first time last year while she was president. This is where members can sign up to show any new talents they have been working on throughout the semester. The circus club holds showcases twice a year and even incorporates themes with costumes and music.

Pipgrass said she has gained a lot from this club over the years.

“Before I started circus club, I couldn’t do a pull-up,” she said.

Pipgrass now can do many different skills on the aerial silks, including a double star drop, back dive and toe climbing all skills

and poses that she has learned during her time with the club and now teaches to others.

She said although she had been to the gym previously, she didn’t realize how much strength went into climbing up the apparatus and holding yourself in different positions.

Pipgrass said most importantly, she has gained a lot of friends.

“I’ve gained a whole community here of people that are like-minded, but different in every other way,” she said. “The only thing we really have in common is that we all just enjoy having fun with our physical activity.”

She said everyone is always clapping and cheering each other on.

“There’s just really this sense of being supported while you’re trying something that is new, it’s challenging and it looks a little weird, so having that community there for that is really important,” Pipgrass said. •

I think a lot of people think that they can’t do it because it looks hard or difficult, but anyone can try it. And I think it’s important to expose yourself to new things and try new things because you might love it.”
PHOTO BY SYDNEY TURNER Amber Singh, Circus Club president, practices on the aerial silks on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, in Barker Hall in Lexington, Ky.

Lexington’s Tree of Love: Cultivating Kindness within the Community

Juliana Hauser’s impact on her community extends far beyond the people she meets or the work she does. In fact, it grows from the grass right outside her home on Cochran Road.

Hauser is a therapist and counselor based in Lexington. She helps lead Soul Spark, an organization that provides counseling to women going through mental health obstacles. Hauser meets with women once a month and provides them with a word to focus on for that period of time.

Soul Spark was created in 2023 and offers counseling

to residents in Kentucky and Virginia. It offers counseling in various areas from life transitions to faith-based counseling.

Since April 2023, Hauser’s Tree of Love has been dedicated to spreading kindness and love to those who come across it. The tree is decorated with colorful notes and rocks with encouraging messages and memories of loved ones.

Hauser said she was inspired to create a tree of love in Lexington by a colleague in her field in Los Angeles who gave her permission to spread the love with her own tree.

We did it as a gift for the community, and if we could have an impact, what does kindness do out in the world to strangers?”

Hauser gathered a group and started creating encouraging notes and writing on rocks to put on and around the tree, like “You’re not alone” and “You can do this!”

“We did it as a gift for the community, and if we could have an impact, what does kindness do out in the world to strangers?” Hauser said.

On the Tree of Love, a sign reads, “A place, a space where people can read and take notes of inspiration.”

The Tree of Love began anchoring its roots in people’s lives, from becoming a part of people’s daily walks to a place for preteens to leave love notes to each other after school.

Karen Harvey, a member of Soul Spark, described the Tree of Love as a beautiful visual of people in the community passing warm messages to one another.

“It is there to bring a smile to someone’s day and to bring out a passerby’s curiosity and to ultimately bring happiness to someone that needs it,” Harvey said.

The Tree of Love will continue to grow and leave its impression on anyone who passes by it. Hauser said she hopes to expand the kindness spread by the project throughout Lexington by going out in the community and giving notes to people. This will ensure the tree’s legacy will extend beyond its original home on Cochran Road.

“It has been unbelievable to me how many people stop by and look at it. It still makes me tear up thinking about all the stories I’ve heard,” Hauser said.

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Tree of Love on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, on Cochran Road in Lexington, Ky.


Samuel Greenhill’s Intersectional Journey as a Gay, Christian Artist

As light filters through the window in Samuel Greenhill’s room, one may have difficulty deciding what to focus on first.

A vintage pay phone stands close to the door, ready to greet guests. The fireplace overflows with an extraordinary collection of plants. A green streetlight sits in the corner, commanding attention.

These displays reflect Greenhill’s unique presence. However, a closer look into the 26-year-old photographer’s room reveals a common theme that can also be seen throughout his life: a broken lightbulb.

Found on coasters, paintings and even as a tattoo on

Greenhill’s arm, the image of a broken lightbulb is what Greenhill has come to identify himself with. Growing up in a religious household, Greenhill said he started to feel like there was something wrong with him as he became aware of the fact that he was gay.

“When I was kind of becoming aware of me being gay, I felt like I was broken, and I felt like there was something not working in me,” Greenhill said.

This is when the image of a broken lightbulb came to mind.

“If your lightbulb breaks, it’s trash. You’re supposed to throw it away,” he said. “This kind of vision of this broken

Samuel Greenhill poses for a portrait in his home on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Covington, Ky.

lightbulb being lit up from the sun and still being used came to my mind where it was like … my faith in Jesus is that sun that shines through that lightbulb. That whether that lightbulb is broken or not, it’s still shining because it’s been redeemed through that.”

Greenhill said after he had a dream for seven days in a row where a voice spoke to him telling him to come out to his dad, he felt it was the Holy Spirit compelling him to do so and obliged.

“It was terrifying to hear that dream,” he said.

Although he was nervous to tell his dad about being gay, Greenhill recalled being more confused about how he was feeling than anything else.

“It’s funny because it actually … didn’t even connect; I actually didn’t realize I was gay when I came out to my dad,” he said. “I was saying, ‘I’m feeling this way,’ but

my brain still did not understand that that was even gay. It wasn’t a suppressed thing by any means … we just didn’t talk about it. It just felt like it was a thing somewhere else.”

The moment he told his dad when he was 14 years old was when he learned what real grace felt like, Greenhill said.

“In that moment was definitely the switch of, ‘Oh, I don’t have to perform for love,’ which was very much my default,” he said.

Greenhill said that being received with such grace during a moment of “intense vulnerability” is what has inspired him to stay true to his faith.

“So a big inspiration behind the broken lightbulb is the key idea of redemption and the way God uses these parts that you don’t want to observe of yourself are the very thing that he uses for showing what love looks like and

In that moment was definitely the switch of, ‘Oh, I don’t have to perform for love,’ which was very much my default.”
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“… My faith in Jesus is that sun that shines through that lightbulb. That whether that lightbulb is broken or not, it’s still shining because it’s been redeemed through that.”

showing what grace looks like and connection and hope,” he said.

Although this image of a broken lightbulb didn’t come to Greenhill until later in his life, his relationship with creativity and photography started at a much younger age.

Growing up in a boxy, brick home in Union, Kentucky, Greenhill would explore the woods behind his house, which helped foster his creativity.

“I think adventuring and exploring gave me a lot of creativity as a kid, of just getting to play all these stories in the woods,” Greenhill said. “It was one of those few moments of pure childhood freedom of getting to

do whatever you want and feeling completely separated from the suburban world of things.”

Greenhill said his creativity has been expressed through photography from a young age.

“When I was a kid [I] would take my family’s digital camera and mess with my Legos and take pictures of them and go into Microsoft Paint and add snow and little flakes falling from the sky,” he said.

From pictures on a digital camera to using his parents’ smartphones to take photos, Greenhill’s “bizarre” obsession with photography was somewhat surprising considering he

was always told that if he wanted to pursue photography as a career, he wouldn’t make much money off of it.

As a full-time photographer, Greenhill said he has learned that he can’t be picky when taking up jobs.

“Eighty percent of my income is from the most boring stuff you’ll ever see,” he said. “I don’t love all of my job, but it’s not about that. I don’t think I have to love all of my job.”

While Greenhill engages in a variety of paid work, including maternity shoots and album covers, his website and Instagram pages primarily showcase his eccentric personal photography. In this work,


Greenhill creates alternate-realityesque images by subtly altering elements of the subject using Photoshop, showcasing his creative abilities.

Greenhill said he was inspired to pursue this style of photography as a child. A combination of media consumed when he was younger, along with simply the way he felt when he played with toys created the perfect storm that shaped his photography style today.

The ability to create scenes is what first drew him to photography as a child, Greenhill said. He would use Legos to create a “world.” He felt that if he took a picture of the scene he had created, he would be able to “make it truly a world” by expanding the photo to a size that “makes it feel like you’re a Lego person observing,” he said.

Also inspired by “The Twilight Zone” and author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury, Greenhill said the scenes he creates in his work focus on taking some obscure element and slightly altering it.

“That’s become my inspiration for most of my work. How can we take a normal world and then just take one thing and make it off?” Greenhill said.

As time has gone on, Greenhill said another one of his motivators has become taking things usually not highlighted in mainstream media and making it the focus of his work.

“What can we look for that is observed by the public eye and typically pushed away and how can we pull that into something that is more intriguing?” he said. “I definitely want to make sure that I lean into models that are not typically seen in the main frame of

“light. So I want to look at unique features that are not shown off as much. What does beauty mean? How can we expand that definition?”

