Rocket VOL. IX, ISSUE 2
FA S H I O N
PH O T O G R A PH Y
THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY WMROCKETMAGAZINE.COM ROCKET@EMAIL.WM.EDU @ROCKETMAG
AMY ZHANG EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMMEL EL-FIKY MANAGING EDITOR ANDREW UHRIG DIGITAL DIRECTOR BRONWYN ROSELI FASHION DIRECTOR REBECCA MCHALE ART EDITOR ANUSHKA ANNONTI, DALE LATTANZIO, SARAH MORGAN, JIAQING PAN, CLARA POTEET ART TEAM CLAIRE POWELL BEAUTY EDITOR CHAI HIBBERT, CAROLINE POLLY, SYLVIA SHEA, JULIA SUNG, KAELA SUNG BEAUTY TEAM ABBIE DANIEL BOOKINGS EDITOR ANDRIS MURRAY, CAMILLE OKONKWO, CHRISTINA RUBIO BOOKINGS TEAM PETER MAKEY COPY EDITOR ALIJAH WEBB DEPUTY FEATURES EDITOR EMILY BACAL, JOEL CALFEE, ALICIA DEVEREAUX, HANNAH LOWE, JACK MACKEY, NAKIA STEPHENS FEATURES TEAM EVAN PAKSHONG DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR NIKKY PRICE, SOPHIE SHEALY MARKETING CO-EDITORS STEPHANIE DOLAN, KAELEE HELMS, SAM MCCORMACK, EMILY POWELL MARKETING TEAM ELLIE GRACE, HENRY HANNON, LU HUYNH, FINLEY STEWART, IRIS WU, RUOCHUN YANG PHOTO/VIDEO TEAM DALTON LACKEY PRODUCTION EDITOR MACY CALDER, PETER SAMAHA PRODUCTION TEAM CATALINA RUBIO PUBLIC RELATIONS EDITOR GRAYCE BURNS, FATIMA JEREZ, HANNAH LONDON, SAMMY MURPHY, SARAH SMITH PUBLIC RELATIONS TEAM XANDER GIARRACCO STYLE EDITOR ANNABEL BENTLEY, RHEA CHESSON, HANNA HAILE, ANNA KASHMANIAN, TRISTAN LU, KEEILAH MOSELEY, ZAIRA MUGHAL, CHARLIE PARSONS, DINA RE STYLE TEAM 4
letter from the editor
It’s hard to believe this is the last issue of ROCKET Magazine that I will ever work on. ROCKET has had such a huge influence on my life (and been the biggest timesuck - I say that lovingly) since my freshman year of college. When I first started as a member of the style team, I never could have imagined that I would eventually become the Editor-in-Chief! I credit ROCKET for altering so many aspects of my life and I really don’t know what I’m going to do without it in the future. I really wanted this issue to be special because it is my last, and I truly believe we were able to deliver. It usually takes a while to figure out what we want to do for the cover, but
this semester I knew immediately. I have had the pleasure of taking classes with photography professor Eliot Dudik, and I can definitely say those classes changed my life. Not only is he one of the best professors I have worked with here at the college, but his students are some of the hardest working and most talented people I have come across. When it came to choosing the cover model, Iris Wu was an obvious choice because she is one of Eliot’s most talented students while also being one of his youngest. I’ve luckily been able to see her talent grow over the time that I have known her and she just keeps getting better. This year was dotted with so many huge new accomplishments, like our recent collaboration with Hope Sews, our biggest and most successful ASTRAL Fashion Show yet, and more impressive milestones. I can say now that I am so proud of the direction ROCKET has taken since I initially started on this magazine three and a half years ago. I will be forever indebted to this organization for all of the wonderful memories I have, as well as all of the growth I’ve personally endured as an individual. I know that the future is bright for ROCKET and I can’t wait to see what next year’s team will bring to it.
08 16 22 28 36 46
SLICK COMPANY PEDESTAL CHEESE PULL ADAM WARD
DUNE CONFETTI DÉCOUPÉES HOPE SEWS ELIOT DUDIK ASTRAL 56 64 66 72 78
DUNE photography by IRIS WU beauty by SYLVIA SHEA, JULIA SUNG, KAELA SUNG models CASSANDRA FERNANDEZ, ANGELICA JOHNSON, HELEN OWUSU
left to right SCARF VINTAGE, BLAZERS VINTAGE, SWIMSUIT BY ASOS, SWIMSUIT BY & OTHER STORIES, SCARF VINTAGE COACH, SWIMSUIT BY URBAN OUTFITTERS
SHOES BY TOPSHOP
SHOES BY NIKE, SUNGLASSES BY URBAN OUTFITTERS
You Are What You Eat: How Diet Prada is Changing the Face of Fashion Media The food pyramid of fashion media is getting overturned. Features writer Emily Bacal details how the new clean eating involves a hefty serving of Diet Prada’s brand of no-holds-barred criticism and in-depth analysis. It’s time to purge your pantry of problematic brands and uncritical publications. Are the expiration dates of traditional fashion publications finally coming due? written by EMILY BACAL
Fashion, welcome to the information age. The growth of social media has shifted virtually all aspects of the fashion industry. Models are cast or passed over based on follower counts. Social media influencers have taken fashion by storm, accumulating a flurry of collaborations, editorials, and ambassadorships. Brands are paying more attention to the digital community, bolstering their online presence. In attempting to establish themselves within new digital frontiers, industry giants and newcomers alike are making the rules up as they go. The democratization of public voice has facilitated various upheavals in the realm of fashion media, allowing for plebian voices to be heard among the patricians. Increasingly diverse voices have used the internet to amplify their perspectives, challenging the former monopoly on fashion coverage once held by magazines and newspapers. Digitization has not only shifted the medium of publications, but has fundamentally altered the type of information being distributed, broadening the public’s access to the industry. Enter Diet Prada, a vigilante Instagram account boasting 1.2 million followers, run by a formerly anonymous
duo well versed in fashion history. Diet Prada’s founders, Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler, have weaponized their nearly catalogical knowledge of designer collections. The duo uses their own observations alongside tips direct-messaged from their followers (referred to affectionately as ‘Dieters,’) to expose the rip-offs, bigots, and liars running amok in fashion and its adjacent industries. These Prada-wearing Robin Hood reduxes expose everything from the ideas megalith designers have poached from smaller labels, to the problematic imagery evoked by Gucci’s blackface-balaclavas. Among the many takedowns Diet Prada has dished out, none were as sweetly satisfying as their assault on Dolce & Gabbana’s ‘The Great Show,” a huge fashion extravaganza set to take place in Shanghai in the fall of 2018. By exposing the blatant racism and cultural insensitivity of Stefano Gabbana, Diet Prada caused this show to be cancelled altogether. No other fashion media platform would have been able to shut this show down in the way that Diet Prada did, both on account of the speed with which the social media account attacks wrongdoers and DP’s place of extreme influence. The exposure of Gabbana’s
