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To our readers, Due to the COVID-19 safeguards, this special issue of TARNISHED was created entirely online. Also, each TARNISHED staff member has performed their role in the design and production of this issue for the first time — no returning staffers. These unusual challenges have made for an exciting production period and we are very proud of the work we present here. Once again in this issue, TARNISHED brings together a wide variety of visual art, artist profiles and illustrated literary works that are on-target with our mission statement: We share unique beauty that is found in unexpected places. We would like to thank all of the contributors that played a role in the making of this publication. We would like to especially thank Professor Stephen Fischer for building this team, bringing us together, and providing us with guidance. Without him and our team of dedicated individuals, this issue wouldn’t have been possible.
Jenna Robinson, Art Director
Ciarra Chasse, Art Director
TARNISHED Magazine is produced by members of the Graphic Design League (GDL) at Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts. GDL is a student organization devoted to building community and expanding practical experiences in the graphic arts. TARNISHED Magazine is printed in a limited edition and is not for sale. The purpose of the publication is to provide educational experiences and offer a venue of student work.
Our Team Publisher Lasell University Art Directors Ciarra Chasse Jenna Robinson Associate Art Directors Emily Manzi Madison Reynolds Managing Editor Nathaniel Rodriguez Editors Logan Farley Rachael Karaczun Founder/ Advisor Stephen Fischer
Visit us at graphicdesignleague.com TARNISHED Magazine is printed by Wing Press - email@example.com VOLUME 10,
Cover Art Design & Illustration by Logan Farley SPRING 2021
Contents FEATURES 5 Mothmeister
8 Adventures in Nonsense 16
Hear Me Out: TikTok for Artists
22 Graffiti: Art or Vandalism? 28 All Inked Up
Through the Eyes of Pandemic Photographers
How has COVID-19 Impacted Museums & Galleries?
An Interview with a Graphic Designer
56 Fantasyland Brought to Life
6 0 Hannah Brown Makes Things
Creative Writing & Poetry
67 Stinkin Lincoln
76 The Best I Ever Had
70 Six Foot Separation
8 1 The Smile Behind the Mask
72 Through the Clouds
74 Human Instinct
78 Wishing on Zeta
90 Rain on the Warm Concrete
Lyrical Illustrations 92 Peace by Taylor Swift
94 So Young by Portugal The Man
96 Love I Need by The Livid Tempeste
mothmeister What images come to your mind when you hear the words “fairy tale”? Magical forests, talking animals, and romantic princesses? What about when you hear the word “post-mortem”? Grimy maggots, rotting corpses, and bleak gravestones? These are the words that the photography duo mothmeister uses to describe themself. The dissimilitude blends together to create unexpectedly beautiful photos unlike anything done before. The female graphic designer and male artistic director are from Antwerp, Belgium. Mothmeister remains anonymous because “[i]t is not about us, it’s about our art.” They take turns photographing each other modeling creepy costumes which are the subject of each piece. Dreams, nightmares, fears, and Grimm fairy tales are all cited as inspirations, which explains the frequent depiction of clowns, skeletons, humananimal hybrids, and unidentifiable monsters with distorted faces.
The one-of-a-kind costumes are constructed spontaneously. They confess to having a “hoarding talent” and assemble their antiques, flea market finds, and other items into wearable art. Mothmeister collaborates with and promotes lesser-known artists for masks and taxidermies. The masks contribute to their mysterious anonymity while keeping the art’s purpose focused. They insist that taxidermy is an art form, and particularly love working with amateur taxidermists because of their appreciation for imperfection. “We are fascinated by things out of the ordinary, things that don’t fit the standard concept of beauty. We are also mostly drawn to the darker side of things and to things that are a little off.” A work posted on November 6th, 2020 features a taxidermy lamb head attached to a human baby doll body.
Photos courtesy of Mothmeister
Mothmeister is also inspired by the 19th and 20th century practice of photographing deceased loved ones. As “post-mortem” implies, death is not the end but rather a new chapter. Taxidermies are a demonstration of this: the critters have passed away, but they have been modified, dressed up, and immortalized in art to serve a new purpose. A post from March 1st, 2021 depicts a jester avoiding eye contact and slumping his shoulders, carefully clutching a tiny dog who wears a matching red and white frilly collar. Is the fool nervous and grasping the puppy for emotional support, or does he present menacingly to ward off those who may try to harm his pet? “If you want your work as a storyteller to evoke an emotion, you have to put emotion in your work as well. That’s why we always try to create an emotional story between the character and the stuffed animal. We always look for that connection; if not, the animal becomes an object. We want our critters to reincarnate so they become alive again and actually play a role.” Death also ties into their use of religious imagery. On September 6th, 2020, they posted a nun with bulging eyes and a decaying face. A rosary can be seen dangling from her black religious habit. She holds up one of her hands delicately, exposing a red puncture like Jesus’s on her palm. Several other works depict horrifying goat horns jutting from animalistic heads that sit on top of human bodies, like Satan.
The photos are shot in locations around the world. “We’ve traveled to many unique places, but we definitely have a weak spot in our heart for Iceland... we love the remoteness, the unforgiving wild nature, the magical otherworldly landscapes, the volatile volcanoes, the vast glaciers, the brutal weather, and the dangers that come with it... we love these kinds of extremes, it makes you feel alive.” The tonesetting backgrounds are usually cloudy skies, barren fields, or foreboding bodies of water, completely devoid of other life. The solitude emits an eerie silence and forces the audience to focus on the characters. One of the only exceptions was posted on March 28, 2016. A pale man with a Pinocchio-like nose and Joker-like scars garbed in pilot gear stands in front of the remains of an airplane. The background of this piece helps create the context for its subject, but exactly how the two are related to each other remains open to the viewer’s interpretation. All pieces remain untitled to aid the viewer in creating their own story. The works are posted on their Facebook page Mothmeister Official, on their Instagram @mothmeister, and sold as prints on Etsy as mothmeister. They currently have two books compiling their work titled “Mothmeister: Weird and Wonderful PostMortem Fairy Tales” and “Dark & Dystopian Post-Mortem Fairy Tales.” Their works are to be put on display in the Modern Eden Art Gallery in San Francisco since winning third place in the 2020 Beautiful Bizarre art prize.
“We are fascinated by things out of the ordinary, things that don’t fit the standard concept of beauty. We are also mostly drawn to the darker side of things and to things that are a little off.”
VLADIMIR Z ADVENTURES I
A SABBATICA 8
Vladimir Zimakov is a Boston-based designer and illustrator. He has worked in the world's leading publishing houses such as Penguin and Random House and is currently the Associate Professor of Art and Design and the Director of the Wedman Gallery at Lasell University. He is pleased to divulge his recently completed sabbatical project with the Lasell community. Here he uncovers his experiment with typography, printmaking, and literary interpretation in which he produced prints, photographs, a book and a video.
ZIMAKOV’S S IN NONSENSE
CAL PROJECT 9
The original plan for my sabbatical project was to select several nonsense verses that have already been written and that are currently in the public domain. The goal was to interpret those verses through type, image, form, space and the overall presentation. The format of the final product was not determined at the time. It could have taken a form of a book, a series of posters, paper cutouts, paintings, gallery installations, sculptures, etc. or a combination of those things. I intentionally wanted to avoid settling on one uniform format, as well as following a traditional formula of an illustration project, that I am very familiar with. The really exciting part was to see where the experimentation would take me. It was this exploration that I was particularly looking forward to as I was getting into the initial stages of the sabbatical work. As a professional illustrator and designer, I have worked on numerous projects where the format was well determined prior to the start of the project (size of the illustrations, layout of the book, color pallet, etc.). The sabbatical would provide me with the freedom to experiment with various formats and find the most interesting and, sometimes, nonconventional approaches. With that in mind, I have started to conduct the initial research relating to nonsense literature and its visual interpretation. 10
The Process The research phase was filled with many discoveries and provided me with much material to choose from for visualization. In my studio, I started sketching, drawing, mocking things up, carving, sculpting and printing. Furthermore, since my goal was also to properly document the process, I started learning various video shooting/
editing techniques and applying them to capture the work in the studio as it happened. The fall of 2020 became a period of true artistic exploration with minimum interruption and complete creative freedom. As a result, my sabbatical work included a combination of things, that can be categorized in four separate parts/stages: 1. Lewis Carroll’s Haddocks’ Eyes Revision (resulting in a limited-edition book) 2. Haddocks’ Eyes Remix (resulting in a series of posters) 3. Random Things Just Happen (resulting in a series of standalone art prints, photographs and installation ideas) 4. Process Documentation (resulting in a number of process/instructional videos)
Lewis Carroll’s Haddocks’ Eyes Revision
During 2017, I was involved in creating a series of illustrations based on the nonsensical poem by Lewis Carroll called Haddocks’ Eyes. This was a self-initiated book project. I created and printed a series of several page spreads that I was showcasing at various book fairs and it has started to generate some interest. Because of the time constraints I was not able to realize this project to its full potential. Last fall, after further research into nonsensical literature and as I was thinking of what project to focus on, I decided to revisit my initial Haddocks’ Eyes illustrations and create an expanded limited-edition book based on the same text. At that point, there were many things that I wanted to update and recreate. The sabbatical leave provided me with the perfect opportunity to properly focus on what I always wanted to explore further with this project – the interaction of typography and imagery in a page layout. Furthermore, I wanted to get away from merely illustrating the text. So, I started to draft and mock-up the pages of the book in a new way, introducing my own, open interpretation of the text.
I have approached the process of creating this book as if I was staging a theater play. Each character had to be effectively presented and each scene from the poem had to be well orchestrated on a page. I broke the poem up into 15 scenes (or book spreads). The poem is written in a form of a conversation between two people – the narrator and the aged man that the narrator encounters. Each scene/spread focused either on the passage spoken by the narrator or by the aged man. The subject matter of the conversation, as well as the manner of speaking, had to be carefully taken into consideration in creating the images for various stages in the book.
Haddocks’ Eyes Remix
The Haddocks’ Eyes Book was created using a combination of relief printmaking techniques – linocuts and letterpress printing. As I was working on the book project, I was constantly experimenting with type and image layouts. For the book pages, it was very important that the text is legible, and the images are clearly presented. Aligning the two separate plates so that they print accurately was a big part of the printing process. However, in addition to the pages that would go into a book, I would always leave several pages for printing experimentations. This is where I would overprint and purposefully misalign the type and illustrations. So, a picture of an aged man from the beginning of the book might overlap with an image from the middle of the book and perhaps something else towards the end. I relied on pure accidents and unintentional juxtaposition.
Over time, I have accumulated a large pile of prints that used the original impressions, but that were misaligned. So, I allowed the press to create the designs. This was happening with the illustrations, as well as the type. Some of those results I was quite pleased with and some were not so successful. In a way, this became a parallel project that to me was as important as the creation of the actual book. After examining what was happening with the misaligned prints, I have decided to create a series of posters that took the imagery and typography from the Haddocks’ Eyes book but were laid out in a completely different way. These layouts were all about pure visual aesthetics and new ways in approaching the composition. Sometimes it became hard to make out what were the images referring to and, in many instances, the typography became illegible. The format of those posters was also very different from the book pages. Each poster is positioned vertically and size of each is 18 by 11 inches.
Random things just happen
In addition to working on the Haddocks’ Eyes book and the series of experimental prints, I was constantly sketching and writing down ideas for new series of drawings and prints. Since I was involved in working with absurd and nonsensical poetry, many of those sketches became further explorations of some of those themes. Sometimes, I would use a character from the Haddocks’ Eyes book and place it in a new setting/ narrative; sometimes the ideas were based on a poem that I came upon and, often times, the
sketches were based on random occurrences that took place throughout the day. Once a sketch was completed, I would pin it up to the “idea/sketch” wall in my studio and after some time I had a wall filled with dozens of different ideas that were ready to be taken to the next stage.
Part 4 Process documentation From the very beginning, my intention was to document the development of the projects, so that I could share the successes and failures along the way with my students, fellow colleagues and the broader Lasell community. I was always taking pictures of my work in progress, but the video shooting/editing was pretty new to me and that’s what I really wanted to master. During the fall months, I have taken several online courses on video editing and started to document certain things that I was doing using camera recordings. The raw footage was edited in iMovie and other video editing software. At the end of my sabbatical 14
semester, I was able to create 5 short videos that clearly demonstrate the book creation process – from initial sketches to printing the type and images. Those videos became a part of my sabbatical work presentation at the Graphic Design League Speaker Series event and something that I am now able to showcase in my classes, as well as on my art process blog.
Final Thoughts The artistic ideas that were conceived during the sabbatical semester have provided me with the material to work on for years to come. The uninterrupted studio time allowed me to experiment and approach things in completely different and new ways, something that I feel has made me a better artist, educator and printmaker. I am looking forward to sharing the work with a wider audience at the International Book Fairs and exhibitions that are planned for 2022. Following the sabbatical semester, I have also approached my teaching practices in a fresh, new way. Most of my lectures and assignments in
Graphic Design and Typography courses were revisited and updated to include some of the new findings and research. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Lasell University, the Provost, the Professional Development Committee and my colleagues for providing me with this opportunity and their continuing support.
Haylee Skoog More of Vladimir’s work can be seen at www.vladimirzimakov.com, as well as on his process blog – www.wildpangolinpress.com
Photos Courtesy of Vladimir Zimakov
Hear Me Out: TikTok for Artists By Emily Manzi
Most artists would not even come close to thinking about presenting themselves on a platform like TikTok. I will be showing you that no matter if you are an artist, designer, musician, poetry enthusiast, whatever your niche is, you can take TikTok and transform it to a place where you have a platform to showcase your work. You may even be able to get lucky and get some cool sponsorships along the way! TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform of 2021, however some people have no idea how to even begin starting their account. I have done all of the work for you! Over the course of the next couple pages, I will be sharing with you my research on TikTok, why TikTok is good for artists, and what to keep in mind while posting. I will also be sharing some details into how I felt before posting my portfolio to TikTok because trust me, it is very nerve racking to put your work out in such a public way. I will show you my experience and how I went through the struggles that anyone would likely go through when creating a TikTok account. I will also include the challenges I created and some of the designs I felt I liked best from my account. Feel free to join me once you create your account and post some of your designs that you produce using the design challenge log I created on the next page. After that I talk about how this is where I express what I learned from this experience and how it affected my audience. Overall I am hoping to show you how anyone can use TikTok successfully to capture a modern audience’s attention.
What is TikTok? The newest and fastest growing social media platform previously known as Musical.ly rebranded itself into TikTok. Now known as one of the most popular social media platforms as we get more into 2021, you may be wondering what makes TikTok so special? Are those dances really just that catchy? The main difference marketing teams notice about TikTok is the ability the app has to make the users feel as though they are watching a TV show. Hashtags provide an audience the chance to follow the progression of some posts the same way people would wait for new episodes to be uploaded for their favorite TV show. TikTok also provides audiences an insight into the culture behind the company. Analysts say that brands can use the hashtag as a way to hook users in and leave them wanting more from the company to keep them coming back. The key to a successful TikTok page is to have an authentic, real and effortlessly entertaining content creator. People like having a backstage look at how the company or brand works. This works because it gives audiences something they can relate to, if you create content that no one can really understand it won’t capture the attention of the people you want it to attract.
Follow my Page @madebymanzidesigns to follow my Graphic Design journey on this new platform.
Creators to Watch! The Mage Cat @themagecat 52.3K followers 22.6% engagement
Most Used Hashtags: #boo #ghostmode #halloween #redbulldanceyourstyle
Bio: “Graphic Designer, artist, and cat lady, I'm a resin witch”
Tyler Is So Epic @tylerissoepic 3.1K followers 15.4% engagement
Most Used Hashtags: #rappers #micellarrewind #meleaving #tiktokfood
Bio: “Graphic Designer Wallpapers On My Instagram: @tylerissoepic Comment Requests!”
Why Should You Join TikTok? TikTok is good for artists to go on because especially now that communication and networking has been kind of at a standstill, it is hard to get your name out there into the world. With TikTok, internet popularity has taken over, people are able to grow their audience with just one video. All it takes is that one video to go viral and then many more people know your brand/ your name. TikTok is also a place to showcase a behind the scenes look into how you create your artwork. This is a very popular trend on TikTok because authenticity is the most important. You need to be able to focus on making the things that you personally like. Focus on the content you are creating, not on how many views this post got or how many likes it got. TikTok is good for any type of niche artist because the TikTok algorithm only puts things on people’s feeds if it is something that it feels they would enjoy. Therefore if you like knitting videos, you will only see knitting videos. It is perfect to be able to attract the type of audience you want for your brand, and it is also interesting to see what type of audience is attracted to your unique artistic style.
What is the TikTok Algorithm? The algorithm refers to the way content is presented to users on their individualized For You Pages. The For You page gives users videos that the algorithm feels like they would enjoy and interact with. The algorithm gathers this information by remembering what content the user typically interacts with and decides what type of content should be presented. Capturing your audience’s attention from beginning to end is key to getting your content onto the For You page. Gaining visibility on the platform is challenging, users are able to customize their For You pages by choosing categories that they personally like the most. Creating short videos, engaging content, attractive video titles, using the right hashtags and making sure to join the trends will increase your chances of getting on the For You Page.
