VASSAR’S ART AND STYLE MAGAZINE VOL. 5, ISSUE 1 1
A Letter from the Editors Every year, we challenge ourselves to help Contrast reach a wider audience than the year before. Through our articles on music, fashion, art and education, we try to offer something for everyone. Vassar is a colorful campus with its own unique beat and a wide range of ideas and styles, and we are happy if we can capture even a fraction of its essence in the magazine. Our main fashion shoot revolved around the idea that Vassar students have presented a distinct fashion sense for decades and certain Vassar styles are timeless. We realized a long-time personal goal of ours to dig into the Vassar archive and recreate some of our favorite photos from the last one hundred years. The timing seemed ideal, as we wrap up our Sesquicentennial year. The ease of styling the looks in each recreated photo made it clear that when it comes to Vassar style, everything’s a remix. Our second large spread, Vassar Cribz, is the newest iteration of our regular personal style photoshoot. We chose to feature the houses and dorm rooms of different students, because we feel a person’s living space is one of the greatest reflections of oneself. Each space we photographed was beautiful in its own unique way, whether the beauty came from its chaos or its order, the carefully orchastred decorations or the charming piles of stuff. After realizing that we have never featured a beauty spread in the magazine, we knew we wanted to play with some make-up. We asked Alex Elder, the master with the mascara wand, to create his beauty masterpieces, with the aid of his impressively enormous MAC stash and traveling vanity table. Since the issue is only released at the end of the term, we tried to increase our campus visibility throughout the fall by teaming up with other orgs to throw some awesome events. We photographed events such as the Shiva Rave, ABC party, Hype Hop and Dormal Formal. Additionally, we hosted two new events of our own: Meet Me in Poughkeepsie- Thrifting Edition and the French Connection Fashion Show. We have made a greater effort to document campus culture and style through event and street photography. We revamped the blog this year, with a sharp new layout and a huge range of posts that balance Vassar-centric happenings with cultural news from beyond the bubble. With the help of regular columnists and contributing editors, the blog is back from oblivion and thriving. We’ve truly enjoyed working on this issue with our amazing team and a host of interesting, passionate individuals we met along the way. We hope that we’ve created an iteration of Contrast that speaks to you.
Caroline and Hannah
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Table of Contents Automobilesâ€™ Effects on the Formation
of Identity in Contemporary Young Adulthood ............................................................................. 5 The Jockeys: A Profile of Vassar DJs ............................................................................................ 8 A Conversation with Michael Walsh .......................................................................................... 10 Vassar Cribz ................................................................................................................................ 12 In-House Design ......................................................................................................................... 18 The Style of Nostalgia: Revisiting the Vassar Archives ............................................................ 20 The Best Things in Life are Free: The Free Market .................................................................. 32 Language Without Words: The Science of Music .................................................................... 34 Beauty School ............................................................................................................................ 38 Editorsâ€™ Picks .............................................................................................................................. 42
Photos by Hannah Ryan
Photo by Hannah Ryan
Credits EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Caroline Mills and Hannah Tatar TREASURER Logan Falk-Woodruff
Emilia Petrarca, Editor Alex Bue Alex Cornacchia Hayden Dinges Brittany Hunt Zara Khalid Daniel Killian Anna Schlosser Kelley Van Dilla Catherine Zhou
Alex Reynolds, Editor Meng Da Nicole Glantz Tzvetelina Garneva Olivia Kavanaugh
Emilia Petrarca, Editor Cara Liana Hunt Sammi Katz Alex Schlesinger
PHOTOGRAPHY Kelley Van Dilla, Editor Timothy Aaron Julia Anrather Ricky Goldman Rachel Garbade Tzvetelina Garneva Nicole Glantz Taylor Pratt Hannah Ryan Alex Schlesinger
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Emilia Petrarca, Editor Cara Liana Hunt Sammi Katz Alex Schlesinger
Logan Falk-Woodruff, Men’s Editor Emily Selter, Women’s Editor Emma Bird Alex Boersma Kevin Choe Matt Dowling Brian Evans Riko Fujioka Julia Kawai Sydney Lopez Debra Ong Taylor Pratt Katy Walter
ARCHIVE SHOOT Alec Aldrich Emily Andreeva Eliot Baker Emma Bird Charmaine Branch Marlena Crowell Matt Dowling Matt Foster Emma Goodwin Hilary Hansen Aidan Kahn Ben Kaufman Julia Kawai Emily Ludolph Sheilah Olang
ARCHIVE SHOOT Emilia Plater-Zyberk Taylor Pratt Allegra Robertson Liz Rowland Elizabeth Scopel Hannah Tatar Katy Walter Sarah Wintner Nicole Wood BEAUTY SHOOT Anna Been Alex Danzer Carlos Hernandez Tiffanie Young
Automobiles’ Effects on the Formation of Identity in Contemporary Young Adulthood
Article by Brittany Hunt, photos by Rachel Garbade We’ve all been there: you’re limping to class after a tough bout of Pilates with Theresa, wearing sweatpants and smelling like sweatpants. Your LL Bean backpack that your mom bought you in fifth grade is digging into your shoulders and the dew from the grass is soaking through your socks. Suddenly, a cool upperclassmen whizzes by in their sick ride, splashing what you hope is rainwater but what you expect is rugby player urine all over you. They laugh in the front seat, arrive to class ten minutes early, and look cool doing it. I decided to sit down and interview some of the owners of these iconic cars on campus. What follows is almost a direct account of what I heard. Not really though.
Raffi Radna in “The Stang” In conducting these interviews I couldn’t ignore a presence in the TH circle even more prevalent than the discarded beer cans in E block and the trashy freshman girls in last night’s outfits searching hopelessly for the path early on Sunday mornings. It’s the Stang. A red fireball that mysteriously always has a hoard of drooling VC Punx surrounding it and a prime parking spot. So Raffi, describe your ride to me. The Stang needs no introductions. The Stang just is. I’m sorry. Could you please just give me a little information? She’s a 1986 Ford Mustang LX. She has an old-school angular look, very retro-futuristic. No other car looks like her. She looks good, sounds good and drives good. Just like me. Wow, it sounds like you really love this car! How did you get your hands on this puppy? My father’s a collector – he has three Mustangs and gave one to me. She’s more of a hobby than a car to me. I go to car shows a lot and spend lots of time polishing her.