Greenhill said his experience dealing with being a gay man in a religious community and feeling out of place has also contributed to this focus on highlighting those that typically go unseen.

“I think that’s another thing that goes into why [in] my photography I so often look for the unobserved or the thing that’s not often in the spotlight,” he said. “I myself felt like I was not in the spotlight due to the fact that I had this ‘flaw’ of being something I wasn’t supposed to be in a Christian realm.”

Whether through his art or the way he speaks of his faith, Greenhill has worked to inspire those who may feel “flawed” through society’s or religion’s point of view.

“For me, what I have felt like is that the very thing that I had felt ashamed of, which was my sexuality, I feel like God has used as the thing to use as light for others and to help people out, which I think is really cool,” Greenhill said. •

I think that’s another thing that goes into why [in] my photography I so often look for the unobserved or the thing that’s not often in the spotlight. I myself felt like I was not in the spotlight due to the fact that I had this ‘flaw’ of being something I wasn’t supposed to be in a Christian realm.”

Samuel Greenhill poses for a portrait in his home.
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Samuel Greenhill poses with a framed piece of his artwork.

Zach Day’s ‘Y’allternative’ BallaDs anD Big appalachian heart

When Zach Day was a teenager, he and his two best friends would regularly skip the school bus to practice singing and playing music.

In the quiet backwoods of Day’s hometown of Stearns in southeastern Kentucky, he said they’d spend their days on porches covering Dolly Parton, Carole King and “all the great women of music.”

The trio of friends taught each other how to sing better, studying the nuances and small inflections in their voices, even the shape of their mouths while they sang, to perfect their three-part harmonies.

Though it may have just seemed like another adolescent act of rebellion, for Day, the stories he’d go on to tell as well as his sound would draw their inspiration from those Appalachian woods and the people with which he surrounded himself.

Day, a now 30-year-old singer-songwriter, sits in his apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, which stands two blocks from Music Row, on a cool, misty day in February. A former “The Voice” contestant who has amassed well over one hundred thousand followers across TikTok and Instagram, Day initially moved to Music City in early 2020 after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University a few months prior in 2019.

“I always knew I was destined to get out of there,” Day recalled of Stearns. “... I always just kind of felt like I was an observer of my surroundings. I never really felt like I fit in and I was more just like watching everything else go on.”

Even so, Day said he still carries a deep affinity for Appalachia.

The son of a nurse and a barber, Day grew up nervous and shy in his hometown but said he took comfort in his family and the small, isolated farm he was raised on. His grandparents a teacher and an electric company employee and his aunt were his neighbors, which not only provided Day with a safe place to land but also plenty of examples of hard work in spite of challenges.

“That teaches you something about life, I think, because my family has always been hard-working people,” Day said. “And I feel like there’s sometimes a misconception on people from the South being lazy hillbillies or something like that, and it’s not that at all … We might have been really poor, but we never were wanting for anything, so that was special to me.”

Also of great significance for Day growing up was his family’s aptitude for storytelling. He described each member of his tight-knit family as a storyteller and said that it’s “in my blood.” Day said he thinks listeners can hear that in the music he puts out today.

Day said his early penchant for stories coincided with his introduction to music. His aunt, a musician herself, acquainted Day with the piano when he was practically a baby. Playing in church on Sundays, she’d sit Day beside her as he experimented with the piano’s keys.

The singer-songwriter continued with piano lessons as he got older, noting two teachers: “Miss Jana,” who Day said could play the instrument “100% by ear” and taught him how to make chords, and “Miss Debbie,” who gave Day lessons for free on account of seeing potential in him.


“I really did have people notice that I had a knack for music, that I enjoyed it and that I could be good at it,” Day said.

But as Day was realizing his talents, he was also recognizing that he was different from some of his peers and facing scrutiny for it.

Day, a gay man, would not come out to his friends and family until he was an adult, but said he encountered homophobia in Stearns before he even knew his sexual orientation.

“It’s never easy for someone raised in the Bible Belt,” Day said. “... I had grown adults telling me like, ‘You’re not allowed to ride in my car because you’re a faggot.’”

He sought refuge in his friends and in music, singing with them in the woods and in classrooms for his teachers before heading to both Morehead State University and EKU, where Day said he continued to pursue music by participating in jazz and Black gospel ensembles.

At college, “I was really under the wing of different

... Some of the best musicians and songwriters and singers ever are just buried in the hills of southeastern Kentucky.”

mentors that became huge inspirations for me as well,” Day said.

Motivated by that support, Day spent his last semester at EKU filming season 18 of NBC’s “The Voice” after auditioning for the show in Los Angeles and inspiring judges John Legend and Kelly Clarkson to turn their chairs with a cover of SWV’s “Weak.”

Day made it to the show’s “battle rounds” with Legend as his coach before his elimination, but said the competition was a “really good experience” and taught him a valuable lesson.

Nashville skyline view from Zach Day’s apartment on Friday, February 9, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn.

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“I learned that being an artist is different than being a singer,” Day said of being on “The Voice.” “Anybody can be a good singer, but not everybody is an artist … which comes with branding yourself, marketing yourself.”

On “The Voice,” Day also came out publicly for the first time, which he said his family took well, and he zeroed in on his folk-pop sound dubbed by Day as “y’allternative” after being pushed to market himself as an R&B singer.

“[I’d] been running from this country-alternative, queer person my whole life,” Day said. He explained that while he enjoys R&B and other genres, “what makes me unique [is that] I’m a folk singer at heart.”

Day moved to Nashville “ready to take over the world” as “The Voice” aired, though the COVID-19 pandemic limited his opportunities for some time, prompting him to travel to L.A. two years later and stay there while working with an artist development company.

While with the company, Day said he wrote and recorded 30 songs, though all of those were eventually shelved after labels turned down meetings with him, which Day described as “super traumatizing.”

This, however, pushed Day to “take my power back,” he said. The singer-songwriter doubled down on his roots and his musical niche, independently releasing story-driven tracks like “Washington” and “New York.”

“I’m just telling my story, and I’m just doing it in a way that feels most authentic to me,” Day said,

I’m just telling my story, and I’m doing it in a way that feels most authentic to me.”


unconcerned with talks of radio hits or streams.

Still, plenty have taken notice of Day’s distinct voice. His viral TikTok videos, in which he puts a folk twist on popular songs, have garnered attention from names like YEBBA, Brandi Carlile, Paris Hilton and the aforementioned King, he said.

In his apartment, Day stares out the window, smiling. He’s got a new song, “You’re Bored and I Hate It,” due out in March and a slew of live shows already booked for the year.

“I’m taking everything that I can, I’m not sleeping on it one bit,” Day said. “I’m working so hard.”

The singer-songwriter said he still struggles with continuing to pursue a career as traditionally arduous as music, mentioning that it’d be easy to “take a break” and move to a farm. But Day is not interested in letting his stories and the sounds of his home go unheard anytime soon.

“We have stories to tell, and some of the best musicians and songwriters and singers ever are just buried in the hills of southeastern Kentucky,” Day said. “... At the end of the day, I’m always going to come back to making music … It’s just natural in me.” •

Zach Day’s guitar and record player in his apartment.
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Zach Day poses with his guitar in his apartment.
Taylor Sweeney holds her daughter, Serenity Moment, on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in her home in Lexington, Ky.

Never Alone: How One Parent Scholar House

Gives Single Parents a Helping Hand

It’s noon on a Saturday. Roller skates and snowy boots sit by the front door. The smell of pizza rolls floats past the artcovered fridge into the living room, where a tea set basket lays open by the couch.

“Bubby, your pizza rolls are ready,” 9-yearold Danity Greene calls out to her 5-year-old little sister, Serenity Moment.

Small footsteps make their way to the kitchen, and soon the faint sound of television is drowned out by laughter.

“When she was a baby, she took ahold of my mommy’s phone and DoorDashed from Chick-fil-A,” Danity says as she grins at her younger sister.

Taylor Sweeney, the girls’ mother, playfully tries to sneak a pizza roll off her youngest daughter’s plate as Danity catches what her mom is attempting and holds in a laugh.

“She was a baby, baby. She ordered one chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A, even tipped the driver and everything. I didn’t know until I opened the door and there’s a chicken biscuit on the ground,” Sweeney says as Danity’s laugh gets louder and Serenity’s smile grows.

While this whole recollection is happening, Marley, the family’s 2-year-old miniature goldendoodle, is hopping back and forth between the three of them.

This life is because of an “opportunity,” the word Sweeney used to describe One Parent Scholar House.

Sweeney and her daughters live in one of the 80 apartments built by One Parent Scholar House on Virginia Avenue in Lexington, Kentucky. Formerly known as Virginia Place, One Parent Scholar House is a nonprofit organization created in 1986 specifically for single parents who want to obtain a post-secondary education.