How did I feel prior to posting on TikTok? I have been logging my experience throughout this time. It was very hard for me to initially start posting because I was so scared about putting my work out on SUCH a public and viral platform. When I first started this experience I had the goal in mind to “go viral” however I have realized that with that mindset my profile would most likely fail. Authenticity is the way to success with the audience on TikTok. It is important to keep in mind that, yes you may want to go viral, but that there are other ways of measuring success other than the viral nature of your account. Being able to create a following that supports your content should be one of the main goals to keep in mind when starting to create your account.
After the first time you hit post, what do you do? Trust me, I know it is an extremely scary experience posting on any type of social media platform. It took me a while to get up enough courage to finally hit post on my first video. What you have to keep in mind is that you are doing this for you. This should be something fun and something to not think too much about. After the first time I hit post, I posted three videos in one night. In order to make sure the algorithm sees you as a creator to put onto people’s For You pages you have to have an active account. In my experience I went through the graphic design hashtag and followed some creators. Make sure to take the time to look through the hashtags that relate to your niche. You will be able to get a sense of what other people are posting in your similar field.
Questions to Consider Do you want to grow your audience and showcase your work to a modern audience? Do you know how to grab an audiences attention from beginning to end of a 30 second (max) video? Do you have a message to share about your work or your brand that you want people to know about? Do you know what type of audience is attracted to your work?
An app for a farmers market
Doggy Daycare Brand
Deck of Cards
Holiday card design
Redesign a logo you have already created with the golden ratio
Map an interface for a mall or zoo
Family owned theater company
When you first start out you will want to film all of your content at once.
Post on Tik Tok at least 3 times a day during the week to grow your following.
Top Tips When Beginning Your TikTok Journey
Make sure to follow other creators similar to you and interact with their content.
Be authentic! You want to show your followers your personality while showing your talent.
Follow whats trending to stay up to date with trends. 21
Art or vandalism? art When an artist creates a masterpiece, usually they want the world to see it. Sure, they can post pictures of it on Instagram and Facebook, and show their friends or family, but how do they get the world to see it? Imagine if you could put your work on a billboard above a highway that thousands of people drive past, or on the side of a train that drives through the city every day. This is what many artists choose to do, however this can come with costly repercussions. Many people may argue whether graffiti can be considered art, or vandalism, but this is a type of artwork that can arguably be both simultaneously.
colors, people were “tagging.” Tagging is writing your name, or your “street name” repetitively in different strategic spots. This strategy was often used by gangs to mark territory or induce fear and intimidation within a neighborhood. Although graffiti began as more of a type of vandalism and property damage it has evolved in many ways.
Over the decades since it’s birth in the late 1960’s, graffiti has developed and changed in multiple ways. In a PBS article titled “‘The History of American Graffiti:’ From Subway Car to Gallery,” GRAFFITIS “the increasing popularity of ORIGIN graffiti as an art The origin form has won of graffiti can commercial be dated back success for its to the late artists and a 1960’s when regular presence hip-hop started in pop culture and to develop the contemporary as a new and art world.” rebellious Although this musical genre, controversial art deriving movement derived from black The Quincy quarries, located in Quincy MA. are known for from the streets and Latino the vast amount of graffiti covering almost every inch of this of New York City, neighborhoods of rocky landscape. it is a media than New York City. Subway cars and trains were the can now be spotted in streets across the globe. first “canvases” that this new art form was being It’s something you can find in every country, displayed on, as thousands of people commuted state, and even town. It not only has evolved on every hour of every day. At this point in time, in the way of international spreading, but graffiti arguably fit better as a type of vandalism also in its appearance, style, and motivation. rather than an art form. These subway cars When walking through alleys of cement and and trains were covered from floor to ceiling in brick buildings, you may certainly spot some spray paint. Rather than ornate lettering and
tagging, but you may see something much more captivating and vibrant. The style of calligraphy and letterforms have evolved into something that most would picture when hearing the word “graffiti,” and would much better fit into the classification of an art form. Some of these more colorful and larger styles consist of throw-up, (usually two or more colors forming a bubble letter style) blockbuster, usually massive pieces using big blocky letters) and a personal favorite, wildstyle, (a much more intricate style than the others, using lots of colors and linear features like lines and arrows). These beautiful styles are much easier to appreciate than tagging is, as there is clearly much more work and thought being put into them, however most of this street art can still be considered as vandalism.
The intricacy of the lines and shape of this piece make it a great example of “wild-style.”
About Kenny Ken Malinowski of Chicago Illinois is a graffiti artist who first started in tagging as an eighth-grader in 1993. Inspired by a few of his older brothers and friends, he decided to go along with them and try it out for himself. “It got very addictive! The adrenaline rush at the time is what drove me.” After a few years of experimenting, Ken stated that it wasn’t until 1996 hat he found all of his work was graffiti related.
Photos courtesy of Kenny Malinowski
It got very addictive very quickly!” The adrenaline rush at the time is what drove me.”
This colorful piece could fit into many categories including “blockbuster” due to its massive size, or even wild-style considering its vibrant colors.
This is an example of a “throw-up. piece. It is not very vibrant or colorful, but notice the big blocky letter forms. 23
Ken Malinowski’s work was often done on the building sides and walls of Chicago. His work is vibrant and consists of intricate letterforms and lines. He describes it as a streetsmacker style.
“Some guys were so talented they took it to another level. I was just putting my name and crew wherever i could”” “I painted more of the ‘street-smacker style, meaning I would always spray on a building, wall, etc... anything that was street level.” Ken liked tagging street level surfaces around the city because “it was in the open and everyone could see it walking or driving by. Rooftops, train tunnels, billboards, train cars, honestly any spot that looked like a good one I painted it!” When asked about whether he though graffiti was either a form of art or vandalism, he seemed to believe it is both. “Graffiti is definitely a form of art. I never personally considered it an art form for me, as I strictly went with the vandalism version. Some guys were so talented they took it to another level. I was just vandalizing and putting my name and crew name up wherever I could.” Kenny does not do nearly as much work as he used to as an eighth grader. He does not do illegal graffiti anymore as he has a family
and job as priorities, however he still does permission walls here and there. “I definitely miss it!”
Consequences Vandalism seems to certainly be a motive for some artists, just as Ken said it can be a huge adrenaline rush. Although it may be fun and addictive, it can have serious consequences. According to the New York City government, “Graffiti vandalism is a crime punishable by a jail term, monetary fine and/or community service. Any person caught defacing property without the expressed permission of the owner will be arrested. Once considered a small problem caused by a handful of teenagers, graffiti has erupted into a nationwide epidemic costing billions of dollars each year. Statistics reveal that graffiti is not just committed by juveniles; adults have also been apprehended. Graffiti has also been related to drug and gang violence as well as the occult.” The consequences can be seen as follows: Criminal Mischief: depends on the dollar value of the property damaged. Fourth Degree: Class A misdemeanor. Third Degree: Class E felony. Damaging property valued at more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00). Second Degree: Class D felony. Damaging property valued at more than fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500.00). (COMBATING GRAFFITI - New York City. www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/ pdf/anti_graffiti/Combating_Graffiti.pdf.) Although punishment for being caught in the act of vandalized in the form of tagging or graffiti can be very severe, that may just be what drives individuals to commit the act with the obvious hope of never being caught.
LEGAL STREET ART Although much of the graffiti you see on the street was put there illegally and without permission, there are plenty of pieces out there that are not illegal. Many murals and other pieces are commissioned or were done with previous permission from the property owner. Murals are typically massive pieces of artwork painted on walls or the sides of buildings. Many artists such as Banksy, Shephard Fairey and Keith Haring, are
“Public art is art that people interact with in their daily lives. It disrupts the normal things you see.” known for some of their street work and murals. Shephard Fairey is an American illustrator, street artist, graphic designer, etc. Although his earlier work has not always been legal or commissioned, that is what made him into such an iconic artist today. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Fairey stated that “Public art is art that people interact with in their daily lives. It disrupts the normal things you see — government signage, commercial signage. Everyone claims to value freedom of speech and expression, but in most public spaces there’s no social commentary, or
even art as a visual alternative that’s meant to celebrate the human spirit.” His work can be seen across the country; however, his main spot has been Providence given this is where he grew up, and attended school at The Rhode Island School of Design, (RISD). The different forms of graffiti vary from their style, color, motive, and legality. Whether legal or not, graffiti can most definitely be considered as an art form, and a beautiful one at that. Like Fairey states, it gives us a break from corporate signage that is so repetitive and has become boring to the eye and lets us experience unique colors and lines. The vandalism side of this controversial art form is what makes it so exciting and adrenaline inducing. Of course, property damage is an unfortunate thing, but it is strange to think that such beautiful and detailed artwork can be considered such a consequential crime. (Daley, Lauren. “Milestone Mural Brings Shepard Fairey Back to Providence - The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, The Boston Globe, 18 Oct. 2019, www.bostonglobe. com/lifestyle/2019/10/18/milestone-muralbrings-shepard-fairey-back-providence/ ifE7u5Ai7i2YpaZOOnhc7N/story.html). This media continues to grow and develop in new ways. It will always be enjoyable to look at by those who can appreciate the work.
This is only a very small portion of the beautiful graffiti covered, rocky landscape of the Quincy quarries. The quarries is a great spot to go for hiking, site-seeing, picnicking, and even rock-climbing. 27
All Inked Up
Tattooing has become more popular these days almost everyone you see has a tattoo or knows someone with a tattoo and not many people really understand what goes into it or the art and technical ability that it takes to do this type of art.
How long have you been tattooing for? I have been tattooing since January 2017, and I’d say tattooing “well” since 2018.
What did you do for art growing up? Was that your main focus or was it something you did on the side? Growing up I really only doodled here and there. At times I would draw graffiti in a sketch book but never took the leap of putting it on walls with a spray can - mostly because I was too young and couldn’t afford spray paint cans. Growing up my sister was the artistic one and I was good at music. I didn’t learn to actually draw until after one year of tattooing, when my coworker told me that if I wanted to learn realistic black and grey tattooing, I needed to learn how to draw with graphite pencils. And then I started graphite pencil drawing every night for a year straight. I would leave the shop around 8 or 9 p.m. sometimes even later and draw until I couldn’t see and had to sleep. It was a very intense process but I was determined to learn realism black and grey tattooing even if it was on my own.
Did you always want to be a tattoo artist? Becoming a tattoo artist always seemed like some sort of unreachable dream. I would actually dream of tattooing and think about ways of getting my way into the industry. I always liked tattoos since I was about 5 years old. I remember my mom got a tattoo of “the Brain” from the cartoon Pinky and the Brain, with my sister’s name and my name in it and was so intrigued by it. After that I always thought of cool ideas for tattoos. I ended up getting my first one at 15 and my mom convinced the tattoo artist that she consented and I was ready. It cost $65 at the time and the design was of a tribal star on my shoulder that I found on google and would redraw in my notebooks at school. Thinking back on it, I loved tattoos but did not believe in myself enough to think that it was possible to become one. So to answer this question, yes, I did always want to be a tattoo artist, I just didn’t know if it was possible.
What got you into tattooing? I was in my last year of my undergraduate program at ECSU and had a hard time finding a job in my field (mass communications) and my tattoo artist offered me an opportunity for an apprenticeship. I was hesitant for a few months but the closer I got to my graduation date with no job the more it became apparent that this would be the best route for me. So I began apprenticing in January 2017 and finished my 2000 hours that August.
Do you have artists who inspire you? Surprisingly, the majority of artists who inspire me are not tattoo artists. My favorite artist is Shepard Fairey, who was originally a graffiti artist and designed the “HOPE” poster for the Obama campaign and also designed for Obey Clothing. My second favorite is Keith Haring, I’ve always been drawn to bold lines and bright colors and his art completely emulates that in the simplest way. The one tattoo artist that inspires me is Nikko Hurtado, he is one of the main pioneers of tattooing in the social media age. He not only tattoos, but he is also an amazing oil painter, special guest judge on Ink Master and has tattooed celebrities such as Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Kat Von D and Lonzo Ball.
Is there a specific style of tattoo that you like to do? At this specific moment, I am trying to perfect my realistic black and grey tattoo style. I can do almost all style tattoos except for cover ups, Polynesian tribal and wrap around arm bands. Those surprisingly are really hard for as simple as they look on skin. 29
Do you think any or all of your tattoos should be meaningful? No. Tattoos are meant for whoever wears them. People will always judge no matter what. If you like a design just because, get it (unless it’s racist/ offensive). Life is too short for regrets and we only get one. Might as well enjoy your skin while you have it and not worry about what people say or think.
Why is tattooing important to you outside of a job seeing as you have some yourself? Tattooing to me is a meditative act. It puts me in a place where I don’t have to think of the everyday things or be conscious of the outside world. It is a block of time where I put my passion into a piece that someone gets to wear for the rest of their life. I’m constantly creating art, and for lack of better words, makes me feel like I have purpose. It makes me push myself to the next level, trying to always have smooth lines, gradient shades and copying exactly what I have designed to perfection. Perfection is unattainable but working towards it is always the goal.
Do you feel as though you would be judged in a negative sense if you were to work a typical 9-5 office job type? I’ve worked a 9-5 office job and it’s boring and has a lot of rules. With my tattoos the answer is yes. Without them no.
As an artist, how do you feel the most support by your clients? Friends? In this day and age social media promotion is the most effective way. Word of mouth also works but social media gets more attention and has more reach as well. Even if it’s bad attention it still draws people to your work.
Why do you think there is a stigma around tattoos? I saw a documentary on this before and it’s because when Europeans came to America, they wanted to confuse Native Americans into thinking that their tribal markings were satanic (they were actually informative to other tribes). In reality, the tribal markings told which tribe each Native American belonged to in case they got lost or needed help. Once Europeans convinced them they were satanic they stopped marking themselves. Europeans were then able to slaughter Native Americans without other tribes knowing who was from where causing them to not be able to warn other tribes. It basically comes down to Europeans wanting to overtake everything and lying and deceiving their way into it. After that it was only meant for criminals, gangsters and freak shows. Until that stigma was finally broken in the late 2000’s by soccer moms and politicians who started getting even small ones.
What are your feelings behind giving the tattoos in general? First tattoos? Anything you will refuse to do? I don’t tattoo faces unless the person already has a face tattoo. I also will not tattoo the tops of hands unless the person is over 21. Genitalia on anyone is completely off the table. Anything in support of racism, “blue lives” related or hate in general is also something I won’t tattoo. Everything else is fair game as long as the client can handle it.
Do you have a tattoo that you like the most and why? Yes, I have a realistic black and grey, rose and skull on the top of my hand that a good friend did for me in 2017 and it is my favorite because it’s a classic design and style. Most likely you know someone with a rose or skull tattoo, and it is also likely you know someone with a black and grey tattoo. This concept is a staple in the tattoo industry and goes back to one of the first ever “personal” tattoos. This doesn’t mean you’re in a gang or a criminal, but it could, it could also just be something you think is cool. And that’s what I like about it, it’s a classic design that you can change into so many styles and versions of and each version of it is personal and means something different to anyone who wears it.
Can you explain what you are doing when giving a tattoo? How do you work the ink into the skin? Tattooing is like riding a bike. You can’t explain it, you have to try it but I will do my best to explain. For lining, I dip my single needle into the ink and angle the needle to penetrate the first couple layers of skin. Then I will drag the needle in the direction it needs to go over the stencil until ink runs out. I piece all the lines together until there’s one smooth connecting line. For shading, I use a needle called a “curved magnum” (mag for short). This is in the shape of a highlighter. For this, I dip the mag into the ink and then I brush right over the skin until I get the shade that’s appropriate for the specific part of the tattoo. Shading with a mag is one of the most satisfying parts of tattooing especially when your shades match the design reference perfectly.
How has the pandemic affected you and your art? At first I thought the pandemic would give me time to work on my personal graphite pencil drawings. I did one throughout the four month lock-down. I realized that taking a break from tattooing was what I needed. When I got back into tattooing I was a lot better and did it more calmly. I used to always be in a rush to set up and sanitize and would over analyze the preparation to the point where I couldn’t focus on the tattoo. The lock-down made me realize that I had time to effectively sanitize and prepare but keep my mind clear while tattooing. Financially, it was hard during lock-down but ever since reopening I haven’t worried as much about money because I enjoy tattooing more.
How do you set up for a tattoo? I usually get the design together for a tattoo 2 weeks prior to the date that the appointment is scheduled for and fix any errors or redesign it everyday until the day of. Then on the day of the design is ready. I will follow that by showing the client to make sure they like it and stencil it. Stenciling is one of the most important parts of the tattoo. I am very meticulous about stenciling. This is tracing the design onto carbon paper so I can have a blueprint of the design that I can then transfer onto skin. After that is done, I proceed to sanitize my station. Everything in my station is cleaned the night before or right before the tattoo process is even started with an industrial chemical agent that kills all communicable diseases and infectious bacteria. I then proceed to protective barriers on all furniture, materials, tattoo machines and supplies. Once all the sanitation and material preparation is done then I will sanitize the skin and apply the stencil. I then let the stencil dry for about ten minutes. While the stencil dries, I pour new ink and bring out my prepackaged disposable needles so that they are ready to be used. When all this is done then I can begin the tattoo.