Yeah, I’ve seen you out in the TH circle shining her up. You were out there for two hours today. I also noticed that the Stang has a special raincoat for inclement weather. I want to keep her looking her best. Just like I like to keep myself looking my best. On a scale of 1-10 how fiery would you say the Stang is looking today? 11 out of 10. I see you’re not a math major... Dude, I barely even go here.
Alexander Herman in “Daisy” As I interviewed Raffi, a voice croaked between drags on a cigarette from the dark corners of the god-forsaken TH that I had found myself in. It was the owner of a new car to grace the THs, “The Sube.” Every morning half the senior class is awoken by the moans and sputtering of this strange white metal creature with one teal door. It sounds worse than the music these boys listen to. It stares at me ominously as I walk to class, with only a driver’s seat in the cavernous bare interior. What lonely soul could own this piece of crap? Or piece of art... Tell me about your car Her name is Daisy. Daisy? Like “Driving Miss Daisy”? Obscure ref. You know it. She’s the loudest, most raucous piece of shit out there. She’s my baby. You sound so affectionate. Tell me about your relationship with Daisy. I bought her with my own money, took her apart and put her all back together. I’ve spent two and half years and all my money on her. She’s the only thing in this world that makes me happy, (other than cigarettes and my anti-depressants). What do you think Daisy says about you? I think she says “You’re an idiot.” ... Oh, you didn’t mean that literally. Yeah, she can’t talk. Well, how does the car show your personal style? My car is a crust punk – hasn’t been washed in a long time. Just like me.
Top: Raffi and Alexander next to their shining chariots. Left: Alexander and Miss Daisy. Right: Callie and her dear Prius.
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Callie Beusman in “The Prius” Dalton Bentley in “The Kia Rio” Walking through the THs, minding my own business, I began to feel that someone was following me silently, making no noise yet exerting a strong presence that made me uneasy. I turned carefully, expecting to see a member of the NSO who has never been laid, but saw instead a Toyota Prius, the vehicular choice of Westchester soccer moms and environmental activists alike. What struck my interest however was the woman behind the wheel, a Ms. Callie Beusman, clad in a thick fur coat. I had to talk to this specimen of contradiction, lowering her carbon footprint while supporting seal clubbing, and regular clubbing, if her go-go boots were any indication of her pastimes. Tell me about your car. It’s a silver 2004 Toyota Prius. The best looking car on campus. How did you get it? My grandpa gave it to me. Just like he gave me my dainty Aryan features and shares in his company’s stock. How would you describe your personal style? Goth prostitute playing seven minutes in heaven with Chelsea Clinton. Hmm, do you think that the Prius plays into this style at all? Well, I mean, it shows that I like to party, but I also think the environment is chill and stuff. What is the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you while driving your car? I almost ran over a baby in a parking lot. I figure, what’s the big deal? Motherhood is just a construct created by the patriarchy to keep women from expressing their true sexualities, so I was probably doing some lady a favor.
You may have seen senior stud Dalton Bentley around campus. You probably haven’t though. He plays Paper Mario on his Gamecube for most of the day and is afraid of social interaction. So Dalton, tell me about your car. It’s a 2001 Kia Rio, tannish in color. There’s a big dent in the side from this one time I leaned on it too hard. What is driving the Rio like? Well, the brakes failed the other day while I was driving on Main Street. Also it can only go thirty miles per hour up hills. It’s always an adventure. What’s your favorite part of the car? Probably the sweet stereo system. It looks like it has a CD player, but it’s actually a tape deck. That way everyone thinks that I am hip and fancy, but it’s really “retro” and allows me to listen to my tape of Christina Aguilera’s debut album. What do you think this car says about you? That I’m on financial aid. Do you think that your car has any bearing on your personal style? We’re both into comfort, both a little bland. I like to think that if the Kia Rio was a person he too would only wear t-shirts and cargo shorts. Ed. Note: Over October break the Kia Rio met an unfortunate fate and has been sold for scrap parts. You can now find Dalton walking about campus, as sad and dejected as the torn flannel pajama pants he insists on wearing.