“Life takes different directions for everybody, but if you genuinely are here because you need help and you want to graduate, they [One Parent Scholar House] will back you 100%,” Sweeney said.

But as a 19-year-old living in a twobedroom apartment expecting her first daughter Danity, Sweeney said she had never considered the program because she wasn’t a single parent at the time.

Sweeney had met Dominique Greene, Danity’s dad, during her freshman year of high school. They grew up down the street from each other and had gotten engaged when Sweeney was 18, ready to start the next chapter of their lives with their daughter.

When Danity was 6 months old, the couple moved into and were living in Dominique’s parents’ basement when Dominique died from a fentanyl overdose in 2015.

“We went downstairs, and Dominique was at the bottom of the steps, and Danity was sitting beside him. So I gave him CPR while his dad called the ambulance, and then we swapped, and I stood out front waiting for the ambulance,” Sweeney said.

Hours later, Sweeney became a single parent at the age of 20.

Sweeney said she dealt with a lot of anger along with her grief after Dominique’s death, and she had to completely change her mindset to continue being the best mom for Danity.

“For the first two weeks after he passed, I would just talk out loud in the basement. I’m like, ‘I don’t forgive you.’ And then it sounds so mystical almost, but I was with my sister, and I just had this thought: I don’t want Danity to grow up and tell her friends, ‘Well my dad passed away when I was younger, and my mom was always sad,’” Sweeney said.

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After that realization, Sweeney said she felt so much peace and love and described it “like just getting a big hug.”

Sweeney said it was hard living and raising Danity in the place where Dominque had passed, so One Parent Scholar House gave her a new beginning.

“I thought it would be a really long process. I put my application in, and I think Donna called me and she was like, ‘Alright, let’s do your interview.’ And then the next week I had my keys,” Sweeney said.

Donna Townsend, the housing manager, makes up one-half of the team that keeps One Parent Scholar House running.

Sweeney said Townsend has grown into an “aunt that comes and checks in on all 80” of her nieces and nephews over the past seven years she’s lived at these apartments.

Along with housing, One Parent Scholar House has a child development center in partnership with Community Action Council, a nonprofit organization that studies and addresses poverty in Central Kentucky. One Parent Scholar House also helps parents with workshops, life skills classes, community events and

whatever else they may need.

Alison Justice, the program coordinator who has been with the organization for 12 years, is the other half of the duo who keeps One Parent Scholar House alive.

“I just needed a job. I started in the classroom with the infants and working with the kids. And I just kind of fell in love with the parents,” Justice said.

Justice said one of her favorite events is the small graduation ceremony held every year.

“Even though I see these moms and dads every month, sometimes I forget the person that they were before. I just think of who they became. You know, they seemed like kids and babies themselves, so just watching them grow up and learn and succeed has been the best,” Justice said.

Single parents can qualify for the program as young as 18 years old for housing if they have a high school diploma or GED certificate, are enrolled as a full-time student in a post-secondary educational program and are eligible for Section 8 rent-subsidized housing.

Justice said one of the biggest aspects of what she does is working with the residents to give them and

Serenity Moment sets a teacup out in front of a pillow with an image of her late father, Brandon Moment.

their kids a better future.

“If we weren’t here, I have no idea what we would have done,” Sweeney said.

After Dominique’s death, Sweeney said she went back to cosmetology school after a two-week break, which is when she first met Brandon Moment, Serenity’s dad, who was working as the school’s maintenance man.

Their relationship started as casual conversations but grew to picnics with Danity and Sweeney’s friends, and after Sweeney decided to leave cosmetology school and enroll at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in elementary education, she became pregnant with her youngest daughter, Serenity.

Sweeney said Brandon immediately stepped in as a father figure for Danity as well but made it clear that he was not replacing Dominique. Danity and Sweeney also shared stories with Serenity about Dominique, reiterating his role in their lives. “So she [Serenity] will draw pictures, and she’s like, ‘This is my daddy. This is me, you and sissy. This is Dominique.’ You know, they’re all included in all of our family,” Sweeney said.

Two months before Serenity’s third birthday, Brandon died in a motorcycle accident.

“They’re my little team. I tell the girls all the time we’re a team, like it’s us three. This is what we have.”

And once again Sweeney was on her own physically, but Brandon and Dominique continue to live on in their household in other ways.

“There’s pictures of them everywhere. We keep their spirits very much alive, and my oldest daughter, she really helps Serenity,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney said Danity is very spiritual, and at just 7 years old Danity gave many words of advice to Serenity about grieving the loss of a dad.

“She [Danity] is looking at her sister and she’s like, ‘You can talk to him whenever you want. You just sit real quiet and you listen with your spirit,’” Sweeney said.

Sweeney said Danity and Serenity both talk about their dads with joy and laughter and despite the hard days, they are big believers in the outlook “everything happens for a reason.”

That ideology is also found in the number 424, which holds great importance in their family and is even tattooed on Sweeney. Dominique’s birthday was April 24, so after Danity’s dad passed away, Sweeney said they would see 424 all the time, which she taught Danity was her dad’s way of saying hi.

Serenity Moment jumps to point at her favorite bow.
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Years later, Serenity was born at exactly 4:24 p.m.

“I think Dominique sent her here. I know that I wasn’t supposed to be just me alone,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney also said Brandon and Dominique’s families also still play a role in her and her daughters’ lives.

“Her [Danity’s] grandpa’s like, ‘You’re always going to be our daughter,’ and they include me in everything. And then, when I had Serenity, they were like, ‘We’re her grandparents too, there’s no difference,’” Sweeney said.

With emotional support from family and financial support from One Parent Scholar House, Sweeney is now studying elementary education at Eastern Kentucky University and is set to graduate in May 2024.

Sweeney said she is planning on going back for a master’s in special education, and the family of three will move to Tates Creek, closer to Sweeney’s dad, whose wife died this past November.

“Life takes different directions for everybody, but if you genuinely are here because you need help and you want to graduate, they [One Parent Scholar House] will back you 100%.”
Taylor Sweeney (center) sits with her daughters Serenity Moment (left), Danity Greene and their dog Marley.

“It helps the girls a lot because they love their Poppy, and when the girls come over, he gets so excited,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney said she is also looking forward to a big backyard where she can start a garden, reminiscent of the one she once helped plant at One Parent Scholar House, and Danity and Serenity have been patiently waiting for another dog to be a buddy for Marley.

With this chapter of living at One Parent Scholar House coming to a close, Sweeney, now 28, has seen the growth in herself and her life.

“When I came in, I barely had any furniture. I had this couch that I had gotten off Craigslist that I was so proud of. My mom had gotten Danity a bed, and then I had a mattress on the floor and a box TV. That’s all we had. And I was so happy,” Sweeney said.

Now, a plant-filled, toy-filled and decorationfilled apartment sets the backdrop for conversations amongst the family, including lists of what Serenity and Danity want in their new rooms and excitement for what their life is going to look like after the move.

“They’re my little team. I tell the girls all the time we’re a team, like it’s us three. This is what we have,” Sweeney said. •

Danity Greene points at a craft she made in her room.
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Taylor Sweeney looks at her daughter, Serenity Moment.

Southern Comfort, The Sri Lankan Way:

Sam Fore’s Fusion of Kentucky Staples with South Asian Flair Sam Fore poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Feb, 14, 2024, in Tuk Tuk Snack Shop in Lexington, Ky.

Nestled within Lexington’s diverse culinary scene is Tuk Tuk Snack Shop, a restaurant crafted by nationally acclaimed Sri LankanAmerican chef Sam Fore.

Located at 124 Malabu Drive, Suite 110, this establishment the first of its kind in the city offers a unique menu that fuses Sri Lankan and Southern cuisine and flavors, curated specifically by Fore to entice taste buds in a brand new way.

Fore embarked on her extensive culinary journey through the fervent world of pop-up eateries, where she shared her fresh, meticulously-developed recipes with diverse communities across the country. She opened Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites as a pop-up in 2016.

Through her pop-ups, Fore has gained national recognition for her unique recipes in multiple national publications, across the web and on television.

Fore was named one of Plate Magazine’s Chefs to Watch in 2018, was one of Southern Living’s Inaugural Cooks of the Year in 2020, was named one of Taste of the South’s Taste 50 in 2022 and most recently was honored by the James Beard Foundation Awards as a finalist for Best Chef: Southeast.

“As the owner it has been bizarre,” Fore said. “As soon as we opened, we were on Bon Appetit’s Most Anticipated New Restaurants listing, and there were only 10 of those in the nation. It’s insane the support my little pop-up has garnered.”