offensive comments about China and Chinese culture set off a tide of backlash to the brand, including videos of consumers burning their Dolce & Gabbana pieces, a spatter of D&G stores shutting down around the world, and some major retailers dropping the brand altogether. As fashion is a reputational industry, exposure of this sort of bigoted behavior has direct consequences for brand marketability. The scale of this takedown proved the influence this upstart Instagram account really has. Notably, in their coverage of the event, many publications neglected to mention the integral role DP played in this takedown. Diet Prada has faced backlash from fashion media as it stakes its claim within the industry. News outlets and critics claim that Diet Prada’s rapid rise to fame is a result of a cultural desire to bring others down. The first line of a March 2019 Vogue article about the wardrobe choices of “scammers” reads, “Cultural fascination with people who do wrong has never been higher.” However, the reduction of DP’s purpose to fulfilling our desire for vindication ignores the revolutionary quality of its content. The antiquated rules about zipping lips when it comes to fashion criticism
Authenticity seems to be the only thing wealthy brands and influencers can’t buy nowadays. 13
have been overturned. Diet Prada’s role is so unique because, rather than ingratiating themselves with support of brands, they have made themselves known for their criticism; they profit off of the radical honesty they have a virtual monopoly on. Authenticity seems to be the only thing wealthy brands and influencers can’t buy nowadays. In a world in which everything has been reified and sold to the highest bidder, capitalistic maneuvers are viewed as some sort of indisputable modern-day natural selection. We look to monetarily-disinterested parties to play the role of ethical compass. This shift breeds a new brand of criticism: less cooperative gentility, more “anything goes.” The take-no-prisoners approach of Diet Prada is unprecedented and thus attractive to fashion media consumers due to its elusivity. But call-outs and criticisms are not all one can glean from DP’s Instagram. Shuffled in among pointed barbs and side-by-side comparisons are delicately wrought, perceptive reviews of designer collections which give Vogue Runway’s iconic critiques a run for their money. It is vital to acknowledge the inclusion of commentary among the criticism to fully appreciate Diet Prada’s success. Through creating a brand not solely based on unchecked disparagement, DP establishes itself as a bona-fide source of fashion information, thus staking its claim among other sites and magazines peddling risk-free collection reviews. Diet Prada gives rise to conversations not only about the content it puts out, but about the lack of real criticism found in other publications. If Diet Prada can integrate real criticism with rigorous and thoughtful reviews, why can’t other fashion media publications? A suggestion is implicitly made that the most complete media diet should include both appreciation and no-holds-barred, honest journalism, praise interspersed with documentation of where designers fail and how they must improve.
GLASSES BY FEISEDY
The most complete media diet should include both appreciation and no-holdsbarred, honest journalism, praise interspersed with documentation of where designers fail and how they must improve. 15
confetti photography by HENRY HANNON beauty by CLAIRE POWELL, SYVLIA SHEA, KAELA SUNG model TATIANA PRIOLEAU
OVERALLS BY CARHART, SHIRT VINTAGE, BOOTS BY DOC MARTEN
DÉCOUPÉES photography by FINLEY STEWART art by ANUSHKA ANNONTI, DALE LATTANZIO, SARAH MORGAN, CLARA POTEET models AMANDA SCHNECK, ANONYMOUS
hope sews photography by ELLIE GRACE beauty by CAROLINE POLLY, CLAIRE POWELL, JULIA SUNG, KAELA SUNG models JERON DUHART, MAYA MUTALIK, THANH PHAM, TELE SOGA
In an interview with Managing Editor Emmel El-Fiky, CEO and head designer of the fashion brand Hope Sews, Maya Mutalik, discusses the story of how the business came to be, with an emphasis on her Ghanaian team who help make Hope Sews as special as it is. written by EMMEL EL-FIKY
Even if she has lofty goals, it’s difficult to expect a young woman entering college to also start a business. Maya Mutalik, a sophomore at Babson College and the CEO and head designer of the fashion brand Hope Sews, knew this, but the opportunity presented itself in a way she couldn’t deny. At age 18, Mutalik visited Ghana for the first time with the goal of learning more about the issues faced by women and girls in West Africa. “I have always been passionate about working in the field of economic development with marginalized groups, and specifically providing income-generation growth opportunities to women and girls who unfortunately are often left behind.” She describes the impact of meeting the women there and becoming inspired by their creativity and ingenuity. “After meeting a passionate, talented, and hardworking seamstress named Vida Sowah and learning her story, I felt a strong drive to learn more about the barriers [women face] in the Ghanaian seamstress industry. I simultaneously fell in love with the beautiful, vibrant, and unique African wax prints that are omnipresent in the Ghanaian market. My love for fashion eventually collided with my passion for social impact, and I founded Hope Sews, with the intent of
growing it as a socially conscious fashion brand.” As a young innovator and entrepreneur, Maya Mutalik has been interviewed and featured countless times in the last few years, not least of which were short profiles in the February, March and April 2019 issues of British Vogue. She is an internationally-focused business owner with a passion for altruism, and she’s only 20 years old. However, her story has been told over and over again, and even she is beginning to tire of the one-track narrative surrounding her brand. She knows she can’t take all of the credit for the success of Hope Sews. Mutalik is frustrated that she is getting all of the attention, because she wants to highlight the essential figures behind the scenes that are vital to the growth and success of Hope Sews. When she speaks of the brand, she uses “we,” acknowledging the fact that she isn’t going about this alone. Her business partners, Vida Sowah and fellow local Ghanaian Hermon Tettey, who work as co-designer and operations manager, respectively, also play a big part in the development of Hope Sews, and help guide its goals and direction. Mutalik wants to make sure they get the attention and recognition they deserve. When Mutalik approached Sowah with the idea for Hope Sews, and an inquiry to potentially collaborate, Sowah thought it was a great idea, commending Mutalik’s focus on helping people right there in Ghana. “What a splendid dream. Maya is energetic and goal-oriented so the idea will come to reality. I told myself I will help her throughout. I am so… happy, especially when local seamstresses here in Anloga, Ghana are the focus, to transform their livelihood.”