S Y E K C O J E TH es
en Ding d y a H ue and B x e l A ws by Intervie
DJ FALLRISK How would you describe your personal style of DJing? I would say my DJ style is one that is always changing. I’m constantly on the lookout for new music. Anything with a good bass beat is fair game. I’ve recently been DJing more electro house music. How did you become interested in DJing? How long have you been doing this? I became interested during the beginning of my freshman year. I’ve always enjoyed listening to music and felt the need to share it. I’ve been doing it for about a year. What artists are you listening to now? I’m currently listening to Calvin Harris, Justice and Avicii. Who do you consider to be your musical influences? This year I’ve been influenced by disco and its funky beats. I have been listening to artists such as Duck Sauce and Fred Falke. One of my personal favorite artists is Wolfgang Gartner. I feel a lot of his sounds have influenced me. What events have you played at Vassar? I have played several events. This year I have played the Shiva Rave and the ABC party. I have also completed several Mug Nights in the past. How would your Mug playlist differ from your Shiva Rave playlist? My Mug playlist is more open and varied. Mug Nights are supposed to be fun and enjoyable, therefore my playlists reflect this atmosphere. A mug playlist for example, can have top 40 rap and sing-a-long tunes. On the other hand, the Shiva Rave, plain and simple is a rave so the energy is greater, which leads to a playlist that is heavier and more electronic sounding. How did you decide on your DJ name? A comical story from a series of crazy events that occurred one night at Vassar. Above: photos by Kelley Van Dilla Right: photo by Alex Schlesinger
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MAZIAR KAZMI How would you describe your personal style of DJing? I usually try a combination of keeping the crowd engaged while representing my own taste in music. I always have new tracks that I want to drop and share, but you have to make sure that everyone is having a good time too. How did you become interested in DJing? How long have you been doing this? I started DJing because some friends showed me, and I got kinda hooked. It was a type of musical expression that was brand new for me. I’ve been doing it actively since I got to Vassar. What artists are you listening to now? TWR72, Bombo, Azari & III, Noob. Who do you consider to be your musical influences? Oouf, ca c’est difficile à dire. I like a lot of the harder German Techno, but also a lot of the more minimalist stuff coming from France, Belgium and Holland. I really love labels like Boys Noize Records, Marble, Lektroluv, Sound Pellegrino, Mako, and Made To Play. Anything from those guys is usually pretty good. What events have you played at Vassar? I’ve probably played most kind of events at Vassar. UpC Events, Villard Room Parties, and Mug Nights. I’ve met a lot of cool people involved with various orgs that way. How would your Mug playlist differ from your Shiva Rave playlist? With the Shiva Rave you can usually get away with a lot more Techno and House that you wouldn’t with a typical Mug Night where you might need to mix it up a bit more. Also the kind of music that I like to play is much better suited for a big room, so I prefer the Rave. How did you decide on your DJ name? One of my best friends, who is abroad right now, is Mazi Kazemi. In general we agree upon most things save sense of style and taste in music. He likes Warren Zevon and I prefer Mumbai Science. I decide to adopt his name as my moniker (1) in honor of his extremely outdated taste in music and (2) because I’m a hipster and everyone knows that our kind like to be ironic.
AY QUE WOW Contrast: When did you start to DJ? Dan: I started DJing by myself towards the end of my freshman year. We started ¡Ay Que Wow! last May. Chris: I started the first semester of my freshman year here. MSTRKRFT played for ViCE’s fall concert and blew my mind. I had never seen a DJ before and I really had no idea what it was and how it worked. I’m from the Boston area, and the electro scene that emerged on the West Coast in around 2005 never really got to where we were. I grew up listening to punk, emo, and hardcore. MSTRKRFT exposed me to this whole other way of having a live music experience, one that I could get good at on my own without being stuck strumming some shitty acoustic guitar. DJ R3spire (Paul Noonan ’10) lived across the hall from me and I went to him and said, “Teach me what you know.” Contrast: Can you talk about Ay Que Wow, how it came together and what it’s like to work with a partner? Dan: Chris was one of my first friends here at Vassar, largely as a result of our really similar music tastes. In the beginning of last year we were in a hardcore band with two of our friends called “The Four Of Us Are Dying.” That project more or less fell by the wayside, but through it we learned that we had chemistry working together. Towards the end of last year we discovered the genre “moombahton,” and I knew I wanted to work with Chris, so we wound up exploring it (and other Latin-based music) together. From there we’ve grown into doing global dance fusion, with everything from crunk to cumbia, soca to soul. While we both have an obvious overlap in our musical tastes, we also have different styles that are complimentary. Playing live is great because we get to compliment and sort of challenge each other. It definitely keeps you on your toes. Also, since we usually go back and forth, it allows whoever isn’t mixing to interact with the audience a little bit more. Chris: For me, the genesis of AQW is my high school. We had a pretty large demographic of Dominicans and school dances were always DJed by these Latino guys that played more Reggaeton than pop music. We all would just grind for like, 4 hours. I’m a pretty nervous guy and I’m not much of a “dancefloor killer,” but I always secretly loved Latin flavors in music (and grinding). AQW finally gave me a chance to explore a more “world” oriented sound, particularly music from Latin America that I’ve always thought was awesome and sexy. Dan suggested the collaboration, and that we capitalize
on the emerging moombahton trend, so that’s where we started, but from there we’ve expanded to all sorts of crazy sounds: house music, tech, dub, funk, cumbia, dancehall, Reggaeton, Reggae, hip hop, whatever we think is cool, but always keeping the feel in yer hips not yer fists. DJing with Dan is really fun. He’s drawn to really in-your-face stuff and I’m drawn to really subtle sounds, so we always mix it up and provide a nice contrast for one another. He’s also a lot better looking than I am, which can be useful. Contrast: Do you consider yourself more of an artist or an entertainer? Dan: I don’t think the two need to be or are dichotomized. DJing is an art that requires an individual to be an entertainer. I think we are certainly more performative than a lot of DJs on campus, but I think that that’s how DJing should be done. If you don’t look like you’ve having a good time, how can you expect anyone else to? We are working on getting more into production and remixing, which I think will validate us more as “artists,” but I would still presently consider us artist-entertainers. Chris: Well, I consider myself an artist, but that goes way beyond my DJing. My role as a DJ is mostly entertainment. I realize that my role as a DJ usually is to make a party happen. The party usually isn’t my party, and people usually aren’t coming to see me DJ so I’m willing to bite the bullet and play pop songs for the live sing-along experience. Part of being a DJ is knowing what’s gonna work, so you always have to make judgment calls. With AQW, it’s different. We have a “niche” that we made for ourselves, so people mostly know what to expect when they come to see us. Because people come knowing the parties are just going to be crazy, sweaty, grind-fests, we can get away with playing more obscure types of music. The mixing is always artistic, in the sense that every transition should be a choice. You need to consider exactly how you’re going to bring the next song in. Playing the right song in the right spot is a part of the artistry. And any mix that I post online is definitely more for the artistry than dance floor killing (though, I would never play a track I didn’t think was dank as hell). Contrast: What is your favorite aspect of being a DJ? Dan: Making people dance is the greatest feeling. Music can make or break a party, so it’s really nice to make sure people have a good time and move. When we play a track that makes people throw their hands up, scream out, and start jumping, man, it’s indescribable. Plus, getting paid rules. Chris: Being popular, well liked and getting girls.
