A Taste of Curation: Neuroaesthetics at HAM

 

The Harvard Art Museums, affectionately referred to as “HAM”, places students at the forefront. From affording them research and work opportunities, to hosting lectures of all subjects in the museum, to allowing us to use the Art Study Center to sit alone with original works of art, HAM truly operates with students at the helm.

As a member of HAM’s Student Board, I have had the great fortune of hearing from different museum faculty about their work within the museum and how, often times, students can get involved. During one particular meeting last Spring, Laura Muir (Research Curator for Academic and Public Programs) spoke to us about the University Teaching Gallery: a space for Harvard courses to select objects from the museum to accompany their syllabus and encourage students to apply what they’re learning in class to objects that they encounter outside the classroom. In concluding this discussion, Laura mentioned she was in the process of selecting the courses to participate in this gallery for the Fall semester.

Since I’ve always been curious about how exhibitions are put together (everything from the narrative arc to the politics of acquiring desired pieces), I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. I immediately thought of working with my Neuroaesthetics Professor, Dr. Nancy Etcoff, to propose objects that would add a visual element to her already robust course design.

So, with the guidance from collaborating with Dr. Etcoff and the help of Laura in synthesizing our ideas, Harvard’s first ever class focused exhibit on Neuroaesthetics was unveiled in this Fall of 2018. Here’s a bit about what you’ll see if you visit, and how this opportunity has changed the way I experience museums for the better:

In looking at the course syllabus and teasing out the topics that would benefit most from visual counterparts, we structured the 9 objects in the exhibit to follow the themes of The Face / Gaze, What is Beauty / Art, Synesthesia / The Sublime, Longing / Melancholy, and The Uncanny.

The Face / Gaze

Paul Citroen “Self Portrait.” & Zhang Xiaogang “Portrait.” (Images from HAM Website)

For this portion, we were inspired by studies we’d read in the course that discussed how people perceive others’ affects based on how we interpret their gaze. In one particular study, it was explained that a portrait of a man was perceived as affable when told the man was looking at a scene of a family, but his look instantly became lecherous when told he was gazing at a swimsuit model. With this disparity, we want viewers to wonder about the affect of these sitters, and, how (if at all) that changes when positioned looking at I’m With Stupid (info below) in the gallery space.


What is Beauty / Art?

Unknown Artist, “Katar Dagger.” & Unknown Artist, “Priming Flask in the Form of a Fish.” (Images from HAM Website)

The course opens with a discussion about what is art and what is beauty. Can tools be aesthetic objects? And, if so, why? These two objects meld functionality and ornamentation. The left dagger doubling as protective, yet decorative, arm wear, and the right flask being designed to emulate the body of a fish. The latter example even ties in with the current special exhibition on view in the museum, Animal Shaped Vessels!

Synesthesia / The Sublime

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, “Harmony in Blue and Silver: Beaching the Boat, Étretat.” & Albert Bierstadt, “In the Sierras.” (Images from HAM Website)

When people hear of “neuroaesthetics” the topic of synesthesia often comes to mind as it’s neurological cross-wiring has had well documented impact on the arts. Think Kandinsky and his desire to visualize music. While, there wasn’t a perfect example of Kandinsky to pull for the exhibition, we turned to Whistler and his similar motivation to combine music and visual art. Similar to the awe-inspiring underpinnings of synesthesia, the concept of the sublime comes into neuroaesthetics as being an extreme example of sensory overload. Here, we chose a classic, sublime landscape example by Bierstadt.

Longing / Memory

Edvard Munch, “The Sick Girl I.” & Johannes Wierix After Albrecht Dürer, “Melancholia.” (Images from HAM Website)

Depictions of sad affects are often the most easily recognizable for viewers, as the somber tone quickly resonates with past emotional experiences. For this phenomenon, we chose two depictions of melancholy and positioned them to be looking at one another. The left figure leaning more towards the realm of longing, and the right figure being a personification of melancholy herself.

The Uncanny

Rachel Harrison, “I'm With Stupid.” (Image from HAM Website)

harrison.jpeg

My favorite inclusion in the exhibit has to be I’m With Stupid, as it challenges viewers to think about almost all of the above categories. Is it art? Or just a mishmash of cacophonous objects? What are the faces telling you? Can you even see them, or are they even human faces? Does it tantalize your senses? How so? And, ultimately, who is the ‘stupid’ that the title refers to? One of the two figures, or you?

For a museum who prioritizes student engagement and involvement, co-curating this exhibit had to be one of my favorite experiences here and best manifestations of the museum’s mission. I even talk a little bit about the experience in an article about another great museum moment: The Student Late Night.

Moral of the story: if you’re curious about something, go after it. Especially here at Harvard, a playground I’m fortunate to have access to, the resources are what you make of them.

Xx, Maia


 

A Crimson Colored Autumn

 

As the leaves on the Plympton Street tree change, and the wind starts whispering about winter, there are a couple of autumnal hallmarks that truly define the post summer season. From apple picking to regattas on the Charles, Cambridge pulsates with the beating of fall, and it’ll be a time of year I’ll surely miss once I graduate.

A couple of weekends ago, just as the weather started to shift but it was still socially appropriate to wear bright colors, some of my friends and I took the drive down to Honey Pot Hill Orchards - the classic cove of fall photos and fresh apple cider donuts. There’s something about ladders and rotten apple cores that reminds me of my youth, and the orchards provided the perfect playground for this day long trip back to childhood.

This year’s apple adventure featured climbing trees, nearly concussing Sofia by dropping an apple from high altitudes, and finally baking an apple pie with the heap of fruit we over paid for. And though our genius idea of using cinnamon roll dough to make the basket weave atop our apple crisp ended up crashing and burning (literally), our concoction of steamed apple soup wasn’t half bad.

Now if dodging squealing children and photobombing engagement photos are not your thing, maybe another autumnal activity would appeal to you: Head of the Charles. While I won’t lie and pretend that in going to HOCR every year I’ve actually watched any of the boat races… I must say that going for my last year as a student and watching my boyfriend pass by for approx. 6 seconds and then win, made the fall tradition even more of a special treat.

Though, in the past, I’ve mostly gone for the food stands and abundance of riverside puppies, finally being able to understand the real reason people come to HOCR made it all the more fun. Plus, running into so many alumni down at the boathouse made me realize that these autumnal traditions won’t dissipate once I graduate, but are in fact an excuse for all of us to continue coming together as soon as the leaves on the Plympton Street tree change.

Xx, Maia

 

New York, New Color Factory

 

A trip to the latest Color Factory show in NYC calls for digging up my sister’s old Middle School era dress because it is a twirl-able rainbow incarnate. Dressed in the visible color spectrum and fully funded by my gracious department of History of Art & Architecture, I was ready to take in what this new iteration of The Color Factory had to offer - camera and notes in hand.

As I begin to fine tune the scope of my thesis, a project which I have spent years amassing color-related content for, I realize that part of what I want to tap into is the reason behind art’s newfound color craze. Specifically, how intrinsic qualities of color lend themselves to depicting ephemeral experiences in ways that other mediums cannot.

What I found in NYC was just that.

This version of The Color Factory focused on attendee’s relationships to each other and to themselves, using color as the catalyst. After entering through a rainbow tunnel reminiscent of the ribbon wall at Color Factory’s SF show, we were greeted with the most visually pleasing welcome video ever to grace my eyes. Once registering and picking up a sparkling macaron for the road ahead, we all entered through a tunnel boasting walls of buttons that directed us to select the color that most resonated with us. Naturally I chose a dusty rose button and joked that this tunnel visualized what I think my brain looks like.