The upcoming collection from Hope Sews, titled The Free Woman Collection, is a collaboration in design between Mutalik and Sowah. The goal is to create clothes which emphasize a synthesis of Ghanaian and Western styles that stands out in an oversaturated, copycat market. “Much of the inspiration for The Free Woman Collection comes from the place I am in life, a stage where I, a young woman, am constantly reflecting on and recognizing the power of being bold, standing out, and taking my life into my own hands,” Mutalik says. With each collection, Mutalik and Sowah keep their target audience in mind. “The Hope Sews Woman is fashion-forward, socially conscious, and global-minded,” Mutalik says. As a brand, Hope Sews wants to encourage a wonder and excitement for the world, and a kind of mindfulness that brings awareness to one’s place in it. As Mutalik says, “The Hope Sews Woman is what I myself aspire to be: fearless, bold, and with a vision bigger than herself.” What outlets like British Vogue, while well-intentioned, fail to recognize is how involved in the process of creating the designs Sowah and Tettey are, as well as with the philanthropic aspect of Hope Sews. Sowah, as the head seamstress and co-designer with Mutalik, is also in charge of training other seamstresses to manufacture Hope Sews goods. “I spend time coaching, directing, and working out styles for fashion and training young women seamstresses to help them make a better life for themselves.” This really is the end goal for Hope Sews – to use fashion to empower women all over the world, at every level of production. As Hope Sews continues to grow, Mutalik, along with Sowah and Tettey and their team, have many goals for the
future. As of right now, the brand focuses on Ghanaian fabrics and textiles, but one day hopes to incorporate materials, designs, and innovations from all over the world. “We plan to scale [outwards] to be a global fashion brand targeting the many countries where the seamstress industry continues to be a primary industry that women enter to make a living, and utilizing the unique fabrics from around the world to bring them to the US market in the form of modern-fusion clothing,” Mutalik says. She has plans for this upcoming fall to travel to Asia, particularly India and China, to learn more about the textile industries in those countries and how best to incorporate these seamstresses and their craft into Hope Sews. “I am excited to grow the brand globally and empower women on a much larger scale.” Tettey expresses even more global aspirations, this time with a more economic focus. “[My] goal for Hope Sews [is] to expand and attract international donors/NGOs’ attention to support seamstresses in Ghana, [in order to] raise their basic standards of living [and] to be self-reliant. We are excited to help seamstresses through micro-financing. This will make [them] comfortable in their living situations. Besides, it will [be] worth it: the profit a seamstress generates benefits the vulnerable in the community.” As Mutalik previously mentioned, 10% of the profits from the sale of Hope Sews goods goes back to the seamstresses in the form of microfinance loans, to aid them in the purchase of sewing machines, textiles, and other materials they can use to create profitable products. To clarify, microfinance loans, according to Kiva.org, are loans “to entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals who lack access to traditional banking services.”
The goal is to create clothes which emphasize a synthesis of Ghanaian and Western styles that stands out in an oversaturated, copycat market. 30
CLOTHES BY HOPE SEWS
Hope Sews has become a testament to what vision, ingenuity, and a passion for social entrepreneurship can do, even in the most unlikely circumstances. Additionally, Tettey emphasized Hope Sews’ humanitarian efforts in aiding Ghanaian seamstresses, as they will have grander implications for tackling gender inequity in the communities they are involved in. Speaking for himself, Sowah, and their team, Tettey says, “We will both support every inch of path Hope Sews takes to address gender and humanity challenges.” Tettey, who is also a gender activist, hopes to use Hope Sews as a way to empower his community and work towards gender equality. “I am optimistic that next year Hope Sews will be adjudged [to be] the best social enterprise, making real-time impact on individuals.” For Mutalik, the most rewarding part of Hope Sews is the people she works with and is able to connect to. Beyond the creative and philanthropic teams led by Sowah and Tettey, Hope Sews
also works with technical staff from all over the world, with team members operating out of not only Ghana, but the United States and Scotland, as well. However, Mutalik wants to make it clear how much she values the work Sowah and Tettey do to fortify the heart of the brand. “Hermon, our operations manager in Ghana works tirelessly to ensure that we effectively achieve our social mission of providing women with resources they need to succeed. He travels hours to markets to get the best fabrics to ensure that our clothing is the best quality. Vida, our head seamstress trainer, is deeply passionate about training other young women in her community and helping local girls obtain meaningful life skills to allow them to engage in productive activity instead of entering harmful lifestyles.” With a team like this, it is truly a wonder that they have never
been included in a Hope Sews profile before. Hope Sews has become a testament to what vision, ingenuity, and a passion for social entrepreneurship can do, even in the most unlikely circumstances. When Maya Mutalik started the brand two years ago, she had no idea it would take off the way it has. But, with the invaluable help of new Ghanaian friends and business partners, this college girl with a lofty goal became an international business owner, with a platform for good and the attention of the global community.
Eliot Dudik photography by ELIOT DUDIK model IRIS WU
Sitting down with notable photographer and William & Mary art professor Eliot Dudik, Features writer Alicia Devereaux discovers just what it is that sets Dudik apart from the rest. Several projects capturing the American landscape in all its guts and glory, collaborations with large companies like Kodak, and most importantly, the impact he has on his students are only some of the things that make Dudik so special. written by ALICIA DEVEREAUX additional reporting by SARAH SMITH
Right after taking his first undergraduate photography class at the College of Charleston, Eliot Dudik transformed his bathroom into a darkroom. “The bathroom is usually the best place because it has running water and ventilation,” he explains, straight-faced. “I was renting an apartment with two other people, we only had one bathroom, but I would have to shut down the bathroom for a little when I worked in there.” Dudik has since upgraded from bathrooms to academic buildings and beyond; he founded William & Mary’s first photography facilities and curriculum, and his photographs have been published in an impressive range of outlets including the New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine—though he might not bring it up unless you ask. This is Dudik epitomized: clever, optimistic, and prepared to do what is necessary for the sake of his art, all while maintaining a reserved manner of humility—he even admits he forgot to put a drain in William & Mary’s darkroom floor. Soft-spoken, contemplative, and clad in jeans and a flannel, Dudik tells me about his post-graduate-school fear of only having one viable artistic idea and then burning out; he had worried that his Road Ends in Water series was “the one thing I was going to create and I was never going to create again.” In Broken Land (2011-2016), Dudik captures sprawling panoramas of Civil War battlefields in hopes of exposing and preventing the toxic repetition of American history. You can almost feel the ghosts of traumas past lingering in the
images. When he first began the project, Dudik couldn’t afford the specific type of film he needed, so he wrote Kodak a proposal asking for sponsorship. The camera giant saw potential in Dudik’s project and sponsored him, and his relationship with the company has only grown since then; he even launched a program with them, the Film Photo Award, which provides grants for photographers in similar situations to the one that led Dudik to Kodak in the first place. By glancing at his website, it’s clear that Dudik’s post-grad fears were unfounded; he has completed several other projects since Road Ends in Water, though he still insists, “Every day is a risk.” While perusing through his work online, one gets a sense that Dudik has a fascination with the American landscape, both physical and cultural. When I ask if this is true, Dudik all but shrugs, stating that America is just what he happens to know best. “I use the landscape specifically because it is what I feel most comfortable communicating with. I grew up in the landscape; I grew up on a sheep farm. I use the United States because it is here, it is what I know… and I’m not bored of it yet. As long as I’m still growing and learning from exploring this landscape, I am happy to keep learning from that.” I ask Dudik what it is that he’s learned; does he have a better understanding of America thanks to his photography, or is he just left with more questions than before? “I think I could go both ways,” he ponders. “My dad always said, the more you know, the dumber you are, and there’s some