What goes into designing a tattoo? All clients are very unique and have different requests. Some people want custom designs and some people want the same exact design they have seen on someone else. If someone requests a specific custom design from me I usually hand draw it through an iPad with Procreate which mimics pen and paper the best but saves paper and pen ink. But if they want really specific realism tattoos, I will ask for references and look for my own references to piece the design together. Technology has made it extremely easy to copy and paste from a photo library and allow tattoo artists to work faster.
How do you think this constant changing rules will change the way you can tattoo & your art overall? Meaning, with the guidelines changing, how is that going to change how you manage this job? I think that it’s beneficial. The mask mandate was a big change but was more helpful than it was detrimental. Also, the occupancy change was beneficial as well. In phase one, I was only allowed to do one appointment a day so I took advantage and made sure I put all my effort and time into it as opposed to before where I would rush because I would have another appointment right after or a walk in client waiting. More clients started recommending me to other people and my bookings went up. Before lock-down, I would only be booked out for about 2 weeks at a time and now I’m booked 2 months in advance. My anxiety has gone down with this pandemic even though the workload is heavier. I am guaranteed tattoos everyday and profit everyday as well. The hard part now is finding balance with family, social and work life.
How can someone who maybe does not want a tattoo or cannot commit yet, still support you and your business?
Photo Courtesy of Liza Boukhanty
Spread the word. It’s free and will most likely catch the attention of someone interested and looking for someone to do their tattoos. Tattoos aren’t for everyone and that is perfectly fine but showing support in anyway possible is completely free and nice. For example, my sister only has one small tattoo done by me years ago and does not see herself getting another ever again only because she doesn’t know what she would want next. But she is always telling anyone she bumps into (especially anyone with tattoos) about me. It has helped my business a lot.
Through the Eyes of Pandemic Photographers
There is no doubt that the worldwide virus COVID-19 affected everyone in some way. Many people’s careers drastically changed, whether they were laid off or working from home. Life began to feel empty and restricted, with no plans or places to go. Typical human interaction quickly turned into daily isolation. Traveling for work or vacation turned into traveling in our homes. People feared that real interaction and relationships were over. People thought they would never see or travel to their favorite locations again. Luckily, three photographers turned those worries around, proving our connections and traveling never stopped. In a time where inspiration and hope are needed the most, photographers Hans Gutknecht, Jon Miksis and Andrew Werner did exactly that. Each photographer shared their own personal experiences and difficulties during the pandemic. Most importantly, their photographs change the way we look at the world, making us appreciate it even more. Even though our world has seemed dull and lifeless, these photographers captured evidence that life is still beautiful, and we have come together more than ever before.
ans Gutknecht is a photojournalist and photographer for the Los Angeles Daily News. Covering many breaking news such as earthquakes, fires, floods, and crime scenes, Hans has seen it all. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there were a few adjustments to his daily work.
How has your career changed since the pandemic? My career hasn’t changed much since the pandemic started. What has changed is the way I cover my assignments. Social distancing has had a dramatic effect on the way I shoot most things. Before COVID-19 forced the country into lock-down, I would use a 20mm or 24mm lens as my primary lens for most assignments. I like to be close to my subjects and use wide angles most of the time. Once being too close became dangerous, I had to alter my style to accommodate social distancing, switching to 35mm and longer lenses for most events.
required before coronavirus. When I get home, I disrobe in the garage and head straight for the shower before any contact with my family. So many events that I used to shoot were canceled. Before that, my assignment load only increased slightly for most of the year, but as the MLB, NBA and NFL started playing again, things began to level out a bit.
Have there been moments that motivated or influenced you to keep going? There was no particular moment that motivated me to keep going. I have been a journalist for 30 years, covering many happy and sad events. Shooting and writing stories is my job, and I take pride in my work. I remember times while covering the summer protests when I thought that I didn’t want to go into crowds, but I knew it was essential to document the events. I covered a story on homeless people being evicted from a hotel that had been set up to house them. After talking with
Do you find your schedule busier than before? How come? My schedule has always been busy, so I can’t say the virus made me busier than usual. What it did add is another level of work. I clean my gear daily, including my laptop and vehicle. I make sure I have all the PPE that I might need for the day’s events, along with hand sanitizer and other essentials not
a man for several minutes, he told me that he was positive for COVID-19. I had to isolate for 10 days before testing negative for the virus. After I was cleared to go back to work, there was a lingering sense of apprehension about being exposed again, but I continued to cover the pandemic.
What is one important advice you would give to someone who wants to pursue photojournalism? Photojournalism changed so much since I started my career. There were many more opportunities for young photographers. Almost every community had a local newspaper, and there were more metro papers with huge staffs. So many of those outlets are gone or their staffs are a fraction of what they used to be. If someone truly wants to become a photojournalist, the best advice I can give is to be patient. Take any assignments you can get and work on self assigned projects that a publication may pick up. I would suggest having a backup plan in the works. When I first started out, I gave myself a deadline to move on to a bigger paper. I knew I could not survive or have a family on my salary, so I set a time limit on making it to a better photography job. If you want to do this job, be prepared to be disappointed many times before you have any kind of success.
on Miksis is a travel blogger, writer and photographer from Boston, Massachusetts. He has big dreams for traveling and making that his life. Starting his own travel blog called Global Viewpoint allowed Jon to share his many adventures, including traveling tips, photos, and videos. Through many trial and errors and doing jobs that weren’t in his best interest, Jon found what he loved to do.
Photo Courtesy of Hans Gutknecht
How has your career changed since the pandemic? I’ve had to pivot my travel blogging career in many ways. Leading up to COVID, my principal focus was on international travel - having visited over 40 countries and providing in-depth travel guides, itineraries, and inspiration covering many of them. (After all, my Instagram and blog name is Global Viewpoint). As soon as borders closed and it became clear that things would stay that way for a while, I began focusing more attention on local/domestic travel. One of my income streams comes from advertising on my travel blog, and 36
this saw a huge dip back in March/April of last year when Americans were no longer searching for my international articles. I made a calculated decision right away to start producing more New England content, road trip inspiration, and national park getaways. Thankfully, these efforts began to pay off by the summer, as I saw that travelers were infinitely more interested in nature getaways than city breaks. I began curating unique experiences around the US by creating Airbnb-themed articles - covering tree houses, cabins, tiny houses, you name it! I quickly found that unique stays tucked in nature were driving the travel industry right now. In other words, road trips and private vacation rentals are faring much better under these circumstances than traditional travel institutions like hotels, cruise ships, and airlines. On the social media side of things, I adjusted my content in order to stay relevant and keep my audience happy. First and foremost, I opted to make the difficult yet necessary decision to tone down traveling quite a bit and forget about my international travel plans. Unlike other travel influencers, who went to places where international traveling has been accessible throughout the pandemic, I stayed home for the most part and focused on domestic road trips. I showed my community that road trips are a generally safe and exciting way to travel during these times. It gave me the opportunity to take photos of places without crowds of tourists obstructing the view. In the summer, I did two-week road trips and local trips, some involved partnerships with local tourism boards. I witnessed their COVID safety protocols at hotels and outdoor dining venues and found them to be going above and beyond to keep travelers safe.
not been to encourage travel, but to show that it can be done safely for those who feel that the enriching experiences outweigh the risks. I found that staying in a secluded vacation rental tucked in nature is much less risky than staying in my congested apartment building in Cambridge. Additionally, my content saw a dramatic shift from culture/history-oriented trips to hiking/backpacking adventures. I’ve been focusing more on nature, hidden gems, and off-the-beaten-path experiences in the US. I’m glad I was forced to make this switch as I’ve been able to reconnect with nature!
Has travel influencing become more of a struggle to you? Influencing in the travel industry is definitely a delicate balance these days. On one hand, this is my career and I have to work hard at continuing to carve out my path in the industry. On the other hand, I need to be careful not to “promote” travel and be a team player. I decided early on that international trips were off the table, as I don’t think it’s fair or right to evade restrictions while most of my audience is stuck at home. Instead, I’ve focused on local nature getaways and road trips, which are conducive to social distancing. I want to provide my followers with helpful travel resources (should they choose to travel and find the benefits of enriching travel experiences outweigh the risks of doing so). For those who have chosen to stay at home and not travel, I want to still help them itch the travel bug and feed their wanderlust while they are at home. This approach to content creation has generally kept everyone happy - allowing me to show appropriate leadership and still grow as a travel creator.
My tone from the start of the pandemic has 37
Have you come across any difficulties that made you think about giving up? Believe it or not, the thought of giving up hasn’t once crossed my mind. Has the pandemic been a major challenge and nuisance for my business? Absolutely. But it would be unacceptable for me to give up on my lifelong passion and dream. There were times at the start of the pandemic when I would fall asleep fearful about the future of the world, but I’ve been able to channel that energy into steadfast resolve and find more creative ways of making money through my blog. Being in the travel industry during a pandemic is an incredible challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. I’m confident that I will come out of this much stronger and clearer in my vision than ever before. Life-altering experiences like these help you see the big picture with much more clarity. Once things return to “normal” again, traveling will have never felt so sweet.
What is your most memorable experience from the pandemic? My most memorable experience during the pandemic happened near the beginning. Back in early May, I decided to run into Boston one day to get photos of the city. It was shocking to see no commuters, no tourists, and no activity of any kind. Boston felt like a ghost town; something I’ve never witnessed in 27 years of living here. In a way it was sad to think that the bustling and vibrant city immersed in historical intrigue and maritime heritage going back centuries, could ever be so empty. However, it was very uplifting to see spring begin to take hold, as nature seemingly reclaimed its territory. Trees and flowers were sprouting, and overgrowth was clearly visible at the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Charles River Esplanade. Cars were few and far between on Storrow Drive and the Longfellow Bridge. It was truly a beautiful sight and one that I will (hopefully) never see again. But I’m glad I did.
Andrew Werner lifestyle content with models/influencers was halted. Photography is not only my passion and my art, it is my livelihood. The majority of my work is based on social components and that was no longer possible. Instead of giving up, I did what most New Yorkers do— I found another way. I shifted my perspective and turned this moment into an opportunity to venture out and document the strange, new world we were now living in. I adapted and used the seemingly uninhabited city as my muse.
What inspired you to do “Places Without Faces?”
s a New York photographer, photojournalist and lover of fashion, Andrew Werner photographs editorials, portraits, beauty and products. He fell in love with New York City and the tall buildings surrounding him. To Werner, everything about the city felt like magic. His recent project, Places Without Faces, with no crowds or people in sight, is something he never imagined of capturing.
How has your career changed since the pandemic?
I am very proud to be a New Yorker! Manhattan is not just another city—it is my home. The Big Apple has been a land of opportunity, a beacon of hope for millions all over the globe, all walks of life, no matter their dream. The people who come to New York City are taking their passion, ambition, and goals in their own hands and inspire me the most— we are in constant motion, and it’s our enthusiasm and vibrant energy that create the “hum” that is New York. Living in Manhattan, the experience itself, has always been one of my greatest teachers; among its most important lessons is flexibility and perseverance. The resilience of New Yorkers to endure and pursue their dreams has always moved
Last spring, not only did the world seem to come to an abrupt halt, so did my world. It was practically overnight that I had over two dozen projects and events cancel, leaving my full calendar blank. The busy days of shooting with a full production team in studios for fashion brands and clients followed by nightly outings to openings and red carpets were placed on an indefinite pause. Shooting with a crew or even 39
What was your traveling experience like with no people? Without crowded sidewalks and congested streets, traveling through the city was like being on a deserted movie set. It was all very surreal. Safety and health apprehensions were a top priority and traveling was done mostly through walking, in true New York fashion. Every outing I wore a mask and hand sanitizer became my best friend.
me and pushed me forward, especially now. When I shifted my concentration away from people to the city itself, a new narrative unfolded before me, using the emptiness and architecture to tell a new story about relationships, society, and the importance of the places in which we experience key life moments.
There was silence and stillness. I would walk the theater district at what normally would be 5 minutes to curtain, yet there were no lines of people rushing to get to their seats before the performance would begin. Strolling past a stillilluminated Carnegie Hall and not hearing music, or even the bustle of patrons departing the iconic venue discussing the latest performance left me feeling as unfulfilled as the pavement outside its entrance. And standing in Grand Central Station to feel the hollowness of the iconic landmark without its flood of travelers made me feel as if I was living in the twilight zone.
Photo Courtesy of Andrew Werner
Timing is key to photo-shoots and learning how to get to my location without public transportation was a process. I learned to pack light— which can be difficult as a photographer and a perfectionist! Getting to locations at the right time was crucial for capturing the moment: there was lots of waiting involved. Waiting for the sun to be in the right place at the right moment, clouds to pass, anticipating the exact lighting… and often, I was the only one there as far as the eye could see.
Did you come across any successes throughout the series? Looking back on the process of capturing Places Without Faces, the journey itself was a success and a challenge for me. It was a lot about self-discovery and the ability to mentally and emotionally explore a familiar world in a new reality; a city characterized by its people, redefined by their absence.
I spent a lot of time isolated— navigating empty city streets and capturing moments of solidarity, documenting this dreamlike and evocatively picturesque time in history. Prior to this experience, I was constantly working, running between various photo-shoots each week. My professional existence was based on social engagement. I was caught up in the “rush” as many New Yorkers had been. It wasn’t until human interaction was removed from the equation that I saw and understood just how important it was to our everyday lives. As someone who was always surrounded by people, this was a stark change. I have grown as an artist and a person with more resilience and love within myself and for the city I call home.
How Has COVID-19 Impacted Museums & Galleries?
As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues across the world, it has changed many aspects of everyone’s day-to-day lives. Society has become accustomed to social distancing, temperature scans, daily testing, and much more. While the process and rules are all very new and strange to us, we are trying our best to learn these new safety protocols. We’ve seen and experienced first-hand how COVID-19 has affected not only our lives, but the economy and businesses around us as well. With this in mind it brings into question, how have other industries been fairing? For those in the world of art, the experience of the pandemic has caused a lot of hardships as well as newfound appreciation. Time in quarantine has allowed artists to dedicate more time for creation, it provides a window for peace, joy, and wonder in a time of unease and panic. On the other hand, museums and galleries have been struggling with the hardships that COVID-19 has brought. Many facilities have been forced to shut down because of regulations, the worry of spreading the virus, or reduced business. Museums and galleries rely on foot traffic and tourism in order to keep up the industry, but with lock-downs, travel bans, and state-wide shutdowns it is difficult to keep afloat. Lasell University’s own Wedeman Gallery has had its challenges with COVID-19 restrictions, most recently producing Professor Stephen Fischer’s show. Fischer is the Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Lasell, and has been putting on his annual show “ART/Word” for the past forty years. It all began in 1981 as a way for him and his coworkers to stay connected over the years.
To him and other artists, this event is much more than a show, it is a reunion of friends and family where they are able to bond and collaborate over personal works of art. As the Pandemic began to unravel last year in March 2020, ART/Word had just hung their show. During the reception night, everyone began to hear the news of COVID-19 and the Wedeman Gallery had shut down shortly thereafter. One year later they were determined to put on their 40th show, though it may not be able to be done in person. Professor Vladimir Zimakov, the Director for the Wedeman Gallery at the Yamawaki Art & Cultural Center and Associate Professor of Art, and Fischer tried a number of platforms and ultimately decided on Kunstmatrix.com because of its reasonable cost and accessibility. Through Kunstmatrix, ART/Word was able to create a virtual 3-D gallery to display the exhibition pieces by the 20 visual artists. In this virtual exhibit, viewers are able to navigate their way through an online gallery and discover the many beautiful pieces. It can be tough not being able to come together as a group, Fischer says, “As these forty years have passed, we have shared the many passages of life, so not to share space and hugs with old friends has been difficult and a definite drawback”. Despite not being able to physically gather, the online interface did have some advantages. One benefit is that the show was able to be exhibited to a larger audience from locations near and far. The group also held a reception through Zoom, and through this platform, artists had the opportunity to discuss their pieces in depth. One 43
remains: when the world re-opens, will art museums and galleries remain as we know them? This is something that the Wedeman Gallery and many other establishments are still thinking Curating an online gallery takes just as much about, they are just as unsure as their audiences time as a real one. Fischer did have to learn about are. Online galleries have many benefits, but the 3-D interface, but as he learned the faster the process became. The communication between him should they be created alongside physical galleries? It certainly is great that people from all over can and the artists did not change, but it can take time view art conveniently from the comfort of home, between collecting the information that supports but there is also the concern of reduced footeach piece, communicating with contributors, and preparing the digital files to make them compatible traffic in the physical exhibit, which could affect the cost of gallery and museum maintenance. When with the 3D environment. Fischer says, “my back asked his thoughts about the possibility of more isn’t as sore as when I spent hours on a ladder online galleries, Fischer hanging artwork in said, “observing art is a gallery but sitting Observing art is often a very often a very sensual and hunching over experience. To be present a laptop for several sensual experience. To be in the same space with a weeks brings its own present in the same space with tangible piece of art can challenges.” be a different experience a tangible piece of art can be Social media is a than a virtual one. The very powerful and quiet ‘church-like’ quality a different experience than a valuable tool that of roaming a gallery or virtual one. The quiet ‘churchmuseums and galleries museum allows a focus can utilize to their and possibly a profound, like’ quality of roaming a benefit. ART/Word life-changing opportunity was able to promote gallery or museum allows a that may not be easily their show through experienced over focus and possibly a profound, the use of social media the internet.” platforms, Fischer life-changing opportunity that As for the future of also sees social media the Wedemen gallery, may not be easily experienced as a way for artists to Fischer and Zimakov network and promote over the internet. are considering offering their work, but there shows both online are also many other and physically in the ways to use this tool. gallery space. The gallery is currently considering Social media is not just for posting, museums two different options for their online interface, and galleries can gather information about their Kunstmatrix.com as used in ART/word, or target audience to define their demographic, find Mpembed.com. On the virtual provider MP/ out what is being said about their business, and understand the content the audience wants to see, embed, the Wedeman Gallery would be able to offer a 3D model of the actual space at Lasell and where they want to see it. They can also check University for viewers to navigate. This would out what other museums or galleries are doing to allow the gallery to be seen as it is, but can also keep up with the competition or gain inspiration for what to improve on. An important part of social allow a user to closely admire artwork and access more information about the artist, medium, and media is also engagement; museums and galleries can interact with followers by simply responding to the purpose/intent of the piece. COVID-19 has certainly transformed the way the posts or even creating content. A great way to keep world functions, but nevertheless, we are finding your following interested is through hashtags, a ways to carry on. Despite the challenges we may variety of institutions have been doing so through be facing, I am certain that museums and galleries challenges. An example of a challenge would be for followers to repost their re-creations of favorite will find a way to preserver whether it be online, pieces with a hashtag for reposting by the museum in-person, or both, just as ART/Word has. or gallery displaying them. last benefit was that video and sound files were utilized, which enhanced the experience of the pieces for viewers.