On the other side, we were split up into two groups and funneled into a parlor room where we were seated across from someone and guided through a series of activities through coordinated audio. The premise of this room was to compliment. Sitting in complementary colors, my partner Alana and I were instructed to select colors that represented each other. We also had to do a contour drawing without breaking eye contact with one another, and then were treated with complementary, complementary candies tastefully chosen to pair well with each other.

Next up was a sound experience room where we each played notes from complimentary keys. Post the twinkling of our eardrums, we entered a room bathed in sunset and filled with balloons with wishes written on them. Trying to snag a photo in this room was like battling with a windstorm, and we ended up getting a handful of Magritte-esque Son of Man portraits. Exiting the sunset room led us to a roadmap of personality questions that ultimately deposited us at the door of our individual, secret color. Each room was grouped by hue, and afterwards we were directed to take a paint-chip style memento of our secret color, complete with a cue for the next room: a disco fever themed dance floor - where we could strike a pose based on the suggestion written on our secret color card.

For an educational interlude, there was a hallway with alphabetically organized vertical drawers that featured pigments and their color histories. Unsurprisingly, this room was created by Kassia St. Clair, author of The Secret Lives of Color - one of the many titles decorating my bookshelf and on the list of potential thesis sources in my never ending bibliography spreadsheet. In a similar vein, the next room presented us with pie charts of NYC stats, displayed in spin-able and boomerang-able benches.

Last up, similar to the SF show, was a wall to wall ball pit filled with the most soothing shade of blue. This was the point where my friends and I paused our analytical note-taking and just felt like kids again. And with that, the magic of The Color Factory was concluded, though the tingling feeling of being surrounded by such a happy collection of hues will provide the joy and motivation to carry me through the monochromatic winter months ahead.

Xx, Maia

 

A Fashion Week First: Ellen Wise

 

To me, senior year of college is all about saying yes. Within reason. So when one of my sister’s college friends, Dani, reached out with the opportunity for me to head to New York for the weekend to photograph a show during New York Fashion Week, I practically purchased my travel fare before I even properly said yes.

The gig was to photograph for the designer Ellen Wise at her debut fashion show on the east coast. The task was simple: get myself to New York by 3pm on Saturday, and photograph the 6pm show - afterparty access graciously included.

Arriving at the venue was a whirlwind, as neither Dani nor I had ever met the designer or her husband, Mike, but proudly marched on up to get our press passes anyway. Once the whole team got acquainted, Dani and I got to see what goes on behind the lights, camera, and action. We were able to visit the models in makeup, chat with show staffers about what they were hoping to get out of it, and even watch other designers send their works down the runway (other designs pictured below).

Though I had been to Fashion Week shows before (think back to the sophomore year trip to NYFW 2016), I had never been granted the opportunity to photograph for one designer in particular. Getting to know Ellen behind the scenes gave a whole new dimension to her garments as I learned they’re each one of a kind and custom made for the client. Ellen has even gone so far as to design her daughter’s wedding dress - and Mike even made the wedding cake!

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All in all, the photographing of the show was easy. It was the saying yes to a spur of the moment opportunity that put me out of my comfort zone - letting me learn that it’s not so bad, and you can even score a fashion week after party ticket!

So thank you, Dani, for thinking of me for the job, and to Ellen Wise for fashionably fueling my year of saying yes!

Xx, Maia

 

There's No Story Like a Love Story

 

For the past three years, I have braved the August heat with 70 of my closest friends to dress up in full on 70's garb and put on a show for Harvard's incoming freshman class. And by put on a show, I'm quite serious. Every year, for the past 30 years, the Crimson Key Society has put on a "Rocky Horror Style" screening of the last movie ever to be filmed on Harvard's historic campus: Love Story. And while many of my friends (outside the closest 70 previously mentioned), know about this tradition quite well, I figured that on the dusk of my last Love Story, I should whip up a little homage - I sure have recorded enough institutional memory of this event, for Phil's sake!

 The Key-valleri Family <3

The Key-valleri Family <3

While us CKS'ers are responsible for much more during freshmen "Opening Days" than just yelling at a movie screen during our Love Story performance, it's safe to say that this event is a favorite for all of us yellers and for our deafened audience too. For the unsuspecting first year students arrive in Science Center C probably to escape the heat of their AC-less dorm rooms, and end up spending two hours with us as we scream odd things at a movie we've collectively seen 30+ times. 

While everyone involved has a hilarious time, the movie itself is quite tragic. Right off the bat it's revealed that our beloved Jenny dies, yet CKS proceeds to mercilessly tease her up until her dying breaths. This year, our freshmen audience showed far more remorse for Jenny than we've ever seen, and while I still didn't tear up when she died, I did tear up realizing that this was one of the first of my lasts - a pattern bound for repetition throughout my senior year of school. 

For the Class of 2019, this was our last year spending money at the Garment District to perfect our "Preppie Millionaire meets Social Zero" ensemble. Our last year of congregating at Widener Steps to take enough photos with each other to clog the feeds of our still-summering classmates. Our last year of parading into Annenberg Dining Hall and dancing on the tables (or being prohibited from doing so) to promote that night's screening while the freshmen ate their dinner in shock. Our last year ending up on the Snapchat Stories of countless onlookers (tourists included) as we unabashedly shook our booties to the tune of Abba's Dancing Queen. Our last year dancing on the Science Center Plaza at sunset. Our last year rallying our audience with a Science Center C-wide YMCA sing-along. And our last year belting, "DON'T MAKE FUN OF PHIL!" while simultaneously butchering his dying daughter with fevered insults. 

While I, personally, missed my freshman year showing of Love Story and thus will never know what it feels like to be pseudo-yelled at by a bunch of upperclassmen, I do know how invigorating it is to memorize a ludicrous script filled with quirky jokes that I'll remember for a lifetime. I'll be plagued with commenting, "Where's her other hand?" during countless real life scenarios. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Cranston, Rhode Island. And my post-college friends will never understand why I insist on referring to Paris as "Sirap." But me, and those aforementioned 70 friends, will share a fond chuckle every time we hear the word "midyear" or think about Bozo the Clown. 

This last year of Love Story concluded with an actual love story: while we took our sunset by the river pictures, a genuine couple actually popped the question and invited us to join in their engagement photoshoot! So to whichever couple is out there cherishing the photo by the Charles River surrounded by 70, 70's clad college kids, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Whatever that's supposed to mean!

 "Is the lady alright?" "I will be when he carries me over the g*ddamn threshold!"&nbsp;

"Is the lady alright?" "I will be when he carries me over the g*ddamn threshold!" 

So cheers to the first of the last, and to lifelong friendships with some of the quirkiest people on campus <3 

Xx, Maia 
 

An Aussie Tour of Miami

 

In thinking about showing my hometown off to someone who A.) is very important to me, B.) has never seen Miami, and C.) probably thinks everyone in the 305 goes to school in their bathing suits... I had to concoct the perfect 7 day storm to express how much I love my home. And a storm indeed was a-brewin'. Upon arrival (post the 1.5 hour long driving detour my dad took us on to show Curtis, the resident Aussie, a thumbnail survey of the city from the airport), we were greeted by one of Florida's classic flash downpours - one which quickly dampened the day's beach prospects.