of that in my work for sure. The more I have explored the American landscape and the American culture, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” However, Dudik wants the impact of his work to extend beyond the scope of America. “Most of my work is about American culture and the American landscape, and I hope that it has some effect, not only for myself, but for people who engage with it, to help better understand our culture— and I hope that it’s something that can resonate with communities outside of here.” Dudik uses this “not knowing” as fuel to better understand America and even help it heal. While working on Broken Land, Dudik saw a major division in our country and hoped he could depict and help mend that division through his photos. “What I was hoping to do was to create some recognition of this divide in the country and reverse it or fix it in some way, but that certainly hasn’t happened.... but I realize that’s a lot to ask of a photograph.” Thinking about this American schism, I ask Dudik if he can identify any major cultural changes throughout his many projects and years of viewing America through a lens. He says no. In the case of Broken Land, he believes that split was always there: “I don’t think the division has grown deeper but has been exposed.” Dudik finds it difficult to map out cultural shifts this way unless you’re working on a project for a lifetime, explaining, “I’m not sure that 5 years is enough to see cultural change.” But he is hopeful. “I hope in years to come, you’ll be able to look back on that work and see change. I am
“Most of my work is about American culture and the American landscape, and I hope that it has some effect, not only for myself, but for people who engage with it, to help better understand our culture—and I hope that it’s something that can resonate with communities outside of here.” 38
SHOES BY NIKE, BAG BY SUPREME, JUMPSUIT BY ASOS, HAT BY KANGOL, SHIRT BY UMAMIISM
“I think it’s most empowering when you can see it resonate with someone else, when you can feel like you were able to communicate to someone else—even if they aren’t getting exactly what you get from the photograph— when they walk away from the photograph thinking or feeling something.” sure there is change happening in that time but it’s hard to see it.” Dudik has travelled to every state besides Hawaii throughout his career. Much of his road tripping was for one series in particular, titled Paradise Road (2014-present), for which Dudik photographs roads with that moniker around the country. “It takes me to these neighborhoods, these places that I would never have been to otherwise… seeing how people across the country build their lives within the landscape and around one another. What’s most surprising is how similar it is—when I started the project, I expected it to be very different across the country.” When I ask Dudik to name some recurring images in his work which he would classify as uniquely American, he lists three: guns, RVs, and beer. With this in mind, and having seen some of the desolate landscapes in Paradise Road which look like anything but, I wonder if Dudik’s bleaker subjects ever get him down. “Does it ever break my spirit? It hasn’t yet,” he tells me. “I have to say that it’s only made me want to photograph more, so far.” Similarly, when I ask if he ever feels weight or pressure when his subjects become emotionally invested in being part of his work, he says no. “I do have subjects that I’ve photographed that seem very invested in the work and the fact that they’ve been a part of it, but for the most part it’s been celebratory and exciting for them to be a part of it—even the heaviest work.” This is the sort of idealistic attitude which struck me most about Dudik; he sees the positive power in his artwork. Even through his more emotional experiences, like speaking with ancestors of Civil War veterans throughout his work on Broken Land and being moved by their personal attachments to the landscapes, Dudik sees his work as
a chance to learn, grow, and inspire. “I think it’s most empowering when you can see it resonate with someone else, when you can feel like you were able to communicate to someone else—even if they aren’t getting exactly what you get from the photograph—when they walk away from the photograph thinking or feeling something.” Dudik obviously cares deeply about making a change in people. It makes sense that he’s so adored as a professor here at William & Mary. Funnily enough, he didn’t originally intend to teach, even when all his peers did. When I ask about the plethora of organizations he’s worked with—ranging from large industry corporations like Kodak, to publications like Buzzfeed, and even to the Library of Congress—he says the bulk of those opportunities emerged once he started teaching. “I didn’t initially plan to be a teacher, so the publications came at the same time,” he reflects. “I came through an art program in a different way than some of my peers did, focusing almost exclusively on my artwork, and it wasn’t until after I finished school that I even considered teaching, and I was really lucky to be given an opportunity where I could try it. I really liked it and did pretty well with it.” Dudik is grateful for the stability that comes with the job; according to him, the day-to-day lifestyle of a freelance photographer is a “pretty grueling life—fun when it begins, but hard to keep up with.” But it’s not just the stability that keeps Dudik here—he makes his love for the College abundantly clear. “I hope to never leave William & Mary,” he professes. “Here, I get to teach photography the way I think it should be taught.” For him, founding the photography program as part of the art department was the “experience of a lifetime,” the chance to build something from scratch
and ensure that everything he personally lacked or desired in school is available to students today. As part of a national organization called the Society for Photographic Education, founded in 1963, Dudik gets to speak with educators from all over the country and discuss various teaching styles, some of which he has qualms with. The study of photography entered art departments in higher education in the 1960s, and Dudik sees many photography programs as somewhat stuck in time. “I think some programs are still taught with the mentality that was used in the 1960s in terms of photo curriculum,” he says. Meanwhile, other programs have taken the opposite approach and committed themselves to digital photography while dropping analog almost completely. “I don’t think either one of those approaches is conducive to the world that we live in,” he explains. “We don’t live in a fully digital world especially in terms of art, but we don’t live in a fully analog world.” With regard to the growing popularity and presence of digital photography as an artistic medium, it’s hard to avoid mentioning social media. I ask Dudik if he views Instagram, in particular, as a legitimate art form. “Yes, I think it certainly can be,” he replies. “I don’t think everything that is on Instagram is art, but it can be an art form. People use it for different reasons.” He uses Instagram and Facebook a fair amount himself, and attributes much of his success to those platforms: “I learn about other artists that way, I network that way, I use it as a marketing tool. I kind of use it as a daily journal.” He also explains how social media creates a sort of “invisible” fanbase who looks at and interacts with his work online without him necessarily knowing about it, at least until someone approaches him at a show and tells him
they like his Instagram feed. Overall, Dudik sees online networking as an invaluable tool. “It’s interesting to see how social media has really connected the curators, the creators, the writers.” While navigating photo education in the digital age and building his dream curriculum are major factors in Dudik’s passion for professorship, teaching is nothing without the students. “The other thing that keeps me here is the students,” says Dudik. “I’m not sure what it is—they’re brilliant students for sure, and driven students, and often they come from a wide variety of experiences, and all of that filters into their artwork.” He believes he has never worked with students more hardworking than the ones here. When his pupils push themselves, he explains, he doesn’t have to “beg or prod.” To Dudik, this is as rewarding as it gets. “Just give them the space and the materials and the tools, and they create magic.” Because he sees his students as capable and creative artists, Dudik consistently tries to step away from the wheel and let them follow their own artistic impulses. “I find that William and Mary students want to know exactly what they need to do to get an A… I intentionally leave my projects really wide open and I encourage them to create whatever is meaningful to them. I give them a ton of freedom to explore whatever it is they want to explore, which comes off terrifying to them, but ultimately they tend to really grab on to it. It creates really exciting work.” For Dudik, it is not about shaping his students’ creative visions; it is about giving them the resources to form their own. “I try to understand what their motivations [are] in their artwork and help them communicate that as clearly as possible.” Dudik considers his relationship with his students integral to his own artistic and personal development. “I am working on my artwork everyday, and I consider the teaching that I do here to be part of that as well. I get as much inspiration and energy from the students as I hope they get from me—even though my voice is very monotone,” he jokes. Although he sees them as intertwined, I wonder how Dudik balances teaching
with his personal projects. “I have more ideas than I can handle,” he confesses. “That’s my issue: focusing on one thing and not jumping from project to project. I’m actively working nonstop on a bunch of different things, just trying to keep that going. I’m totally immersed in so many different things right now, I can’t even imagine what comes after that— just working.” I ask Dudik where he sees himself in his artistic development, and a trace of a smile crosses his lips as he responds, “I think I’m still in my infancy, I hope.” These words perfectly encapsulate Dudik’s modest and optimistic attitude toward his work both as a professional photographer and a professor - he gives it his all and hopes for the best, eager to enjoy and learn from the process along the way. Dudik’s answer to my final question confirms his compassionate spirit. I conclude our interview by asking what he wants people to take away from his work, and Dudik says, “Hopefully I can use this [American] landscape and this culture to talk about cultures outside [the U.S.], this humanity in general. If my explorations in that can help others do the same, I’d be quite happy.”