A conversation with
Michael Walsh Interview and photo by Kelley Van Dilla
Contrast: Can you say a bit about where you come from and what your educational background is? Walsh: I was born in Namibia. My mother was from Scotland, my father’s side was from the London area. I was about five when we moved down to South Africa and I grew up in the apartheid era: this really racist, militaristic, violent time. That’s where I did my undergraduate degree, at the University of Capetown. It was a warzone, being shot at every day because we were all anti-apartheid, pro human rights, pro voting, etc., so it was really rough. It was interesting. And then I came to the States more than twenty years ago. So, I was like 19 or 20. I came to California. Contrast: Is that where you did your graduate studies? Walsh: I did. I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and then I did graduate school at the University of California in Santa Barbara – they have an incredible program in religious studies. And then I spent four years in Taiwan in the 90’s, (mid 90’s to late 90’s), got my PhD in 2000, then did a one-year position at the University of Puget-Sound in the Seattle area and then I came to Vassar. Contrast: What would you say your own style is? Walsh: Well, obviously it’s changed over the years, right. But I don’t think in terms of that, I don’t think in terms of “my style.” I think in terms of aesthetics, I think in terms of presentation, I think in terms of colors and textures, you know, as opposed to “my style of clothing is this.” I actually don’t think in terms of that at all. Contrast: Okay, so then, what values are important to you in terms of aesthetics?
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Walsh: All of the traditional values of aesthetics, you know: balance, color, texture and all of the senses. For me, clothing has as much to do with smell as it does with material and physicality, and I really care a lot about that stuff. College campuses are not New York City – it’s not a corporate environment. I don’t know... academics are not known for their style. [Laughs.] For the most part. Contrast: [Laughs] Do you feel that you’re known for a personal appearance that you have to uphold? Walsh: No, I mean, I would say that for the last seven or eight years I have come to like certain features of clothing that I teach in. I like to feel comfortable when I teach, so I love wearing jeans, I love wearing jackets. I love shirts. Solid color shirts are my favorite. And I think that sort of outfit is fairly traditional in some ways. But then again, you look around at our faculty and there are just some God-awful dressers. Contrast: [Laughs] Could you speak a little bit about how you perceive the fashion sense of the faculty here at Vassar? Walsh: I could think of maybe three or four faculty right off the top of my head that I would say have a real sense of their own style and look good and dress well and think about what they wear. I don’t know what they think about, I mean it’s not like I’ve spoken to them about it. But the vast majority are just terrible dressers. Contrast: [Laughs] Walsh: They just are, and this is true of all of academia. I think it has to do with this idea of being very cerebral and “a life of the mind” and “intellectual” and “my ideas count more than my phys-
ical appearance” and so you know “who cares what I look like?” One of my favorite philosophers is Slavojiek and he is completely frumpy. He wears these sweaty t-shirts – he looks terrible. Brilliant mind though. That sort of stereotype is still prevalent. If you’re caring about your physical appearance, looking good or stylish or following a certain trend, that’s considered somewhat superficial. And I think it’s bogus, I think it’s total nonsense. I think you can dress well and teach well and think well, all at the same time. Contrast: What, if any, trends have you seen emerge or change in your time here at Vassar with student fashion? Walsh: What I love about student fashion is that you see a recycling. You see it a little in the hipster fashions as well, which I’m quite fond of. Anything retro I think is cool, if you pull it off. Otherwise you just look stupid. But if you can pull it off, that retro thing is terrific and I love seeing that. I remember a few years ago, God, leg warmers came back. Leg warmers! That is stuff from the eighties, like flash-dance era, and it came back in a very different way. I love that. But it’s not only clothing it’s hair styles, glasses, that kind of stuff. So, I like to see that, but I don’t see enough of it. I think a lot of students are not particularly, I mean it’s hard to say, but their appearance is not that great. I think there’s a lot of sloppiness, you know. Contrast: Yeah, like my unkempt jaw-line. [Laughs] Walsh: [Laughs] No, I don’t mean that, I just mean that you can tell that there are students who are thinking about their physical appearance and then you have other students, which I admit is fascinating too, who go to great efforts to make it seem like they’re not caring about their physical appearance, but they are. And I can usually tell that as well. Contrast: You mentioned the term “hipster.” What does that mean to you? Walsh: I don’t know, for me it just means retro. There’s a certain degree of the unquantifiable idea of what looks cool, just in terms of style and the ability to carry off a particular style or accessory, and that’s certainly part of it. But for me it just means retro. It means wearing certain items or wearing accessories that, you know perhaps come from another time period, and just making it modern, making it sort of ultra modern, that’s what I think it is. I guess there’s sort of an attitude that goes with it too – intellectualism. Contrast: Speaking of retro, is there a particular era or decade that you are drawn to, in terms of fashion? Walsh: I would say, every decade going back to the late nineteenth century – literally every decade. There’s something about each decade starting with the 1870’s that I think is just incredible. Going back to the late 1800’s, where things were a little oppressive, but you still have these high-collars, the sort of embroidered puffy sleeves, tight-fitting jackets and boots. I think that’s so interesting. Contrast: I’d dress like that if I could. Walsh: Yeah. Talking about retro, there was a real return to that in music. Oh, by the way, I completely connect fashion to music. I can’t separate the two. I just collapse the two of them into each other, so for me personally it’s all about music as well. In the eighties I remember bands like Adam and the Ants – a British sort of new-wave band – he picked up on this whole, I guess, what became known as the “pirate look.” So, these things definitely come in cycles. The twenties, with certain types of suits men wore, the hats, I love a lot of that stuff. Even dresses – women’s dresses in