As we progress through the challenges that COVID-19 has sprung upon us, the question 44
“Stacey’s Grace”, 2021
“Dinner Grace”, 2021
“itty bitty Orbits — Dance Moves”, 2021
Relief Print Variable Edition / Ink and Paint
“Montauk Daisy”, 2020
“Grace & Beauty”, 2021
“Flying Squirrel Man”, 2020
Stephen V. Beckett
Laminated Paper Collage
“Power and Grace”, 2021
“Grace and the Tower of Ego”
“And Grace Will Bring Me Home”, 2021
Book Jacket & Mockup, 2021
Acrylic on Rives BFK
Watercolor, Acrylic, Drawing Ink,
Graphite with Digital Painting, Pencil and
“All It Took Was One Goodman”, 2021
“Padre Xantes Eats His Egg”, 2021
“ART/Word Banner”, 1982
Mixed Media Collage
Vector Art, Adobe Illustrator
“Three Graces”, 2021
“A Round of Grace”, 2021
“The Forest Keeper”, 2013/2021
Ink Drawing, Digital Text, Audio File
“The Four Elements of Grace”, 2021
Maritza Cantero Farrell
Watercolor, Mixed Media
Watercolor, Mixed Media
3D Ceramic Sculpture
“Honoring Grace, 2021
Oil Paint on Canvas Mounted on a Field of Digital Artwork Featuring Photo and Type Elements
Cyanotype, Sumi-e ink, Metal leaf, Silver Watercolor
“Amanda Gorman — She has Fire in her Soul and Grace in her Heart”, 2021
“Pawse for Grace”, 2021
Emmanuelle le Gal
Watercolors & Sharpie
App High-Fidelity Prototype
Interview with a Graphic Designer An
. . . Zack I grew up in the Bay Area and attended Emerson College for film production. Then in my final semester of college I interned at Mythical Entertainment and was hired there once I graduated and have been working there ever since.
Would you say that you have a specific art style? If so, what is it? I would say it’s tough to know if I have a specific art style. A lot of what I do revolves around brand parodies so I spend a lot of time studying other peoples art style and trying to replicate it. When it comes to a design that’s not replicating something else, I try to make it as fun as possible. Something that I’ve learned the longer I’ve been doing this is to simplify my designs. When I first started I would try to cram as much as I could in a single image thinking that made it better, but it would actually end up making it completely unreadable.
Did you grow up knowing that you always wanted to do something artistic? I had been into filmmaking for a long time and would shoot little movies and editing them in Final Cut and iMovie, but it wasn’t until high school that I realized that it could be a field that I actually work in.
How did you get into the field of Graphic Design? I don’t know if I can say that I ever had a specific interest in graphic design but rather an interest in post production as a whole and graphic design was definitely a part of that. When I was around 10 years old I had the opportunity to attend a tech camp for kids and the course that I signed up for was video production. I always loved movies but I think that is where I first started to get interested in the behind the scenes of it all. I really enjoyed creating a product from start to finish and showing it to people. Since I really enjoy every aspect of post production I try to take opportunities whenever they arise to learn something new and widen my tool set. Probably one of the reasons I was drawn to the industry was because it is a blend of technology and artistry.
Rezowalli What is it like to work for Mythical Entertainment? Mythical has been my first job out of college, so I can’t really compare it much to other experiences but it’s really an incredible place to work. There are so many people who work here who are remarkably talented and funny. We all want to make the most entertaining show possible. There aren’t many places you can work where you might just be walking around the office and you step outside to see a real life trebuchet being tested in the parking lot. It feels almost vaudevillian in a way.
Do you do more collaborative or solo work? Everything we do is collaborative, and I think that applies across the board when you’re working for a company. Even if there is a certain project that I am really excited for and want to take on, there is going to be a certain amount of collaboration involved. Sometimes I can spend so long working on a single image that it really helps to have a fresh set of eyes to take a look and let me know what works and what doesn’t. The constructive feedback almost always makes something better. A lot of the time the things I work on get printed or become a prop, so it’s really important that the art team and I are in communication about sizing, material, and how it will fit in with the rest of the set.
What is your typical workflow like? Or a typical day? A typical day at Mythical involves a lot of different things. Because we put out an episode every weekday we’re constantly in various stages of production on episodes, so communication between departments is key. So, throughout a typical day we’ll have meetings on episodes that require physical prints/graphics. I’ll talk with Matthew who’s the lead graphic designer at Mythical about various projects to make sure we’re all on the same page and on schedule. His suggestions always make the finished product better. Our workflow begins with producers reaching out to our team about a prop or concept for an episode that requires our input. We’ll usually meet about it with the producer and writer and any other department that might be involved and we can go over how we can accomplish the task and make it as good as possible. If I can use our series "Alternate Universe Snacks" as an example, we’ll be given the idea of a fake snack from an alternate universe that requires fake packaging to go with it. After the meeting with producers, writers and culinary, I’ll be sent the real world packaging so that I can examine it. It is important to get the sizing of everything correct, so that when our fake packaging is held up side by side with the original, it looks as authentic as possible. For the actual design I’ll use a mixture of Illustrator and Photoshop. Often I will create assets in one program and then bring it into another.
What is your favorite part of your job? There are a lot of really amazing parts of my job. One of my favorite parts is when an episode gets released and seeing how people react to it. The funny thing is sometimes the thing you really thought people were going to love ends up being completely different from what you were expecting. Another great part is the people I get to work with. Everyone is so funny, friendly, and talented that I feel like I’m being spoiled. As a side note it’s always really funny seeing people on the internet getting tricked into thinking that some of the fake things we make for GMM are real and can be bought at a store. First thing that comes to mind is the "Freezing Cold Cheetos" which I’ve seen get posted to various Facebook pages and twitter accounts. Reading all the comments from people who think it's real, is a good time.
What would you say is your favorite type of project to work on? At Mythical, I’ve been able to work on a lot more than just GMM so the kinds of projects I do can range a lot and that is something I really love about my job. One thing that I had a lot of fun working on was the design for the poster for Rhett and Link's VidCon performance in London. It was one of my first outside of GMM projects (I think) and after that the PSD was sent to an agency that took that design and applied it to various things like banners, VIP badges, even wrapping a bus that drove around London which was wild to see! Another really fun project was from this December when Rhett wanted to surprise his wife with a book of him dressed as Jason Momoa and Photoshopped to replace Momoa in various photos.
What is your favorite program to work in? And why? The two main programs that I work in are Photoshop, Illustrator, as well as After Effects. Each one of them really has their pros and cons and sometimes I find myself getting frustrated because one might have a feature that I really wish was included in the other one and vise versa. If something I’m working on doesn’t involve any photos then I will most likely use Illustrator, just so I can keep everything clean and scalable. Illustrator was something that I had to learn on the job at Mythical, before working here I hadn’t used it before. I think you could probably look at my first project and most recent project and see a big leap (hopefully).
Original photo of Jason Momoa
Zack's re-creation with Rhett as Jason Momoa
What advice would you give to an aspiring Graphic Designer?
These are the original photos of Jason Mamoa, that Rhett and Zack recreated on the left page.
Probably the best advice I can give someone who is looking to be a graphic artist is to always be learning. It can be comfortable only sticking to the things you know but the more you try and learn new styles, techniques, programs etc. the more versatile you can be, and being versatile is really important. For example, I’ve been learning Blender so that I can start incorporating more 3D into my artwork. For example, the April fools episode this year had a bit where they were promoting life-like fake face masks of themselves. I could have put a beard and glasses onto some preexisting rubber masks but I wanted to try my hand at doing them in 3D. So, one day I scanned Rhett and Link’s faces in a 3D face scanning app and used that geometry and textures in Blender. The result is pretty uncomfortable to look at and even though it might not be perfect I was able to learn a lot in the process. So, I guess long story short, you’re never truly done learning!
Photos Courtesy of Mythical Entertainment
FANTASYLAND BROUGHT TO LIFE
Kimberly Perez is an illustrative designer from California who owns her own business Spooksieboo. She grew up in Corona, California and currently resides in Riverside, California. Perez started doing art at a young age and continues to expand and perfect her skills. Growing up, Perez wanted to be a school teacher until she fully realized her passion for art. While in high school, she attended different art courses as well as some college level art courses at Art Instructions School. After high school Perez took some animation courses where she realized that her dream — to become an animator. Perez is still designing and developing her own characters in hope to one day achieve her dream of becoming an animator. Perez is heavily inspired by traditional Disney animated characters and films, specifically the animation and illustrative work of Tim Burton and Gris Grimly. The artistic styles of those two artists have played a big role in developing her unique
and signature artistic style, which is best described as cute, Halloween-like, and spooky. Perez likes to design with her heart and not to please others. As an artist, Perez has learned that drawing what she is interested in will attract loyal customers who enjoy the same things as her. Perez was initially inspired to start her own business after her friend recommended that she participate in the Riverside Art Walk roughly ten years ago. This was an exciting and new experience for Perez. She was able to bring some of her prints and tote bags to showcase. This event opened opportunities for her to be invited to future shows. Seeing multiple artists showcasing their work under one roof is what inspired her to create her own shows. She began her business Spooksieboo ten years ago and it has continued to grow and develop throughout the past ten years. Spooksieboo sells different forms of wearable art with unique designs. She creates products ranging from stickers, patches, and prints, to purses, pins, and most recently she has been able to add face masks to her product line. Spooksieboo started out as a one women business but has now expanded to include five staff members.
create for her customers. The fun and joy that her pop-ups bring to people that attend is what inspires and motivates her to keep creating and hosting them. Her job is to produce a theme and create a concept that inspires her and coincides with the current season. From there she will meet up with her team to discuss the idea she has come up with, along with the potential decoration ideas. Once the theme and decoration ideas have been finalized her and her team execute them. To promote the pop-up events, Perez designs digital posters that coincide with the theme for her social media platforms. Her pop-ups have recently grown to include food trucks and more vendors. Every pop-up is different in terms of size depending on the venue they decided to go with. That also determines how much merchandise they will end up
Perez reaches wider audiences by hosting local art pop-ups. She is currently producing two pop-ups every weekend at the Anaheim GardenWalk. Her favorite part about creating pop-up shops is the experience she gets to
taking with them. If the area is bigger and more populated, it allows them to bring more product and a wider variety of it. With all the merchandise Perez has, it can be very difficult trying to decide what to take to an event. However, this does allow her to mix things up so that every pop-up has a different style to it. Hosting pop-ups also allows her to work with amazing vendors, as well as meet new customers and interact with returning customers. The marketing aspect of her business is something that comes naturally to Perez. With her spontaneous personality, she is able to come up with different social media posts to showcase her works on the spot. A majority of her work is promoted through
her social media platforms. In doing this she is able to attract an audience that is interested in the same type of style as herself, as well as allowing her to reach a broader audience. Her social media platforms along with her pop-ups have been great sources of promotion for her work. Both promotional events allow her to interact with her customers and get inspiration for new designs. Due to the Corona-virus pandemic closing all in-person activities, Perez has been able to focus on expanding her online shop by offering more products. She recently added face masks to her product line that use the same design patterns and characters as her other products. This opportunity has allowed her to expand her product list while still keeping in touch with her unique branding. Perez currently uses Big Cartel for her online shop. It is a great platform for her to sell her merchandise and it’s easy for her to use. Since expanding her online store her sales have doubled and orders
are shipped everyday. This allowed her to move to a new office space, hire two new employees to fulfill orders, and become a full-time designer. She has recently added animation equipment to their office and is excited to create new work with it. Perez is constantly being inspired and creating new designs to add to her collection. While the pandemic has made several aspects of continuing her business hard, it has not affected Perez’s creativity. The growth of her business is something that continues to motivate her and keep her determined to create new designs in a timely fashion.
Photos courtesy of Christina Grim
Perez uses a combination of traditional and digital art techniques to create the artwork that we all see. Her go-to traditional techniques involve ink and watercolor. Paper will always be Perez’s preferred method of designing. However, to produce her digital work she uses the application softwares Procreate and Photoshop. When designing, it can take her anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours to create a new concept depending on the amount of detailing that goes into the design. Her current favorite product to create are the acrylic earrings. Since all her products require different manufacturing, labor, and shipping fees they can range anywhere from a 30% to 50% profit margin. This profit margin allows the products to remain affordable which helps her business grow.
such as Nightmare before Christmas and other Disney characters, because that is what she is passionate for. However, Perez wants to expand herself and put out more of her own original characters this upcoming year. While her characters are well known by most people she always adds her own twists and style to them. While the pandemic has temporarily prevented Perez from continuing her preferred pop-ups, it has enabled her to emphasize her online store which helped grow her business tremendously. She is hoping to, in time, increase her product line with a wider selection of product and design choices. She would love to eventually offer different apparel options for women such as dresses, cardigans, and swimsuits. Perez is excited to continue making connections within the spooky community and for some upcoming projects she has lined up!
For the past ten years, Perez has been making artwork that is inspired by her personal love for Disney and Tim Burton. She has promoted her classic character artwork,
makes things. Hannah Brown, a Boston-based poet and visual artist, creates artwork that reaches deep into the soul. Her artwork combines the use of poetry, acrylic paint, and illustration to create an experience for her viewers to feel connected and captivated when viewing her art. Brown started her fascination with art at a young age, always doodling in her notebooks when she shouldn’t be during class, always aspiring to create and learn something new. She started as a visual artist and this continues to be her go to, as she sees herself as an artist and illustrator first, and a poet second. Brown’s passion for art and poetry bloomed as a way to express and channel her emotions and to reflect on what she sees in the world. Brown mentions that some things don’t change, demonstrated in her continued habit of writing down her thoughts and emotions as they come, so they can be later transformed into comprehensible masterpieces.
emotions in a free-form way, but Brown also feels as if she needs to create artwork, almost like she won’t survive without it. Brown explains that a dear friend of hers referenced a favorite music artist, who described singing as, “it hurts not to.” Since hearing this quote, Brown resonated with this feeling because creating art has helped her though some painful times, and as she says it’s “how I survived.” Brown hopes that her artwork can help others “feel a little bit held, and a little permission to let something move through them that they’ve been meaning to.”
Brown goes on further to reference several artists and poets who have helped and influenced her the way she hopes her art helps others. Artists such as Frida Kahlo, Joni Mitchell, and Jean-Michael Basquiat have influenced and inspired Brown’s work saying that she “felt held” when she looked at their work. She notes that even though all of these artists have Brown combines her illustrations with poetry different art styles from each other, and are so different from her artwork as well, Brown looks to express thoughts, feelings, emotions, and up to them because they are “all very powerful sometimes even confusion. Brown uses poetry as a mechanism to vent and better understand and important.” Some poets who have also her thoughts, “Honestly when I write a lot of the helped her through her emotions and have influenced how she writes are Ada Limon, Mary time I kind of write like I paint. I have journals Oliver, Mick Jenkins, and Marvin Gaye. where I draw and write and throw everything out. Sometimes pieces come out of that. But All of the artists Brown looks up to are very when I write or incorporate writing in pieces, unique. She reflects on this in her own art it all kind of comes back to images that pass by making each piece distinctive while also through for me.” Not only does she create connected to each other through self expression artwork and poetry to express and channel her and fluid thoughts and beliefs. That fluidity
"It’s how I survived.” 62
is key to her process. Her first step is to portray her subjects as she sees them. Then she feels the emotion attached to it, which sometimes brings her to tears. Next she writes about it, and then finally combines her words and feelings into her illustrations. Brown’s raw and honest self-expression helps her channel her emotions and she hopes that it also inspires others to do so too through their own passions. By being devoted to creating an honest experience with her work, Brown often focuses on realistic portraits of people who inspire or “move” her. Brown’s attention to detail in creating an honest experience for her viewers results in her using an illustration technique called pointillism, or stippling. Stippling is marking rows of tiny dots, oftentimes with ink to add depth and value, to create dimension and expression in her work.
