Tuesday, January 23, 2024

ARTS 475: Week 1

This was my first week of my senior thesis class, ARTS 475. On Tuesday, I spent most of my time writing. I was trying to think of where to start and what to focus on. I was feeling pretty lost today. Between the three studio classes I’m going to make work for this semester, I didn’t know how to approach any of them. So I started doing the only thing I could think about. I wrote words. I started writing single words down, seemingly random words that vaguely connected to experiences in my life from these past four years. I wrote ideas that came to my head. I wrote positive things. I wrote negative things. I wrote really negative things. I was struggling to find some central theme in my work, trying to figure out where my work was coming from, and where I should be looking towards.

After a while, I got up from my desk and started wandering around the art hall and taking random pictures of things. I took a picture of an EXIT sign. I took a picture of a toilet. I took a picture walking up the stairs, with the camera shaking to give the impression of being inebriated. Overall, I was feeling a little lost. 


On Thursday, I met with my professor to help with my direction for this class. I walked away from our meeting with new ideas, and planning to get started on my work. She suggested that I should start taking a picture every day, which I started immediately. I looked through my camera’s memory card at pictures I took as far back as 2021. Possibly the worst year of my life. I was incredibly sick, with every day feeling like I was chained to a bathroom. I looked through the pictures, remembering the time and place they were taken, why they were taken, what I was feeling taking them, and started to put the pieces together.


This was a week about planning. I’m hoping to hit the ground running next week and start creating some more work. I definitely want to include syringes in my works. I want to expand that idea further next week. 




Friday, January 19, 2024

Déjà vu?

It's finally here. Green Day's album Saviors released today. I was so hyped for this album it was insane. And after listening to it in full, I'm even more hyped.

This week is driving me crazy. It's my first week back, the last semester of my senior year. I'm about to graduate in a few months, and I'm still trying to process what the fuck I'm doing. This week had me on edge counting down the days until this album's release. This morning, I woke up and hopped to my laptop to check Target to see if the copies were out. They definitely were, and there were only two left in stock! I grabbed my Target gift card I got for Christmas, and immediately purchased a copy. Flash forward a few hours later, I'm sitting in my chamber choir, wishing we were singing "Look Ma, No Brains!" or "Dilemma" instead of of Schubert's Mass No. 2 in G major. (Not saying I dislike that piece, far from it, but that was being overshadowed by my most anticipated album release of this year.)

After chamber choir let out, I flew out of my seat and downstairs and exited the music hall to where my friend was parked outside. We took off down the road, blasting Dookie and singing along. We parked, headed into the Target, and after a brief confusion on where I was supposed to pick my online order up, I got my album. We drove back to our apartment, and we listened to the whole thing, front to back. I love it. 

I deliberately avoided Green Day's Instagram accounts during this past week as I didn't want to hear any of the song snippets they were posting. I wanted to go into this one-eyed bastard blind. As much as I could, after hearing all the singles. It's so good though. If I didn't have terrible processing I'd be blasting it right now as I'm writing this. My favorite songs have to go to "Look Ma, No Brains!", "Dilemma", "1981" and "Coma City". (Tré goes fucking NUTS on the end of "Coma City.") 

So now that Saviors is out, it appears that the Father of All... era has ended. And it's given me quite a bit to think about. These two albums released a good four years apart from eachother, much like other Green Day releases in the past few years. 

When Father of All... came out back in early 2020, the world was a very different place. The pandemic hadn't effected us in the States yet, and I was looking into the future with hopeful eyes. It was my senior year of high school, and I was looking forward to graduation, and going off to college in Utah. It scary, sure, but I was excited. I had no idea what to expect, but just knowing that I had been accepted to college and was ready to hit the ground running in August made me feel happy. Even just writing that, I feel really strange. I couldn't possibly imagine feeling like that right now. Going back to Father of All... the album was, okay. Sure, when I heard it, it was rough. I wasn't crazy about it. But the energy was there. It was an album full of upbeat garage rock with lyrics that conveyed the "not giving a fuck" attitude I loved at the time. 

But then came the pandemic, and life pretty much did a 180. I was stuck home, trying to finish out my senior year online, bored out of my skull in my room. On top of that, my plans to fly out to Utah were completely scrapped, and instead I decided to go to college in Virginia. (That was ultimately the better option, I'm super happy here.) The plans I had were scrambled and there wasn't really a whole lot I could do about it outside of get it together and figure it out. And I did, looking back at freshman year, I'd say I did a pretty damn good job. 

These last four years have had their ups and downs for sure, especially in the first two years. But the energy and upbeat vibes that I heard on Father of All... didn't go away. Now, I'm not saying that Father of All... was a good album, it was ehhh, but it did grow on me. The positive energy stuck with me from graduating high school during an uncertain time, to making it through college pretty successfully. And overall, it was a fun time.

So here I am, it's one week closer to graduation and the first day of the rest of my life. And Saviors probably came at the best time. After listening to the first three singles, I was immediately hooked. I wanted more. And waiting all the way until late January to hear everything SUCKED. As I listened to the album and focused on the themes, I started to feel like it was a pretty strong contrast to everything on Father of All... Sure, the upbeat stuff was still there, but there was a darker air permeating throughout the record, and focusing on pretty dark themes. This album is way more dark and angry than anything off of Father of All... and really encapsulates the feelings I'm feeling now, just as Father of All... four years ago.