The longtime chef pursued her latest goal in August 2023, making her reinvention of Southern staples paired with innovative twists on her family’s Sri Lankan recipes a permanent presence in her hometown of Lexington, Kentucky.

“When you go in and you want to do something right, you want it to be reflective of you,” Fore said. “I have masks here in the restaurant from the house I grew up in.”

Fore has seen her goals grow as Tuk Tuk has evolved from its original intention as a counterservice business to a dine-in restaurant with customer

growth on the rise.

While developing the Snack Shop, Fore faced a novel challenge: anticipating the local appetite for her unique blend of Sri Lankan and Southern food. However, her creative menu proved popular to a community that was unfamiliar with her new twist on fusion food.

“To be in Lexington and to be considered something that is changing the restaurant industry is very different because we don’t have anything that kind of crosses borders the way that we do here,” Fore said.

Fore has brought dishes to life such as fried chicken marinated in curry brine and lentil-based corn dogs, introducing a familiarity into Sri Lankan cuisine, resonating with local customers accustomed to the flavors of Kentucky and Southern comfort food.

The menu accommodates a number of dietary needs, offering options suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those with gluten sensitivities.

Fore welcomes customers to explore and savor the rich tapestry of Sri Lankan cuisine while offering them a comfortable environment equivalent to having family over for dinner.

“When people come to your home for dinner, they feel comfortable and they want to eat, but when people go to a restaurant they are unfamiliar with, they can be a bit hesitant,” Fore said. “In here, I want you to feel welcome.”

Fore also values her diverse crew, which encompasses a range of personalities, statuses and ethnicities, to include multiple points of view which allows her to grow the team as a whole.

“If you really want to share a cuisine and you’re aspiring to be a voice or a mouthpiece for that cuisine, you really do have to believe in it,” Fore said.

Tuk Tuk Snack Shop represents more than just a restaurant it embodies Fore’s culinary journey sustained by passion, innovation and cultural celebration.

“I want this to be a place where people can come out and have a bite and leave just a little bit happier,” Fore said. “I’m in it to win it. I’m holding on for dear life. I have made the decision to commit to this, and no matter what, I’m going to see it through.” •

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The Baron, Sam’s Bowl and The Webster on display.

Rolli ng Ou t

KRNL Spring 2024 Seniors: Emma Reilly, Rana Alsoufi, Mallory Gray, Sydney Turner, Gray Greenwell, Olivia Sanderson, Claire Osterfeld, Samantha Money, Kadija Conteh, Sajida Megariaf, Emma Blazis, Cara Montello, Alana Blackman, Emma Gayle, Bree Cox, Ashton Payne, Savannah Chapman, Shandin Muldrow, Nathaniel Lilly

This semester, KRNL says goodbye to a legendary cohort of senior staff members. What makes us so legendary? The fact that we have watched this publication evolve in real time into the one-of-a-kind leader in collegiate journalism that it is today, and every one of these talented staffers played a crucial part in making it happen. Because of this, a celebration of our time with KRNL and our growth as creatives was in order, and “Rolling Out” is our last hurrah.

The styles reflected in this photoshoot are reminiscent of the funky and vibrant era of the ‘70s, with inspiration drawn from icons such as Cher and Grace Jones. Our stylists put together incredible outfits that showcased the ‘70s’ diverse styles to emphasize our diverse cast of seniors, and the roller rink and arcade settings gave us a fun and nostalgic experience which brought our seniors together for what may be our best senior shoot yet. The KRNL team would like to extend a special thank you to Champs Entertainment Complex for lending their space for this photoshoot.

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lexington ballet’s

Love Letter to the future


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Gwen Lamb and Kayleigh Western dance during dress rehearsal on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky.

After 50 years of supporting the performing arts, the Lexington Ballet Company is ready to take the leap into a new era.

When Mia Isaac stepped into the CEO role in May 2023, she realized just how full circle she had come from when she first started dancing as a child at the very company she now leads.

“This is a lovely way to come back home,” Isaac said.

With her new title, Isaac has established a set of goals for how she intends the Lexington Ballet Company to evolve under her leadership, especially as the Company’s 50th anniversary approaches next season. Part of that mission includes reaching out to alumni to celebrate the Company’s growth and its community’s successes.

“We hope to then elevate this company through those connections and through the alumni that we’ve been able to reach out to,” Isaac said.

In an effort to reach out to the Company’s alumni and to celebrate the future of the Lexington Ballet Company, they produced “Love Stories,” a tribute to all forms of love featuring original choreography and musical compositions.

“Love Stories” consisted of different choreographed pieces that celebrated different types of love, from romantic love to the love of a sibling to the love of oneself. The styles of dance ranged from traditional ballet to contemporary, and the entire production was created in collaboration with both Lexington community members and artists from outside of Kentucky.

Guest artist and choreographer Eric Trope was invited by Isaac to participate in the production of “Love Stories” by choreographing part of the show and performing as Romeo in the company’s rendition of “Romeo and Juliet,” the first excerpt from “Love Stories.”

“Everyone’s been so kind and very open-hearted, and also willing to adapt to a slightly different way of working or a different style than they’re used to, which is maybe something I’m bringing here,” he said. “... It’s a really nice group of people; it’s a really special company.”

Trope said one of the main differences between New York, where he is currently based, and Lexington is the way things seem to go at a much more relaxed pace in Lexington compared to New York.

“New York, everything sort of operates like a ticking time bomb, I think, and there’s like a nervous pressure energy, and coming here, there was a lightness,” he said. “I felt people were very friendly and excited, and so I definitely fed off that excitement, I think, and it’s a slower, more relaxed vibe.”

Another one of Isaac’s missions as CEO is to prioritize community outreach and finding new ways to get Lexington more involved in their programming, whether it’s by offering classes to students and aspiring dancers or inviting them to participate in other, more unconventional ways.

“I want to make sure we are inclusive, that we’re diverse, that we offer scholarships, because we want to make sure that we provide the ballet and an opportunity for this community to be involved,” Isaac said.

One of the pieces from “Love Stories,” titled “Mothers,” was choreographed by Ballet Mistress and soon-to-be School Director Ayako Hasebe Lloyd, and included original music and sound design by singer-songwriter and cellist Ben Sollee.

Lloyd said she wanted to create a piece that honored mothers all over the world by incorporating the stories of real mothers in the Lexington community into the overall work.

“I think a mother’s love is one of the strongest forms of love, and I want to make sure that was included in this show,” she said.

The Company invited mothers and daughters to share their unique experiences with motherhood, which Sollee then used to

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create an original musical score that featured the subjects’ voices as the Company members danced and Sollee performed on stage alongside them.

“We interviewed different stages of mothers, like new moms, or a mom that’s 84 and daughter that’s like a teenage daughter, or a daughter that’s 60 years old that’s taking care of her 84-year-old mom,” Lloyd said.

As a new mother herself she welcomed her daughter to the world in September 2022 Lloyd said she found the experience emotional and enlightening.

“The reason why I wanted to interview a different variety of ages and backgrounds is because every journey is different, and I learned that we were all struggling in our own way,” she said. “… But I’ve learned that we’re in this together. We have this community, even though we might not know each other directly.”

Sollee, who was initially contacted by Isaac and Lloyd in August 2023 about collaborating on “Love Stories,” said he was inspired by the strength and resilience that mothers possess while working on the original score.

“As a father myself I have three children it was really powerful to listen to these moms of different eras share about their experiences and just, overall, how much they give to the world and how unsupported they feel,” he said. “I mean, they feel loved, but not very supported. That’s a big thing. This piece is, ‘We see you, hear you, and we want to support you.’”

The sense of community and family that the Lexington Ballet Company fosters among its members, both professionals and students, is also what draws dancers in and is part of why they end up staying in Lexington as well, according to some of the dancers.

Dancers perform Gavotte during dress rehearsal on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky.

Twenty-five-year-old Kayleigh Western, a fulltime professional company member, started with the Lexington Ballet Company when she was 3 years old and took on the role of Juliet in the “Romeo and Juliet” performance during “Love Stories.” She said she wouldn’t have been able to achieve the things she has without the support of the Lexington Ballet Company.

“They nurtured me through my training and have always supported me in any of the professional endeavors that I’ve wanted to pursue,” Western said. “They supported me when I left to pursue professional training and welcomed me back with open arms when I decided to return, so I wouldn’t have a career without them, and I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Company member Gwen Lamb is originally from Morrison, Missouri, and made her debut with the Lexington Ballet Company this year. She said she bonded a lot with the other company members over the course of a few weeks while working on “Love Stories.”

“I think this has been an extremely supportive environment, and the connection between the students and the professional company is, I think, extremely rare to find in that we all kind of support each other and cheer each other on,” Lamb said.

