We are currently on hiatus, but if you visit us again in a few weeks, you better wear a Nomex suit, because this is going to be a hot zone. Here, the incendiary words, the incinerating images, the crackling heat of SVA’s artistic heart will all emanate from the one consuming flame known as . . . THE MATCH FACTORY. So return, if you want to get burned!

Cry Wolf by Harris Bauer (Visual & Critical Studies BFA Department) received Second Place in the Poetry category of the Humanities and Sciences Department’s First Annual Writing Program Contest.

I waited,
looked out frosted windows.
Mistook the black caps
of Chickadees,
for your dark hair.

You return,
with your hat in your hand
Your eyes on the ground.
I set aside my heart
to melt snow from your coat.

Twice you tell me
of a traffic jam.
Twice you say
you were waiting for rain.
Two times you hunted
for thunder glass,
buried in the sand.

Before Spring,
I will go.
When I can no longer
see my breath.
But for now,
I’ll believe
Since it’s cold and
you have yet to say anything
three times over.

Untitled by Monique Pelser (Photography BFA Department) received Second Place in the Poetry category of the Humanities and Sciences Department’s First Annual Writing Program Contest.

I saw a man changing
His clothes.
He was reflected in the window
And it looked like he was standing
In the clouds
In the night sky.

Above the city lights
And I thought about heaven,
And I thought about God
With this man standing in the clouds.
His casual way of moving
Unaware of being watched.

Loci in the Tri-State Area by Alison Cheevers (Advertising BFA Department) received Third Place in the Poetry category of the Humanities and Sciences Department’s First Annual Writing Program Contest.

Connecticut: Love is a nosocomial infection. We sniffed old times and affection under soggy skies mooring holy harbors to rhythmic beats- But every time I kissed you I didn’t tell you there were ghosts in your hair. I put my heart into the crook of your shoulder, put it into a trading card hidden underneath Big League Chew, chattered my teeth rhythmically in early morning madness wearing whisper pajamas and our narcissus blanket. At 2 a.m. the candles blew feelings north and you crawled across my eyeball to cuddle into the blindspot. I’m still carrying you there til I can purge you at the shore. But icy waterfalls tied my stomach into knots and messages reminded me of cold mean faces and bruised words. Things I’d do if you left me: Eat all the food in the house like it was broken glass. Eat all the broken glass in the house like it was food. My calendar says January 12 times. My mouth fills with blood that tastes like a drinking song and I feel a lump, spit out a broken tooth before realizing it’s just your name. After you leave somebody tells you what the song was really about, but by then it’s too late- the lingerie has been worn out and the pictures of you with your finger up your nose have been taken and the worms in your stomach have all been kissed. I think my point is that I didn’t have enough fast food in my lap in the car. I think my point is that I never really wanted to abandon adolescence as dinosaur bones in Levittown or Love Canal for the rites of domestication and boredom. And I think my point really is that I am just a bildungsroman, and you are a grownup, and that’s fine, but you should know.

New York: The bathroom at Grand Central station is very important. My hair is escaping in cornflake slivers framed in fluorescent lights, adolescent nightmares, swimming in an ocean of rotating numbers and denials. This is all important. After all you should never use the word terminal. After all I am not nearly as good at walking in heels as I pretend to be. My best teenage dress is wrapped around me in going-out-perfection but I must stay in. I must ensure no one can come near the zipper down my back and accidentally send 20’s guts spilling onto the floor. Dissonant ugly nostalgia sounds. The empress is falling down. There is a party downtown at 7 and trains out of town every 15 minutes, so erase departure from your vocabulary. It would be too easy to run away, times does that already for you enough and time is removing you from the mannequins every minute you spend in the bathroom. Tomorrow the models will just be a website of a memory so don’t leave the bathroom. Pull yourself apart and pull yourself together. Forget what beatniks and big shots said because all tomorrow’s parties are never promised. There is this party, and you have to go now, and you have lipstick on your teeth and teeth in your guts.

