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

 

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 
 

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
 

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
 

"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 
 

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
 

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
 

All About Ultraviolet

 

Last week, Pantone announced the color of the year for 2018. This is big, in color news, mind you. Pantone practically says "Jump!" and designers around the world say, "In what color?" 

For 2018, Pantone enchants us with Ultraviolet.

Here, give it a listen while you give the rest of this post a read: 

You and I both know that I sense that colors have personalities. Hence my whole concept of Color Rx. So, to read Pantone's take on the emotional connectivity of this color really made my day:

"Inventive and imaginative, Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come."

"Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection."

- Pantone Color of the Year Announcement

 Courtesy of www.Pantone.com

Courtesy of www.Pantone.com

Ultraviolet has long been known for its spiritual capacity - especially in my family. I can think back to several instances in which I've been encouraged to surround people and places in "violet light." For example, during Hurricane Irma that was projected to barrel towards Miami, causing my friends and family to evacuate, I was asked to surround our home in violet light. To simply visualize the purple-ish aura around our house in order to keep it safe. 

 Maroon 5 Concert, 2014

Maroon 5 Concert, 2014

With such a potent, meditative quality, this hue has also been a longstanding feature in movements across art history. Expertly spelled out in Artsy's post, "What Art History Tells Us about Ultra Violet, Pantone’s Color of the Year," here are some of the most salient combinations of emotion & art: 

"[Monet's] enthusiasm rubbed off on his Impressionist peers, and soon the group’s penchant for the hue was being described as “violettomania,” a purported symptom of hysteria. Supporters of the Impressionists, however, believed they had “an acute perceptual facility that allowed them to see ultraviolet light at the extreme edge of the spectrum, invisible to others’ eyes,” as Stella Paul explains in her book Chromophilia: The Story of Color in Art."

"Similar to the Impressionists, [Georgia O’Keefe] didn’t seek to depict reality. Rather, she used color and form to convey more intangible forces—here, warmth, sensuality, and vigor."

"Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Rothko also played with the color’s religious associations when he filled his magnum opus, the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, with maroon, plum, and deep mauve canvases. Unlike Bacon’s figurative approach, however, Rothko focused on the soothing, meditative power of the violet spectrum. During the same era, James Turrell began experimenting with his ethereal, immersive Light and Space environments. Some he lit monochromatically with deep, diffused fuschia; the experience of entering these spaces has similarly been described as religious."

- Alexxa Gotthardt for Artsy

In talking about color, it seems like everyone dons a spiritual hat and tries to describe what they sense in the same way dollar-store-psychics write about weekly horoscopes. Not to say I haven't done that myself. In describing colors for Color Rx, I balanced historical background on the pigments with resonant feelings I believed were tied to the hue - while still trying to write about them in a broad enough manner that they would be relatable to more people. Here are two that I came up with for the project:

Patented in 1856 by Scottish chemist, William Perkin, Mauve was the first synthetic based dye, also referred to as a coal tar color. Perkin originally referred to this pigment as "Tyrian Purple" to up its appeal, though it is rumored that his critics called it Purple Sludge. Dim and dark, Mauve embodies the ability to block out any unwanted noises in life. Tap into Mauve's dusky aura to re-center yourself.

A synthetic pigment commercially known as Nuremberg Violet, Manganese Violet is heat-proof and non-toxic. It has been used in frescos and paintings, though tends to tint them unfavorably. Earthy and quiet, Manganese Violet radiates a warmth that grounds you and brings you back to your roots - whether that be physically or mentally. Allow yourself to feel anchored by its safe embrace.

- Maia Leandra for Color Rx 

 Pigments from the Harvard Art Museums' Forbes Pigment Collection

Pigments from the Harvard Art Museums' Forbes Pigment Collection

So, as the year closes and we prepare to welcome 2018, keep Ultraviolet in mind. If not for it's powerful, emotional resonance, than for the mere fact that it is a simply soothing shade. 

 Me, circa NYE 2015

Me, circa NYE 2015

Xx, Maia 
 

Just in Time for Art Basel

 
DC1CFCC2-F2AF-4F1C-861E-8CEB800DFD0F.JPG

I made it home to Miami on December 9th, the last weekend of Art Basel, as if purposefully celebrating my semester without final exams! With only two days left of the festivities, and VIP tickets graciously afforded to us by our aunt and uncle, my sister and I spent Saturday at the Convention Center and Sunday at Untitled.