To the right is one of her most recent pieces she displays stippling in, a portrait of RZA, one of Brown’s favorite rappers. In this piece, she pays attention to facial structure for an honest and realistic outcome, but also shows an appreciation of finer details that make us who we are, details like freckles and facial hairs that make us individual and unique. Brown’s subject matter in her artwork often stems from her fascination with the human body, and the complexity of how it works, “I think of how there’s this bundle of cells making up my body, that cycles every 7 years, and it’s unique because they’re these particular cells that came together in this combination, with these freckles and these hair patterns and all that, but then there’s all the other bodies, all these bundles of cells and organs walking around breathing and pumping blood
and touching doorknobs and gathering stories.” Some recurring subjects are eyes, lips, hair, and hands as well as parts of nature such as animals, leaves, trees and flowers. Brown does not fully understand how the body works so she recreates the feeling of curiosity by allowing her mind to run free of thoughts, words, and emotions, how she sees the world in her eyes. Even though her free-flowing way of thinking and creating may differ from other artists’ more structural approach, Brown enjoys “making things”, as her Instagram handle suggests, staying honest and reflective to her audience as portrayed
in her work. Brown often even purposely creates puzzling work to try to get the audience to “stop and stare” and spend more time analyzing her work and resonate with the feeling of trying to put their finger on something. Brown’s honest self-reflection in her work creates a captivating, puzzling, and comforting experience for not only her viewers, but also for herself. Brown strives to have other artists believe that it is okay if they are unsure of what they want to create; what is most important is that they follow their thoughts, emotions, and feelings as they make things.
Illustrations courtesy of Hannah Brown
Stinkin’ Lincoln Rain… in my mind, the sunshine faded. The long, tan car splashed in a puddle as it made its way up the driveway. The father went inside to announce to his wife he’s home, and so is the new, but old, Lincoln. Outside, his kids walked on the curb, following the leaves they placed in the streaming rainwater, watching them drift down into the sewer. The car cost $1,200 and it showed. The doors needed to be slammed shut in order to fully close. All year long the father dropped his youngest daughter off for soccer on Sunday, art on Monday, orchestra on Wednesday, and chorus on Thursday. With small hands, she would slap the door and walk away, leaving it ajar. The windows refused to roll up and down. The family gathered into the stuffy car. “Pile into the Stinkin’ Lincoln” The mother would say. The name stuck. Caught in a bad storm, the father said, “The Lincoln will get you home.” And it did. During a blizzard, the delicate hood ornament was flicked off and never seen again. Shortly after, the radio broke; the family talked to each other instead. Unexpectedly, the engine would turn on and off, making an odd rumbling noise. A brand new, white, four-door Jeep is praised just for showing up in the driveway. The kids celebrated the assumed end to The Stinkin’ Lincoln. The next day, they sat silently in the familiar back seat, surrounded by extra people that wouldn’t have fit in the Jeep. Dad was right. Nothing needs to be fancy when simple gets the job done. Getting there is all that matters, even if you’re in the Stinkin’ Lincoln.
Illustration by Lacey Bocanegra
Unity “IF YOU DON’T COME OUT RIGHT NOW, I WILL NEVER BRING YOU TO ANOTHER CONCERT EVER AGAIN,” read the text from my brother that popped up on my lock screen. Little did I know, he wasn’t bluffing. Yet, I didn’t care. I finally directed my gaze to the sea of ecstatic faces and swaying hands behind me, apart from the glum face of my brother sticking out like a sore thumb. With the secondhand high from the vape pens’ thick white smoke kicking in and everyone singing in unison to “Devastated” by Joey Badass blaring into the night sky, I was on Cloud 9. Not even my miserable middle-aged brother could ruin the night. I finally found my people. Concerts were my getaway from the disaster I called my everyday life. The school day before the night of a show would be the hardest test of my patience, longing to escape this microcosm of society called school. That place was a melting pot of 68
personas where no matter how hard I tried, I could not connect with. On the other hand, concerts are a cacophony of bright unique personalities that I was always eager to meet. From the random cute stranger that let me lean on his shoulder when I got tired in between sets (which I’d never see again) to the super drunk couple that threw up causing the pit to disperse like dish soap in pepper water, made me feel like I belonged. However, the one thing that’s most important to me — connecting with people — was ripped right from me after this monster named COVID touched down. Everything from, venues, restaurants, to bars, hair salons, and amusement parks was closed down. Everyone was advised to stay inside, add six feet between them and anyone they encountered and wear a medical mask everywhere they went. Who would’ve thought? Who would’ve thought we’d have to wear something only doctors
wore, just to go grocery shopping? Who would’ve thought we’d have to put the height of Chris Evans between ourselves and our loved ones in order to not get fined? While COVID case numbers rose like wildfire, so did the traction of the BLM movement. “WHERE ARE YOU?”, read the 18th text from my mother. “On my way, phone died”, I respond. Where? Nowhere near the drive-thru grad party, I claimed I was going to. Scared? As can be. Regret? Not one bit. People scaling fences, hurling rocks at small shops while chanting “SAY HIS NAME” with faces full of fury, and overall complete chaos spread like wildfire behind my friends and me. My hands and whole body trembled like leaves in a windy storm while goosebumps like molehills formed on my neck. During our walk back to the car which felt like forever, it felt like what we left behind followed, fires and shouting growing brighter and louder. Despite the lump that did jumping jacks in my throat and countless possibilities of the consequences I may face when I return home, I still knew that every risk taken that day was 100 percent worth it and with no doubt, it will be a day in history that made an impact. Moving into college I didn’t think I’d talk to my suite-mates at all. I thought the only time we’d have an exchange of words would be to discuss whose turn it was to clean the bathroom but bored with the orientation activities assigned to us during move-in weekend, we all ex-changed glances that read “let’s get out of here”. And off we were with no idea where we were going or what we were doing. Chilly Saturday night, screaming at the top of our lungs the lyrics of “Wonderwall” by Oasis until I tasted blood while running after the train that only God knows where it was going. The surge of adrenaline felt that night was a feeling that’s priceless and indescribable. The spontaneousness of my mates is something I instantly fell in love with. That night assured me that this year would be a blast. Wonderwall. [won-der-wall]/ adj — Somebody you find yourself thinking about constantly, and you are completely infatuated with them. That’s exactly what they became to me. What we became to each other. That song became our anthem afterward. Bellowing the chorus off-key from West hall to Valentine to Arnow at 4 AM. Within the first 24 hours of being in each other’s presence, it was evident that we were clearly soulmates. They’re my Wonderwall.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not much of social butterfly. I’m easily drained from parties and simple things such as small talk. Like what’s the point? Occasionally, I will find someone I have loads of things in common with through small talk and gatherings. The concept of parties is so silly to me. Whether it’s a birthday, baby shower, or one in someone’s basement. Most of the time it’s random people and/or relatives coming out of the woodworks that show up just to express how long they haven’t seen you by lowering their hand three feet from the ground and make pointless small talk about how “great” their life is with other random people and relatives. Why force a conversation? Do you really care how school is going? Or you just can’t bear the silence between us? Maybe it’s just the introvert in me speaking. I prefer social gatherings with more of a purpose. People coming together with a common cause such as fighting for basic human rights, to network, or just to enjoy live music by their favorite artist is more exciting and fulfilling to me. I find it easier to form a relationship based on love or shared beliefs and experiences. It’s especially easier when you’re in a room full of people there for the same reason. Despite all the hate in the world, it’s so refreshing to see a group of people help that one frail girl that didn’t quite hydrate enough get out of the mosh pit. It’s refreshing to see people from two completely different backgrounds effortlessly make a connection through the artist performing that night. It’s so refreshing to see people offer their last mask or a jug of milk during a protest that went left. It’s so refreshing making an unexpected bond with people you’d never imagine yourself with. Through all these experiences, I realized one of my biggest values this year: unity. The immense number of friends based on common interests such as music and fashion is unbelievable. From the concerts, protests, and other spontaneous outings, I realized it makes my heart as warm as the first ray of sunlight after a freezing winter night to see a group of people putting their differences aside and shutting out the negative abyss, we call the world, in order to come together and form an unbreakable bond.
Sinclair Samuels 69
The Six-Foot Separation
2020. There are still roughly two months
remaining in this year which has been anything but normal. So far we have experienced dangerous wildfires, the impeachment trial for the president, the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and if that wasn’t enough, a global pandemic. The song “Six Feet Apart” by Luke Combs helped me realize that many people are having a tough time emotionally, but life will get better if we stick together. If every person in the world had a highlight reel for their lifetime, their senior year of high school would likely be included. This is typically our last moments spent with the people we have grown up around. Senior year at Windham High School is 70
supposed to be the glory year, composed of senior nights for sports, senior breakfast, senior barbeque, senior awards, senior prom, project grad, and most importantly, graduation. Combs sings, “but all the news has been bad,” which is exactly how I felt. I did not get to experience most of these memorable opportunities. My last day walking through the crowded halls of Windham High was on March 13th, 2020- Friday the thirteenth, of all days. I vividly remember sitting in my English class that day when someone came in and announced, “Guys, there was the first case of coronavirus in Maine today!” We all looked at each other but did not think much of it. No one understood yet that this would lead to the cancellation of our graduation. One of
my best friends worked at the venue where graduation was supposed to be held. She was telling my whole class that there were rumors they might not be open for events because of COVID-19 but we just looked at her like she had ten heads. There had only been one official case- why would they already be shutting things down? Especially something that is three months away? The following Sunday I received an email from my school saying that there had been a small outbreak of the virus in the state of Maine and we were going to have a two-week break to allow things to calm down. Many people in my school were actually thrilled that we were going to get a “vacation.” I used my new-found free time to catch up on some homework and see my friends, but as time went by I slowly limited contact with others because case numbers were rising. Unfortunately, about a week into this “vacation” I received another email from my school saying that they will not be opening up for the rest of the school year. I was devastated as I had just watched all of the future memorable times crumble right in front of my eyes. That was only the first round of bad news. Next I got a call from my track and field coach saying that our senior season had been canceled. I was a three-sport athlete throughout high school so that would have been my sixteenth, and last season. My goal was to break the school record in discus by my senior year, but that opportunity was ripped away from me. We seniors still tried to hold onto some hope thinking we would be able to experience a prom and a traditional graduation later in the summer if all of this craziness were to calm down, but of course we did not get that either. Instead of graduation, all the students walked individually across a stage to receive our diplomas,
then we watched a ceremony with our families from our cars in a drive-in. The ceremony felt unofficial since I did not get to shake hands with faculty or hug my longtime friends goodbye. As Comb sings, “I miss the road, I miss my band, givin’ hugs and shakin’ hands.” For the rest of the year I would wake up everyday feeling like “the whole world seems so sad,” to use Comb’s words. I have been an extrovert my whole entire life but my lifestyle is far from acceptable at this time. Not only physically, but I feel like I was emotionally separated six feet from some of the people closest to me. As Combs sings, “I ain’t had much else going on.” There were a solid two months of complete isolation in which hardly anything happened at all. It may sound privileged compared to some detrimental losses other people have experienced, but the lack of stimulation wore down my mental health. But I hold on to hope for when “one day there will be light after dark, one day when we aren’t six feet apart.” The happiest experience is still yet to come: the day the pandemic is over and we can return to normal. As Combs sings “there’ll be crowds and there’ll be shows.” One day we will be able to see family and friends on a regular basis, not have to wear a mask around everywhere, being able to get back into school and sports, and people can be freed from the economic depression. This year has been an emotionally-draining roller-coaster of good and bad news. “Six Feet Apart” by Luke Combs has helped me realize that it’s not only me that is going through these difficult times and that if we just look towards the positives we will get through. I have experienced the emotional and physical six-foot distance of 2020. I am waiting for the day we can be closer together than six feet.
Riley Silvia Illustration by Frankie Bonanno
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal” - Richard Puz. As I close my eyes his long round head appears. His warm hand grasps mine and I smile. I kept yelling but no sound was coming out. Tears dropped from my eyes as I realized this was all a dream. “Why did you leave me?” I cried out, getting no response back. My grandfather was a man filled with joy, his presence could light up the world. He could make a frown turn into a smile instantly just by his warm embrace. He would come home bearing gifts daily for all of his grandchildren. He had this light shining through him that was indescribable. As the bottom of his feet hit the hot summer pavement my contagious giggle filled the air. I clung to his back as he held my legs tight like a tiny sloth wrapped around a tree. The summer rays beamed off my glistening forehead. My grandfather always put a thick layer of cocoa butter on my face no matter the weather. I continuously swiped my hands across my forehead then onto my pink glittery shirt as the oil dripped down the side of my face. The walk felt like forever but I didn’t care, I enjoyed every part of it. As we approached the store he let me off his back and I ran through the white sliding doors. A gust of cold air hit me like a hurricane. It was nice though. I ran to the isle with the Crocs. I reached for a pair of aqua blue Crocs as I yelled “ These Ones!”, my grandfather laughed. “Laylay those are a size ten, you wear a size 1.” I looked up at him with such confusion. Being a first grader and having little to no concept on shoe sizes will definitely make a great laugh. I yell and scream as I smile at my grandfather. “Thank youuuuuu!” I said about a million times as he looked at me and smiled back. As long as I was happy he was happy. After picking up the right size and swiping his card we headed out. As we left the store I smiled from ear to ear and jumped on his back. The way home felt so fast, almost as if we teleported. My grandfather was 72
6’1”; every step we took felt like we had advanced a mile. I felt like I was riding the back of a giraffe. I was so high up I could reach the leaves on the highest branches. I ran to my grandmother as we approached the house excited to show her my new Crocs. They sparkled in the sunlight as the new shoe smell filled the air. “AHHHHH”.
2011, four years later I leaped into his arms as he pulled me close and held me tight. As my lips touched his cheek I felt warmth fill my body. We clapped our hands and stomped our feet in sync to the music, the vibrations coming from the ginormous speaker trickled up my tiny legs. I spun around as my pink fluffy dress blew in the subtle wind. Tiny lights lit up the backyard so you could see everyone. My entire family danced to the music for hours celebrating my grandfather and grandmother’s wedding that had occurred earlier that day, except for my grandfather. As I glanced over my shoulder I kept seeing my grandfather sitting down, he looked as if he was in deep thought. His eyebrows scrunched and his eyes wandered. I would run over to him and jump into his lap as he swung me around to the beat of the music. Something inside me changed that day. A holy feeling that I’ve never felt before, a chilling feeling ran down my body and I felt sick. I realized how important this man was to me and how grateful I am for him. I looked into his eyes and told him how much I loved him. He Lifted a finger up to wipe the tears falling from his eye. He looked down and smiled and said “ You are my angel”. Those words will forever stick with me. He knew but he couldn’t face the truth yet. I knew too but I didn’t fully know. My mind felt so confused like I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it so I continued to ignore that feeling. Little did I know what was ahead of me. In the blink of an eye I was now in the fifth grade. I ran up the stairs and through the door after my
first full week of fifth grade, to find my family all sitting in the living room crying. Fear struck my face; I felt like a statue, my mind completely blank. My mom grabbed me instantly and just hugged me. Silence filled the thick muggy air as she ran her hands through my hair. Her voice cracks and tears hit the floor as she tells me my grandfather is very sick. My eyes scanned the room still confused on what this really meant. “He’s dying, Your grandfather has cancer” my mom said. I did not really fully understand the concept of death. The house felt uneasy. I played alone for days, no TV, no other kids and no grandfather. I felt my heart sink and I knew something was very wrong. After a week my grandfather walked through the door his head hung low, he had bags under his eyes and he was walking with a limp. My smile came back, I felt alive again. I looked around and everyone else’s smile on their face was no longer their. He wrapped his long arms around everyone as their heads sank into his chest. No words were said. As he came over to me I reached my arms out expecting him to pick me up and swing me around, but no. He bent down very slowly and gave me a kiss on my forehead. He then made his way into his room and shut the door. My grandma could see the confusion on my face. She sat down on the couch in the front room, her head fell to her hands which were placed right on top of her knees. Her eyes were bloodshot red and she looked up and stared at the wall. “Your grandfather only has 3 months to live” she said in a light shaky voice, she couldn’t even look me in my face. My knees buckled and I fell to the ground. “NOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOO” I screamed repeatedly. Illustration by Alexis Kallicharan
Weeks passed and my grandfather left home. Every day I came home I would drop my bag off at the front door and run to the backroom to see if he was there but he never was. He finally called me and told me that everyone was going to come see him this weekend. That joy came back again but it wouldn’t last for long this time. I walked through the door to see his lifeless body sinking into the burgundy couch. His skin dark, his thin face and his bones showing through his skin. I stared at him in disbelief, “is this the same man” I asked myself over and over again. He didn’t talk much but it was very apparent that he was in pain. “ I left home and
came here because I couldn’t let you guys see me die. Not like this”. We sat around him showering him with love. We told stories, laughed, danced and then it became silent. He groaned and laid his head down. My family said let’s go. I kissed him as his eyes slowly closed. His brittle arms wrapped around me as I hugged him back. We said I love you and I headed out the door. Just a few days later we got the call that he had passed. I ran to my mother and buried my head into her chest, a mother’s comfort will make you feel like everything around you is okay. That was the last time I would ever see his face. His big brown eyes and his warm touch will never leave me but his soul did. I learned to love and cherish every little thing in life and to tell people how much they mean to you. Not everything is forever, we all have a time for us to go but while we are here we make the most out of life because we only get one chance. My family was never the same after this death. He was the light to our life, the wick to the candle, and without that there will never be another light. This brought our family closer than we have ever been. Till this day we sit around sharing our favorite memories of him, we laugh, we cry and we thank God for giving us such a blessing. I always tell myself everything happens for a reason. He did all he could for us while he was here and that’s all that matters. As I close my eyes his bright white smile and his big round head peak through the clouds. I reach my hand up but he never reaches back.