New Jersey: The Tappan Zee is a ferris wheel snake curling through the river towards roadside attractions, tourist distractions. They spawn contagion like teenage thieves. We are emancipated, fallen, swaddled in leather and nostalgia. 80’s arcades and pizza joints flash neon puke at frozen eyes. We had opted for the roadway, the wideflung arms, the zeal of newer pastures, the nothing of the stars. Otherwise we’d have only the train, staggering and scraping, metal stiffened in defiance, or as an endospore for its later debut as a consciousness time capsule; It clanks, a million lightbulbs, it jerks, a billion plane crashes, it pulls into the next platform dragging a trillion Hiroshimas. No, we don’t want to sit back idly and grin a soggy view of a world thriving on electricity. No, we will drive, space becoming infinite as the moon chases us with gnashing teeth down the highway. No, we will walk, creaking boardwalks cementing us back into here and now as the wind whispers through roller coaster ghosts and their bones sound like the carnies’ backtrack words. On the beach I think I can be happy. I put fried foods onto a stained glass tongue, cotton candy into my ears in the form of his words. Walk into the water until my feet are treading. Wake up the next morning, open arenaceous eyelids, and shatter with the beauty of everything.

Untitled by Michael Loscalzo (Visual & Critical Studies BFA Department) received First Place in the Memoir/Personal Essay category of the Humanities and Sciences Department’s First Annual Writing Program Contest.

When I had my mental breakdown, I spent a good amount of time to myself, alone. It was as if I was living in this nightmare that had no ending, no escape. I would wake up every day to the same wrinkles in my sheets, the same dust that would collect over time throughout the corners of my room and the same dusk to dawn that cycled repeatedly through those months. I spent a portion of that time reading, writing, and analyzing every detail that surrounded my thoughts and ideas. I grew to be comfortable with my isolation and even my loneliness, away from society or any social interaction. The books the brushed against the tips of my fingers became my only source of sanity, and the walls around my room kept me company, safe, warm, away from the harm that had brought me to my break down in the first place.

When you spend all this time alone, you start to grow a realization, this understanding, of a lot.

I was carefully observing the space that I locked myself within, and through studying that, I came to a theory about how space is created and the way our brains, our humanity, manifests life within empty spaces. Think about it like this; an empty sheet of paper is just an empty sheet of paper, manufactured into these thin objects that are completely weightless and meaningless. When you place something onto the object, onto that sheet of paper, something happens to it that goes unnoticed. We give it life, we place meaning into this object that originally started as nothing.

When I read through that time alone, the words that inhabited the pages through those books created sentences and paragraphs of a world that was wielded through imagination, through a creative thought process that brought life into a page, and then continued onto this object to create what we call a novel, a story. In that manner, the rooms that we inhabit our bodies in, behave in the same theory of the  word that we create a sense of personalities when we place a painting on a wall. Without that painting, the wall would just be an object to keep ourselves isolated from the outside world.

I spent months analyzing what ‘space’ meant and how it holds this personal relationship between our physical bodies and our minds, how our minds mold shape and form into these spaces and thus create meaning into objects in general.

This curiosity created a passion in not only what art was, and how we expressed art by different means, but also, what art meant to me and how I too, could express and create art through the means of space. Granted, I explored the idea of what photography was and how it worked, and I slaved over a camera for two years trying to learn how to take a good photograph. But when I came to SVA, that all changed. Because I came to realize that a camera is only part of the equation that will allow me to create art, that it wasn’t necessary to practice photography to allow myself to create something. There is a question that I have received quiet often about my curiosity behind Curating and why I wish to become a Curator when I go to an art school that focuses on art that you practice through the means of many different tools. And for weeks I would ponder over this idea that I was unworthy coming to SVA because I was searching to practice in a field that was not looked upon as art. And believe me when I say that I had my doubts, and I still do, but I want to believe that my choice in Curating is one that will manifest the artist within. But perhaps, this is by far one of the most difficult choices to justify, for I get a lot of confused looks about my choice in Curating. And frankly, I am getting a bit tired of explaining myself to a community of artists who really should realize the importance behind such a practice.