During rehearsals, the student company gets the opportunity to sit in and observe the professional company as they run through choreography and practice their pieces, showing their support for one another by snapping and cheering along when their peers complete a difficult lift or complex piece of the choreography successfully.

“They really support each other in a way that’s different,” Isaac said. “… This is something that

“I think this has been an extremely supportive environment, and the connection between the students and the professional company is, I think, extremely rare to find in that we all kind of support each other and cheer each other on.”
Dancers and choreographers hold hands before the performance of “Love Stories” on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky.
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Dancers sit on stage to watch guest artist Ben Sollee during the performance of “Love Stories” on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky.
“We’re only moving forward because we all have a very strong commitment to our company, to our students and creating a better environment and giving them this opportunity.”

I want them to continue. I don’t want to change anything that works.”

Lexington Ballet’s student company is made up of 14 high school students who learn ballet technique and choreography under professionals in the industry.

Alexandra Orenstein is the Company’s resident choreographer as well as a teacher for the student classes they offer. She said one of the best things about teaching students is getting to be involved in the process of helping them figure out who they are and realizing the performers they are capable of becoming.

“You have a little bit more of a blank canvas,” Orenstein said about working with students. “It’s somebody who you’re still molding you don’t have to unmold something so it’s always really fun to be in the studio with them and let them make mistakes and have fun with it.”

Critics of the ballet world have called the industry “toxic” in how it can sometimes cause physical and

mental distress upon the dancers. The emphasis that is placed on perfection in traditional ballet practice has, in some cases, led to the development of stress, eating disorders and other negative effects that current and former dancers have reported experiencing. Isaac recognizes this and said that she strives to create a healthy environment at the Lexington Ballet Company.

“We’re not doing that,” Isaac said about toxic ballet practices. “… We’re not gonna go backwards; we’re only moving forward because we all have a very strong commitment to our company, to our students and creating a better environment and giving them this opportunity.”

Even though the Lexington Ballet Company seeks to preserve many of the traditional ballet practices and pass them on to the new generation of dancers, such as stage etiquette, Lloyd said the most important thing is making sure the art lives on and that the dancers are happy.

“... We have a production, and it’s not just the

Miku Isomura fixes her hair in the mirror before rehearsal on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Lexington Ballet Company’s studio in ArtsPlace in Lexington, Ky.

dancing part that is important,” Lloyd said. “That’s a big chunk of our production, but there’s also the music … and that’s another art form. Then we have costumes, that’s another art form. Then we have our lighting, that’s another art form. Then we have our set stage sets and props and backdrops, that’s another art form. And all the technical stuff at the theater, that’s an art form.”

As a nonprofit organization, the Company relies on community support in any form to help them function. Isaac said 99% of their costumes and set pieces belong to the company and were sourced from donations and vintage stores. Louisville Ballet also provided some of the set pieces for “Love Stories” in particular.

The Lexington Ballet Company’s 50th anniversary will mark the beginning of a new era for performing arts in Lexington, and though what the future will hold for their community is unknown, Isaac and the rest of the company anticipate another 50 years of success and encourage the Lexington community to get involved, whether it’s by taking a class or attending a show.

“It [ballet] has healing benefits. It sets your sympathetic nervous system into a healing setting where it is proven to give you a relaxing benefit and state of mind … Not only is it an artistic and beautiful art form and an amazing event to go to and share with your family, whether it be kids, adults, seniors it’s really for any age group but it really does have benefits that last far beyond just the performance,” Isaac said. •

Student company dancers Yaretzi Gutierrez Lucio and Rowan Doherty sit backstage during the performance of “Love Stories” on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, Ky.
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Ashley Reed hugs Sydney Marsh during rehearsal on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Lexington Ballet Company’s studio in ArtsPlace in Lexington, Ky.

Behind The Scenes



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Upon entering State Film Lab in Louisville, Kentucky, visitors can find themselves transported into a curious blend of a dated process done in a way that feels entirely new.

The walls are adorned with huge photo prints, all shot on film. The room is lined with strips of film negatives draped over hooks. Boxes stuffed full of archival photos, some dating back to the 1950s, are stacked along the shelves, part of the lab’s way to help several local families honor their loved ones’ memories. Rolls of used film are piled on every countertop, each one containing one of their several hundred customers’ memories preserved just as they remembered them.

“It’s kind of interesting because you get a glimpse into people’s lives,” Madeline Hall, lab coordinator at State Film Lab, said. “They’re sending you their film, but they don’t get to see the process, you get to see the process. Getting to watch weddings and kids and all of these life experiences from vacations come in through rolls of film, it’s like


you’re watching a documentary of someone’s life … it feels kind of sweet to get that look into their lives when they trust us to see those intimate moments.”

Josiah Bice, the lab’s production lead, said he notices the differences between seeing photos shot on film and newer digital photos and how they connect to the moments themselves.

“I just love how tangible and full of life [film] is. It feels like it’s a true representation of what our memories are. Inside of our head when we think of them, they’re like warm and full of life, and I feel like it’s the closest thing we have to that versus digital,” Bice said.

When Billy Grubbs, State Film Lab’s founder, started as a photographer, he said film was almost exclusive to wedding or professional photographers. Now, as digital cameras have surpassed film in the quantity and quality of photos they produce, there has been a shift — today, the lab rarely sees wedding photographers as clients and many of their customers are hobbyists and enjoy film on a personal rather than a professional level.

“It used to be about, ‘How could I take better pictures? What do I need to take better pictures?’ But that’s not really what it’s about anymore because you can do that with any tool,” Grubbs said. “I think that’s probably good because now there’s more of a drive for focusing on the content of the image. An image can’t just be good because of the tools, now it actually has to have some meaning or some process behind it.”

Each member of the team emphasized the intentionality and “slowness” of film photography, using it as a means to stay “more acquainted with the moments happening around [us],” Andrew Granstaf, the lab’s scan lead, said.

“For me, and I think for probably a lot of people that shoot film on a regular basis, it’s more about the process than it is about the end image,” Grubbs said.

Even though the photos themselves might not look amazing, Granstaf added, taking the pictures, using up the roll of exposures, not being able to see them and waiting for them to come back allows photographers to remember the moment even better.

“It brings back a memory rather than a digital image,” he said.

“I love the slowness and I like keeping dust and scratches in my image [when scanning it] because it’s part of shooting on a physical medium, which I think can be lost sometimes, but I think it just adds to the storytelling of photography,” Hall said. “… It’s how photography was invented and I feel like it should be honored.”

Along the back wall of the lab sit several computers, all decades old but still miraculously set up as if they were brand-new, yet another instance of the lab taking visitors back several decades as soon as they walk through the doors. There are also the film processing machines, the group’s “diamonds in the rough,” as Grubbs likes to call them.

It’s like you’re watching a documentary of someone’s life it feels kind of sweet to get that look into their lives when they trust us to see those intimate moments.”

“They’re very very hard to find, but they’re essentially the best ones that were ever made, so we were really lucky to find those,” he said. “The big manufacturers that made the equipment to do all this stuff, they’re never coming back. You kind of just have what you have and that’s it.”

Still, among all the archaic objects found inside the lab stands a team of five young photographers-turnedfilm-processors looking to promote an old industry to a new age. Their mission is to make film accessible and cultivate relationships with their regular customers to help them hone their crafts, Grubbs said.

“I think the coolest part [of this job] is probably just watching photographers’ journeys, the people we work with on a regular basis, and seeing people develop as artists,” Grubbs said. “We tend to, being this small, know people’s names when we see them come through the lab regularly or start following them online and see how they evolve. That’s kind of cool to play just a tiny part in that evolution.”

What the team lacks in size it makes up for in connections formed with photographers.

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The fridge in the kitchenette, full of photos of the team and notes, on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at State Film Lab in Louisville, Ky.
“I just love how tangible and full of life [film] is. It feels like it’s a true representation of what our memories are. Inside of our head when we think of them, they’re like warm and full of life, and I feel like it’s the closest thing we have to that versus digital.”


“If people have questions up front, I like to give them resources like different camera stores or different YouTube channels to check out if they’re having trouble with their photos or interacting with their camera,” Makayla Marlin, support specialist at State Film Lab, said.

Grubbs said a main focus he has when processing film is understanding the photographer’s style and vision for their photos. He said the thing about scanning (the process by which film negatives are digitized after being processed in the darkroom) that many people don’t understand is if the photo was well-exposed when it was shot, the lab has some flexibility in altering the final photo before returning it to the photographer.

It’s the same as editing raw files with digital photographs, he explained.

“So with a raw file, you can really change exposure left and right or you can really change contrast and still have a good quality image. But if you tried to do the same thing with a jpeg, for instance, you don’t really have very much room before it starts degrading in quality. And when you scan film it’s kind of the same idea because a negative has a ton of latitude and a ton of range just like a raw file would,” Grubbs said.