Having been to Art Basel several times before, I realize that each trip is a little bit different for me. It started out in High School (when I hardly knew anything about art aside the fact that I liked it and neon installations were my favorite), scampering off to Miami Beach with friends because everyone was doing it. Now that I study History of Art & Architecture at school, and everyone I know expects me to rattle off interesting facts about every visible artwork, I feel an obligation to perform but also a relieving freedom at Art Basel.

For people who hardly know what they’re doing when they go to Art Basel (still me), it can be overwhelming to want to see everything. And I mean everything. The Convention Center is riddled with booths and packed with people. And if you aren’t going to purchase anything, which most people my age can’t even dream of, you find yourself in this limbo of consumption vs. appreciation.

Art Basel, to me, is a curation of the now. It’s not as thematic as a museum exhibition, nor as haphazard as a street fair, but a sophisticated in between - where you can survey all of the offerings and notice some patterns in what’s up for grabs. That’s how I like to view it. I like noticing what people gravitate towards, I like seeing everyone get dressed up and put on their largest statement earrings, and I like admitting that I don’t know everything about what we’re seeing.

But I do know some things. This year, my sister and I walked past some colored canvases. You know, the ones that are planes of color that prompt people to say, “I could’ve done that!” Well, in the words of the MoMA poster I have hanging in my dorm room, “Modern Art = I Could’ve Done That + Yeah But You Didn’t.” She asked what those canvases were all about. After a mini spiel about Rothko’s and color fields (is that even the correct explanation, I hope so!), I admitted to her, “But yeah, sometimes I think I could’ve just painted that too.” And she loved that answer. She loved how human I had responded, and how I tried to explain it to her in a digestible but not pedantic way.

To me, that’s the beauty of Art Basel. You are exposed to great art, but you don’t have to be expected to “get it.” You can walk up and down the aisles and glance here or there, and not be scowled at for taking less than a minute to assess if you like the work or not before you move on. Because, let’s face it, if everyone took to Art Basel the way we tend to spend our time in art museums (staring at one work for an extended period of time), Art Basel would have to be way longer than a weeklong show. Here, in the fast paced flow of the shows, you’re free to Look, Like, Smile, and Repeat.

Aside from the Convention Center, I had the time to check out Untitled on the beach. This one felt more “Miami” in the sense that the tent was located right on the water, everything was stark white and well lit, and colors popped out at you in every corner. The total offerings were also smaller in scale, so it was manageable to see them all. And there were even moments in which silent commentators laughed at the spectacle themselves:

Art Basel, you’ve done it again. You’ve replenished my soul with beautiful things to look at, an opportunity to learn the different tastes of the people I went with, and an excuse to simply enjoy an art-filled weekend with my family.

Xx, Maia
 

Fall Findings: a Leaf Hunt

 

Seasons are such a novel concept to me.

Growing up in a land of Hot, Extra Hot, Extremely Hot, and Unbearably Hot, the idea that a a spectrum of degrees from 0 to 100 (real gradually) could occur in the same location was unimaginable. Sure I had seen pictures of fall foliage and heard songs like White Christmas, but seeing was really believing when I set up shop in Cambridge for my first Northeastern fall two years ago. 

I remember noticing the first leaves change color. I was walking to class and almost stepped on a treasure: a small, raindrop shaped leaf that was predominately brown, but budding red from its core. Naturally, I picked it up and put it in my phone case (temporarily replacing the Polaroid photo of Fairchild I normally keep in there). Once I made it safely home that day and the precious leaf had survived the voyage, I transferred it to the safety of being sandwiched in between pages of my idea journal - a location it lives in to this day. 

(Images from artist @danikation)

Now, every fall, I make it a point to find that first leaf, radiating with disjointed color, begging to be cherished. This year, I took that singular hunt to the next level. I'm talking waking up early on a Friday morning to intentionally collect a tote bag full of foliage with my adventure buddy Lily. Together we collected a decent smattering of hues, from perky yellows to velvety reds, and some foundational greens for good measure. 

With all of these vibrant shades radiating in my room, I couldn't help but draw parallels in their graduating tones to the collection of Pantone chips I oh so handily had stashed nearby. Lily and I matched each leaf to each Pantone chip, debating whether to match the leaves by their core color or their outer color, and settling for a combination of both. 

The final product looked like a spilled package of Mike & Ikes as much as it recalled imagery like Spencer Finch's Where Does Red Begin and Where Does it End? 

(Image courtesy of www.spencerfinch.com)

Fall, to me, is the most robust expression of nature's own color palette, and now I've captured it to enjoy - despite the current status of barren trees and winter looming. 