I once decided to visit the Guggenheim museum for a new exhibition that featured the brilliant mind of Wolfgang Tillmans, a personal favorite of mine. I had this sense throughout the entire museum of mystery, of something looming in suspended animation, as if life has been frozen for that very moment and the universe is about to reveal all of its secrets. I believe that’s the feeling I receive whenever I walk into a gallery, into a space that’s been occupied by frames and canvases, by photographs and sculptors, and I know, I know, this is where I am meant to be, where I belong.

What I want to do goes beyond the concept of what a Curator is meant to do, beyond what they are meant to write.

What I wish to do is about discovery; everyday there is something new to be found, something new to be learned, a new mystery around the corner. And it’s with that thought where I wish to unfold those secrets, and reveal them as masterpieces. In all honesty, I thought that this would have been a much longer explanation, but I think that this is enough, and it’s what I’ve come to believe. I know that this choice is one of difficulty; one that will challenge me in ways that I can’t even begin to describe. But I also know that my approach as a Curator is one that will reward me in ways that go beyond an education based in some art school located in New York City. Because I believe Curating is a form of art and for all those who think over wise, I shall redefine the way you think when it comes to what a gallery is and how the space is shared with art: your art. I should consider myself luck, though. I have the opportunity to express myself in a way that defines the way we approach a world that is expressed through emotions. Curating, like any form of art, is a way to influencing our attention, our memory, but also, our choices, decisions and moral judgments, the emotions trigged by those that inhabit a space in a room that present the very world we work to create. If Curating art is a way to present oneself, as authors do through novels – that makes me patient zero. I have six years to explore myself through walls, rooms, and empty spaces, longer than that which kept me locked away from the outside world; I’ll have six years of happiness. Some people only get four days. Thus, this is where my heart resides; this is where my art will be forged.

To Brooklyn, or Not to Brooklyn… by Josette Taylor (Graphic Design BFA Department) received Second Place in the Memoir/Personal Essay category of the Humanities and Sciences Department’s First Annual Writing Program Contest.

There comes a time when every new resident of Manhattan is faced with the inevitable question of whether they should or should not make that long voyage under the East River and into an unfamiliar territory of strange street names, only to attend a party in Brooklyn. In my short time of living in Manhattan, I was quick to notice Manhattanites’ varied opinions of their sister borough of Brooklyn. There are those people who are so fond of Brooklyn that they spend most of their waking hours there and it is a mystery why they are even still living in Manhattan. And then there are the people who are on the opposite side of the spectrum. They cringe when they hear the word Brooklyn and come close to having a full mental breakdown at the mere suggestion of going there. Having just moved to Manhattan, the thought of attending a party in Brooklyn seemed very cool and very “New York.” But if someone would have told me the events that would have materialized on my adventures to Brooklyn, I would have never believed them.

My first trip to Brooklyn came at the suggestion of one of my friends who knew of a rooftop party in a building close to the river that offered fantastic views of Manhattan.  With our naive minds, we walked nine blocks and two avenues in five-inch heels to reach the Union Square Station where we would then hop on the infamous L train that would take us to Brooklyn. Little did we know that we could have walked two avenues over and jumped on the 6 train for a much faster and less painful trip to Union Square. Our night was already taking a turn for the worse without us even knowing. After walking up the subway steps and entering the world of Brooklyn, we met a friend who would lead us on a maze-like route to the building hosting the party. After what seemed like an hour of walking, and two insanely huge blisters later, we arrive at the party only to find out we must climb eight flights of stairs to reach the roof. By this point with all the energy and pain I have invested in the trip, I am expecting to walk into one of the best parties I have ever attended…but this of course was not the case. This party was so anticlimactic that it’s not even worth talking about. Except for the view, which truly was amazing. But when the view is the best part of a party, I think it might be time to retire from the party-throwing business.