Alasia Maxwell-Perkins 73
Growing up as an only child, I had a lot of free time and how I spent most of it was occupying myself with my American Girl dolls and Barbie dolls as well as playing dress-up with them. When I was not playing with dolls, I would watch television shows. I really enjoyed playing with my dolls. Molly and Julie were my favorites as I would send them off on wild adventures and outings. I would send them on dates. A date I remember in particular was one where they went stargazing under a full moon and shared love poems they wrote about one another. The love my two dolls had for each other was as normal as the sun being in the sky. I would send them on dates all the time. It was not until I was about 8 or 9, when I started to make friends with girls my age, did I stop sending them on dates. At school, I always had a hard time fitting in and I desperately tried hard to assimilate to the world around me. Since I grew up in a household where my mom had a male partner, I had pursued a fake on and off boyfriend, but I never really had liked any guys or had elementary school crushes. In 3rd grade, not having any friends started to become even more lonely, so when girls would talk about their dream weddings and fantasize about their grooms and the babies they would have, I joined in. I picked a random guy in the class and pretended to have a crush and daydreamed with them about marrying this guy. For little girls, this behavior is normal. For me, this behavior was my normal. With media and social influence, it seemed while growing up, girls were expected to play with their barbies and their kitchen appliances and baby dolls to prepare them for their futures as a domestic woman and mother, whose only purpose was to please. The only expectation this sets for girls is to be beautiful, get married, have children, clean and cook, and nothing else. It makes it so those girls who have 74
dreams don’t learn that they can accomplish them until way later, and sometimes so late, the dream cannot be obtained anymore. It felt like I had to have this conversation with my classmates about a domestic future and I had to have my biggest goal be to be a mother. Today there is an expectation of what family is suppose to be. We have all seen it. The doting and submissive wife and busy, working husband have a son and daughter. Their daughter is always on their phone, chatting with boys and hanging with her friends and the son is on the soccer team and is popular with women. Not to mention they’ll both go to good colleges, maybe rebel, but eventually settle down. The Daughter will find a man to domesticate her and the son, will find his own woman to domesticate. The parents will be asking when they’ll get grandkids from both of their children and this is simply just something which does not belong in modern society, yet heavily influences the way we think. With this ideology, it makes sense that in third grade I was having this conversation with my fellow female classmates. However, this was never what I wanted, and I wasn’t free to learn this until I was much older. Not all women want a family or even want to be with men. Later in my life, as I grew to know myself, I realized that I had never wanted children. Maybe be the fun aunt, sure, or maybe even foster a teenager, but I never wanted the life it seemed like every other girl my age wanted. Being a stay at home mother seemed boring to me and I would never want to give birth. However, I was never able to discover this until I was able to have more mature conversations with my peers about what we wanted in life. Back in those discussions with my classmates, there was no way that any of us could have ever discussed the possibility of not having a family. Even as children, our value was rooted in if we would have grandkids or how cute we looked in
dresses, and that wasn’t something we could break away from. Women are expected to date men, settle down, get married, have a few kids and if you don’t your value is based on your inability to submit to a man and unfair standards. I luckily have not faced this sort of discrimination yet, but in the future I fear I will. I fear having to be asked by my peers, family, and even strangers about why I am single or why I am not dating a man. With this level of toxicity, how were we supposed to learn when we were not given a space where we were free from these misogynistic standards? I am not any less of a woman because I wear men’s dress shirts, have short hair, and wear men’s shoes. I am not any less of a woman if I do not occupy my time with a man in a romantic fashion and I’m not any less of a woman if I do not have children. The whole idea is outlandish as saying a shade of blue is not blue because it is not the same blue you have seen or experienced. That is simply what it boils down to. All shades of blue are still blue, just like all different types of women are still women.
this facade I created, this safe place that I took refuge in and against my own good conscious, I continued to date men and present femininely and convinced myself that this was how I wanted to be. I was challenging this herteronormatic structure and I was scared, because I was in a way confronting and challenging the gender norms I had grown up learning. I didn’t want to defy gender roles or be different, I just wanted to survive. I played the part for years because I didn’t want to accept that I was this thing that had been painted as horrible by others my whole life. I already felt different, and I didn’t want confirmation that I wasn’t like the other girls I knew. It felt wrong, gross, and creepy. I was told repeatedly by the media I consumed, the toys I played with, and the people I talked to that being outside the standards for women was wrong, and that I was wrong. What I didn’t know was how beautiful love and life could be.
Illustration by Jenna Robinson
The years went by and I gained confidence. I began to dress the way I had desired to dress since I was a I also discovered that I was a lesbian. It seems so young adolescent, as well as began to cut my hair obvious looking back, as I was never really until I reached my personal ideal length without interested in dating a man. When I was little playing being scared of societal backlash. I opened up with those Barbies, it only felt right to have the to my friends freely and unashamed about my women date each other, but I never talked about identity as well. I began to freely tell people that I it with anyone because it wasn’t the way it was was gay. I learned to embrace the parts of myself supposed to be. My classmates always talked that society hated, and I learned that being a woman about wanting to date boys, so that’s what I always doesn’t mean you need to wear frilly dresses, look talked about. I quickly learned from experience like Barbie, or want a husband and five kids. I was that this heteronormativity that was so instilled allowed, finally, to dress how I wanted, act how I in me that I was starting to create categories for wanted, explore my gender expression, and make the acceptable and unacceptable things a person my own goals. I say to myself sometimes, if Molcould do and I just wanted to find myself to be ly and Julie could see me now, they would be so acceptable, not different, but I learned I didn’t proud of me for not choosing an identity to fit into have that choice. Gay people were one of those the crowd, and instead embracing the one I had unacceptable groups, and masculine women from the start. were another. So, I repressed my identity. I was terrified of being different and not fitting into one of those categories. I wanted so desperately to cling to what I had always known and what I had learned from a young age. I wanted to continue to live in
The Best I Ever Had After a long few hours we met again in my kitchen. I wish I could say this is where it all began, but that wouldn’t be the truth. This is where we’ve been led.
I lost almost all of them. They weren’t the type of people I wanted in my life and it took me over a year to realize this.
For the 8 months before this was taken, the three of us had been living out our coming-of-age story dream; going on adventures daily, making memories, disappointing our parents, and laughing until we couldn’t breathe.
That winter break I saw her more than I saw my own mom. Feeling like I had someone who loved me the way I loved them felt so refreshing. Sometimes it felt like she was too good for me, but for whatever reason she stuck around. She’s had all these experiences and adventures and I had nothing to show for myself. I always made her laugh though, and for that I’m proud.
We met at exit 58, like always. Got in the white jeep, went to New Haven, and had dinner and bubble tea. On the way home we fulfilled a dream Belle and I have had since day one. “Heroes” by David Bowie on the Q bridge. For that night I had made a playlist of all the songs we like hearing with the volume turned up to 40, as high as it could go. “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Ribs”, “Electric Love,” to name a few. Wind blowing in our hair, roof off, illuminated by the lights on the bridge, you couldn’t see the tears in our eyes. We didn’t need to see them. We all knew they were there. I wish I could’ve stayed on that bridge forever. Belle’s the best friend I’ve ever had. Never have I met someone so similar to me, and someone who I could be so myself around. She’s taught me the importance of standing up for myself, which is something I’ve always struggled with. Before I met Belle, I said yes to things I didn’t want, or was too afraid to explain what I really meant. Stand tall, she told me. We met through a mutual friend, but I think the universe knew what it was doing. She came just when I needed her, although I didn’t know it at the time. When Belle and I started talking at the beginning of senior year, we both had a great group of girls to hang out with. Within a month, 76
Simple tasks for us always brought joy. Going on drives, getting ice cream, or planning our next big scheme. As long as we were together, it didn’t matter. This has allowed me to be grateful for the small things. I caught a crab while on a hike one time, and it made my day. She would’ve been really proud if she was there. Disappointment isn’t hard to come by these days, but finding the good is also becoming easier. Perks of Being a Wallflower is Belle’s favorite book. She got Gabe and I to watch the movie and since then we’ve never been the same. The story of three friends allowed us to quickly relate to it, as our trio was all we knew. That movie has made me think differently about a lot of things in life. Learning to cherish moments and go on more adventures just because they’re enjoyable. I grabbed Belle’s hand on the bridge that night; in hopes to never let go. But before I knew it Gabe’s followed. He always wanted to hold us close. Gabe’s unlike anyone I’ve met before, except maybe my dad. They remind me a lot of each other. Making sure we’re okay has always been his number one priority. Gabe always said he wanted to protect us from the world. He wanted to make
sure nothing bad ever happened, but he knew this was impossible. He’s seen how hard things can be for me. I feel like I could talk to Gabe for hours about my problems and he’d be happy to listen. He makes me want to be a better person. No matter how angry I’ve made him or how frustrated he’s made me, we never end the day without an “I love you”. Being so close with Gabe has taught me a lot about myself and how I handle the world. Through him, I’ve learned to be patient when things get in my way. That getting angry isn’t always worth my energy.
Illustration by James Kava
I don’t like fighting, but I’ve never fought like I have with Gabe. Screaming matches and phone calls and angry texts filled our days sometimes. These were the worst days I can recall. We’ve all left them behind, with lots of regret for not putting our feelings aside. Gabe loves being outdoors and he’s made me a sucker for hikes as well. There’s something about walking around at night while it’s a little too cold for comfort that seems to clear my head. I have a greater appreciation for the stars than I did before, and for this I am thankful.
What I’d do to spend one more day with them. One more party, one more drive, one more hike. One more night on that bridge. We all knew it at the time, but that bridge held a lot of meaning for us. It meant growing up and saying goodbye after 8 months of being together all the time. I think this is why we were crying so much. It’s hard to say goodbye. Isabelle and Gabe have taught me more in these months than I think anyone ever has. They’re the best friends I could ask for. Here’s to them, to me, and to us. They make me feel infinite. “I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song and that drive with the people you love the most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.” - Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Smile Behind the Mask The football field is awaiting. My nostrils filled with the aroma of freshly cut grass. The sky is as blue and clear as glistening ocean water with a bit of sunshine poking out from behind a cloud. Plastic foldable chairs aligned waiting for my arrival. The podium that would later forecast my name from the microphone into the loudspeaker, for everyone that lives in the town of Bridgewater, to hear. As the generic “Pomp and Circumstance” marching music plays, I walk out to my chair, single filed following the person in front of me, who happened to be in my Spanish class. My stomach is filled with butterflies but keeping my head high in confidence as I walk across the stage. To hear all of my family members and friends scream my name until their veins were popping out of their necks. For them to clap until their hands gave out. Smiling from ear to ear when the voices of my parents fill my ears. The event that would give me the closure of one chapter so I could begin my next. A goodbye to the now grown adults, I have just spent the last four years and for some even more years with. All of the memories I had made throughout the last 12 years would just become a distant memory in the blink of an eye. “Brianna, what did you get for #4 on the homework?” My high school business teacher, Mr. Ferreira, awakes me from my nap by asking into the zoom call. It was at that moment I snapped into reality to realize that graduation would only be in my dream. The life I had known before was no longer. My big senior year, that every child dreams of had just come crumbling down. Everything the class of 2020 students worked so hard for, to not get the recognition we desired. My life now consisted of no social contact with the outside world and if for some reason we were to leave the house, a mask was to be worn. The closure I had craved was becoming more of wishful thinking. 78
It all goes back to my brother, Anthony, graduating high school. My brother is five years older than me. Being his little sister, I looked up to him and the goals he accomplished. After attending his graduation, I said to my mother, “Mom, why am I not graduating like Ant?” and she would tell me “Not yet sweetie, soon enough it will be your turn.” In my head, I never could imagine the person walking the large terrifying stage being me. Impatience has always been a personality trait for me, I do not like to wait my turn. Throughout schooling, the comment “very conscientious student” next to my name was an every year event. Almost all of my teachers would comment on how conscientious I was. My schoolwork came before everything else. However, I never felt like I was rewarded by my school. I would always give 110% but never got the special acknowledgment other smart students got, such as their name being stated on a microphone from the voice of our principal or scholarships given out by the high school. In my head, the moment I believed would give me the recognition I had craved after these 4 years would be having my name called out on the loudspeaker for all to hear. All I wanted was the happiness that comes from achieving something and being recognized for it. At my high school, Bridgewater-Raynham, the beginning of senior year would be crammed with homework and exams. Nights that by the end had drained my mind to 0% battery from working on homework or simply studying for a quiz for the next day. The next morning in school, I would be like a zombie from the lack of sleep I got from the night before. Anything for a good grade I would tell myself. Later on in the year, the hard work would pay off and it would result in senior events that I would have imprinted in my brain for the rest of my life. The thoughts I would look back on years from now when someone asks me “What do you
remember from senior year?” I would respond with these memorable events. I’ve seen so many seniors before me experience these every year and I recall my body jumping for joy at the thought of it being my turn.
Illustration by Lacey Bocanegra
The senior events at my high school include a Mr. BR show. The Mr. BR show was a competition between any senior boys that signed up and they would have to perform different comical skits in front of our whole school and judges (who were just teachers) to win the title of Mr. BR. These skits would have the audience crackling so hard they were snorting like pigs. It gave the boy who won bragging rights for the whole rest of his senior year and even long after. Throughout the show, there is an intermission while the guys are getting ready outback, and during the intermission, a group of senior girls come out on stage and perform a rehearsed dance. I had rehearsed that dance and practiced every night just for it to end up being canceled. I put my everything into that dance, especially given I am very uncoordinated. Another event is to decorate your cars with washable paint with phrases, such as “Go Seniors!” and “Class of 2020.” You would jam-pack your cars with your best friends, blaring music so loud it blows your eardrum, smiling from ear to ear just driving around the town of Bridgewater, escorted by police officers. All the Bridgewater residents would hear is the obnoxious honking from the line of cars. Just bonding with your class before time was up in just a couple of months. The event I was most excited about was the walk through of our old elementary, intermediate, and middle school. I wanted to see the bright bubbly faces of the teachers I had growing up that helped me get to the intelligence I have today. Chewing on the end of my pencil, completely ignoring the PowerPoint note lecture given by my teacher in the front of the AP biology class, thinking how close we were to the end of our high school career; only 3 months away. After my biology class, whispering lingered from the back to front of the classroom saying that there was this
“mysterious virus” coming from China that could potentially be serious. Each day I would listen to a different kid in the hallway or at lunch, tell a different reason on how this virus came about, whether it was man-made or from food people were eating, the ideas became more and more ridiculous but what do you expect from childish high school students? I just laughed it off in confusion thinking there was no way that this virus would hit our little town of Bridgewater. In the following weeks, a text popped up from my friend saying people i n s u r r o u n d i n g towns had t este d p osi ti ve for “COVID.” Throughout the beginning of March, I noticed the hallways that usually had millions of grimy kids toppling over each other looked rather sparse. Was there a lack of students due to the fear of Coronavirus? I had no idea. Why was I in school? Was I not supposed to be? When all of a sudden my internal questions were answered by this mysterious voice over the intercom, “Hello students of BR, it has come to our awareness of the severity of this recent virus. It is going to be our responsibility to socially distance ourselves in this busy hallway and take safety precautions that are deemed necessary.” Of course, at this time, none of us truly knew what was going on or how to handle it. Every week the school board would have a meeting discussing the Coronavirus but no one ever had the answers. Watching the news about the number of deaths and cases going up, I knew the terror was real. With my heart leaping into my throat, I thought, What if I were to become ill with this deadly virus? Or my loved ones? Friday, March 13, 2020- Unknowingly, the last day I would ever walk the halls of my high school again. Of course, there was word around the lunch tables that school might be closed for the rest of the year. I had strongly doubted it. Words spread faster than butter on toast in high school so I did not think anything of it. In the beginning, when all of this news was fresh, denial was my first instinct. At the time, I was hoping that the school would
close for a week or two because me being a fed-up exhausted student, I wasn’t thinking straight. I also didn’t think of the everlasting effects this virus could have on not just my senior year but the world itself. I had figured if the school was canceled, it would only be for a couple of days or weeks. Later that night, my school had called to officially call off school until we got a further notice from the Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker. As assumed there was not further notice, the reopening dates would just get pushed back further and further; with no end in sight. My heart immediately throbs with agony. All I could think was why now? Why this year? Why ever? I spent the following months going through a total adjustment. A life I had not known before quarantined life. I would open my eyes to be disturbed by the overwhelming amount of n otifi c at ion s for each class through Zoom and Google Classroom. Tears would roll down my face leaving dried stains on my cheeks every morning when I would wake up and every night when I would go to bed thinking about my new reality. To hang out with my best friends, I would have to meet them in my car in an open parking lot, where we would sit in our cars 6 feet apart and talk so we were socially distant but still could feel connected and not just through our phones. It felt as if we were in a horror movie that never ends. I had just envisioned such an amazing senior year so my heart was in crumbles watching it slip out of my fingertips. I didn’t want to realize that my senior year was over. I held hope, which made the feeling of discouragement much worse.
on surfaces. I no longer carried that heart beating jumping for joy, excitement, and hope I used to have. But after coming around, I realized this is the moment I dreamed of now go out there and enjoy it. You worked for this. Like in my dream, I could still hear the sweet voice that belongs to my mom and my dad’s rough deep voice peering through the loud audience knowing they were there to support me and were just as proud if not more proud than me. Hearing the clapping from those I had known my whole life and their parents who may not have even known me, just gave me that smile from ear to ear. Who cares if you can’t see the smile behind my mask, my glistening brown almond-shaped eyes were doing the smiling for me. I finally got the opportunity to wear my long red cloak-like gown, like the one that I used to see hanging in my brother’s closet with my fully bedazzled cap that read “The Best is Yet to Come.” It was officially my turn, even if it was abnormal.
