Overall, I really feel great about this semester. I have challenged myself in ways I never knew possible.
I am a very happy person and my favorite thing to do is laugh, so it is extremely ironic that I am doing a project on a seemingly intense and sad subject matter. However, after these past four months of interacting with homeless individuals, I see my project as something positive. I am so happy I got to interact with many homeless individuals throughout this process, because I have learned something very interesting: many homeless people get through their everyday struggles with a sense of humor. Many of the homeless individuals joke about their struggles, because it is how they can see past this temporary setback. I feel I connect with a lot of these individuals because I approach them with a smile, not a “I feel bad for you” mindset. I treat them as equal individuals because they are.
The December review provided great insight. Right after the review I thought to myself “I have no idea how that went!” But afterwards, I realized this presentation is much different from the Sophomore Review. The objective of the December review is to illicit great conversation and challenge the student. I felt like my panel understood my project, and really went into great depths to have a conversation about next steps. They showed a big interest in my project because they had several questions. I also feel I provided an answer for every question. One of the most interesting questions was regarding the black/white series of Jay’s images and handwriting: “If those are his images and his captions, how is this YOUR art? What is your role?” I knew how to respond to this immediately; of course it is my art, my idea. I was quick to respond that I am the one who created the idea of seeing life through a homeless person’s eyes. I am taking his images and combining them with text to make powerful images. I am making conscious choices about composition and color. I am facilitating this process and creating a way for the homeless individual to get his story out. I feel it is more powerful coming from his eyes.
Because I was able to respond in this matter, the same person then suggested I take it to further lengths and invite more homeless individuals to create work. I could potentially design a show in which such collaborative work (between me and the homeless individual) is shown. This is a very interesting idea, and one that I have been thinking about greatly over the past few days.
I also realized I need to be honest about how much work I am going to create over break. I need a physical break from this project, but I must be honest, I can’t get away from it emotionally. To give you an example, on the plane ride home yesterday, I sat next to two women (one in her 30s, the other in her late 40s). We were all talking about where we are from/where we were going, and both individuals talked about how they were recently laid off and were flying to interview for new jobs. The woman in her 30s was almost crying when showing us pictures of her 11 and 7 year old: “I have no idea what I am going to do.” They talked about their upcoming interviews and struggles for over an hour. What are the chances I would sit next to these two?! (Also side note- the day before my flight I changed my original middle seat to an open aisle seat, and happened to sit by them) But seriously, it is true: a day doesn’t go by where I am thinking about the overall implications of the economy: homelessness.
Throughout this semester, I have really gotten to know my peers in a new way. I am really happy with the work everyone has done and I am excited to show my parents my peer's work during the opening. I almost feel like we should put together a directory online for the A&D class of 2010 that includes everyone’s e-mail and cell phone numbers because I think college peers are such a great resource.
I am happy with the connections and work I have made this semester, and I really look forward to going into next semester full force!