Regardless of the wasted cab money for a ride home and the permanent damage I probably caused to my feet, my first party in Brooklyn was not horrific enough to keep me away. The second party I attended was just as uneventful as the first and so far it seems like the journey to and from Manhattan is what makes for a memorable, but not always fun, night. After coming to the realization that this second party was not getting any better, several of us decided to leave but not before my friend went to the bathroom. We planned on leaving with a group of acquaintances who knew how to get home. These party attendees became fed up and decided to leave without us, therefore my two friends and I had to strap on our Christopher Columbus hats and venture into unknown territory in hopes of finding the correct subway to get us back to our island. After mindlessly walking around and an innumerable amount of phone calls, we finally were able to descend the steps of the L train station and to our surprise find the group of people who mercilessly abandoned us earlier in the night. I was confused as to why they were just now entering the turnstiles but nevertheless relieved that we were on the right subway platform and that the train had just approached the station. After passing three or four stops it was brought to our attention that we may be going in the wrong direction, and after a couple more stops it was evident that we were headed deeper and deeper into Brooklyn. Fantastic.

As it turned out, the group who claimed to know how to get home was just as clueless as us which explains why it took them longer than us to find the subway. At the next stop we got off the train, went up to the street and back down to the opposite platform where there was a MTA worker on duty, who after hearing our pathetic story, let us back in for free. As we enter the platform we look across the train tracks and see two members of our group swiping their MetroCards and re-entering the platform we had just left. You could only imagine their confusion when they looked up to see all of us looking back at them on the other side of the station. Whether it was from frustration or just pure stupidity, they jumped off the platform and ran across three lanes of tracks only to be greeted by the condescending eyes of the MTA worker. Thanks to the L trains atrocious punctuality, we had to wait 40 minutes for the next Manhattan bound train. In the time that followed, the two guys that ran across the tracks had a conversation on whether they would get arrested or not, a girl pulled out her iPad and started dancing by herself, one guy fell asleep on the grimy floor while my two friends and I watched in agony wondering why we tried to leave with these people to begin with. Of course we made it back but not without the panic of noticing the sleeping boy was not on the train with us which only lasted a few minutes until we saw him waving to us through the window of the other car smiling like nothing had happened.

Although my second escapade to Brooklyn was slightly worse than my first, I decided to give it one more try. We all know that the third times the charm, right? I was obviously reluctant about going but was convinced by my friend who said everyone we knew would be there. Unfortunately, this friend happened to be my roommate’s ex-boyfriend who she was desperately trying to get back together with. Having no intention of her actually wanting to go, I asked her because it was the nice thing to do and was dumbfounded when she said she would. As promised, the party consisted of almost everyone we knew and a nice rooftop area off of the apartment, Brooklyn was starting to look up. But my positive look on Brooklyn was flipped liked a light switch when I came out of the bathroom to witness my roommate dramatically balling her eyes out in the center of the party. My first instinct was to go over and console her and try to calm her down but she was in such a state of hysteria nothing I said was helping. The only other thing I could do was go to what I believed to be the cause of this derangement and figure out what happened. Going to her ex-boyfriend in a rage asking why he had to make her upset in the middle of the party, I find out that while they were arguing on the roof she attempted to push him off and also pulled a box cutter out of her purse and threatened to use it. Not knowing how to handle this news I suggested that we all just leave. Forgetting that we were in Brooklyn and that it takes at least 30 minutes for the L train to come, putting my roommate and her ex-boyfriend on a small subway platform together had to be one of the worst ideas I have ever come up with in my entire life. My time was spent breaking up arguments and pulling my roommate away the multiple times she tried to push her ex-boyfriend off the subway platform. After finally returning to my apartment, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep until noon the next day. This didn’t happen though, because my shattered roommate insisted on cuddling up in my in my twin bed where I proceeded to have a sleepless night contemplating what I had gotten myself into.