Xx, Maia 
 

A Soulful Recharge at The Color Factory

 

“Scratch and sniff memory wall by Erin Jang & Leah Rosenberg” an introduction to a colorful experience and sensory overload. Here at The Color Factory, to smell is to remember, and to see is to be supplemented. The colors serve to visualize the imagery evoked by the scent - a threefold, transportive experience. Moving through this room, you prepare yourself for what you’re about to enter: a world of hues, an interactive playground, and a way of experiencing color like never before.

The rooms ranged from projections of individual perceptions of color (think the orange room depicting the black identity by Tosha Stimage) to invitations for the visitor to enact their own interpretation of color (think wadding in a yellow ball pit, in a yellow room, with a yellow ice cream treat to conclude).

Other rooms blurred that boundary in a rainbow haze. The room with rainbow streamers, for example, meant a visual catalogue of t-shirts and bridges and pencil paintings to the artist and playtime for the visitor. In the Color Factory, the visitor was not only a viewer nor a consumer, but an active agent in exploring what color means and what color can do.

Prompted by a sense of urgency to visit this pop up show before it closed so that I could incorporate it into my eventual thesis, I was afforded the trip due to the generosity of Harvard’s History of Art & Architecture Department. Having in mind that I want to write a thesis on color theory (argument and angle TBD), I set my sights on this exhibit not only to explore the various ways in which it engages with color on a unique level, but also because The Color Factory is helping to elevate color as a serious agent of change in the artworld. Here comes my personal vendetta. Last year, I was working on a theoretical exhibition proposal for a seminar on drawings, one in which I wanted to center around color - surprised? I read countless, traditional theories of color, and even stumbled upon a few that enraged me. Namely, a misconception of color as outlined by David Batchelor in the book Chromophobia:

“Chromophobia manifests itself in the many and varied attempts to purge colour from culture, to devalue colour, to diminish its significance, to deny its complexity. More specifically: this purging of colour is usually accomplished in one of two ways. In the first, colour is made out to be the property of some ‘foreign’ body – usually the feminine, the oriental, the primitive, the infantile, the vulgar, the queer or the pathological. In the second, colour is relegated to the realm of the superficial, the supplementary, the inessential or the cosmetic. In one, colour is regarded as alien and therefore dangerous; in the other, it is perceived merely as a secondary quality of experience, and thus unworthy of serious consideration. Colour is dangerous, or it is trivial, or it is both. (It is typical of prejudices to conflate the sinister and the superficial.)” (Batchelor 23)

From that encounter forward, I wanted to personally prove the ways in which color taps into a way of resonating with a viewer that other artistic qualities cannot. To see color is to recognize memory. To be surrounded by color is to have the ability to alter your mood. To walk through the wall to ceiling realms of color in The Color Factory is to experience firsthand the emotive and whimsical powers of color.

Some of the rooms I felt best melded color + senses + experience were the disco ball room and the Chapel. The first being a dimly lit dance party in which shimmers of silvery light twinkled around you as you selected aptly titled songs like Man in the Mirror. In this room, a literal translation of color was applied to connect the visitor to the far-reaching depths of color in other media.

On a more emotional level, the Chapel brought together allusions to stained glass and silence while bridging two rooms of active engagement: the Confetti room where snow angels and sorority sister blow kisses were a must, and the Purple Surveillance room which printed out selfies of people who were aware of the project. In between two “louder” rooms sat this still, reflective space. Where color filtered in and bathed you. Joy and replenishment washed over you. And, for a brief moment, you felt simply thankful to be there.

With an upbeat yellow crescendo to conclude, the Yellow Room featured every monochromatic lover’s dream. From wall to ceiling, everything was yellow and you couldn’t help but feel happy - the ball pit surely helped nudge that sentiment along. But emerging from the exhibit with a yellow ice cream in one hand and a map of secret installations all around San Francisco in the other, I, personally, couldn’t help but feel like my soul was recharged. It’s as if I was re-injected with all the vibrant colors I grew up on in Miami that the classic redbrick vibes don’t quite satiate here in Boston.

And the fun didn’t stop once I left those rainbow doors either. Scattered around the city like a treasure hunt were several other installations, ranging from a mural of favorite foods to a jukebox claiming to showcase what color sounds like.

All in all, The Color Factory served to further the discussion of color’s capacity to be more than a decorative afterthought. But for the conclusion to that argument, you’ll just have to wait to read my thesis.