“I try to understand what their motivations [are] in their artwork and help them communicate that as clearly as possible.”
models JERON DUHART, TAIANA JAMES, RICHARD LIU, KYOKO MINAMINO 48
AUDREY photography by ANDREW UHRIG beauty by CHAI HIBBERT, SERENA HOOKER, CAROLINE POLLY, CLAIRE POWELL, JULIA SUNG, KAELA SUNG written by HANNAH LOWE
It’s hard to fit all the creativity of a full fashion week into one night, but ASTRAL pulled it off. A line out the door and inspired outfits on and off the runway preceded the annual event, presented by ROCKET Magazine and Students of HipHop Legacy (SoHHL). The waiting crowd stretched from the doors of ISC to Swem Library, all chatting about the evening to come and sneaking glances of models walking by the second-story windows. Some students, including senior Bronwynn Terrell, had been to ASTRAL before and knew what to expect. “The atmosphere [last year] was so cool,” Terrell said. “I got a unique spot under the stairs where only ROCKET staff were standing. It was a very cool vibe — everyone was so excited and I got an inside look at what was happening.” Other students, such as freshman Kiera Sears, were new to ASTRAL.
LE O N A RD
Reporting from the most explosive creative event on campus, Features writer Hannah Lowe describes the excitement and anticipation surrounding ROCKET Magazine and Students of Hip-Hop Legacy’s 3rd annual ASTRAL Fashion Show. With more designers, more musicians, more models, and more hype than ever before, ASTRAL more than lived up to its growing reputation.
models NIKKITA ABROKWA, ARIA AUSTIN, ANDREA CHAVEZ, MARGARITA OROZCO, FRIDA SALMORAN, SALLI SANFO, JACKIE WESTBROOK
“I’ve heard so much about it, and all my friends who have taste have been talking about it.” Sears laughed, “It wasn’t a choice to come.” Though she wasn’t sure how to prepare for the event, Sears, like many other students, dressed to the nines. “I wanted to show out but not distract.” Junior Julia Pratt agreed that she didn’t know what to expect, but added, “I’ve been told there are shirtless men — a flock of shirtless men!” She wasn’t to be disappointed. At nine o’clock exactly, the chattering crowd filed into ISC 3 and lined the runway on the first and second floors. Music filled the room and anticipation mounted. The volume went up and up as students speculated about what would come down the glass staircase. Just before ten, the show began.
The first designs on the runway were those of FIT student Audrey Leonard, who showed white and gold activewear sets and a knit sweater inspired by artist Cy Twombly. The trio of models danced down the runway to live music, firing up the crowd for the next collection. Later, Leonard’s “Scorpion in Amber” coat — made with melted organza and paired with lingerie — would close out the show. Following Leonard, a trio of VCU students, Taylor Virgil, Lama Ali, and Sarah Elsadig, sent their pieces down the runway. Their distinctive styles ranged from elegant dresses to embroidered polo shirts with illustrated jeans. The structured garments featured asymmetrical hemlines and graphic highlights, taking conventional silhouettes and warping them into unorthodox shapes. The ingenuity of the designers was matched only by the confidence of the models who wore their pieces. SoHHL alum Huey Shy gave an electric performance as the women walked by him, showing why he was chosen to return to ASTRAL after a standout performance its first year. As the VCU student designs disappeared up the staircase, down came the menswear line from TWELVE accompanied by musical guest Babysosa. Babysosa, an 18-year-old Richmond DJ and rapper, gave an effervescent performance that contrasted with the angular lines and mugshot expressions of TWELVE’s models. The brand, returning to ASTRAL for a second year in a row, chose to spotlight the tightly-curated aesthetic of its Spring/Summer ‘19 menswear collection. This year, founder Matthew Jonathan Harewood chose to remix his runway style with different colors and textures on every model. Consistent visuals cues — boxing gloves,
pictures of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, graphic text — tied it all together. “Seeing those symbols allows people to say, ‘That’s got to be TWELVE she or he is wearing,’” Harewood explained. As the menswear models circled the runway in their final lineup, Babysosa performed her Pitchfork-featured single “EVERYWHEREIGO” and Instagrammed the men as they passed. Babysosa finished her performance dancing in the crowd, and handed off the mic to William & Mary student-musician Khaiba. Khaiba performed his songs “Moments,” “Liquor,” and “Memories” as designer Maya Cross sent her pieces down the runway. Drawn from her Luxe Nomad collection, the garments projected edgy femininity through innovative use of denim and chunky knitwear. One standout piece, a floor-length duster with fringed sleeves, was paired with
an exquisitely-beaded strappy bralette and shiny trousers. It was followed by another stunner: a cloudlike gown of white fabric worn with a yarn ball choker. Cross accompanied her last model during the closing lineup, floating along with a huge smile. The last collection, designed by collective Boyhood Society, wrapped up the night. The Boyhood creators, Arcadya, Boyvillain, and Jan, have distinctive styles that combine to form an aesthetic that is more lifestyle than brand. Aiming to “humanize fashion” rather than “materialize it” — in the words of Boyvillain — Boyhood’s “queer and genderless” designs ranged from a glamorous baby pink gown with feathers and beaded details to a light green neon top paired with a matching fanny pack and graphic eyeliner. One model sported a white jumpsuit with a lacy neckline un-
models NATHAN BORG, HOWARD CHARLES, STORM ESHLEMAN, JUAN GARCIA, MAXIME LEGROS, ZACH MEREDITH, RAJ NAIR, ROBERT RUST, SAMIR TALAWARE
JONATHANS TWELVE BOAT
models SOLONGO BAYARMAA, DANIELLE BROWN, KERSEY NEAL, MYRIAM SAMAKE, RHEA SHARMA, JACKIE VALLES
MAYA CROSS 54
der a translucent salmon red overcoat, looking like a twenty first century reincarnation of Ziggy Stardust. Performers Yuvi and DJ Eze closed out the show, keeping energy high. ISC 3 echoed with the shouts of the crowd as the models and designers did a final walk down the staircase and around the room. As they passed by, attendees called out the names of the student models and snapped pictures for social media. In conversation with the designers, their passion for their craft — and their excitement for ASTRAL — shone through. For Audrey Leonard, whose activewear and art-inspired garments began the show, ASTRAL is one step towards a future in the fashion industry. “Ideally, I would like to be a designer at a mid-sized company or play a role in textile development at a women’s apparel brand,” she said. “Maybe one day I will start my own brand.” Maya Cross likewise looks forward to a fashion career. “I would love to create inspirational garments for celebrities and create a well-known brand and clothing line.” For fashion rulebreakers Boyhood Society, ASTRAL was another place to share their unapologetically-deviant attitude and social justice mission. Through fashion, the Boyhood designers push boundaries and make space for queer and trans people of color in the industry. Creator Arcadya described the playfully androgynous clothes they presented: “Sexy, badass, goddess-like. Lingerie-inspired biker chick.” As for post-ASTRAL ambitions? Boyvillain said it best, for everyone involved — their fellow designers, ROCKET, and SoHHL. “Take over the gotdamned world.”