What I mean is, Father of All... was reflective of the happy, upbeat, "don't give a fuck" energy that I felt back then, and Saviors focuses on the anger and confusion and feeling lost. Which is where I am now. I'm terrified to graduate, honestly. I have no idea what the future is going to hold for me. I'm trying my best to find a job somewhere, and trying to move out and be independent. And this shit's hard as fuck right now.

The world's in shambles and it's only getting worse as we're forced to make sense of it all. And this album helps to put things into perspective. I sure as hell don't feel ready to leave yet, it's like I've only just got here. Pandemic fucked things up, and then I got sick. I feel like I've only been here for two years. But I haven't, and pretty soon I'm going to be entering the "real world" with a degree that I feel like doesn't mean jack shit.

I don't know if anything that I just said made any sense. I know it's just me rambling, but what I'm trying to say is that Saviors is describing exactly the kinds of things I'm thinking and feeling now, just as Father of All... did back then. The timing was pretty perfect on this one.

I just hoping that I can get my shit together before May. The strange days really are here to stay.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Winter

I dislike winter. I've never understood what people like about this season. It's cold, it gets dark way to early, and snow is not my favorite form of precipitation. It's also January, which is probably the most depressing month out of the year. There's really nothing interesting that happens in January outside of New Year's Day, and that's the FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH. February at least is cool because it's just one month away from March, which is where the weather starts getting nicer again. 

Anyway, it started snowing on Monday, and I woke up Tuesday to discover classes were cancelled. So today, Wednesday, was my first real day of the semester. First day of classes was aight. My afternoon class was cancelled, but it's looking like Monday and Wednesdays are gonna be tons of fun. Two three hour long studio classes with choir practice separating them in the middle. I leave my apartment at 08:30 and don't get back until around 16:30. Tuesdays and Thursdays are way more open, with just my night class. And Friday just has choir at noon. 



Sunday, January 14, 2024

Last Semester

I successfully moved back to school this past weekend. My dad and I drove down to VA Saturday, and then I moved in today. Tomorrow is MLK Day, and I have off from classes. I'm pretty nervous for this semester. It feels pretty surreal that I'm about to graduate in a few months. I still feel like I've only just started. Graduating high school and starting college in 2020 was an experience, and being sick and missing half of sophomore year really sucked.

My schedule looks pretty good. I'm taking two studio classes, one in video art and the other in photography. No more ceramics, thankfully. I have my senior thesis class which is going to be a challenge. I'm also taking a public speaking class to try to work on getting better at giving artist talks.

As much as I complain about my unusual last four years, a lot of it doesn't matter anymore. I've put my future on hard mode by choosing to be a studio art major, and I need to figure out what the hell I'm gonna do in May. 


Monday, January 8, 2024

MET Museum

Another super early-morning post. For my last weekend home on Winter Break, my dad and my brother and I went to NYC to go see this new Manet/Degas exhibit at the MET Museum. It was fun.


It was an interesting look at the relationship between these two artists and seeing their work next to eachother. It highlighted their different styles but also where certain elements were shared between the two. My favorite work I saw was Manet's 1963 oil painting Olympia. It's only at the MET for a limited time while this exhibit is going on, so it was pretty cool to catch it right before it ended.


After walking through the Manet/Degas exhibit, we walked through a few other galleries. Personal favorites from today: Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Socrates, Emanuel Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware, and Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream. It was nice to see The Gulf Stream up close as when I saw it during the Winslow Homer: Crosscurrents exhibit last summer, the painting was mobbed. 




And that was my Sunday. Pretty good way to end the Winter Break. It's always nice to visit NYC when I'm home on breaks, I do miss it a bit living in Virginia. Anyway, to close out for tonight, (today?) here's some random shots I took in the city.



Monday, January 1, 2024

New Yeers

Happy New Year. 

Last night, we all stayed up to watch Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on TV. This year was particularly interesting to me, as Green Day would be playing and debuting their new song "Dilemma" live. That was pretty sick. I can't wait for the new album to release in a few weeks. 


I didn't really recognize any other artists performing. Aqua opened the show with "Barbie Girl" which was awesome, but outside of that I didn't really see anyone I knew. I went to bed around 02:00 after watching Green Day play "Welcome to Paradise."

I had a pretty solid January 1st. After sleeping in and waking up in the early afternoon, my family and I went to Long Beach to walk the boardwalk and see the ocean. It was pretty crowded for a holiday like this, but it was still nice. I was hoping I'd be able to see a sunset over the water, but it was pretty cloudy. Still nice tho.




I touched the cold railing on the opposite end of the boardwalk, and turned around to head back. It was beginning to get colder, and the sun was getting lower. As nervous as I was about 2024 and graduating from college, it didn't really seem to matter in this moment. It may sound cheesy, but the beach has always been one place where I didn't have to feel anxious about anything coming up, and could just enjoy being alive. Which is what I want to do. 

I walked back along the boardwalk, as snippets of "Beach Porn" by The Frights played in my head. The sun was setting fast over the ocean, and it created that familiar beautiful sight I'd captured so many times before on my trips to Long Beach. After we left the boardwalk, Dad took my brothers and I to Marvels. I got a delicious vanilla milkshake. 




When I got home, we had pizza for dinner and ice cream cake to celebrate my birthday. (oh yeah today's my birthday I turned older! :3) It was really nice though. So here's to 2024. Gonna be a rough one, but hopefully I'll be right back on the Long Beach boardwalk again same time next year.

The song for today? "This Year" by The Mountain Goats.

Happy New Year.