Sunday then turned out to be a day of culinary cultural consumption as we stuffed our visitor's stomach with a hearty Jewish breakfast and again with a full on Cuban dinner (luckily, we napped through lunch). Little did I know that my Aussie would take the bait and fall in love, stomach first, with my funky heritage. 

  @fiftshades.ofbeige  on instagram

@fiftshades.ofbeige on instagram

On Monday, a light rain kept enough Miamians inside their houses and allowed us to explore Fairchild Botanical Garden all to ourselves! We happily frolicked (read: sweated buckets) through the garden grounds, hung out with some fluttering butterflies, and felt one with nature. Fairchild is truly the perfect spot to show someone the lushness/swampiness of Miami. And it was quite the sight for sore eyes post a concrete summer in New York City. 

Tuesday's travels took us to the beach where we baked our skin while eating some baked, Cuban pastelitos. And Wednesday we slept our work-long summers away. 

Thursday was more of the same plus an afternoon trip to the famed Wynwood Walls. 10/10 recommend taking a boy toy to this art district as it forces them to take pictures for the 'gram given that you can't NOT stop and pose amidst the murals! 

Friday and Saturday were days of exploration for both of us, given my recent induction to the 21 Club and thus new accessibility to Miami's well known nightlife. If being 21 means getting to salsa dance in the rain at my dad's 65 birthday party, then that's what I'll be using my license for from here on out! And no night out would be complete without an uncomfortably posed photo with a feathered dancer on Calle Ocho. 

All in all, in trying to visually/culinarily express to Curtis why Miami makes me smile, I think this 7 day stint pretty much captured it: It's a lush, sweltering land full of nature when you need it, and AC when you don't. It has a burgeoning art scene (more on that in a PAMM post to follow), locally sourced mangoes aplenty, and above all, it is home.

Come back and visit soon! I'll have bagels & croquetas waiting for you <3

Xx, Maia 
 

If I Were a New York City Storefront

 

I often dream about owning my own little one room shop when I grow up.

It'd be filled with one stock items so that everyone who came through and shopped would know that what they found was uniquely theirs. Maybe I'd sell objects of one color, and change that color every month. Whatever the concept, I know that finally financing a purpose for all the quirky tchotchkes and eclectic tastes I have will make me smile. 

Trotting around NYC this summer, I'm often looking for those little, eye-lifting moments that make me smile. It's curious what I'm drawn to, and because of it's aesthetic inconsistency, I can't help but wonder: what would I look like if I were a New York City Storefront?

Someday's I'd be all dolled up, really feeling my look, and not so subtly strutting through the SoHo streets:

On days that are way too hot, I'd long for a breezy and verdant escape:

A handful of days I'd lean into the art scene and wear a mashup of a minimalist concert t-shirt paired with slick, black culottes in this vein:

On the days I miss Miami, I'd proudly wear my tropical pants to the office:

Some days I'd be blushing after having participated in rosé season on a friend's rooftop:

On days I feel a little reserved, I'd wear something a bit feminine yet subtle, perhaps in this shade of green:

Other days I'd embrace the Man Repeller vibe and wear all of my favorite garments at once, despite the glaring pattern mismatches:

And some days, days that are hard or scary or overwhelming, I'd wear several different emotions on my face:

But at the end of the day, no matter the day, I'd wear a smile - because everyone in this city could benefit from a little kindness:

Xx, Maia
 

Rooftops: Friend or Foe?

 

If you didn't already know, rooftops in NYC are summer's hottest spot - yes because hot air rises... but also because they provide the best city views and furthest respite from the sweaty sardine sidewalks. The best kind of rooftops, however, are ones replete with friends, food, and a touch of "will my dress fly off of my body or not?"

This past weekend, I had the great fortune of escaping the city streets by heading way up town. Like up, up, up in the air town. Thanks to the birthdays and brunches of two of my friends, I got to bust out my favorite summer dresses and my even more favorite summer moves. 

The thing about rooftops, though, is their high levels of precariousness. You're forced to be hyper aware of your surroundings lest you teeter too close to the edge. The wind up there picks up to race car speeds and has the potential to not only snatch away your modesty but even whisk away the bagel right out of your hand. 

Yet, with that heightened uncertainty comes some level of liberation. If you know your belongings are likely to fly away, do you really even care anymore? Or do you become one with the wind - as free and flowing as the gusts effortlessley re-designing your hairdo. 

Being up above that high can make you long for the stability of the ground, whereas once back on the ground, all you dream about is being back up above it all. Guess the grass (or the flowy Reformation dress) is in fact always greener. 

Xx, Maia
 

Puppers of NY

 

Inspired by the Canines of NY Book I found at The Met Gift Shop + the fact that it is Curtis' 23rd birthday and I wanted to celebrate him and all of his dog loving glory, I whipped up this lil doggy ditty. I present to you: Puppers of New York. 

The four legged friends who rule this concrete jungle and our hearts. From scruffy to fluffy, and every breed in between, here are six favorites spotted by Sydney the scout or mothered by the lovely Victoria. 

(Some names and bios are fictitious, as the shots were taken stealthily and silently, but others are bone-afide tails). 

Buster

 Buster is the type of doggo who should pride himself on his all-element-preparedness, but ends up longing for the summer sunshine despite his sunny raincoat. He's a four legged reminder that sometimes the rain blows - just like that cheeky saying on those bright umbrellas Dry Bar provides on days like this!&nbsp;

Buster is the type of doggo who should pride himself on his all-element-preparedness, but ends up longing for the summer sunshine despite his sunny raincoat. He's a four legged reminder that sometimes the rain blows - just like that cheeky saying on those bright umbrellas Dry Bar provides on days like this! 

Miko

 He's a young fella who's just scampered his way into the city. You can see that glimmer in his eye as he's eager to explore all the fire hydrants this town has to offer! I mean he's already working on his New York Neck Crane as he stares at the skyline - featuring buildings that Miko's coming to realize are too tall for even him to jump over.&nbsp;

He's a young fella who's just scampered his way into the city. You can see that glimmer in his eye as he's eager to explore all the fire hydrants this town has to offer! I mean he's already working on his New York Neck Crane as he stares at the skyline - featuring buildings that Miko's coming to realize are too tall for even him to jump over. 

Marilyn

 Froofy and feminine, Marilyn was spotted struggling to protect her modesty on one of those pesky subway grates! A gal in great spirits, she's seen here grinning and making the most of her minor wardrobe malfunction. She probably came to the city to model anyway, so having this moderately scandalous moment isn't the worst for getting her mug out there.&nbsp;

Froofy and feminine, Marilyn was spotted struggling to protect her modesty on one of those pesky subway grates! A gal in great spirits, she's seen here grinning and making the most of her minor wardrobe malfunction. She probably came to the city to model anyway, so having this moderately scandalous moment isn't the worst for getting her mug out there. 

Lyla

 On the older side of things, this Schnauzer mix has already been around the block and then some. She's seen it all, folks. From Spring's blooming flowers to dogs sniffing each other's behinds. Despite being a little skittish (perhaps given how many rats she's seen in this city by now) Lyla sure knows how to serve a stoic smize to remind her followers that she's still got it. Follow her shenanigans on instagram @oldman_lyla.&nbsp;

On the older side of things, this Schnauzer mix has already been around the block and then some. She's seen it all, folks. From Spring's blooming flowers to dogs sniffing each other's behinds. Despite being a little skittish (perhaps given how many rats she's seen in this city by now) Lyla sure knows how to serve a stoic smize to remind her followers that she's still got it. Follow her shenanigans on instagram @oldman_lyla. 