Xx, Maia
 

Kids at Heart: Halloween 2k17

 

As I get older, it seems as if Halloween gets longer - kind of. Though I don't plan my costume the day the calendar hits October 1st (like I looked forward to as a kid, cue a custom made Creepella von Cacklefur costume...), I have managed to celebrate the holiday on more days than one. 

(Creepella reference, courtesy of Google. Photos from my childhood, courtesy of my sister)

This year, I had four Halloweens. And with four Halloweens comes four costumes. And with four costumes comes a reckless trip to Michael's and hours of ingenuity the night of - though none of my costumes quite eclipsed this family's coordinated ensemble: 

The first night of Halloween saw the most coordinated ensemble: a group rendition of Alice in Wonderland where I proudly grinned ear to ear as the Chesire Cat (let me know if you've figured out how to pronounce that word because I'm in between che-shyre and she-shur):

The second day of Halloween, a handful of us ventured to Salem - because, why not? You have to say you did it. And we did it. From the cemetery walk to the candy apples, we were in the throngs of Halloweentown to celebrate the festivities. 

The second night of Halloween featured the most creative, ingenious ensemble, that promptly broke within 5 minutes of wearing it. I tried *and succeeded* to be Apple's Rainbow Wheel of Doom - you know, that horrific spinny thingy that happens when you're computer is about to crash? Terrifying, isn't it? Well, my spinner was spinnable, until someone spun it so hard it snapped... so I had to settle for being a "rainbow" the rest of the evening. 

The third night of Halloween, I was my true self: a hot potato. I really went all out with this one, stapling together a burlap garb with REAL french fries in my pockets. Who doesn't love a costume that's nourishing?! 

The fourth and final night of Halloween was the real thing. Think Trick-or-Treating, Haunted Houses, the whole 9 yards. If you're thinking I went back to Beacon Hill for round two, you thought right! And, in the spirit of nostalgia, my friends and I recreated some of our favorite shots from last year. 

Though we definitely got "you're not a kid" looks from parents on their apartment stoops, we snagged our piece *or five* of candy and had a Happy Halloween. 

Until next year!

Xx, Maia 

 

 

Color Rx: In Retrospect

 

"What's your favorite color?"

... a standard childhood inquiry, yet somehow it always presented more internal strife than it did successful small talk. So, a few months ago, I decided to explore that passionate, colorful love affair of mine a little further. After a summer long internship at metaLAB, with an independent research project included, I produced Color Rx as an interactive installation at the Harvard Art Museums on August 12th, 2017 - and here's why:

First, as a minor synesthete, I grew up feeling strongly that colors had personalities. I remember always being asked to pick my favorite in elementary, and struggling internally to say one I loved without hurting the “feelings” of all the other colors. I also remember owning an extensive collection of pens and highlighters in middle school, and when being asked to name one of the more peculiar and original shades that Sharpie had just released, I instinctively blurted out Electric Salmon.

Second, growing up, as much as I loved colors, my mom loved the Universe – specifically the power of numerology. A fond believer of “everything happens for a reason” my mom taught me how to trust in the Universe and its healing capabilities. From pursuing alternative methods to medicine like homeopathy to frequently finding ourselves in stores that have extensive collections of crystals and sage, I soon learned how capable colors also were in the healing process. And when she gifted me a coffee table book called “Colorstrology” in which you can look up your birthday and read about the color that best suits you, I was amused and intrigued and realized that color’s history, its substance, and its context link inextricably to our perceptions and experience.

So, with the support of my team at metaLAB, countless visits to the Straus Center to view the Forbes Pigment Collection, and some troubleshooting help from the DIET team, I devised a simple algorithm to serve as a tactile manifestation of this conversation between belief and truth, projection and reality, and color and illusion. And, given that I am both the artist behind this project and the author of this summary, let me just quote myself from my Artist's Statement:  

"Color is ephemeral and complex. An installation in the Lightbox Gallery at Harvard Art Museums, Color Rx contended 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 Harvard Art Museums’ Forbes Pigment Collection, scholarly texts, and the artist’s knowledge and intuition, the piece explored lines between truth and belief, color and illusion. And yet its prescriptions, unconventional and mysterious though they may be, made connections and produced impacts in the world, for gallery visitors and others.

Color Rx used a computer algorithm to diagnose a viewer’s inputs and “prescribe a color” in response. The piece was 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?"

Video by Bardi.