the twenties were just amazing. Each decade has its own thing. I mean I love the fifties, with the whole Elvis thing, which I guess was a huge influence in terms of hairstyle and certain types of clothing. You had the sixties with the Beatles. Mini Skirts! My God, how can you not love mini-skirts? And then there were the infamous seventies, which was the whole disco period, which I hated at the time. Contrast: Oh. You did? Walsh: Oh God, well I was a kid, coming into the seventies as a teenager. I was just sort of, well let’s see, in 1980 I was twelve or thirteen, so this was the end of the seventies and all of that stuff was like, ugh. Now, looking back you see a real aesthetic. You see a sense of something happening. Not that I’d want to return to the seventies. But I came of age in the eighties, both musically and in terms of the kind of stuff I liked to see. I was totally into hard rock, metal bands and it was all punk rock as well. I loved the whole goth phase, the whole gothic look. Dark black. I used to wear a lot of leather and denim and hard jewelry. I used to have long hair, like really long hair. I played in bands and stuff. And so the eighties were – there was a lot of bad stuff in the eighties too, you know... but all of these interesting groups came out of the eighties. Post David Bowie and the whole glam-thing from the seventies, you had bands like Spandau Ballet. A lot of the newwave bands, Brian Ferry from Roxy Music, Duran Duran – all incredibly stylish dressers who just created a whole genre of style and clothing. Contrast: Do you have a favorite designer? Walsh: I don’t. I mean, I like some of the stuff that came out of Japan – people like Issey Miyake. I don’t really follow the stuff, but I’m aware of it like Christian Dior back in the twenties and thirties, his whole house and they were so important. I like musicians, again, I don’t think of designers, I think of people who I like musically and I think of a whole range of folks going back to the eighties and nineties. Johnny Depp is one of my favorite dressers. Stephen Tyler had a whole thing going on in the seventies and eighties. Jack White is somebody I’m fond of right now. I’m not sure you would define him as hipster, but just an incredibly cool dresser with cool kind of persona. There were these metal bands that came out in the late eighties, early nineties that then broke up and have now reunited. They’re all sort of my age – early forties – and they’ve reunited and they look incredible. In terms of the way they dress, they’ve redesigned themselves. And the music is still awesome. So yeah, I definitely connect the fashion to music. Contrast: Do you have any parting words to the students? Walsh: [Laughs] No. Uh…maybe to develop a sense of fashion? Contrast: [Laughs] Walsh: Obviously, not on the part of all of our students, but some of them. For me, it’s not about developing a sense of fashion, but instead about developing a sense of aesthetics – of being sensitive to the environment, to your participation in a particular space and to your place in the world.
Michael Walsh is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Religion department at Vassar. He teaches courses on the history of Chinese religions, and method and theory in the study of religion.
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Vassar Cribz. Vassar housing can often times be depressing, but with a little craftsmanship and some unique “tchotskies,” these students have turned their homes into spaces that you’d never want to leave. Contrast poked around the TA’s, TH’s, Joss and some off campus houses to give you a grand tour of these awesome spaces. If you didn’t feel bad about your tiny dorm room before, you will now. The following is a glimpse into the lives of the people at 11 Fairmont Avenue, TH 166 and 56, and Joss 429.
photos by caroline mills, emilia petrarca, kelley van dilla, logan woodruff
“Each of our styles has evolved, but we all gravitate towards eclectic, colorful and unique decorative pieces, preferably collected from our travels. The intricate handmade wall tapestry and strings of elephants in the windows came from my semester abroad in India, zombies were collected from a road trip antique store, various animals from thrift stores around America, and colorful pillows from Bosnia and made from my own middle school tshirts. We enjoy a comfortable space that feels alive.” TH 56: Zan Schmidt, Natalie Nielsen, Julia Nethero, Julia Dinkel, Greg Lichtenstein
Knees Beesickles. We want our room to be as bold and stylish as we are and I think it works. ”
Joss 429: Aiden Khan, Amer Houssain
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“ We wanted to incorporate classic pieces into a timeless ensemble to create the relaxed, social atmosphere we think the room radiates. Our favorite item in the room is our striped wing-backed chair ca. 1936 that our mums purchased in Great Barrington, MA back in August along with our bonafide Lionel Barrymore etching that hangs above our bookshelf. We think they’re just the
>> “We decorate mainly through response. If I start hanging branches on the ceiling, someone else will hang scarves from the branches and someone else will outline the ceiling in christmas lights and someone else will draw on the windows. Because we’re putting together such an eclectic space it’s always changing... the result is a little like a
Brohemian Woodland Nymph Cave.”
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TH 166: Samantha Shin, Julianna Halpert, Gaelin Monkman-Kotz, Sarah Lazarus, Kathee Buxton
“ We exude class
and a commitment to an aesthetic that balances functionality and freedom. We needed to lock Noah in the basement in a way that Noah didn’t understand that we were locking him in the basement, so we built a climbing wall for him to play with. Max’s small room is completely conducive to a minimalist aesthetic, so his choice to take the design in the other direction, (complete squalor), demonstrates an ironic rebellion against modern fashion. Micaela wanted a design to encourage a space for felting and other DIY projects, Rhys wanted to create a “post-modern hockey play room.” My room has been shaped by the necessities of the capitalistic systems of consumption and distribution. By succumbing to these inevitable neo-liberal rules of living, my room walks the line between convention and the avantgarde. Our communal living spaces live and breathe with us, always in motion, cycling objects though our experiences, propelling the lifeblood of the consumerism that runs us all. We prefer outsider art for our living spaces, but we have some classical pieces as well, the balance reminds us of the fragility of the categories that art occupy. “
11 Fairmont Ave: Nick Blum, Max Middleton, Micaela Bazo, Rhys Bambrick, Noah Lourie Mosher, Travis Edwards
In-House Aleksandra Kolanko
How long have you been designing, and what is your specialty? Since Middle School. I taught myself sewing, and I made purses and clothes. I did take a draping class in High School as well. How long does it take to get a piece done? Depends on what it is, the longest it’s taken me to make a piece has been 25 hours by hand sewing, 8 hours with the machine. Mostly, I’ve been making pieces in less than a day. Dresses, jackets, shirts, pants, whatever. I like experimenting with form and fabric. What’s your inspiration for the clothes you design? A lot of my inspiration comes from the fabric. When I go to the store to look at fabric, I get a good idea as to what I want to do with it and go from there. What materials do you like to use? I like silks and cottons. Any jersey? Sometimes I use jersey. I like lightweight fabrics for draping. Who’s your style icon? What an unexpected question. I’d probably say Alexa Chung. What influences are in your clothes? I’m inspired by Japanese style. I like the work of Yoshi Yamamoto. I also like Peter Jensen, Rag and Bone and Comme des Garcons. Does designing tie into any of your other interests? Definitely. I’m a Studio Art Major, so I love being able to add a more conceptual angle to my clothes by incorporating painting and drawing into my pieces. My senior project revolved around the theme of confinement. I designed tight, immobilizing dresses as a symbol of how women have been constricted not just by modern beauty image standards, but also by gender and societal expectations. The dresses were white and bound in a way to make movement of the legs impossible. You might have seen them in the Palmer Gallery. Has Vassar helped inspire or encourage your designing? Of course. My major pushed me to look at ideas rather than just make something for myself. What’s next? I want to continue with fashion, though I’d also like to branch into costumes too. I’m not sure what. Honestly, I can’t imagine myself doing anything besides sewing. (Laughs.) My clothes represent myself. I make things I want to wear, if I didn’t, I’d be wasting money. You can see more of Leksi’s clothes at her blog The Skin Asylum: www.theskinasylum.blogspot.com.