But he said once the film is scanned, “that’s what you get,” which can get stressful for larger projects that he doesn’t want to miss the mark on.

“Scanning is a very subjective process because I can look at that negative, but I wasn’t at the scene that you photographed, so I don’t know what you actually saw, I just have the negative and I have to interpret that,” Grubbs said. “And that’s where building that relationship and kind of understanding how a person photographs, following their portfolio online and kind of getting their vibe overall, that helps us over time make those subjective decisions when we scan their film and make sure it fits their brand.”

Makayla Marlin makes a contact sheet.
“I think film is one of the closest things we have to ... actual magic almost, just because … nothing’s there, and then all of a sudden something is, and it’s just really neat to be able to see the process.”

So after all, film processing, an industry that appears to be strictly scientific, actually encompasses some artistic elements. Or, it could be neither of the above, according to Granstaf.

“I think film is one of the closest things we have to this might sound really cheesy but actual magic almost, just because you’re capturing light on a negative and it’s going through these chemicals that … nothing’s there, and then all of a sudden something is, and it’s just really neat to be able to see the process,” Granstaf said.

In an increasingly digital age, the resurgence of the film industry has stressed the natural desire to slow down, live in the moment and “just shoot,” Hall said.

“There will be rolls that don’t turn out and rolls where you aren’t familiar with the camera yet, and that’s the only reason that you learn,” she said.

And there’s still something for hobbyists to enjoy as well.

“[Even] for the person that isn’t looking to better themselves as a photographer … it’s a fun thing to experience. To me, anything that gets you off-screen a little bit and engages you in your surroundings is a good thing for you,” Grubbs said. •

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Founder Billy Grubbs stands for a portrait.

Tyler Bauer:

Rambling on Through Alphabet Soup

All roads may not lead home, but for Tyler Bauer, home is wherever those roads may lead him next.

The 29-year-old adventurer and writer from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, lives full-time in his 2020 Toyota Tacoma with his 9-month-old dog, Maizee. Inside is a bed for one, a small custom-built desk and a lingering, distinct and almond-like aroma of notebook paper. Snippets of writing inspiration blossom and stickers litter the walls of the space he has called home for the last nine months.

Before the truck life came about, Bauer previously lived in his Kia Soul and was thinking of moving into a van to continue his journey. Considering all the traveling and offroading he does that a van could not handle, Bauer said he decided something with four-

wheel drive was his best shot.

With exploring different states and countries for the last 10 years such as Kentucky, Oregon, Colorado, Canada, Nova Scotia and most recently residing in Fayetteville, West Virginia, the truck has been converted to fit Bauer’s current lifestyle a life that is made up of writing, rock climbing and traveling.

Before he set out to see the world, Bauer served in the U.S. Air Force for six years doing statistical analysis and database management.

After his time in the Air Force, Bauer received an English degree at Xavier University which allowed him to focus on literature, and just last year completed his master’s of education in the English language at the University of Kentucky.


Bauer now works full-time at New Roots Community Farm, a nonprofit agricultural resource center located in Fayetteville, West Virginia, and is able to continue living in his truck.

“Living in the truck, it’s always something I wanted to do,” Bauer said. “Rock climbing is my other thing. I really like writing and I really like climbing. Living in the truck is a way for me to do both, and it’s been great.”

The freedom of truck life does come with certain challenges from time to time.

Bauer said the confined space can create a state of chaos and lack of stability. That lack of stability can range anywhere from easy access to heat in the winter to the difficulty of finding the space to sit down at a desk and craft anything longer than a poem.

But that has never stopped Bauer from writing. Living in his truck has played a significant role in fueling his creativity and love of words. From filling shoe boxes with poems as a kid to now filling notebooks to the brim with ideas, the small desk space he has set aside in his truck keeps his creative juices flowing. It’s a place he can sit, turn on his small wooden elephant lamp and write whatever comes to mind in the form of poems.

“I’ve always been writing poems, I just didn’t know they were called poems. Because people have a weird view on what is and is not poetry,” Bauer said. “Poetry is kind of just everything, right? Like there’s weird things that happen, just look around and turn that into something, you know? It’s like a way of collecting inspiration from everything around me and using it.”

This realization is what sparked Bauer’s interest in using a typewriter.

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Tyler Bauer holds Maizee, his dog and travel partner, on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, outside of Third Street Stuff and Coffee in Lexington, Ky.

In November 2022, Bauer was out shopping around Peddlers Mall in Lexington when he discovered a 62-year-old typewriter. Though he didn’t buy it at first, Bauer quickly regretted his initial decision, leading him to go back and bring it home.

“It kind of revolutionized the way I see writing and the joy of writing,” Bauer said. “It’s really fun to use a typewriter because it slows things down so much and it’s not just another screen. There’s also something in the sound of it printing immediately, it makes it a more meditative practice.”

Since having the typewriter for a little over a year now, Bauer has found more excitement in using the typewriter to publish his thoughts and poems than a computer or his phone. He described the ways he loves how the typewriter replicates the imperfections our computers work to perfect.

“When you tear things out, you know how it leaves that little bit of white on the edges, a computer can’t replicate that,” Bauer said. “I think that there is something so beautiful in doing something, but doing it imperfectly.”

Before the typewriter, Bauer used to write things down in notebooks or loose sheets of paper, and they would disappear soon after or end up being stuffed in old shoe boxes. Now with his typewriter, Instagram account @writing_and_rambling and stickers covering the walls of his truck, Bauer has easier access to finding old poems and reliving the moments he created them.

But I think guys should change their own oil and write poems. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be both at the same time. I’m just trying to bridge the gap and find a way to make writing fun again.” “

Bauer said using the typewriter in public spaces is often not an option for him because of how loud the typewriter is. The keys on Bauer’s manual typewriter are noisy in quieter settings, making places such as coffee shops unideal locations for writing.

“If I wanted to write on the typewriter, it’s loud. Everybody would stop and look and then they’re like, ‘Who is this granola guy in here using a typewriter?’” Bauer said.

His poetry has included several recurring themes throughout his many years of writing, such as life, traveling, love and substance abuse.

With the exception of his dad, Bauer witnessed his entire family overdose on heroin. Seeing the substance abuse problem resurface in kids made his

Tyler Bauer sets up his writing station out of his van at Third Street Stuff and Coffee.
Tyler Bauer writes a poem on his typewriter at Third Street Stuff and Coffee.

drive to inspire others through writing more prominent.

“So I’m looking at writing and poetry as a way to help that,” Bauer said. “Even if I spend all my life writing bullshit poems, if it has the effect to change just, like, one outcome, that’s kind of the goal … find what you’re good at naturally and use that to uplift in whatever way you can creatively find a way to do so.”

His gift of writing led him to teach high school English for a year in Lexington. Bauer was able to be a light in some of his students’ lives without them even realizing it. He wanted to help students recognize the beauty behind the art of writing, just as Kurt Vonnegut did for him.

Bauer wanted students to see that English class is more than merely essay writing. He focused his teaching on out-of-the-box thinking and creativity while creating his assignments.

“When I was teaching, there were kids that would just have their heads down in class all day. And then I came in, and I’m not saying it was a change or whatever, just teaching poetry and tying it into whatever I possibly could, like classic hip-hop,” Bauer said. “Showing kids

how there’s poetry in everything and being able to capture that and really recognize the beauty in things.”

Bauer referred to his English class as more of an art class because of the way words can be experimented with, messed with and paint detailed images in readers’ heads. He noticed a stigma surrounding poetry in school and wanted to do his part to move past it.

“It always seems that girls are drawn to poetry, but guys are like whatever,” Bauer said. “But I think guys should change their own oil and write poems. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be both at the same time. I’m just trying to bridge the gap and find a way to make writing fun again.”

He wanted all his students to spend more time having fun with the art of writing and getting in touch with their own creativity they may have never known.xisted.

Built into the side of Bauer’s truck is a small wooden frame he found at Goodwill that contains his favorite quote of all time by Pablo Picasso, one that fully captures his philosophy on life:

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” •

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Tyler Bauer’s favorite quote placed on a hand-built compartment in his van at Third Street Stuff and Coffee.
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Unraveling the Mind of Lexington Fashion Designer Claire Pabst

Behind the bright, primary colors of the unique clothing brand called “ClartFart” is Claire Pabst, a 24-year-old based in Lexington, Kentucky, creating standout clothing on her online store while working toward a more sustainable future.

When Pabst came to the University of Kentucky from her hometown in southern Illinois, she enrolled as a marketing major despite her artistic abilities and creativity. Having grown up in a small farm town surrounded by people with more traditional beliefs, she went into college with the mindset that in order to be successful in your career, you can’t be creative.