As for post-ASTRAL ambitions? Boyvillain said it best, for everyone involved — their fellow designers, ROCKET, and SoHHL. “Take over the gotdamned world.”
left to right JACKETS BY KENN SPORN FOR WIPPETTE, SKIRT BY AMAZON, CHOKER BY DOLLSKILL, SANDALS VINTAGE, EARRINGS VINTAGE, SKIRT BY BOOHOO, SHOES VINTAGE 56
What we think we know about dressing like a sex worker is all wrong. Features writer Alijah Webb delves into why we think certain aesthetic elements evoke this image of a sex worker, and why those narratives need to be challenged. photography by ANDREW UHRIG beauty by CHAI HIBBERT, CAROLINE POLLY models RUTH GOSHU, MBIYE KASONGA written by ALIJAH WEBB
Latex, leather, harnesses, and fishnets all evoke an image of the sex worker, at least, one we’ve been fed. We associate these specific ideals of sexualized dress with misunderstood origins of a supposed aesthetic, one that we don’t fully understand. In film and media, street sex workers are faithfully portrayed in scantily clad clothing. No one is donning jeans and a t-shirt, even if that is what they normally wear. Yet, by forcing societal notions of how sex workers should dress, we put them onto a pedestal while simultaneously silencing them. In reality, the “sex worker’s aesthetic” does not exist, but there are a lot of problematic connotations that do. In September of 2018, Jennifer Lawrence described her personal style as “[a] 90’s sex worker who’s just won her
case in court,” spoken like a true woman with too much money and a fixation on poverty. In the moment she made her claim, Lawrence entered a centuries-old tradition of young, middle-to-upper class white women who have been fascinated with borrowing from the working class. Through the subtle incorporation of sartorial symbols which do not belong to them, these women are able to cultivate an aesthetic identity. Yet, without paying homage to the marginalized bodies who originated the looks, there is an active process of erasure which allows for distance to exist between the real-life marginalized muse and the fabricated image of a sex worker. Kathy Peiss, a professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania and historian of early-twentieth-cen57
Without paying homage to the marginalized bodies who originated the looks, there is an active process of erasure which allows for distance to exist between the real-life marginalized muse and the fabricated image of a sex worker. tury youth culture, argues that in the 1900s, middle class women would frequently look to both aristocratic socialites and working girls for style cues. The reasons for borrowing from sex workers were the same then as they are now: to push the boundaries as much as possible while still maintaining the respect of one’s peers. We all liked to play dress up as children, allowing ourselves to embody the lives of people we admire or find interesting. There’s an implicit safety in knowing that you can take off the clothes and go back to normal. To evoke the image of a sex worker is to play dress up with an edge.
Lawrence’s comment also exemplifies a rose-colored view of sex work. It implies an association between sex work and criminality, while not addressing the safety of sex workers in any way other than poking fun at the very real legal problems they face. In reality, according to a 2013 article in the New York Post by Kate Briquelet, a woman was arrested for prostitution based on how she was dressed. The officer deemed that the jeans she was wearing were too provocative underneath her pea coat. This sex worker won her case, but I don’t think that a pea coat and skinny jeans was the aesthetic Jennifer Law-
rence was referring to. A 2016 slideshow by Esther Zuckerman for Refinery29 explores the nuanced portrayals of female sex workers in media. Zuckerman’s slideshow provided little commentary on the morality of films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Tangerine, but an important message can be extracted nonetheless. Narratives surrounding sex work either sweep you off your feet like Pretty Woman, or leave you terrified like Law and Order: SVU, which doesn’t allow sex workers to exist outside of this binary. These portrayals also perpetuate the very dangerous notion that sex workers are all the same, 61
unnamed and interchangeable. This dehumanization leads to a disassociation of personhood from sex work. By perpetuating this notion of what a sex worker has to look like we are choosing their legacy for them, rather than letting them speak for themselves. Brands have bought into popular media portrayals as well. “Tom Fitzgerald once stated ‘Fashion in general is always borrowing from street wear, and it doesn’t get more street wear than hooker,’” as quoted by Ruth la Ferla in The Independent. But what does a sex worker wear? We have been so influenced by film and media that brands cater to a certain aesthetic that comes from a curated false perception. The sex worker motif in film and media has been whittled down to an aesthetic so palatable you can find 62
what would have been considered “90s hooker” clothing in any Forever21 or H&M. Some brands, like Fashion NOVA, cater to this fascination with bodies that are the most fetishized by almost entirely promoting what they refer to as “club wear.” There is little to no acknowledgement that these stylistic interpretations are not entirely based in reality. The most striking thing about media depictions of sex workers is the sense of tangible autonomy they exude. Famously, Pretty Woman provides a narrative of a woman making it on her own, sauntering into a Beverly Hills Chanel while wearing thigh-high boots and a mini dress. Perhaps that is the appeal, a sense of recklessness and sheer female power. This, I think, is what Jennifer Lawrence was referring to. Women
can construct different ways of representing their autonomy, and one of those ways is through a carefully curated closet. Another example of the working girl in media is Donna Summer’s 1979 hit “Bad Girls,” which was inspired by the street sex workers on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. The single is from Summer’s album of the same name, and on the cover, Summer situates herself as a sex worker standing in front of a police officer. Throughout the song she notes that the imagined woman in the song and her are the same, cut from the same cloth but with different life circumstances. Summer paints an image of a sex worker by utilizing the word “bad,” which has two meanings, one positive and one negative. The negative connotation means deviant, law-breaking, or wrong while the positive connotation presents a narrative of cool, in control, and as defined by Urban Dictionary, someone who “knows what they want and knows exactly how to get it.” It is this very dichotomy of “bad” which makes this perceived sex worker so alluring. The appeal hinges on this explicit defiance of the law and challenging dominant structures of what is good while claiming one’s own bodily autonomy. While the double connotations of “bad” have historically and implicitly been tied to the marginalized (who in may cases are also the working class), that’s not to say women of privilege don’t seek to embody them too. Cue Jennifer Lawrence. All women want to feel powerful, thus they look toward women who are seemingly in charge of their own sexuality for clothing cues. And who’s to say wealthy women shouldn’t wear leopard print, which Jo Weldon of Lenny Letter suggests gives the wearer a sense of self-sufficient power? A woman can wear whatever she chooses, whatever makes her feel beautiful, powerful, and in charge of her sexuality. This is just to say: wear whatever you want but acknowledge where it actually came from. Oh, and don’t be Jennifer Lawrence.