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Interviews by Zara Khalid Photos by Taylor Pratt
How long have you been designing, and what is your specialty? I learned to quilt in high school and I have been sewing clothes since then probably. I usually make knitwear or crochet, which I have been doing since I could hold sharp objects. I also started silk-screening in high school too. Are there any sort of motifs or designs you like to use? (Laughs). One of my recurring designs is an old lady, I also like using leaf patterns. I love those, I used to draw them everywhere – bags, shirts, posters, I even have a tattoo of them. How long does it take to get a piece done? If I’m sewing, it only takes a few hours over the course of a few days, but with crochet it takes longer, usually two to three months. What’s your inspiration for the clothes you design? It’s usually something that’s part of my own style, something I would be want to be comfortable in. So what materials do you like to use? I like cotton, jersey, yarn, (lots of yarn). I tend to go for comfort. Who’s your style icon? I design for my body, and I like having a bit of autonomy in my style. If I had to choose an era, I’d go for the 1920’s or the ‘30s. Probably Louise Brooks, actually. I wish I could be her! Does designing tie into any of your other interests? I’ve been able to incorporate both my majors: Studio Art and Media Studies. I’ve been interested in what’s traditionally been considered “women’s work,” and the bond between women that is created through making things. It was a natural progression, my grandmother taught me to sew, and my mother’s friend gave me a sewing machine. Women have inspired my progression into design, and I want to explore that theme. What makes your clothes different? I don’t knit sweaters. I do tank tops, skirts, anything different. Actually, I’ve been working on a skirt recently – it’s semi-revealing and lacy, but still practical. Has Vassar helped inspire or encourage your designing? Definitely. The people I’ve met are really into fashion. My friends have always encouraged me. Being at Vassar has made me view my work differently. The person I’ve become wants to do more with fashion and challenge myself more. I’m thinking of working with more dresses and shirts, maybe work with vintage as well. What’s next? I’m working on a full-length dress. It’s green and blue cotton jersey with pockets and a racerback. It’s an experiment with form: wide flowing and simple.
The Style of
Nostalgia Revisiting the Vassar Archives
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Left: “Freshmen with Apples”, 1912 Right: Photo by Julia Anrather
Above: “Friends Thanksgiving”, 1940 Right: Photo by Caroline Mills
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Left: “Spritzy Gaynor”, 1961 Right: Photo by Kelley Van Dilla
Pictured left: Top: “Field Day Formal Couple”, 1929 Bottom: Photo by Taylor Pratt
Above: “Student Trio with Records”, 1956 Right: Photo by Tim Aaron
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Above: “Spring Weekend Dance Happy Hair”, 1972 Left: Photo by Tim Aaron
Left: “Feeling Free on the Vassar Farm”, 1983 Right: Photo by Caroline Mills
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All historical photos credited to Vassar College Library Archives & Special Collections Special thanks to the Pratt family for loaning us their car.