“There’s a lot of small-minded people where I’m from,” she said. “It was beat into my head that to be happy and successful, you need to have a ‘normal job.’”

But after two days of marketing courses, she decided to switch to the School of Art and Visual Studies (SA/VS) to major in fine arts and pursue illustration. In SA/VS, she felt like she could embrace her true sense of style and be herself. She was inspired by how other art students dressed and found her love for fashion. She wanted to take design classes, but only graphic design was offered, not fashion. Discouraged by the lack of options and looking to start her own brand, Pabst withdrew from college.

After making this decision, she had a lot of doubts about her future. Some of the people close to her questioned it, asking if she could just “stick it out until graduation.” Her mother, on the other hand, who is also an artist, was very supportive from the start.

“I feel like when you throw yourself in all at once, yeah, it’s going to be so crazy and so scary, but you will learn and grow so much as a business owner, as an artist and as a creative,” Pabst said.

With a new sewing machine, courtesy of her remaining college savings, Pabst began her new life as a full-time fashion designer in Lexington. Her style draws on lots of primary colors and mixes all kinds of patterns and textures. Her “Joxers,” for example, are a combination of jean shorts and boxers with lace. She said that she wants to create pieces you can’t find anywhere else and items that are unique to every customer.

“I love a closet full of standout pieces,” Pabst said. “Maybe to the normal eye people think it’s ugly, but those who get it, get it.”

Pabst doesn’t want to create a piece that can only be worn one way, either. She said versatile clothing is vital to her brand and her values. As a part of her summer collection in 2023, she created a bikini that could be worn over 30 ways.

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Claire Pabst wears a handmade bonnet in her apartment studio space on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, in Lexington, Ky.
“What makes the longevity of the brand is sticking to the truth of the brand and not feeding into the microtrends. Stick to your individuality as a designer and it’ll show through.”

The “Scrapkini” was created to use up scrap fabric that otherwise would have gone to waste and has become her most successful piece to date. The top consists of two pieces with three ties and different fabrics on both sides. For even more variety, the bottoms can be worn forward, backward and inside out.

One of her more recent pieces is the “TriSkirt.” It has over 27 vintage buttons used to modify the skirt. The top layer is the mini skirt with a detachable layer to make it knee-length. A third layer creates a floorlength skirt. With ties in the front middle, the wearer can leave it open or closed for their preferred look.

“Making the skirts is definitely a labor of love,” Pabst said.

One of Pabst’s most important values for her brand is sustainability. She does this by making pieces that are multifunctional and made out of only secondhand or deadstock fabric as well as promoting sustainable values on her social media, one of the main ways she sells clothing. She said that she ignores trends as much as possible while still allowing for new ideas. The instant gratification of microtrends doesn’t interest her as much as sticking to what she values as a person and a brand.

“What makes the longevity of the brand is sticking to the truth of the brand and not feeding into the microtrends,” she said. “Stick to your individuality as a designer and it’ll show through.”

With her sustainability-centered focus,

A mannequin displays a signature ClartFart outfit including a Bonnet, Truck Tee, Jersey Teddy Top and TriSkirt.

everything Pabst creates is handmade, meaning she can only put out small quantities of an item at a time. To help overcome this obstacle, she said she has considered opening up to small, ethical manufacturers in the United States, but she isn’t sure if she wants the production out of her hands.

“I need to see what’s going on. I need to make sure everything’s made properly and correctly and make sure people are getting paid the right amounts and only using secondhand materials,” Pabst said.

In the distant future, or at least after she’s completed her move to California in late 2024, she hopes to open up her own storefront with in-house seamstresses. The idea is for customers to choose the fabric and lace to customize their pieces. Once her business has grown to the point where it doesn’t need to be constantly monitored, she plans on traveling to gather international inspiration for her designs.

“Don’t listen to your internal monologue telling you this is dumb, or embarrassing or stupid,” Pabst said. “You gotta push through. If you really have your dream and want to accomplish it, you gotta find it inside yourself and ask how much you want it.” •

Claire Pabst displays a pair of Joxers with the signature red truck patch on the back pocket on the wall.
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Claire Pabst flips through her sketchbook which holds all her ideas for ClartFart clothing and accessories.


How Bekah Robinson Became the Queen of Sting


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Bekah Robinson (right) rubs Vaseline on her sparring partner before they enter the ring on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, at Ultimate Ninja Athletics in Lexington, Ky.
Bekah Robinson lands a punch during a sparring session on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, at Ultimate Ninja Athletics in Lexington, Ky.

Seconds before entering the ring for her first-ever fight, USA boxer Bekah Robinson could hear the enthusiastic announcer, the peculiarly steady beating of her own heart and the screams of a rowdy, adoring crowd. But the crowd wasn’t cheering for her.

Bekah had traveled five hours to Moundsville, West Virginia, from Lexington, Kentucky, to take on Moundsville local Stacy Sikole.

“This girl had like seven or eight fights. I think the weight class was 130 (lbs.), and I’m lucky to even walk around at like 122. And so I was under in weight and she was the hometown girl,” Bekah said. “So she had all the fans. I didn’t have any.”

Lacking the home-field advantage, size and experience of her opponent, the odds seemed stacked against Bekah. Regardless, she wasn’t afraid.

“It’s weird. I was way more calm than you would expect a person to be for their first fight. You ask anybody or you see me before a fight. Like, ‘Why are you so calm? Like what, shouldn’t you be nervous?’” Bekah said. “I don’t know, something about fighting, on the day of the fight I’m the coolest person in the room. Just relaxed. Quiet. Prepared.”

However, no amount of preparation could have changed the outcome of Bekah’s first fight on that day two years ago. She said that despite “easily” winning all the rounds, the match went to Sikole, teaching Bekah a valuable lesson about the nature of the sport she’s chosen to dedicate her life to.

She even made a name for herself in a literal sense: “The Queen of Sting.”

“The one thing I heard over and over and over after getting done sparring guys is like, ‘Man, your punches sting a little bit, they sting, I feel ’em.’ I kept hearing that word, ‘sting sting sting,’ and I was like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna have to use that somehow,’” Bekah said.

She said she wishes she could fight more often instead of just sparring (practice fighting), but it’s difficult to find opponents. There is a very limited number of amateur female boxers in her weight class nearby, and traveling for fights requires more time commitment and out-of-pocket expenses than she can regularly afford, especially as the mother of a 3- and 4-year-old.

“I’ll tell you what, I still got the video on my phone and they robbed me of the win,” Bekah said. “It was probably one of my best performances I’ve had in the fight. But I didn’t get my hand raised. And that was a really big, like, smack in the face. But the hard part about boxing is it’s political. You know, you got to have a name, you got to have the connections.”

In the time since then, Bekah has made every effort to make a name for herself. At age 27, she has nine fights under her belt, six of which she won, including a regional championship.

Hence why she plans to switch from USA boxing, the amateur league, to semi-professional boxing. As a semi-pro boxer, Bekah would be able to fight other semi-pros and be paid for doing so, as opposed to paying to fight like she does now. She said she also likes the style of professional boxing more than that of USA boxing. USA boxing has shorter rounds, leaving less time to show off, according to Bekah.

“There’s not a whole lot of style or originality to it,” Bekah said of the amateur style. “So that’s why I’m drawn to the pros. I’m going to be able to go out there and be like a Muhammad Ali of the 115-pound professional women. I want to bring that like showboating style, which I feel like you can only do in the pros.”

Bekah has stayed a USA boxer thus far because it’s the same style of boxing as is in the Olympics, a goal she used to have for herself but no longer sees in the cards due to timing and financial complications.

She doesn’t regret anything about the path of her career, though. She said a lot of boxers rush the process of getting to the pros, whereas she’d rather take her time and go with the flow. She said she won’t consider going fully professional until she’s had at least four semipro matches, which she hopes will happen by the end of 2024.

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“You need to get all your experience, you need to fight every fight style in the amateurs, because once you go pro, you can’t go back. You’re locked in, and the pros is no joke,” Bekah said.

Bekah didn’t always know she would take boxing this seriously. In fact, she’d never been in a fight of any kind for the first 18 years of her life, but in 2016 her then-boyfriend, now-husband BJ Robinson inspired her to change that.

The couple grew up going to church together in West Virginia but started dating when they began chatting online after Bekah graduated high school. A bit older than Bekah, BJ was already a professional boxer at that point.

“So I was in the gym every single day watching him box, watching all the guys box,” Bekah said. “And I’m like, ‘I can do that, I can do this. I can probably do this better than the guys.’ So I just kind of jumped in.”

I know who I am and where I’m gonna go and I just stay being my number one fan.” “

For most of their relationship, BJ has doubled as Bekah’s significant other and her coach, a dynamic that took some figuring out at first but ultimately strengthened the pair’s bond.