Set up as a pop up installation in the Lightbox Gallery of the Harvard Art Museums, visitors were able to approach a keyboard and type in a response to the provocation, "Think about what you need and tell me in 1-3 sentences." The thinking behind that phraseology was simply that I wanted to elicit a thoughtful, heartfelt response from my viewers - one in which I could attempt to "detect their mood" and provide them with a color to supplement it or just to make them smile. 

The white walls of the space itself lit up as the 9 screens flickered with changing color prescriptions, and the visibility of the pigment collection on the floor below allowed the visitors to directly understand the relationship I was drawing for this project. 

Friends, colleagues, and museum visitors alike all found their way to my gallery and engaged with the algorithm. After receiving their virtual "prescription," visitors could pick up a tactile "print out" of their Rx, cleverly attached to a paint chip of their prescribed color. 

How did I match the colors to the emotions? Well, I took the 36 most "emotionally resonant" pigments in the Forbes Pigment Collection (for me), matched all of the pigments to commercially found paint chips, and drew associations between hues and affect. With this comparison, I did not attempt to provide a direct correlation between the pigments and paints I chose, rather I used the paint chips as physical proxies for the pigments in hues that, to me, behave similarly.

Color Rx proved to be not only amusing and uplifting for visitors, but instrumental and enlightening for me. I know those are rather sweeping claims, but when you have the opportunity to exhibit your own creations in a space you never thought you'd get to make your own is truly a remarkable feeling. So thank you to everyone who helped make it happen, from metaLAB to the museum to my mother - my young life just got a lot more colorful.

Xx, Maia
 

Oh Wonder(ful)

 

Picture this: two friends on a Friday night, swaying at the House of Blues, and listening to an hour of enchanting music made even more magical by a pulsating color show. Sound ideal? It sure was! This scene happened last Friday at the Oh Wonder concert, a fun lil getaway treat prompted by Lily and her exquisite taste in good vibes. 

While I won't pretend like I knew much more about Oh Wonder than their song Without You, nor will I come at their concert with any valid musical analysis, I will tell you how incredible I found the concert to be as a kind of rainbow filled adventure.

We all know I love color, this is not new information. So, you can imagine how ecstatic I felt to be bathed by a spectrum of colored light accompanied to the tunes of a band I'm growing to love. It's one thing to attend a concert of an artist you love, but it's another wonderful experience to attend a concert with someone you love. We all know I love Lily (platonically, of course), this is not new information. So, you can understand how magical it was to see her light up to the sounds and sights of our surroundings - grinning broadly and bopping happily to the beat. 

Aside from noticing how much she was enjoying herself, and trying to distract myself from the couple making out in my direct line of sight, I felt deeply enraptured by the colorful light show that Oh Wonder put to visualize to their tunes. With each song change, the colors changed. With each tempo change, the colors shone brighter. With the grand finale, aptly titled Technicolor Beat, all the lights flickered into rainbow waves - signaling the culmination of this sensory experience. 

I must say that having multiple senses engaged with at once (audio, visual, tactile - well, if you count being touched in your heart...) truly made this concert one of the best I've been to. Not to mention that the artists themselves were SO kind and profusely thanked us for coming out to listen to them. You can even spot me and Lily crouched by the railing on the second floor balcony right above Josephine's hand in this picture the band tweeted! (wow, I'm even out of breath just typing that sentence).

What would've made the concert even more special would have probably been realizing that Jaymes Young was the opener and RUSHING to see him instead of sitting in a dorm passing the time until the main act. Lesson learned. 

Xx, Maia
 

"Walking Ideas:" CDG at the MET

 

Is fashion art?

As I settle into the swing of this new semester, one filled with courses in different departments that somehow all interrelate (go liberal arts!), this question seems to keep popping up. Given that the add/drop deadline is today, my class schedule is finally finalized, and it features topics like Neuroaesthetics, Science & the Practice of Art History, and Tangible Things. Each course touches upon the beauty of objects in their own way - from science, to history, to perspectives of conservation. 

Back in mid-July, I had spent a weekend in NYC to reconnect with friends and, to be honest, see the Comme des Garçons Exhibit at the MET. Both of those goals were accomplished, alongside other adventures, and ever since I returned I've just been sitting on this pile of photos, wondering the best way to write about the experience. It wasn't until last week, in my first class of Neuroaesthetics, that I realized what would be most fruitful: trying to figure out if fashion, to me, is in fact art. 