Although this wouldn’t be what I expected or had dreamed of since I was a young girl and it was a month before I was headed off to college, it was still better than nothing. Now, I have learned what it is truly like to be grateful. Every moment in life should be cherished. Coronavirus has come to our world and changed it as we all knew. No one would have ever thought this would be where we are. I realized what seemed like my world ending problem of my graduation and senior year being canceled didn’t seem so big on the scale of lives that were being ended from this virus. It is important to enjoy a moment while you are in it because it can be taken away from you unexpectedly or even After there were no more tears to cry over the 6 altered to a different way to celebrate the same months from when we left school, semi uplifting news came out that we would have a socially distant, event. I will forever have captured in my brain what it was like having a different type of graduamasks required, two household family members tion because we will be a graduation that genercould attend, type of socially distant graduation. ations from now will remember and a story to tell I am not going to lie my internal thoughts to this was it was a day late and a dollar short. And it’s not my children in the future. My moment of pride and validation that I urged for was fulfilled. my school’s fault or anyone’s for that matter. No one’s fault but this virus that lurks in the air and
Wishing on Zeta
Everyone has a sad story in their life. No one gets through this thing without a shit ton of messed up stuff happening, possibly everyday. Even in fairytales, the princess always needs to be saved from something. When bad stuff happens as a little kid, or it happens constantly I believe you react differently, like reaching for a coping mechanism as quickly as possible. Most kids don’t know enough to surrender and hide, they dream, wish and believe because kindness and hope are the source to improving their situation. That was almost always my solution when I was little and wanted to help my family from being hurt in any way, but had no answers to the questions or situations that I quite frankly didn’t understand. I wish I had this song when I was going through those hard times, to tell that kid it’s ok to not get so hung up on what’s happening in her “now”, and that keep counting the stars to a better future will get her as far as she allows that message to take her. As important as it is to wish and dream, we need to have action behind our hopes. I wish on those stars today I could have learned and grew faster in a more productive way, but at least I had a pretty catchy song for my world to burn to, temporarily of course.
Illustration by Anna Geogria
I grew up in a pretty unstable family. Sometimes we were how I assume a normal family is, the only real difference is with pretty mean verbal fights everyday. During those good times, we would listen to music in the kitchen and dance. My mom was exhausted coming home and I could hear her sigh in relief, even though she came home drained, as soon as she saw us she’d instantly smile. Her eyes were like coming home from vacation, you come home and turn the lights on. It’s quiet in your head, regardless of what’s actually going on around you. You just feel content. At least that’s what I saw looking back at me. She’d turn on this giant dusty old, dual cassette radio, that had a broken cassette spot that wouldn’t stay shut. The music would start and she’d swiftly step back and grab my brother and my hands, and spin us. We’d dance and cook. It was magical.
My mom smiled down at me and said, “I waited all day to dance with you.” I didn’t realize how sweet it was when she said it or the meaning she had behind those words, so I simply replied, “Why… because you need to take dance lessons from me?” She laughed, “Of course I do, otherwise I’ll dance like this.” She proceeded to put her hands in a fist by her armpits and do a terrible chicken dance. I saw my family cry, and be down to their last straw, but none of it mattered as long as we had that music. Usually, the good times when my mom was home only lasted a little while. When she wasn’t around we endured physical abuse bordering torcherous at points, because when she was, it was her who stood in between us and took the brunt of it. Our family as a whole had been verbally abused, financial struggles, and at our absolute worst, homelessness because my dad wouldn’t work. These situations were difficult to understand for a child. You’d think most people 81
would be pretty upset about being homeless or not having food, but selfishly, I just wanted my mom to dance in the kitchen with me all day instead of work so much. I’d constantly be begging her to stay home. “Mom please don’t leave me. Don’t you have fun with me?” Every time it was a variant of the answer, “I’d love nothing more than to stay home with you, but because I love you, I need to go to work.” I could see, but at the moment not understand, she looked at me, but basically pleading for me to understand she doesn’t have the options to stay. In retrospect that probably made it harder on her than it needed to be. If I could go back, those moments of me making her life harder are the only things I would change. My heart fills with sadness that I put more weight on her shoulders than was already there. We were in a recession time, when I first remembered all these things. My mom was one of thousands who lost her job, I was thrilled because I thought that meant she could stay home like my dad did, but instead of being a mean grump like him, I thought she would play with me and dance in the kitchen like I so badly wanted. To my despair, it really meant she would get three crappy jobs, that didn’t pay well and would take up even more of her time. She worked so much, she needed to get a recorder of herself for me, so I could hear her a few times a day. The first time I started to understand money was when our lights got shut off, after our water was shut two weeks before. I slept downstairs, in the middle of the living room on a mattress on the floor with my mom. I woke up, and my mom was crying on the couch. She didn’t immediately see me looking up at her. I layed there, peeking with just an eye, as my mom covered her mouth muffling her tears. She looked so different from the woman who gets home from work, her eyebrows were squished tight, and her hand covering her mouth and part of her nose. Tears fell faster than I could count. A red hand mark, on her chest. Her body shaking, and a cigarette burning away in her hand. I could hear the pain in her silence. I quietly whispered, “Mom?” She immediately straightened up, and her whole demeanor changed, She was no longer a broken down, twenty something year old confused at her ending point; Her mom cape came flying in faster than if the flash had brought it to her himself. She replied, “Mia, What are you doing up?” in a silly, but almost embarrassed tone as she wiped 82
away those final few tears that had slipped out as startled her. From that day forward, the concept of money changed, I changed. Every birthday, I wished for more money, more help for my mom, for our whole family to stop getting hit, to have any day, but especially holidays without any arguments. I wished my family was happy, and didn’t have to worry as much, I wished for fun, I wished for a better life, and I wished for people who were in worse positions to get the strength and guidance they needed. I wasn’t totally sure what that meant back then, but my mom wished for it so I figured it was a good thing. My biggest wish was all my wishes would come true, and I wouldn’t have to worry about how much money we had any more, and I wouldn’t have to wish on “my” star for anything else. Things did get better financially, but somehow home life got harder and other times it’d get hard financially, but thankfully never to our lowest point again. My mom used to sit outside to smoke. All I wanted was to be next to her, so if she was outside, so was I. Her cigarette would brighten her face an orange color just illuminating her puckered lips and eyes filled with pain, while the cigarette turns a blinding bright red just inches in front of her. I remember looking up, almost every night, and wishing on the same star, which later I found out was a part of the little dipper, and it’s name is Zeta. It’s small, and probably overlooked because of the huge bright stars it’s surrounded by, but that’s why I chose to strictly wish on this star. I figured, it wasn’t going to be someone else’s first choice and would have plenty of wish space, to help my family. It became my lucky star, at any point in my life, I still go outside and look up and thank that star for always being there, and if I really need to, I will wish on it. Every wish was for these things, Christmas, Birthday, anything. Money and material things had no value to me, other than I believed I needed it to help make my family’s life better, or even just easier. I got a job as soon as I could, because I finally understood, wishing will only do so much. I needed to work to make the change I was seeking.“Take that money, watch it burn. Sink in the river the lessons I learned.” I worked hard so I wouldn’t have to work as hard later, I worked hard because I didn’t want to worry about money. I worked so I could go back to not needing money always on my mind, let alone my drive. I worked with four goals in mind, first goal to make money for my family. Second goal, help us move into a better financial situation, the third goal was to
get out of my abusive house, and my final goal was to not be like my dad who could have helped, but chose not to. Those goals drove me mad, the lack of want for money was so overshadowed by the striving to reach these goals you would have believed I was the most money hungry thirteen year old ever. I chose my job over friendships, over dancing in the kitchen, like I said, I was changed forever. The need to make money or get the things my family needed never stopped, it grew and grew like the discovery of the universe, it seemed endless. The jobs I could get as a pre eighteen year old were scarce and not that much pay. When I turned eighteen, I took off. I worked so many hours it was sickening. I missed meals, worked almost twenty two hours a day, and somehow needed more. I was addicted to working and providing. I felt like that was my life’s purpose. After working my overnight shift at my hotel job, I was working my third consecutive shift at my arcade job. Grown adults screaming at me because they don’t have enough tickets for a wind up duck. I lost my voice because the games were so loud and people couldn’t hear me next to this giant ticket counter machine, let alone each other if they used megaphones to talk feet apart. I was covering that day, and just had some drunk guy fall and throw his fifteen dollar beer all over me. I ended up taking my break early, then I heard a new song on the radio. The beat was uplifting, and all of a sudden I heard a familiar voice sing “Said, no more countin’ dollars, we’ll be countin’ stars” I almost choked in shock. The first time I heard this song, I was absolutely dumbfounded by that one line, I didn’t even hear the rest of the song. Somehow that one line hit me like a semi truck on a highway without breaks. Something that I wished for, and thought about nightly, arguably one of the core ideas that shaped who I was, was just spoken to me, in perfect tune, with an upbeat tempo to match the victory of counting stars instead of being held down by money. The message of the song put me in such a deep place, my fifteen minute break turned in a forty five minute. I sat there, feeling like time was within that two second lyrical sentence, and every memory I tried to work away, came flooding back. I ran into work, and got back to my usual life. The song became pretty popular, and I loved it. I stopped trying to put my meaning behind it, and held it as a motivator anytime I wanted to quit. I would sing the chorus and it’d push me through. I may have blocked out my meaning behind the song, but kept the spirit of wanting to get to the point of being financially sound enough to just sit back and
count the stars. For the next three years, I worked my way up in companies, and thought my destiny was to keep progressively making money until we’re ok financially. I didn’t care where I worked, or what I did. I had a passion for nothing, I didn’t have time for passion. If I had any free time, that meant I wasn’t working enough. All while hearing that song in my head. In the song, there’s a moment that the beat eases off and then comes back FAST and HARD. That was exactly like my unexpected day. I believe when you’re going down the wrong path, the world had a way of stopping you. Just like this song, and almost every other song, there’s a big turning point in the music. The base drop if you will, that changes the same story, by putting it in a new direction or with a new perspective. My real life base drop was a car accident. It messed me up pretty bad. I wanted my road to recovery to be quick, I wanted to get back to work. Unfortunately, the world had other plans for me. I spent three years basically relearning how to be a normal person, and still having a long road ahead of me. The line “I couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly” got me through my recovery; Every time I feel like giving up it rejuvenates me and helps me keep pushing forward. To always be on the hunt of what’s filling my soul and removing the things that don’t. If there’s something in the way, I can and will move it. Dreams are obtainable, and not just wishes. Things come easier once you start looking for the right things. I spent so much time working towards the wrong thing, and I do my best to not let that happen again. I listened to this song so often, and heard parts I didn’t before. My car accident made me stop to think. I couldn’t escape my mind, I couldn’t “fix” everything by working. I had to honestly look at myself and what I wanted “Old, but I’m not that old, Young, but I’m not that bold. I don’t think the world is sold, on just doing what we’re told.” By the time of the car accident, I felt like it was too late for me, I felt defeated, and that it not only took me too long to get back to a point of working, but especially, to change my field of work completely. I realized I was too young to give up, I have to much fight in me, I did so much work and grew so much in no time in fields I could honestly give two shits less about, that if I really felt passionate about what I was going to endure next, there’s no reason I can’t start. I had to stop waiting to decide, because every day I was getting a day older. That’s when I took control and made the changes necessary from life. I had to finally face all the things I was trying to put a band-aid on. Every 83
now and then, I think about how I had such a tunnel vision of money, that even though I couldn’t stand, I just wanted to go back to work. It was like I was an addict. When I was working like that, I thought I would have made young me proud, but I think now I would have broken her heart. She just wanted happiness, and family, never money or material things. I still try to figure out how the message got so distorted. Not many people would be happy they got hit by a car, but if not for that car, I think I would have kept going on that road and never been able to return to my true self. So many of those beautiful lyrics ring closer than I ever expected. “Dreaming about the things that we could be ‘’ always reminds me about dreaming and using every wish I had to become stable, hoping that once I put my family in a stable place I can figure out and pursue what I truly want in life. “But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been playin’ hard. Said no more counting dollars we’ll be countin’ stars.” These lyrics changed over time. I used to believe they were saying, work hard and then you’ll get to a place of leisure where you can sit back and not worry, but what I believe he was really saying is stop counting the money because no matter how much you get it you’ll never have enough. The need for more money is an everlasting feeling. The stars are the moments and the important things that we should be counting and focusing on. “In my face is flashin’ signs, seek it out and ye shall find.” The message I wish I heard that first night I heard it. This has been there, clear as day just waiting for my thick head to let it in. I was so scared we wouldn’t have enough money it became the only thing I thought about or wanted. I stopped dancing in the kitchen, stopped appreciating, stopped being kind, was angry and resentful most of the time, all because my mind was only thinking about money. ALL. THE. TIME. I became who I hated, trying to avoid falling back to where we were. I was so blinded by that fear, I didn’t realize we had come
so far and it was ok to move away from obsessing over money. “I feel something so right, doing the wrong thing, and something so wrong doing the right thing.” This was the hardest to admit to myself. I initially felt that once I could walk or stand for longer than five minutes, that I should immediately go back to working full time. My mind isn’t in that state anymore. I’m lucky that my family is in a better financial place, so my mind is just focused on what makes it happy- even if that means I don’t make a lot or any money. I’d rather have a full life of memories, than a full bank account. Everything I thought I knew, is thrown out of my mind. My new perspective is looking a little old school: Make happiness and moments the priority and limit as much as my wants to just dancing in the kitchen. I think this song is beautiful, and fun. It’s complicated with a billion different possible meanings out there. This song may not be my favorite song in the world, but no other song compares to the meaning this one holds for me. The way it feels like a secret message that only I and One Republic understand. Like somehow Ryan Tedder was the one receiving all the wishes I sent to that star and then put it into song form. I can look back and see I interpret the song differently, but not because the song has changed. It’s because I have. I think as much as I wanted to just dream and wish my life better I had to face the fact that wishes only take you so far, but at some point you have to stop wanting and start becoming. I think that getting consumed is something I still have trouble with, wanting to lean into one side more than another is so easy. I think the most important thing I’m still trying to understand is not being consumed by a plan. We can’t control everything, and if you are you’re most likely missing out on so many important things. We always talk about retrospect or our future, but what if we talk about how we lived today. What if we choose to just be ok, today.