Olive

 Just having celebrated her first birthday, Olive sure is the epitome of DTF (down to frolick). Eagerly wagging her tail (and shaking her birthday cake, of course) you can spot Olive running up and down just about every sized space. She sure keeps her roommate, Lyla, young!&nbsp;Follow her shenanigans on instagram @olivewelshcorgi.

Just having celebrated her first birthday, Olive sure is the epitome of DTF (down to frolick). Eagerly wagging her tail (and shaking her birthday cake, of course) you can spot Olive running up and down just about every sized space. She sure keeps her roommate, Lyla, young! Follow her shenanigans on instagram @olivewelshcorgi.

Curly

 Spotted outside Maison Kayser, Curly is clearly a connoisseur of Sunday's best brunch spots. He's one of those patient waiters (knowing that every dog and their owner is trying to snag a seat at this snack shack) so he doesn't mind making new friends in the meantime!

Spotted outside Maison Kayser, Curly is clearly a connoisseur of Sunday's best brunch spots. He's one of those patient waiters (knowing that every dog and their owner is trying to snag a seat at this snack shack) so he doesn't mind making new friends in the meantime!

Bonus fact: Curtis is madly in love with two specific dog breeds: Schnauzers (for fondness of his childhood pets) and Corgis (because they're Corgis). So to learn that Old Man Lyla & Olive Welch are the best of friends warmed his elderly heart <3

Happy Birthday, Bub.

Xx, Maia 
 

Take Me to Church - or just to see Heavenly Bodies

 

On a summer's Sunday morning, what else could be more fitting for some than going to Church? In our case, a party of three (with two of us being Jewish) decided to go to the Church of fashion: The Heavenly Bodies Exhibit at The Met. 

Hyped up from all the Met Gala videos of star studded guests strutted through the galleries and donning designs by many of the designers prominently displayed in this religious retrospective, Annie, Rebecca, and I put on our Sunday best and embarked on our religious experience. 

When you walk in, one of the first things you'll notice are the purposeful shadows and spots of light. The whole presentation has not only been carefully curated for content, but for ambiance as well. The music on loop in the background mesmerizes you. It perfectly matches the sense of drama mirrored in the costumes and staging of the exhibit. Luckily, Annie got in trouble for Shazaming the soundtrack so you don't have to. Find a similar tune here, and I strongly recommend playing it while you continue this read.

The exhibit was split in two spots at The Met (not to mention offsite displays as well): the Anna Wintour Costume Institute & the Medieval and Byzantine Art Galleries. The former featured relics and items from the Vatican in the costume institute underground in order to set the historical tone of the more theatrical display aboveground. And, aboveground, fantasy melted into fact as garments by Versace to Alexander McQueen were interspersed with art from The Met's permanent collection of Medieval and Byzantine Art. 

This split of displays was a helpful, visual delineation - if not a good excuse to cross the entirety of The MET in between - prompting Annie to point out the juxtaposition of, "old garments in a modern space and modern garments in an old space." And a modern space indeed. The first few dresses were floated atop stands in parallel hallways that led into the main gallery space. The mannequins looked like they were strutting on a runway in heaven as we had to crane our necks and catch glimpses in between spotlights to see them in all their glory. 

In between these two hallways were the brightest gems of the exhibit: three Versace tops encrusted with jovially colored jewels, presented against exposed bricks and encased relics.

"The seminal collection includes jackets and halter tops with Byzantine icons embroidered entirely in crystals, creating an immediate visual link to the luminous tesserae of the mosaics. Here, they are paired with Byzantine icons from The Met collection."  (Versace Wall text) 

Gliding onto the main gallery, you can't help but start to feel a bewitching quality consume you. All the mannequins stand eyes closed, draped in ornate and opulent fabrics. They're positioned either in flanks, in silos, or watching you from above. Everywhere you turn there's a new garment beckoning you with it's rich colors or even richer jewels. And each time you lean in close to inspect the details, you're sucked into another world of fashion. 

Each designer showcased in this exhibit is or was Catholic, and are all brought together here by their sartorial storytelling abilities. Piecing together garments that manifest "the Catholic imagination" as stated by sociologist Andrew Greeley - the theoretical backbone to the exhibit. Each cluster of costumes represents a short story (like The Habit) and crescendos into an overall narrative of how fashion stems from function and evolves into fantasy. 

Xx, Maia
 

A Father's Day "Worn Story" Tribute

 

Growing up, my dad was never a superhero to me - he was far too human, and made me laugh too damn much. He was, however, someone I always looked up to (until I surpassed him in height at age 16). Now I'm 21, he's 65, and while I don't live with him anymore, I always have him with me. 

Three  years ago, on the morning I left for college, I knew our relationship would be different. Since he was already the workhorse of our family, I had grown accustomed to being woken up by a goodbye kiss when he left for work at 6am and greeting him with a hug when he came home for a late, Latin dinner around 9pm. Now, I'd really see him even less. He was never the one I told about my school day, nor my daily dramas, and I feel a little guilty that he had to receive re-tellings from my mom because I was too lazy to re-tell him myself. Now, I'd really talk to him less. 

When I was packing to leave for college, I remember realizing I could no longer run into his closet and grab one of his t-shirts to sleep in when I missed him. Those shirts were so comfy and so large, and I could always tuck my knees to my chest within them (to recoil and protect myself when he wasn't home and I was watching a scary movie alone at night). He and I wore those shirts so much that they were too tattered for me to want to tote at college, so I decided to discreetly "borrow" a sweater of his instead. 

My dad, Mo, is a man of very few words as it is, so I was especially shocked to hear the ones he chose to tell me on our drive to the airport the morning I left. I was sitting in the backseat of the car, suffocated by all the suitcases I insisted on bringing with me to Boston. Mami was driving and Papi was classically asleep in the passenger seat. Right before we pulled into the terminal, he turned around and pulled something out of his wallet. Not cash (he had already direct deposited me money for airport snacks) but rather a drawing of an imaginary friend I had made him when I was about seven years old. As a kid, I remember not understanding why he was always away at work, and childishly wanting to make sure he always came home safe. So, with my seven year old artistic expertise, I drew him a little orange figure to "protect" him throughout the day. The more he kept it in his wallet, the older it aged and the more frayed it became. He soon laminated it, for further assurance that it (and he) would be okay. A decade after I had given it to him, he was now turning around and giving it to me, to protect me now that I'd be far away from him and all that he does to keep me safe. I've kept it in my wallet since, and despite spilling many things in my backpack, it has always remained solid and watchful. 

But when I miss Mo a little bit extra, or when I want to feel enveloped by his big bear hugs, I wear that sweater of his that I stole. It's laughably large on me: the sleeves spill over my fingers and the whole ensemble hangs around my knees. But I love it. Apparently others do to. I always receive compliments on it, and one time was even stopped by my friend flagging it as a "Coogi" sweater - an old designer that now costs upwards of $300 on vintage sites. Little did I know that the sweater I wore because it smelled perfectly like musty cologne and hung comfortingly on my shoulders like a protective hug was actually an article of fashion treasure. In fact, I always thought the sweater looked weird on my dad... and that's how I justified stealing it from him in the first place. 