“Taking instruction from someone who you’re in a relationship with … sometimes it’s hard to separate the relationship of husband and wife versus the relationship of coach and player,” Bekah said. “So that was definitely something to overcome.”

Though she hasn’t always been a boxer, Bekah has always been an athlete. Years of doing gymnastics, volleyball, basketball and track prepared her for the intense strength, cardio and skills-based training required to box. What started as a fun way to stay in shape took over Bekah’s life when she fell in love with the sport’s extremely competitive and independent nature.

“I think the difference is boxing is an individual sport. At the end of the day, it’s like you and your coach, you know, you can’t blame anyone else. Everything’s on you,” Bekah said. “And I kind of like that, it takes some of the pressure of the unknown off, like I have complete control of what happens. It’s just me.”

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“… I wouldn’t say it’s the fame, I wouldn’t say it’s the money, that would be nice, but that’s definitely not the main motivation. It’s not giving up on a goal.”



Bekah Robinson’s boxing gloves in the ring after a sparring match on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, at Ultimate Ninja Athletics in Lexington, Ky.


Bekah quit her job at UPS to make time for boxing, committed to becoming one of the greats.

”I don’t even know if I can tell you someone who I’ve seen and went ‘I want that’ because I just picture myself in that situation. I’m like, ‘I can be that. I can be those people,’ and I kind of just use that as my motivation,” Bekah said. “I know who I am and where I’m gonna go and I just stay being my number one fan.”

Now, she splits her time boxing and managing Ultimate Ninja Athletics in Lexington with her husband, where she teaches American Ninja Warriorstyle classes and trains children and adults in boxing. While she believes boxing is beneficial to her students as a hobby, Bekah said she wouldn’t recommend seriously boxing to anyone.

“I really think the competence that you get from boxing and being able to defend yourself is huge. To be able to introduce that in a safe way to children or to anybody is crucial,” Bekah said. “Now when we’re talking fighting pro or amateur, it’s hard for me to recommend it because you have to sacrifice basically everything to be someone in this game. If it’s not, ‘You’re seeing yourself doing this long term,’ I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Requiring near daily training with no off-season, boxing is physically taxing and can lead to dangerous health complications.

“Unfortunately, I have had at least four concussions already, and dealing with the brain trauma and what could be CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is not fun,” Bekah said. “Your brain is something that you can’t just heal; this is not something that’s just gonna magically go away one day.”

Even so, Bekah said that the most painful thing about being punched in the face all the time is the blow it causes to her dignity.

“Getting punched in the face isn’t pleasant. But when you’re put in those fight or flight situations, you don’t feel anything until after the adrenaline wears down,” Bekah said. “I think it hurts your pride more. It can hurt emotionally more. When I’m in there and I’m having an off

night, it’s not that I’m scared. It’s that I’m disappointed in myself.”

Amid the physical and emotional costs, one thing Bekah isn’t willing to sacrifice for her boxing career is being a good mother. She kept training even when she was pregnant but said she and BJ take turns in the gym and with the kids. Though balancing motherhood with boxing isn’t always easy, Bekah said it’s gotten better as her children have gotten older.

“They’re getting to an age now where I can be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to train, you can train with me or you can watch or you know, go do your thing,’” Bekah said. “I always try to get them to spar with me. My older one, she’s more of like, ‘I want to play Barbies.’ But my younger one’s like, ‘Hey, mama, you want to fight?’ so we wrestle, we fight. They’re in the gym all the time. They’re so comfortable around boxing.”

Whether her kids become boxers one day or not, Bekah hopes growing up watching her box teaches them fierce resilience and self-assurance.

“I think what makes it worth it for me is being able to inspire other people. Being able to leave a legacy for my kiddos, you know for them to be able to be like, ‘Oh look, that was my mom, she did that, she never quit, she kept going,’” Bekah said. “I wouldn’t say it’s the fame, I wouldn’t say it’s the money, that would be nice, but that’s definitely not the main motivation. It’s not giving up on a goal.”

Even when it’s hard to keep going, the Queen of Sting maintains her determination with the help of the people she loves.

“There are days where I’m tired, you know. I’m tired of doing this, I’m tired of it. It can become very hard to control your emotions and your outbursts and really the one thing that kind of helps me keep it together is my team [including the Thrive Tribe, the boxing club she started with BJ],” Bekah said. “But beyond that, I can’t stop now. I’m in too good of a spot. I’m right there at the edge. I got these people holding me up behind me and we stay doing it.” •

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Beyond The Chair: An Homage to Black Beauty Spaces

“Beyond The Chair: An Homage to Black Beauty Spaces” presents a love letter to the relationship between Black expression and identity and the sacred commonplace of the Black hair salon and barbershop. Our visual narrative is empowered by the Black community’s overwhelming contributions to fashion and style. Told through robust, moody frames, this editorial celebrates the resilience and innovation every braid, twist, loc and fade represents. From the influences of Logomania and Ghetto Fabulous by fashion great Dapper Dan, to the modern-day vision of the late Virgil Abloh that brings streetwear to the vanguard of high fashion, to the stylings of the Harlem Renaissance and ‘90s hip-hop, we depict Black fashion contributions through time, while recognizing Black expression as a pillar in fashion. Special thanks to Cha Cha’s Salon and Rooster’s Nest Barber Shop and Shave Parlor for allowing us into their space and for being so integral in our creative vision.

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Society of Professional Journalists

2022 Mark of Excellence Awards

Best Arts/Entertainment/Fashion Journalism (Region 5)

Gray Greenwell, First Place

Best Student Magazine (Region 5)

First Place & National Runner Up

College Media Association

2023 Organizational Pinnacle Awards

Feature Magazine of the Year

First Place

2023 Individual Pinnacle Awards

Best Profile Story

Rana Alsoufi, First Place

Best Feature Story

Emma Reilly, Second Place

Best Magazine Cover

Allie Diggs & Abbey Purcell Honorable Mention

Best Magazine News Page/Spread

Allie Diggs, First Place

Best Magazine Sports Page/Spread

Emme Schumacher, Third Place

Best Magazine Feature Page/Spread

Allie Diggs Honorable Mention

Associated Collegiate Press

2023 Organizational Best of Show

Best Feature Magazine (Spring 2023 Issue)

Second Place

2023 Individual Best of Show

Best Advertisenment: Print, Online, Video, Audio

Bree Cox, Second Place

Best Design, Magazine

Allie Diggs, Sixth Place

Southeast Journalism Conference

2023 Best of the South

Best Magazine

KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion Spring 2023 Issue, First Place

Best Feature Writer

Rana Alsoufi, First Place

Best Magazine Writer

Emma Reilly, First Place

Best Advertising Staff Member

Bree Cox, First Place

Best Magazine Designer


Grace Hayes, First Place




Managing Editor


Creative Co-Directors


Lifestyle Editor


Photo Editor


Fashion Editor


Digital Co-Editors


Photoshoot Coordinator


Online Content Editor Copy Editor


Assistant Lifestyle Editors: Carlee Hogsten, Laurel Swanz

Writers: Ava Bumgarner, Nia Chancellor, Reaghan Chen, Natalia Garcia, Alexandria Landgraf, Gracie Moore, Claire Osterfeld, Kristen Roberts

Assistant Photo Editor: Lily Foster

Assistant Photoshoot Coordinator: Sajida Megariaf

Photographers: Abbey Cutrer, Caitlin Duffy, Gianna Mancini, Matthew Mueller, Claire Osterfeld, Elizabeth Solie


Assistant Fashion Editor: Kadija Conteh

Lookbook Co-Coordinators: Emma Blazis, Cara Montello

Stylists: Alana Blackman, Cameron Chappell, Deklyn

DeSpain, Emma Engel, Lily Hardwick, Shane Harran, Lola Kirk, Sajida Megariaf, Bennett Sloss

Makeup Artists: Emma Engel, Kara French, Timihia Murphy

Assistant Creative Directors: Sara Nelson, Ashton Payne

Outreach Coordinator: Jess Govea

Assistant Outreach Coordinator: Landyn DeSpain

Outreach Assistants: Savannah Chapman, Presley Hunt, Keili Martin

Assistant Digital Editor: Ashleigh Jones

Videographer: Emma Gayle

Podcast Organizers: Nathaniel Lilly, Shandin Muldrow

Hosts: Benjamin Estrada, Presley Hunt, Kennedy Parker

Ryan Craig

David Stephenson

Bryce McNeil

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LEXINGTON, KY 40503 859.309.8109


















2575 REGENCY RD, LEXINGTON, KY 40503 859.260.1578



941 NATIONAL AVE #120, LEXINGTON, KY 40502 859.354.9484







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