The Best Things in Life are Free Article by Catherine Zhou, photos by Caroline Mills and Julia Kawai
When I arrived at College Center 235 on the Free Market’s first Monday, I could tell that its grand opening was a huge success. Piles of apparel were in such disarray – a a symptom of frenzied garment grabbing – that I found myself helping a volunteer reorganize the main clothing table. When I asked where the men’s sweaters were, the volunteer directed me towards a cabinet that she didn’t realize had been previously emptied. Yet there was still potential booty to be found. Selection varied from gorgeous vintage blazers to previously altered crop-tops. On one of the racks I found a pencil skirt with the most fascinating living room print, only to abandon it due to a broken zipper and my inability to sew. The Free Market is the brainchild of Ani Kodzhabasheva ’12 – who left it in the hands of Celia Castellan ’13 and Libbie Jacobson ’14 to cultivate during her JYA – and is run by Zero Waste. Its concept is a simple and attractive bartering system: donate your unwanted items in exchange for new ones. There are no complicated, surreptitious guidelines – take whatever you want. The only policy is that, out of fairness, the acquired booty should be limited to three items. And, of course, anything that starts with “free” draws college students like moths to a flame. So, why does the Free Market exist? Why should you peruse through gently used goods rather than just go on a shopping spree at the Galleria? Well, for starters, buying clothes from mall stores is not exactly green. Industrialization has made apparel more accessible, affordable, and, thus, more abundant. The phenomenon of “fast fashion,” the rapid rate of translating designs from runway to retailers such as H&M, Forever 21, and Zara, amplifies the continuous demand for buying the “latest looks.” When demand goes up, production must follow suit. The means to produce these garments are not exactly environmentally friendly. The processes to manufacture synthetic fabrics requires large amounts of crude oil and the release of emissions
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that can cause and aggravate respiratory diseases. Polyester, a popular man-made fiber, is made from petroleum and its by-products spill into wastewater produced from its plants. And don’t think just because you go au-natural that your clothes are completely innocent: cotton is not only one of the most popular clothing fibers but also one of the most water- and pesticide-dependent crops. So, what happens when the trendy literally becomes trash? According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, in 2009, about 12.7 million tons of textile waste was generated and textile, rubber, and leather made up 8 percent of all municipal solid waste. One statistic even pointed out that Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year. Once the clothing is discarded, it either gets sent to resale stores, to be repurposed or to landfills and incinerators. Even though about 15 percent of textile waste gets completely reclaimed, scrapped textiles and apparel make up about 5 percent of all landfills. In 2000 alone, America imported about 12.7 billion and produced about 5.3 million pieces of garments, totaling to about 47 pieces of apparel per person. In essence, the Free Market is Zero Waste’s solution to the textile waste issue. Remember that [insert regretted purchase here] you
thought was the greatest thing since sliced bread but now you think is the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen? Or that [insert another regretted purchase here] you thought you absolutely needed but now is gathering dust in the back of your closet? Instead of adding those items to the waste problem, you can drop them off at the Free Market, where they can await a new, enthusiastic owner. Maybe you need a new sweater for the upcoming colder months or a T-shirt for a DIY craving. Don’t be wary of the “gently used” subtitle; the coordinators inspect all of the items for cleanliness and sufficiency. Who knows, you might stumble upon what you’ve been looking for, whether intentionally or not. So, if you find your closet overflowing with unwanted garments or your room consumed by needless objects, consider taking them to the Free Market before heading to the garbage. It’s very possible that someone might actually find your donation useful. As the overused saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The Free Market is situated in Main 235, across from the Villard Room and right above the post office. The Market is open on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12 PM to 5 PM.
ust a few weeks ago, walking through the halls of Cushing after class, I caught the first few notes of Bon Iver’s “Perth” drifting out of a dorm room – a beautiful, sparse opening phrase that hangs in the air, lingering just long enough to give it something of a nostalgic quality. Though I had only listened to the song once, I recognized it right away, and immediately I was brought back to the time and place where I’d first heard those same opening notes. It was a warm, August day, I was sprawled across the backseat of my minivan amidst piles of blankets, coolers, and camping equipment, taking in the view of Maine’s rolling green hills as we rushed past them, enjoying the freedom of summer and anticipating the antics to come in the stillyoung road trip. We’ve all experienced it: the first chord, even the first note of a song bringing on a wave of memories about anything from a difficult time in our lives to a wonderful celebration. But music doesn’t just trigger memories. We have an intuitive understanding of music’s ability to affect our mood, using it to motivate as well as to relax. Each of us has a unique collection of musical artists and genres we listen to, giving us a way to identify as individuals. It’s even an important part of forming social ties: a mother sings a soothing lullaby to her crying child, the beginning of a friendship clicks with that “You like them, too?!” moment. But how did music come to be such a significant part of who we are, and how does it manage to influence and shape our lives without needing to use a single word? The topic is still young in the realm of science, but psychology and neuroscience offer some intriguing insights into how music has come to play such an integral role in our lives. It turns out each of us has an innate ability to recognize and
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Language Without Words The Science of Music Article by Alex Cornacchia, illustration by Alex Reynolds
react to music’s most basic elements from the very beginning. Before a baby is even born, it is listening to the music of its mother’s voice. Changes in volume, rises and falls in pitch, and the rhythm and tempo of her speech are muffled but still perceptible. As a result, a strong bond between mother and child already exists when the baby is born: at just two days old, a baby will suck its pacifier more quickly when it hears its mother’s voice compared to the voices of other women, recognizing the special significance of this particular voice. Before long, the baby is imitating the unique musicality of its mothers voice through its cries, creating an emotional vocabulary for the baby to understand and use before it can communicate through language. Babies can also perceive the emotional content of music, smiling in response to the praising tones of an adult voice and cry with disapproving ones. Even though they don’t yet know what the words mean, the melodic cues of an adult’s voice allow infants to understand and respond to the emotion of the message. These emotional reactions to music have a chemical basis, and over time we come to find that we can use music to manipulate our emotional state. Listening to something like Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” elevates mood and increases motivation because the upbeat tempo brings on a fight-or-flight response in our bodies – faster heart and breathing rates and a rush of adrenaline into the bloodstream. Songs with a calmer tempo, like some classical music or acoustic guitar, can put us at ease by lowering the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream, a stress hormone that typically increases heart and breathing rates. Listening to a song that you like causes a release of dopamine in the brain, the same chemical that creates a feeling of euphoria when you consume chocolate or have sex. We don’t, however, get a dopamine release with every song that we listen to, creating individual differences in musical perception and taste: where one person gets a dopamine rush listening to Lady Gaga, another might not feel anything at all. But music impacts us beyond just the hardwired and
chemical responses: it calls on a number of different parts of the brain to unpack the complexities of a composition. A song can activate the cerebellum and cause an unconscious movement in our bodies to synchronize with its rhythm. The occipital lobe, the seat of visual processing, creates colors and images to match the patterns and mood of the music. A familiar melody can cause an area within the prefrontal cortex to recall the time and place where the song was first heard, bringing on a rush of visual and emotional memories of the experience. Even beyond this individual level of perception – the unique wiring and associations within each of our brains that allow us to have our own musical tastes –music is able to bridge cultural gaps and bring people together. Our ability to recognize emotions in music universal: people from any part of the world perceive a piece of music as happy, sorrowful, or frightening in the same way regardless of where they were born. So people everywhere can recognize that The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” is happy, while Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is both frightening and sad (or at least we hope that they do). And listening to or singing music in a group forms social ties by creating a common emotional experience, fostering empathy among group members and allowing those feelings to translate into memories forever connected with the song. Music is everywhere in our lives, intertwining learning, memory, and emotion in a way that not many things are able to do. Because of its complex nature, there are more questions than answers right now surrounding the topic of science and music, as is often the case in the scientific world (and in life). But one thing is certain in the midst of all these queries: music is integral to who we are because it gives us something that the thousands of languages and dialects spoken today do not: a universal language, the language of emotion. It’s the one language that we can understand and use from the very beginning, and one that we continue to use both to strengthen individual differences and to set aside those very differences to connect with one another.