Inspired by Emily Spivack's Worn Stories

Xx, Maia
 

Inside Raquel's Dream House, "less is bore"

 

Post the summer move to NYC, I found myself resting in the bed of my new apartment sublet: head pressed against the back wall and feet touching the opposing wall. My room is cozy, to say it sweetly, and after two days of experiencing New York living for myself, I decided to restore my faith in ample square footage and visit a popular SoHo Pop-Up exhibit: Raquel's Dream House on 79 Greene St. 

Arriving promptly at 11am (anticipating a line around the block since Gigi Hadid visited the day prior and the exhibit was closing soon after), I was met with an empty, 3 story apartment display all to myself. 

54.JPG

The idea behind the whole concept was as such: 

What kind of room is possible? 
We imagine:

a room that commands
a room that tells a story
a room that defines
a room that quotes
a room that shapes a medium
a room that shapes a support
a room that shapes a subject
a room that shapes a space
a room as state of mind

To quote a line from Ettore Sottsass: “These objects, which sit next to each other and around people, influence not only physical conditions but also emotions. ...They can touch the nerves, the blood, the muscles, the eyes and moods of their observers. ...There is no special difference between architecture and design. They are two different stages of invention.” 

An adventure of mixed tenses and reconciled opposites, Raquel’s Dream House coheres in the materia prima of design. Design conceived as an alchemical vocabulary for working and inhabiting. A room as a way of seeing. 

Raquel Cayre

The first floor operated more like a gallery display, with art populating the walls and decorative Daniel Buren pillars presenting an "Urban Light" LACMA-esque photo-op.

Heading upstairs on the colorfully painted stairs had to be my highlight (typical), pre-selfie in the groovily pink mirror. Come to think of it, there were many mirrors speckled about the space. 

Many of the rooms put together funky seating with even funkier art objects. Think fuzzy wall hangings, life-sized pictures of interiors, and the most beautiful designed piece that really puts the ~table~ in table tennis. 

The space attracted a lot of light - whether pouring in the higher the floor or concocted by quirky, artificial fixtures. 

I found myself pulled towards these rooms and pieces in particular, probably because colorful things have a magical magnetism on me. 

While there was "seating" aplenty, this was more of a visual dream house than a livable one. 

This house had it all: from meta-interior decoration to man caves. To keep myself from nestling into the couches and never leaving, I decided to devour the space with my camera instead. 

And if you wanted to take away more than just photos of furniture, there was a little tchotchke sectioned that rivaled the famed gift shops of art museums everywhere! 

In a city known for it's cramped and crumbling quarters, it was quite refreshing to explore this sprawling architectural playground. 

Xx, Maia
 

"Practicing Color, Practicing Material"

 

It's almost summer time here in Cambridge, and the weather has finally started to realize that: the sun screams "shorts weather!" and the trees are all blossoming with a rainbow palette of hues. Suffice it to say, I'm a summer person, and not just because most of the clothing I own from Miami is made of linen. 

I love this time of year because the outdoors feel inspiring; like an endless field of adventures and creative pursuits that you can finally tackle now that school is over. Not to mention all the colors that catch your eye while you're walking around, now that it's finally warm enough to do so. 

It's no coincidence, then, that The Practice Space, "a storefront for art, design, and research," is all about color this time of year. Last Thursday, they hosted a workshop called, "Practicing Color, Practicing Material." And, given that I just turned in my thesis proposal and declared that the argument will be focused on color theory, it's no surprise that a professor in my department suggested I attend this workshop. Curiously, this storefront was also mentioned to me in an email exchange with Leah Rosenberg, a woman I had spoke with about her work with The Color Factory, some time ago. 

So my guidance to head to this workshop manifested twofold, and I promptly bought myself a ticket. Then I bought another, because who doesn't like a buddy? And then I received an email that I was the only person who had purchased tickets... The workshop soon turned into a romantic date night for two, with exclusive access to Nicole, co-founder of the space, who spoke excitedly with me about color. 

The workshop was advertised as:

Artists of all mediums - shake up your practice with some social art making and color play! This workshop begins with a short grounding activity, either walking or still, as a way of letting go and entering into a space of experimentation. Then, using paint, ink, sticks, palette knives, and brushes we engage in mark making and color mixing from various prompts. Our focus is on process and the experience of experimentation, rather than making a perfect finished product. You may even find your color mixing palette is the favorite thing you produce.

We began with said grounding activity: drawing an infinity loop with a pencil and allowing the mesmerizing motion to dull our daily lives. With each swoosh of the pencil, I felt like my mind was freeing of all its to-do lists and stresses, and opening up to feeling truly in the moment. 

After that activity, the three of us went on a color walk to focus on colors that stood out to us. The colors we remembered the most were hues we'd try to re-create in the studio using watercolors. Personally, I was instantly intrigued by a citrine-leafed tree we passed because it reminded me of all the glistening slices of spring that had sprouted up around campus. 

When we got back to the studio, we all practiced our color mixing on a shared sheet, and then transferred our favorite, "most accurate seeming" color onto a little card, for color matching another day. 

The whole activity of thinking about a color and re-creating it yourself, made me realize that memories are made and kept in so many different ways. Like when I was mixing reds and blues and whites to create a soft lilac, I stumbled upon a pinker mixture that instantly reminded me of my Bat Mitzvah invitations from way back when. It was comforting to me that I could access such a fond memory with simple brush strokes and dabs of water. 

At the end of the workshop, we left with open minds, happy hearts, and paint covered hands. I couldn't have imagined a more meditative way to capture the joy that spring and summer bring me. So thank you Nicole and The Practice Space for allowing me to explore, with my own hands, what color can do. 

Xx, Maia 
 

Saturdays are for Day Trips to The Portland Museum of Art

 

Going to school in Cambridge, MA means I'm extremely close to Portland, ME - a quaint area known for a burgeoning art scene and the ease of weekend trip-ability. This past Saturday, courtesy of the Harvard Art Museums Student Board & Student Guide program, my friends and I took a bus to check out all the fuss for ourselves. 

Given that the semester is coming to a close and that senior spring nostalgia is hitting (despite the fact that I'm a junior and fully have another school year ahead of me), escaping campus provided unexpected relief from some self-imposed woes. It took exploring the Portland Museum of Art to make me feel at home, in a city I had never visited before. And to catalyze that comfort, I have Joan Miró to thank. 

After scoping out the Biennial Show in which I found photographs by John Harlow who spliced his imagery with his wife's journal entries, Anne Buckwater's innovative mounting method for her paper works, and Becca Albee's intriguing commentary on feminist literature by condensing her annotations per chapter on one page, I peeled away from my peers and travelled upstairs. 

 John Harlow,&nbsp; Garish Sunlight , 2016

John Harlow, Garish Sunlight, 2016

 Anne Buckwalter,&nbsp; The Republic of Hysteria,&nbsp; 2017

Anne Buckwalter, The Republic of Hysteria, 2017

 Becca Albee,&nbsp; RADICAL FEMINIST THERAPY: Working in the Context of Violence,&nbsp; 2016

Becca Albee, RADICAL FEMINIST THERAPY: Working in the Context of Violence, 2016

Seeking fresh air and a moment of silence, I found myself face to face with a time machine. No, not actually. But I stumbled upon a Miró I had never seen before. But the gestural and jovial marks familiar to this artist transported me to my grandmother's apartment circa 2003. I'm sitting in her kitchenette eating turkey and butter sandwiches on challah rolls, and laughing at something my sister said that my grandmother must not have found as amusing. While I'm no longer 6 years old nor in my grandmother's Miami Beach apartment, standing in front of this Miró provided me a momentary glimpse into my past. 