Wear whatever you want but acknowledge where it actually came from.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP written by NAKIA STEPHENS art by REBECCA MCHALE
Why does it suddenly feel like brands are becoming our best friends? As Features writer Nakia Stephens notes, this is exactly how they want us to feel. But if that’s the case, why shouldn’t consumers be able to ask for respect from these brands in the same way they would expect from their friends?
I saw the movie Her a couple of years ago (mainly for the appeal of seeing Joaquin Phoenix, not gonna lie), and my initial reaction was confusion. Who willingly falls in love with an artificially intelligent computer program? How can that even happen? I sat on my couch for hours trying to figure out this film, and then I began to think about how this happens every day, and to a certain extent, to everyone. People claim that they are not attached to a certain brand or a certain aesthetic, and I think that’s consciously accurate. But, how many people who don’t claim brand loyalty faithfully shop at Goodwill looking for “vintage” and “simple” clothing to wear, and then brag about how cheap it was later? Sorry to tell you, but you’re still plugged into the corporate machine that is based on separations of socioeconomic status. What is even more fascinating is that brands definitely haven’t always been this way. All brands have sold variations of a very similar product and marketed themselves in the same places using similar methods. It wasn’t until recently, with increasingly intimate social media platforms, that we’ve seen brands try to characterize themselves as friendly, non-aggressive entities. 64 64
Let’s take a gander at our resident cool-girl brand, Glossier. Glossier is a particularly intriguing animal because social media has been their sole marketing tool. Colourpop is another brand that seems to have capitalized off of the “self-made” aesthetic. This effect is specifically unique to social media, simply because of the fact that there were only templates for websites beforehand. No one broke out of that mold. Now, there are feeds and profiles that are carefully curated by people whose sole job it is to seem like your friend. Neither Glossier nor Colourpop were carried in physical stores until the past year or so, but both brands have large followings and have made millions. According to Bloomberg, Glossier made a whopping $100 million in revenue in 2018. Let that sink in. Cosmetic companies like Maybelline, Revlon, Covergirl and Almay are still making bank, don’t get me wrong, but they reek of old money. Some of these brands have been around since literally 1915. Millenials are moving towards brands that mirror their own struggles to make it in society. We no longer touch up in powder rooms, or settle for five shade foundation. Certainly, none of these brands are completely run off of artificial intelli-
You’ve got all the power in this relationship, so why not hold these companies accountable like you would a friend?
gence, and there are actual people behind them that help to craft a certain image. I double tap on Instagram and smile when a company writes a funny caption as I scroll through their perfectly-cultivated feeds. These relationships have been building upon little, sacred, almost-intimate moments between the brand and I. It’s no wonder I feel bamboozled when a company acts up. There’s a camaraderie I feel with certain brands (what can I say? They just...get me), who are surely looking out for their bottom line and not my best interest. Now we’ve come full circle. The same emotions that allowed Joaquin Phoenix to fall in love with Scarlett Johansson’s voice in Her, are the same ones that are played on by large corporations to get you to fall in love with their product. Brands use specific terminology and methods of outreach to connect with people to make themselves seem empathetic. They make posts to ask us how we are. They pander to our own feelings of solitude and isolation by ensuring that our feed is full of ethereal pictures of coffee, tea and books that mirror our lives at home. More than ever, companies are paying attention to our interests in “intersectionality” and “diversity” because they generate big
business. Their main consumer base consists of Gen Z and millenials; even though we make the least money, we are the most willing to spend it. These brands have created digital personas reflecting what they’d be like if you knew them, if they existed outside of the Internet or our wildest fashion fantasies. Glossier, Milk Makeup, and Colourpop are reminiscent of that trio of friends that win all of the cool superlatives in high school. Madewell and Free People are trying to figure out if their last couple of bad days have been because Mercury is in retrograde or if it’s just their lives spiraling. Which medium of art do they prefer; Oil or fresco? Watercolor or pastels? Once you become aware of your part in all of this, it doesn’t take away from the fun of engaging with specific brands, or preferring certain ones over others. It puts you in a stronger position as a consumer, because once you realize how much a company relies on word-ofmouth and fabricated friendships, then you can capitalize on that. You’ve got all the power in this relationship, so why not hold these companies accountable like you would a friend? Even companies that still remain in our collective conscious have been out-
ed in the fashion industry for their abominable practices (we see you Forever21, D&G and Kylie Cosmetics pre-Fenty release, you ain’t slick). There’s at least been a collective effort by both consumers and the media to hold brands, and the corporations behind them, accountable for their mistakes. I don’t think many brands have made any substantial changes, but we should keep this momentum going. We have the power to push companies toward change, including improved working conditions and higher wages in their factories, more eco-friendly production methods, and increased social awareness. It’s a combination of one of the most basic tenets of interpersonal relationships and a fundamental element in creating lasting friendships: respect and reciprocity. If corporations are going to put up a facade of who they really are, and appeal to innate human instinct to form connections and build relationships, then we’re situated perfectly in this power dynamic to ask them for respect. We’ve got moral obligations to fulfill and they’ve got a social responsibility to do and be better. Demand it.