To prepare for that week's discussion, our class read/heard perspectives from the likes of Tolstoy, Dennis Dutton, and Valerie Steele. Steele's talk contended with fashion directly, and her claims felt like thoughts I was on the cusp of materializing myself, yet being expressed better than I ever could. She started her talk by wondering if seeing a Balenciaga bag in a museum exudes the same "aura" as art. Now, as a budding student of art history, I instantly understood her question as a reference to Walter Benjamin and his proposal that the "aura" of a work of art is devalued by mechanical reproduction - thus emphasizing the importance of a unique, one of a kind work. This reference underscored some of Steele's other points, namely that ready to wear or commercialized fashion isn't as readily seen (or shouldn't be seen) as art, perhaps because of its mass produced quality.

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I agree with that. I don't sense as much majesty or artistry in an overpriced tee you can snag from Urban Outfitters than in a uniquely made gown or costume. However, this isn't a definitive restriction for my perception of fashion as art. I think this opinion forks off in two other ways. One fork spurred by a comment made by my friend, classmate, and fashion icon, Lily, where she noted that there is an art to how you put yourself together, even if you're sporting an UO t-shirt and not a CDG original. The other fork being that, to me, a unique piece is still a work of art regardless of its display in the MET or simply featured in your local blackbox theater. 

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I think what makes fashion art is the creative idea, the skillful execution, and the way it's worn. To me, fashion can be a static art (admired quietly in the corridors of the MET) as much as it can be performative. I chose the word "performative" in particular, mostly because of a recent Artsy editorial titled Alexander Calder’s Jewelry Turns People into Living Sculptures. The article is pretty self explanatory, but let me highlight my favorite line:

“Too big or unwieldy, his objects are not ‘jewelry’ in the conventional sense,” writes curator Mark Rosenthal in a catalogue essay. “Instead, Calder’s jewelry may be seen as a sort of Surrealistic strategy to entrap the wearer into participating in an art performance, even to become bewitched.”

A bewitching performance? For me, that sounds a lot like a runway show. You hear the music pulsating, feel the lights dance, and watch in rapture as the models flow by - fleeting quickly as if expediting the ephemerality of their art. 

All of these ideas and opinions, shaped inside and outside of the classroom, felt, in hindsight, inextricably tied to my experience at CDG. First things first, I loved it. There's something magical about clothing's ability to tell a story, to weave a narrative, literally.

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Everywhere I turned, there was a new crescendo of costumes. Even some displayed up above (not lending itself well for viewing, but definitely contributing to the immersive experience of being enveloped in all of this fabric). I also appreciated the lighting. The stark whiteness of the walls and bright beams of light allowed each work to jump out at me - and made capturing them in photos significantly easier. 

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The show itself was a display of Rei Kawakubo's work from the 80's to today. The set up is as follows, according to the exhibition description on the MET's site:

"Objects are organized into nine aesthetic expressions of interstitiality in Kawakubo's work: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Kawakubo breaks down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness." 

After chatting further about the show with my Neuroaesthetics professor, Nancy Etcoff, she casually remarked that avant-garde fashion, like that of Kawakubo, presents us with "walking ideas" - something that I think is incredibly useful in thinking about fashion as art in particular. I mean, all art, to some extent, aims to convey the ideas of its creator. So why exclude fashion from the list?

I will say, however, that leaving the show and being immediately confronted with a CDG pop-up-shop that boasted overpriced tees emblazoned with a teensy logo really begged the question, "Is fashion art?"

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Xx, Maia 
 
 

Loose Ends & The Start of Junior Year

 
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Today, on this particular Monday, it's Labor Day and I'm being told I can no longer wear white - which, as a Miamian who prides herself on her bursting collection of whites and linens, this is a stressful day in fashion. It is also the first warm day in a week, chill-fully reminding me that summer is officially over and the start of a new school year has begun. 

There are a few things I always look forward to at the start of the semester: bumping into the friends you "HAGS'd" last school year, spending all of your freshly earned summer cash on even fresher school supplies, and, best of all, feeling that re-ignited electricity that comes from the buzz of activity on campus. Given that I, personally, have a make-up exam to take from an incomplete course in the spring, my re-ignited electricity is already waning - rather, it's being stifled by the harsh reality of days already spent festering in the library as opposed to tailgating in the middle of the day with friends. 

As I sit here in Tatte (yes, school's back in session and my routine trips for overpriced lattes and great lighting commences) on a brief study break from eigenvalues and matrices, I'm thinking about what I'm most excited for in the coming months. But, in order to look forward to the big events soon to come, I find it helpful to look back (at it, haha...) at all the smaller, little tidbits of life that have dotted my past few months.