 Joan Miró,&nbsp; Untitled,&nbsp; circa 1981

Joan Miró, Untitled, circa 1981

This is what I love about art: it's ability to transport and to resonate. Art has a way of making you feel something, and allowing you to see in abstraction what you're looking for. And what I was looking for, in that moment, was comfort. And comfort I found in this untitled "chickadee" looking work. 

 (left) Joan Miró,&nbsp; The First Spark of Day III , 1966&nbsp;  (right) Adolph Gottlieb,&nbsp; Green Ground , 1968

(left) Joan Miró, The First Spark of Day III, 1966 

(right) Adolph Gottlieb, Green Ground, 1968

In another room on a different floor, I encountered a corner that instantly made me smile. Perhaps it was the brighter colors to contrast my somber mood, but I also found it shocking that the painting that most moved me was another Miró. This one, entitled The First Spark of Day III simply made me happy. And having it juxtaposed with Adolph Gottlieb's Green Ground created an instant happy place (or corner, at that) for me in the museum. 

Other works in the museum were less heart striking, but I still enjoyed encountering new artists and new mediums. Like this Porch Mattress by Duncan Hewitt - it's made entirely of painted wood! Or this René Magritte painting that had me doing a double take at first, before I noticed the slight of hand ;) 

 Duncan Hewitt,&nbsp; Porch Mattress,&nbsp; 2000

Duncan Hewitt, Porch Mattress, 2000

 René Magritte,&nbsp; The Tempest , circa 1944

René Magritte, The Tempest, circa 1944

So I'd say that the two hour bus ride to Portland was well worth it, given that it brought me instantly closer to home - and that trip is usually a 3 hour flight. 

 The Harvard Art Museums Student Board &amp; Student Guide Program, 2018. Courtesy of @harvardarthappens.&nbsp;

The Harvard Art Museums Student Board & Student Guide Program, 2018. Courtesy of @harvardarthappens. 

Xx, Maia 
 

How Emotionally Resonant are Rothko's, Really?

 

If you know me (or have kept up with recent posts), you know how intrigued I am by color. So much so, I'm probably writing my senior thesis about it. I'm particularly curious about how different uses of color in art can accelerate emotional connectivity and convey artist's messages in a more experiential way. As an intangible element of art, color has several characteristics that come into play when discussing how it affects viewers.

Unlike some other more upbeat and whimsical employments of color, Mark Rothko explores the darker side of color's capabilities. "Darker” not only represents the harsher tones and somber affect present in the works of Mark Rothko, but also how the content dealt with in his work tends to be heavier, his execution more rough and visceral, and his desired message to convey is more desperate.

Mark Rothko was an Abstract Expressionist working in the 1940’s-70’s, painting massive color field canvases to expel the tension and despair he dealt with throughout his life. After being diagnosed with a mild aortic aneurysm, Rothko began using materials that reflected the instability of his condition. Therefore, his paintings tend to degrade at a quick rate, and have been subjected to various conservation techniques; most excitingly that of the Harvard Art Museums in 2015 who projected corrective light on the canvas to restore their original appearance.

 Photo courtesy Peter Vanderwarker

Photo courtesy Peter Vanderwarker

Looking at several of his canvases on display at the MFA, it’s interesting to pick apart the elements of his works that contribute to the particular feeling of experiencing them in person. Taking into consideration materials, size, and color palette, we can begin to understand what’s at play in a Rothko painting.

Rothko himself described his works as transcendent. Evidenced in No.9 (1948), a more jovial painting in color scheme, the colors act an actionable agents.

“I think of my pictures as dramas; the shapes in the pictures are the performers. They have been created from the need for a group of actors who are able to move dramatically without embarrassment and execute gestures without shame.”

(Mark Rothko quoted in MFA Wall Text)

  No. 9  (1948)

No. 9 (1948)

This canvas depicts movement and the vibration of layered swatches. The colors, here, pulsate, perhaps due to the technique of watering down some of his pigments to allow for transparency in layering.

In Untitled (1949), Rothko starts to move towards a darker palette familiar to his “classic style.” Here, the colors struck me more personally, instantly eliciting a nostalgic memory of eating rainbow cookies in my childhood. Thus, the canvas managed to depict the colors of my heritage and helped me connect in an overtly symbolic manner.

By No.1 (1961), Rothko employed darker colors described in the wall text as, “the artist contrasts two muted green rectangles with a third, smaller shape of fiery red, all set against a somber maroon ground.” (MFA Wall Text) Notice how the descriptors of the colors are all emotive: "muted," "fiery," "somber."

  No. 1  (1961)

No. 1 (1961)

Lastly, in No.8 (1964), the wall text emphasizes how:

Rothko’s black paintings are often discussed in terms of the artist’s own struggles with illness and depression. But in the visible spectrum, black is the absorption of all colors - look closely here for the variations in tone and hue across the painting’s dark surface.” (MFA Wall Text)

Here, more so than in any of the other works on display, Rothko forces viewers to immerse themselves in close looking - for with just a cursory glance, they might miss the subtle differences in the black paints used.

  No. 8  (1964)

No. 8 (1964)

In my brief time at the MFA, I was able to witness, firsthand, how people’s experiences of Rothko’s differ. Some people scrutinize with close looking. Some people sit and contemplate. And some people stand, get consumed by the canvas, and cry. The emotions of the viewer, thus mirror the emotions imbued in the canvas - in Rothko’s case, with color. 

  No. 10  (1949)

No. 10 (1949)

Xx, Maia
 

Cool Beans: If Stars Align by Marina Zoullas

 

It's April 2nd, and snowing in Boston - delayed April Fool's Joke? Probably. Since I misguidedly started packing up my winter wardrobe, I begrudgingly selected an oversized grey sweater to keep me warm on this uncharacteristically frigid day. What kept me smiling, though, was the anticipation of a chat with Marina Zoullas, founder of If Stars Align: a company that fosters individual creativity during the design process of gorgeous sweaters and other apparel. You bet I wished I was snuggled in and sporting one of her colorful, custom designed numbers on this day. 

Marina is a high schooler in New York City. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she’s either working at the showroom of the clothing brand LoveShackFancy, doing research for FXB, the organization she interns for, or making art. She’s passionate about women’s empowerment and the eradication of poverty around the world, which she supports through her website: http://givegaincollective.com - a collective of organizations that empowers women through the work they produce. She loves to be creating, whether it be through her blog, http://honeyandoats.com, her website, If Stars Align, or any homemade remedies she’s making for her skin. Though she’s just a 16-year-old junior, this is just the beginning for her and she already has a couple of projects in the making for the future.

Having founded her company on two principles, Marina conveyed this same emphasis on uniqueness and individuality throughout our quick conversation: 

How do we reveal who we are through what we wear?

How does our clothing define who we are and how we can show it?

ISA is a way for you to define your look, not others. 

(From Website's About Page)

 Image courtesy of site.&nbsp;

Image courtesy of site. 

Right off the bat I asked her some questions about her vision for her company: 

What gave you the idea to start your company?

I’ve always been making stuff and I’ve been sewing for about 5 years now - up-cycling clothing. I have this jacket and sewed fur cuffs into it from a garment my mom had that she was going to get rid of. I like making things individual to myself. I feel like the fashion industry is now branching out to individuality and accepting people with different styles.