So there it was. Brooklyn’s third strike with me. I have not been back since that never-ending night of torture. I have begun to realize though that I should not put all the blame on the borough of Brooklyn. There simply must be a reason why so many people fall in love with it. I suppose I just have not yet figured it out. I have decided I should begin that quest to find that one thing that will change my mind about Brooklyn. But despite all the imperfect things that have happened on my excursions to Brooklyn, I would never take them back because after all, unhinged experiences make for exceptionally interesting stories.

Of Bones and Breath by Sophia Zdon (Illustration BFA Department) received Third Place in the Memoir/Personal Essay category of the Humanities and Sciences Department’s First Annual Writing Program Contest.

I won’t say the C word. It’s too easy. I could say the C word and you’d already have a narrative built in your mind that would trace the outlines of birth, disappointment, loss, death, like a poorly constructed Hallmark movie, or a romance novel of illness and unfortunate fated love. The picture in your mind would be exaggerated, a tableau of figures prostrating their woe. Hospice, IVs, drugs, photographs on dressers, people whispering quietly and the soft sound of staggering breath. If I say the C word you’ll have these preconceptions of my beginnings, of my family, of my father. He’ll cease to become a person. Before his name will be the C word, a precursor to anything else about him. As if his whole life were an after thought to his death. The C word would erase the little things about him: his nervous humming during lulls in conversation; his long fingers that gracefully manipulated piano keys, or thoughtfully zoomed through radio static while gently pushing away my own protesting hands; his abhorrence for red plaid shirts, despite the many he received for Christmas; his gentleness with children and animals, particularly fond of small birds and squirrels; his wry humor and quiet laugh; his gentle knocking at the door late at night, reminding me to go to sleep Sophie, you can finish it in the morning.

In the dim light of the basement lit by a television my family found solace, even before there was a diagnosis it was an unspoken tradition, a nightly ritual. Like cavemen drawn to the warmth and community of fire on cold nights, to brave the Minnesotan winter or remove some of the tension from the daily grind of a workday, we would all unconsciously find ourselves sitting around the TV. I am a child of 90s animation, of R-rated movies at an early age, digesting vivid images I was often unprepared to see but absorbed with wide-eyed curiosity.  When nightmares or monsters under the bed kept me awake, in the arms of my parents I would find reassurance, lulled to sleep by the smooth voice of a reporter on the ten o’clock news and the battle cries of Xena. This tradition continued during the earlier months of 2012, when my fathers declining health revealed itself in more obvious ways. I remember when he first began to get winded walking, originally the fastest runner in my family, now breathlessly asking me to slow down and rest as we made our way up the stairs, his long legs turned to spindles. When my mother worked late nights and my brother was studying abroad, we’d find ourselves in front of the screen, flipping through our Netflix queue. In the dimly lit room I’d sneak glances at my father’s features, watch his eyes shift over the images on the screen, delicate changes in expression, all illuminated by bright rapidly shifting colors. Moments of unspoken agreement, a denial of our current situation, losing ourselves in narratives and temporarily leaving the crushing weight of the present behind. This was our expression of love and trust, for emotional dialogue and words of gratitude were easily dismissed by my father. Already uncertain when it came to physical contact, he was more comfortable with light taps on the back over hugs. The last time my father held me, really held me, as in let me fall asleep with his arms around me, was between the ages of 8 and 10 in front of the television. I can’t remember another time where I felt safer, certain that the world would continue to spin for a long eternity on its axis. My father had always given me that sense of security.