He was ten years old the first time he saw one. Its figure was long and serpentine; the color of smudged ash. Scales, glittering mother of pearl to matte obsidian, rippled down a bare abdomen — across the thick expanse of a tail that made up its lower half. Though the memory is faded with time, he still recalls the way it had looked, bunched and too large for the iron-barred cage it had been thrust into. Pitiful, maybe. Wrathful, certainly. When the fishermen left for the evening to drink and tell the tale of their great capture, he’d crept into the old boathouse. Curious and eager, just a child who forgets he can be harmed. Oriel had crouched some feet away from it, wondering, small arms wrapped around his knees. The Mer was larger than him by perhaps two sizes, masculine in appearance. The tail was twisted and tucked over itself to make room. Oriel thought it couldn’t be very comfortable. “Hello.” He’d whispered into the quiet air. The moon was their only light, peering in through spaces between wooden planks and the dirty windows. There were only ever stories about Mers, you see, because everyone knew they didn’t come close to shore. Some weaved tragedies of ugly, monstrous creatures; others spun great tales of their loveliness, their hauntingly beautiful features that could lure any to their watery grave. The Mer snarled low and guttural in an inhuman throat, flashing a mouth full of sharp teeth made to tear. He didn’t swipe at the cage with those clawed, webbed hands, but instead just watched with ink black eyes. He must have known he lacked the strength to break the bars of that cage. Oriel was not scared of the terrible hissing or the odd way those dark eyes reflected light. Perhaps some of that fearlessness came from the very fact that the Mer was locked behind bars. The rest was undoubtedly his own bleeding heart. In his ten year old mind, the creature looked more like a wounded animal or person, lashing out in pain. He’d seen it before, when a man from the village had broken his leg and screamed something fierce, thrashing in the
hold of many as they tried to set the bone. Pain, Oriel had learned, generates fear. It is perhaps an instinctive bodily response, ingrained in the very marrow of their bones. “Would you like to leave?” He asked, still keeping his voice low. It really wouldn’t do for him to be caught now. He’d surely face a strict punishment for even getting close to such a creature. It would be a punishment born out of their fear for his safety. The Mer didn’t reply. Whether he just refused to or simply couldn’t, Oriel did not know. It was entirely silent aside from the gravelly breaths of the Mer, the waves gently rocking against the boathouse, the distant call of insects; Oriel could hear his own heartbeat in his ears. He crept closer, recklessly. The Mer snarled again, the sound heightened in pitch. Oriel put his hand on the bar, only to recoil just a moment later when sharp claws flashed out to slash at his small fingers. His blood, dark crimson colored black in the dim light, slips down his hand to patter against the creaky wood. “I’m not going to hurt you,” He said, a pitiful sight for certain. The pain was hot but not debilitating, and yet he was just a child, so the throb made tears trail down his cheeks. One summer day, Theo from the docks taught Oriel how to steal. You see, Theo used to be a crook from the next town over; the kind of man who picked pockets and fattened his wallets with the earnings of others. Oriel didn’t have much of a knack for picking pockets; he thought the practice was quite rude and could never bring himself to take from the people of his village. It was a small, quaint, ocean-side town and everyone knew everyone. His momma would be furious if he was caught stealing from their neighbors, and her anger burned hot and long. Oriel was perfectly happy with his lack of talent in the criminal arts, but he did find himself surprisingly adept at picking locks. “You’re a smart one.” Theo had said, ruffling 85
Illustration by Logan Farley
Oriel’s hair with dirty hands. He still wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or not. Oriel liked puzzles and was one of the best in the village with numbers despite his age. It wasn’t the hard labor that was preferred around these parts, however, so he didn’t get praised much for it. He tried not to think about it too much as he dug into his pockets for the tools Theo let him keep. The Mer watched with those dark, dark eyes, cautious and silent as Oriel picked the lock with his blood-slicked hands. The lock was old, with rust around the edges. It fell open in his hands after a few breathless minutes. Oriel pulled it away from the door of the cage, and it swung open quite quickly due to how cramped the Mer had been. He flailed backwards as a dark, lithe tail flopped out and knocked him onto his bum. It slithered off his legs as the Mer pulled himself out. Now that the creature was free, Oriel felt the weight of actions. They were face to face now, with no bars between them. The Mer crept closer. He dragged his body across the wood planks with an ominous expression, those eyes like the very abyss of hell themselves. But when they were merely inches apart, the Mer simply stared. The minutes ticked by, too slow or too fast for Oriel to count. It was just him and the Mer, their breaths filling the old, drafty boathouse. Finally, the Mer nodded, quite gravely at that, and turned to drag himself towards the large opening in the floor where a small boat would usually sit. Instead the boathouse was empty, set aside for the Mer and the Mer alone. He pushed his large, serpentine body across the last few inches and dropped into the water with a hearty splash. Oriel winced at the noise, then scrambled to his feet. Idiotically, he ran to the edge and looked into the deep, rippling water. In the dark of night it was as black as an ink well. “Wait!” He cried. “What’s your name?” There was a moment of silence. The water didn’t move. Oriel sighed, dejected. It seemed as though the Mer had swam away instantly. Yet just as he was about to pull back, a face emerged from the deep, sending his heart into his throat. He did not scream, though it was a near thing. A few soft, garbled noises escaped the Mer’s mouth, and the gills on the side of his neck flapped furiously. His voice was deeper than expected, for despite the size of him, the Mer didn’t actually look that much older than Oriel. “Langua.” Langua. Oriel mouthed. What an odd name. “I’m Oriel.” He replied, but the Mer had already disappeared. The very next day, there was a great uproar in
the town. The fisherman screamed and complained about the Mer that had gotten away, finding blame with each other and making excuses. Oriel hid his injured hand and played the fool, though the lies tasted sour on his tongue. They weren’t so terrible to tell when the exchange was the Mer’s freedom. He was fourteen the next time he saw one. He’d been learning under the town’s doctor for some time now. His body was not made to house strength, and he found more enjoyment in the pages of a book than he did roughhousing with other boys. Theo from the docks was right, Oriel was a smart one. Smarter than the doctor already, and the old man was not happy about it. He would find excuses to smack Oriel’s knuckles or send him out to deal with more difficult patients under the guise of training. Oriel could handle that, for the most part. There were some days where it became too much, especially after his mother passed from an outbreak of illness the previous winter. He would hide away by the shore, showing his tears only to the ocean. It was during one such excursion that he witnessed the sight of a head poking from the ocean. A grayed complexion and familiar, obsidian eyes. Oriel had almost believed the Mer to be a dream. “Langua!” He gasped, and stumbled into the ocean without thought. He was always too reckless, too inquisitive. It’s perhaps why the other villagers found him strange. “Oriel.” He stopped short, the sound of his name making him inexplicably giddy. “You remembered.” “Memory is not bad.” Langua said in a heavy accent, the words clearly foreign on his tongue and between his teeth. “You cry often here. Why?” Oriel flushed, the water now lapping at his waist. “Oh, you saw that?” Langua swam around him, still larger and now even more dangerous than he’d been on land, locked in that tiny cage. “Why?” The Mer repeated, his tail moving gracefully through the waves. It was a captivating sight, it almost made Oriel want to reach out and touch the scales. He stopped himself before he could, however, not certain as to how his curiosity would be taken. “On occasion…” Oriel struggled to explain himself, brow furrowed. “Life is difficult. Painful.” “Life painful on land?” Oriel frowned thoughtfully. “Yes, I suppose. But it’s not all bad. I suppose that’s just life, in the end.” “Life not painful in sea.” Langua insisted, turning his nose up in a manner that drew laughter from 87
Oriel’s throat. The sound seemed to interest Langua, who darted closer and further in equal turns. They talked for a little, just until the sun was lower in the sky and Oriel was sure he’d be expected back. Langua gifted him shells and pretty pearls that gleamed in the sun. The Mer told him about the ocean with broken sentences, and though his features were made to devour, he never pursued Oriel as a meal. Langua looked dismayed at the offerings, despite Oriel’s assurances that he loved them. “It is not enough.” Langua insisted. “I owe debt of life.” Oriel simply pocketed the shiny little gifts. “I didn’t save you for anything like that, Langua. I saved you because you deserved it.” The Mer watched him leave the beach, Oriel knew because when he stopped at the very edge of the shore and the town to look back, he saw the Mer’s head bobbing above the gentle waves. Langua visited him frequently at the shore. Perhaps he was waiting for some life threatening event to occur, but the village didn’t house any dangers aside from the occasional building accident. Those were also not dangers that Langua could do anything about, as he was restricted to the sea. Oriel thought that the Mer would eventually get bored, but that never seemed to be the case. The seasons changed again and again, and yet Langua would be by the shore. Oriel grew taller, though never quite as large as the Mer. He grew smarter as well, pursuing new avenues of medical treatments. The old doctor never grew any kinder, only more bitter. His usefulness faded in the wake of Oriel’s diligent research. He would spend hours discussing it with Langua, who didn’t understand much of what the human was saying, but listened all the same. It felt nice to have someone there. Oriel never had many friends, even less as he grew older. There weren’t many in the village that could read or write, and the hours Oriel spent studying distanced him from those his age. He and Langua spent hours swimming and talking about everything, or nothing, and it felt perfectly wonderful. Oriel forgot that Langua was a creature from tales of horror, and Langua spoke of a life debt less and less. “Do you not have other Mers to visit?” Langua stilled at the question. “Yes. Plenty of time with them. Only see you every few days.” “Do they….eat people?” The Mer was quiet. “Sometimes.” Oriel was not scared of Langua, but he did wonder about the origin of the terrible tales he heard about Mer. Sailors being dragged into the sea, men going 88
missing from docks. He supposed that humans were easy prey on open water, and meat was meat. What a morbid thought. He didn’t like to dwell on it, or whether Langua has killed a human before. The day was warm and the water felt blissfully cool against his skin, it would be a shame to sour the atmosphere. Instead, he steered the conversation into safer territory. “What are they like?” “Like?” “Are they all nice, like you? Your friends, your family?” He elaborated. Langua sent a small wave of salty water over Oriel with a swish of his powerful tale. He watched as the human laughed, observed the way the lips tugged into a smile. The Mer copied the expression, and it was rather menacing with the elongated teeth and pitch black gaze. “They are their own. Like you. Like all.” “I see,” Oriel replied, and then: “I’m glad I met you.” Langua considered this for a long moment, lazily circling Oriel. The ripples his tail created lapped gently against Oriel’s waist. He smiled again with too many teeth. “I am glad, too.” Every few days, Oriel goes to the ocean. He swims into the water or he sits upon the jutting rocks covered in salt and licked by waves. The village talked about his oddness, about how he disappeared like clockwork. They wondered about the child that was raised and grown in their midst, not sure that they could recognize him. And humans feared what they did not know. “He is a devil! I have seen it!” Mayor Donnel cried, and he viciously pointed at Oriel. Red-faced and spitting, the man screamed for Oriel’s condemnation. “Burn him! Burn him! Send the devil back to the lap of his patron!” The crowd roared, a mixed cry of fear and wrath. They did not care for witches and devil-worshipers here. They hated his intelligence and his kindness, they feared the change he may bring. Oriel’s own fear rose in his chest, a choking, living thing. He thought he might choke on it and die right there, with no need for burning. “No!” He cried, though it was not heard. Or it was ignored, for their minds were captured by the thought of their Gods raining retribution down upon them for harboring a traitor. He still tried, because these were his neighbors. These were the people he was raised beside, so surely they had warmth in their hearts for him. “I have never turned against you! I have only ever wished to help!” “Lies!” Someone from the crowd screamed. “You bring your tinctures and potions and call them medicine!”
“They are!” He tried to argue. “Have you not recovered quicker than ever before?” “Witch, witch, witch!” They all screamed instead, the thought of listening no longer within their minds. Oriel grew pale, seeing the truth laid bare before him. The people he had grown and loved now looked at him with fear, their eyes wide and white with it. They called for his death, terrified for their own souls. At their hearts, he wanted to believe them good. But at their hearts, they were only showing him the truth — a human’s greatest fear was death, and that was what they believed would follow if he was not executed. What was his life when compared to theirs? He felt his heart break. Had it really been a sin to be kind? No, he refused to believe it, for then he would turn back on everything that he was. Oriel shoved at the hands that reached for him. His shirt was nearly torn from his body as he struggled away, fleeing the hunger of the crowd. Oriel ran down the familiar street that he had always known and believed he would always know. It was a prison now, a cage without visible bars. He ran for the hills, for the cliff that oversaw the ocean and the town. The howls of his pursuers were more terrible and terrifying than a pack of dogs snapping at his heels. As he fled closer and closer to the edge, the taste of salt grew heavier at every breath. The crashing of waves against the cliffside was loud in his ears, drowning out the footsteps that followed. He could not flee them forever, for there was nowhere for him to go. But he refused to be burned, condemned in a town that had broken his trust and tossed him aside so easily. If he was to die he would choose the manner himself. Oriel screamed as he leapt, a sound torn straight from the deepest parts of his chest. He jumped to the ocean, to the very place he had grown beside and honored as though it were a living thing. He jumped to the ocean, because it was also a home. When he hit the waves, they stung. The water was bitingly cold in Autumn, frothy and bitter with brine. It was a fair contrast to death by heat. He thought of the Mer, of Langua, and prepared for his body to be dashed against the rocks.
He did not. There were hands on him instead. They pulled him to the surface and Oriel spluttered, salt water spilling past his lips. His eyes stung with salt, and for a moment the world was blurry. He feared that someone from the village had jumped in after him, reckless in their bloodthirst, intent on pulling him right out of the water just to see him lit on a pyre. But when his vision cleared it was Langua there, black eyes and black hair and black tail, thrumming powerfully through the water to combat the current. The Mer’s hands dug into his arms and pulled him close, and they sat in the spray and pull of waves at the bottom of a cliff, the cries of the village blocked out by the sea. “You saved me.” Oriel nearly weeped, as the adrenaline had wrung out most of his energy. Langua swam away from the thunderous cliff waves. He moved them out into the open sea, where the water was calm and didn’t threaten to drown the human. “They did not want you.” He replied in his familiar heavy accent. “They do not deserve you.” “I don’t know what to do now.” There was nowhere for Oriel to go. He had no money, no possessions. They would surely burn his house to the ground. “We will take you now.” Langua hissed, and his teeth clacked menacingly in Oriel’s ear. “My people. You will be ours now. You will belong to the sea.” “What?” Oriel couldn’t yet comprehend such a thing. “You want me to stay...with you?” Langua continued to swim. He smiled the way Oriel taught him, though the expression continued to look rather menacing. “Yes. We will not throw you away. For we do not fear kindness. You will be happy with us, with me.” Oriel closed his eyes and clung to the Mer. Fear was built into the marrow of all living creatures, but it sat within them differently. He wondered what to make of the world. His thoughts were of the fear he felt in the face of his own people, and the kindness Langua showed despite his fearsome appearance. “Yes,” He said quietly. “I think I will be.”
Rain on Warm Concrete
Things are getting heated,
I pleaded for your understanding. Knees on the ground, around me I felt the clouds rolling in. Rain dripping down my cheek, like silk, smooth and slow. Below a puddle starts to grow, hitting the concrete, steady. And there you stood, your presence heavy, weighing the clouds down even more. A storm is brewing. You bottled up my tears and used them to water a rose, and it started to bloom. Feelings of imposement flooded the room and ever since that day I savor the smell of rain on warm concrete.
Illustration by Cheyanne Thistle
Illustration by Ben Cooper
So Young So young, just begun Don’t need to live to know what I’ve become When ya wake up, still in your make-up You’ll make it home just fine without breaking down Man, that’s so young, that’s so young Stay calm, we’ll all just get along Sit around, pretending like nothing’s wrong, So long, love letter, But you and I are gonna live forever
Illustration by Dylan Wilson
I don’t need to make amends, But I’m done going undercover I just want to find a friend, I don’t need another lover One day the world may end, But there’s still plenty to discover ‘Til then I’ll just pretend, I don’t need another lover So young, loaded gun Oblivious to what the trigger does, When ya wake up, never gonna make up Got ammunition on a mission we’re gonna shoot you down
Knocked out with the Midas touch, A champion wearing golden gloves Got you punch drunk, seeing stars Little birdies singing, “Why’d ya fall so hard?” My light burning bright everlong ‘til the thrill is gone love’s my battle cry, It’s never wrong how I stay so strong I’ll fight all my life, I’m all like I can’t go on when I can’t go on We’re gonna live forever I don’t need to make amends, But I’m done going undercover I just want to find a friend, I don’t need another lover Today the world will end, You never know we may recover No time left to pretend, I don’t need another lover Ooh, it’s troubling, when the belly of the beast starts rumbling Ooh, it’s gettin’ too hot like it’s summer in the city that we’re living in Feeling so young, if you’re so young... -Portugal The Man. 95
Illustration by Geo Sylvester
Contributors Mothmeister Producer: Rachael Karaczun Writer: Rachael Karaczun
Vladimir Zimakov’s Adventures in Nonsense Producer: Haylee Skogg Writer: Haylee Skogg
Hear Me Out: TikTok for Artists Producer: Emily Manzi Writer: Emily Manzi
Graffiti: Art or Vandalism? Producer: Frankie Bonanno Writer: Frankie Bonanno
All Inked Up Producer: Billy Langer Writer: Billy Langer
Through the Eyes of Pandemic Photographers Producer: Jenna Robinson Writer: Jenna Robinson
How has COVID-19 Affected Museums & Galleries? Producer: Alexis Kallicharan Writer: Alexis Kallicharan
An Interview with a Graphic Designer Producer: Ciarra Chasse Writer: Ciarra Chasse 98
FantasyLand Brought to Life
The Smile Behind the Mask
Producer: Lacey Bocanegra Writer: Lacey Bocanegra
Illustrator: Lacey Bocanegra Writer: Brianna Foster
Hannah Brown Makes Things
Wishing on Zeta
Producer: Brianna Ricker Writer: Brianna Ricker
Stinkin Lincoln Illustrator: Lacey Bocanegra Writer: Rachael Karaczun
Unity Illustrator: Rachael Karaczun Writer: Sinclair Samuels
Six Foot Separation
Illustrator: Anna Georgia Writer: Ashley Hayes
Fear Illustrator: Logan Farley Writer: Logan Farley
Rain on the Warm Concrete
Illustrator: Cheyanne Thistle Writer: Skylar Cruize
Illustrator: Frankie Bonanno Writer: Riley Silvia
Layout & Illustrator: Ben Cooper Writers: Taylor Swift & Aaron Dessner
Through the Clouds
Illustrator: Alexis Kallicharan Writer: Alasia Maxwell-Perkins
Human Instinct Illustrator: Jenna Robinson Writer: Alysandrah Ireland
The Best I Ever Had Illustrator: James Kava Writer: Jade Fishback
Layout & Illustrator: Dylan Wilson Writer: Brian Burton, Eric Andrew Howk, Jason Wade Sechrist, John Gourley, Kyle O'Quin, Zachary Carothers, & Zoe Manville
Love I Need Layout & Illustrator: Geo Sylvester Writers: Yoav Landau, & Samuel Haft
Drawing by Dylan Wilson