I started [If Stars Align] last year, in May, when I have a blocked out month during school to work on a personal project.

Images courtesy of site. 

What’s one surprising thing you’ve learned while getting it off the ground?

I’ve learned a lot about myself and that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So learning when to just put it out there. I've spoken to a lot of people in the industry and the best advice they've given me is, “Just put it out there, don’t wait for it to be perfect because it’s never going to be perfect.”

Where do you see ISA going in the next few years?

I’m a junior in high school right now, so where I see the company growing is in  putting more of a message behind the brand. Right now a lot of it is sustainable and fair trade in where I’m outsourcing the materials. But I want to incorporate a component of supporting women. It’s hard to find articles of clothing that have some action behind it. The fashion industry is one that wastes a lot of water, and now there’s more awareness about the environment, but I also want to make sure that my company has a social impact; so not just trying to minimize the footprint of how it’s being made but also making difference.

If one of your role models could wear one of your designs, who would it be?

I think my clothing is for everyone - so maybe Emma Watson because she’s someone who does a lot of work with the UN but also has a big following and is making a social impact.

Images courtesy of site. 

Though Marina and I only had a virtual meeting via FaceTime, I could sense right away that she's the perfect catalyst for putting forth a socially conscious, customizable clothing brand. Based off of more personal questions, it's clear that Marina places a large focus on purposefully composing her outfits - a girl after my own heart. 

 

Go to outfit: What's your uniform?

I love blouses, I have a billion white blouses that probably all look the same but for me they’re all different - some have embellishments. I usually wear a feminine blouse with, high-waisted washed out denim jeans to toughen it up a bit, and then probably paired with sneakers.

What's the soundtrack to your life?

I just listen to the Latin music that all kind of say the same stuff and it definitely does not reflect my life. I’m not a huge music person (as in I can never learn the lyrics, even if its in English). I like something more that’s upbeat and dance-y. Which is probably pretty representative of my life right now since there’s a lot going on with junior year.

What's one piece of jewelry that's iconic you?

I always have an evil eye on me. I love evil eyes and it’s part of the Greek superstition - my dad always had one growing up so now I do as well. I usually wear it either as a necklace or a ring or a bracelet. I just love eyes.

What's a trend you're envious of right now?

Because spring and summer are coming up, I'm loving the super long, flowy, beachy dresses. I’m very short so I can’t wear it. I think unless I'm wearing 6in heels I don’t think I could pull it off.

What's a trend you want to die?

I’m not a fan of naked dresses. Like to the beach sure - if it’s a see through cover up. But I’m not a fan of the bejeweled, feathery dresses that people wear on the red carpet.

Last question: How would you describe yourself as a human bean?

I would go with an edamame bean. I know I don’t have to literally choose a bean but I feel like I’m an edamame because there’s the outside shell, but then you bite into it and the inside is sweet. Kind of like me - since it takes me a long time to warm up to people.

 

Suffice it to say, after just a 20 minute chat, I felt like I could tell that this sweet edamame bean is going to do big things. That is, if stars align. 

cropped-If-Stars-Align-Logo.jpg

To purchase some of Marina's designs, head on over to her shop

Xx, Maia 
 

Late Night: Color Rx at Vessel Gallery

 

For the third and final show of Color Rx: Humanoid, we decided to do something a little different. Something a little more experiential. And something a lot more tasty. 

On February 18th, 2018, Vessel Gallery hosted a Late Night for Color Rx, and here's how it went: 

Visitors walked in and encountered me, fully clad in a lab coat (thanks MCB Department!), sitting at a prescription counter reminiscent of pharmacy windows. Each person was asked to write down how they were feeling on an index card. I would then correlate their sentiment to a prescriptive color, and change the light color in the space to reflect their result. 

With their prescription in hand, visitors could then approach the treats table and redeem their prescription for a correlated snack color (and another of their choosing, just for good measure):

Red/pink: flirty sangria 

Orange: rejuvenating tea 

Yellow: energizing lemonade

Green: pistachio cookie 

Blue: refreshing mint

Purple: decadent chocolate 

After visitors were treated and treated, they were free to roam about the space and soak in the light show, view the polaroid photo display of past visitors, and write down their colored thoughts in the journal by the static glass display. 

All in all, the Late Night allowed for more mingling, discussing, and basking in color, light, and good vibes. 

So thank you to everyone who rolled on through and here's hoping that you left with a colorful pick me up!

Special thanks to my helper for the night, Sofia, who probably said "Here's the sangria, it's flirty, it's fruity, it's sensual" a good 45 times over the course of the evening. 

And, of course, a huge thanks to Essa Lucienne for hosting this three-run-show in her gorgeous exhibition space, assembling the magical hallway light fixtures, and for being an absolute visionary. 

I'm over the moon that colors have made people as happy as they make me :)

Xx, Maia 
 

Vessel Gallery presents Color Rx: Humanoid

 

For the past three weekends in February, Color Rx (a summer research project turned campus-wide hot spot, and even pop up feature at the Rainbow Unicorn Gallery in Berlin, Germany) has been up, available, and poppin' at Vessel Gallery on 6 Linden St. 

Vessel Gallery at Harvard University is housed in Linden Street Studios in Cambridge. As an exhibition/film-screening/gathering space, it hosts works by artists from the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies and talents of the undergraduate community.

For this iteration of Color Rx, I sought to ~unveil the algorithm~. How so? By involving human helpers to run through the motions of the algorithm, enacting moments like string parsing and keyword identifying, two integral parts of the computer algorithm used in the first showing of Color Rx in the Harvard Art Museums. 

This pop-up installation was set up to mirror a doctor's appointment - well, a painless one at that. Visitors were invited to book appointments online in advance, and head to the space during open hours on a given Saturday. Upon entering the gallery and viewing the static installation upstairs, visitors descended the back steps into a dimly lit, white room, meant to reflect the emptiness and sterility of a computer's "brain." 

 Courtesy of Essa Lucienne

Courtesy of Essa Lucienne

 Courtesy of Essa Lucienne

Courtesy of Essa Lucienne

As visitors approached the "receptionist," they were asked to write down how they were feeling in a sentence. This sentiment was then transcribed onto separate post its, allowing the second helper to manually "parse the string" in order to detect salient words that would reflect the sentiment of the sentence. Words like nervous, stressed, and excited were some of the more popular sentiments elicited, though the inputs varied. 

With the words the second helper selected, I tried to prescribe colors that I felt would best supplement the visitor's mood. Upon deciding the hue for you, the space lit up in that color (as if reflecting an aha moment by Bluetooth magic), and I hand delivered a paint chip prescription. 

In the words of the Artist Statement: 

Color is ephemeral and complex. Color Rx contends with the individuality of perception, while maintaining that the experiences in which perceptions are grounded can be traced back to, and tethered together by, a common, colorful trend. Drawing inspiration from previous iterations of the project, scholarly texts, and the artist’s knowledge and intuition, the piece explores lines between truth and belief, color and illusion. And yet its prescriptions, unconventional and mysterious though they may be, make connections and produce impacts in the world.

Color Rx: humanoid simulates the computer algorithm originally used to diagnose a viewer’s inputs and “prescribe a color” in response. The piece is grounded in questions about trust in, or benefit from, “smart” systems, often in contexts where the algorithms are opaque – even when the output is very concrete. What does it mean for machines or systems to drive our behavior?Can we adequately assess the benefits and risks?  