I'm thinking of all the loose ends left on my camera roll, the ones reminding me of spontaneous day trips or silly happenings that made me smile. This digital exercise of flipping through the countless photos I embarrassingly hoard on my phone is kind of similar to the more analog activity I did to chronicle joyful moments all summer: my Happy Jar. Inspired by one of those "things 2 make ur significant other if u r in a cheezy relationship" articles, I found that I could adjust one of the sentiments to my happily single lifestyle. 

I bought myself a mason jar, and used it to keep note of things that made me smile: rekindling with friends, a sweet message someone sent me, or whatever! Each happy thought became immortalized on a little scroll of paper and lived inside this clear capsule. Now, at the official end of the summer, I get to look back at all the little things that, when summed up together, comprise a grander theme of cheerful little moments of the past, and similar ones to come. 

Aside from being done with this exam on the 12th, here are some other things I am really looking forward to in year 3, aka an excuse to give purpose the hodge-podge of leftover photos I have sitting in my camera roll:

Being surrounded by people as quirky and down-to-costume as I am:

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The change of seasons (though summer flowers will definitely be missed):

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Sitting in coffee shops and feeling inspiration dance along the wafts of burnt toast:

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Frolicking in Art Museums to witness works from the classroom in person - or, alternatively, make weird faces among the art:

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Spending afternoons looking up at the sky and being surprised attacked by puppies:

Going through all these happy photos and happy moments, I am reminded that sometimes little loose ends are enough to tie up bigger chapters in life - ones that don't always have to be the happiest, but are dotted with moments to smile about :)

Xx, Maia 
 

Above-Average Aquatic Escapes

 

As the summer comes to a close and my brief stint of vacation in Miami ends even sooner, I can't help but rewind the past couple of months in my mind. Between the incredible internship and even more incredible cohort of summer friends, there's not much, if at all, I'd do over. Days I'd play over, though? Plenty. Most of which coincidently have to do with aquatic escapes. I guess I do my Pices-ness well in that I crave water and the routine bikini-clad plunge. However, being in Boston for the summer meant that my standards of a "beach day" had to shift, stat

My first beach excursion was to Duxbury where the sand was replaced with rocks and the water was replaced with ice. At a beach unsuitable for leisurely tanning or a refreshing dip, what do you do? Bury your friend in the only sand patch in sight, of course! Well, that and play great music to soundtrack your Spikeball. 

Beach trip number two was a lot more familiar given the return of sand and, actually, my return to Singing Beach from last summer's Fourth of July trip with Sara (my dear summer roomie of 2k16). Here, at Manchester-by-the-Sea, we lapped up mountains of ice cream, frolicked on the set of The Proposal (I'm still replaying my reenaction of Sandra Bullock feeding the dog to the hawk), and played some questionable games on shore - one that had me sprinting into the ocean, submerging myself, and losing all feeling in my body. But hey, that's summer!

Aquatic adventure number three was far more spontaneous in that I was invited to None-Such Lake (a lake??) after work one day and just said, "why not." I think was far too excited about my first time seeing a lake, let alone swimming in one, that I'm pretty sure I annoyed all of my friends. Not to mention that I snobbishly commented on the "dirt" taste of the water because my palette is apparently more accustomed to the salinated Miami Beach waters. Needless to say, my friends tried to convince me there was a Loch Ness Monster lurking underneath the orangey water, to which I replied, "There's None-Such thing." (It was really funny, I promise...)

A return to the lake rounded out excursion number 5, though if one skinny dips at midnight and it's not documented, did it really happen?

The sixth body of water provided more of an ambient and familiar background sound than an opportunity for splashing about. On her one day visit to Boston, Val found herself in a familiar position: cuddled next to me on a blanket by some water. And no, we're not dating. 

Salt, sun, and sand trip number seven happened a little more true to form: 305 form. Given 10 days home, I spent the first 5 sleeping and plan on spending the last 5 swimming. Today, awoken by the irrational urge to take a dip at the crack of dawn, I swooped up Val at a ripe 7:30am and we managed to get in a solid beach day all before lunch.

I used to think a solid beach day was defined by the quality of the sand and the clarity of the water, but, after spending a whole summer taking off to any nearby body of water I could find, I realized that aquatic escapes are much better defined by the company than the taste of the water when you jump in cannon ball style. 