Beauty School Alexander Elder knows how to paint. A recently-graduated art major, he specializes in vivid oil canvases and... makeup. The Texas native took time off after his freshman year to complete his cosmetology license, before returning to Vassar. Now he divides his time between a studio in New Hackensack and the MAC counter at the Poughkeepsie Galleria. We wanted to highlight Alexâ€™s mad skillz, so we gave him four blank faces and let him go wild.
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Makeup by Alex Elder Photos by Kelley Van Dilla
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these are a few of
Our Favorite Things Hannah Tatar
Caroline Mills Co-Editor-in-Chief
DO IT YOURSELF >>
Denim Jacket I love this split-seam denim jacket from 3.1 Phillip Lim’s Spring 2012 collection, but I’d rather make it myself. Take a thrifted denim shirt or jacket, mark your natural waist on each side, and cut along the side seams to that point. With a sewing machine or a needle+thread, turn the raw edges under and stitch them down. Belt it. For a tougher look, cut the sleeves off and leave all seams unfinished. Ta-da! A runway look long before it shows up at H&M!”
TV SHOW >>
Bored to Death The show that chronicles the adventures of private detective Jonathan Ames, George Christopher and Super Ray is now in its third season, and is better than ever. The three men are back to their trouble-making, pot-smoking, white wine induced ways, with George in his new role as restaurateur, Ames as successful mystery novelist and Ray as park slope mom. So relax, pour yourself a glass of Pinot Grigio, and turn your TV to HBO (or rather your computer screen to Sidereel) Mondays at 9pm. You don’t want to miss gems like watching a grown man breast feed a baby (with his whiskey flavored nipple), a woman get punched by a gay Plushie, and the other moments of raunchy debauchery that make Bored to Death TV gold.
Logan < Photo by the Sartorialist
Carlos Hernandez Head of Publicity
Falk-Woodruff Treasurer and Head of Men’s Style
Julie Mehretu BOOK >>
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Before Liz Lemon and before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.
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Next Spring, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center will be exhibiting works by Julie Mehretu. The following is a statement regarding the exhibit from Patti Phagan, the curator of drawings and prints at the Loeb: “Julie Mehretu is one of the most prominent artists working today. Her prints, paintings, and drawings are exhibited in leading art museums around the world, and I want Vassar students and the regional community to see them and to understand why her work is so relevant. Like everyone’s lives, these works are complex. She uses layers and layers of information, placing networks of lines underneath swarms of swirling marks and shapes that suggest the cosmos. Her abstract works are allegories of our lives. They speak to the systems that we connect with every day—home, community, land, society, and the world at large, and our place within all of this order and chaos.”
Head of Women’s Style
Head of Editorial and Online Editorial
FILM >> BLOG >>
Bill Cunningham New York
The Man Repeller
I have to admit that I purchased tickets for my entire family to see Bill Cunningham New York a month before it came out in theaters. If you aren’t a Bill Cunningham groupie like me, I promise you will be once you watch the movie, which is now available on Netflix Instant Watch. It’s a charming, touching and funny chronicle of fashion’s first street style photographer. After you watch it, you may scream at Bill about how much you loved the movie the next time you see him riding his bike around New York City, which I have witnessed my dad do multiple times.
Kelley Van Dilla
Head of Photography
I’m currently obsessed with “The Man Repeller” a.k.a Leandra Medine, the messiah of mixed prints, sequins, harem pants, clogs and all things “sartorially offensive.” She’s not afraid to experiment and have fun with fashion, even if it’s at the price of a significant other and/or her dignity. Fashion is so often centered around sex appeal and “dressing to impress,” that seeing someone like Leandra, who dresses solely to please herself, is not only refreshing but also liberating. Who cares what people think, put on some velvet overalls, and join the “arm party.”
Head of Layout
The Select (The Sun Also Rises)
I sit in the plush red chairs of New York Theatre Workshop for the first time. I am about to see “The Select (The Sun Also Rises)”, an adaptation of Hemingway’s novel of the same name, produced by Elevator Repair Service. A lavish production of eloquent acting, excessive drinking and faithful literary adaptation ensues. Engrossing and always endearing for nearly four hours, when the actors finally take their bow, I feel as if I have finished reading a wonderful novel.
CONTRAST COCKTAILS TOASTY AUTUMN 1 cup hot apple cider 1 tsp chopped ginger 1/2 tsp allspice 1/4 tsp cloves 1.5 oz bourbon
I may or may not have a huge girl crush on the artist of this album, Jennifer Lee, A.K.A. TOKiMONSTA. Hailing from Los Angeles, the current hub of all things electronic, this girl has got it down. She’s a flawless mixer; her understanding of the way songs can work and flow together is unrivaled. She interweaves the old and new into soothing soundscapes of psychedelic trip-hop, but don’t get too comfortable; her live shows can pack a punch. Creature Dreams, her latest EP, is yet another smooth ride by Miss Lee. Put it on, dim the lights, and she will transport you a place you’ve never been before, but will return to many times more.
ROSE WATER CRÈME BRULÉE 1.5 oz vodka 1.5 oz baileys 2 oz milk 1 tbsp condensed milk 1 drop of rose water
Contrast Magazine, Fall 2011 c o n t r a s tvas s ar.blo g s po t.co m
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Cover and back photos by Kelley Van Dilla