The major takeaway from this pop-up installation? Colors lift spirits, and people are very game to buy into an experiential gimmick in today's digital/instagrammable age.

Special thanks to Essa Lucienne, the beautiful brains behind Vessel Gallery, and to my four helpers Caroline, Annie, Russell, and Kyle, for helping me to manifest this artistic vision.

Xx, Maia 
 

A Neighbor's Guide to Miami

 

When you live where "most people vacation," you can easily become flooded with texts for recommendations for what to do in Miami during people's weekend trips down to the tropics. Lucky for me, I love my city and I am always eager to rattle of my favorite things to do so that people can experience the Miami that is my home, rather than just the Miami they see portrayed in TV shows and social media. 

Since I spent almost two months in Miami for my winter break (ask me how genuinely excited I am to be back at school with a routine and actual wintery weather), I hit up my favorite hometown spots as much as I adventured out to the newer sights in town. And here's a little write up of the current highlights in Miami - in case someone needs a recommendation list of things to do:

Explore Art Deco throughout Miami Beach

Bonus points if you find a corner cafe and stop for an empanada and cafecito - for the true flavor of Miami. 

 

Venture down to South Florida for the best Cinnamon Rolls & Strawberry Shakes

Pro tip: visit Knaus Berry Farms RIGHT when the open in order to avoid the lines and inevitable sun burn you will get outlining your outfit because you spent 3 hours waiting for the snacks in this photo. 

 

Visit Dante Fascell Park to see the statue that has become an iconic portion of any South Floridian's childhood

This here is the naked lady. She is a staple of my childhood. I don't know who made her, or who decided to put her here, but she is easily one of the most peculiarly intriguing memories of my youth. Re-visiting her and being able to climb from her navel to her shoulder in one fluid motion really reminded me that wow, I am tall. 

 

Have an early morning beach day before the big crowds emerge and block your view of the water

However, if you like people watching, I would recommend going during lunch time - though that's when you risk some skin torching sun rays. 

 

Noodle around the Wynwood Art District and 'nosh at 1-800-Lucky

Since the walls are always changing and there's new fusion cuisine constantly populating the area, this is a great spot to revisit time and time again. It also helps to bring a crew of friends for the laughs but also for rotational photographer purposes...

 

Walk around the re-vamped Design District to see well-known art at the ICA and more site-specific art in the streets

At the end of the day, I think the best thing about Miami is that you can be craving nature, art, fashion, or food, and be able to accomplish everything (and more) in a single swoop - if you play your cards right. 

Xx, Maia 
 

Mo & The Museum of Ice Cream

 

My dad, Mo, loves ice cream. That's no secret. It's actually become part of his "brand" - as has the moniker "Mo" become his internet stage name, replacing the more official "Mauricio" he was born with. Mo is the kinda guy who can walk into an ice cream place and order the most absurd combo of flavors and you’ll be like “butter pecan and mint? that’s disgusting” and you're wrong because not once has he come up with a gross concoction. No. The man is an ice cream ~savant~. He finagles the most delicious fusions. It’s a gift - but, if we're being honest, he’s also lactose intolerant. So it’s more like a blessing and a curse.

Since Mo loves ice cream (even if ice cream doesn't love him), I figured a trip to Miami's Pop Up of The Museum of Ice Cream would be like taking a kid to a candy store *quite literally*. 

First off, Mo made sure to wear his "pistachio pants:" these glaringly aqua bottoms that he also owns a matching polo for, though I told him to tone it down for this instagrammable adventure. 

Stepping right up to the building on Collins, I couldn't be more eager for this winter break treat - especially since I heard you actually received a treat in every room. When I tell you we all left with cavities and full stomachs - I'm serious. We went at 12pm and didn't eat again until 8pm. 

The very pink lobby of the museum foreshadowed what was to come: facts, fortunes, fun, and fuchsia. After receiving a "fortune" from Fortune Teller "Café con Leche" (of which my dad got "cherries"), we were ushered into the Sprinkle Pool - which did not pique the interest of my adult father, so I took the plunge instead. The sprinkles are made of plastic, so luckily they don't melt on your clothing, but they do get stuck in between your toes and in the spandex I wore underneath my skirt. 

"SPRINKLE POOL is a reminder that when you believe in the power of imagination, anything is possible. Inspired by Museum of Ice Cream's Founder & Creative Director Maryellis Bunn's childhood dream, SPRINKLE POOL represents the magic of an everlasting dream realized."

- Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC)

Because the museum is located in Miami, half of the adventure is outside: murals, balloons, and pink staircases aplenty! (Cue photoshoot with excellent natural lighting):

For our first snack of the day, we were treated to mini chocolate milkshakes at the Bunns Shake station. And we shook our buns indeed:

"BUNNS SHAKE is an homage to a beloved dining institution and a throwback to 1950s Americans. Celebrating our inexplicable feeling of delight when we enter a classic diner, BUNNS SHAKE reminds us of the beauty of genuine nostalgia and memory." 

- MOIC

Next up, we entered a room with life-sized ice cream cone fans, and were instructed to learn the "Ice Cream Dance." Mind you, when you teach two twenty year olds and a sixty four year old the same dance, it's going to look verrrry different. I am proud to say, though, that Mo was indeed able to drop it low for the big finish. 

Post mini dance workout, we got to snack on frozen bananas and swing on life-sized fruit. Peep the huge grin on Mo's face here, leading me to believe that (aside from the day I was born) this must've been the happiest day of Mo's life. 

(While we waited in line for the swings, Val and I crawled into this oven-thingy for some pics):

Next up was the "Melted" station where we were given actual cartons of melted vanilla ice cream. 

"A play on the sizzling heat of Miami Beach, MELTED takes you to your favorite ice cream shop frozen in time. We invite you to slow down and savor your most cherished treat reimagined." 

- MOIC

For a respite from eating, we got to play with some kinetic sand. And Mo insisted that I take a picture of him doing... whatever it is he's doing here:

"SANDCASTLE DREAMS challenges our understanding of "adulthood" by evoking the childhood memory of playing in the sand. Like ice cream, our most treasured treat, sandcastles stir up nostalgia for our most beloved childhood seaside memories. Toying with size, scale, and depth, SANDCASTLE DREAMS urges you to create, engage, and unleash the childlike wonder that lives within us all." 

- MOIC

To work off a little bit of our ice cream consumption, "Sweet Sculpture Studio" let us play with life size blocks of ice cream - and they made a pretty loud *thud* when I dropped them on top of each other... 

"To Museum of Ice Cream, experimentation is the soul of creativity, innovation and the core of our ever-expanding community. SWEET SCULPTURE STUDIO challenges you to explore your creativity through flavors, treats, and ice cream delights that are as grand and robust as your imagination." 

- MOIC

For a little more calorie burning, we got to play ping-pong while overlooking sunny Miami. Having spent most of our adventure inside this four story wonderland, it was easy to forget that we weren't actually at the pink cousin to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, but still in vintage Miami Beach - a treasure more special to me than all the ice cream in the world. 

Arriving at the last stop, I couldn't help but smile at it's apt title - POP. Because, without my pop in tow, I don't think I would've had cause to check out this museum. So cheers to Mo, the man, the myth, the legend, and the best father a girl could dream of. Love you, Papa! <3

"POP is the perfect spot to stop, chill out and enjoy the majestic view. Surrounded by a popsicle-city frozen in time, POP prompts you to appreciate the moment and reflect on your journey." 

- MOIC

Xx, Maia