Xx, Maia 
 

Getting elated: a Preview

 

A few days ago, on a particularly toasty Miami day, my sister, Ariel, rolled up the sleeves of her white linen shirt, spent the day fusing neuroscience with nutrition through food, & faced the raw opinions of several hungry focus-group participants. Surrounded by the beauty of The Wynwood Yard, Ariel discussed the journey that led her to start her own business: elated

Founded from the need to make mental-health maintenance part of a daily habit, elated brings brain-boosting, good-mood-making meals right to your door. Made using only all-natural ingredients, our food combines the power of nutrition and neuroscience to feed your brain while tantalizing your taste buds

As her sister, cheerleader, and CTO (ask me which role is my favorite), I happily helped whip up some menus, business cards, and acted as her first taste tester. When I gave her the thumbs up, she knew she must be onto something, as she had successfully fed me food that wasn't beige, nor consisted of solely potatoes and cheese - and that's a feat. 

I actually found her food to be phenomenal, and not just because it was definitely made with love. Every flavor was identifiable, in such a way that it tasted both fresh and balanced. For her focus group, she decided to put forth six items from her launch menu:

Soup: Popeye's Dream

Salad: Remember Me

Staple: Confetti Salad with Salmon

Staple: Happy Belly Veggie Burger

Sweet(s): Pretty in Pink & Chococado Pudding

Suffice it to say, her participants truly enjoyed their flavorful experience, and were all supportive of this new venture in bringing science to healthy eating. One group-goer was even overheard saying, "people who 'hate' eating healthy will love this food!" So no one gets left out.

Stay tuned for the official, Miami launch (eventual delivery in Boston is definitely on the radar) but for now, get yourself on her mailing list, and follow her on instagram @get.elated to find out insider deets!

Ariel Suazo-Maler holds a master’s in human nutrition from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s in cognitive neuroscience from Wellesley College. She has conducted research in the genetic and neuroanatomical underpinnings of schizophrenia, the neurophysiology of taste perception, and the role of nutrition in depression and anxiety. With elated, Ariel has created a consumable way of bringing her years of research to the table. And she's a pretty, awesome sister to boot ;)

Xx, Maia 

 

 

New (love for) York City

 

New York City: the homeland of Gossip Girl, Levain cookies, and postgrads a plenty to keep your college years going strong long after they're gone. I've been lucky enough to visit NYC pretty consistently throughout my life, especially when my sis lived there (the Magnolia Bakery on her corner definitely made visits that much sweeter - seriously thinking of starting a Banana Pudding Enthusiasts Club, but that's a whole other story). Since she moved out, I've used the excuse of visiting city friends to justify weekend trips here and there. This past weekend, I packed a weekend bag (with only three outfits, one for each day, and that is a packing first for me so thank you in advance for your congratulations) and embarked on a multi-delayed flight to the Big Apple. 

Being a city girl, well swamp city girl, myself, I appreciate the zooming pace of NYC in a way that is more rejuvenating to me than a weekend in the beautiful burbs of Massachusetts. Smack dab in the middle of my summer internship (and absolutely loving it, but more on that at another date), this weekend trip to New York proved to be the perfect jolt of energy I needed to finish out the summer strong - not to mention I really missed my city pals and weekly FaceTimes weren't cutting it. 

Having now officially reached the midpoint of my college years, talk of post-grad has already begun and people seem to be claiming their first apartment neighborhoods already. I have never really been a New-York-or-Bust kind of post-grad thinker, but I must say that for whatever reason, this past trip really made the Big Apple feel like home. 

Perhaps it was the warm welcome and royal treatment found at my weekend at Lily's home that jump started this familial feeling of affection for the city. 

It could've also been the walks to the subway to meet my friends accompanied by blasting tunes in my ears, sunglasses on, and the realization that my shoes really did look good strutting along the sidewalks. 

Maybe it was the day trip to Brooklyn where Lily and I sought out the Brooklyn Art Library (a precious nook filled to the brim with sketchbooks submitted by anyone and everyone) that made me feel like I could contribute something to this magical canvas of a place. 

Or the fact that two thirds of the restaurants I was taken to to try I had actually already been to, having forgotten the names but instantly recognizing the vibes, that had me realize I was already more of a New Yorker than I thought.

But, above all, I think it was probably the amount of love I felt from the friends who have already set roots in town, or are planning to, that reminded me how special friends are in life because they're truly handpicked family.

And after three days, NYC felt a bit smaller, a little cozier, and lot more like a future home - at least for a few years until I return to Miami to make my mark before it's, well, totally underwater... 

Xx, Maia