photography by RUOCHUN YANG model TAIANA JAMES
STRIKE A POSE
[Content Warning: Brief mention of body image/ eating disorder] Historically, ballet has been an inaccessible art form that celebrated the slender, ethereal, Caucasian woman. However, as Features writer Joel Calfee describes, social media may be a conduit through which the field can be salvaged and, quite literally, seen in color. written by JOEL CALFEE
When was the last time you met someone who truly cared about ballet? I’m not referring to someone who spent their whole life practicing pirouettes and pliés, but rather someone who exists outside of the dance world. When was the last time you met someone who merely admired ballet from afar? It seems out of touch. As a métier steeped in tradition, ballet is often guilty of clinging to its dated roots. Most people don’t see themselves represented onstage, but rising industry stars have begun looking offstage for solutions. The truth is that authority in ballet has
historically been in the hands of white men. When ballet first arrived in the U.S. in the late twentieth century, the companies were almost all male-owned, even though there were an overwhelming number of women dancers in the field. White, male directors and choreographers dictated how a ballerina should look, leading to the image of the tall, slender, ethereal-looking white woman that we picture today. The perpetuation of white authority means that beige is still the default ‘skin tone’ for pointe shoes and tights. Although brown pointe shoes are now available for dancers of
Most people donâ€™t see themselves represented onstage, but rising industry stars have begun looking offstage for solutions. color, there are only two skin tone options. Furthermore, dancers like Misty Copeland, the first Black principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, are still few and far between. Issues with body image are prevalent within the industry as well. Historically, dancers have been expected to squeeze into suffocating costumes that glorify undernourished appearances. This body policing has contributed to rampant body dysmorphia and eating disorders. While these standards persist in the dance world, dancers such as Copeland have become symbols of and
advocates for acceptance of many body types. In Copelandâ€™s case, she has catalyzed discussions of racial diversity, and her book, Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You, challenges the notions of how a ballerinaâ€™s body should look. The heteronormative storylines of ballets also leave little space for queer presence. Chase Johnsey, a gender-fluid dancer, has made history by performing roles typically reserved for women on the stage. Johnsey mentors transgender and gender-nonconform-
ing dancers breaking into the world of ballet. Further, by using Instagram, Johnsey shows gender nonconformity in ballet and represents a unique face in an art form defined by the gender binary. As Johnsey’s online advocacy suggests, the saving grace for ballet may be social media. The Internet has historically been a place where marginalized individuals can find a platform, and the same can be applied to ballet. In addition to Chase Johnsey, famous ballerinos like James Whiteside and Rhys Kosakowski are using their social media accounts to amplify the voices of queer dancers. Whiteside’s Instagram account features photos of him in drag and caked in glitter. Meanwhile, Kosakowski’s Instagram bio contains a link to “Levitate,” a Youtube video soundtracked by Troye Sivan in which he uses his movement to express his queer identity which is erased in mainstream ballet performance. Likewise,
Misty Copeland has leveraged her Instagram account to make the industry more inclusive. When she posts a picture, she uses hashtags such as #beautiful #ballet, and her 1.7 million followers associate these terms with a figure that has often been ignored. While dance companies ask themselves how to keep ballet relevant, the answer lies in the positive reception these dancer-advocates have received on social media. Yet, no matter how many Instagram followers these dancers may tout, people will continue to lose interest in ballet so long as they can’t see themselves reflected onstage. As an establishment that prides itself on its history and customs, ballet often seems resistant to change — even when it comes to merely changing the color of a shoe. Yet the changes we do see are hopeful, and as ballet companies attempt to reestablish their audiences, they would be smart to follow the lead of their social-savvy Principals.
CHEESE PULL photography by FINLEY STEWART beauty by CLAIRE POWELL, SYLVIA SHEA models BRYCE FOTHERGILL, SEBLE WOLDE, XAVIER BURGOS
left to right HAT BY AIMÃ‰ LEON DORE, SHIRT VINTAGE, PANTS BY NOAH, JACKET BY APC, SHOES BY NIKE, JACKET BY ZARA, SHIRT BY GOSHA RUBCHINSKIY, SHIRT VINTAGE, SHORTS BY OCEAN PACIFIC, SHOES BY PUMA 73
JACKET BY ZARA
left to right PANTS BY NOAH, SHOES BY NOVESTA, BANDANA BY POLO RALPH LAUREN, CARDIGAN VINTAGE, SHORTS BY PARKE & RONEN, SHOES BY VANS
ADAM WARD Q&A written by JACK MACKEY photo courtesy of ADAM WARD
Adam Ward is a New-York based photographer, art director, and digital marketing specialist, graduating from Emerson College in 2018 with degrees in Marketing Communications and Photography. Features writer Jack Mackey asked Ward about his creative process and how he has been able to get his work out into the industry. the forefront of mind, but my guiding principle is to always create content that is consumable, yet layered with idiosyncrasies that make the images stand out. When shooting human subjects I am against standard posing and find that the best images come from the candid and spontaneous moments in between poses. The best direction sometimes can be no direction when you really want to capture the essence of the subject. Still life is an opportunity for me to be more calculated and measured due to more prep time and ability to alter the subject to my exact vision and specifications. R: Similarly, what kind of role does fashion play in your photography?
ROCKET: Your portfolio consists of a wide variety of subject matter, from still-life objects to models in active motion. What is your process like in choosing your subject(s) and to what extent does that influence your style or technique? ADAM WARD: When I first embarked on my creative journey/career, I was in full control of my subject matter with instagram, friends, and family being my primary audience. This allowed for a great deal of experimentation that would later hone in my approach to creating work. I have in recent years had the privilege to shoot as a profession, so sometimes the subject matter is out of control, but my methods in approaching creating work have not wavered. When shooting for work, the clients needs and expectations are always at 78
A: For me fashion has never been anything more than a vessel for self expression. When I say “never been anything” it isn’t to downplay the importance, but to stress that any artist is more powerful when understanding that fashion is a unique and personal tool in creating art. It not only allows the subject to portray themselves in a more strong and visually captivating way, but is a collaborative tool to allow me to best create an honest, beautiful visual dialog between my subject and I. Even when the fashion or clothing is the focus of the shoot, I heavily rely on the mood and disposition of the model to find those next level fashion moments. R: If you could choose anyone or anything in the world to do a shoot with right now, who/what would it be and why? AW: I am always drawn to the intersections of artistic mediums. My
dream would be to bring an artist together with their inspiration to create a clear dialog to create and experience for both the subject [between the two]. Examples of this could be photographing music artist Matty Healy in a James Turrell installation, or something like Van Gogh in a field of sunflowers. It sounds a bit straightforward, but it’s these sort of cross-medium relationships that excite me. I chase the duality of art and reality. R: What kind of advice would you give to college students and other young photographers trying to get their work out in the world and find footing in the industry? AW: Shoot, shoot some more, and then shoot MORE. Never stop. Every time I have taken a pause in creating photo work in favor of a more traditional professional pursuit (I ride the line between marketing and content creation for fashion brands) my creativity throughout all aspects of my life is hindered. Even if it means taking a disposable camera and taking a walk in the park, just shoot. If you have a camera, great. If not, use your iPhone! If you have a model great! If not, use your roommate. I can never stress enough that the more you shoot and create, the conceptualization or professionalisation of your work will follow, and so will the money! Get out there. Also…. I met all my most creatively transformative friends on Instagram. Slide into someone’s DMs that you want to work with and make it happen! Don’t be shy. You never know what could come of it! Read the full interview at wmrocketmagazine.com
ROCKET Magazine's Spring/Summer 2019 issue. Find more online at www.wmrocketmagazine.com.