As a child, you are continuously underestimated. Adults are always surprised when you show a greater understanding of emotional depth at a young age. Condescension, as a teenager or a 20 year-old woman, is something easily accustomed to even in a professional environment. My father never condescended to me. He always had higher expectations for me than anyone else, was never satisfied or appeased in the way that most others are. My mother’s assurance that she loved me was easily granted. My father’s was constant but unspoken, with a suggestion it was to be earned. I’d only seen my father cry once. After his first diagnosis, in a moment of vulnerability I would never witness again, I saw my father dissolve as he wrapped his arms around my brother and confessed to me for the first time he was afraid. He’d watched his own father pass away at my age, had watched him slowly slip into an illness and become strange and alien. He begged us not to be afraid of him, even when he became unfamiliar. On long drives in the middle of the night, picking me up from one place or another, he would purposefully avoid the c word, or any reference to his health, instead turning up the radio and suggesting my taste in music was only getting worse. We were hypnotized into a calm, watching the lines on the asphalt disappear methodically out of vision, beneath streetlights that made our talks seem dreamy and timeless. Here he imparted his wisdom. At my grandmother’s funeral, several months before my father’s passing, he held my hand through the entire ceremony where I sat stiffly in black, biting my lip hard and painfully, unable to understand. It felt jovial to me, bright and sugarcoated, an unrealistic representation of my grandmother’s life, the description of a woman reduced to bullet points and a slide show. My father described catharsis, grief, and how the bizarre rituals, ceremonies, and odd behaviors are all part of maintaining sanity in an experience that goes beyond comprehension. He explained in the clearest most wonderful way, the kindest and wisest explanation I’ve ever been given, that funerals are for the living. The awkward laughter, the plates of lukewarm food, the quick tentative hugs and apologies all a coping mechanism. In the car ride he described it as a sort of relief, the celebration of a long life well lived. “No one will cry at my funeral,” he said simply. “You’ll see.” “But you’re not old. You’re 57.” My father didn’t respond, and we continued the drive in thoughtful silence. In one of the last conversations I had with him, in a fast food restaurant over ice cream, my father confessed to me he’d had a good life. That he’d loved my mother, that we made him proud, that after everything he was satisfied. In contrast to the months of hospice that followed, this was the only moment my father dropped all pretenses and spoke honestly with me.

The worst is when they say, “At least you got to say goodbye.” As my mom reminds me, it’s because they have no reference, no possible understanding of what its like to watch someone you love be slowly eaten up from the inside, the horrible betrayal of their own body. Years of hoping, of hearing good news and then bad news and always believing that it will get better, because the alternative is unforgiving and impossible. The truth is, through out all of it, until the very end, I did not say goodbye to my father. I said I love you over and over, I said it again to be sure he heard it. It could never be said enough. Saying goodbye was accepting death, and throughout all the battles fought and won and lost none of us would ever be ready for that reality. Even after he died I couldn’t understand it. The phrase, “My father is dead,” repeated over and over in my head meaninglessly. It was incomprehensible. Even now the phrase will cycle through my brain on occasion, and I’ll test its weight against my tongue and thoughtfully re-shelve it into a corner of my brain.

Sometimes in sleep I dream of my father, of his face, of distant memories, of his figure walking into the distance. In his darkest hour of illness he described his own dreams, of a wolf waiting by the door, of our house shifting into something not quite familiar, of calling my name telling me to let the dog in. He saw low-hanging clouds above his bed, and a shadowy figure in the corner of the room. More often than not my dreams of him seem more tangible than my reality. Waking up I cannot believe what has happened in such a short span of time, and I must confess to a certain numbness. I play recordings of his voice on my phone, flip through photo albums and read old emails and I can’t fathom how someone so strong could simply cease to live. In my mind my father has defeated the c word, absolved it of any meaning. In my mind he’s at my graduation and my wedding. In my mind he’s at my first gallery show, and at my first book signing. In my mind he’s there when I’m old, or sick, reminding me to always be better then I am. In my mind father is still holding my hand, gently reassuring me and guiding through all of my dreams into the next.

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